Thursday wrap

Porkulus exposes Bamspeak ... When asked at his press conference how a bill filled with hundreds of pages devoted to billions of dollars of spending on unnecessary pork projects which create no jobs and will not stimulate the economy could be described as being without earmarks, President Obama responded by redefining the term. He said, "I describe earmarks as the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review." So if the pet project was in the bill already as it was being read and voted on by the Senate, then it is inherently not an earmark, because it has been reviewed. Functionally it's still identical to any other pork project, but having been reviewed it no longer counts. Come on, pull the other one. This kind of self-serving willingness to redefine things to suit his interests seems to be a pattern with President Obama and many of his supporters. They have already successfully branded what is essentially a spending bill as a stimulus bill, even though there's precious little actual stimulus in it. They are attempting to redefine censorship as fairness. They have labeled large-scale welfare payments in the spending bill as tax cuts even when they go to people who pay no taxes at all. They're calling tyranny of the majority bipartisanship. We're only a few weeks in. The list will grow like Pinocchio's nose. Anthony Burgess and George Orwell would be proud. They're inventing a new language for a new era. They're redefining the world by reshaping the vocabulary used to describe it. It's all doublethink and bolshy chepooka and straight out of Saul Alinsky's handbook, but one thing is crystal clear. The new definition of change is hypocrisy. (blogcritics.org)

Bonus links:
Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
'Rules for Radicals' at amazon.com

Are you ... talking to me? ... I can agree that it was unwise for House minority whip Eric Cantor's spokesman to send around a profanity-laden parody commercial to mock the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is running an ad claiming that Cantor wants no response to the economic crisis. (It is Sopranos-level not safe for work.) But the parody has been around for years (it was uploaded to YouTube in 2007). It wasn't created by Cantor or his office, and headlines like "Cantor Attacked For Profanity-Laced Web Video" suggest that the Virginia congressman had a Christian Bale moment. Beyond that, I could do without union heads like John Sweeney shrieking in horror over the use of profanity. I mean, give me a [expletive] break. (campaignspot.nationalreview.com)

Related video: We're AFSCME

Employer Gag Rule advances ... All of this scarifying rhetoric serves to support something unions call the Worker Privacy Act. Business dubs it the Employer Gag Rule. What's it do? Essentially, it prohibits an employer from requiring workers to attend meetings or participate in communications regarding "political or religious matters." The key to unwrapping the rhetoric is in the definition of "political," which includes labor issues. The whole point of this legislation is to sideline employers in order to make it easier for union organizers to influence workers. The union-backed bill has attracted 47 sponsors in the 98-member House and 21 in the 49-member Senate. A lot of Democrats are poised to give labor its top priority legislation. They should think again. (enterprisenewspapers.com)

Dems revive the discredited 'liberal plantation' ... Pres. Barack Obama vowed to correct the mistakes of the Bush administration but instead is determined to undo one of the great successes of the Clinton years: welfare reform. Democrats have inserted provisions into the catch-all stimulus bill that will reverse Clinton-era welfare reform, re-establishing the wasteful, incentive-killing system whose transformation was the bipartisan pride of the 1990s. Prior to reform, the federal government simply gave the states more money for every family they added to the welfare rolls. The predictable result was that the states worked hard to maximize their welfare caseloads in order to maximize the amount of federal funding they could therefore claim. The system had zero incentive to help people make the transition from welfare to work and independence—in fact, the states were financially punished for doing so (article.nationalreview.com)

Bamspeak: 'Middle Class' really means 'Union Bigs' ... Unions have declined largely because they have become less relevant in a global economy. Middle class workers are more likely to be employed by small service firms. This type of labour market offers a higher premium on human rather than firm-specific capital. This leaves little scope for unions. Workers become less reliant on an individual employer and not as dependent on a union to advocate for them. Paying a hefty chunk of your pay cheque for union dues becomes less attractive. If the bail-out is intended to empower the middle class, small businesses, and entrepreneurship, then a new push for unionization is likely to be counterproductive. (economist.com)

Union-backed CREW neglects Rahmbo ... The Washington Times and New York Daily News, among other news outlets, have reported that, as a member of Congress, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel received rent-free accommodations from Representative Rosa DeLauro for five years, raising the question of whether Emanuel properly complied with gift rules for House members and whether he should have paid taxes on the imputed income of the gift. Last summer, liberals went after Republican Senator Norm Coleman for paying an allegedly below-market rate for his Capitol Hill apartment, with the George Soros-funded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demanding an ethics committee investigation. The big media bias question regarding Emanuel is whether his longtime friend, ABC chief Washington correspondent and host of This Week George Stephanopoulos, knew about the arrangement with DeLauro and her husband, pollster Stan Greenberg — who worked alongside Emanuel and Stephanopoulos in the 1992 Clinton campaign. (newsbusters.org)

Balanoff: Stop me before I Pay-to-Play again ... In his first public comments about former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s arrest two months ago, labor leader Tom Balanoff said he could be “a strong witness” for federal prosecutors who have charged the governor with trying to sell President Barack Obama’s old spot in the U.S. Senate. Balanoff, the Illinois State Council president for the Service Employees International Union, was involved in secretly recorded conversations with Blagojevich regarding the Obama vacancy. “We have fully cooperated with the U.S. attorney’s office. I believe I would be a strong witness for the U.S. attorney,” Balanoff said after a news conference Tuesday where his union endorsed state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) to replace Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in Congress. (newsblogs.chicagotribune.com)

Embezzlement by Stern appointees taint SEIU brand ... A high-ranking Midwest officer of the Service Employees International Union, who had been serving as trustee of a financially troubled local, has resigned after being accused of billing the labor organization for $9,000 in personal expenses. The Chicago-based Byron Hobbs, who also sat on the union's national board, is the latest of several SEIU officials to lose their positions or otherwise come under scrutiny for alleged financial improprieties. Among them is Tyrone Freeman, former president of the union's largest California local, who is the target of a federal criminal investigation. (latimes.com)

SEIU big flexes muscle, opposition expected to crumble ... A key labor coalition that backed President Obama during the election last year is calling upon the financial-services industry to back off lobbying against organized labor’s top legislative priority this year. In a letter Tuesday, Anna Burger, chairwoman of Change to Win, asked the Financial Services Roundtable to cease all lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and expel any member company that is lobbying against it and has received bailout funds. The Financial Services Roundtable, which represents many of the banks that received federal bailout money, did not respond in time for this article. (thehill.com)

D.C. union organizers eye engine of U.S. economy ... By now, the dire consequences of Big Labor's card check scheme are well known. Workers will lose their right to be heard, both on the question of whether to unionize and on the details of their first contract. Businesses will be unable to communicate with their own employees about what's best for their shared future. Less well known are the dire consequences in store for the biggest job producers of the American economy: small businesses. There is a persistent myth that card check will not harm smaller firms. "The legislation doesn't apply to small businesses, so the corner grocery probably won't face an organizing drive," Matthew Cooper confidently claims in Portfolio magazine. "[Binding arbitration] would not apply to small businesses, which have no collective bargaining rights under the NLRA," reports Congress Now, a trade publication. Unfortunately these eminent journalists are wrong. The myth of a small-business exemption is just that, a myth. (washingtontimes.com)

Union air-war subdues GOP ethics worrywarts ... Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis won easy approval of the Senate Health Education Pensions and Labor Committee Wednesday, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate. Solis’ nomination had been held up by the committee for weeks, with Republicans expressing concern over the California congresswoman’s ties to pro-union organizations. After her confirmation hearing last month, Republicans on the committee voiced frustration with what they saw as non-answers on questions related to her views on unions and the controversial union “card-check” bill before Congress. (politico.com)

Union-front group frees Rep. Hilda Solis ... In the affidavit, Solis declared she did not have check writing or signing authority when she was treasurer of American Rights at Work (ARW), a labor advocacy group. ARW has lobbied Congress on legislation that Solis co-sponsored as a member. GOP Senators argued that presented a conflict of interest for the congresswoman. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the ranking Republican on HELP, had demanded the affidavit. He said Solis’s move allowed him to support moving the nominee forward. “This affidavit goes a long way towards showing that no conflict of interest appears to have taken place,” Enzi said. “I look forward to working with her in her new Cabinet position as Secretary of Labor and her staff on this and the many other labor and economic issues facing our country,” Enzi said. ARW filed other paperwork to meet some of Enzi’s concerns. The group’s banker in a letter said Solis had no control over the group’s funds. ARW also modified their Federal Election Commission records to show that Solis was not responsible for financing campaign ads. Solis also had to amend her House financial disclosure forms to show she was affiliated with the group. Enzi recommended that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) change House ethics rules. While senators are forbidden from serving in positions of fiduciary responsibility on 501(c)(4) groups such as ARW, House members may do so. “It is a blatant conflict of interest, not allowed in the Senate, and should be prohibited immediately in the House of Representatives,” Enzi said. (thehill.com)

Bamspeak: 'Transparency' really means 'The debate about union financial disclosure is over' ... Boston Red Sox All-Star Kevin Youkilis had to reveal his appearance fees, and actress Morgan Fairchild was forced to report corporate-paid trips. They were among about 7,000 union officials covered by financial disclosure rules tightened by the Bush administration. Labor leaders say the requirements amount to harassment and want President Barack Obama to ease them. Prospects are good. Three weeks into the Obama administration, organized labor has racked up a series of victories, highlighted by the so-called Lilly Ledbetter legislation, which makes it easier to fight pay discrimination. The president also has signed four presidential orders strengthening union rights with federal contractors. After contributing more than $100 million to Obama and congressional Democrats for their 2008 election campaigns, unions appear determined to cash in their chips, and are laying plans to go after their top goal: legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize. (bloomberg.com)

'Fair Share' really means 'Forced Tribute' ... Some Iowa labor union leaders are launching a new effort today to press for a new state law that would open the door for all unions to be allowed to charge fees to nonunion workers. The measure represents a major expansion of a bill that failed two years ago despite support from Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat. The current economic climate is not a time to pass legislation that could deter companies from moving to Iowa or expanding existing businesses located in the state, say some business leaders. Some also say the legislation would undermine Iowa's law that prohibits mandatory union membership. Iowa's neighbors, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri, all allow unions to charge nonmembers for representation. Nebraska and South Dakota do not. (desmoinesregister.com)

Anti-business unions secure labor-state's share of Porkulus ... A day after Governor Carcieri warned in his State of the State address of painful budget choices ahead, dozens of union members have flocked to the State House to push their agenda. Specifically, the group -- a combination of the labor-backed Campaign for Rhode Island's Priorities and the Service Employees International Union -- wants the Assembly to reject the governor's plan not to use the federal stimulus package to plug Rhode Island's budget hole. Carcieri instead wants to use the federal funds to help cut the state's corporate income tax. "President Obama and Congress are working hard to throw a life raft to the states," said Peter Asen, spokesman for the Campaign for Rhode Island's Priorities. "And the governor seems to want to let us drown." Union members filled the State House rotunda this afternoon, just before the regular House and Senate sessions began. They wore stickers that read: "Don't steal our stimulus. No more tax cuts for the rich." "We want to be sure we blanket the whole building," executive vice president of the New England Health Care Employees Union, Stan Israel, told union members as they prepared to distribute fliers to lawmakers. (politicsblog.projo.com)

Related video: Labor-state Vision

Decriminalizing union-only P2P in Keystone State ... At a Capitol news conference, state Rep. Doug Reichley, R-Lehigh, outlined a list of bills aimed at ending what they describe as "pay-to-play politics in Pennsylvania" and afterward urged Attorney General Tom Corbett to investigate whether improprieties occurred involving Deloitte's work on state contracts as well as Gov. Ed Rendell's administration's failure to cooperate with auditors. (pennlive.com)

SEIU to Governator: As if! ... California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to lay off as many as 10,000 state employees if a new budget is not passed this week, it was reported on Wednesday. The move would save the state 750 million U.S. dollars annually if the jobs are eliminated by July 1, Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's spokesman, said in remarks published by the Los Angeles Times. "This is not a (negotiating) tactic," McLear said. "This is simply out of necessity. The state is running out of money. The governor has very few options at his disposal that he can unilaterally use to cut back on state spending." The move drew criticism from workers' unions. Yvonne Walker, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1000,which represents 95,000 state employees, called the layoff announcement a ploy designed to put pressure on lawmakers with whom Schwarzenegger is negotiating behind closed doors. (english.people.com.cn)

Union-backed fraud group wins taxpayer support ... Activists with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), who have spent two decades agitating to force banks to underwrite high-risk loans, are among those most responsible for the sub-prime mortgage debacle underlying the current economic crisis. But this is Washington, and the more you mess things up, the bigger your reward. And ACORN has also spent hundreds of millions of public and private dollars registering voters and mobilizing support for Democrats. ACORN’s pay-off is inclusion in the $1 trillion economic stimulus bill sailing through Congress this week with President Barack Obama’s active support. The House version of the measure gives ACORN access to a $4.19 billion pot of money to “stabilize” the same neighborhoods its previous bank intimidation tactics helped to undermine. Similar provisions are contained in the Senate version. (dcexaminer.com)

ACORN: All in the Family ... Whistleblowers at ACORN are demanding that the Obama administration probe allegations of embezzlement, conspiracy, and corruption at the highest levels in the nation's foremost community-based left-wing activist group. ACORN, long known for its creative approach to voter registration, has received at least $126.4 million in donations and tax dollars since 1993, yet owes millions of dollars in back taxes. Specifically, the "ACORN 8," a splinter group founded by expelled national board members Karen Inman and Marcel Reid, has asked U.S. attorneys in several states to look into a nearly $1 million embezzlement and the novel business practices of the group that claims to have more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country. The ACORN 8 claims that ACORN and its 100-plus affiliate organizations, is a long-established, ongoing criminal enterprise that focuses primarily on shakedowns. The basic facts of the embezzlement are not in dispute. Dale Rathke, brother of founder Wade Rathke, systematically stole almost $1 million from ACORN affiliates around 2000. Members of the ACORN 8 want federal authorities to bring civil and criminal cases under racketeering statutes, in addition to mail fraud and other charges, against Wade Rathke, his brother, Lewis, national president Maude Hurd, executive director Steven Kest, and ex-political director Zach Pollett. The request for federal action comes after the Buckeye Institute, an Ohio think tank, sued ACORN affiliate Project Vote last fall under state racketeering laws. Reports indicate the FBI is investigating ACORN. (dcexaminer.com)

International Collectivism

Chávez eyes electrifying student leaders ... Three university students became President Hugo Chávez's worst nightmare 15 months ago. The student leaders — Stalin Gonzalez, Yon Goicoechea and Freddy Guevara — revitalized Venezuela's moribund political opposition and led the movement that in December 2007 inflicted the only national election defeat that Chávez has suffered during his 10 years of power. The three are back, and they're opposing Chávez again as he makes a second attempt Sunday to win a national referendum that asks Venezuelans whether to allow him to seek re-election indefinitely. Supporters continued to treat Gonzalez, Goicoechea and Guevara like political rock stars at a massive anti-Chávez street march Saturday, calling out their names and crowding around to snap photos. (mcclatchydc.com)

Ban on Lech Walesa modified ... Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa can visit Venezuela to lend his support to President Hugo Chávez's opponents, but authorities will be closely monitoring his actions, the government said Wednesday Information Minister Jesse Chacon said officials will "evaluate the attitude" exhibited by Walesa if the former Polish president meets with opposition groups. Chacon's comments came a day after Chávez said that Walesa would not be permitted to publicly speak out against his government while he's visiting Venezuela. (pr-inside.com)

Bam considers Cuban wage bailout ... A government study of about 2,000 Cuban state businesses found that 60 percent of employees came late, left early or otherwise shirked their duties, official media reported Wednesday. The Labor Ministry analyzed 2,042 state-run companies in May and June and detected "26,622 violations of labor discipline," according to the Communist Party newspaper Granma. It's part of a push by President Raul Castro to improve productivity on an island where many government workers perform lackadaisically due to low pay and labor laws that make it tough to punish dismiss. Cuba's command economy allows private enterprise only by special license, meaning nearly everyone works for the state — here monthly salaries average 414 pesos — a little less than $20 — though the communist system provides free health care, education through college and food rations. (google.com)

Cuba's Progs wow leftist Chilean ... Raul Castro presided over the official welcoming ceremony for the visiting Chilean President at Havana’s Palace of the Revolution. President Bachelet was saluted with due ceremony by the unit of the Armed Forces General Staff. Also on Wednesday, the Chilean President attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding to further boost bilateral cooperation projects in the field of biotechnology. The document was signed at Havana´s Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center. Bachelet learned of the most recent achievements of Cuba in biotechnology aimed at protecting human health. "It is a great honor and a privilege for me to learn about the extraordinary experience of the western Havana Scientific Center," said Bachelet as cited by the Cuban news agency. Earlier on Wednesday, the Chilean President paid tribute to Cuba´s National Hero Jose Marti. Michelle Bachelet laid a wreath at the statute of the Cuban Independence Hero in the Revolution Square and toured the museum that treasures documents and literature of the Cuban Apostle. (cubanews.ain.cu)

Russia, China step up aid to ruling Sudan Communists ... Flush with petrodollars and beset by regional insurgencies and a possible resumption of the North-South civil war, Khartoum has become an important consumer of foreign arms despite a widely ignored international embargo. The Sudanese military is embarking on a massive modernization campaign and appears to have found a willing partner in Russia, which seeks to extend its influence in Africa and find new customers for Russia's active arms industry as sales to China drop off dramatically. China has also become Russia's main competition in arms sales to Africa and is frequently able to supply Chinese-built Russian-designs for significantly less than Russia's arms industry. One sign of the importance Moscow now places on its relations with Sudan was the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's appointment last December of a special envoy to Khartoum, Mikhail Margilov, head of the Russian Federation Council's foreign affairs committee. Margilov has stated Russia must re-establish its presence in Sudan and Africa by being an active participant in conflict resolution (RIA Novosti, December 8, 2008). (jamestown.org)

Unholy alliance cited ... In 2004, David Horowitz published Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, a seminal work based on the author's 50-year experience of the American Left. Since the book was written, the links between Islam and the left have become stronger, and not just in the United States. The global anti-war movements have naturally forged alliances between leftists and Islamists. In Britain the anti-war movement has created a political party, the Respect party. This group is headed by the notorious showman, George Galloway, its only elected member of parliament. Founded on January 25, 2004, this party is officially called "Respect - The Unity Coalition", and grew directly out of the "Stop the War" movement. Respect encourages its members to also belong to other political groups, namely the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Muslim Association of Britain and the Muslim Council of Britain. (westernresistance.com)
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