Union seeks protected status for hate symbol

Related: "IBEW defends hate speech in court"
More inflatable rat stories: here

Mascot for Barackonomics competes with cockroaches, skunk

He's treated like any other member of the picket line. When Mercer County electrical union workers line up to protest businesses paying nonunion wages, he holds a sign aloft and tries to get the word out to anyone passing by.

But nothing his sign says grabs people's attention more than his simple presence. He's The Rat, the union's 10-foot inflatable balloon with beady eyes, pointy claws, chewed-up ears, buckteeth and a festering pink belly.

"He's quiet. He doesn't say much," said Wayne DeAngelo, assistant business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 269 in Lawrence Township. "But he really gets our message out. Visibility is important. Without the rat, we're wasting our time."

The inflatable rat is synonymous with union protests, from the Statehouse in Trenton to the picket lines at the writers strike in L.A. The rodent has become a shorthand for showing the disgust workers have for the way they are being treated, part of a union tradition of employing theater to get the message across.

Fame has its price, however. The union rat has found itself at the center of legal battles around the country -- and, most recently, in New Jersey, where the state Supreme Court heard arguments two weeks ago about whether the one at DeAngelo's local is protected speech under the First Amendment.

The 5-year-old rat is at the center of the case because Lawrence Township prohibits the use of balloon signs, except for those used at store grand openings. Union lawyer Andrew Watson argued the law bars the kind of protest that goes to "very heart and core of the constitution."

"There is no other way to reach a broader audience. This is a cheap and effective means of communication. It is a powerful, symbolic message," he said.

But John Dember, who represents the town, said the law doesn't stop anyone from handing out leaflets or protesting to get a message across.

"The ability to attract attention of passers-by is little affected by restrictions on using an inflatable rat," Dember said.

The case dates to April 2005, when the electrical workers local staged a protest outside a Gold's Gym when the business had electrical work done by nonunion laborers.

Four men took up positions on the sidewalk out front, handing out leaflets. The rat was anchored to a grassy spot considered part of the public right of way.

It got the attention of passers-by -- and police. The rat was removed, and, when the union brought it back later, police gave DeAngelo a summons, saying he violated the ban on inflatable signs.

After a trial, DeAngelo was convicted and agreed to pay a $133 fee and court costs. A split state appeals court panel upheld the town's sign ban. The Supreme Court has yet to make a decision.

The Mercer County controversy is the latest in a string of attempts to exterminate inflatable rats from public displays. Elsewhere, businesses sued unions, arguing the rodents shouldn't be considered protected speech. First Amendment scholars counter they fall into the category of "pure speech" that deserves protection akin to political and religious speech.

The inflatable rat idea was first pumped up in 1990, when a Chicago union asked an outdoor advertiser to come up with a flashy way to catch the attention of nonunion employers. The owners of Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights, of Plainfield, Ill., which made the first rodent, called it "Scabby the Rat." Today, they sell rats up to 25 feet tall, charging as much as $8,950.

The rat in New Jersey's debate gets out about 50 times a year. It is inflated by a small electric blower that can be hooked into a car's cigarette lighter. When not on the picket line, it deflates to a storage bag that resides -- fittingly -- in the union's boiler room next to an inflatable pig that goes out when the rat is double-booked.

Union officials say they first try to talk to business owners to resolve the wage issues. The rat is a tool of last resort. "If they say 'Hey, leave us alone' then we bring out our friend," said DeAngelo.

Some unions also use other animals -- a cockroach, a skunk -- to get their message out, said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University. She said street theater has been a part of union demonstrations for centuries.

"It's people's lives," said Bronfenbrenner. "There's a lot of passion, so it's a perfect thing. You've got a perfect villain and a perfect hero. It's a natural."

William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens wrote about labor issues. Rallies in the 1800s involved workers acting out skits about conditions. During the 1912 "Bread and Roses Strike," the female workers at a Massachusetts textile mill wrapped themselves in the American flag after the company accused them of being un-American.

"They carried them. They used the American flag in everything they did. ... They literally wore the American flag in showing their patriotism," said Bronfenbrenner

Today, protest theater finds unions storming the stage at major shareholder meetings or interrupting online corporate gatherings.

In New Jersey, rats are still in vogue. In total, about a dozen inflatable rats make regular appearances in the Garden State.

The keepers of the Lawrence Township rat are anxious to see the case end, saying banners just don't cut it. Until then, the rat can only make guest appearances out of town.

"He can't get blown up in his own home town," said DeAngelo. "It's sad."


Bush, Dems abandon wealth-creation model

More collectivism stories: here

The 'Washington Consensus' was a term coined in the 80s to encompass policies such as privatization, lower taxes and deregulation

Before U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was pressed into becoming the fire chief of the financial crisis, he had a good thing going as an economic missionary.

Basking in what he liked to call "the strongest global economy" of his business lifetime, Mr. Paulson, who joined President George W. Bush's administration in June, 2006, embraced with zeal an aspect of his new job with roots in Cold War diplomacy.

In his two years as Treasury Secretary before financial markets came totally unhinged this summer, Mr. Paulson conducted more official business in China than he did in New York. He has visited as many cities in Latin America as he has cities in the United States of America. He rolled through Calcutta, New Delhi and Mumbai in three days in October, 2007; two weeks later, he spent five days in Africa.

The places changed, but the message stayed the same: American-style banking, unencumbered by regulation and open to U.S. financial institutions, is the surest way to create wealth.

"An open, competitive and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than government intervention," Mr. Paulson told an auditorium full of officials in Shanghai in March, 2007.

Mr. Paulson's brand of capitalism isn't promoting much stability these days, and prosperity isn't a word that jumps to mind as policy makers from Canada to Japan to France scramble to avert a global economic recession.

The Made in America financial crisis has seriously undermined the U.S.'s standing as the undisputed leader of the international economy, posing the first serious threat to U.S. hegemony since the height of the Soviet Union.

After decades of strong-arming governments in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to keep the state out of the economy, the U.S. government in September put up $285-billion (U.S.) to nationalize mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer American International Group Inc.

That's nothing compared with the $700-billion Mr. Paulson got from Congress yesterday to purge the financial system of the bad debt at the root of the credit crisis. With governments saving failing banks in Europe, stock markets plunging in China and exports slowing in Brazil, the world is in no mood to take economic lessons from the U.S. government.

"There is a real element of anger and frustration around the planet that this is a U.S.-originated problem with global repercussions," John Manley, a finance and foreign affairs minister under former prime minister Jean Chrétien, said in an interview. "The world will be looking for a loss of hubris from the United States as a result of this."

America has dominated global economic affairs virtually unopposed since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, an era marked by the acceleration of global free-trade agreements, the confirmation of the dollar as the world's de facto currency, and the rise of Wall Street as the world's financial centre.

The U.S. and Britain dictated the Bretton Woods agreement in 1944, establishing the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The U.S. became the largest shareholder in the global institutions, which built their headquarters side by side in Washington. Unsurprisingly, the American vision of private ownership and unfettered markets dominated the prescriptions those agencies imposed on weaker economies in return for financial aid. That culminated in the Washington Consensus, a term coined in the 80s to encompass policies such as privatization, lower taxes and deregulation.

These days, countries can't distance themselves fast enough from the Washington way of economic management.

"The world is on the edge of the abyss because of an irresponsible system," French Prime Minister François Fillon said on the eve of a gathering of European Union leaders to discuss the financial turmoil.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck predicted the end of the U.S.'s status as the "superpower of the global financial system." Chinese officials are rethinking their embrace of globalization, and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said the U.S. must ensure the situation doesn't get any worse.

"The Anglo-American model has suffered a big setback," John Snow, who preceded Mr. Paulson as treasury secretary and is now chairman of private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, said in an interview. "We don't have the moral authority we might have had a few years ago to get others to follow our model."

Other nations appear ready to assume a more assertive role in the global economy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, current President of the European Union, wants to host a summit of the world's major economies next month to consider global rules for financial markets. Germany's Mr. Steinbrueck, whose push for stricter oversight of hedge funds and private equity firms last year was blocked by Mr. Paulson, will be a ready ally.

"The whole spectrum of options for regulation is now open again," said Glen Hodgson, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada and an IMF official. "You only have moral authority when you have your own house in order."

A new era of global financial regulation - however appropriate given the serious gaps exposed by the credit crunch - will increase costs for businesses and slow global economic growth.

Say what you will about U.S.-style capitalism, its ability to produce wealth is unchallenged. The world economy expanded at an average annual rate of 3.9 per cent over the past decade, as more emerging market nations embraced free-market ideals. Over the previous 10 years, global growth averaged 3.5 per cent.

There's a risk that countries such as China and India could become more reluctant to ease barriers to international investors, especially in the financial sector.

"It's a possibility that you see countries become more protectionist," said Mr. Manley, who is now a senior counsel at law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP. "That's going to slow growth."

There's an element of schadenfreude in the world's criticism of the U.S. government's role in the financial meltdown.

After all, nobody likes a bully, which is essentially the approach American officials have taken to international negotiations for decades, said John Curtis, a former chief economist at Canada's Trade Department. "They can be insensitive at times to others' interests," said Mr. Curtis, who is now a distinguished fellow at the Waterloo, Ont.-based Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Still, Mr. Curtis and others said it would be a mistake to get carried away with the idea that we're witnessing the death of the American empire.

The U.S. hardly has a monopoly on economic crises, and the German and French governments, among others, have had to put up billions of their own to save several European banks from collapse, which has muted their criticisms of the U.S.

"I don't think any country is in position to say they have the right regulatory system," said James Barth, a senior fellow at the Sana Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute and a former chief economist at the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision. "One has to be careful to say the U.S. has a terrible financial system and that capitalism doesn't work because of this particular situation."

One reason the U.S. can't be counted out is that Americans are used to such calamities.

Mr. Paulson would often tell his audiences that the U.S. copes with a financial crisis every decade or so because the country's entrepreneurs get too greedy and overreach. The cleanup is wrenching, but the country's economy is left stronger as a result, Mr. Paulson argued. The country's rebound from the collapse of the dot.com bubble is perhaps the most recent example of Mr. Paulson's creative destruction thesis.

There's also the sheer size of the U.S. economy. The spread of the Wall Street crisis to other continents is a graphic example of how much the rest of the world still depends on America for their economic growth. The U.S.'s gross domestic product is three times the size of that of Japan, the world's second biggest economy, and is four times the size of China's.

The U.S. dollar still makes up more than 60 per cent of the world's currency reserves, according to IMF data.

"They are so big, you can't get along without them," said Mr. Curtis, who also served at the IMF. "They are pre-eminent, they are no longer dominant."

The U.S.'s standing in the world of global finance may well be determined by the outcome of Mr. Paulson's $700-billion rescue package.

Observers marvel at the speed with which Mr. Paulson and U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke developed the plan after earlier efforts failed to reverse the credit squeeze. It took years to sort out the mess created by the defaults of Argentina and Brazil.

If the U.S. can save its banks faster than the Europeans save theirs, Mr. Paulson will restore some of his department's reputation abroad, said Daniel Drezner, a political science professor at Medford, Mass.-based Tufts University and a former Treasury Department economist.

But gone are the days when a U.S. treasury secretary will automatically be seen as the smartest guy in the room.

"It's tough to tell other countries you should privatize and liberalize when you are going the other way," Mr. Drezner said. "The Washington consensus is dead."


ACORN cited in behemoth ripoff

More ACORN stories: hereCongress stories: herefraud stories: here

'The biggest armed robbery in history'

Quite "a coincidence that you're interested in this one," the salesman says. "Another lady was just in here wanting it and she ran home for her checkbook. I can't guarantee it'll still be here in half an hour."

Eleven days ago, the entire government of the United States -- OK, no one invited the Supreme Court -- sat in the White House in front of the gathered cameras and played used car salesman. From Bernanke of the Fed to Paulson of the Treasury; from Harry Reid to Nancy Pelosi; from Chris Dodd to John McCain to Barack Obama to their earnest front man George W. Bush, the government sat there stern-faced and swore in all earnestness that the nation was in an economic crisis -- a liquidity crisis (despite the fact the Fed has been printing up and handing free money to the big bankers all year, by the billions.)

Congress was going to have to hand to the nation's rich, fat cat bankers -- who have already salted away their billions in bonuses and stock options for slicing up and reselling 13 years worth of bad mortgages -- a big new IOU payable by America's struggling taxpayers, the gang insisted.

And -- after Banking Chairfolkpersons Chris Dodd and Barney Frank assured us for years that everything was fine -- the crisis was so urgent the thing had to pass within days: No time to bother reading it!

But by the time the bailout finally came to a vote on Monday, six days ago, part of it was missing. The tens of billions of dollars in that "vital, desperately needed" bill that would have funded what The Wall Street Journal called the "Barney Frank-Chris Dodd slush fund" -- constitutionally forbidden money for Barack Obama's "Acorn" scam and scores of similar socialist squeeze plays -- had gone missing.

If the whole package was desperately needed, why did they take that part out (only to replace it this past week with $192 million for rum producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, $33 million for companies operating in American Samoa, a $6 million tax cut for the producers of wooden arrows -- 448 new pages of pork and sharply targeted tax breaks added to what was once a three-page bill)?

Then, when the House finally voted, the proposal ... lost.

Wall Street was stunned. The news media were stunned. Washington was stunned. If everyone in the whole city -- Republicrat and Demopublican alike -- said it was necessary, if The New York Times and The Washington Post said it was necessary, if CBS and ABC and MSNBC soberly intoned that it was inescapable, unavoidable ... how could it lose?

The answer to both of the above questions is the same. The rubes out here in Flyover Land no longer depend on the carefully slanted statist-agenda "newscasts" at the TimesPost and CBSABCMSNBC. They've got Rush Limbaugh, who pounded on the Acorn handouts for days. They've got the Internet. (Go to www.lewrockwell.com/ to read Gary North; Ron Paul; Doug French; Bob Murphy; Shawn Ritenour -- especially read http://mises.org/story/3132 and www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/ritenour2.html.)

The rubes can even share the real news via cell phones.

I went out to dinner Tuesday night with some friends. They asked if I'd seen anything on the major news stations, or moving on the wires, about demonstrations outside the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve in Washington. I said I hadn't seen a thing about any such demonstrations.

Our dinner companion handed me her picture phone, displaying a photo from the demonstration outside the stock exchange, unmistakable with its big post-9/11 American flag.

The demonstrators were showing a touching level of concern and empathy for the Wall Street bankers and brokers inside. The biggest hand-lettered sign on view read "Jump! You (Expletives)!"

I somehow doubt any Americans were shown that on their network evening news last week. Which is why they no longer trust the network evening news, any more than they trust any of the clowns who sat around that big table at the White House 11 days ago.

The Democrats in Washington enacted the Community Redevelopment Act under Jimmy Carter in 1977, and then put the whole deal on steroids under Bill Clinton in 1995.

Federal regulators refused to approve perfectly prudent bank mergers unless everyone participating cranked up their racial quota ratings by making "enough" bad loans to inner city minority folk, even if they had to let them use their welfare and unemployment checks to "qualify" for a mortgage.

This worked great when it came to buying Democratic votes. In the long run it didn't work out so well for the banks.

Congressmen, facing the voters in five weeks, admit their e-mails were running 80-20 against the Biggest Attempted Armed Robbery in History. Let's figure that means they were actually running 98-2.

What went wrong is that the rubes weren't buying it anymore.

Congress just changed and updated the bankruptcy laws, to make things easier for creditors. What's wrong -- don't the banks who pushed for those rule changes want to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 and have a receiver auction off their assets under the same rules they just rewrote for some Joe or Jane who falls behind on the mortgage?

Instead it was, "Please wave your magic wand, Mr. Bernanke, and turn us into 'bank holding companies.' "

If you or I wanted to form a "bank holding company" we'd be undergoing audits and waiting for bureaucratic approvals for years. But the rich cronies of Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke ask for some magic fairy dust to change them overnight from "investment banks" into "bank holding companies," and they get their wish?

Why didn't they just ask to be turned into guys in colorful spandex suits with superhuman powers?

To win this election, John McCain needs to hammer the fact he was calling for regulatory reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for years -- that the folks who stood in the way of that reform were the Democrats who were on the payoff list, big time, for the lobbyists and PACs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton.

Then he needs to announce that his first appointment will be a secretary of the Treasury who still wants to know why we need a "Federal Reserve Board" to replace real gold and silver money with increasingly worthless fiat "dollar" coupons, at all -- Republican Rep. Ron Paul.

- Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.


Camp Obama teaches ACORN-Alinsky tactics

Saul Alinsky stories: hereACORN: hereVoter-fraud: here

Election '08: Voters coast-to-coast are receiving e-mails from the Obama campaign encouraging them to sign up to learn pre-election agitation tactics at "Camp Obama." Red kerchiefs, anyone?

When readers first alerted us to the camps, we thought it might be another hoax that migrated into inboxes. But it's for real.

The unsolicited pitch goes like this: "Camp Obama attendees will receive real world organizing experience that will have a direct impact on this election. Graduates of Camp Obama will go on to become Deputy Field Organizers who will lead this campaign to victory in crucial battleground states around the country."

The letter continues, "By participating in Camp Obama you'll get the kind of experience that Barack got as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he learned that real change happens from the bottom up."

While the letter neglects to identify the source of that "experience," a slide on a camp blog linked to the Obama Web site offers a clue. Underneath a "Welcome to Camp Obama" banner, a trainer at Obama headquarters in Chicago is seen speaking next to a wipe board with the words "Saul Alinsky" scrawled across it.

Alinsky is the late Chicago socialist and street agitator who is considered the father of community organizing.

Another slide of a camp trainer identified as Mike Kruglik is equally telling. Kruglik happens to be the Alinsky disciple who first taught Obama hardball organizing tactics on the South Side. He was Obama's boss in the '80s. Kruglik now works for the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation, which trains and deploys radicals across the country.

Kruglik once declared Obama "the undisputed master of agitation," according to David Freddoso, author of the best-seller "The Case Against Barack Obama."

Obama learned well from the master agitator. Alinsky taught future radicals that bad things are often done for the right reasons, love without power is sentimental mush, power must be taken, and all change comes about as a result of threat and pressure.

Obama calls his Alinskyite experience "the best education I ever had."

Now he's passing it on to his groupies. He recently told supporters in Nevada, a state that will be hotly contested, to sharpen their elbows in the final lap of the race. Confront Republicans, he said, and "get in their faces."

"Be absolutely ruthless," adds Camp Obama director Jocelyn Woodards, who leads the intensive two-day training course for campers in Chicago.

In the Alinsky model, organizing is code for agitating. For revolution. He had no patience for liberals who merely talked of change.

"Liberals protest," he wrote in "Rules for Radicals," while "radicals rebel." Liberals become "indignant," while "radicals become fighting mad and go into action."

"Liberals give and take oral arguments," Alinsky added. "Radicals give and take the hard, dirty, bitter way of life."

Alinsky's paragon of radicalism was Satan, to whom he dedicated the first edition of "Rules": "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer."

Dirty street fighting is at the heart of Obama's organizing. While he stands above the fray, his minions at ACORN are threatening, intimidating, confronting and even committing voter fraud. This is Alinsky's end-justifies-means morality in action. Whatever it takes to win the revolution.

Obama needs more agitators, so he's set up these camps to train them.

ACORN has the minority communities covered, while the camps are churning out mostly coed organizers. The Chicago program has already trained some 2,000 agitators to go back to their college campuses and reproduce more Obama clones.

No campaign has been successful at mobilizing students to vote en masse. But Obama hired the founder of MTV's Rock the Vote to organize students and train them to use Alinsky tactics on campuses in battleground states.

They have been training these students since the primaries. They in turn are registering fellow students in droves to vote, while creating massive phone banks to help get out the vote on Election Day. Meanwhile, ACORN is registering thousands of minorities to vote in key states.

Such potential new voters don't show up in the national polls of "likely voters," which show a relatively tight race, because they've never voted and don't show on past rolls.

If they turn out at the polls on Nov. 4, it could translate into a landslide for Obama.

If he can garner better than 50% of the popular vote, he can claim a mandate for his radical agenda.

What's more, all these first-time minority and student voters wouldn't vote for just Obama. They'd also more than likely vote down-ballot for other Democrats, padding their majorities in Congress.

If Democrats score supermajorities, filibuster-proofing the Senate, Obama could get most of his agenda rammed through in the first 100 days, surely in the first two years, before Americans could get a chance to check Democrat power in the midterm election of 2010.

How much damage could they do? Well, look at how much damage the Clintonistas did. We're now seeing the financial fruits of their social experiment to apply affirmative action to the lending business. Obama plans to conduct a far more radical social experiment.

Few during this long campaign have wanted to talk about Obama's days as a community organizer or his ties to radicals, because they didn't want to raise the S word. Well, guess what? The avoidance has given him license to apply his organizing skills on a mass scale.

It made the difference in the primaries when he beat the Clinton machine, and it may now make the difference in the general election.

Not calling attention to Alinsky and the other socialists behind the Obama movement has even allowed creation of camps to indoctrinate American youth.

If John McCain hopes to win, he'll have to act as ruthlessly as Obama's campers.

He can start by exposing for voters the socialist underpinnings of community organizing.


Congress, ACORN smacked down

More ACORN stories: hereFraud stories: here

'Crucial battle over reality'

With most people riveted to the battle between John McCain and Barrack Obama, little mainstream media attention is being paid to a raging battle that has as much, if not more, potential impact on Americans than the quadrennial fight for the White House.

And even more important than today's vote on the bailout bill that just passed the House 263-171. That battle is over the public perception of how we got into the financial mess we find ourselves. And while facts would seem to be facts, the picture of "reality" that becomes the accepted conventional wisdom is of crucial importance.

The socialists are desperate to not take the well-deserved blame for the debacle. There is a growing realization that if the American people learn the role played by Barney Frank, ACORN, Barack Obama, and the horde of other subsidy-seeking politicians, support for their welfare will dry up. And with it, so too will support for their schemes to soak the American taxpayers.

The truth is well known and is slowly getting reported. Starting with the Community Reinvestment Act and then the 1995 Clinton administration regulations, liberals and their socialist allies pushed banks and other lending institutions to extend loans to people who could not afford them. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac encouraged and then bullied lenders to extend these loans by all but eliminating any standards to qualify. Even the New York Times in 1999 noted the policy implications. Fannie and Freddie then bought the bad paper, packaged it up and sold it on Wall Street with the implied backing of the U.S. taxpayers. When responsible legislators tried to rein in the reckless lending, they were blocked. Barney Frank, the pompous elitist who now runs from any responsibility, is on video a dozen times denouncing any move to tighten lending standards. John McCain fought to tighten it up in 2003 and again in 2006 and was rejected by the very same left-wing politicians who now cry crocodile tears about the disaster they worked to create.

As all those bad loans went bad and housing prices began to fall, investors lost confidence, and we find ourselves where we are today. But this is not the "reality" the left wants the American people to accept. They present a far different story.

In their dream-world, none of the things that are on the record -- on video tape, in print, in the official documents --- matter. For them, the whole delusional chimera is about predatory lenders conning people into signing loan papers; it's about a helpless population --- people who can't tie their own shoes or feed themselves without a government bureaucrat at their side -- being taken to the cleaners by slick Wall Street types.

Once again, the socialist hide behind their ideology of victimhood. And once again, it is a lie. Only this time, if the American people get sucked into believing the lie, it could cost us all our freedom and any chance of future prosperity.

The head of the National Urban League has demanded that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson spew their spin. Barney Frank has been making the rounds of talk shows, pugnaciously claiming he is the savior while ignoring his past actions to enable Fannie and Freddie to inject their poison into the American financial system. Joe "make-it-up-as-you-go" Biden points a finger of blame at everyone except those involved (which may not be all that surprising when one realizes that the single largest contributor to Biden's political coffers is Bank of America's MBNA).

These are the battle lines. On one side, facts and recorded history. On the other, perpetrators and co-conspirators weaving the myth of victimhood into a rancid stew of lies and class-warfare.

The outcome is far from decided. And the stakes could not be any higher.

- Bill Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government


Obama's ACORN Voter Fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Ignoring election fraud perpetrated by the Left

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union organizer poised to take up residence in The White House

I was appalled at the selective outrage of The Baltimore Sun's recent editorial about alleged voter intimidation ("Voter beware," Oct. 1). Conspicuously absent from the hard-hitting editorial was any reference to the electoral misconduct of the ultra-leftist Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, commonly known as ACORN.

Let's quickly review ACORN's recent history related to voter fraud: In July 2007, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington state. Seven ACORN volunteers had submitted nearly 2,000 bogus voter registration forms.

Three ACORN hoaxers pleaded guilty to voter fraud last October. A King County, Wash., prosecutor called the group's behavior "an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls."

The group's activity in Washington state is not isolated. ACORN has been implicated in similar voter fraud schemes in 14 other states.

In March, Philadelphia elections officials accused the leftist pressure group of filing fraudulent voter registrations in advance of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. The charges are pending before the city district attorney's office.

Why did The Baltimore Sun turn a blind eye to these facts, which have long been a part of the public record?

The Baltimore Sun loses credibility when its selective outrage reveals its liberal bias.

- William J. Frank, Lutherville, is a Republican member of the House of Delegates.


AFL-CIO seen as key to Obama victory

Related: "Publicly-funded labor-activism in Ohio"
Saul Alinsky stories: hereMore collectivism stories: here

Class warfare propels union organizer into White House

A well-coordinated effort by organized labor of its members could go a long way toward getting Democrat Barack Obama elected president. So say John Russo, co-director of Youngstown State University’s Center for Working Class Studies and coordinator of its labor studies program at the Williamson College of Business, and Paul Sracic, chairman of YSU’s political science department.

“The American labor movement spent more time in 2004 and 2000 organizing external groups and not enough time with internal organizing” which led, in part, to the defeat of their endorsed candidates, Russo said. “They’re now spending a lot of money and time organizing internally much like they did in 1992” when they helped elect Democrat Bill Clinton as president.

“What other group has the organizational capabilities of labor unions?” Sracic said. “They can reach blue-collar workers better than anyone.”

Sracic referred to organized labor as “Obama’s ground troops.”

Part of their objective is to persuade those who voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in Ohio’s Democratic primary in March to throw their support behind Obama, he said. Obama fared poorly in the Ohio primary.

Part of Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s campaign strategy is to attract Clinton’s former supporters.

“The Mahoning Valley is an important part of winning Ohio, and labor is huge around here,” Sracic said.

Organized labor unions have traditionally supported Democratic political candidates.

A CNN exit poll in the 2004 election showed 61 percent of union members voted for Democrat John Kerry compared with 38 percent for Republican George W. Bush.

Obama has received nearly all of the major labor organizations’ endorsements including the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers and the Service Employees International Union.

Endorsements are only a small part of what labor is doing for Obama.

Members of the AFL-CIO, a labor organization of 53 unions, are actively communicating with their members about this election, Richard Trumka, the national organization’s second highest-ranking official, told The Vindicator during a recent visit to Youngstown.

“We’ll contact our members 15 to 20 times through various communications such as phone banks, leaflets outside the gate at their job sites, knocking on doors, mail information, and bringing people together for town hall meetings,” he said. “We’re doing a better job with the effort” than in 2004.

There are 15.7 million members of organized labor in the United States, or 12.1 percent of the nation’s workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The AFL-CIO’s membership makes up about half of those union members.

There are 730,000 workers in Ohio, a key state in the presidential election, who belong to a union. The percentage of union members in Ohio is 14.1 percent, 2 percentage points higher than the national average.

Russo estimates the percentage of union members in Mahoning and Trumbull counties at 24 percent to 25 percent.

The percentages do not include their families and union retirees, which would make those numbers significantly higher, Russo said.

Labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, spend a lot of time organizing groups of people who are not union members.

Working America, created by the AFL-CIO in 2003, has about 2.5 million members nationwide, said Trumka, the labor group’s national secretary-treasurer.

The external organizations are part of labor’s efforts to encourage working-class people to become politically active, he said.

But it is labor’s making sure its members, their families and retirees vote for Obama that will determine the presidential race, Russo said. Though the external organizational efforts continue, Russo said he sees a difference this year.

“The American labor movement is doing more in terms of internal organizing,” he said. “Organized labor is important if they can organize their vote, and that’s been a problem in the past. That’s a problem that’s been corrected.”

With Ohio considered among a handful of key states in the presidential race, organized labor is focused on getting out the vote here, Trumka said.

“It may decide the election,” he said. “This state may decide the direction of the country and our standing in the world.”

Trumka said some of his members are undecided voters.

“Barack Obama is somewhat of an unknown, but we’re seeing the momentum starting to pick up,” he said. “We get very, very few people who say, ‘I’m going to vote for John McCain.’ Some are undecided and some have questions about Barack Obama. But only a few support John McCain.”

In response, Paul Lindsay, a McCain spokesman, said, “Despite the decision of their union leadership, rank and file workers ... continue to support John McCain because he is the only candidate in this race who has the experience and record of reform to fix the mess on Wall Street and get our economy moving again.”

Lindsay added that Obama offers “nothing to these union members besides empty political rhetoric and a record of supporting higher taxes on middle-class families that would devastate job creation at the worst possible time.”

Trumka strongly disagrees with that assessment, saying Obama is a proven ally of working Americans while McCain has a record of voting against labor.

“This is probably the clearest election for workers,” he said. “We will have to decide where we want the economy to go. Do we want change and a president who’s responsive to workers?”


Collectivists put workers' rights at risk

More EFCA stories: hereMore card-check stories: here

Latent labor union fascism rears its ugly anti-democratic head

Politicians are notorious for giving flowery definitions to legislative bills by using words that camouflage the real intent of a proposed piece of legislation. A perfect example is the "Employee Free Choice Act" that Democrats are trying to shove down our throats because of fear of alienating one of their biggest financial supporters, the national trade unions.

The "Employee Free Choice Act" would do away with the "secret" ballot voting system that workers now have when they vote to accept or not to accept representation by a union. In it's place, they want a system whereby someone ( a union organizer) would be able to come up to a worker and ask that worker to sign a card (called a "card check") stating that they want to have the union represent them.

Sounds fairly benign and harmless, until you add in the possible intimidation factor of having a worker having to tell the "union organizer" that he doesn't want to sign that card to have the union represent him. Do you think he would be prone to sign that card if he knew that others would know that he didn't want the union?

Well, that's what they, the unions and their flunkies in the Congress, want to do by proposing this EFCA — they want to take away a workers right to choose or not to choose union representation in the privacy of the voting booth.

This is just a ploy, by the unions, to try to increase their membership. The " big enchilada" for the unions is to attempt to organize the mammoth Wal-Mart company, a company where the workers have consistently rejected union representation in the past.

By using the "Employee Free Choice Act" as a hammer over the heads of the workers, they feel their efforts would be much easier to accomplish with the goal of getting hundreds of thousands of new dues-paying union members in the fold.

This, to me, is un-American and an invasion of our privacy. The Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, is co-sponsor of this ill-conceived piece of legislation, and he said he would sign it if it came to him as President.

Here's what Obama has said publicly: "We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It's not a matter of when. We may have to wait for the next president to sign it, but we will get this thing done."

John McCain, his opponent, said he would not sign this piece of legislation. Just recently, a liberal icon, former senator and former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal urging his fellow Democrats to abandon this assault on the Constitution and to withdraw that un-American bill from further consideration.

Even a far-left liberal and ardent union supporter, like George McGovern, can understand why this bill must not become law.

In our local congressional elections, incumbents Robert Wexler (D-19th district.) and Ron Klein (D-22nd district) are in favor of this piece of legislation while their respective challengers, Edward Lynch and Allen West are against it and in favor of the "secret ballot" in union elections as it stands now.

The "choice" is clear to all right thinking Americans No "Employee Free Choice Act," because there is no "free choice" in it.

- Charles Lehmann is a resident of Delray Beach.


Ohio Dem favors mandatory union-dues

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"
More worker-choice stories: hereunion-dues stories: here

So-called 'worker-choice' scheme favored by Republican

School funding, health care and the economy were what audience members wanted to hear about from the House of Representative candidates for District 42 on Sept. 30. Incumbent Richard Nero (R-Hudson) and challenger Mike Moran (D-Hudson) fielded questions from an audience of 66 at a Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at The Country Club of Hudson.

After 10-minute introductions, Moran, 44, Hudson City Council president, and Nero, 37, who was appointed to the District 42 seat in June, spoke for 30 minutes.

Nero, a health care consultant, said he has roots in the area and a commitment to Northeast Ohio, and takes a common sense approach to solving problems with experience as a consultant for education and health care institutes.

Moran, manager at a business information services company, said his professional work and public service have proven his fiscal responsibility, and he has a desire to stand up for the middle class.

Candidates agreed on reforming funding for schools but disagreed on the methods.

Nero said he favored a tax system to reroute local taxes to the state and earmark them for education to get away from local levies. He said the state also should negotiate the purchase of supplies and food for all 612 school districts in Ohio to save money, as opposed to each district making independent purchases for the same things.

Moran said education was a high priority and should be for the state , and he would work to fix the state funding formula for public education so more funding comes from state than property taxes.

"I would reach out to schools and work together," Moran said. "Schools need help from the state for funding."

Moran said he would look at ways to be more fiscally responsible and look at creative ways for schools to share expenses.

As far as health care, Moran said the state needs to control costs by increasing efficiency of the health care system and informing consumers with improved health care information technology.

Nero said he would move from a paper-based system to a statewide electronic medical information system to reduce errors and increase efficiency. With the savings, he would expand Medicaid without increasing taxes.

Both candidates said they didn't want to increase taxes, but rather look at ways to increase government efficiency.

Moran points to his experience on City Council as an example of how he can increase government efficiency.

"Two years ago, [Hudson City] Council challenged the city administration to find ways of providing the same services and cutting back on the budget," Moran said.

Nero said he would look for areas where the state government could be more efficient, thus saving taxpayers money.

He said in the last two years, the state government has overhauled tax programs to improve ways to do business by phasing out the tangible personal property tax and corporate franchise tax and replacing them with the commercial activity tax.

"Businesses need to be educated about the opportunities available as a result of the changes," Nero said.

Nero said instead of increasing income taxes, the state should attract workers to Ohio. He said a bill he is proposing would offer in-state tuition rates to children of graduates from Ohio universities and colleges and attract the parents back to the state.

Moran said he would help the economy of Ohio by creating a positive business climate with low taxes to grow, attract and retain businesses. He said he also would invest in innovative technology for the future and support work force development.

Both candidates support the Great Lakes Compact, which is an agreement between eight states surrounding the Great Lakes to determine environmental and economic issues relating to the lakes. The Great Lakes Compact was passed by the state June 10.

"The Great Lakes is an economic resource and an important issue to me," Moran said.

Nero said he supported the legislation, but was unable to vote on it because of a previous speaking engagement in Las Vegas.

"I had to wait for the Senate to vote on the Great Lakes Compact, and if there was any threat to the bill, I was going to cancel my flight back to Las Vegas," Nero said.

The candidates disagreed about unions when they were asked whether they supported a "right to work" state, which would give an individual the right not to be forced to join or pay dues to a union. In Ohio, workers must join existing union organizations for particular occupations.

Nero supported the right to work, while Moran opposed changes to union organization rules.


Union organizer waltzes toward White House

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Left covers up Barack-ACORN tie

Flaky conservative blowhard-cum-flaky liberal blowhard Arianna Huffington’s much visited gossip website, The Huffington Post, is just the latest media outlet trying to keep Senator Barack Obama’s exhaustively documented history of radical activism out of the public eye.

Enter HuffPost writer Seth Colter Walls. After reading his post, titled “Fox News, GOP Tag-Team Obama With Voter Fraud Smear,” it would be unfair to accuse Walls of lying because that would mean he deliberately uttered a statement he knew to be false. In fact, Walls appears blissfully ignorant of the facts, but his attitude seems to be — damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

Walls aimed his keyboard at the nonpartisan Media Research Center’s Seton Motley some hours after Motley appeared on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning (October 3), attacking Motley for asserting that Senator Obama has ties to the radical left-wing vote fraud factory known as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). It appears Walls conducted little actual research beyond obediently regurgitating the talking points fed to him by the Obama campaign.

Maybe part of the confusion about ACORN stems from the fact that ACORN has grown into a multi-headed hydra over the years. The massive leftist conglomerate boasts it is the nation’s largest community organization of low- and moderate-income persons, with 350,000 “member families,” organized into 800 neighborhood chapters and 104 cities.

ACORN has evolved into a left-wing brand. ACORN is actually several organizations, including the ACORN Institute (training), the Living Wage Resource Center, the Wal-Mart Alliance for Reform Now (WARN), the ACORN Housing Corp., and as discussed below, Project Vote.

But in order to understand how inept and slanted the article Walls posted is, it is necessary to look at what Motley said on “Fox & Friends.”

On TV, Motley said there were “three stages of connection” between Obama and ACORN:

“He was a lawyer for the organization. He then served his years as a trainer of activists for the organization. And when he was named chairman of the board by terrorist William Ayers to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, they funneled money to, amongst many other places, ACORN. So there is three stages of relationship with them.”

Walls huffed:

Hours after the segment aired, the Republican National Committee emailed out the segment and YouTube video to its list of reporters (its 18th email in two months referencing Obama and ACORN).

The Obama campaign already has an entry about the ACORN issue on its “Fight the Smears” website. Broadly, the campaign admits that Obama represented a coalition of groups that sued Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar in order to get him to implement the federal “Motor-Voter” voting access law. However, far from a “radical” collective, even the U.S. Department of Justice joined the raft of groups Obama helped represent in Illinois, and their collective challenge was successful.

So Obama aides say he wasn’t “representing” ACORN individually, but as part of a larger coalition. And as ties go, this one isn’t particularly deep or damning. It also happens to be the only alleged tie raised on Fox this week that is incontestably true.

As for the other two charges of ACORN ties, an Obama aide calls them complete fictions. “The Republican National Committee is using smoke and mirrors in an attempt to distract from John McCain’s more of the same plans in a change election,” said spokesman Ben LaBolt. “The fact is, Barack Obama was never an employee of ACORN, he never served as an ACORN organizer or an ACORN trainer. As an attorney, he successfully challenged Governor Edgar to enforce the federal Motor Voter law, making sure voting was as accessible for Illinois residents as the law required. With contorted logic, you can create a tenuous chain of links to connect anybody to anything. Just ask Kevin Bacon.”

Evidently, Walls didn’t read Capital Research Center’s approximately 8,000-word profile of Obama, “Barack Obama: A Radical Leftist’s Journey from Community Organizing to Politics,” which I co-wrote with Elias Crim (Foundation Watch, June 2008). The article has been cited in three books, one of which is currently a New York Times bestseller. (The three books are the NYT bestseller, The Case Against Barack Obama, by David Freddoso, the new edition of Stealing Elections, by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, and The Audacity of Deceit, by Brad O’Leary.)

The relevant passages we wrote about Obama are as follows:

In 1992, Obama took time off from his new job at Davis Miner to direct ACORN’s voter mobilization arm, Project Vote, a hugely successful voter registration campaign that helped propel Democrat Carol Moseley Braun into the U.S. Senate by adding an estimated 125,000 voters to the rolls. Project Vote is an ostensibly independent 501(c)(3) that claims to conduct “non-partisan” voter registration drives, counsels potential voters on their rights, and litigates on behalf of the poor and “disenfranchised.”

Its greatest legislative accomplishment is the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly known as Motor Voter. But in his book Stealing Elections (2004), Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund argues that the law leads to voter fraud:

“Perhaps no piece of legislation in the last generation better captures the ‘incentivizing’ of fraud… than the 1993 National Voter Registration Act…Examiners were under orders not to ask anyone for identification or proof of citizenship. States also had to permit mail-in voter registrations, which allowed anyone to register without any personal contact with a registrar or election official. Finally, states were limited in pruning ‘dead wood’ - people who had died, moved or been convicted of crimes - from their rolls. … Since its implementation, Motor Voter has worked in one sense: it has fueled an explosion of phantom voters.”

In 1995, Obama sued on behalf of ACORN for the implementation of Motor Voter laws in Illinois and won. That secured Obama an invitation to train ACORN staff. Obama later returned the favor when, as a member of the Woods Fund board, he approved frequent grants to ACORN. In a 2007 address to its leaders (who subsequently endorsed his presidential bid), Obama praised ACORN’s mission:

“I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That’s what I did for three and a half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason I moved to Chicago-to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I’ve been fighting alongside of ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”

Obama himself acknowledges in a campaign video that he directed Project Vote, though he says nothing about the fact that it is part and parcel of ACORN.

So, to recap, we wrote that Obama worked for Project Vote, and that Project Vote is part of ACORN.

We are also not the only authority to point out that Project Vote is an extension of ACORN (much like the IRA was an arm of Sinn Fein, but I naughtily digress).

Time magazine described Project Vote in 2004 as “a nonpartisan arm of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).”

On his blog, ACORN founder Wade Rathke described Project Vote as being within “our family of organizations.” Rathke heads the New Orleans-based Local 100 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which donates over $2 million to ACORN annually, a significant part of the ACORN network’s $37 million budget.

To say that Obama didn’t work for ACORN is just playing word games. It would be like a Sam’s Club employee indignantly insisting he didn’t work for Wal-Mart.

Moreover, as noted above, Obama did legal work for ACORN too. He sued on behalf of ACORN’s Project Vote (and other interested parties).

It boggles the mind why anyone would deny such easily verifiable facts. It is not a “smear” to recite those facts.

Walls, of course, is entitled to make any argument he wants about why Obama is God’s gift to American governance, but he is not entitled to his own set of facts.


'Dems halted attempts to stop the madness'

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Who caused the meltdown? Young Turks name Dem names.

Everyone should educate themselves on the subject. This is a good example of how the good intentions of good hearted Democrats to provide good, affordable housing for all, creates a good path to the destruction of the American Economy.

Whether the plan is FDR’s New Deal or Truman’s Fair Deal or LBJ’s Great Society or JFK’s New Frontier or Clinton’s New Covenant, the result is always the same, Socialism Kills (the economy).

This article is offered without comment in order to avoid sounding inflammatory.
To hear today's Democrats, you'd think all this started in the last couple years. But the crisis began much earlier. The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, mostly in minority areas.

Age-old standards of banking prudence got thrown out the window. In their place came harsh new regulations requiring banks not only to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, but to do so on the basis of race.

These well-intended rules were supercharged in the early 1990s by President Clinton. Despite warnings from GOP members of Congress in 1992, Clinton pushed extensive changes to the rules requiring lenders to make questionable loans.

Lenders who refused would find themselves castigated publicly as racists. As noted this week in an IBD editorial, no fewer than four federal bank regulators scrutinized financial firms' books to make sure they were in compliance.

Failure to comply meant your bank might not be allowed to expand lending, add new branches or merge with other companies. Banks were given a so-called "CRA rating" that graded how diverse their lending portfolio was.

It was economic hardball.

"We have to use every means at our disposal to end discrimination and to end it as quickly as possible," Clinton's comptroller of the currency, Eugene Ludwig, told the Senate Banking Committee in 1993.

And they meant it.

In the name of diversity, banks began making huge numbers of loans that they previously would not have. They opened branches in poor areas to lift their CRA ratings.

Meanwhile, Congress gave Fannie and Freddie the go-ahead to finance it all by buying loans from banks, then repackaging and securitizing them for resale on the open market.

That's how the contagion began.

With those changes, the subprime market took off. From a mere $35 billion in loans in 1994, it soared to $1 trillion by 2008.

Wall Street eagerly sold the new mortgage-backed securities. Not only were they pooled investments, mixing good and bad, but they were backed with the implicit guarantee of government.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac grew to become monsters, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. mortgage loans. At the time of their bailouts this month, they held $5.4 trillion in loans on their books. About $1.4 trillion of those were subprime.

As they grew, Fannie and Freddie grew heavily involved in "community development," giving money to local housing rights groups and "empowering" the groups, such as ACORN, for whom Barack Obama once worked in Chicago.

Warning signals were everywhere. Yet at every turn, Democrats in Congress halted attempts to stop the madness. It happened in 1992, again in 2000, in 2003 and in 2005. It may happen this year, too.

Since 1989, Fannie and Freddie have spent an estimated $140 million on lobbying Washington. They contributed millions to politicians, mostly Democrats, including Senator Chris Dodd (No. 1 recipient) and Barack Obama (No. 3 recipient, despite only three years in office).

The Clinton White House used Fannie and Freddie as a patronage job bank. Former executives and board members read like a who's who of the Clinton-era Democratic Party, including Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, Jim Johnson and current Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

Collectively, they and others made well more than $100 million from Fannie and Freddie, whose books were cooked Enron-style during the late 1990s and early 2000s to ensure executives got their massive bonuses.


Big Bedfellows ripped over labor extortion deal

Big Bedfellows stories: hereMore worker-choice stories: here

Forced-labor unionists conjure a new fascistic Progressive Era

Colorado’s so-called “business leaders” just don’t get it but, oh boy, are they about to. Shrewd in making deals in their own respective realms, the power brokers who agreed to pay labor union bosses $3 million in exchange for withdrawing four job-killing ballot initiatives have been played for suckers.

Politics is a different ballgame. These business executives consented to an extortion racket and will pay the price for years to come. It is understandable that business leaders didn’t want to risk passage of even one of these four destructive initiatives. But the peace they have purchased is only temporary.

Anyone who still believes that businesses are philosophically conservative should take note. CEOs are more pragmatic than ideological, especially in big business. Their primary interest is building a profitable enterprise, and they disdain uncertainty. From that perspective, negotiating a truce seems like a better plan than trying to score a big win over labor at the risk of suffering a costly loss.

Trading something tangible for something intangible always is a lousy deal.

The business participants made a foolish bargain, trading cash for “peace.” By this time next month, labor bosses will have spent the $3 million. Business then will be out $3 million and left only to trust labor’s good will for as long as it lasts.

These are many of the same business types who bought the myth of Bill Ritter as a pro-business Democrat, only to watch him unionize state workers and raise property taxes. About the only business benefiting from Ritter’s reign are trial lawyers and electric utilities — which might well explain Xcel Energy’s participation in this newest trade-off.

Now, thanks to the gullible generosity of these business leaders, labor — which already had raised $12 million for this election — can re-direct much of its cash to electing more labor union puppets and trial lawyer lackeys to the state Legislature where they can haunt business interests for years.

Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Colorado State University professor Ray Hogler sees the big picture clearly, noting that “labor will now enjoy an even bigger financial advantage” and can “divert some of their campaign cash to help Democratic allies.”

How this obvious strategy escapes business executives who have lived through the hostile legislative climate of the past two years is utterly inexplicable.

If labor is successful in defeating Amendments 47 (right to work) and 49 (ethical standards), its agenda will be bolstered by an apparent voter mandate.

Labor’s iron grip on the Legislature will be strengthened by electing more of its own and by more political clout to intimidate the few remaining business-friendly Democrats and any Republican silly enough to think that labor will ever back him or her against a Democrat.

Nothing prevents labor bosses from trotting out these same anti-business initiatives at any time in the future to extract another payoff from business.

Business leaders just purchased the ammunition for their own execution. Labor bosses and Democrat activists — like shrewd negotiator Ted Trimpa, who helped engineer this deal and just happens to be an advisor to Democrat financier Tim Gill — will be laughing all the way to the ballot box.

Labor union leaders understand strength and toughness. Unfortunately, many of Colorado’s self-proclaimed business leaders have responded with weakness and timidity. In doing so, they have thrown to the wolves the handful of gutsy business leaders who truly understand labor’s political strategy and therefore backed Amendments 47 and 49.

Labor will continue its racket of extortion and intimidation until business executives grow tired of being beaten with their own hammer or until so few of them remain that their opinion doesn’t matter.

- Mark Hillman operates a family farm near Burlington, Colorado, is a former Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate, a former Colorado State Treasurer, and is an honorary member of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado.


Extortion subdues Colorado workers

More Big Bedfellows stories: hereworker-choice stories: here
Related: "The 28 labor-states"

Big Bedfellows: Workers aren't smart enough to choose

With just about a month to go before Election Day, a group of business leaders and unions announced they will team up to fight a Colorado right-to-work ballot proposal and two others opposed by unions. In exchange, union groups will drop four measures they placed on the ballot that business groups had called "poison pills" filed in retaliation for the right-to-work measure.

The deal announced Thursday followed three weeks of negotiations and came just hours before the deadline to cancel a vote on the union-backed measures. The measures will still be on the November ballot but the votes won't count.

A backer of one of the measures that will be targeted for defeat by the business-labor coalition derided the deal as "protection money." Supporters of the deal say it will help preserve years of labor peace in Colorado.

The right to work measure would bar unions from requiring nonunion workers to pay dues. The others measures the new coalition agreed to fight would prohibit governments from deducting union dues from paychecks and bar political donations by government workers' unions and anyone with a no-bid government contract.

Business groups pledged to raise $3 million for the campaign to defeat the three measures.

Dan Ritchie, a member of a group of business executives known as Colorado Concern, said the deal isn't a sellout by unions or a labor squeeze on business.

"Neither are true. These big expensive fights don't make any sense when you think about all the things we could do with this money," said Ritchie, chairman of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Others agreeing to fight the anti-union measures include the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Colorado Concern members Walter Isenberg, chief executive of Sage Hospitality, Patrick Hamill of Oakwood Homes and Denver lawyer Steve Farber.

The unions will yank measures that would have required employers to give formal explanations before firing any workers, required businesses with more than 20 workers to provide health insurance, made it easier for CEOs to be held criminally responsible for corporate fraud and allowed injured workers to sue for money beyond what workers compensation pays.

Independent pollster Floyd Ciruli said three of the measures didn't get much backing in a recent poll he conducted for the Economic Development Council of Colorado, but the one targeting CEOs had support in the "high 50s."

Ciruli attributed that to public outrage over the Wall Street financial crisis. There has been little campaigning on the issue so far.

Jess Knox, head of a union-backed group called Protect Colorado's Future that was campaigning for the labor measures, maintained they were legitimate proposals, but he said the focus needs to be on defeating the three remaining measures.

The right-to-work measure, listed on the ballot as Amendment 47, would change existing rules that let unions require dues from nonunion workers if a majority of workers agree. Other states, known as right-to-work states, bar the practice completely.

Amendment 47 is backed by brewing heir Jonathan Coors, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and chambers of commerce in Grand Junction, Fort Collins and other cities.

It's also gotten a contribution from American Furniture Warehouse, run by Jake Jabs, who's widely recognized for his television commercials.

Another member of the Coors family joined Gov. Bill Ritter in announcing the deal to fight the measures: Bill Coors, the 92-year-old grandson of brewery founder Adolph Coors.

Bill Coors' relationship to Jonathan Coors wasn't immediately known.

Bill Coors acknowledged the brewer's past tensions with unions but said Colorado's unique labor law has served it well and shouldn't be changed.

Kelley Harp, a spokesman for the pro-Amendment 47 group, said the deal won't change the campaign's strategy. The group has been distributing mailers and launched its first television ad last week.

"We've always expected to get outspent in this campaign but our message is stronger than any amount of money," he said.

Jon Caldara, president of the conservative Independence Institute think tank and a backer of the ban on government paycheck deductions for union dues, called the business-labor agreement "protection money."

"It's Tony Soprano-style politics come to Colorado," he said.

Caldara said it opens the door for anyone to get money from business groups by proposing ballot measures they fear.

Caldara tried to make a deal of his own, offering to pull his measure if Ritter rescinded an executive order giving unions the right to negotiate contracts for state workers. Ritter refused.

The payroll-deduction measure is listed as Amendment 49.


ACORN advances 'un-American union thuggery'

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Fraudulent Dems rely on ACORN

Voter fraud has been perpetrated by Democrats. One of the organizations involved, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is linked to Barack Obama and the current banking fiasco. Obama even served as ACORN's attorney for several years. What a surprise. And in at least one media report about ACORN and voter fraud, the word Democrat was never mentioned.

The workers involved were paid by two organizations running voter registration drives: ACORN and the Community Voters Project. Thirty-seven of the suspect workers were on the ACORN payroll, 11 were paid by the Community Voters project. ACORN is a far-left group that has been linked to Obama since his early days in the corrupt Chicago, Daley-Democrat political machine. ACORN has given Obama much financial support over the last two decades, including some money for his community organizer project.

ACORN is also big on furthering the un-American thuggery of unions all across the nation. And that means it is strictly a Democrat organization.

Its workers are accused of offering pre-paid gasoline cards or restaurant gift cards to people in exchange for signing up to vote and making up information on voter applications. Two are accused of submitting cards for dead voters.

Some appear to have submitted cards for people who said they never filled out an application or who were already registered and signed cards themselves, or falsified drivers license numbers.

- Wendell R. Self, Huntsville, AL


'The Man from ACORN' (1)

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

GOP's Barack-ACORN Fact Sheet (1)

Obama campaign tries to downplay 'supposed' connections between their candidate and ACORN:

• "Barack Obama Never Organized With ACORN" (Barack Obama For President Website, http://fightthesmears.com/articles/20/acornrumor, Accessed 10/4/08)

• "[L]ies About His Supposed Connection To ACORN." (Barack Obama For President Website, http://fightthesmears.com/articles/20/acornrumor, Accessed 10/4/08)


Obama Formerly Represented ACORN, Taught Classes For Future Leaders Of ACORN, And They Endorsed His 2008 Presidential Campaign:

• Obama Directed Project Vote And Later Taught Classes For "Future Leaders Identified By ACORN And The Centers For New Horizons." "He [Obama] says he is drawn to politics, despite its superficialities, as a means to advance his real passion and calling: community organization. ... In 1992 Obama took time off to direct Project Vote, the most successful grass-roots voter- registration campaign in recent city history. Credited with helping elect Carol Moseley-Braun to the U.S. Senate, the registration drive, aimed primarily at African-Americans, added an estimated 125,000 voters to the voter rolls -- even more than were registered during Harold Washington's mayoral campaigns. 'It's a power thing,' said the brochures and radio commercials. ... Obama continues his organizing work largely through classes for future leaders identified by ACORN and the Centers for New Horizons on the south side." (Hank De Zutter, Op-Ed, "What Makes Obama Run?" ChicagoReader, 12/8/95)

• Obama Was Part Of Team Of Lawyers Who Represented ACORN In A Suit Against The State Of Illinois. "Obama was part of a team of attorneys who represented the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois in 1995 for failing to implement a federal law designed to make it easier for the poor and others to register as voters." (Mike Robinson, "Obama Got Start In Civil Rights Practice," The Associated Press, 2/20/07)

• ACORN's Political Action Committee Endorsed Obama. "[A]CORN's political action committee endorsed Barack Obama for President. ... The endorsement reflects a belief that Obama -- who worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago -- understands that change must come from the ground-up, as part of a working coalition, rather than from position papers." (Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Op-Ed, "ACORN: Obama Gets It," The Nation, 2/23/08)

- Republican National Committee Press Office, +1-202-863-8614

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