Sunday wrap

Bam's enormous package to jolt U.S. ... The new Congress will begin work this week on President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan - once members decide who's a senator and who isn't. Obama aides are considering adding a "buy American" provision to help sell the mammoth package. "We are reviewing the 'buy American' proposal and we are committed to a plan that will save or create 3 million jobs, including jobs in manufacturing," said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Obama's transition team. Team Obama was pressing for a $700 billion-plus economic recovery program that would include "shovel ready" public works projects and Medicaid help for the states. Many lawmakers predict it could grow to $850 billion. Either way, the cost would be higher than the Vietnam War, which drained the Treasury of $682 billion in current dollars, according to the Congressional Research Service. (nydailynews.com)

How corrupt Progs protect Pay-to-Play: Throw Free Speech under the bus ... With a new ethics-reform law on the books and Gov. Rod Blagojevich in hot water over alleged corruption, Illinois lawmakers say the atmosphere is right for pushing further measures aimed at cleaning up state government. "I think there is a mood to tackle additional ethics legislation," said Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat who was the main Senate sponsor of a new law targeting "pay-to-play" politics. "It's a combination of things," he added. "There's been a move toward a more transparent government that has been modestly successful so far, though there's work left to do." Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest on federal corruption charges, including an allegation that he tried to auction off a vacant U.S. Senate seat, also has called attention to the issue of ethics reform, Harmon said. David Morrison, assistant director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said that federal prosecutors' description of Blagojevich's alleged misconduct "shocked a lot of people and should encourage the General Assembly to do far more than they have recently." ... Morrison and Stewart believe a top priority for lawmakers should be to overhaul the state's campaign finance system. They say Illinois needs to seriously consider imposing limits on the amount of money that individuals and organizations can give to political campaigns. (galesburg.com)

Bam readies Social Justice Recovery Plan ... The "renaissance" that unions envision to stem three decades of declining membership is a recipe for certain economic disaster. The so-called "card-check" system would eliminate secret-ballot organizational votes and usher in unions that receive a majority of employees' ballots -- however coerced. American labor leader Samuel Gompers once remarked that an unprofitable employer is an employee's foe. Especially when management -- its hand forced by a union-coddling diktat -- starts killing jobs or sending more overseas. The "choice" advanced by labor would be anything but free. (pittsburghlive.com)

Job-Killer Act is not "Free Choice" ... "It is absolutely a significant piece of legislation," said James S. Urban, an attorney who represents employers for the Jones Day law firm in Pittsburgh. It stands "in stark contrast to labor law in its current form, which begins with the assumption that democracy in the workplace requires free choice." Under law, unions can petition the NLRB for recognition once 30 percent of workers at a company sign representation cards. The NLRB then orders a secret ballot election in which the employees accept or reject the union. "Is it really free choice when the recognition process does not include a secret ballot election? It's not," Urban said. (pittsburghlive.com)

DINOs threaten U.S. workers ... Bob Duke's "peaches and cream" view of American unions ("Protecting workers," Dec. 26) leaves out one critical point concerning The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA): It will remove from the process of unionization one of those cherished freedoms of a democratic society — the secret ballot. Instead, the act (ironically named, since it hinders rather than encourages free choice) will return intimidation and coercion to those businesses where unions are trying to get their foot in the door. (dailypress.com)

Repugnant Dem-Labor thugs rule ... Americans used to prize the right to free and secret elections, but did you know that Congress is considering a so-called Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check, that would eliminate the requirement for secret elections for workers deciding if they want to unionize their workplaces? As an American and a retired member of a local union, where I also served on the executive board for several years, I find such a law to be more than repugnant. Government should not take sides and we should not allow government to take away our right to free and secret elections. (montereyherald.com)

Pay-to-Play expert takes over Nutmeg State Assembly ... In 1869, the speaker of the Connecticut House was Orville H. Platt of Meriden, a Republican disdainful of labor unions and radical ideas like the eight-hour workday. One hundred forty years later, a different son of Meriden is set to become speaker: Christopher G. Donovan, a Democrat whose hobby is playing guitar in a rock band, The Bad Reps. And his politics? Well, it's a safe bet Mr. Platt would not approve. Donovan, 58, is a former organizer for the Service Employees International Union, one of the nation's most liberal and politically active unions. (courant.com)

SEIU fat-cat celebrity Andy Stern ducks, dodges

Progs to corrupt U.S.workplaces ... However, the unions could be victims of their own success during the downturn, as well. Unions often have very exact job duties and other criteria spelled out for their workers, which reduce companies’ flexibility. Since recessionary times are when employers most need to be flexible and react quickly to changing conditions, unions could hurt their ability to survive through the recession. “One of the problems unions tend to have tends to be the work rules” because employers might not be able to move people around to the jobs it might need more at a given time, said Randal Johnson, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business-advocacy organization. The AFL-CIO, AFSCME and AFT, all major unions groups, did not return requests for comment for this article. Also, unions tend to oppose free-trade agreements, or at least advocate limits on them. “If they pursue that during a recession, it’s the kind of thing that could give us a depression,” said Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank with a free-market and limited-government orientation. (entrepreneur.com)

International Collectivism

Putin protégé praises Caribe Communism ... Dmitri Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, congratulated the President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Raul Castro, and the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Fidel Castro, on the occasion of the national holiday marking the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Cuba. The Russian head of state said, among other things: “Today the tried and tested relationship of mutual understanding and cooperation between Russia and Cuba is newly reinvigorated. The deep tradition of friendship between our two peoples is one of the fundamental bases for the broadening of bilateral action and the co-ordination of our efforts on the international stage.” In his message to Fidel Castro, Dmitry Medvedev said, “The Cuban revolution – your life’s work – opened a new path to freedom for the Cuban people. It entered the history books as a legendary example of the struggle for the high ideals of social justice. I am convinced that the new momentum in Russian-Cuban cooperation will henceforth work both to benefit the populations of Russia and Cuba, and also in the interests of ensuring a stable and multilateral world order.” (newsfromrussia.com)

2008: U.S. narrows gap with Europe ... Moreover, 2008 saw the triumph of socialism in America. The taxpayer bailouts of the financial and auto sectors, the nationalization of the big banks, the explosion in deficit spending - all of it has not only failed to revive the economy, but marked a huge expansion in governmental activism. Mr. Obama promises to complete America's transformation into a Scandinavian-style social democracy with universal health care, federally subsidized day care, a massive public works program and soak-the-rich tax increases. The results will be the same as in Europe: anemic economic growth, high unemployment, a bloated and ossified public bureaucracy, and a dependent and less productive citizenry. (washingtontimes.com)

El Salvador rushes toward Chávez, ALBA ... Sixteen years after failing to seize power in a bloody civil war, the left in El Salvador is closer than ever to achieving its goal through the ballot box, as a jittery nation witnesses a furious and dirty campaign to elect the next president. All sides contending in the March 15 presidential race, as well as in January's municipal elections, agree that the hostile tone of the two main candidates and their supporters has worsened the polarization endemic to Salvadoran politics. Mauricio Funes, 49, the candidate of the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), is viewed by detractors as a communist who would throw El Salvador into chaos. Funes has consistently led in polls, even as results differ dramatically from survey to survey, giving him a staggering margin or a thin edge. The FMLN, known here simply as the Frente, is the former coalition of five Marxist guerrilla groups that battled the government during the civil war that began in 1980 and ended in 1992. Funes says he would bring needed economic growth coupled with a reduction of poverty and social inequality if he is elected. (miamiherald.com)
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