Monday wrap

Humility thrown under the bus ... In our midst are people who think that if only they had government power on their side, they could pick tomorrow's winners and losers in the marketplace, set prices or rents where they ought to be, decide which forms of energy should power our homes and cars, and choose which industries should survive and which should die. They make grandiose promises they can't possibly keep without bankrupting all of us. They should stop for a few moments and learn a little humility from a lowly writing implement. - Lawrence W. Reed (mackinac.org)

Labor-state unionist urges Southern boycott ... I'm sure the unionized hourly workers of General Motors finally understand why the UAW has supported the Democratic Party. I think we all get it. Now we need to make sure that not one dime of our pension money is spent in any of the "right to work for less states" that these Republican senators, who turned down the automaker loans, represent. Come on home, snowbirds! The cat is after us. Bring those pension dollars back to your unionized home where you made them. Spend them here as long as we still have them. Help save Michigan. (lansingstatejournal.com)

Shameful national leadership

Labor-state big blames UAW woes on others ... Liberals branded President Bush a liar after the U.S. failed to find Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It made no difference that Bush and leaders of every other major Western nation believed such weapons existed. “Doesn’t matter, he lied,” liberals cried. But now we hear only silence as liberals peddle assertions as fact that are patently false. Example: Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, asserted with a straight face on Fox News Sunday this morning that “the reality is that it's health care and pension costs. We're the only ones that don't have national health care and pension policies of all the countries that we are competing with.” As if Japanese paternalism in Japan explains why Detroit is begging for a federal bailout. But Stabenow knows perfectly well that the proper comparison isn’t between what Detroit pays its U.S. workers and what Toyota and Honda pay their workers in Japan. The Japanese government pays zero health care or pension costs of Toyota and Honda workers in the U.S., yet Toyota and Honda still make money on cars and trucks they build here. GM, Chrysler and Ford can’t mainly because of higher compensation demanded by the UAW. Bottomline: The UAW is killing Detroit, not Honda and Toyota, and politicians like Stabenow should stop lying about it. (dcexaminer.com)

UAW lobbies plenty ... A favorite complaint of unionists is that management somehow maintains an upper hand on labor because they lobby Congress. Indeed, my good friend Mike claims that his employer, the United States Postal Service, is losing out on the coveted overnight delivery business because of greedy lobbyists from UPS and FedEx. And sure enough, these two companies are two of the top thirty lobbyists in the past 20 years. But a closer look at the heaviest hitters in the DC lobby game reveals that labor unions comprise nearly half of the top third on the list, including Mike's own National Association of Letter Carriers which checks in at number 29. Not surprisingly, these big labor lobbyists gave an average of 95% of their funds to the Democratic Party. Coming in at number 16 on the list is the United Auto Workers, who are in the process of being bailed out by those same Democrats in Congress. And that's where the rubber meets the road. (enterstageright.com)

Blago 'Pay-to-Play' with SEIU

Typical SEIU extortion in Chicago ... The indictment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't the only thing happening in Illinois last week. Bank of America was the victim of a concerted shake-down operation that could be replicated around the country. Banks apparently now are expected to give money away to failed borrowers. This could become federal policy when Barack Obama, who supported this new example of Chicago blackmail, becomes president. ... The fact that Republic was going under didn't matter to advocates of this new form of financial slavery -- once a lender, always a lender. Thomas Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union Illinois Council, argued that the bank was "thumbing its nose at Congress by taking federal recovery funds while refusing to extend credit to a small manufacturing company with a long history of profitability." ... Balanoff went even further. BoA's action "contradicts and undercuts President-elect Barack Obama's plan to stimulate the depressed economy by investing in weatherization of existing homes and buildings and in other infrastructure and energy-saving construction." (spectator.org)

What did Bam know? ... Obama has denied speaking to Blagojevich about the Senate seat. But Obama's initial statement seemed crafted to avoid the question of whether his aides had been in touch with the governor's office. On Thursday, at a news conference, he said he was certain his people "had no involvement with any deal making," and added that his staff was still "gathering facts" about possible contacts. But all this seems awfully coy. It's obvious that the president-elect would have an interest in who was appointed to the Senate from his home state — for good reason. (ibdeditorials.com)

'Pay-to-Play' SEIU thick with Blago, Bam ... The Illinois branch of the SEIU points out that the federal complaint against Blagojevich does not accuse the union of any wrongdoing. It also notes that the post Blagojevich is alleged to have sought in the organization is not a paying one, and that its current occupant draws her salary from her job within the union. The SEIU, which represents thousands of nursing home workers, was the top financial contributor to both the Obama presidential campaign and the Blagojevich 2006 gubernatorial re-election campaign. (mcknights.com)

Who knows Blago? ... When details of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) Senate scam went public, some jumped past his f-bombs to decode the alphabet soup of aliases that investigators assigned to the scandal’s vast cast of characters. But what’s even trickier than ferreting out the identity of “Senate Candidate 1” is determining what the feds are hinting at when they parcel out a few telltale details amid the cryptic nomenclature. Some former federal prosecutors say the coded references can be a way to press the nearly-named to cooperate with the investigation. “There is an informal code. It’s very carefully tailored,” said Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), a former federal prosecutor. “Sometimes there are little subtle hints to be sent. (thehill.com)

SEIU-Blago 'Pay-to-Play' explained ... When Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich committed $8 million in state money to a local children's hospital this fall, federal authorities said he wasn't going to let the precious dollars out of his hands so easily. He demanded a $50,000 campaign contribution from the hospital's chief executive in return. It's among the various accusations against Mr. Blagojevich, who was named last week in a federal criminal complaint on charges of trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama´s now-vacant U.S. Senate seat. But a review by The Washington Times of state contracts and campaign contributions shows that those weren't the only things Mr. Blagojevich didn't let out of his office without a price tag. Nearly half of the $664,000 Mr. Blagojevich's campaign fund collected from corporations and organizations in just the first six months of 2008 came from groups with lucrative state contracts. (washingtontimes.com)

Too soon for Leftists to panic ... Despite President-elect Obama’s move to the center on economic and national security issues, he will nonetheless be a radical on social issues, political commentator Paul Weyrich predicts. Such radicalism could be necessary to placate left-wing Obama supporters disappointed by his more centrist decisions. “There will be no moderation on social issues,” commented Weyrich, a Greek Catholic deacon who is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation. ... “All of this has the left wing blogs in a state of panic,” Weyrich claimed. “They feel betrayed. Some of them want to give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt but others believe they have been had.” “Well, calm down lefties. It is clear to me that while the president-elect may not be a socialist regarding the economy and he may not be radical when it comes to the military, he gives every indication of being radical on the social issues.” (speroforum.com)

Welcome to ACORN General Hospital ... What kind of medical expertise does Barack have? Remember this youtube where his teleprompter malfunctioned? He stumbled through an excruciatingly inept explanation of how health care costs can be lowered if kids with asthma could just be provided "breathalyzers," or "inhalators" instead of cluttering up emergency rooms. This brilliant (as we're told ad nauseam) Ivy League lawyer-savant wants to run our health care but apparently is ignorant of the word inhaler. (There must have been more than one nurse in that crowd shaking her head and thinking, "Great. Another dunce.") Certainly Obama is not the first politician who clumsily attempts to feign a molecule of medical knowledge in order to sway voters who know even less. Obviously, he is not capable of writing (or possibly even reading) any health care legislation. I decided I'd need to find out the views of his advisors. Since his wife Michelle had actually worked for a hospital, I began with her. (americanthinker.com)

Dem Rahmbo must go ... The bullish, foul-mouthed but effective Chicago arm-twister Rahm Emanuel has come under pressure to resign as Barack Obama's chief of staff after it was revealed he had been captured on court-approved wire taps discussing the names of candidates for Mr Obama's Senate seat. Mr Emanuel's presence at the heart of the scandal threatens to roil the US president-elect's administration as a Chicago prosecutor builds his corruption case against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. ... Republicans are salivating at the prospect of tying Mr Obama to the notoriously corrupt Chicago machine in which he forged his career. Grover Norquist, an influential conservative lobbyist, said: "If Obama wants to be squeaky clean, he is going to have to cut all his Chicago friends loose. His chief of staff has fingerprints on the murder weapon." ... But questions remain over what Mr Emanuel said and how much he knew about the Governor's "pay-to-play" scheme. At one stage, Mr Blagojevich told an aide that he wanted an unnamed "president-elect adviser", thought to be Mr Emanuel, to help "raise 10, 15 million" for a charitable group, which the Governor could head. Mr Obama faces a stark choice. Mr Emanuel as his chief of staff was his first appointment after the election. If Mr Obama were to throw him out of the inner circle now with his reputation under siege, it would be a singular act of disloyalty before the transition team has even had a chance to take office. Mr Emanuel has yet to resign as a member of the House of Representatives for Illinois, although he has pledged to do so. However, the scandal is lapping at Mr Obama's own ankles. Antoin "Tony" Rezko, the property dealer and fixer who helped him buy his $US1.65 million house in Chicago by purchasing an adjacent plot on the same day, has been talking to investigators to reduce a prison sentence following his conviction for fraud and bribery. Rezko is expected to be a key witness in the corruption case against Mr Blagojevich, but he also knows more than anybody about the house purchase and other deals with Mr Obama. Meanwhile, allegations that Mr Blagojevich approached the US's largest union, seeking help in the pay-for-play scheme, are the latest episode in a long, mutually beneficial relationship between him and the powerful Service Employees International Union (theaustralian.news.com.au)

Bam compromised by insiders ... Illinois legislators are expected to meet in Springfield on Monday to consider impeachment proceedings, as well as a bill that would strip the governor of his power to name a successor to Mr. Obama. Meanwhile, Attorney General-designate Eric H. Holder Jr. may have to recuse himself if confirmed from overseeing the federal corruption investigation that has targeted the Illinois governor. Legal experts noted that Mr. Holder, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, was co-chairman of Mr. Obama's presidential campaign at a time when the probe focused on a businessman who had been among the biggest fundraisers for Mr. Obama and Mr. Blagojevich. The U.S. Attorneys' Manual requires Justice Department lawyers to withdraw from matters in which a conflict of interest exists or where there is an appearance of a conflict of interest or loss of impartiality. The manual outlines recusal for what it describes as "a personal interest or professional relationship with parties involved in the matter." (washingtontimes.com)

Dem scandals: Remember Gov. Spitzer? ... The Democrats have been hit by one scandal after another in the past year that have toppled some of their party's biggest names. New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer was forced to resign his office after being caught in a high-priced prostitution ring. Flamboyant Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, awaiting trial on bribery charges and money laundering, was defeated in a runoff election last week by a little-known Republican in a heavily Democratic district. Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney, who replaced disgraced Republican Mark Foley -- forced out in a congressional-page scandal -- was defeated last month after purportedly keeping his mistress on the House payroll and trying to buy her silence. - Donald Lambro (washingtontimes.com)

Post-Bam Depression ... What has become of all the grass-roots volunteers who worked so tirelessly to get Barack Obama elected president? No one knows at the moment, apparently. The priceless bank of 13 million e-mail addresses and information on thousands of field organizers and neighborhood coordinators now lies fallow - vexing Marshall Ganz, a public policy expert at Harvard University. Momentum is waning, he warns. "Is this really what 'building on the movement to elect Barack Obama' is going to look like? I can't believe this was put out by the same people who trained organizers in how to do house meetings in the campaign over the past two years," Mr. Ganz told the Los Angeles Times. (washingtontimes.com)

The Mother of all Bailouts looms ... A damning report by the CBI accuses ministers of trying to hide the vast cost of looking after state employees in old age, which works out at £32,000 for every taxpayer in Britain. It also claims civil servants, teachers and NHS staff are being allowed to retire on unaffordable gold-plated schemes based on their final salaries, far more generous than those earned by workers in the private sector. The employers' organisation is calling on the Government to force its five million-strong workforce to carry on in their jobs on past 60 in order to reduce the burden of their pensions on future generations. It also says an independent body must be set up to calculate the true cost of unfunded public sector pensions and work out how it can be met, particularly now that the economy is heading into a recession and national debt reaching record levels. (telegraph.co.uk)

Job-Killer Act explained ... Unanimously, they predicted that the proposed legislation would be the end to manufacturing and production in the United States of America. Now, that’s a nightmare! When I asked why – as if I did not already know the answer – they said it was because they would never build another plant in the USA. Total unionization in America is not competitive with the rest of the world. The proposed “Employee Free Choice Act” gives excessive opportunity to the unions to intimidate. And it eliminates the opportunity for the employer to present the pros and cons of unionization after the union representatives show up. So employers, get proactive if you are not already and then talk to your people about the pros and cons of “to unionize or not”. One of those cons is to shut down the business if they can not accept the union demands, and the workers do not even get a chance to vote on those demands. - Herman Cain (northstarwriters.com)

Growers back worker-choice, competition ... “People in the apple industry say they work hard to treat workers well and think they should have a private right to decide if they want to unionize or not,” Foster said. Christian Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, said the vast majority of Washington apple packers are not unionized and the measure undoubtedly would lead to attempts to unionize packing plants and orchards. “Unionization brings in a number of complexities that are often difficult to deal with in a fast-changing world,” Schlect said. “An unreasonable union situation can lead to a point where you are not competitive.” He noted the Washington apple industry has long been engaged in global competition. Foster said packing houses like having the flexibility of reassigning workers to different tasks as needed. She said unions can make that more difficult. She said the Apple Association has joined a coalition of small businesses opposed to the measure. (wenatcheeworld.com)

Union operatives jet overseas for Green Pork ... Some U.S. labor groups that have long feared environmental campaigns as a threat to American jobs are starting to see advantages in going green. This evolution was clear at this week's U.N. climate talks in Poland, where several American labor groups and environmental activists made joint appeals for policies that would promote high-tech renewable energy as the answer to both climate change and job losses. About 25 representatives of U.S. unions were in Poznan — about twice the number at last year's U.N. talks in Bali, Indonesia — representing workers from the electrical, transit, steel, service and other sectors. (hosted.ap.org)

Union operatives set Iowa agenda ... Fighting any tampering with Iowa's right-to-work law - which prohibits forcing workers to join a union or to pay dues - has become a rallying cry for Republicans. Gronstal dismissed the consternation over this issue as "exaggerated." "I think people have massively overblown this," he said. The non-right-to-work states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois have family incomes that are higher than Iowa's, Gronstal said. In Nebraska and South Dakota, which have right-to-work protections, family incomes are lower than Iowa's, he said. Unions are the No. 1 financial backers for Iowa Democrats, and are sure to push leaders for what they want. But each union wants something different. The teachers union, for example, wants adequate financial support for public schools and community colleges, expansion of the scope of bargaining to let teachers negotiate for the same issues as private sector workers, and repeal of the right-to-work law. That union, the Iowa State Education Association, has given Democrats more than $250,000 this year - and more than $240,000 of that went directly to the campaign accounts of Gronstal and his counterpart in the Iowa House, Kevin McCarthy. Building and construction trade unions, meanwhile, are eager for a prevailing wage law, which would boost workers' pay. (desmoinesregister.com)

AFL-CIO has Miami covered ... A week after the president of the South Florida AFL-CIO told The Miami Herald, "Diaz's track record is he's ignored the middle class," AFSCME Local 1907 -- a member of the local AFL-CIO -- has penned a letter defending Diaz. Local 1907 is the general employees' union at Miami City Hall. Diaz's union credentials have become an issue because the South Florida AFL-CIO is working to prevent him from joining President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet. ... Obama was elected in part due to heavy union support, making the AFL-CIO's stance important. ... "I have never endorsed the mayor," Cox wrote in a letter distributed Thursday. "But I will also tell you that we have had a great working relationship for the last three years." (miamiherald.com)

Gov't-union woes in labor-state ... Union leaders and members are becoming increasingly worried over a lack of information regarding the impending large-scale layoffs of township employees to help offset a projected $1.6 million revenue shortfall next year, according to John Lazzarotti, spokesman for Communications Workers of America, the union that represents township workers. Earlier this month, the township submitted a plan to the state Department of Personnel detailing the proposed layoffs and sent letters to union officials asking them to consider concessions to contracts. (phillyburbs.com)

A Taste of Socialism, How Do You Like It? ... The current focus of the national propaganda press, and media networks, is the national economy. There are the hours and hours of tedious stories about the debate raging in the Congress of the United States on how best to solve the financial problem of the day. There are countless stories of homes being foreclosed, profits of gloom and doom about the level of unemployment, forecast of starving families out in the cold instead of around the tree on Christmas morning. The current President does not want to leave office with massive unemployment so he is willing to try to get along with, and let the congress try to solve this problem. The new president elect is busy trying to extricate himself from a political scandal back in his home state. His only statements are that he wants to do what a former socialistic President attempted, and failed with, seventy years ago. So we see an executive branch of government being impotent in solving the national economic problem. The new socialist leaning leadership of the congress gets a chance to demonstrate their solutions to problems far over their heads. (newsblaze.com)

The New Deal might have worked, if only ... ... Liberal-progressive-socialists again eagerly anticipate returning to the disastrously failed economic policies of Franklin Roosevelt. Apparently religious faith in socialism outweighs rational consideration of evidence. The standard liberal-progressive-socialist litany is that socialism, in the New Deal and subsequent years, would have succeeded, if only the government had spent more money for a longer time. Many liberals lament that the New Deal didn’t go far enough in socializing the economy. That was a major reason for the savage antagonism between the liberal establishment of the 1960s and the New Left student radicals like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, the spiritual parents of president-elect Obama’s educational policies. In addition to blind religious faith in the secular religion of socialism, liberal-progressives are beset by ignorance. For three generations, students have been taught a completely false version of the Depression’s causes and of the actual results attained by President Roosevelt’s New Deal. (mensnewsdaily.com)

Socialists offer recipe for change ... A radically new strategy is needed that involves a change in the activity, politics and philosophy of the labor movement. The Socialist Equality Party proposes: 1. Revival of direct struggle based upon the independent interests of the working class. Workers should organize demonstrations, strikes and factory occupations—the militant traditions of an earlier period that have been suppressed by the trade union bureaucracy. The occupation of Republic Windows and Doors by workers in Chicago has given a lead to workers everywhere, raising the need to revive the methods of struggle, including the great sit-down strikes in the auto industry that were employed in the 1930s. ... 2. A break with the Democratic Party and the politics of class collaboration. Industrial action must be linked to a new political strategy. For decades, the unions have promoted the myth that the interests of workers can be advanced through the Democratic Party. The Democrats, no less than the Republicans, represent the corporations and banks. Workers should place no reliance on the incoming Obama administration, which fully supports the assault on the auto workers. Workers need a new political party based upon their independent interests. 3. Rejection of the capitalist market and revival of an international socialist movement of the working class. Workers within the United States and throughout the world are facing the consequences of an economic system whose central principle is the pursuit of private profit—regardless of its consequences for society as a whole. In response to the unfolding crisis of world capitalism, the SEP fights for the socialist reorganization of the economy. This includes the nationalization of the auto companies and the major banks, placing them under public ownership and the democratic control of the working population, and their operation on the basis of social need, not private profit. (wsws.org)

Sean Penn smacked down by Left ... Sean Penn is being strongly tipped for an Oscar for Milk, in which he plays Harvey Milk, the first openly homosexual man to be elected to public office. However, this could all come unstuck following an attack on the actor by the influential gay magazine, The Advocate. Penn's crime? His admiration for two well-known anti-gay dictators, Cuban leader Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. The trouble stems from the cover story Penn wrote for the December issue of the US periodical The Nation, in which he sang the praises of both men at a time when gay rights are again a big issue in Hollywood following the controversial passage of California’s Proposition 8 in November, which banned gay marriage. “That Sean Penn would be honoured by anyone, let alone the gay community, for having stood by a dictator that put gays into concentration camps is mind-boggling," says film producer and human rights activist Thor Halvorssen. He calls the Castro brothers “thugs and murderers”. (thefirstpost.co.uk)

The re-education of America: Social Justice rules ... Ayers-style "social justice" education has already influenced young Americans, even those who deeply disagree with the Left on abortion, gay marriage, or other important moral issues. Putting 'social justice' into the curriculum The week of the election, the most respected education journal, Education Week, featured a front-page article on "social justice teaching." The article served as additional evidence that "social justice" education vitally concerns everyone who cares what the next generation is taught with taxpayers' money. Education Week identifies Ayers-style "social justice teaching" as rooted in the writings of the late Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire. His best-known book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), is considered a classic text of radical education theory and is regularly assigned in education schools. (rightsidenews.com)

Chavez OKs Bam, now ready to meet ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he is ready to talk to Barack Obama after the latter is inaugurated US president Jan 20 and expressed hope that relations would improve under the new setup in Washington.”I believe relations are going to improve,” Chavez told Venezuelan journalist and former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel during a televised interview Sunday. The leftist leader also welcome Hillary Clinton’s appointment to the top diplomatic position in the new US administration. (thaindian.com)

U.S. workers get help on oil prices ... The two sides signed a bilateral cooperative agreement worth over two billion US dollars. Under the agreements, Venezuela promises to provide about 90,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Cuba. The figure will be enlarged gradually to 150,000 per day before the year 2013. The two leaders also discussed ways to jointly fend off the current world economic crisis, in particular the problem of low oil prices. Raul Castro, Cuban President, said, "We have been able to leave behind the most difficult years of the special period when we were up against the economic crises and the blockade. That is not only due to our unity of spirit and our spirit of resistance but also to the support received from Venezuela." (cctv.com)

ALBA ascending ... Cuban President Raul Castro stressed here that the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (ALBA) is a superior form of regional association and a tool to fight neoliberalism. ALBA continues to expand without leaving behind a single idea of the unitary dream of solidarity and justice for all, the leader said. "We didn't come to this brother country to receive honors, but to give tribute to a people who have stuck with Cuba through a very difficult moment," said the Cuban President, who arrived on Saturday in Caracas on an official visit. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez welcomed Cuban leader on Saturday at the airport and accompanied him to all his official activities. (presstv.ir)
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