7/2/09

Thursday wrap

Obama revealed by Lioness of White House press corps ... Following a testy exchange during today’s briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas told CNSNews.com that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press. “Nixon didn’t try to do that,” Thomas said. “They couldn’t control (the media). They didn’t try. “What the hell do they think we are, puppets?” Thomas said. “They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them.” Thomas said she was especially concerned about the arrangement between the Obama Administration and a writer from the liberal Huffington Post Web site. The writer was invited by the White House to President Obama’s press conference last week on the understanding that he would ask Obama a question about Iran from among questions that had been sent to him by people in Iran. “When you call the reporter the night before you know damn well what they are going to ask to control you,” Thomas said. “I’m not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to fare-thee-well--for the town halls, for the press conferences,” she said. “It’s blatant. They don’t give a damn if you know it or not. They ought to be hanging their heads in shame.” (cnsnews.com)


Obama bathes in global celebrity ... While Obama improves relations with Venezuela, Obama has cut military ties to Honduras, is considering a cut-off of all aid, is doing nothing to stop loan suspensions by international organizations over which the U.S. has substantial influence, and is supporting international efforts to isolate Honduras. Poor and tiny Honduras faces the full wrath of the United States, United Nations, and much of the rest of the world, while nothing is done about Iran. On Iran, Obama and the world acted with the utmost deference, and there were no efforts by the Obama administration at international action. None. But Honduras, enforcing its own laws against a renegade wannabe President-for-life, for some reason warrants the full force of the United States government and international community. Honduras gets condemnation from Obama, while Chávez gets hugs and Ahmadinejad gets deference. Wonderful. (hotair.com)


Workers flee labor-state oppression ... Mr. Obama believes union power is a ticket to the middle class. The middle class is getting creamed in all three of these "progressive" states, where organized labor is king. The unionized share of the workforce is 20% in California, 19% in New Jersey and 27% in New York compared to 13% across the country. All three are non-right-to-work states, have super-minimum wage requirements and provide among the nation's most generous public-employee pensions. Workers in these paradises are indeed uniting -- by leaving. New York ranks first, California second and New Jersey third in moving vans leaving the state. A study by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research found that over the past decade these and other high-union states (mostly in the Northeast) had one-third the job growth of states with low union penetration. (nrtw.org)


Workers oust oppressive union ... Employees at Cheminis Lumber have given their union the boot. About 75 percent of the 30 unionized employees voted to decertify the union. Under provincial labour laws the union members had organize the de-certification vote themselves, management cannot be involved in the de-certification. The United Steelworkers of America had represented the employees since August 2006. the union and the company had signed one contract and when the vote was taken to decertify the union the contract was in its last three months. Negotiations on a new contract had not started. (northernnews.ca)


Everyday low politics; Walmart lurches Left, buys protection by selling out competitors ... Corporate America's cheerleading for more government involvement in health care now includes Wal-Mart, that liberal paragon of social irresponsibility. The discount giant's ex-critics probably ought to be more skeptical, given that this seems to be anticompetitive special pleading in progressive drag. Andy Stern finally got his man. Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke was joined in his show of support by Mr. Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union and probably the most influential U.S. labor leader, as well as by John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff now running the leftward Center for American Progress. Both organizations regularly assail Wal-Mart. The SEIU, having failed in its drive to organize Wal-Mart stores, went on to help fund a harassment group called Wal-Mart Watch. The Podesta outfit provides ammunition for critics about the retailer's supposedly skimpy benefits. (online.wsj.com)


LatAm anti-socialists vote with their feet ... For just a moment, in the early days of his presidency, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez looked almost like a healer. "Let's ask for God's help to accept our differences and come together in dialogue," he famously implored his conflicted compatriots in 2002. Instead what Venezuelans got was an avenger. The government is seizing privately owned companies and farms. Labor unions have been crushed. Political opponents are routinely harassed or else prosecuted by chavista controlled courts. And now after a decade of the so-called Bolivarian revolution, tens of thousands of disillusioned Venezuelan professionals have had enough. Artists, lawyers, physicians, managers and engineers are leaving the country by droves, while those already abroad are scrapping plans to return. The wealthiest among them are buying condos in Miami and Panama City. Cashiered oil engineers are working rigs in the North Sea and sifting the tar sands of western Canada. Those of European descent have applied for passports from their native lands. Academic scholarships are lifeboats. An estimated million Venezuelans have moved abroad in the decade since Chávez took power. (newsweek.com)


Our post-Constitutional disorder explained ... Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is sounding an alarm for all Americans amidst worries that the “land of the free” and “home of the brave” is turning to socialism. In his new book, “Saving Freedom,” he urges Americans to reclaim their freedom and outlines a plan to return America to its founding principles. “It’s become more and more apparent to me that too many Americans don’t understand why we have been exceptional as a country, why we’ve been prosperous, and why we’ve been good as a nation,” DeMint tells Newsmax.TV. (Editor's Note: See the full interview with Sen. Jim DeMint: here.) DeMint, who’s new book has been compared to a new Declaration of Independence, says he decided to write it because the concept of freedom has been a part of America since the very beginning. “Now the lines between what we do as a free society and what the government should do have been so blurred that people seem willing to accept government intervention into almost every area of our lives,” he says. DeMint wants Americans to once again understand what freedom is, how it works, and how government has never been further from it. “The basic idea of constitutional government has been abandoned,” he says. “The Constitution limits what the federal government can do, but we ignore that every day and start new programs that have nothing to do with those powers that were given to the federal government in the Constitution.” (newsmax.com)


Socialist birds of a feather flock together against liberty ... President Obama squirmed and weaseled his words with the Iranian Mullahs and their puppet-tyrant, Ahmadinejad, not wanting to be seen as meddling in a tyrannical theocracy, known throughout the world as beneath-contempt oppressors of every human right under the sun. No, no, no, it just wouldn't do to publicly lend support to all those moderate, freedom-loving throngs of Iranians taking to the streets, risking life and limb for more liberty. Not until the Iranians killed demonstrators on camera, the pictures went round the world, and criticism of himself mounted at home, did this President put his hands on his hips and use the words, "appalled" and "outraged." And the words that quickly came to my own mind as Obama gave this tiny, petulant nod to liberty: "Wimp in Chief." This week, the Honduran socialist president, seeking to eviscerate his country's constitution in a shameless power-grab, has evoked Obama's true colors, and spread them out like yellow underwear on a backyard clothesline. Obama's response to the Honduran military removing a dictator-wannabe from office (at the behest, it must be noted, of the Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress), and escorting him to the border, was sure and fast. He declared the military action an "illegal coup" faster than you can say Fidel Castro. And just as quickly the rest of the region's socialist gang chimed in too. The real Castro brothers. Hugo Chávez. Daniel Ortega. Birds of a feather do tend to flock together. (americanthinker.com)


Anti-U.S. Leftists gaining ground ... Many are calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez “Castro’s Heir”—a man destined to be the perpetual thorn in the side of the United States just as Castro has been for the last 50 years. Like Castro, Hugo Chávez wants to expel U.S. interests from Latin America while simultaneously expanding his own brand of socialism. But unlike Castro, Hugo Chávez has the massive profits from Venezuela’s oil industry to actually make a difference. In 2007 alone Chávez gave $8.8 billion in aid to his Latin American neighbors (the U.S. gave only $1.6 billion, most of it earmarked for Colombia). What’s more, Chávez has set up four TV stations to broadcast his ideological message and has even given aid to the Colombian FARC. The strategy seems to be working. Since Chávez took office in 1999, Latin America has seen a dramatic shift to the left. Today the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and El Salvador are not simply left, they are pro-Castro and pro-Chávez left. At the acceptance speech of El Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes in March 2009, supporters waved Venezuelan flags and Funes’s first act as president was to restore political ties with Cuba. Then on June 3, 2009 these presidents, led by Chávez, voted to reinstate Cuba into the Organization of the American States after 47 years of exclusion. (An invitation that Cuba promptly refused.) (hnn.us)


Amtrak corruption exposes Obama ... Watchdogs are an endangered species in the Age of Obama. The latest government ombudsman to get the muzzle: Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold. The longtime veteran employee was abruptly "retired" this month — just as the government-subsidized rail service faces mounting complaints about its meddling in financial audits and probes. Question the timing? Hell, yes. On June 18, Weiderhold met with Amtrak officials to discuss the results of an independent report by the Washington, D.C., law firm Willkie, Farr & Gallagher. The 94-page report has been made publicly available through the office of whistle-blower advocate Charles Grassley, the Republican senator from Iowa. It concluded that the "independence and effectiveness" of the Amtrak inspector general's office "are being substantially impaired" by the agency's Law Department. Amtrak bosses have effectively: • Gagged their budgetary watchdogs from communicating with Congress without pre-approval. • Required that all Amtrak documents be pre-screened (and in some cases redacted) before being turned over to the inspector general's office. • Taken control of the inspector general's $5 million portion of federal stimulus spending. Also, the report revealed, Amtrak regularly retained outside law firms shielded from I.G. reach. (ibdeditorials.com)


Obama hearts union-backed, tax-funded fraud group ... If Senate Republicans have to play hardball to force the removal of ACORN from the ranks of "2010 Census Partners," so be it. There are compelling reasons why the liberal activist group should not help recruit U.S. Census Bureau workers. Among them -- allegations in more than a dozen states that it used illegal voter-registration quotas and its long history of bias that clearly sucks up to all-things-Democrat. While Republicans do what they can about ACORN in the House, the GOP's most formidable political nutcracker is its blocking of the Senate vote on confirming the administration's nominee to head the bureau, Robert Groves. Senate Republicans initially blocked the vote because he is an expert in statistical sampling, a technique they properly argue is unconstitutional for census use. (pittsburghlive.com)


Obama taps ACORN lawyer for SCOTUS ... A legal advocacy group advised by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in the 1980s actively opposed conservative Robert H. Bork's nomination to the high court calling him a "threat" to the "civil rights of the Latino community." The Senate went on to reject President Reagan's nominee in 1987. The revelation is included in 350 pages of documents the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund delivered to the senators late Tuesday evening. Judge Sotomayor worked for PRLDEF in various capacities from 1980 until she became a federal judge in 1992, spending most of her time as a board member. The documents, which the group's lawyers have said include relevant information about Judge Sotomayor's time there, also show the fund did legal work for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN. During the 2008 presidential election, ACORN came under fire after allegations of voter registration fraud. (washingtontimes.com)


Obamanistas re-fuel housing fraud for ACORN ... Battered mortgage giant Freddie Mac received $6.1 billion in new funds from the Treasury Department to help offset its mounting liabilities, according to a regulatory filing submitted Wednesday. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which has been operating Freddie Mac since last fall, requested the funds for Freddie Mac after the mortgage firm's liabilities exceeded its assets by more than $6 billion, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. After drawing the funds, Freddie Mac has now received $51.7 billion from the Treasury Department and still has access to an additional $149.3 billion to help it finance operations. (washingtonexaminer.com)


AFSCME + friends declare war against F.O.B. Andy Stern ... The latest chapter has been SEIU's battle with UNITE-HERE. As Stern tells it, a civil war broke out in UNITE-HERE, many of the members broke away and affiliated with SEIU, and now UNITE-HERE refuses to make peace; a lot of other people consider what SEIU has done to be outright poaching. Regardless of what side you come down on, you gotta admit that what happened yesterday at the UNITE-HERE convention in Chicago was pretty remarkable ... largely unprecedented in the history of American organized labor. Pretty much, as best I can read it, the American labor movement declared war on Andy Stern. "For another union to come onto your turf and take advantage of what you’ve built, that is piracy on the seas of organized labor."... "What SEIU is doing is bullshit!" - Gerry McEntee, President of AFSCME (Who then led a chant of "Bullshit!" from the crowd!) Basically, it seems like UNITE-HERE President John Wilhelm has lined up most of the labor movement behind him, and against SEIU. The IAM, CWA, AFGE, OE, USW, UFCW, Teamsters, Carpenters, AFSCME, Laborers, Firefighters, AFT, Painters, Letter Carriers, and the AFL-CIO's Building Trades (apologies to those for whom that is complete alphabet soup) signed a letter saying "We Stand in Solidarity With UNITE-HERE." Randy Shaw's article (linked above) is titled "AFL-CIO Condemns SEIU Raids on UNITE HERE," but really the headline is inaccurate: it seems like it's both the AFL-CIO unions and Change to Win, too. (dailykos.com)


DINO deception exposed ... We are constantly reminded of this reality as we watch what is occurring right under our eyes at the executive level. President Barack Obama is saying one thing while doing another. Barack Obama, the Decepticon, talks of liberty, freedom and democracy yet he supports the illegal actions of exiled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya who tried to rewrite the Honduran constitution to allow himself another term as President. Putting himself squarely in line with Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, Barack Obama re-characterized the actions of the Honduran Supreme Court as “a coup”; a misleading term at best, an intentional deceit at worst that was meant to sum up a complex situation with a leading characterization. Meanwhile Barack Obama ignored the real threat to freedom and democracy occurring in Iran. His initial silence served as a message to Iran’s mullahs; “it’s ok, go for it, slaughter your students, arrest your protesters, hang supporters of the opposition candidate”. After time Obama was forced to make a “powerful statement”, wink, wink. Too little, too late. (watcherofweasels.org)


AFSCME picketers harass oppressive Red Cross ... Phlebotomist Debra Lenintine is angry and says she and fellow union workers aren’t going to take it any more. “Three years ago, we gave a tremendous amount back in dollars,” said the president of Local 3145, Council 4 AFSCME. “For management to want more this time is ridiculous and unfair. Red Cross is becoming all about profits and big money; safety is being compromised.” Members of Local 3145, representing 225 blood collection workers, conducted informational picketing Wednesday. Workers held signs reading, “Proud to Serve” and “Be fair” outside Red Cross headquarters on Farmington Avenue. Union workers also distributed leaflets and collected signatures on a petition asking the Red Cross to uphold its obligation to protect blood safety and to treat its workers fairly. Some union workers complain that the Red Cross wants their union contract changed so workers have to be off the clock for only nine hours before being required to return to work. (newbritainherald.com)


International Collectivism

Zelaya exposed by Miami Herald ... An eccentric populist to some, a phony, wannabe president-for-life to others, Honduras' exiled President Manuel Zelaya carries a curious pedigree. He grew up in a wealthy landowning family, dropped out of college but went on to witness his nation's grinding poverty firsthand in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch and then win office by one of the slimmest margins in Honduran history. By the time of his ouster in his pajamas Sunday, the imposing six-foot, two-inch mustachioed 56-year-old had made a pilgrimage to Havana to pose for a photo with Fidel Castro, sung along while a Mexican band crooned a ballad about drug-trafficking -- and alienated his nation's media, military and supreme court. (miamiherald.com)


Honduran Leftists show their true colors ... Honduras’ interim leader warned that the only way his predecessor will return to office is through a foreign invasion, even as the hemisphere’s leaders gave him 72 hours to hand over the presidency. One potential confrontation was postponed Wednesday when the ousted president delayed plans to return — to a threat of arrest. Another loomed as hundreds of Manuel Zelaya’s supporters, some armed with baseball bats and bottles of gasoline, blocked the street before the country’s presidential palace. (gosanangelo.com)


Buying into Chávez ... Interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti Wednesday accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez of intervening Honduras' affairs. "The intervention of the government of Hugo Chávez is clear and definite in the situation that Honduras is experiencing," Micheletti said. "Why didn't the OAS and others understand what was happening in Honduras?" Micheletti said at his Wednesday press conference. "We have the strength and the faith" to overcome the difficulty and that "the whole world will recognize what we had done was in favor of legality, the rule of law and the constitution of the republic," Micheletti said. (news.xinhuanet.com)


Deadbeat LatAm Leftist needs pro-tyranny coalition ... Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa failed to clutch an outright majority in the new legislature, electoral officials said on Wednesday, but the leftist will likely be able to push reforms with alliances. Correa's "Alianza Pais" party won 59 of the 124 assembly seats, the electoral council said, just short of the 63 votes needed to pass legislation. The electoral council released the results nearly two months after the April 26 general election, in which Correa was easily re-elected to a four-year term on pledges to continue helping the country's poor majority. Correa, a former economy minister and ally of firebrand Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, has vowed a hard stance on foreign investors to get more benefits to the OPEC nation. (reuters.com)


Vargas Lllosa on Zelaya: Challenging conventional Leftist wisdom ... Honduras's deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, bears the biggest responsibility for his overthrow. A member of the rancid oligarchy he now decries, Zelaya took office in 2006 as the leader of one of the two center-right parties that have dominated Honduran politics for decades. His general platform, his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and his alliances with business organizations gave no inkling of the fact that halfway into his term he would become a political cross-dresser. Suddenly, in 2007, he declared himself a socialist and began to establish close ties with Venezuela. In December of that year, he incorporated Honduras into Petrocaribe, a mechanism set up by Hugo Chávez for lavishing oil subsidies on Latin American and Caribbean countries in exchange for political subservience. Then his government joined the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), Venezuela's answer to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, ostensibly a commercial alliance but in practice a political conspiracy that seeks to expand populist dictatorship to the rest of Latin America. (washingtonpost.com)
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