Tuesday wrap

SEIU prog thugs: We paid, now you play ... The SEIU, for example, is dedicating thousands of staff and 30 percent of its budget to the effort. Locals in 35 states, including Nevada, are being asked to match the commitment. Unions are newly committed to keeping up campaign-level efforts beyond November and to show that “just because our guy is in, we’re not going away,” Weinbaum said. “The message is that if the agenda we agreed to isn’t carried out, we’re paying attention and there will be repercussions.” There is a sense that unions need to capitalize early or they could miss their window. “Now is the time when the unions are at their strongest,” said John Willoughby, professor of economics at American University. (lasvegassun.com)

Labor-state Dems make Pay-to-Play 'union-only' ... In Philadelphia, campaign contribution limits and rules deterring city contractors from writing big political checks have "had the tremendous effect of taking the gun away from donors," said Jack Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy, a reform group. In Baltimore, though, campaign finance limits may have just pushed influence peddling in other directions. Last week, Mayor Sheila Dixon was indicted for taking more than $20,000 in gifts from developers doing deals with the city, days after a council member was indicted for taking $12,500 in bribes. (post-gazette.com)

Machiavelli's advice to Bam ... Good morning Mr. President! I have been in this business for 500 years so I know a thing or two. As a good politician your first job is going to be downsizing expectations to something closer to what the US economy can deliver. Let us face reality, the US presidency is not all that powerful in the domestic sphere. It is only as commander-in-chief that you really have clout overseas. Unfortunately, the reality of democracy is that you have to promise a great deal more than you can possibly deliver to get elected. Therefore, your first step must be to avoid doing terribly much. Let the economy crumble - which is also short-hand for economic adjustment - but be sure to make plenty of speeches pinning the blame on the previous administration. (seekingalpha.com)

Second Coming or Big Mistake? ... During the much-lauded transition phase we have seen that Mr. Obama continues his unique taste for friends, associates and colleagues. Where he sought Saul Alinsky, who dedicated his "Rules for Radicals" to Sirhan Sirhan, William and Bernadette Ayers, former Weathermen terrorist bombers, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who recently claimed American started World War II by dropping an atomic bomb on Tokyo December 7, 1941, Tony Rezko, Daly bagman and convicted defrauder. In this incarnation he has appointed Rahm Emmanuel, Chief of Staff, a man who it is rumored lost his right middle finger altercating a thug, Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who forgot to pay $34,000 in income taxes, but will now be over the IRS! Attorney General Eric Holder who engineered the pardon of 15 Islamic terrorists and the notorious Marc Rich under Bill Clinton. Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson, who withdrew pending Grand Jury bribery indictments. CIA Director Leon Panetta ignorant of spy work, "but brings great managerial skills to the job," so give him a Kmart to run. Economic Council Director, Larry Summers, the only man ever to get fired as Harvard Chancellor for saying women were not as smart as men! Arne Duncan, Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools will be Secretary of Education, a post William Ayers was rumored to get. 40% of all Chicago students drop out and half of the graduates are considered functionally illiterate. Arne cannot complete a gerund or a sentence. The all-time capper nominee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will sabotage foreign policy in preparation for her candidacy in 2012 resigning in 2010 before the mid-term Congressionals when the Republicans retake Congress after the Obama debacle. Where Obama is dedicated to follow FDR's footsteps we can expect four years of increasing unemployment topping at 25%, which is the history of "The New Deal" until Washington once again learns you cannot create prosperity borrowing money and giving it to people who only know how to fail. (record-bee.com)

Obama's Four Fears revealed ... People don't know who Obama really is or where his ideological centre of gravity rests, to the extent it rests anywhere. He was a liberal in the Senate and the campaign, a centrist in the transition, and who knows what he'll be as president. He's elusive. I count four separate fears. Whether he's a crypto-Marxist is not one of them. Neither is the absurd fear that he's secretly a Muslim, even a closet jihadist. Nor is the groundless claim that Obama was actually born outside the US and isn't really an American citizen. Forget all those. They're non-starters.

* He doesn't know what he's talking about. This is a legitimate fear. Obama throws around numbers like confetti. In the campaign, he said he would create onemillion jobs. After the election, he put out a plan he said would produce up to three million jobs. Then in a radio address on January 10, he said the number could reach 4.1 million and said 500,000 would be jobs in the alternative energy field, 200,000 in healthcare. Does he really believe he can achieve this? The fear is that he might believe it.

* He's a pushover. Who's tougher, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or Obama? The fear is that Reid and Pelosi are. Indeed, they act like they are. Reid told ex-senator Joe Biden, Obama's vice-president, that he's not welcome at meetings of the Senate Democratic caucus. Neither Reid nor Pelosi is cautious about ramming the liberal agenda through Congress. Pelosi wants to raise taxes now, in the teeth of the recession.

* He's another Jimmy Carter on foreign and national security policy. Carter had misplaced confidence in his ability to bend anyone, including dictators, to his view through persuasion. He was a talker, not a doer. A year after he met Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Carter was shocked when Brezhnev ordered an invasion of Afghanistan. His talks with North Korea led to a treaty on nuclear weapons that the North Koreans soon violated. Carter was surprised again. Obama's willingness to meet dictators or other anti-American leaders has raised the Carter fear.

* Obama has nerves of jelly. This fear may be unfair, since there's no evidence one way or another as to how he might react in a crisis. David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that Obama "possesses an enviable inner calm". Maybe, maybe not. What Obama does have is an enviable outer calm. Inside, he may be racked with doubts and anxiety as he takes over the presidency. We don't know. The problem is he's never had to make a truly tough decision. (theaustralian.news.com.au)

Prag Prog faces tough choices ... "There are going to be some very difficult choices, and issues of sacrifice and duty and responsibility are going to come in because what we have done is kick this can down the road," he said. "We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further." Obama declined to tip his hand about what sacrifices he envisioned ... Obama's indications of ideological flexibility are rather abstract at this point; he has not yet been called on to make the kind of difficult choices about which he speaks so eloquently. But his transition has sounded all the right themes, and, if Thursday's session is any guide, his presidency promises to begin on the same hopeful, pragmatic note. (southcoasttoday.com)

Union bigs: We don't need no stinkin' worker-choice ... “This is a huge deal if it passes,” Davis said. The “employee forced choice act,” as he calls it, “will absolutely change the way the world works.”The measure is being pushed by organized labor as a remedy to its declining U.S. membership rolls. Writing last week in The Wall Street Journal, soon-to-be-former labor secretary Elaine L. Chao said card check without the sanctity of a secret ballot will “subject (workers) to the pressures of solicitation and potential intimidation by union activists. She noted: “Ironically, to decertify a union, labor leaders insist on holding private-ballot elections to protect workers from employer intimidation.” Davis said the federal act would trump Kansas’ right-to-work law, so employers would have no refuge from union organizing efforts on either side of the state line. (kansascity.com)

Union bosses need our support ... As a Raleigh small-business owner, I am deeply concerned about this bill's ramifications. Despite its name, EFCA indisputably takes away choices. With EFCA, workers will lose the ability to negotiate directly with their employers and supervisors or even to speak to them when concerns arise because a union boss will be required to arbitrate. Further, employees will be stripped of their rights to approve or decline their contracts; instead, a Washington bureaucrat will decide what pay, benefits and working conditions workers should receive. Further, EFCA undermines the American tradition of a private ballot. Union bosses can publicly ask you to sign your vote in front of co-workers. Despite the obvious possibility of coercion, that record becomes your "vote." It is clear that there would be no choice left for workers and that it certainly wouldn't be "free" if this bill is passed. We need the new administration and our House and Senate leadership to support our workers and not union bosses. (newsobserver.com)

Teamsters stiffed by concrete firm ... The leading supplier of concrete in Westchester County said in federal Bankruptcy Court papers that its fortunes faltered after it expanded to meet an expected construction boom in 2005 and 2006, only to see the market fall in 2008. "Although some of the anticipated Westchester county development did in fact materialize, the volume of business and pace of development that was anticipated by the construction industry did not come to fruition," said an affidavit by Leonard Luiso, president of Byram Concrete and Supply Inc. of White Plains. Byram's biggest unsecured creditor is the Teamsters Local 456 Beneficiary Fund in Elmsford, which is owed $1.42 million. (lohud.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez, Bam already at odds ... In an interview broadcast on Univisión, which was divided into two parts and aired on Tuesday and Sunday, the US President-elect said last week: "Chávez has been a force that has interrupted progress in the region." "On the other hand, Venezuela's trade with the region is of critical importance since it is a major supplier of oil," he admitted. "We are open to starting diplomatic talks with Venezuelan and we are ready to improve our relations," said Obama. Meanwhile, President Chávez replied to Obama in a public ceremony held last Saturday night by saying: "if a country has a perverse force that has halted progress, freedom and life in this hemisphere is the country that you (Obama) are about to rule." "It is neither Chávez nor Venezuela. Have not you realized this yet, Obama?" asked the Venezuelan president who also accused Obama of taking sides with Venezuela's opposition parties in their campaign against the constitutional amendment to allow indefinite reelection. (english.eluniversal.com)

Chávez has valuable experience ... Chávez, who celebrated 10 years in power last December, wants to change the wording of the Constitution from "the president may be reelected only once" to simply "the president may be reelected" before his second term ends in 2012. Over 50% of voters rejected a similar proposal as part of a package of constitutional amendments in a referendum in December 2007. (en.rian.ru)

Chávez: Farewell, President Bush

Iran praises anti-Israel axis ... "The gravity of the atrocities against the Palestinian people", according to Caracas, had earlier caused the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from the Venezuelan capital. Three days later Qatar and Mauritania also suspended economic and political ties with Israel, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal called on all Arab nations to cut ties with Israel. "Severing economic ties with the Zionist regime and hosting the Arab League summit creatively lead the way in upholding human rights in the impoverished strip," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a letter to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. In a separate letter the Iranian president described Mauritania's support for the people of Gaza as "the most beautiful manifestations of the soul of humanity." Bolivia's "revolutionary" move to severe ties with Tel Aviv was necessary to rid the region of the rein of Zionists, reads Ahmadinejad's letter to Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales. In his letter to Venezuela, the Iranian president said Hugo Chávez's "logical and praiseworthy" stance on "Israel's atrocities" in the Palestinian sliver of land will hasten "the restoration of the absolute rights of the Palestinian nation". (presstv.ir)

Madrid's communists aid Havana ... The Solidarity with Cuba Movement in Madrid deposited 10,000 Euros in a bank account for Cuban victims of the hurricanes that pounded the island five months ago. The funds were raised by neighbors of the Madrid Autonomous Community through several friendship organizations with Cuba, including the United Left, the Communist Party, and the Union of Communist Youth. (plenglish.com)

Uruguay communists huddle in Cuba ... A delegation from Uruguay's Communist Party led by its general secretary, Senator Eduardo Lorier, held a meeting with Cuba's First Vice President on Monday in Havana. The delegation, that also includes the general secretary of Uruguay's Young Communist League, travelled to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). The Uruguayan communist leader told Ventura, who is also member of the PCC's Politburo, about the current situation in his country, in particular about the preparations of the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party for the presidential elections scheduled for October this year. The visiting delegation was interested in learning about the work of the PCC within the social-economic development plans and the efforts to contribute to the recovery of the country from the hurricanes that hit the island last year. The Cuban First Vice President thanked them for the constant support of the Communist Party of Uruguay in the struggles of the Cuban people. He said the visit of the delegation was a very important step towards the strengthening of relations between the two parties. (cubanews.ain.cu)

Striking teachers brutalized, arrested ... Forty two teachers and union officials were on Monday arrested as the strike by teachers in public schools over pay demands paralysed learning. The highest number of arrests was in Emuhaya in Western province, where 31 teachers were picked up by police for participating in demonstrations. Eight teachers were arrested in Mombasa while two were picked up in Meru and one in Gatundu. Confrontation between protesting teachers and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials, on one hand, and police on the other, took place in Mombasa, Kiambu, Gatundu, Meru, Kakamega, Isiolo and Vihiga districts. In some instances, police used teargas to disperse teachers who had taken to the streets, waving placards as they protested. Tens of teachers are said to have been injured in the clashes. (nation.co.ke)
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