Sunday wrap

Dem Porkulus inaugurates New Prog Era ... The so-called “stimulus plan” cooked up mostly by House Democrats is, in reality, a plan to stimulate government and make it an even greater presence (and burden) in our lives. The appeal to speed and urgency by President Obama is an invitation to overlook details of the bill, which would accelerate the transformation of America from a capitalistic system that exalts the individual to a socialistic system that exalts the state. Notice that in none of the apocalyptic rhetoric from the president and congressional leaders do we hear anything about the power of people to overcome the recession and restore the economy to health. There is no call for us to help ourselves first, with the aid of family and neighbors, and to employ vision, persistence and risk in climbing out of the recessionary hole. (theoaklandpress.com)

Socialists continually re-invent liberty ... As the recession deepens, people across the ideological spectrum declare that capitalism has failed. Almost every economic news report carries words like 'crisis' and 'disaster'. Yet, recessions are not aberrations of capitalism but an intrinsic part of it. Markets create boom and bust cycles, arising from human tendencies to swing from euphoria to fear and back. A bust is an occasion for cleaning out deadwood and failed experiments, and re-inventing capitalism. (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

Biden: On the wages of unpopularity ... Vice President Joe Biden brought more gloom than good cheer to a congressional retreat Friday morning, warning the assembled Democrats that Congress has “never faced a time like this.” The economy is bad. Afghanistan is falling apart. And Democrats could face blow-back on the campaign trail for some of the votes they cast in support of the administration's policies. In perhaps the starkest warning of his speech, Biden said that the votes Democrats cast this year could cause them trouble on the campaign trail next year. “I’m sure you’ll be nailed in ads,” Biden told the group. “I’ll come campaign for you or against you — whatever will help you most.” (politico.com)

The selling of the Porkulus ... When Congressional lawmakers return to their districts this week, they are likely to get an earful from their constituents on the nearly $787 billion stimulus passed Friday. The bill, which cleared Congress with just three Republican votes, lacks strong public support and in some districts people are downright livid. If members get a big enough drubbing, it could make it more difficult for congressional Democrats to pass a massive “omnibus” spending package scheduled for debate upon their return in late February. “I would be hard pressed to find anyone around here who is in favor of the stimulus,” said Scott Voorhees, who hosts a midday radio talk show in Nebraska and has fielded many angry calls about the package. In the coming week, House Democrats have scheduled more than 750 events around the country for lawmakers to sell the stimulus as a package that will create or save 3.5 million jobs and cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. (dcexaminer.com)

Mystery of U.S. drift solved: Hard-left politics were secretly privatized ... The Republican brand has virtually failed at the federal level and is falling like a rock at the state tier. How did this seismic shift come about? There were lots of contributing factors, one of which is that the party leadership has failed to show independent voters or their own base that they stand for something. But the most important factor was that Republicans have been completely out-organized by Democrats. And in what is surely the greatest irony of modern political history, they did it by stealing a chapter from the Republican policy playbook, the one called "privatization." Conservatives may advocate privatization for government, but Democrats put it into action in politics. All the key party functions have simply been outsourced. The big donors entrepreneurially moved their funding of key political functions outside the traditional party structure, building and paying for separate, private organizations that, taken together, do everything our old-fashioned political parties used to do—without having to get buy-in from political-party officials. (newsweek.com)

Bamspeak: 'Free choice' really means 'Union-only' ... I know that there are still voices of sanity around because I have counted them -- on one hand. More frightening to me than any policy or politician is the ease with which the public is played for fools with words. The latest example is the "Employee Free Choice Act," a bill that will do away with secret ballot elections among workers voting on whether to be represented by a union. It is an open invitation to intimidation -- which is to say, loss of freedom of choice. (detnews.com)

Spector of Card-Check looms over nation ... The original card-check bill was introduced by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee. The House in 2007 voted 241 to 185 to approve it, but it died in the Senate after it drawing just 51 votes, nine short of the 60 needed to overcome a procedural hurdle. Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter was the only Republican to vote for the Senate measure. Sweeping Democratic gains at the polls in November -- Democrats hold 58 Senate seats -- puts card-check back in play. It is unclear whether Specter will support the bill again. His office declined to comment. Specter, who stands for re-election next year, is under fire from fellow Republicans for agreeing to vote for the $787 billion stimulus package and would face more political rage in the Republican primary if he votes for card-check. (pittsburghlive.com)

Sputtering engine: Congress to force wave of small business closures ... The “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA), also referred to as “Card Check,” would undermine long standing principles of workplace democracy and fairness and result in employees having less ability to determine if they wish to be represented by a union. It does so by allowing unions to collect employee signatures in public and do away with the secret ballot process. Additionally, the bill includes a “binding arbitration” provision that would let the federal government dictate wages and benefits under a union contract, and then deprive workers of the chance to vote on that contract. This expansion of government power is the equivalent of reestablishing wage and price controls in our economy, and could put many employers out of business. (dailycomet.com)

Labor-states don't need no stinkin' EFCA ... In a departure from a decades-long trend, the rate of unionization in Massachusetts grew significantly from 2007 to 2008. The percentage of workers who are union members rose from 13.2 percent to 15.7 percent. That meant a net increase of 79,000 members. The change is somewhat mirrored in the United States as a whole. The percentage of workers nationwide who are union members rose from 12 percent in 2006 to 12.1 percent in 2007 and then to 12.4 percent in 2008. (wbjournal.com)

NUHW gets organized v. Stern, SEIU

Vigilante union organizers: We don't need no stinkin' NLRB ... About 50 protestors, led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union local 21, picketed Rite Aid drug stores in Kelso and Longview on Friday afternoon, blasting the company’s actions at a California distribution center and calling for the passage of a federal law to strengthen union rights. The ILWU says Rite Aid refused to recognize the union during bargaining last year in Lancaster, Calif., after employees voted to join the ILWU. “What we want the company to know is they need to stop stalling in Lancaster,” said Mary Winzig, organizer for the ILWU’s Columbia River district, outside the Kelso Rite Aid. (tdn.com)

International Collectivism

Cuba's future goes on trial today ... The future of Cuba depends on the results of tomorrow’s Venezuelan referendum on whether to eliminate term limits for elected officials, former Cuban president Fidel Castro said. “Our future is inseparable from what happens next Sunday, the day of the referendum on the constitutional amendment,” Castro wrote in an editorial published on the Cuba Debate Web site. “There is no alternative but victory.” (bloomberg.com)

Chávez pulls out the stops in Bolivarian power grab ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said soldiers suspected of conspiring in a plot to destabilize the government were arrested, adding the situation is under control. Chávez, a self-proclaimed socialist who has accused the political opposition of trying to overthrow his government since he survived a brief coup in 2002, said the country’s intelligence agency uncovered a plan to infiltrate the Miraflores presidential palace. He made the comments yesterday on state television. “We’ve arrested some soldiers, and they remain detained, who were in contact with a solder on the run in the U.S., protected by the U.S. government, sending messages about a so- called Operation Independence,” Chávez said. The Venezuelan president is wrapping up a political campaign to amend the constitution to allow him to seek re-election as many times as he likes. The issue will go before voters on Feb. 15 and Chávez has said the political opposition has been planning violence in the country should it lose the election. (bloomberg.com)

Corrupt unionism plagues Bangladesh ... Unruly trade unionism that systematically drained out thousands of crore taka in the past few decades and protected plunderers of national resources is creeping back into Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd (TGTDCL) as the new government took office last month. Awami League lawmaker Israfil Alam, who once used to be a meter reader, is allegedly patronising a group of 30-40 people who are staging showdowns at Titas Bhaban in Karwan Bazar every day since last month, sending a wave of chill among TGTDCL officials and employees. (thedailystar.net)

Socialists lead in Greece ... Four new surveys appeared on Sunday Press giving the Socialist Party (PASOK) a lead ranging from 3.1 to 4.6 percent. Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis is still believed to be the most appropriate for the post of the head of the government receiving 8.3 percent, as opposed to Socialist leader George Papandreou. Leading ministers put a brake on the early elections scenarios, although PASOK said that the Prime Minister confirmed his was planning to hold elections. A nationwide survey conducted by Focus on behalf of Real News paper gave PASOK a 3.1 percent lead over ND. In particular, PASOK garners 29.4 percent and ND receives 26.3 percent. As for the rest opposition parties, KKE (Greek Communist Party) lands third place with 6.6 percent, SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) trails with 6.1 percent, LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) gains 4.3 percent and the Greens 3.3 percent. (news.ert.gr)
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