Saturday wrap

Ex-Soviets: Bam doomed to repeat costly communist mistakes ... Now just 20 years later, the Russians are looking with astonishment at the way the US and Nato-led forces are waging their war in Afghanistan. The view from Moscow is that the Western forces have learned nothing from the bitter experience of the Soviet Union. Instead, they are falling into exactly the same trap. One prime example is the current plan by the US to send tens of thousands of extra troops. "Doubling their forces won't lead to a solution on the ground," says Col Oleg Kulakov, who served twice in Afghanistan and is now a lecturer and historian in Moscow. "The conflict cannot be solved by military means, it's an illusion," he adds. "No-one can reach any political goal in Afghanistan relying on military force. Frankly speaking, they are doomed to repeat our mistakes." (news.bbc.co.uk)

Socialist CEOs wowed at White House ... President Obama on Friday sought to assure business CEOs at the White House that the $787 billion stimulus plan will be good for business and for the country, and that he will seek to make government run as efficiently as private enterprise. The president told the audience of about 100 business executives and some spouses that the emergency legislation, which was set to be passed through Congress later in the day, will create jobs in the private sector. "We're going to have to have fiscal discipline," he said. "We're going to have to make some tough decisions that many of you are already making in your companies, but the federal government has not made with respect to our operations." (washingtontimes.com)

We don't need no stinkin' non-union jobs ... Rep. John Sullivan introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at preventing federal agencies from favoring unions in large construction projects. Sullivan, R-Tulsa, said the bill was written in response to an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that encourages federal agencies to consider "project labor agreements” on federal projects worth more than $25 million. Project labor agreements are signed with unionized companies; federal agencies were banned from requiring them during the last administration. Sullivan said that the $800 billion stimulus bill about to clear Congress makes it imperative that contracts for construction allow true competitive bidding. "It is simply unacceptable to allow the federal government to discriminate against 84 percent of the U.S. private construction work force — and the 95 percent in Oklahoma — who seek federal contracts,” Sullivan said. (newsok.com)

Bam OK's private jets for union organizers ... Members and nonmembers forced to pay dues as a condition of employment deserve the right to know where their money is going -- for instance, this private LearJet, shown below taking off in Las Vegas. Machinists union bosses spent $1.8 million (from forced dues) for hangars, jet fuel, jet maintenance, mechanics, pilots, and associated loan repayments in 2006 alone. In November, Machinists union bosses flew the jet from Canada to Ireland on the workers' dime. But the Obama Administration is moving right now to keep the ordinary unionized worker from knowing how much this and other flights by union bosses cost the employees on a per-union-official basis. Obama claims he wants transparency and accountability -- but apparently he makes an exception for union bosses. (nrtw.org)

Union-backed Rep. Murtha exposed ... Another possible pay-to-play arrangement appears to be unraveling under public scrutiny - this one involving Rep. John Murtha, the powerful defense appropriator from Pennsylvania. Federal investigators are looking into whether a prominent defense lobbyist and former top aide to Murtha funneled bogus contributions to the Democratic lawmaker in return for earmarks for his clients. Click here for the interactive map. (news.muckety.com)

Dem Govs share P2P partner ... Bill Richardson isn't the only Democratic governor being mentioned in connection with possible "pay-to-play" politics involving CDR Financial Products. According to a story Wednesday in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also has a CDR problem. The state of Pennsylvania awarded nearly $600,000 in fees to CDR. In one of those strange coincidences that we're used to reading about in this state, CDR's CEO, David Rubin, donated $40,000 to Rendell's campaign committee. (hispanicbusiness.com)

We know where you live ... The Employee Free Choice Act, or as we call it, the Employee Forced Choice Act, would do away with the secret ballot in determining whether employees want to unionize. Under it, organizers would no longer need a ratifying vote to unionize a workplace. Instead, they would only need a majority of employees to sign authorization cards. Once a union collected signed cards from a majority of employees, the workplace would be unionized. To be perfectly clear, a worker isn't given one of these authorization cards and then encouraged to go off alone to secretly decide whether or not to sign it. There is no anonymous ballot box for submitting a folded authorization card. Instead, union organizers and pro-union coworkers present these cards to employees and ask for a signature on the spot. (toledoblade.com)

Oppressive secret ballot requirement foils Teamster organizers ... Workers at Northwest Refuse who were set to vote next week on whether to unionize have called off the election. "The petition has been withdrawn," said Alan Sprague, president of Truck Drivers' Union Local 164, an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "(The employees) didn't feel the election would be won." Sprague said a group of employees met with him earlier this week and said they wanted to withdraw the petition to unionize because they felt it would have been lost by a small number of votes. No other reasons were given, he said. "They were very tight-lipped," Sprague said. Northwest would have become the first Jackson County trash hauler to unionize. (mlive.com)

Hollywood relives strikers' glory ... As the biz marked the somber one-year anniversary of the end of the Writers Guild of America strike on Feb. 12, industryites were more inclined to look forward than back on that painful period. The ramifications of the 100-day walkout are still very visible throughout the creative community -- nowhere more so than in the slimmer paychecks that writers and other above-the-line talent are now collecting. The jolt of the strike, coupled with the nation's broader economic devastation, has dramatically shrunk the pay scale for writers, actors and directors in a matter of months. Actors who once commanded $125,000 for a drama pilot in recent years are now lucky to pull in $80,000-$90,000. Feature writers who might've drawn $600,000-$700,000 for a studio-commissioned script may now see half of that. (variety.com)

'Liberal Fascism' rankles U.K. leftist ... Fascism, Goldberg contends, first appeared in government before Mussolini, thanks to the Democrat president Woodrow Wilson (whose first world war administration insisted that sauerkraut was renamed "liberty cabbage" in its cafeterias to reflect anti-German sentiment). Anyone who believes in collective action through the state to improve people's lives is fascist or operating with unconscious fascistic impulses, Goldman argues. Our 1944 Education Act and the NHS, then, rest on the same foundational principles as Kristallnacht and al-Qaida. Eugenics, cloning, Keynesianism, state-regulated abortion, the Führer (one chapter is called "Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left") all bear the same imprimatur. Goldberg defines fascism as "a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people." (guardian.co.uk)

International Collectivism

ACORN does Nicaragua ... Although the electoral fraud in Managua was the most widely documented, the same modus operandi occurred across the country, affecting more than 40 municipalities. Despite complaints from the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church, chambers of commerce and political parties, the CSE has refused to allow a recount of the ballots or scrutiny by impartial observers. And when citizens protested peacefully, the government resorted to violence to curb them. Thus, the FSLN government proclaimed itself winner in 109 of the 153 municipalities. This culminated a process of electoral fraud that began five months earlier with the suspension of the legal standing of the opposition Conservative Party and the Sandinista Renewal Movement, a rival to President Daniel Ortega's FSLN. National and international observers were barred from monitoring the vote until the last moment. (miamiherald.com)

We don't need no stinkin' election observer ... Venezuelan has expelled the Spanish member of the European Parliament Luis Herrero for allegedly making offensive statements and calling President Hugo Chávez a dictator. The Spanish MEP had been invited by an opposition party to observe the voting in Sunday's referendum on a proposal to remove all limits to the number of terms an elected official can serve. If the proposal is accepted President Chávez will be able to be re-elected for an unlimited number of terms. Venezuelan police reportedly removed Mr Herrero from the country by force. The Venezuelan electoral council says he had disturbed the "peace and harmony" of the campaign. (radionetherlands.nl)

Keep Chávez forever - or else ... As Venezuelans prepare for a national vote this February 15th on whether to amend the constitution to remove the two-term limit on all elected offices, several polls conducted by firms with different political orientations indicate that a majority of Venezuelans support the proposed amendment. 54% of Venezuelans support the amendment, according to a poll conducted in January by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), a non-government firm that is considered to be sympathetic to the government and is cited consistently by the Venezuelan Ministry of Communications and Information. Similarly, a survey of 2,500 Venezuelans conducted in mid-January by the Social Investigations Group (GIS) found that 55% of Venezuelans support the amendment, while 40% oppose it. GIS is headed by a former finance minister of the Chávez government. (venezuelanalysis.com)

Fascistic socialist students for constitutionalism ... March organizers insisted they were not going to fall into a trap they claimed had been set by the government to provoke them into disorder. Chávez has labeled student leaders as "fascists" bent on "destabilizing democracy," and ordered the security forces to take a tough line with troublemakers and demonstrators blocking public highways. Sánchez said that a team of representatives of the No march had not been able to meet Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami. They had been told of the decision by an official called Colonel Américo Villagas, who was in charge of coordinating police operations, Sánchez added. Pro-reform students from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) also went to the ministry. Afterwards they formally announced what everybody already knew, namely that they would be voting in favor of the reform plan. "We find ourselves in one of the greatest demonstrations of democracy there has ever been in this country," declared PSUV youth leader Robert Serra, who seemed unable to resist the temptation to sneer at his opponents in provocative and personal tones. (laht.com)

Paperwork trips up anti-Chavistas ... Victory in Sunday's vote would allow Chávez to stay in power for as long as he keeps winning so-called elections. Polls give the socialist president a slight lead after several weeks of intense campaigning that opposition parties and anti-government students say has been distorted by abuses of power. Trucks from state-oil company PDVSA have been used in the campaign and public workers frequently complain in private they are obliged to take part in Chávez's rallies. Opposition parties say the National Electoral Council has dragged it's feet to approve campaign advertisements and say they were denied permits for several marches. "It's total abuse," student leader Bernardo Pulido told foreign journalists on Friday. "They have refused us eight permits." An opposition march planned for Friday was canceled because it did not receive the necessary paperwork. (uk.reuters.com)

All communist roads lead to Cuba ... Hifikeunye Lucas Pohamba, President of Namibia and of the Southwestern African People’s Organization (SWAPO) arrived in Havana at the invitation of Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz. Lucas Pohamba and his delegation were welcomed by Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Minister Rodrigo Malmierca at the Jose Marti International Airport. The visitors will stay in Cuba until next Sunday. The Namibian President will hold official talks with Raul Castro and he will also meet with other Communist Party and government leaders. Lucas Pohamba will tour different places of economic, scientific, social and historic interest. (elhabanero.cubaweb.cu)
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