Monday wrap

Time Out for Bam's 'unqualified' Labor pick ... It's reassuring to see Republicans ready to dig in and make a fight over this "card check" proposal. President Obama has said repeatedly that fast action is needed to shore up a teetering economy. Frankly, much that has been proposed -- blocking asset transfers from failed firms to new entrepreneurs more likely to create productive, long-term jobs, instead seizing more private wealth to fund government make-work boondoggles -- is as unwise now as it was in 1933. But in this economic climate, with each week producing a new empty parking lot with plywood on the windows, do the geniuses in Washington really mean to create a situation where business owners already struggling to stay afloat can without warning be handed their "last straw" -- a stack of cards adorned with the message, "You're now a union shop; here are our demands"? (lvrj.com)

Hoffa OK's ex-Teamster big to run NLRB ... The following is an official statement from Teamsters General President Jimmy Hoffa: "Wilma Liebman served the Teamsters with distinction for nine years prior to embarking on her distinguished career in public service. I am so proud that President Obama designated her to take on this vitally important role as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. President Obama must still nominate three additional members to the board. I am confident that his appointees will restore the board into the honest broker of differences between employees and their employer that it has been for most of the past 75 years. (pr-usa.net)

Bam weighs $53 trillion bailout ... Americans face a ‘looming entitlement crisis’ in which every American household already shares nearly $500,000 in debt, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday at the National Press Club. McConnell, who became the most powerful Republican in Washington with the departure of former President Bush on Tuesday, called on Democrats to use their expanded powers to address the entitlements problem. “The expansion of entitlement spending is a looming crisis that has been overlooked for too long,” said McConnell. “With control of the White House and big majorities in Congress, Democrats now owe it to the American people to put their power to work on this vital issue.” The General Accounting Office of the federal government estimates that, in total, the federal government currently faces a $53 trillion shortfall to cover the projected costs of promised entitlement benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs. (cnsnews.com)

Are we Collectivist yet? Almost. ... Looking at public expenditures as a percentage of GDP provides a particularly strong indication of just how socialist we are becoming in a short period of time: * For fiscal year 2007, America was 38.4% socialist (that is, public expenditures were 38.4% of GDP). Total governmental revenue at all levels was $4.78 trillion, and the federal deficit was $501 billion. With a GDP of $13.75 trillion, our crude measurement puts us at 38.4% socialist for the twelve months spanning October 1st, 2006 through September 30th, 2007. * For fiscal year 2008, America shot up to 41.5% socialist. Total government revenue increased to $4.93 trillion, and the federal deficit increased to $1.02 trillion. With an estimated GDP of $14.33 trillion, the country became noticeably redder even as the electoral map was turning blue. * For fiscal year 2009, public expenditures will include $500 billion in stimulus spending, plus at least $700 billion in Wall Street bailout spending. Assuming nothing else gets cut (a safe assumption) and that GDP only increases by 2% (a safe assumption), we are on track for roughly 49% socialist in fiscal year 2009. Although, with more bailouts and more spending bills possibly on the way, America could hit the magic 50% mark, and technically become a socialist economy this year. So, there you have it. We are not socialist yet, but we might very well be in a few months. Who would have thunk it? Looks like we are all going to live to see America become a socialist country. Kind of amazing that we are going to become socialist, and still not have universal health care. How we pulled that one off, I have no idea. (openleft.com)

D.C. bigs throwing economy under the bus ... George Bush let Treasury Secretary Paulson talk him into believing that he had to destroy capitalism in order to save it. The plan was to borrow massively against future American generations' paychecks to solve problems caused by previous massive borrowing. Worse yet, passage of the Bush bailout caused other entities seeking their own bailout to form a line. American Express sought to change its legal status to "banking" to qualify for a handout, and the auto industry didn't even bother with any such fig leaf justification when its executives came begging for a handout just because they needed the money. Even worse yet, the Bush bailout has failed. The banks have plenty of money but are using it to pay off their own debts and improve their balance sheets. In many cases banks flush with taxpayers money are using it to buy competitors, making sources of needed credit even scarcer. For example, Bank of America got $25 billion from the Bush bailout and promptly bought Merrill Lynch and a stake in the Bank of China, while cutting off or limiting credit to even its most credit-worthy customers. President Obama's proposed $825 billion "stimulus" bill will make matters much worse. While the Bush plan was a bailout of the private sector, the Obama plan is a bailout of government and a transparent plan to transform government into the dominant entity of American life and the Democratic Party as the permanent ruling class. (wnd.com)

Related video: On free-market principles

Job-Killer Act doesn't require Bam

Dems cultivate small business ... Under existing law, a private-ballot election is guaranteed and administered by the National Labor Relations Board. This proven method prevents workers from being vulnerable to misinformation, intimidation and coercion by union advocates. Perhaps the most frightening, and often less obvious, consequences of the proposed card check system is that workers could face binding contracts if negotiations between labor and management stall — binding contracts that workers are not allowed to vote for. These contracts would be imposed by an arbitration board put in place by the federal government. Small businesses are already near the breaking point trying to cope with the crippling credit crunch, skyrocketing healthcare costs and the paralyzing uncertainty of this economic recession. All the while, organized labor is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in political campaigns. (hickoryrecord.com)

N.C. employers grieve Job-Killer Act ... EFCA is not the right solution: It stacks the deck too decidedly in favor of unions; it opens up workers to additional intimidation and businesses to economic hardship. Most importantly — it tars all businesses with the same very broad brush. This “one size fits all” approach will be devastating for businesses and workers. All businesses are different, and even business units within the same company can be different. Unions have a valuable role to play — as long as employees want them, elections are free and fair and they make economic sense. EFCA doesn't meet those conditions. I urge North Carolina's congressional delegation to oppose EFCA. (citizen-times.com)

Tarheel Prog Gov threatens 1930's replay ... Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, has been citing Gardner's time as governor, 1929 to 1933, in discussing what North Carolina should do as, once again, the jobless rate rises, businesses shut their doors, and state and local governments struggle to meet the state's needs. "He used the Great Depression as an opportunity to transform the way this state did business," Perdue said at a recent conference sponsored by the N.C. Chamber of Commerce and the state bankers association. "Now, perhaps, it's time to redo a lot of that thinking," she said. "It's time for us to transform the way we do business in North Carolina." (charlotteobserver.com)

Garden State's 'union-only' P2P now needs protection from free-speech advocates ... In ruling against a road contractor's challenge to the state's "pay-to-play" law, New Jersey's highest court has brought the case against campaign-finance reform to an abrupt and welcome end. A ringing endorsement of the decision and the law - albeit an unintentional one - came from the contractor's own lawyer. He told a reporter that the outcome "unfortunately sends a message to contractors to really think long and hard about whether they should engage in any political giving ..." That is, of course, the whole point. When government contractors pay for the campaigns of politicians, the potential for corruption is blindingly obvious. (philly.com)

Socialist U.S. Senator pimps bailout before labor crowd ... Sen. Bernie Sanders drew laughter and a round of applause when he told the group, "The good news is -- and there's a lot of very good news out there -- is that George Bush's helicopter took off." Although Sanders expects to see several Bush policies reversed, he indicated that everything takes a back seat to the forthcoming federal stimulus package. "The truth of the matter is that what happens literally in the next few months will determine to a significant degree whether the middle class in our country survives," he said, "or that we slowly decline to the level of a third world country. That's what we're playing with right now." From the labor meeting, Vermont's congressional delegation moves on to a broader agenda, a Monday meeting in Montpelier with state leaders to talk about how the federal stimulus might be used to offset Vermont's own bleak financial situation. (wcax.com)

Discredited ex-maverick now irrelevant ... Sen. John McCain said he plans to vote against President Obama's economic stimulus plan, expressing frustration with a lack of bipartisanship in crafting the $825 billion package and leaving open the chance of a filibuster unless more tax breaks are included. "As it stands now, I would not" vote for the bill, the Arizona Republican said on "Fox News Sunday." "Republicans have not been brought in to the degree that we should be." When asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace whether he would filibuster the measure, Mr. McCain hedged, saying, "Well, let's - I mean, I want us all to sit down and negotiate." He added that he wants the new administration to give more credence to Republican proposals. "So far, as far as I can tell, no Republican proposal has been incorporated," he said. "Maybe there has been. I just may have missed it. But clearly, we need to have serious negotiations." (washingtontimes.com)

Drag the entire U.S. down to Michigan's level ... But if the act makes unions easier to organize and Sun Belt workers join in large numbers, Michigan might look more attractive -- or at least less unattractive -- as corporations decide where to locate operations, said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. As of 2007, 19.5% of Michigan workers belonged to unions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compared with 9.5% of workers in Alabama, 6.7% in Mississippi, 5.9% in Florida, 4.7% in Texas, 4.4% in Georgia, and 4.1% in South Carolina. (freep.com)

Unionism can bailout U.S. economy ... The American middle class isn't looking for a bailout or a handout. Most people just want a chance to share in the success of the companies they help to prosper. Making it easier for all Americans to form unions would give the middle class the bargaining power it needs for better wages and benefits. And a strong and prosperous middle class is necessary if our economy is to succeed. (latimes.com)

International Collectivism

21st Century Socialism: Evo's new Constitution OK'd ... The constitutional changes allow 36 indigenous groups to win the right to territory, language and their own "community" justice and limits the size of landholdings. * Elections: Presidents allowed two consecutive five-year terms * Indigenous rights: Recognition of self-determination of 36 'nations' and sets aside seats in Congress * Natural resources: State control for all gas, oil and mineral reserves * Local autonomy: Gives authority to state assemblies that control local issues and self-rule for indigenous groups on traditional lands * Justice: High court judges to be elected rather than appointed * Equality: Prohibits discrimination on sexual orientation and guarantees freedom of religion * It also allows President Evo Morales to run for re-election and remain in power until 2014. The changes were approved by 60 per cent of the votes cast, according to the Unitel television network. ATB television reported a 58-per cent approval. The constitution has received little support in the opposition-controlled east of the country. Although Morales is widely popular, his rise and the constitutional change have heightened divisions in the country, which erupted in violence in September when 20 indigenous government supporters were killed. The opposition, led by state governors in the country's more prosperous east, are concerned by Morales's leftist ideals and fear he is taking Bolivia into the orbit of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president and a vocal critic of the US. Morales's nationalization of the telecommunications and gas sectors has scared off foreign investors, worsening state finances that are now also battered by the global economic crisis. (english.aljazeera.net)

Reporters suspect Bolivia election fraud ... Exit polling by the PAT, Unitel and Red Uno television networks showed that between 60 and 61 percent of the voters who went to the polls supported the new charter. The ATB television network, using its "rapid count" method, however, found that the two options were in a virtual dead heat, with the "Yes" vote coming in at 50.6 percent and "No" garnering 49.4 percent. (laht.com)

Trotskyite Lula to probe GM ... The announcement of 802 layoffs at the General Motors plant here in São José dos Campos struck a hard blow against workers and the city itself. Capitalism's logic of incessant searching for profit speaks ever louder in this case, as the world economic crisis serves the bosses as an ideal pretext for their actions. As we said to the metalworkers last year, the economic crisis cannot be underestimated or considered only a U.S. and European problem--an idea put forward by President Luis Ignacio "Lula" da Silva in one of his first speeches on the crisis. It took only a few months before Lula himself reconsidered his statement and admitted that the economic turbulence had also reached Brazil. Despite the arrival of the crisis, it's important to understand that GM did not need to lay off any workers. On the contrary, the company made substantial profits in the last few years, principally in 2008, so much so that it sent its profits northward to help pay the debts of its U.S. parent company. (socialistworker.org)

Chávez sets precondition for Bam ... Venezuela will renew its demand for the U.S. to extradite a former CIA operative accused of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban plane that killed all 73 people on board, a lawyer for the Venezuelan government said on Friday. Venezuela hopes U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration will shift policy on the case of 80-year-old Luis Posada Carriles and turn him over to face trial in Venezuela, attorney Jose Pertierra said. Venezuela and Cuba have accused Washington of being hypocritical in sparing the Cuban-born militant from extradition while demanding a global war against terrorism. Venezuela submitted an extradition request in 2005 to former US president George W. Bush’s administration, but the matter has not been resolved. The request will be reactivated in the coming days and documents will be presented to the U.S. State Department, Pertierra said. “This is a new administration and Venezuela sees this as a fresh start in matters of mutual cooperation. What we’re hoping is that this case will not be seen as politicized, as the Bush administration made it,” he said by telephone from Washington. (taipeitimes.com)

Chávez to Bam: Your fist first ... President Hugo Chávez on Sunday welcomed a U.S. offer to improve diplomatic relations across the world — but said the United States needs to make the first move. In a column published in 28 Venezuelan newspapers, Chávez said that his and other nations will reach toward the U.S. "full of fraternity," as long as President Barack Obama avoids being trapped by old antagonisms. In his inaugural address, Obama directed a line toward "those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent." Without mentioning specific names, Obama said that the U.S. "will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Chávez said he is willing to work toward improving relations with the U.S., but noted that Washington should be the one to "open its fists" first. (google.com)

Fidel's collectivist utopian failure ... "At least 33 Fidel Castros with different dates of birth have been arrested in Miami-Dade over the decades, court records show," reported The Miami Herald. "The charges range from petty theft to cocaine possession to racketeering." My guess is that all these various crooks were named in honor of the original Fidel before their parents realized that Castro's revolution for an egalitarian paradise wasn't going to be all that it was cracked up to be and they headed for capitalist Florida on inner tubes or whatever else they could paddle off the Cuban beaches in the dark of night, little Fidels in tow. There's also a fish shortage, even though Cuba is surrounded by fish on all sides. Anita Snow, Havana bureau chief for The Associated Press, reported in 2007 that the allotment of fish per capita in Cuba via government-issued ration books, after nearly a half century of socialist development and Soviet-aided infrastructure, was 10 ounces per person per month. The fish problem comes in two waves. First, there are no fish, thanks to collectivism, and then you can get dropped in a dungeon if you talk too much about it. The Committee for the Defense of the Revolution has ears in every coffee-lacking coffee shop. The result? Some 14 percent of Cubans have fled their homeland, providing Fidel Castro with the record of producing, reports Reich, "the largest exodus of political refugees as a proportion of a nation's population in history." (pittsburghlive.com)

Ché was sold out by Havana, Moscow ... Former Cuban guerrilla Daniel Alarcon Ramirez accused the communist island's leader, Fidel Castro, of "betraying" Ernesto "Ché" Guevara on the orders of Moscow, which considered him "a very dangerous personality for their imperialist strategies." Alarcon Ramirez, known as "Benigno," told Corriere della Sera that Ché's death "was due to a machination for which Fidel Castro and the Soviet Union are responsible." Benigno is one of the three guerrillas in Ché's band who after their leader's execution on Oct. 8, 1967, in Bolivia managed to elude pursuit by Bolivian troops and escape to Chile. "The Soviets considered Ché to be a very dangerous personality for their imperialist strategies and Fidel yielded for reasons of state, given that Cuba's survival depended on the help of Moscow. And he eliminated a comrade ... Ché was the leader most loved by the people," he said. Benigno said that Ché and his outfit of guerrillas wanted to export the Cuban Revolution to other nations, but they were abandoned in the Bolivian jungle. (laht.com)
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