6/15/09

Monday wrap

Jumbo labor-state union politics funded by public pension kickbacks ... Financial firms showered nearly million in political cash on the United Food and Commercial Workers union in California while a top union leader sat on the boards of big public pension funds in the state, an analysis of campaign finance records shows. Sean Harrigan, the union’s former executive director, is now under scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has charged several firms and individuals with making improper payments to win investments from pension funds in New York and New Mexico. Harrigan, 62, stepped down from the board of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension system last month in response to the SEC inquiry into his dealings while at the fund. He was appointed to the LA fund in 2005 after serving as a trustee and board president at CalPERS from 1999 through late 2004. His lawyer, Mark Byrne, said in a prepared statement that Harrigan is cooperating with the SEC inquiry and that, “as far as Mr. Harrigan is aware, no one has been provided favorable treatment, or penalized, for giving or not giving” to the union. Harrigan’s union, however, pulled about a third of the million it raised from 2001 to 2006 from players in the financial industry. “I think it’s corruption,” said former California lawmaker Keith Richman, president of the nonprofit watchdog group California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. “It is not putting money in the individual’s pocket, but it is corruption of our political system.” (heralddeparis.com)

In case you missed it: The Union News weekend
Sunday: Labor-state politics drive GovMo
Saturday: GovMo: Obama bets his political capital on collectivist-corporate fascism

New Progs just like the Old Progs: Statist, Malignant ... Words matter. The way we describe ideas are more important still. Take "Progressivism", for example. Progressivism is a form of "Corporatism". Some people call it "Statism". It is destroying our fundamental values of individual freedom and liberty. And like the family members who witness child abuse but deny it, we are still saying "it can't happen here". Psychiatrists are now warning about the similarities. Progressives love tight top-down controls over all aspects of the society. There is government ownership, in conjunction with big-business - of the banking, insurance, financial, heavy-industry, and media sectors, but minus the heavy-handed suppression of popular dissent. Progressivism was extremely popular with big-government proponents from both parties throughout the early 20th century. Many prominent Americans supported Progressivism after the Crash of '29 and throughout the Great Depression. During the on-going financial crisis of the 20's and 30's, many people came to believe that the only way to recover from the collapse was to adopt massive doses of Keynesian economics and heavy-hand government control. It was a fool's errand. (humanevents.com)


ACORN speech thugs get up in writer's face ... On the night of May 30, 2009 I was at Club Charles with my friends. I was standing at the bar picking some delicious leftovers off of a friends plate when two women approached me. They did not ask who I was but they did have a few words ready for me. The woman who ended up doing most of the talking said to me: "We are from ACORN and we did not like the article you wrote about our bill". At first I had food in my mouth and I could not respond right away. The swallowing of my delicious snack gave me a moment to think and figure out what article they were talking about (I have written over 400 articles in a little over a year now). They were talking about this article from February of this year. (examiner.com)


We don't need no stinkin' Europe ... President Obama may be the least Europe-friendly occupant of the White House since James Monroe (the guy who put up a “Keep Out!” sign on our hemisphere). Bam clearly doesn’t like Europeans. A big chill has hit the trans-Atlantic atmosphere. Beyond the perfunctory grip-and-grins at Saturday’s D-Day commemoration, there was no bonhomie between European leaders and our celebrity prez. Nor can the somber setting — or even the raw sea breeze — be blamed for the dour mood in Normandy. The president and first lady maintained their own self-absorbed bubble, enchanted with being the Obamas. President George W. Bush may have been inarticulate, but the Obamas were ungracious. The evidence of our president’s preferences is on the video record: Compare his upbeat body language and smiles as he embraces Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez or the Saudi king with the scowls he offers European leaders. Our president not only identifies with the Third World, but with a romanticized Third World whose failings are all the West’s fault. It’s the typical view of an undergraduate leftist — in 1979. (exilestreet.com)


We don't need no stinkin' election laws ... Nationally, controversy surrounds the activities of groups such as ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — that conduct voter registration drives and other efforts to increase voter turnout. Get-out-the-vote efforts are perfectly legitimate — as long as they adhere to election and campaign reporting laws. Alabama's election laws don't cover "nonpartisan" activities aimed at encouraging people to vote. But in the case of the $8,500, the money came from the Democratic Party and ended up with an organization that helps candidates it endorses. Press-Register reporters could find no public records indicating that the Mobile chapter of the New South group registered as a political action committee. The state group registered as a PAC in the late 1980s and annually reported its expenditures, as required by state law, until 1999. Since then, New South hasn't filed annual reports with the secretary of state. (al.com)


Czar Nation: We don't need no stinkin' Constitution ... Last week President Obama appointed yet another “czar” with massive government power, answering only to him. Even before this latest appointment, the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate wrote President Obama a letter saying that these czars are unconstitutional. President Obama’s “czar strategy” is an unprecedented power grab centralizing authority in the White House, outside congressional oversight and in violation of the Constitution. As of last week, Czar Kenneth Feinberg has the authority to set the pay scale for executives at any company receiving government money (and how many aren’t, these days?). Czar Feinberg has the power to say that someone’s pay is excessive, and to make companies cut that pay until the czar is pleased. Ever since this practice of appointing czars began years ago, it has always been considered possible that they are all unconstitutional. But it never built to a critical mass to elicit a court fight. These czars were few and far between, and rarely did anything that seriously ruffled any feathers. But President Obama has taken this to an unprecedented level, to the point where these appointments are dangerous to our constitutional regime. (townhall.com)


UAW strike captains ready pickets ... Manufacturing employees at Bell Helicopter are expected to go on strike at midnight after they voted overwhelmingly to reject a new three-year contract that was recommended by their union leadership. The vote was 1,177 to reject the contract, with 680 voting for the contract. The workers, represented by United Auto Workers Local 218, were upset by proposals to significantly increase their health insurance costs and by a company plan to abolish union-represented janitors. (star-telegram.com)


UAW takes on Atlantic City ... In another class warfare skirmish at the beach, the United Auto Workers union is running a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz against Bally's and Caesars in Atlantic City in order to break a stalemate in its negotiations for a first-ever labor contract at both casinos. In a gaming industry that's already down some 38 percent this year, the union, in effect, allegedly on the side of "job security" at Bally's and Caesars, is telling the public to switch to Trump's. Responding, the casinos are running full-page ads in the local newspapers with this headline: "Don't let the UAW turn Atlantic City into the next Detroit." (spectator.org)


Leftwing Tree-Killer moves against News Union ... The Boston Newspaper Guild will meet with managers at The Boston Globe and the National Labor Relations Board this week as it tries to block a 23 percent pay cut imposed by the newspaper’s parent company. The cut imposed by the New York Times [NYT] Co. came after the Guild narrowly rejected a new contract with $10 million in annual wage and benefit concessions. The Times Co. says it needed $20 million in annual savings from Globe unions to keep the paper open. (news.bostonherald.com)


Strike enters week 2 as militant military machinist bigs refuse back-to-work offer ... As the strike by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers against CSC Technologies stretches into its second week, there was no indication Sunday of movement by either side. The two sides have traded verbal fusillades at each other the past week, and even with intervention by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas urging the two parties to resume negotiations, they remained seemingly as far apart as they were when the strike began June 8. Recently, CSC Applied Technol-ogies officials said they were willing to extend the expired collective bargaining agreement if the workers will return to work, but union officials declined. Jerry McCune, president and executive director of the IAMAW Local 898, said the offer was rejected because it would cost the union bargaining power in future negotiations. “Without us being on strike, we have no leverage,” McCune said. He said the entire workforce rejected the company’s best proposal and put their jobs on the line to try to get that proposal to be fair. (enidnews.com)


Rep. Diana DeGette placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check). WHAT: DeGette received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC), $10,000 in 2008 election cycle and $5,000 in 2006 election cycle; Boilermakers Union (PAC), $5,000 in 2008 election cycle; American Federation of Government Employees (PAC), $1,000 in 2008 election cycle and $1,000 in 2006 election cycle; Service Employees International Union (PAC), $5,000 in 2008 election cycle; and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC), $5,000 in 2010 election cycle and $7,000 in 2006 election cycle. WHY IT’S DIRTY: Multiple officers and members of these unions, including division presidents, secretary-treasurers and business managers, have been convicted since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy. CWA and AFGE each have had eight convictions. SEIU has had nine and the Boilermakers have had 10 members convicted. IBEW has had 14 members convicted. The amounts of embezzled funds range from more than $5,000 to more than $100,000. WILL DEGETTE GIVE IT BACK? DeGette did not respond to The Examiner’s request for comment. THE SCORE: Number of Democrats who have given it back: 0 • Number of Republicans who have given it back: 0 • YOUR TURN: You can reach DeGette’s Washington, D.C., office at (202) 225-4431. (sfexaminer.com)


International Collectivism

Progessivism stifles creativity ... It's not easy to get an interview with the heads of Venezuelan ad agencies. It's becoming more and more difficult to succeed in the ad business there because the socialist government is in open war with capitalism. And what's more capitalist than advertising? There are three fundamental phenomena that reflect the influence of Hugo Chávez's decade-long reign on the Venezuelan ad business: the massive talent exodus; the lack of foreign investment; and the progressive disappearance of private media. Luis Navas, chief creative officer of Venezuelan independent agency Eastwood & Bronson, laments, "Every day, very talented Venezuelans leave this country and graduates come to fill their shoes in the agencies. Fresh blood is great, but what agencies really need is experienced professionals." (adage.com)


Venezuela: Intellectual property thrown under the Progressive Chávez bus ... Venezuela President Hugo Chávez questioned the validity of patents and said the government may replicate packaging technology of Switzerland’s Tetra Pak Group to lower dependence on imports and foreign companies. Venezuela spent $63 million in May to import Tetra Pak packaging materials to supply the local market, said Jesse Chacon, Science and Technology Minister. “We have aluminum and paper, why can’t we make that material here?” Chávez said today during his weekly “Alo Presidente” program on state television. “What are patents? That’s universal knowledge. We don’t have to be subject to capitalist laws.” The Venezuelan leader also said the government will seize cardboard companies that refuse to supply packaging to state-run food companies. He didn’t elaborate. (bloomberg.com)


South Africa: Scandal-tainted Communist set to take presidency ... Jacob Zuma, the mercurial leader of African National Congress, is poised to become South Africa's fourth president to be elected in the post-apartheid era. The major unknown in tomorrow's poll is just what sort of president Mr Zuma - following in the footsteps of the Nobel peace laureate Nelson Mandela and the aloof Thabo Mbeki - will prove to be. Mr Zuma has hinted at the need to transform the judiciary and the media, but has refused to say how. He is backed by the communist party and militant trade unions, leading to fears he may make a policy lurch to the left. (guyraargus.com.au)


Putin bails out Big Auto, invests in Venezuela ... Russian automaker AvtoVAZ plans to build a plant to assemble Lada cars in Venezuela, the South American company's president Hugo Chávez said at the weekend. (just-auto.com)

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