6/4/09

Thursday wrap

Pro-union Stimulus shafts black contractors ... Three months after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, Black contractors and advocates say they have yet to see a fair share of capital from the stimulus package that promised to disperse billions of dollars in construction projects. According to John Macklin, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, and regional vice president for the northeast region of the association which extends from Maine to Virginia, states in his region are being affected by project labor agreements that permit projects to be awarded exclusively to union contractors, which only represent 15 percent of the workforce, he said. “That means the union discriminates against more than eight out of ten construction workers who would otherwise be able to work on a construction project if not for a union-only project labor agreement,” said Macklin. “Those contracts that are subject to project labor agreements typically discourage minority contractors and non-union contractors from bidding…” (seattlemedium.com)


Obama shrugs ... In short, you would think “Atlas Shrugged” might be long forgotten. Instead, Ayn Rand’s novel is remembered more than ever. This year the book is selling at a faster rate than last year. Last year, sales were about 200,000, higher than any year before that, including 1957, when the book was published. Some assumed the libertarian philosopher would fall from view when the Berlin Wall fell. But “Atlas Shrugged” is becoming a political “Harry Potter” because Rand shone a spotlight on a problem that still exists: Not pre-1989 Soviet communism, but 2009-style state capitalism. Rand depicted government and companies colluding in the name of economic rescue at the expense of the entrepreneur. That entrepreneur is like the titan Atlas who carries the rest of the world on his shoulders -- until he doesn’t. (bloomberg.com)


Who's Next? Anti-business Administration takes on oppressive tech icons ... The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the hiring practices of some major players in the tech industry in the latest sign that the Obama administration is getting serious about its antitrust crackdown promises. A spokesman for Genentech confirmed that the company has received a request from the Justice Department for information, and said it is one of "many companies" that have received similar requests. The company would not confirm the nature of the inquiry or discuss what kind of documents the DOJ is seeking. According to the Washington Post and New York Times, both citing sources familiar with the investigation, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Genentech and several other tech companies are subject to a probe by the U.S. government. (money.cnn.com)

Related video: What's behind the U.S. job freeze?



Dem politics void NLRB rule of law ... On May 1, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the NLRB had no statutory authority to issue any of the nearly 400 decisions it made since Jan. 1, 2008 because the board lacked a quorum -- it was functioning with only two of its five members. In the wake of the court ruling, however, the two-member board announced its intent to continue to issue decisions in unfair labor practice and representation cases. "The board had an important public duty to keep functioning, and to avoid an indefinite shutdown in its decision-making," said Chairman Wilma Liebman and Member Peter C. Schaumber in a written statement released May 18. Richard F. Vitarelli, chair of the labor practice for the law firm Robinson & Cole in Hartford, Conn., says that HR executives working for companies that have dealings with the NLRB should consult "with counsel if they are in the process of dealing with an NRLB investigation, trial or appeal." "There is uncertainty now," Vitarelli says. "An aggrieved party could say to a Circuit Court we will not comply with this order because it is not valid." (hreonline.com)


Monopoly: Another pro-union double-standard ... Two years ago, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that teachers have collective bargaining rights. However, the court did not rule on the issue whether one union must represent all teachers in a district. While this practice of exclusive bargaining is fairly common in Missouri and nationally, the school board in Springfield wants teachers to decide first whether they even want to be represented by one union. Currently the NEA local represents about 950 teachers, the Teachers' Association local represents about 450, and the remainder of teachers have opted not to have labor union representation. The Springfield NEA has filed a lawsuit seeking exclusive bargaining rights. This situation poses several questions: * Why can't different unions exist in the same workplace? * Why can't they compete with each other for customers? * Why must a union go to court to force its way into a monopoly position? * Why can't it gain market share the same way other businesses and services do -- by excellent products and great customer service? * Why is it that government usually tries to break up business monopolies, but doesn’t bother to do the same with labor monopolies and cartels? Isn't it time to re-think the way unions operate in our schools and agencies? Let unions compete with each other, and let people decide what union services -- if any -- they wish to buy. (libertylive.org)


Labor-state apes Obama, seeks to outlaw voiding CBAs in bankruptcy ... What started as a municipal bankruptcy in the city of Vallejo has morphed into an all-out fight between California's local governments and unions over the sanctity of labor contracts vs. the autonomy of cities and counties. Next battle zone: the floor of the state Assembly, where legislation requiring local governments to get state approval to file for bankruptcy protection is headed for a vote later this week. This won't be the last imbroglio spawned by the state's fiscal turmoil. But it is likely to be among the hottest. The bill by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, is sponsored by the California Professional Firefighters and supported by nearly three dozen labor organizations in the state and AARP -- groups worried about labor contracts or pensions potentially being affected by bankruptcy filings. The legislation, AB 155, would require local governments to get approval from the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission before filing. If it passes in the Assembly, it goes to the Senate. The commission provides guidance on localities' debts and investments. The law is intended to help protect the state's credit rating on Wall Street, said Richard Garcia, Mendoza's spokesman. But opponents say that the move is an attempt to thwart local governments, which may have to resort to seeking bankruptcy protection. They contend state oversight would inject state politics into what should be a local issue. "Every city is in trouble," said Marc A. Levinson, the lead insolvency lawyer on the Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe team handling Vallejo's bankruptcy filing. "Nobody wants to go through bankruptcy," he added. "I counseled Vallejo to stay out of bankruptcy. But if you can't pay your bills, what do you do?" (thereporter.com)


PolitiFact.com in the tank for union-backed, tax-funded fraud group ... Why is the fact-checking operation PolitiFact.com carrying water for the radical left-wing activist group ACORN and attacking Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for trying to warn the public about the group? A project of the St. Petersburg Times, the website's "Truth-O-Meter" purports to check and rate "the accuracy of statements by candidates, elected officials, political parties, interest groups, pundits, talk show hosts." After PolitiFact writers research a statement, it then receives one of six ratings on a continuum of truthfulness: True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True, False and Pants on Fire. It turns out that those who serve the Truth-O-Meter often have strange ideas about what constitutes truth. A case in point is how PolitiFact handled Rep. Bachmann's recent claim that the much investigated activist group ACORN was eligible for up to $8.5 billion in federal funding this year. (newsbusters.org)

Related video: ACORN exploits non-union workers



Rep. Michael Capuano placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check). WHAT: Rep. Capuano received the following the dirty money: Boilermakers Union (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle; $500.00 in 2006 election cycle. American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $500.00 in 2006 election cycle. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $10,000 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. The American Federation of Government Employees have had eight convictions, and The Boilermakers have had 10 members convicted, while the IBEW has had 14 members convicted. The amounts of embezzled funds range from over $5,000 to over $100,000. WILL CAPUANO GIVE IT BACK: Capuano 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 Rep. Capuano’s Washington D.C. office at 202-225-5111. (washingtonexaminer.com)


AFL-CIO big boasts Marxist cred ... A top official of the AFL-CIO is stonewalling questions about her participation in an illegal 1970 trip to Communist Cuba organized by Weather Underground terrorist Bernardine Dohrn. Karen Nussbaum, the executive director of Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was asked about her visit to Cuba after speaking at a panel at a “progressive” public policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Nussbaum was apparently stunned by the fact that someone had uncovered an aspect of her background that has been carefully omitted from her official biography. She refused to answer and walked away. Obviously embarrassed, she also pretended that she didn’t hear the follow-up questions about her trip as a young radical to the communist-controlled island. But according to one account of her trip, she declared that she “learned about revolution in Cuba” and praised Castro for providing “free health and educational care to every person in society…” She also declared, “I was part of the Black Panther Support Committee” and said she was a member of the “Draft resistance movement” opposing the Vietnam War. Nussbaum’s “Working America” AFL-CIO affiliate claims to represent “10 million union men and women and millions of workers without the benefit of a workplace union…” One of its current campaigns is congressional passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, in order to make it easier for the AFL-CIO to obtain members. (familysecuritymatters.org)


Obama: Do not disturb New Black Panthers ... The Washington Times reports that political staffers at Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department have trumped careerists and ordered that a complaint be dropped against three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense who used a billy club to harass voters in Philadelphia on the day of last year's November elections. The incident became a sensation on Election Day itself, thanks to quickly posted YouTube video showing two of the threatening men dressed in paramilitary garb. After months of work, Justice officials were on the verge of applying sanctions against the three this month, according to the Times, but "their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents." Two had their lawsuit dismissed with no penalty imposed, while the third man was banned from taking a weapon to a polling place in the future. Records indicate that the three men had refused to appear in court. An interesting aspect to the case is that civil rights activist and former Bobby Kennedy aide Bartle Bull, working as an official poll watcher on the day, accused the Panthers of making themselves "an intimidating presence" in a sworn statement. "In all my experience in politics, in civil rights litigation and in my efforts in the 1960s to secure the right to vote in Mississippi," according to Bull, "I have never encountered or heard of another instance in the United States where armed and uniformed men blocked the entrance to a polling location." The Justice complaint called the incident part of a national operation to have New Black Panther members stationed at various polling places. (ibdeditorials.com)


Obama Administration competence questioned ... The government accidentally posted on the Internet a list of government and civilian nuclear facilities and their activities in the United States, but U.S. officials said Wednesday the posting included no information that compromised national security. However, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, questioned about the disclosure at a House hearing, expressed concern with respect to a uranium storage facility at the department's Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The facility holds large quantities of highly enriched uranium, which if obtained can be used to fashion a nuclear weapon. "That's of great concern," said Chu, referring to the Y-12 site. "We will be looking hard and making sure physical security of those sites (at Y-12) is sufficient to prevent eco-terrorists and others getting hold of that material." (newsmax.com)


GOP gripes about Obama favoritism, rule of law violation ... Two top House Republicans are calling for an investigation into the Obama administration's handling of the way Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy. Reps. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas and Spence Bachus, R-Ala., say some stakeholders were given preferential treatment by Obama's Auto Task Force in the restructuring of the two auto giants and they want the House Financial Services Committee to hold oversight hearings. Spencer is the top Republican on the panel and Hensarling is the ranking member on one of its subcommittees. "The possilibity that some have been unfairly treated raises a far bigger concern that the government's handling of the GM and Chrysler restructuring may have serious, long-term consequences for our capital markets if investors and creditors conclude that careful expectations built on the fixed bedrock of our laws can be set aside by government fiat," Hensarling and Bachus said in a letter to Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. "Chairman Frank should join with Ranking Member Bachus and me to ensure that taxpayer dollars were not used to give preferential treatment to the administration's political allies," Hensarling said. "If investors perceive that political might, rather than the rule of law, governs the financial markets, it will greatly discourage further participation in our markets, extending our economic downturn." Hensarling is also the lone Republican lawmaker on the Congressional panel overseeing the $700 billion in government funds giving last fall to the GM, Chrysler and the ailing financial sector. Hensarling said that panel will hold an oversight hearing in July that will investigate the favoratism claims by the bondholders. (washingtonexaminer.com)


Rep. Bruce Braley placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), a co-sponsor of The Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check). WHAT: Rep. Braley received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $10,000 in 2006 election cycle. Boilermakers Union (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle; $5,000 in 2006 election cycle. American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $1,500 in 2008 election cycle; $3,000 in 2006 election cycle. The Service Employees International Union (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $5,000 in 2006 election cycle. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $7,500 in 2008 election cycle; $12,500 in 2006 election cycle. United Steelworkers of America (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $5,000 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. The Communication Workers of America and the American Federation of Government Employees have had eight convictions, The Service Employees International Union has had nine convictions and The Boilermakers have had 10 members convicted, while the IBEW has had 14 members convicted. The United Steelworkers of America, which includes Paper, Allied-Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE), has had 30 convictions among its membership. The amounts of embezzled funds range from over $5,000 to over $100,000. WILL BRALEY GIVE IT BACK: Braley 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 Rep. Braley’s Washington D.C. office at 202-225-2911. (washingtonexaminer.com)


The sad truth about Sonia Sotomayor ... Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice, yet three out of five of her majority opinions written for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and reviewed by the Supreme Court have been reversed. Based on the bare facts, this says that she is unconstitutional 60% of the time - and we are supposed to welcome her to the high court? It is bad enough that her history of racist remarks brings to question her ability to be impartial, and that she has stated in the past that she believes it is up to the courts to make policy, which is unconstitutional. Now, it turns out, the Supreme Court has had to reverse over half of her rulings. Sotomayor is unqualified, and should not be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. Problem is, the scales over the eyes of the Democrats, and their leftist counterparts in the media and on the liberal blogs, are too blind to recognize the sad truth. (americandailyreview.com)


Tribal Justice Rules: We've come a long way since Lani Guinier ... After Yale, Sotomayor joined the National Council of La Raza and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund. Both promote race and ethnic preferences, affirmative action and quotas for Hispanics. But why should Puerto Ricans like Sotomayor, who were never subjected to slavery or Jim Crow — their island was liberated from Spain in 1898 by the United States — get racial or ethnic preferences over Polish- or Portuguese-Americans? What is the justification for this kind of discrimination? Like Lani Guinier, the Clinton appointee rejected for reverse racism, Sonia Sotomayor is a quota queen. She believes in, preaches and practices race-based justice. Her burying the appeal of the white New Haven firefighters, who were denied promotions they had won in competitive exams, was a no-brainer for her. In her world, equal justice takes a back seat to tribal justice. How can any Republican senator vote to elevate to the Supreme Court a judge who, all her life, has believed in, preached and practiced race discrimination against white males, without endorsing the Obama-Sotomayor view that diversity trumps equal justice, and race-based justice should have its own seat on the high court?
Down the path Sotomayor would take us lies an America where Hispanic justices rule for Hispanics, black judges rule for blacks and white judges rule for white folks. (ibdeditorials.com)


International Collectivism

Human rights watch: U.S. bows to China ... Hundreds, possibly thousands, died in the massacre, and open debate on the topic is forbidden in mainland China. "A China that has made enormous progress economically and is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership should examine openly the darker events of its past," Clinton said in a statement released on Wednesday. She said the Beijing government need to "provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal". China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with Clinton's comments. "The U.S. action makes groundless accusations against the Chinese government," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. (b92.net)


GovMo: D.C. leaps ahead of Caracas, Havana ... Rest assured, Venezuela's self-described Communist commandante does not wish us well. But Obama's administration has managed to awe him with its takeover of General Motors. "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama!" Chávez cheered on Venezuelan TV Tuesday. He gushingly added that he and Cuba's Fidel Castro would now have to work harder just to keep up. It underlines two things: just how closely the Venezuelan strongman watches what's happening in the U.S and just how badly it resembles his own war on private Chávez. Unlike Cuba's Fidel Castro, who shot his way into a Marxist dictatorship, Chávez has achieved his "socialist revolution" by manipulating institutions, particularly legal ones. He's been at it for 10 years, picking off companies one by one, using legal technicalities unrelated to his true aim of state ownership for all means of production. It ought to worry people that what's happening at GM is perfectly recognizable in Caracas. (ibdeditorials.com)


Progressives not pleased with Funes ... The cancellation of the visit of Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to El Salvador to attend the inauguration of Mauricio Funes, and former Cuban President Fidel Castro's criticism against the new Central American president are not a coincidence, according to María Teresa Romero, an expert in international affairs. "There is an obvious uneasiness among members of the radical left in relation to Funes, whom they supported to become President of El Salvador and has tried to keep his distance from the leftist leaders," said the expert. In his inaugural speech, Funes said some words that shocked both Havana and Caracas: "My two favourite political figures are Barack Obama, who is represented here by Hillary Clinton, and Lula da Silva, my personal friend. They have proven that it is possible to run a democratic government with a strong economy and a fair distribution of wealth." Funes did not mention Hugo Chávez with whom he had met some days earlier in Venezuela to discuss energy issues. (english.eluniversal.com)


ALBA backs Cuba at OAS, U.S. claims diplomatic win ... The Organization of American States voted Wednesday to revoke the 1962 measure suspending communist Cuba, overturning a landmark of the Cold War in the hemisphere. "The Cold War has ended this day in San Pedro Sula," said Honduran President Manuel Zelaya immediately following the announcement. "We begin a new era of fraternity and tolerance." The action doesn't mean Cuba will return to the 34-member body that helps coordinate policies and mediates disputes throughout the Americas. Cuban officials have repeatedly insisted they have no interest in returning to an organization they consider a tool of the United States. If Cuba changes its mind, the agreement calls for "a process of dialogue" in line with the OAS' "practices, proposals and principles" — a veiled allusion to agreements on human rights and democracy. "This is a moment of rejoicing for all of Latin America," Ecuador's Foreign Minister Fander Falconi told reporters after the session. The decision was taken by consensus, meaning the United States accepted it, though Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had lobbied personally for requiring Cuba to make democratic reforms and improve respect for human rights. The decision seemed to catch State Department officials in Washington off guard. (pww.org)


Chávez armed to the teeth ... Financed by high oil prices, Chavez has been on a weapons-buying binge since 2006, purchasing more than $4 billion worth of Russian Sukhoi jets, Mi helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles for what he says is the professionalization of his 62,000-member armed forces and the defense of his "socialist revolution" from U.S. aggression. U.S. officials have long voiced concerns about the weapons buildup. "I can't imagine what's going to happen to those 100,000 (Kalashnikovs), and I can't imagine that if it did happen, that it would be good for the hemisphere," then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in 2005. But the purchase of the SA-24 man-portable missiles -- the most sophisticated version manufactured in Russia -- spiked U.S. anxiety. The missile and launcher weigh just 42 pounds, can hit targets flying at up to 19,500 feet, employ a "fire and forget" system that is highly resistant to countermeasures, has night-vision capability and is easy to maintain, U.S. military experts said. Previously, Venezuela only had pedestal-mounted Swedish RBS-70 and French Mistral surface-to-air missiles. Chávez's press office did not respond to faxed requests for comments. (cleveland.com)


Did Obama order Chávez execution? ... On Tuesday evening, Chávez claimed there’d been a plan to fire a missile at the aircraft which he’d intended to use to get to El Salvador. For several years, Central America had been the “yankee backyard” and Posada Carriles had lived in El Salvador. The extradition demand levelled at Obama implied that Chávez believed this no longer to be the case. Even so, Chávez said he was in no doubt that people “left behind by Posada Carriles” in El Salvador had been involved in this week’s supposed assassination plot. “Obama, send us this terrorist because we’re waiting here to put him in prison, where he should be as a murderer,” Chávez declared, throwing the accusation of “genocide” against Posada Carriles as well. (laht.com)


Ortega saves Chávez life ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez explained that the plan was organized by infamous international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and it consisted in the shooting down of the Venezuelan presidential plane with one or more rockets while entering or leaving San Salvador. The Venezuelan leader insisted that his country continues to demand the extradition of Posada Carriles, who lives in the United States. “Where is US justice?” Chávez wondered and asked US President Barack Obama for the immediate extradition of Posada Carriles to Venezuela where he is wanted for the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cuban airliner off the coast of Barbados that resulted in the death of 73 innocent people. “I have no doubt that US intelligence agencies are behind this. President Obama: it is time to dismantle this terror machinery that has acted all around the world,” Chavez added. Chavez explained that they had been receiving information about this plan but a more credible report came on Friday night from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, which, he added, was confirmed by another source. (cubanews.ain.cu)


Will BHO meed OBL without preconditions? ... Osama bin Laden threatened Americans in a new audio tape Wednesday, saying President Barack Obama inflamed hatred toward the U.S. by ordering Pakistan to crack down on militants in Swat Valley and block Islamic law there. Bin Laden claimed U.S. pressure led to a campaign of "killing, fighting, bombing and destruction" that prompted the exodus of a million Muslims from Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan. The message was broadcast for the first time on pan-Arab Al-Jazeera Television around the same time Obama touched down in Saudi Arabia at the start of a Mideast visit. (cnsnews.com)

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