Thursday wrap

Barack repeats Communist mistakes ... The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan offered a grim view Wednesday of military efforts in southern Afghanistan, warning that 17,000 new troops will take on emboldened Taliban insurgents who have "stalemated" U.S. and allied forces. Army Gen. David McKiernan also predicted that the bolstered numbers of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan — about 55,000 in all — will remain near those levels for up to five years. Still, McKiernan said, that is only about two-thirds of the number of troops he has requested to secure the war-torn nation. The 17,000 additional troops, which President Barack Obama approved Tuesday to begin deploying this spring, will join an estimated 38,000 already in Afghanistan. Whatever the outcome of the review, McKiernan said, "we know we need additional means in Afghanistan, whether they are security or governance-related or socioeconomic-related." (star-telegram.com)

Mesa protest: Barack stimulates U.S. irresponsibility ... David Crause, 70, Phoenix, held up a sign scrawled with writing that was too difficult to make out quickly. But he left no doubt where he stood as he criticized Obama’s stimulus plan. “We can’t borrow and spend our way out of a crisis that that got us into,” Crause said.”Free markets work.” Crause said he wasn’t there to see Obama, but to register a protest, saying, “I can see him on TV, and I can shut it off.” Jack Clark, 50, Gilbert, held a sign taller than he is that protested the stimulus. It read: “Personal Responsibility: RIP 2009.” Wearing a T-shirt with a picture of the late President Ronald Reagan that said “Right,” Clark said he wanted to give the president a piece of his mind. “I’m somewhat disgusted by the reaction of the country,” he said of economic stimulus efforts. “A lot of what’s happening here is people being irresponsible.” (michellemalkin.com)

ACORN-as-usual: Organizer-in-Chief stimulates union-backed fraud group ... The real reason people like Mr. Dalpra and others want Republicans to sign on to the “stimulus” is so that when it fails, as it must, the Democrats won’t take the heat alone. They don’t want to be turned out of office in the next elections in less than two years. Mr. Dalpra complains obstructionists make a mountain out of every molehill. Let me tell Mr. Dalpra something: I don’t consider it a molehill that the Democrats voted to give $4 billion to ACORN, the people who have intentionally and repeatedly signed up to tens of thousands of fraudulent Democrat voters all over the country. When one Democrat voter can’t get to the polls, liberals scream disenfranchisement. When ACORN disenfranchises real citizens by registering dead people and illegal aliens, why, it’s just business as usual. (eacourier.com)

It took GOP 30 years to uncover typical AFSCME payoff ... A labor union gets free office space in a public building and its president's salary is paid by taxpayers - an arrangement that a state lawmaker says is inappropriate. "It's just unbelievable," Rep. Erik Helland, a Grimes Republican, said Wednesday. Polk County gives American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1868 a small office in the county's administration building in Des Moines. The county also pays the $59,271 salary for the union's full-time president, Dan Riley, and granted him a leave of absence from his county maintenance job. The arrangement for the free office and full salary dates to 1979, records show. "As a Polk County taxpayer, it just drives me nuts," said Helland. "My tax money is going to house a union that is often adversarial to the county. "And paying the president? That's where union dues need to be picking up the slack." (desmoinesregister.com)

Job-Killer Act: Obama, Dems hoodwink, bamboozle ... More years ago than I like to remember, my high school algebra teacher told the class that, through skillfully applied legerdemain, it was possible to demonstrate that two plus two could equal five, or even three. Of course, he also made it clear that this was a product of trickery by which a trained mathematician could hoodwink the inexpert to accept this process over that which was real. I had all but forgotten this exercise in sleight of hand and obfuscation until I read the guest column “Employee Free Choice Act would empower workers to unionize” in the Feb. 3 issue of the Missourian. The co-authors, a Mr. Herb Johnson, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Rev. Amy Cortright, a member of the Missouri Jobs with Justice Coalition, attempted to prove that eliminating the requirement for the secret ballot in forming unions does not end secret-ballot elections. Boss bashing and employee griping are neither new nor particularly troubling activities in the work place — they are as traditional as motherhood and apple pie. One factor that must be remembered in this age-old struggle between employers and employed, however, is the former is the one who supplied the capital investment that created the workplace. (columbiamissourian.com)

Dems to ramrod Card-Check through Congress with no debate ... Though it seems like a knock-out for Democrats and organized labor, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are putting up a tremendous fight saying the bill is misleading and actually anti-worker. They argue that Card Check would make workers vulnerable to intimidation, allowing them to be asked repeatedly for their signature any place at any time, including their homes, while employers could be caught unaware that their employees were thinking of unionizing. Also at issue is a potential provision within Card Check that would allow federal arbitrators to intervene in contract disputes and dictate pay and benefit terms. So far, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent an estimated $10 million in efforts to defeat the bill. (laspecula.com)

We don't need no stinkin' union recognition elections ... The Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce recently held a seminar for its members to educate them on the Employee Free Choice Act that is currently being considered by Congress. This act, however, is not about free choice. It is simply a "card check" bill that takes away an employee's right to vote on whether or not the employee wants to be represented by a union. Workers would lose a vital privacy protection -- the ability to vote in a secret ballot election -- and a union could be formed without the employer even knowing about it. In the end, it all comes down to workers giving up their right to decide for themselves if they want to be represented by a union. Taking away their right to vote in a secret ballot is frankly unAmerican and should be resisted by workers everywhere, both union and non-union. (herald-dispatch.com)

EFCA: We don't need no stinkin' relationship with oppressive employers ... Some of Maine’s business leaders lobbed another salvo Wednesday in the fight over the Employee Free Choice Act, which supporters say would make it easier for unions to organize. The controversial bill, which also is known as card check, is working its way through Congress — and while its fate is anything but clear, experts are certain that it will engender a contentious national battle between pro-labor and pro-business groups as it goes. “The [act’s] very name is misleading as it does nothing to promote freedom or choice,” state Rep. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, said at a press conference in the Best Western White House Inn in Hermon. “Maine businesses and employees have traditionally had excellent communications. … We do not need to inject into this relationship a process whereby out-of-state interests will promote divisiveness in the workplace.” At Wednesday’s press conference, Maine business leaders painted a bleak picture of life if the bill is passed, including increasing tensions in the workplace between employers and employees and a worsening state and national economy. (bangornews.com)

Unchecked Dems: We don't need no stinkin' non-union workforce ... If all goes as planned, the Democrats will be holding at least three aces in their hand by the time 2012 rolls around. The first ace is card check, an anti-democratic process that bypasses secret ballot elections when employees are deciding whether to unionize or not. While unions' share of the workforce has increased recently, labor union membership has declined dramatically in the past twenty-five years from 20.1% of the workforce to 12.4%. Most of this decline has occurred among private sector workers. Democrats want to recoup their losses of the past several years and make it easier for their Big Labor bosses to unionize more companies. After all, more unionization means more union money and organized support for Democratic candidates. Card check bypasses all the inconveniences of democracy and secret ballots by allowing union hacks to intimidate and pressure workers to sign cards. Once a majority of workers has signed on, the shop is unionized. (humanevents.com)

Flash: Tree-killer catches tax-break fever ... Newspaper publishers implored lawmakers on Wednesday to give them a temporary break on the state's main business tax, saying that some of the state's papers are "holding on by our fingertips." Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen and Scott Campbell, publisher of The Columbian in Vancouver, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee they need help during tumultuous times in the industry. Under the proposed measure, the business and occupation tax on newspapers would be cut by 40 percent through 2015. Blethen said a state tax break wouldn't fix all that ails newspapers, but it would help them preserve jobs. The loss of advertising revenue, mixed with the current economic climate, has put weekly and daily newspapers in the state under "tremendous financial pressure," he said. "Some of us, like The Seattle Times, are literally holding on by our fingertips today," Blethen said. (seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Dems line up Google for Pay-to-Play ... Christine A. Varney, President Barack Obama’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said at a panel discussion that Google’s consolidated power in the cloud computing space, could lead to “the same repeat of Microsoft,” Bloomberg reports. Varney was speaking on a panel sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute, where she said that U.S. economy will “continually see a problem -- potentially with Google” because it “has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising.” (bizjournals.com)

Oppressed members mutiny against SEIU

Fascistic SEIU boss Andy Stern: Legalized extortion will bring 'labor peace' ... “Passing EFCA would defuse a lot,” Stern said. “A post-Employee Free Choice Act world actually creates the real opportunities for unions to do what they want to do” — that is, organize within their own industries, rather than cross the industrial lines that lead to tension. Stern said that, for instance, SEIU might move away from organizing some public workers, a drive that has expanded his union at the cost of tension with the traditional public workers’ union. That involvement with public sector power-brokers included impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who received lavish support from the local SEIU. “In a post-Employee Free Choice Act world, we would go where no one else wants to go, which is the south and Southwest,” he said, saying SEIU could “stay away from places where other unions will probably want to.” (politico.com)

Hoffa continues in-house cleansing of Teamster corruption ... The new president of Teamsters Local 179 has stepped down amid a union investigation into the organization's finances. Jim Kenney resigned on Feb. 3 as president of Joliet-based Local 179. Kenney, 36, of Channahon was elected president in September and took office on Jan. 1. He replaced Tom White, who did not run for re-election. Teamsters officials would not detail what happened. But they said an investigation into financial improprieties led to Kenney's resignation. (suburbanchicagonews.com)

UFCW punk'd

Union organizers subdue North Carolina ... Elections have consequences, and one result of the Democratic Party's gains in 2006 and 2008 is that North Carolina is taking a new, less-hostile look at labor unions. That's not necessarily saying much in a state considered either the nation's least, or second-least, union-friendly. Still, in recent months we've seen the N.C. State Employees Association, which is not a union, affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, which definitely is. Bills in the legislature seek to overturn a longstanding ban on collective bargaining by public employees. And now one of our two U.S. senators is prepared to vote in favor of the labor movement's top priority in Congress -- the union-certifying process commonly called card check. (newsobserver.com)

SEIU sets P2P for Florida U.S. Senate seat ... U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who became the first major candidate to get in the 2010 U.S. Senate race last month, picked up the first big endorsement of the race Monday when the Service Employees International Union backed his bid. Meek, who is one of two prominent Democrats so far in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, appeared in Tallahassee Monday with SEIU Florida President Monica Russo to collect the endorsement. The union, which represents a number of service industry and nursing home workers, chose to endorse Meek over state Sen. Dan Gelber, who has also formally announced his candidacy. (jaxdaily.com)

Union organizers leave path of destruction ... Crazy, they were called. Workers at Smurfit-Stone Container were ridiculed by some for their decision to strike in the middle of a recession. There was even speculation that their strike cost the city a potential new factory when company officials on a site visit drove by the picket line. Many of us won’t be getting a raise this year, making it hard to understand why these workers rejected an offer of a 2 percent salary increase. And yet, you couldn’t help rooting for these guys. The decision to strike was, in many ways, based on principle. If more lending and business decisions had been made this way the last three years, we might not be in the mess we’re in now. Then, last week, the final blow was delivered. Striking workers were told not that their efforts had failed, but that they were irrelevant. A corporation in Chicago loaded down with debt decided to close its St. Joseph factory. With a shrug and a press release, the deal was done and the workers dismissed. Maybe the strike affected the decision, maybe it didn’t. A company spokesman suggested that the closure was based on productivity before the strike. (stjoenews.net)

Oppressed unionist writers picket 'Idol' ... A year after the Writers Guild of America ended a major strike, members of the WGA West had picket signs out in Los Angeles. Their target? The biggest show on television: Fox's "American Idol." By 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, at least 150 red-shirted guild members were marching and chanting in front of CBS Television's offices on Beverly Boulevard to protest working conditions in the reality and game-show sectors. Carrying signs reading, "'Idol' gives back ... but not to its workers" and chanting, "Simon, Simon, you can't hide, we can see your greedy side!" the writers and their supporters were trying to pressure FremantleMedia North America, "Idol's" producer, to provide its writers and other workers with standard industry health care and pension benefits. [They actually pay people to write that crap?] (antimusic.com)

International Collectivism

Collectivist tyrants everywhere envy, admire Chávez ... Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez must be the envy of aspiring despots the world over today. On Sunday, he received the endorsement of the Venezuelan people for potential life tenure as president of his country by a vote of 54 percent to 45 percent. Mr. Chávez has already been a blight on the map of Latin America for the last 13 years, and he now promises to run for office again and again and again - like a malignant Energizer bunny. Why the Venezuelan people voted for him is probably no mystery. For one thing, Mr. Chávez has been buying their votes with his version of "21st century socialism," meaning populist policies funded by oil revenue. For another, as this was the second time Venezuelans were asked to vote to eliminate presidential term limits, they may well have reasoned that the tenacious Mr. Chávez would keep asking them the same question until they got the answer right. As a consequence, they may just have resigned themselves to their fate. (washingtontimes.com)

'Smart Power' ridiculed by U.S. enemies ... This rather provocative behavior reminds us that President Obama's laudable assurances of a new age of American diplomacy may often be ignored — or exploited — rather than always appreciated. North Korea, for example, may agree with Hillary Clinton's criticism of the United States the last eight years — and thereby announce to her that it feels less obligated to keep promises once made with an "impulsive" United States. European governments in France, Germany, Italy and most of Eastern Europe have long been pro-American. India is friendly; so is most of Asia. Africa has received billions of dollars in recent American help to combat AIDS. These friends of ours., despite their serial complaining about the U.S., may privately be worrying that a kinder, more eloquent antithesis to George Bush will lead to too much dialogue and not enough leadership. After all, the agendas of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, Vladimir Putin and other roguish leaders transcend the Bush presidency. (morningjournal.com)

Bolivian socialist Morales welcomed warmly by ex-Soviets ... Russian and Bolivian Presidents Dmitri Medvedev and Evo Morales, respectively, analyzed on Monday in this capital the prospects for extending bilateral cooperation in the economic and trade spheres, highlighting energy collaboration. Medvedev welcomed Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday at the Kremlin Green Hall, and they reviewed development of their relations in recent years, and exchanged about the future possibilities for bilateral relations. After thanking the hospitality and welcome in Moscow, Morales highlighted the help to his country by then Soviet Union and especially Russia. (escambray.cu)

Communism braces for a bumpy ride ... The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are always quick to highlight risks of social turmoil and of losing their grip on power. That vigilance, sometimes bordering on skittish paranoia, helps explain why they've stayed around so long. But the next year really will, in words of the President, Hu Jintao, test the Communist Party's ability to govern. The party has managed to retain power while ditching ideology largely because it has made tens of millions of people wealthy and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. No one knows what will happen now that formula has stopped working and large sectors of the economy have crashed. "There will be an increase in mass incidents; social tensions will be exacerbated," warns Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute for Technology. (roxbydowns.yourguide.com.au)
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