7/27/09

Monday wrap

Obama: Blame-shifter, fully-exposed by MM, wears thin faster than others, shocked by PR fail, cracks down on anti-socialist dissent.

Mismanagement: Typical union pension fraud, bigs oppress rank-and-file.

International: Toronto strike boss fail, Chávez outlaws private property, Obama-Zelaya deal fizzles, Castro Bros. cut back largesse, Communists on strike v. Communists.

Troubled Obama turns to Saul Alinsky ... “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.” That’s the strategy from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” that seems to playing out from President Barack Obama again. This time Obama was talking about Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in reference to DeMint’s comments a loss on health care could eventually break the president’s momentum. For the second time in three days, Obama referenced the senator’s comments in high-profile appearances, this one at his July 22 primetime press conference. “It’s disappointing that President Obama has lowered the discourse of this important debate with false personal attacks,” DeMint said in a statement through his office. “Beyond the fact that the President’s accusations are patently false, it is disturbing that he and his team would respond to a policy debate with political attack ads. The American people deserve a real debate of ideas, which is why I’ve offered major health care reforms every year that I’ve been in the Senate. DeMint, author of the newly released book “Saving Freedom,” also noted that Obama had been “change” candidate, determined to change the “politics as usual,” but his shot at the South Carolina senator has proved otherwise. (businessandmedia.org)

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


In case you missed it: The Union News weekend
Sunday: Overspending plagues leftwing Obama-Dems
Saturday: Obama-Pelosi Speech Police crack down on dissenters


MM exposes Obama-Dem Culture of Corruption ... Meet Urban Czar Adolfo Carrión, Jr. He’s one of my Culture of Corruption Dirty Dozen collectibles. In conjunction with the book launch tomorrow, my friend Tennyson Hayes (whose terrific graphic art has been featured here since last spring) and I cooked up 12 trading cards featuring some of Team Obama’s most interest-conflicted, ethics-compromised, crony officials chronicled in the book. You’ll read more here about The Dirty Dozen throughout the week. But as you’ll see after you dive into Culture of Corruption (officially out tomorrow, but readers tell me they’re seeing it in stores this weekend), those 12 are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got enough profiles of Team Obama corruption and cronyism to fill an entire 54-card set. (michellemalkin.com)


Stop the ride! We want to get off. ... Here was a man who, with virtually no experience relevant to the world’s most important job, walked right in with global support. Here was a man with an endless sequence of non-specific promises read from a teleprompter able to sell himself to a public interested primarily in getting rid of what it had been led to believe was evil and responsible for all the ills of life: President Bush. Here was a man whose background (at least as much as he would permit to be disclosed, discovered, or discussed) gave every indication that he would deeply uproot much of what most Americans hold dear – freedom, responsibility, capitalism, accountability, transparency, limited control over individual lives, and so forth. And here is a man who, as President, is being considered by rapidly growing numbers of Americans to be a dangerous disaster. And his failures present a troubling dilemma for much of the public: We worked so hard to get on this train and congratulated ourselves so profusely for climbing aboard. How do we get off? After six months of Obama as President, many have become palpably concerned, if not terrified, by the nation’s choice of president. And that terror gives rise to a fascinating dilemma: how does America, if free to so choose, extricate itself from what it has done – as magnificent an accomplishment as we like to think it was? (familysecuritymatters.org)


This is all about Obama ... "This isn't about me," President Barack Obama said last week, maintaining that his manic push for a vote on health care reform is all about us. In fact, the big rush is all about him and his attempt to hurriedly get his problematic notions on health reform enacted into laFriedrichw before his quickly falling approval numbers drop him completely into the cellar. Last Tuesday, a story in USA Today on the growing qualms about President Obama's policies reported that his overall approval rating, after six months in office, ranks him "10th among the 12 post-World War II presidents at this point in their tenures." Only the approval ratings of Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford were worse. Ford's public support took a nose dive after his pardon of Richard Nixon. Clinton stumbled right out of the chute with his "don't ask, don't tell" position on gays in the military. That was followed by putting Hillary in charge of redesigning the nation's health care system. (pittsburghlive.com)


GOP sets massive protest v. Obama-Pelosi Speech Police ... Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) made public last week an e-mail from the Franking Commission -- a bipartisan panel that oversees messages from lawmakers -- asking him to change the phrase "government run" health care to "public option." "In fact, I would submit to you, when you look at this chart, how could you not say it’s a government-run health care plan?" he said. "Why does the Franking Commission have the right to prevent me from freely speaking what I think my folks back home ought to hear and instead tell me I have to speak what the president said last night?" Carter said, referring to President Barack Obama’s televised press conference at the White House last Wednesday. "I think that is an abridgement of free speech," he said. "Why are they so afraid of this chart?” Carter said. "Why are they so afraid of a simple phrase that one member of Congress might say on a telephone town hall? Could it be that they know what this health care plan is?" John Stone, communications director for Carter, told CNSNews.com that Republicans are not finished fighting what they call censorship by the Franking Commission. "We plan to take it to the [House] floor on Monday night," Stone said. "There is going to be a massive protest." (cnsnews.com)


Typical union pension fraud exposed ... We’ve all read about underfunded corporate pensions, but here’s an unreported story: Union pensions are even more in the red, and it’s one reason union chiefs are so eager to rig organizing rules to gain more dues-paying members. Only last week, the country’s largest union local re-opened the contract for its 145,000 members two years early and gave up raises and reduced retirement benefits for future hires. The SEIU’s United Healthcare Workers East struck this unusual deal so employers could instead plug a gaping pension hole. In April, the SEIU National Industry Pension Fund—which covers some 101,000 rank-and-file members—announced that its pension has been put into what the feds call “critical status,” or “red zone.” In other words, it lacks the cash to pay promised benefits and may have to cut them. As of 2007, the last year for which it reported results to the government, the fund had 74.4% of the assets needed to pay its benefits. Thirteen of the bigger plans operated for the Teamsters have, together, a mere 59.3% of reserves necessary to cover obligations. Or consider that 26 pension funds at the food workers union, the UFCW, are at 58.7%. Seven locals at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters fare better at 67%. As a rule of thumb the government considers a fund to be “endangered” at below 80%, and in “critical” status at below 65%, and requires them to come up with a plan to get off probation within a decade. You don’t hear labor leaders touting this kind of performance in their organizing riffs, and not many workers are patient enough to review the 5,500 forms filed with the IRS and Department of Labor that track these retirement savings. But the data show a steady decline in recent years that can’t be explained merely by the stock market. (online.wsj.com)


Labor union bigs look out for #1 ... Poor management probably deserves a lot of the blame for the union decline, but the exact causes are a mystery. An even bigger mystery is that the unions do a far better job with funds created for their officers and employees than for mere workers. The SEIU Affiliates, Officers and Employees Pension Plan—which covers the staff and bosses at its locals—was funded as of 2007 at 102.2%. The plan for the folks at SEIU international headquarters was funded at 84.8%. Union officer benefits are also far more generous than anything dues-paying workers enjoy. Consider again the SEIU, probably the country’s most powerful union. Their officers and employees get a yearly 3% cost of living increase, but SEIU members get none; officers qualify for an early pension at 50 or after more than 30 years of service, but workers can’t retire early with a pension; officers qualify for disability retirement after a year’s service, but workers need 10 years. In the land of union retirement, some workers are more equal than others. (online.wsj.com)


Victim of SEIU thuggery speaks out


International Collectivism

Socialists: Toronto gov't-union oppresses workers ... Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site have been visiting picket lines and distributing political material since the beginning of the strike by 24,000 Toronto municipal workers. From the outset of the strike, union bureaucrats have insisted that workers refrain from sharing their thoughts on the dispute with the press. This gag order has taken place under conditions in which the mainstream newspapers and talk radio hosts have launched a relentless barrage of vitriol, misinformation and outright anti-worker propaganda against the strikers. But as the strike has progressed, more and more workers have rejected their leadership’s directives and spoken out, sometimes quite bitterly, about their experiences on the picket line. (wsws.org)


Venezuela: Labor Bill ushers in New Progressive Era ... The Venezuelan National Assembly has begun to discuss openly, in the context of the new Labor Bill, the end of private property in Venezuela. Remarkably, this contravenes what the voters expressed in saying “no” during the 2007 referendum which contained changes to the Venezuelan Constitution aimed at diluting the concept of private property rights in the country. According to a document generated by the National Assembly, the challenge politically is how to put an end to private property as a way of “appropriating the added value of the productive sector.” The document also discusses the need to get rid of market forces as the supervising element in the economy and replace it by human beings who will take into account the common good when making decisions. While this is not surprising and would seem to be a natural follow up to the policies the Government has been implementing, the surprise is that it is openly discussed in a document when polls indicate 75% of Venezuelans believe that the concept of private property should not be tampered with. (laht.com)


If you build a Workers Paradise, they will come ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has highlighted the importance of laws being passed to transform the country's reality for the benefit of the people. "We began the construction of this basically democratic republic in 1999 and we will never stop doing it because it is our daily activity as long as we have homeland," he wrote in his Sunday's column "Chávez Lines". "That was the same qualitative and increasing step that allowed Bolivia and Ecuador took the same path," he said. During a special session marking the 10th anniversary of the Constituent Assembly on Saturday, Chávez said the process has not finished in Venezuela yet. "It has not concluded yet because it holds several levels and the higher one is the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela approved in 1999," he said. At this moment the country is in the level of construction and establishment of this project aimed at independence, liberty and equality, he pointed out. (zeenews.com)


Obama-backed, LatAm Leftist Thug Fail ... Disheartened supporters of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya trickled home from the Nicaraguan border on Sunday, weakening protests backing his bid to return to power after a coup last month. Honduran troops manning checkpoints have prevented several thousand demonstrators from staging a show of support at the border for the leftist leader, now exiled in Nicaragua. Six miles (10 km) from the border, 100 weary protesters milled around the coffee town of El Paraiso, a far cry from the massive outpouring of public backing Zelaya had called for. Lilian Ordonez, a 29-year-old teacher, came with a convoy of some 100 cars to try to reach the border, but only six made it through the checkpoints. (reuters.com)


Leading Communist pledges austerity ... Sunday was a day of commemoration in Cuba -- the 56th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution -- but the message from President Raul Castro was not all celebratory. President Raul Castro tells the Revolution Day crowd, "The land is there, waiting for our sweat." President Raul Castro tells the Revolution Day crowd, "The land is there, waiting for our sweat." The island nation will face a second round of belt-tightening as a result of the global financial crunch, Castro said in a speech marking Revolution Day. He said that on Tuesday he would hold a meeting of the Council of Ministries "dedicated to the analysis of the second cost adjustment in this year's plan, due to the effects of the global economic crisis, especially on the reduction of revenues from exports and the additional restrictions on accessing external financing." (edition.cnn.com)


Risky restructuring: Rioting Communist steel workers kill boss ... Some 30,000 angry Chinese workers staged a riot at a steel factory in China that resulted in its boss getting beaten to death, underscoring just how quickly economic problems can stoke social unrest. The workers were protesting the sale of state-owned Tonghua Iron & Steel in Jilin province to a private group which they feared would lead to the loss of jobs. The manager, Chen Guojun, who died on Friday, had been sent to the steel plant by its new owners, Jianlong Group. According to the Financial Times, the unrest has prompted the government to scrap the privatization deal. China’s communist leaders are obsessed with keeping social unrest under control, but the frenetic pace of economic transformation in the country often sparks uprisings. The clash between Uighurs and Han Chinese that caused nearly 200 deaths in Urumqi earlier this month was in response to labor problems at a factory thousands of miles away in Guangdong province. (businessweek.com)


Militant workers strike to protest rival union ... Workers belonging to Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU), struck work Thursday evening protesting against a wage agreement signed between the management and a rival workers' committee. Talks between the management and the union ended in a stalemate Saturday night. The employees union chief said they will meet Tamil Nadu labour minister. "The management is in discussions with the officials of labour department. Once that gets over we may meet the state labour minister and the department officials," A. Soundararajan, honorary president of HMIEU and general secretary of Centre for Trade Unions (CITU), said. (economictimes.indiatimes.com)


Typical gov't-union militants go out on strike v. Communist management ... City workers are striking across South Africa demanding more pay. The 150,000-member South African Municipal Workers Union began an indefinite strike Monday, accompanied by marches in major cities. Union members collect garbage, staff clinics, drive buses and provide other services nationwide. Employers are offering 11.5 percent raises. Workers want 15 percent. Strikes and protests - some violent - are common in South Africa this time of year, when contracts are expiring. This year's labor unrest has been accompanied by protests by poor South Africans angry at the slow delivery of jobs, houses, electricity and water services promised by the government. (forbes.com)
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