6/13/09

Saturday wrap

GovMo: Obama bets his political capital on collectivist-corporate fascism ... On the day of GM's bankruptcy filing, Mr. Obama declared that "[a]s a common shareholder, the government will only vote on core governance issues." Such issues, he said, include "the selection of a company's board of directors and major corporate events or transactions." It must be asked: What else is there? For someone who can't stop proclaiming that he doesn't want to be the company's CEO, Mr. Obama already sounds -- and acts -- a lot like GM's top suit. When Mr. Obama's Presidential Task Force on Automobiles defenestrated GM CEO Rick Wagoner back in March, it removed any doubt regarding the ultimate source of the company's command and control. While Mr. Wagoner fully deserved his dismissal, at that moment General Motors became Government Motors. Many commentators worry that this new, nationalized GM will answer to politicians rather than profit and loss. They fear that this could lead to a $100 billion quagmire. Their fears are not without reason. It's naïve to believe that the president will take a backseat to the company's management. The commander in chief mortgaged no small amount of his political capital by defying public sentiment and doubling down on GM's resurrection. If it fails, he fails. The question is no longer whether GM will be a viable car maker. The question is whether the federal government has a viable exit strategy to remove itself from the debacle ahead. (online.wsj.com)


Stimulus: Biden stiffs Dem gay mayor for IAFF ... Led by Conference President andMiami (FL) Mayor Manny Diaz and hosted by Providence Mayor David Cicilline, U.S. Mayors from across the country begin the 77th Annual Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the largest annual gathering of North American mayors. Vice President Joe Biden and several members of President Barack Obama's cabinet were previously confirmed to join the mayors' conference, but have since canceled because of a local labor issue between the city ofProvidence and the local firefighters union. "Despite previously confirming their participation, they have agreed to the demand of the International Association of Firefighters not to join us. We are highly disappointed by this decision, but we will continue to move forward with our meeting to discuss the challenges facing American cities," said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. (newsblaze.com)


Turnabout: Anti-leftists adopt Alinsky rules, leftwing symbolism ... FreedomWorks, the conservative organization that had a big hand in the Tea Party rallies this past April, is gearing up for a new "Taxpayer March On Washington" for September 12 -- with a very interesting logo. The intriguing thing here, as Ron Gunzburger pointed out, is that the logo makes use of left-handed fists, colored in red -- a traditional symbol all around the world for communism and militant socialism. In an interview with TPM, FreedomWorks press secretary Adam Brandon said the group is aware of this symbol's traditional meaning. "Well, when you start working here at FreedomWorks, the first book you read is Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. We're avid students of the political left," he said. "I've spent years living in Eastern Europe. I'm aware of of it, but I guess the symbolism we're going for is angry taxpayers as a group. So I guess the symbolism is kind of fun." (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)

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


ACORN-backed Ahmadinejad hailed by Chávez ... Responses to incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's apparent reelection Saturday were varied, both inside the Islamic republic and out. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the primary challenger of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, protested results reporting his loss and claiming voter fraud. According to him, such fraud could lead to "dictatorship" in the state. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez was only too happy to congratulate the Iranian president. According to Ahmadinejad's website, Chavez reportedly said that Ahmadinejad's victory was a win for the whole world and all free nations. (ynetnews.com)


Union-backed mob gets up in GOP's face ... Protesters closely aligned with Democrats nearly knocked a Republican senator to the floor and spit in the face of his chief of staff. Sen. James Alesi, of Monroe County, walked out of the chamber later today, not seriously harmed. He said he was disturbed by the crowd of at least 150 people, including those from Citizen Action and ACORN - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Both groups deny their supporters spat on anyone, saying they were protesting the coalition of Republicans and two dissident Democrats who claim to have taken power of the Senate. Republican Sen. George H. Winner Jr., of Elmira, blames Angelo Aponte, secretary of the Senate, for not preventing the protest. Winner says Aponte violated chamber rules by allowing it to go on. (stargazette.com)


Labor-state police unionists sickened by talk of corruption ... With some city police officers seething over their treatment by Providence (RI) Police Chief Dean M. Esserman, the police labor union has called a secret-ballot vote on a declaration of "no confidence" in the chief. Esserman has won the praise of leaders of the minority and not-for-profit communities for his outreach efforts and productive partnerships, as well as the plaudits of Mayor David N. Cicilline, who appointed him 6½ years ago. Cicilline has credited Esserman, as well as the department rank-and-file, with having sharply curtailed crime in Rhode Island's capital city, among other achievements. The unhappiness with Esserman nevertheless has been building for years, Gough acknowledged. For example, he said, veteran officers and some retirees are sick and tired of hearing Esserman rail about the corruption that predated his tenure. "Were there people on the job who may have done something wrong? Absolutely. But that was 1 percent," Gough said. He and many of his colleagues have been offended, he said, because everyone else, hundreds of people, performed diligently, effectively and respectably. "They are offended that the person who wears the number one in the police department has been saying in public how corrupt the department was before he came in," Gough added. (newsblog.projo.com)


Anything goes: P2P ruled ethical in labor-state ... The state ethics commission declined on Friday to go after two Democratic lawmakers for violating the "public trust," saying that the case laid out by the head of the Oregon Republican Party wasn't specific enough. GOP chairman Bob Tiernan had made a formal ethics complaint on Thursday against House Speaker Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, and Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland. He claimed the two men violated their duties as public officials when they guaranteed budget items to Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, in order to cement his vote on a tax proposal. But Oregon Revised Statutes 244.010 merely makes a policy statement, wrote Ron Bersin, executive director of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, in a letter to Tiernan and the party's executive director, Andrew Over. The statute "does not identify a specific prohibited action or restriction on a public official's activity." (oregonlive.com)


Fired AmeriCorps Inspector General was closing in on fraud, waste, abuse ... An inspector general fired by President Obama says he was given no warning and only one hour to decide whether to resign or be let go, hinting the action was retaliation for a report highly critical of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA basketball star and an Obama supporter. Gerald Walpin, a 2006 Bush appointee who reviewed grants awarded by AmeriCorps and other national service programs, said the telephone call he received Thursday evening from White House counsel Norman L. Eisen informing him he was ousted "occurred totally out of the blue." Mr. Walpin said he and his staff had always acted with the "highest integrity" during his two-and-a-half-year tenure. "We performed very well the responsibility of the independent overseer of the agency, and reported things as we saw it," he said. The White House hasn't said specifically why it fired Mr. Walpin, other than to say that the president has lost confidence in him. (washingtontimes.com)


Social Justice on the way: Obama frees up AmeriCorps slush fund ... President Barack Obama says he has lost confidence in the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other national service programs and has told Congress he is removing him from the position. Obama's move follows an investigation by IG Gerald Walpin of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star, into the misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group that Johnson headed. The president didn't offer any more explanation, but White House Counsel Gregory Craig, in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, cited the U.S. attorney's criticism of Walpin to an integrity committee for inspectors general. "We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin's conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president's decision was carefully considered," Craig wrote. Grassley had written Obama a letter pointing to a law requiring that Congress be given the reasons an IG is fired. He cited a Senate report saying the requirement is designed to ensure that inspectors general are not removed for political reasons. Grassley said Walpin had identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds that were wasted or misspent and "it appears he has been doing a good job." Messages left for Walpin seeking comment were not immediately returned. The IG found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car. In August 2008, Walpin referred the matter to the local U.S. attorney's office, which said the IG's conclusions seemed overstated and did not accurately reflect all the information gathered in the investigation. "We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent," Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said in an April 29 letter to the federal counsel of inspectors general. (washingtonexaminer.com)


Decertification blues: Disinterested workers doomed union ... Nurses at Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding have voted out the hospital's largest union. Shasta Regional's registered nurses voted Thursday night against keeping the United Public Employees of California as their union. "We said, 'You know what? Why bother?' " said Sue Washburn, the six-year SRMC nurse who led the efforts for the vote. Seventy-five nurses voted to be rid of the union, with 27 voting to keep it, Shasta Regional spokeswoman Karen Hoyt said. There were 219 nurses eligible to vote, Hoyt said. (redding.com)


P2P infects Big Labor state ... If Rayford Jackson pleads guilty Monday in connection with the Synagro scandal as expected, he will become the second big player to fall in the federal corruption probe of Detroit city government. The first was former Synagro Vice President James Rosendall, 44, of Grand Rapids, who pleaded guilty in January to being part of a bribery conspiracy. He has not yet been sentenced. Accompanying Rosendall's plea was an intriguing document that talked about questionable payments to unnamed city officials and relatives and associates. But Rosendall did not publicly identify the members of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration, City Council or other city officials who are described -- but not named -- in the documents laying out Rosendall's pay-to-play scheme. It's unclear whether Jackson's plea will contain a similar document. Jackson, a developer known for his flashy style, moves freely in local political and business circles. Several sources previously said there is a video showing Jackson talking with Rosendall about bribe payments that Jackson said he made. One source said Jackson ticked off amounts of bribe money he allegedly had spread around. (freep.com)


Unions offer Dems a path to single-party rule ... A massive union takeover is imminent should the Employee 'Forced' Choice Act (EFCA) become law. A new report released by the Workforce Fairness Institute reveals that enactment of EFCA would fuel a significant increase in labor union spending on political activity. EFCA's passage could add at least $1.7 billion (in 2009 dollars) in additional political spending by labor unions over a 10-year period based on a union projection of increases in total membership and the resulting union dues generated from that increase going to political activity. This increase in political spending on the part of union bosses would represent a relatively small percentage of the overall expansion of at least $35 billion in total union revenue that EFCA would produce over a 10-year period if implemented. This is a larger union payback than even I imagined. The amount of capital unions bosses could inject into politics to advance their agenda would virtually stifle the voices of millions of others with differing viewpoints. (washingtonexaminer.com)


SEIU abuse: Sick or not, workers deserve sick leave ... Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper today issued a 38-page ruling declaring that the City of Milwaukee sick leave mandate is unconstitutional. The ruling, for now, kills the controversial mandate that was opposed by many businesses in the city and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), which filed the legal challenge to the law." (The judge's ruling is) a huge victory for Milwaukee and our competitiveness," said Steve Bass, government affairs director for the MMAC. "We think this ordinance puts Milwaukee at a competitive disadvantage and uncertainty about the ordinance puts a chill on new development in Milwaukee." The sick leave mandate was approved by 68 percent of the Milwaukee voters in the Nov. 4 election. The referendum was placed on the ballot after the 9to5 National Coalition of Working Women gathered enough signatures from residents to ask the referendum question. Representatives for 9to5 declined to comment on the judge's ruling today. The sick leave mandate would have required private sector employers in the city of Milwaukee to offer paid sick leave to all employees. Workers would earn one hour of sick leave for each 30 hours worked up to 9 days of sick leave. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be required to provide up to five days a year of paid sick time. 9to5 could appeal today's ruling. If so, Bass said the MMAC will continue to fight it. "We think we have a strong case," Bass said. (biztimes.com)


The Era of Smaller Big Government is Over: We're all P2P politicians now ... It’s tough to be non-partisan these days. Lots of organizations claim to be non-partisan, of course, but it’s usually just a pose, designed to cloak them in the camouflage of reason and even-handedness. A non-partisan “think tank” will be taken much more seriously than a team of political operatives, especially when their work is quoted by journalists, who are more anxious than anyone to avoid being identified as partisan. Commentators and bloggers sometimes like to pin the Medal of Free Thought, with Impartial Analysis cluster, on their chests to declare themselves above petty considerations of party, or suffocating loyalty to individual politicians. The highest praise most average folks can bestow upon themselves, during a conversation about politics or culture, is to declare themselves “moderate.” The rise of the super-state has made it increasingly difficult to remain non-partisan. A natural consequence of the growing power of central government is the unhappy movement of formerly private concerns into the realm of politics. It wasn’t long ago that believing in the right of private companies and their employees to agree upon the terms of compensation, or the privacy of arrangements between mortgage holders and lenders, were “non-partisan” opinions. Now they’re objectives on the ever-expanding political battlefield. Did the employees of AIG anticipate that their presidential votes in 2008 would determine whether or not they received their bonuses? (hotair.com)


International Collectivism

LatAm collectivists chide Obama ... The presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua, both fierce critics of U.S. policy, on Friday accused President Barack Obama of failing to deliver on his promise to make a new start in ties with Latin America. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, both staunch allies of Cuba's communist leadership, made the criticism while attending a summit in St. Kitts and Nevis of the Venezuelan-backed energy alliance PetroCaribe. Chávez, who told Obama at a Summit of the Americas in Trinidad in April "I want to be your friend," said the new U.S. president was not making good on his public commitment to change the way Washington deals with Latin America. "Obama should carry out what he said, but it's not happening," Chávez told reporters after the summit concluded. "It's the same old empire. Let's hope that Obama has the courage, the capacity and the support to dismantle that empire," Chávez said. He also rejected U.S. allegations that his government was limiting freedom of expression by pursuing media critics, calling this view "a great cynicism." "If there's no respect, there's nothing," he said. Earlier, Nicaragua's leftist leader, Ortega, accused Obama's administration of being "stuck in the past" in its policies toward his country and Cuba. (reuters.com)
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