6/2/09

Tuesday wrap

Obama jumps shark: Folks reject GovMo gambit ... We might be catching a glimpse of Obama’s tipping point with his handling of General Motors' bankruptcy, and Chrysler's before it. The government takeover of the automakers is by far the most unpopular thing Obama has done so far. And it's not just unpopular -- it is partisan, appealing to the base of his party and virtually no one else. In a Washington Post poll in late April, just 41 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama's handling of the automaker problem, compared to clear majorities who approved of the job he was doing in other areas. According to a detailed breakdown of a Gallup poll from the same time, people in virtually every demographic and political category looked askance at the continuing bailout of the automakers. People of all age groups disapproved. People in every region of the country disapproved. Men disapproved. Women disapproved. People with graduate degrees disapproved. People with less than a high school degree disapproved. People who go to church a lot disapproved. People who don't go to church at all disapproved. People who make more than $75,000 a year disapproved. People who make less than $20,000 a year disapproved. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Related video: Axelrod's GovMo make-over



Marxism expert diagnoses U.S. ... A commentary published in the once-official newspaper of the Soviet Union heralded America’s “descent into Marxism” citing the United States’ takeover of General Motors, poor education standards, and the election of Barack Obama as president. The opinion piece in Pravda, one of the Soviet-era newspapers still published in Russia, carried the headline, “American Capitalism Gone with a Whimper,” and was written by Stanislav Mishin, who runs the blog “Mat Rodina.” “It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American descent into Marxism is happening with breath-taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hopeless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people,” wrote Mishin. The article claimed that America’s descent took place in three stages: “First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather than the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas than the drama in D.C. that directly affects their lives.” Secondly, “their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different ‘branches and denominations’ were for the most part little more than Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega-churches were more than happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the ‘winning’ side of one pseudo-Marxist politician or another.” It continued, “Their flocks would reject Christ in hopes of earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.” “The final collapse,” said the Pravda article, “has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America’s short history, but in the world. If this keeps up for more than another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemer Republican and at worst Zimbabwe.” (cnsnews.com)


New Progs discredited: Defined by debt, sleaze ... A corrupt parliament; an unprincipled government; an economy sinking under a mountain of debt - and a people enraged. Not a bad description of Britain in 2009. Also not a bad description of Britain nearly two centuries ago, in the dismal decade of distress and discontent that followed the Napoleonic Wars. Yes, we've been in this mess before. The question is: How did we get out of it? And can we do it again? In his Rural Rides, which he began writing in 1822 and published in 1830, the radical journalist William Cobbett portrayed a country groaning under the twin burdens of debt and sleaze. In America, by sheer good luck, a charismatic new President was elected just as the financial crisis reached a crescendo, allowing all the blame to be heaped on George W. Bush - though in reality much more responsibility lies with Congress, Democrats as much as Republicans. (dailymail.co.uk)


Union-backed congressional 'Seniority Symbol' ailing ... The health of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member in Senate history, has taken a turn for the worse and prompted doctors to extend the lawmaker's hospital stay, his office said Monday. Mr. Byrd, 91, was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago with what his office described as an infection. His office said Monday that the West Virginia Democrat would remain hospitalized because he had since contracted a more serious staph infection. (washingtontimes.com)


SEIU thugs in Fresno: Let's roll ... June 1 is the first day of a highly contested union election for 10,000 homecare workers in Fresno County who are trying to leave the Washington, D.C.-based SEIU, a union that has been condemned by the AFL-CIO for using violence in inter-union conflicts. The stakes have never been higher for SEIU officials, who are desperately trying to stop a movement of nearly 100,000 healthcare workers in California who are organizing to quit SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). Current and former SEIU organizers have reported SEIU's use of so-called "shock and awe" teams to incite violence, including stalking, threatening and intimidating supporters of opposing unions. With 900 paid SEIU staff from across the country in Fresno County today, workers are worried about a repeat of recent violent attacks. At an SEIU meeting held on Sunday May 31, SEIU-UHW Trustee Dave Regan encouraged hundreds of SEIU staff to "administer an old-school ass-whipping" to NUHW supporters. "In other words, what we gotta do here, my old-school friends, is we have to administer an old-school ass-whipping over the next two weeks," he said. "I know everybody knows what means. We gotta give a butt-whipping they will never forget," he added. "We gotta put them in the ground and bury them." (indybay.org)


UAW's D.C. organizers kill the golden goose ... Writer of A Savage Factory: An Eyewitness Account of the Auto Industry's Self-Destruction Robert Dewar said here on Monday that the most important reason for GM's bankruptcy should be the high labor costs. And almost all the interviewees in Detroit shared the same opinion that labor costs should be blamed for the 100-year-old GM's collapse. According to Dewar, it wasn't poor fuel efficiency, bad design, or foreign cars that rocked the nation's auto industry. It was poor management which resulted in higher and higher labor costs in the auto plants that spawned the beginning of the end of the American car. How high on earth the labor cost is in GM plants? Well, you may find answers among the numbers mentioned below. (news.xinhuanet.com)


Desert Dems take on union-backed, tax-funded fraud group ... After reviewing more than 90,000 voter registration forms submitted by ACORN, Clark County Voter Registrar Larry Lomax determined that nearly half (48 percent) of those forms were “clearly fraudulent.” Although a local attorney for ACORN called the allegations “patently false,” she lacks credibility because her organization was already under scrutiny by federal and state investigators. “It was the policy of ACORN to terminate ... canvassers who failed to obtain 20 (registration forms) per day,” said an investigator from the AG’s office. “This is a case of voter registration fraud,” said Secretary of State Miller. I hope he’s right but, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal warned, “Let’s not pretend to have all fallen off the same turnip truck.” In other words, ACORN community organizers thought they could take advantage of the unsophisticated rubes in our state. “If ACORN ... failed to get any unqualified electors to the polls to cast illegal ballots, it wasn’t for lack of trying,” the Review-Journal added. Another worrisome aspect of this case is that President Obama was an ACORN legal adviser before he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois, and his campaign committee last year paid ACORN $832,000 for dubious get-out-the-vote efforts in key primary states, including Nevada. Nevada isn’t alone in this battle because similar charges have been filed against ACORN in Pennsylvania and Washington State. My message to our attorney general is simple and straightforward: Prosecute those who think they can pull the wool over the eyes of Nevada voters and election officials. Go get ’em! (nevadaappeal.com)


The audacity of forced unionism ... Although our national history is rife with examples of federal government leaders (both members of Congress and the president) flouting the wishes of the people they represent, pushing through the EFCA might just set a new high (or perhaps low) in that regard. The American people overwhelmingly oppose the measure. A research report recently released by BIGresearch shows that four out of five Americans support secret ballots in union organizing elections, and that support for secret ballots is even stronger among union members. According to the study findings, 81.4 percent of those surveyed said votes on whether to join a union should be kept secret. Among non-union individuals surveyed, 81.3 percent said such votes should be kept secret, while in union households, 83.9 percent said the same. The survey was conducted in April, with survey responses from 8,667 U.S. adults. "These numbers tell us the vast majority of Americans believe the secret ballot is a cornerstone of democracy and is just as important in a union election as it is when voters choose a president or member of Congress," said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, the group that underwrote the research study, in a prepared statement. "What's especially revealing is that union members hold that belief even more strongly than people who don't belong to a union. Union leadership might want to do away with the secret ballot, but rank-and-file workers want their votes kept private." (dcvelocity.com)


Chicago Way: Dems make pay-to-play union-only ... New rules and limits for political campaign donations are set to become law in Illinois. The Illinois House is sending the plan to Governor Pat Quinn after both the House and the Senate approved the plan in the final days of their regular session. Quinn and top Democrats say the plan will stem the tide of money in elections. Reform groups and Republicans say the proposed caps have too many holes and question marks. Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan says the plan is not perfect, but is a step in the right direction. (mystateline.com)


Stern holds sham election to enthrone disgraced UNITE big ... In a special meeting today, the General Executive Board of Workers United, an affiliate of SEIU, voted unanimously to make Bruce Raynor the new president of their union. "Already, our young union with a long history has been exceeding expectations and defying the odds. Bruce Raynor is a big part of that history, and we welcome him with great enthusiasm. By renewing the partnership we have built over years of leadership at our predecessor unions, we are poised to do even more and take working people farther," says Edgar Romney, the founding President of Workers United who will now serve the union as Secretary Treasurer. (sev.prnewswire.com)


Labor-state promotes gov't-union strikes ... Two bills quietly moving through the Legislature would make it easier for public employee unions to mount illegal strikes, the Daily News has learned. One would soften the penalties against unions by forcing employers - including the city and Metropolitan Transportation Authority - to pay up to 50% of a union's lost dues if "extreme provocation" led to the strike. Another bill makes it easier for unions to block public employers from imposing new rules by eliminating the requirement that unions prove "immediate and irreparable injury." State Sen. Diane Savino (D-S.I.) sponsored the bills, which would alter the state's Taylor Law, which forbids public employee unions from striking. Savino said her bills would not encourage unions to strike, but would take away an employer's "unfair advantage." Savino said the extreme provocation proposal was aimed at the MTA, saying it provoked the 2005 transit strike by trying to include pensions in the contract talks. Because of the strike, Transport Workers Union Local 100 had to forfeit the automatic deductions of union dues, costing it about $1.5 million a month. The deductions were restored last year. A spokesman for the TWU said passage of Savino's legislation was among the union's priorities. (nydailynews.com)


Steelworkers out on strike v. oppressive credit union ... Employees at the Etowah County branches of Community Credit Union are on strike and one branch is temporarily closed. The branch on Albert Rains Boulevard will be closed temporarily because of the employees' union negotiations. Workers carried picket signs and walked today at the main branch on South 26th Street in Alabama City and at the Rainbow City location. (gadsdentimes.com)


Probe sought over unions' political payoffs ... Nova Scotia’s New Democrats returned $45,000 in union contributions Monday amid concerns the money may have been improperly donated. NDP campaign manager Matt Hebb said the party received $5,000 contributions from each of nine unions belonging to the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council. He said the party learned that, during discussions about making the donations, individual unions talked about whether the council would reimburse them. "That raised a question for us about whether the contributions were made properly under the legislation," Mr. Hebb said Monday morning. "Rather than have any contributions within our possession around which there is any potential for a question, we simply immediately returned the funds, which is what we think any responsible political party would be expected to do." Election financing rules brought in last year limit donations from individuals and organizations to $5,000. The rules also require that contributors be based in Nova Scotia. (thechronicleherald.ca)


NEA payback: Dems block prison reform ... John Eason has been a part of the fight to bring more charter schools to Tennessee for the past 15 years. So far, it’s been a losing battle, and after the most recent failure, Eason’s hope for expanding the reach of privately operated public schools reached a new low. A state bill to expand the reach of charter schools was put on the backburner two weeks ago thanks to House Democrats. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) has promised to keep fighting and even left the window cracked ever so slightly to the possibility the legislation could be heard again this session. Eason, a board member for the Tennessee Charter School Association, said he’s not confident. “For 15 years, I’ve been trying to get this thing done, so to have another year where there are a bunch of kids at the [Nashville public housing complex] James Cayce Homes without the choice of where to go to school, it’s disappointing,” he said. The legislation, which stalled for the session in the education committee on May 20, would have allowed children on free or reduced lunches to have the choice of attending charter schools. It also would have erased the cap, currently at 50, for how many charter schools Tennessee may have. In Nashville, charter schools, which teach some of the system’s most troubled populations, have proven especially successful. KIPP Academy, for instance, has seen its students gain between one-and-a-half and two grade levels of academic achievement per school year. (nashvillecitypaper.com)


New assignment for celebrated New Prog screamer ... Progressive Book Club (PBC), the New York-based on-line bookseller, announced today that Governor Howard Dean will chair its Board of Directors. A pioneer in the Netroots movement, the outgoing chairman of the Democratic National Committee, six-term governor of Vermont and 2004 presidential candidate brings a wealth of experience in building on-line activist communities. (news.prnewswire.com)




U.S. greenlights Chávez weapons buildup ... Venezuela's recent purchase from Russia of the "most sophisticated version of a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile" is "sharpening concern" in the United States that a part of "Venezuelan government's massive weapons buildup" could wind up in the "hands of guerrillas in neighboring Colombia," reported El Nuevo Herald newspaper. Although Washington has voiced concern ever since 2005, when President Hugo Chávez completed the purchase of 100,000 AK-103 rifles, which marked the beginning of a trade relationship in the military field with Russia, El Nuevo Herald claimed that the purchase of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles "has stoked US fears." Some US government officials interviewed by the US newspaper stressed that Washington's unease is "well-founded, because of credible evidence that three top Venezuelan officials offered Colombia's FARC rebels weapons, money and contacts to buy portable anti-aircraft missiles in 2007." (english.eluniversal.com)


International Collectivism

Would you buy a used car from this discredited socialist? ... Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces the threat of an electoral bloodbath this week as Britain votes in European and local elections, amid fresh questions over his future. Voters mired in recession and angered at a political expenses scandal look set to punish his ruling Labour Party, polls indicate, while there are growing signs Brown will reshuffle his cabinet after Thursday's ballots. Labour's opinion poll fortunes have been at record lows for months, and there is talk Brown could face a leadership challenge in the wake of the dual election result. But he seems in no mood to give up. Asked whether Labour MPs were calling for him to step aside after the polls, Brown said he was focused on cleaning up politics and fighting the recession. "They're not, because I've got a job to do," he told Sky News television, denying that some Labour MPs were talking of him quitting. "We've got work to do, we have got to clean up the system." (google.com)


Clinton mum as CNN Marxist ties El Salvador, Cuba ... El Salvador's newly elected president signed an agreement to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, hours after being sworn in. El Salvador severed diplomatic ties with Cuba 50 years ago, following the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, and had been the only Latin American country which had no diplomatic relations with Havana. Mauricio Funes, 49, a former television journalist, was inaugurated in San Salvador on Monday. Hugo Martinez, the country's new foreign minister, said on Monday: "Diplomatic relations should have been restored long ago. In fact, relations with Cuba should never have been severed." The presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, as well as an official delegation from Cuba, attended the inauguration ceremony. The U.S. sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The socialist leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua, Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega, as well as their closest ally, Bolivian President Evo Morales, did not attend. (turkishweekly.net)


Pro-freedom extremist rejects Chávez ambush ... That day at 5pm Chávez formally called for the debate for 11pm on Saturday in the presidential palace, to be broadcast live on Hello President. He said, “Even though I said I’d step aside and let [the intellectuals] debate, I accept, with those who want to accompany me…Without avoiding any topic, any topic is valid.” At 6.40 pm the president of CEDICE, Rafael Alfonzo responded in a press conference saying they accepted the debate but they proposed, “that for greater efficiency and clarity that it be carried out between two people, the president Hugo Chávez Frias and the writer Mario Vargas Llosa.” And 7.40 pm, Chávez commented on his show that it was “regrettable…they don’t want to discuss, what they want is a show,” said they were still invited. He confirmed he could help moderate but that the conditions stayed the same. “What they want is to personalise it and they ask for fairness, if it’s as an intellectual, I’m a soldier. [Vargas] is a laureate intellectual,” he said. Vargas responded on CNN accusing Chávez of being dishonest, confused, and uncertain of his ideas, and said “[Chávez’s] proposal to debate wasn’t serious, it was just a gesture or an ambush.” (venezuelanalysis.com)


Leading Latin Progressive defends property rights, religion ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez denounced a smear campaign aimed at distorting the course of social justice in the process of changes he has led since 1999. The president warned in his Sunday column, Las lineas de Chávez, of the attempt to make the population believe they will lose their homes, cars or "anything legally owned through effort and work such as property." If for ten years, he explained, "these oligarchs have attacked the right to food, education and health it is not surprising that they warn against Venezuelan rights to property, furniture or a home." The president cautioned even "those compatriots who are not sympathizers of the Revolution who may suffer through the overwhelming perversity of those who claim to be their defenders and representatives." Chávez added that "we must continue to work establishing equality and achieving it through the principle 'To each according to his capacity and to each according to his needs' and that this is not only a principle of socialism but also a Christian principle that has its roots in primitive Christianity. (pww.org)
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