Wednesday wrap

Bam's next conflict: Honorable-Lobbyist Ms. Solis ... A seemingly innocuous letter sent to the Clerk of the House of Representatives last Thursday by President Obama's Secretary of Labor nominee Hilda Solis raises serious and troubling legal questions about her nomination and apparent violation of House ethics rules. Not only was she involved with a private organization that was lobbying her fellow legislators on a bill that she has cosponsored, but she apparently kept her involvement secret and failed to reveal a clear conflict of interest. According to the Center for Responsive Politics and a review of the lobbying disclosure forms filed with Congress, ARW spent $110,000 in 2007 and $120,000 in 2008 on lobbying expenses. And what were the "[s]pecific lobbying issues" listed on the forms? They included the "Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800/S. 1041)" and the "Public Safety /Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 (H.R. 980)." As treasurer of ARW, Solis would have approved the spending by ARW on lobbying other members of Congress on both of these bills she was sponsoring for passage. The Ethics Manual of the House of Representatives quite properly restricts the lobbying of members, stating on page 352 that they should not "take an active role in lobbying Congress on behalf of a private organization since that would conflict with a Member's general obligation to the public." (weeklystandard.com)

U.S. Dems adopt 'European-style' economic model ... When GOP Sen. Jon Kyl visited the White House to work with Obama on tax policy, the president quickly let him know that Democrats weren't in the mood to be bipartisan. "I won," was Obama's response. I'm sure his jab will cheer left-wing radicals. But for the rest of us, Obama's petulant remark is just a sad reminder of how little things change in Washington. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi followed her president's lead in letting Republicans know they would be shut out of the process of writing the bill. Pelosi said, "We won. We will write the bill." That is good news for the GOP. Republicans should stay as far away from this behemoth as possible. The events of this past week will do more long-term damage to Democrats than anything my party could dream up. Unfortunately, it will also hurt America. This past week at Davos, European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso said that Obama was moving America "toward a European-style model." (pnj.com)

French PM compares U.S. President to Hugo Chávez ... Prime Minister François Fillon on Monday rejected demands that the French government follow the Obama administration's strategy of throwing billions of dollars into bloated socialist programs, rather than stimulating corporate investment to lift France out of its economic slump. "Obama, he can do as he pleases," remarked an angry Fillon to reporters, "but if I wanted that kind of economic advice, I'd get it straight from Hugo Chávez." (gather.com)

U.S. Organizer-in-Chief Gets Right To Work

Bam: Free the union goon squads ... One of the most fundamental rights in a democracy is the right to a secret ballot. Private and personal voting decisions are the foundation of our country and have been enshrined in every institution from class president to the nation’s president. Having respected this principle for almost a century, unions have now found it to be an obstacle that should be removed. Card check style union organization would remove the right of workers to privately vote for or against unionization. Union organizers would be able to troll through workplaces looking for signatures on cards that become public record. Your boss, coworkers, and neighbors would all know how you voted. Unions were established to protect worker’s rights and offer them representation. But representation without private ballots is nothing more than coercion and control. Unions seem intoxicated with the idea of card check because it allows them to see who is not yet onboard with unionizing a specific shop. Those who have not yet applied their signature to the card are often visited at all hours of the day and night. Organizers intent on obtaining signatures pressure employees both at work and at home. Once a worker is pressured into signing, often without hearing both sides of the issue, there is no recourse for them to change their mind. Signatures cannot be removed and without a private ballot no voting measure can overturn the unionization. In some extreme cases injunctions have been brought against union organizers to limit their harassment of workers. (cdobs.com)

Understanding Bam: Meet Saul Alinsky ... The organizer must "rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. ... An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent." Alinsky trained his community organizers to adopt a "middle-class identity" and familiarity with their "values and problems." After achieving "the priceless value of his middle-class experience," he will "begin to dissect and examine that way of life as he never has before." Alinsky's trainees are instructed to return to the suburban scene of the middle class with its variety of organizations, from PTAs to League of Women Voters, consumer groups, churches and clubs. Alinsky boasted: "With rare exceptions, our activists and radicals are products of and rebels against our middle-class society. ... Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and way of life of the middle class." Put Rules for Radicals on your must-read list if you want to understand much of contemporary politics. (community2.myfoxdfw.com)

Bonus links:
Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
'Rules for Radicals' at amazon.com

Hoyer: No alternative to communist bailout of Congress ... “In the short term, there is no alternative in my opinion, to borrowing money to infuse it in the economy to get out economy going,” Hoyer said. As of November 2008, the People’s Republic of China was the largest single holder of U.S. debt at $681.9 billion, according to figures released by the U.S. Treasury Department. China, in fact, holds 10.8 percent of all publicly held federal debt. The communist nation has increased its share of U.S. federal debt by $223 billion since November 2007 and by $95 billion since September of 2008. (cnsnews.com)

Congress stimulates union-backed fraud ... I thought our newly elected president said his office will change things in Washington and be transparent. He also said he would cut spending and cut the pork out of any bill that reaches his desk! Well, check out who is getting the money and who it will not help. The banks get billions and put the squeeze on those who need or want to get credit. Yet these banks' only interest is to buy bad assets and let thousands of people go! We see $4.5 billion going to groups like ACORN, and what will they do with all this money to stimulate the economy? What oversight will the government have? (modbee.com)

Change: Flagrantly abusive Congress now unchecked ... Clearly, the American people had to do something. However, as the power in Washington has flipped from Republican to Democrat, it is beginning to look like we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. The House-passed so-called stimulus bill spends money we do not have on things that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy, like divvying billions of taxpayer dollars to organizations like ACORN and Planned Parenthood that worked to elect the Democrat majority. Given the struggles of so many Americans, adding debt, raising taxes or printing money to fund political allies is a flagrant abuse of power. These groups did not elect the Democrat majority; the American people did. It is immoral for Congress to take our earnings and give it to these organizations. The decision to give money to these groups, or the faith-based organizations that Republicans funded, should be left to each American. (rutlandherald.com)

Andy Stern: We don't need no stinkin' Sal Rosselli ... As for the "democratic processes" of the union, the SEIU trusteeship eliminated UHW's policy of elected representatives, suspended its constitution and by-laws, and seized its financial assets -- all against the UHW members' wish. One of the 100 elected officials removed by the SEIU is John Borsos, an administrative vice president in the Sacramento area, where 28,000 UHW members live and work. "The only people happy with the SEIU takeover are the bosses, especially those of nursing homes," said Borsos. Asked why, he said, "SEIU negotiates agreements that give away gains for patients and workers." "We don't want Andy Stern's appointed leaders," said Marcel Berry, an in-home care provider and UHW member. "He is trying to silence us." Robert Thyfault is a UHW shop steward for homecare workers in Sacramento. "I got a call last night from SEIU that its takeover was to save me from a lack of democracy. If the takeover was democratic, I would have voted for it." UHW leaders and rank-and-file members had contacted President Obama and his Labor Secretary-designee, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), to prevent the SEIU trusteeship . . . to no avail. Nevertheless, they are continuing to call on Obama and Solis to investigate the national SEIU. (mrzine.monthlyreview.org)

SEIU v. UHW: Jumbo unions brawl over dues ... Friday afternoon at the United Healthcare Workers headquarters, eight Oakland Police officers mediated a dispute between UHW members resisting the takeover by Service Employees International Union and SEIU representatives who showed up to take custody of the building. Both sides sought to convince the police to let their respective groups stay in the building. Lover Joyce, a former UHW Executive Board member and medical assistant at Kaiser Walnut Creek, explained to reporters what the SEIU representatives had done around 11am. "They broke into the building, pushed our members" after using bolt-cutters to open the doors. Joyce and several other members who had been sleeping at the office for a little over a week, so when SEIU leaders arrived, they called the Oakland Police Department. "We have the deed to the property!" he continued to assure the police and reporters. "It belongs to the Unity Healthcare Workers Corporation, not UHW or SEIU." (sfbg.com)

Related video: SEIU raids San Jose UHW union hall

Andy Stern's SEIU fascists: Shades of Lansing ... This mob, these people were Mary Kay Henry’s “warriors,” staff members and lawyers of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), recruited from around the country to do battle. They came, possibly 200 strong, to California to break UHW – the dissident, 150,000 member healthcare workers union – a militant and democratic union that represented hospital workers, long term and home care workers, plus others throughout California. They call it “trusteeship” – the trade union equivalent, according to Steve Early, of martial law. Mary Kay Henry, an Executive Vice President of SEIU, paid $200,000+ a year, personally pushed her way into hall. She was assisted by another Executive Vice President, Dave Regan, a $200,000+ guy as well. I guess they were on hand just to show that SEIU was serious, but also perhaps a little bullying firsthand was a pleasant diversion from the banalities of Washington, DC life. In Regan’s case, this seems a career specialization. Last March he helped orchestrate SEIU’s physical (but unsuccessful) assault on the Labor Notes Conference in Detroit. (indybay.org)

Dem P2P scandal expands ... The governor's former chief of staff has been identified as "John Doe Number Two" in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former state investment officer who claims political pressure cost the state $90 million. On Tuesday the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of former investment officer Frank Foy revealed John Doe's true identity to be David Contarino, Gov. Bill Richardson's former chief of staff. The revelation came during a news conference that turned into a circus and shouting match. Foy said that he was ordered by his boss, former State Educational Retirement Board Chairman Bruce Malott, to recommend that pension funds invest $90 million with a specific company. That company's executives contributed $15,000 to Richardson?s failed 2008 presidential campaign. State Investment Officer Gary Bland also was pressured to support the investment, according to Foy. "I never thought this investment had any merit," Foy said. "I thought it was suspicious in nature." (krqe.com)

Related video: P2P scandal in N.M. turns ugly

Dem caught in Centennial State P2P racism ... A new bill that would make contractors pay union-level wages on state public works projects would cost Colorado millions of dollars and threaten fragile business-labor relations, opponents said Monday. House Bill 1208, by Rep. John Soper, D-Thornton, would require contractors to pay "prevailing wages," set by the U.S. Department of Labor. Prevailing wages are routinely paid by union shops but not by independent contractors. Opponents say the bill would greatly increase the cost of projects. But union backers argue that the state needs to step in and demand that employees get paid decent salaries and have health care covered by their employers. (rockymountainnews.com)

Rank-and-file workers betrayed by union bigs ... In response to a recent Letter to the Editor, union members are not the problem - it's their leadership. At the federal level, the union card check will insure that the right to a secret ballot is taken away, leading even Democrat George McGovern to chide union leadership: "We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to insure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed." In Iowa, workers cannot be barred from employment for being in a union or for refusing to join a union (Iowa Code, Chapter 731). I was a member of the union as were both of my parents throughout their teaching careers. But union leadership was taking so much money and pouring it into political campaigns without asking its members that I felt I could no longer contribute. I will rejoin the union if they solely focus on bargaining for better salaries and benefits for hard-working teachers who deserve good, honest representation. In a revealing conversation, a labor leader told me privately that when he worked in a forced-union dues state, he tried to do his best to send newsletters, hold meetings and be the best representative he could for hard-working men and women. Other labor leaders asked, "Why? They have to pay either way." Iowa's bipartisan labor laws make union leaders earn their dues by representing workers well instead of forcing them to pay. Workers have right, too. (siouxcityjournal.com)

Union members ripped off by just-elected Dems ... We are all watching a robbery in progress. The American people should "assume the position" with arms raised high while those whom they voted for, just three months ago, pick their pockets. The original "stimulus" package went predominantly toward bailing out the banking and auto industries, but the new nearly trillion-dollar "stimulus" package being ballyhooed by the Obama administration and his liberal left Congress is nothing short of a crime. Consider how these expenditures will "stimulate" the economy: $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts; $600 million for a new fleet of cars for government employees; $21 million to re-sod the National Mall, which sustained damage during the inauguration; $750 million for nonprofits like ACORN, currently embroiled in federal election lawsuits in 13 states; and $650 million for coupons to switch people's TVs from analog to digital. Is someone going to give me the punch line to this joke soon? The Democrats are mocking the hard-working American people who placed their trust in them this past election. This bill is nothing more than a personal ATM for the Democrats to pay back their donors and dramatically increase the size and scope of government. Oh, yeah, here's the punch line: It's going to pass! They will ram it through without a single Republican voting for it, and we are all going to pay. (blog.cleveland.com)

Union-only Twinkies, Wonder Bread survive Chapter 11 ... After more than 4½ years, the maker of Wonder Bread, Hostess Twinkies and a host of other iconic brands, has shed bankruptcy protection, preserving 22,000 jobs. New York investment firm Ripplewood Holdings has majority control of the Interstate with an investment of $44.2 million in cash and $85.8 million in convertible debt. The other nearly 50 percent will be held by lenders who are helping finance operations once the company emerges from bankruptcy. Interstate’s 19,000 union employees were promised a future equity stake in the company if it grows, in exchange for concessions in pay, benefits and work rules. The Teamsters represent about 8,500 of Interstate’s 22,000 workers. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union represents about 8,200 Interstate workers and a host of other unions represent the rest. (kansascity.com)

Bam's tailor need bailout ... Hartmarx Corp. could count on Barack Obama as a client throughout his campaign. However, only three days after the Chicago suit-maker saw its wares on prominent display at the inauguration, it filed for bankruptcy, making its future viability less certain than its top client’s. On Jan. 23, the company filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. Hartmarx Chairman, President and Chief Executive Homi Patel in a statement cited the decline in discretionary apparel purchases and “the significant contraction in borrowing capacity under the company’s senior credit facility” as the reasons for its decline. (news.medill.northwestern.edu)

International Collectivism

Chávez expands outreach ... Ruben Kliksberg awoke Saturday morning questioning everything he had once assumed about the security of the Jewish community in his native Venezuela. The Caracas-born, American-educated hedge fund employee says the country's Jews, like their American counterparts, are well integrated and contribute “massively” to their society. His father was awarded a government honor for his work combating poverty. “I woke up on Saturday morning and all of that had changed in six hours,” Klisberg told JTA. The six hours in question had begun late the night before, on Jan. 30, when 15 armed men invaded the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in the Venezuelan capital Caracas. In an apparently well-organized operation, they overpowered the synagogue's security before proceeding to scrawl hostile messages to the Jewish community on the walls and desecrate religious objects. Kliksberg, now a New York resident, spoke during a rally Monday opposite the Venezuelan Consulate here. Like several American Jewish groups, he pointed a finger at the government of Hugo Chávez, accusing the Venezuelan president of imperiling the Jewish community with rhetoric that has fostered an atmosphere of intimidation. (jta.org)

Technicality could derail Chávez limits ... Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez says he might not take a "no" vote as the final word on his efforts to expand his time in office. Chávez tells the CNN news network that if Venezuelans reject a proposal to lift term limits in a Feb. 15 referendum, his supporters could try again in the future. Chávez says "there's no limit in the constitution regarding the number of times that an amendment can be attempted." Opposition leaders disagree with the comments Chávez made Monday. The socialist leader's opponents argue the constitution prohibits multiple votes on the same proposed amendments. (google.com)

Latin socialists collectivize food ... Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras, and Dominica created a joint food production company and laid out plans to guarantee food security in the Caribbean, Central, and South American regions during an extraordinary summit of the regional trade bloc known as the ALBA in Caracas on Monday. “We are going to create a supranational company, like a transnational company, but in this case with the concept of a great nation, to produce food with the goal of guaranteeing food sovereignty to our people,” declared Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who co-created the ALBA group in 2005 with his ally, the former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro. ALBA stands for “Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas” and is named after the South American independence hero Simón Bolívar, who aspired to unite all of South America into one nation. (venezuelanalysis.com)

Brazil's Trotskyite Lula goes to bat for Chávez ... The decision approving Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur was approved during the presidential summit of July 2006, and since has been voted favourably in the Argentine and Uruguayan legislative branches. However Brazil and Paraguay have still to vote. Brazilian senators and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had a serious confrontation when the charismatic populist leader accused the members of the Upper house of acting as “puppets” of the country’s oligarchy and in accordance with the capital of the “evil empire” in reference to the administration of President George Bush and the US. But in spite of the offence and Chávez tepid apologies, following Lula da Silva’s intervention, the bill remained stalled in the Brazilian senate. “But one thing is Chávez with the barrel of oil at 140 US dollars and another with oil at 40 US dollars, said Brazilian Senate sources” quoted in Brasilia’s media. (mercopress.com)

Ecuador sets P2P with Chávez ... The Presidents of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and Ecuador, Rafael Correa, agreed to meet each other every three months alternatively in each of the two countries, to foster their bilateral links and regional integration. The confirmation was given by Hugo Chávez Tuesday afternoon in this Venezuelan city, at more than 248.5 miles east of Caracas, to where both Presidents travelled accompanied by their Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega, to give homage to Venezuelan patriot Antonio Jose de Sucre. Before this, Correa and Ortega received the Antonio Jose de Sucre Order (First Class). Being thankful for the gesture, Correa assured Sucre was one of the most immense Latin American patriots of all times, as much in war as in peace. "He was the dearest and most loyal official for Liberator Simon Bolivar," he stated. (plenglish.com)
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