7/16/09

Thursday wrap

Obamanomics repudiated by independent voters ... In our national poll taken last week, 53% said the $787 billion stimulus plan passed in February was "not effective" in "getting the economy going in the right direction." Just 43% said it was. Respondents were even more emphatic — 54% to 39% — in rejecting the second stimulus the White House and congressional Democrats are mulling. Republicans were least impressed by the first stimulus, with fully 81% saying it hasn't worked. Independents turned thumbs down 55% to 43%. Democrats, by 64% to 31%, say the stimulus is working — yet, strangely, think another is needed (60% to 40%). Both sides of this debate can't be right. (ibdeditorials.com)


GOP Gov. can't stop labor-state Dems from rebuilding the Middle Class ... Hawaii lawmakers on Wednesday overrode Gov. Linda Lingle’s veto of the controversial union card-check bill in a special legislative session. The override allows Hawaii labor unions to more easily organize workers by simply having them sign authorization cards. House Bill 952 essentially takes away the right of workers to vote by secret ballot on whether or not they would want to join a union, replacing it with the authorization cards. If a majority of a company’s workers sign the cards, the union would automatically be recognized and free to bargain with management. (bizjournals.com)


Shameful foreign policy blunders plague Obama ... The double-standard applied by most of the world's leaders, including Canada's and America's, responding to political unrest in Iran and Honduras respectively over recent weeks, is dismaying. After an estimated 40 million hand-marked ballots in last month's Iranian elections purportedly got counted in the first 120 minutes after the polls closed, before a landslide victory was declared for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, puppet mouthpiece for that country's clerical thuggocracy, most diplomats, government leaders and the mainstream news media proceeded as if those election "results" were believable fact rather than audacious fiction. U.S. President Barack Obama tap-danced around the issue for a week while amateur video cyber-smuggled via Twitter and YouTube documented massive popular rioting and brutal crackdowns by Iranian security forces on the streets of Iran, before finally issuing some measured and ineffectual criticism of the goings-on, but it was way too little, too late. On the other hand, neither Obama nor apparently anyone else held back from piling on to the government of Honduras, after that country's congress ordered incumbent leftist President Manuel Zelaya deposed and sent into exile, appointing Roberto Micheletti as interim leader until new elections can be held. (telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com)


Testy, divisive Obama no problem-solver ... Amid grim new deficit numbers attributed in part to his own spending programs, President Barack Obama pushed back at those blaming him for the continued bad economy. "I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, well, this is Obama's economy," he told supporters in Michigan. "That's fine. Give it to me. My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe." (washingtonexaminer.com)


Muckety: SEIU insider handed keys to U.S. auto industry ... A 1977 graduate of Wesleyan University, Bloom worked for the Jewish Labor Committee in New England and the Service Employees International Union before getting his M.B.A. at Harvard University. He then went into investment banking, eventually becoming a vice president at Lazard Freres & Co., a company where Rattner also worked. In 1990, Bloom left Lazard to establish Keilin & Bloom with a colleague Gene Keillin. The company advised unions on the boyouts of companies. (news.muckety.com)


Obama OK's hush money to disgraced, pro-UAW auto big ... Former General Motors CEO and Chairman Rick Wagoner, whom the Obama administration forced into retirement in March after he resisted plans to throw the automaker into bankruptcy, will be awarded a retirement package valued at over $10 million. The sum, though reduced from the $23 million Wagner had earlier been promised, is many times greater than what an auto worker can earn in a lifetime. Upon his retirement, which will begin officially on August 1, Wagoner will be awarded about $1.64 million annually for the next five years, plus another $74,030 every year under the salaried retirement program. Wagoner will also receive a life insurance policy or its cash value, which now stands at $2.6 million, according to media reports. (wsws.org)


Liz Cheney takes on Obama's apology to Russia for Cold War ... Liz Cheney, who served as deputy assistant Secretary of State under George W. Bush, lectured the American “commander-in-speech” for cuddling up to the Russians, as well as preaching a “false historical narrative” by telling “a room full of Russians less than the truth about how the Cold War ended” during last week’s visit. As if the Russians need an American leader to teach them their own history in the first place. “Mr. Obama’s method for pushing reset around the world is becoming clearer with each foreign trip,” Cheney wrote in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal. “He proclaims moral equivalence between the U.S. and our adversaries, he readily accepts a false historical narrative, and he refuses to stand up against anti-American lies.” (russiatoday.com)


Obama hearts The Three Stooges ... Chávez is another story. He is more akin to Fidel Castro, whom he calls his inspiration, along with Noam Chomsky and Che Guevara. Castro’s armies were proxies for his Soviet sponsors as far afield as Angola and Mozambique and in 1962 Castro and the Soviet governments hatched a plan to place nuclear missiles ninety miles from our shore in Cuba, provoking one of the major confrontations of the Cold War. Chávez has not strayed from our hemisphere but casts a wide net throughout South America, thumbing his nose at the United States in the company of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, the other “socialist revolutionaries.” They are the three stooges of the "Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas" alliance formed in June 2009. (familysecuritymatters.org)


Chávez has late-night advice for Obama ... Complicating matters is Chávez, the Marxist tyrant who's been at the center of the Honduran problem from day one. He has provided encouragement and material support for the unconstitutional referendum that Zelaya tried to push through. Now with peace talks on, Chávez is interfering further. Early last week, Chávez declared the Arias talks "dead" and urged stronger action — as in a U.S. Marine invasion — to reseat Zelaya. His sour-grapes attitude toward negotiations followed the failure of his plan for Zelaya to forcibly re-enter the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa a week earlier amid violence at the airport. Meanwhile, Chávez's other pawn, Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, failed to intimate Honduras into reinstating Zelaya through sanctions. Once OAS expelled Honduras, it could punish the country no more. By Thursday, Chávez really lost it, making a bizarre, out-of-protocol 11:15 p.m. phone call to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon urging the U.S. to "do something," suggesting a military invasion. Seems Chávez was losing sleep at night over Honduras. (ibdeditorials.com)


Marxist LatAm thugs use union bigs to oppress citizenry ... Supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya called for labor strikes demanding his return Wednesday, one day after the exiled leader said citizens had the right to rebel against the interim government. Labor leader Israel Salinas, one of the main figures in the pro-Zelaya movement, told thousands of demonstrators who marched through the capital that workers at state-owned companies plan walkouts later this week. He said protest organizers were talking with union leaders at private companies to see if they could mount a general strike against interim President Roberto Micheletti, who has threatened to jail Zelaya if he tries to return. Salinas also said sympathetic unions in neighboring Nicaragua and El Salvador would try to block border crossings later this week "in solidarity with our struggle." (google.com)


Oppressive union-backed fraud group hauled into court ... An organization that registered voters for the presidential election and two of its former employees will have a preliminary hearing Sept. 29 to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward with allegations that it illegally compensated canvassers. Attorneys for the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, Inc., also known as ACORN, appeared in Clark County District Court today. Chief Deputy Attorney General Conrad Hafen said he intends to call about four witnesses at the hearing to show that ACORN illegally compensated canvassers using a quota system. ACORN officials this afternoon disputed the claims. The complaint includes 39 counts tied to paying bonuses to employees if they surpassed registering 20 people during a shift. The complaint alleges ACORN also fired those who didn't meet the requirement. (lasvegassun.com)


Unctuous SEIU, ACORN founder exposes himself ... Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) founder Wade Rathke wants to use the Internet to overthrow the capitalist system. He said so in his new book, Citizen Wealth: Winning the Campaign to Save Working Families, in which he serves up some community organizing war stories, and offers his thoughts on the future of organizing. Rathke, a pioneer of the so-called welfare rights movement that aims to get Americans on welfare, devotes an entire chapter of his book to what he calls "The 'Maximum Eligible Participation' Solution." It is a strategy for orchestrated crisis that savvy leftist groups across America are likely to embrace. In a new interview with DailyKos blogger Robert Ellman, Rathke complains bitterly that Americans are not getting all the government benefits to which they are legally entitled. With one question, Ellman unwittingly lays bare the anti-social, profoundly un-American entitlement mentality that so many on the far left possess. The blogger asks if the "lack of participation" in food stamps, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), all of which many eligible people are not claiming, is "a failure of government, political will, or a culture that demonizes poor people?" The unctuous Rathke, whom some have called a cult leader, doesn't miss an opportunity to compliment his interviewer. "Once again you've hit the trifecta," he says. "It's really all three of those things." (spectator.org)


Disrespect for law plagues Washington, D.C. ... Gunfire was reported just off the fringe of Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and there were unconfirmed reports of at least one injury. Police briefly sealed off part of the Capitol as a precaution. Officials did not immediately confirm any details of the incident. Robert Drumm, a tourist from Oklahoma visiting the nation's capital with his family, said in an interview, "There were so many gunshots being fired my family got down." (cnsnews.com)


D.C. Culture of Corruption exposed ... Embattled House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, facing a multi-pronged investigation by the House ethics committee, shelled out nearly $280,000 to four different law firms over the last quarter, according to his newest campaign disclosure report. Overall, Rangel has paid $928,000 to his attorneys during the last year as his personal finances have come under scrutiny on a variety of fronts. But despite his ethics troubles, Rangel remains a prolific fundraiser, raising nearly $405,000 in the period from April 1 to June 30, according to the latest report filed with the Federal Election Commission. (politico.com)


Union-backed Conyers family: Portrait of Corruption ... In the latest development of a sweeping federal investigation into political corruption in Detroit, a political consultant linked to disgraced former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers was indicted Wednesday on charges of extortion, bribery and lying to the FBI. The charges against Samuel L. Riddle Jr. come two weeks after Conyers pleaded guilty to taking bribes to help a wastewater company win a city contract. (washingtontimes.com)


Militant unionists plagued by anger, fear ... The worst economic slowdown to hit the world since the Great Depression doesn't seem to have deterred workers from taking their grievances to the picket lines. Indeed, the number of work days lost to strikes in the first three months of 2009 was almost double that of a year earlier, before the financial crisis hit and the national unemployment rate soared, according to data from Statistics Canada. Labour experts say workers' anger about being asked to bear what they see as the brunt of the recession, as well as fear of losing hard-won benefits, are overcoming nervousness that striking could cause them to lose their jobs. Major strikes currently underway include those by city workers in Toronto and Windsor, Ont.; miners at Vale Inco in Sudbury, Ont., Port Colborne, Ont., and Voisey's Bay, N.L.; and paramedics in B.C. (cftktv.com)


Workers surge across gov't-union picket lines ... But despite not following any of my legal prescriptions, the sheer length of this strike was causing it to crumble. As of last weekend, 520 strikers had decided to defy their union and cross the picket line, even without support or encouragement from the City. This should have been the time to escalate pressure. When workers start crossing picket lines, others soon follow until there is sufficient critical mass that the union either capitulates or risks decertification. (financialpost.com)


Angry strike boss attacks workers with ugly epithet ... A dozen unionized City of Toronto employees lay on beach blankets and sat in folding chairs outside a welfare office in Scarborough yesterday, working on their tans. These workers, most of them young women, want to cross the picket line and return to their jobs helping Toronto's least fortunate, but striking workers with Local 79 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees will not let them in. They are being paid, but they cannot enter their workplace, and the city is letting it happen. "We have 17 scabs that are trying to enter the building," said Leroy Miller, a picket captain, who was blocking the rear staff entrance of the Toronto Employment and Social Services office for Scarborough West, at 1225 Kennedy Rd. (nationalpost.com)


Defunding the Left ... A veteran Manhattan lawyer was charged Tuesday with stealing from a small union representing 80 dancers and stagehands with the American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center. Leonard Leibowitz, 70, was released on $25,000 bond after appearing in federal court in Manhattan to face embezzlement charges. Defense attorney Stephen Flamhaft told reporters afterward that once he consults with the government, "I think we'll be able to resolve this." Leibowitz had been an attorney for the Independent Artists of America from 1994 to 2007, and had "sole possession" of the union's checkbook until 2005, court papers said. Court papers allege that between 1997 and 2005, Leibowitz wrote more than $350,000 in checks to himself, his law firm and his wife - a total that far exceeded his retainer. When union leaders told him he owed them $150,000, Leibowitz allegedly tried to cover himself by drawing up a loan agreement with forged signatures, prosecutors said. (forbes.com)


Fog City Mayor won't cross union bigs ... Employees of the University of California vociferously protesting proposed fee hikes and furlough days had an unforeseen consequence on the plans of one Mayor Gavin Newsom -- who may or may not have a Santa Clara University bumper sticker on the back of his hybrid SUV. The protesters this morning moved their picket line a few steps down the road to the headquarters of FibroGen, Inc., where the mayor was scheduled to show up and talk pretty about a joint venture between the Mission Bay company and U.C. San Francisco. That joint venture is still joint, but it didn't get Newsom's benediction today: Jelger Kalmijn, the president of the UPTE-CWA union representing the U.C. system's research, technical, and professional employees, got a call this morning from Newsom's chief of staff, Steve Kawa. Kawa told the union head that Newsom doesn't cross picket lines, and wouldn't be seen in Mission Bay today. (blogs.sfweekly.com)


Union defies efforts to economize ... Another citizens group, the Central District Organizing Project (CDOP), also joined the fight supporting the 49 laid-off city workers, many of whom were at the rally. The MCC charged that according to the city’s own figures it cost only $2.9 million annually to pay the workers with benefits, pay for fuel and maintain the equipment, while Allied Waste was charging over $5 million on top of the $2 million tipping fee the city already pays to them. The city argues that it is trying to save money and close a $26 million dollar gap in the budget. (pww.org)


We don't need no stinkin' Boeing jobs ... Last week, Boeing purchased a plant from Vought Aircraft Industries, in South Carolina, that has been building rear fuselages for the companies 787. Many in Washington feared this meant that the company was setting the groundwork to leave Washington State. Those fears only escalated when the company effectively issued an ultimatum, saying they had not decided on a final location for their second fuselage plant, but their decision would be dependent on the machinists union agreeing to a no-strike clause in their next contract. Washington lawmakers are doing what they can to mediate between the two, but it looks as if Boeing will not be budging on this one. The machinists have struck in 4 of the last 7 opportunities, including a two-month ordeal, this past winter. (rantrave.com)


What, Sotomayor worry? ... Republican Senator John Cornyn asked Sotomayor if she worried that her speeches may have left the impression that she believes "the quality of justice depends on the sex, race, or ethnicity of the judge." "I would regret that," Sotomayor said. "We know her judicial record which I think is fairly traditional...(but) if she's going to be like Judge Sotomayor in her speeches, that's a problem," Cornyn said. (newsmax.com)


Obama Code: President sends teachers union bigs a message ... District officials failed to deliver to the city's charter schools an expected $103 million payment Wednesday, causing some teachers to wake up without a paycheck. "This is part of an ongoing outrage characterized by indifference to the reality of trying to run a charter school for D.C. public school children," said Robert Cane, executive director of advocacy group Friends of Choice in Public Schools. Cane's group, along with the schools, learned about the funding shortfall Tuesday evening, one day before the dollars were supposed to be in the bank. Charter schools operate independently and are often small, penny-pinching organizations. (washingtonexaminer.com)


Militant unionists get up in capitalists' face ... Those entering the North Shore Chamber of Commerce's breakfast at the Salem Waterfront Hotel were greeted not only with eggs, bacon and muffins yesterday morning, but with eight union members picketing against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. The board of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, the third largest chamber in the state, has also unanimously opposed the bill in a vote taken in April. (salemnews.com)


Gov't unions own Virgina Dems ... Terry R. McAuliffe, the former Democratic National chairman and best friend to Bill and Hillary Clinton, spent nearly $95 for each of the votes he received in his unsuccessful bid for Virginia governor. Campaign finance reports filed Wednesday with the State Board of Elections show that McAuliffe spent slightly more than $8 million in his five-month campaign for the Democratic nomination. That comes to about $94.75 for each of the 84,640 votes he received in his lopsided primary loss to state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County. Deeds also got $500,000 from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and $100,000 from the Service Employees International Union. (dailypress.com)


Corrupt Chicago politicians lead the nation ... Mayor Richard Daley devoted much of his annual State of the City speech Wednesday to the economic recession, saying times are hard, but Chicagoans should remain confident "we're going to get through this." "In the long run, maybe we'll be better," Daley said. Veering from his prepared text as he closed the 48-minute speech, the mayor added an emotional appeal to the rote recitation of his plans for dealing with the administration's gaping budget shortfall. For a moment, he sounded more like President Franklin Roosevelt than his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley. "Our parents, our grandparents have done this during the Great Depression," Daley told the crowd in a downtown hotel ballroom. "Let's really believe that the spirit of Chicago, that what we're doing today, will carry on another generation." (chicagotribune.com)
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