Friday wrap

Sen Dems OK Landrieu's union-backed political fraud unit ... The U.S. Senate killed an amendment Thursday offered by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that would have prohibited federal volunteer funds from going to the community group ACORN and its affiliates. Vitter singled out the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a nationwide community organization of low- and moderate-income people. He laid emphasis on the fact that group members have been arrested for fraudulent voter registration. Vitter contended that no charitable group with a political arm should receive the volunteer funding. “At the heart of this debate is whether this new federal bureaucracy would, in effect, politicize charitable activity around the country, which we certainly do not want,” Vitter said. The amendment was offered to the National Service Act being considered by the chamber. The bill is aimed at providing $5.7 billion to aid 250,000 volunteers across the country in the arenas of health care, energy, environment and education. The Senate voted to table the Vitter amendment, 53-43, effectively killing it. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., voted to table the amendment. (2theadvocate.com)

U.S. tracks collectivist climate change ... In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy declared, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” When he uttered those words in 1961, JFK knew that America was already a nation of volunteers who gave freely of both time and money to religious, charitable, and community institutions. Hence, he did not try to push legislation promoting altruism. President Barack Obama has a very different agenda. For example, on the campaign trail, he said that he would "set a goal for all American middle and high-school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year." Left unsaid, of course, were the details of how he intended to accomplish that. The obvious way to do so would be to make such service compulsory by attaching strings to federal education dollars. The schools would ultimately make the kids “volunteer” to do community service as a requirement for graduation. In a commencement speech at Wesleyan University, Obama advised graduates to serve others, saying, “Our collective service can shape the destiny of this generation. Individual salvation depends on collective salvation.” Thus, Obama reveals his world view to be that of a collectivist, not an individualist. (thenewamerican.com)

President laughs at, with us ... Last week, President Barrack Obama appeared on The Tonight Show to make us laugh over issues like the financial crisis, the burgeoning deficit, the energy crisis, the dubious future of American prosperity and, of course, to give us the latest gossip on the impending presidential dog. Speaking on the causes of the crisis, Obama kept it light on financial jargon. AIG “used to be just a regular, old insurance company … they insured a whole bunch of stuff,” Obama says, until “some smart person” decided “this sub-prime thing, it’s a great deal, you can make a lot of profit.” In fact, Obama talked a lot about “the larger problem” of greed and the Wall Street culture of excess. On the AIG bonuses, Obama said something I found very interesting: AIG’s “legal judgment was not necessarily wrong. But there’s a moral and ethical aspect to this.” For many years economists/philosophers have tried to figure out if the free market corrodes morale character. Answers are ambiguous and range from “It depends,” “Yes, but … ,” “No!” “Yes, too often” and my personal favorite, “We’d rather not know.” The recent economic crisis — and the AIG bonuses — seem to provide some indication that the free-market encourages greed. From the AIG bonuses, Obama segued into talk about regulating greed: “Before somebody makes a bad bet,” it will be up to government regulation to say, “Hold on, you can’t do that.” When it comes to the actually punishing greed, Leno was more somber: on Congress’ decision to virtually tax away the AIG bonus money, Leno states, “Here’s something that kind of scared me … it was frightening to me as an American that Congress, [or] whoever, could decide, I don’t like this group, let’s pass a law and tax them 90 percent.” (cornellsun.com)

Bailout Nation: You'd better get used to it ... It's hard to decide whether to be sad or just plain angry. Maybe both are in order. The "big three" American automakers" are part of our culture. We associate some of our fondest memories with the first cars or trucks in our lives. General Motors once branded itself "The Heartbeat of America." It's definitely sad to see GM, Chrysler and Ford sink (to borrow another ad slogan) "like a rock" in the troubled waters of recession. Why is this happening? It's not very difficult to understand. But no one in Congress will give us straight answers because they know the truth will outrage American taxpayers. (greenvilleonline.com)

Union bigs seek repeal of oppressive worker-choice law ... Senators are considering legislation that would force workers to pay unions a fee, even if they aren't members of that union. Bill 20 would require all those who are employed at any workplace at which a union negotiates pay and benefits to pay a "fair share fee" to the union -- even if they choose not to join the union. The fee would be what the union "can prove are its costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment with the employer." The legislation would allow labor unions to "collect, receive or demand, directly or indirectly, a 'fair share' fee." It also would allow businesses to deduct the fee directly from worker paychecks. The bill states that employees would still have the freedom to choose whether to join the union. But if they don't join the union, they still would be required to pay what amounts to union dues, which essentially mandates union membership. Guam's current Right-to-Work law makes it illegal to require workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Bill 20 repeals that law. (guampdn.com)

Big Obama collectivist economic guru fined ... Billionaire investor George Soros’s Soros Fund Management LLC was fined 489 million forint ($2.2 million) for attempting to manipulate the share price of OTP Bank Nyrt., Hungary’s largest bank, the country’s financial regulator said. The Soros fund attempted on Oct. 9 to “send out false or misleading signals about a security’s supply and demand or its share price” and short sold OTP shares, the regulator, known as PSZAF, said in a statement late yesterday. The short selling caused the shares to drop 14 percent in the final 30 minutes of trade, the regulator said. (bloomberg.com)

Invasive Poison Ivy grows like a weed ... After only two months of Barack Obama’s presidency, Americans are horrified, angry, depressed and on the verge of full-scale revolt against the president and his toadying socialist acolytes for doing their best to destroy our once-vibrant economy, inflict decades of debt on our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and usher in what historians will surely record as The Age of The Hubristic and Incompetent Presidency. This assessment is borne out by polls, man-and-woman-in-the-street interviews, escalating unemployment figures, and creeping inflation that threatens to become the hyperinflation that will put the final nail in the coffin of an economy that up until 2006 — when the Democrats took control of the Congress — was on a consistently upward trajectory, with unprecedentedly low unemployment, and hard-working Americans enjoying the fruits of their labors. But all that changed when an inexperienced novice from the Chicago Machine offered “hope” and “change” to an electorate brainwashed by a leftist media to believe that President Bush had lost the war in Iraq (wrong — we won!), instituted “unfair” policies toward our enemies via the Patriot Act, Gitmo, rendition, et al. (which kept us safe!), and supported an “unfair” free-market economy (which kept about 92 percent of Americans flourishing!). Yet in a mere two months, our radical left-wing president has: (thebulletin.us)

Same old Card-Check wine ... Nationally, with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, unions are flexing their muscles and plotting a comeback. This is also the case in Colorado, with a Democrat majority in both houses of the state legislature and a Democrat governor who's shown himself to be an enthusiastic supporter of organized labor. For the unions, this is their long-awaited hour. And at the very top of their wish list is legislation they hope will revitalize the movement. With no regard for honesty and with typical union chutzpah, they call it the "Employee Free Choice Act" (EFCA). In fact, it's anything but free choice. It's a variation on the old union card check. If enough arms can be twisted and enough signatures gathered in face-to-face confrontations between union organizers and workers, union certification will be ordered under the EFCA without the inconvenient formality of a secret-ballot election, required under current law if signatures from 30 percent of workers are submitted. But experience shows that many workers who check cards later vote against unionization after they've heard the company's side and have the protection of privacy. This is the most blatant tilting of the scales in favor of organized labor since the Wagner Act was passed under FDR in 1935, prolonging the Great Depression. Even George McGovern, the grandfather of liberal Democrats and a longtime friend of labor unions, has come out against the EFCA's cynical end-run around secret-ballot elections. (denverpost.com)

Related video: Card-Check victims exposed

Shame bounces off U.S. DINOs ... Yesterday, a union-sponsored outfit known as American Rights at Work joined in the disinformation, placing a half-page ad in the Washington Post that reads: "The Wall Street Journal catches big business IN A LIE." The ad uses the same out-of-context quote as Mr. Miller to distort our position. Someone who saw it and didn't know better could be forgiven for thinking that the Journal had endorsed the legislation. These guys must really be desperate. As we've written many times, "card check" effectively ends secret-ballot elections because it would allow labor organizers to automatically organize a work site if more than 50% of workers sign an authorization card. Thus our words: "dead letter." Currently, an employer can insist on a secret-ballot election if 30% of employees sign union cards. But under this proposal, if more than 50% of the authorization cards are signed, there is no election because union recognition is instant. In theory, the bill would allow for an employee to request a secret-ballot vote if cards have been signed by between 31% and 50% of workers. But only the organizers know how many cards have been signed, and they have no incentive to tell the company or employees. Why would unions risk a secret ballot when they can publicly pressure employees into signing an authorization card? Which is to say that the claim that "card check" would preserve secret-ballot elections is deeply dishonest. Big Labor is afraid that its big chance to rewrite labor law to diminish worker rights is slipping away, as more Americans discover what the bill really says. Thus Mr. Miller's creative editing, which should embarrass him, if he were capable of being embarrassed. (online.wsj.com)

News Union takes dues hits at NYT, WaPo ... The New York Times Co laid off 100 employees on Thursday and cut salaries for the rest of the year by 5 percent, and said it might cut newsroom jobs at its namesake newspaper if it cannot get union employees to agree to a similar cut. The news, which the Times released in two memos from company executives, comes on the same day rival newspaper The Washington Post said it wants to buy out an unspecified number of employees. Both papers are suffering from a decline in advertising revenue. The Times's parent company is dealing with a heavy debt load and running an expensive news operation. The Washington Post is operating in the red. (reuters.com)

Racial discrimination guides pro-union construction laws ... Welders, bricklayers and other construction workers under the U.S. government's $787 billion stimulus law would earn significantly higher wages in some areas than crews on private, non-stimulus projects. Wage rules in the law are a potential bonus to workers' wallets but they're upsetting contractors who say it will increase their costs and reduce the numbers of projects that can be funded. Tucked within the 407-page law is a requirement that laborers and mechanics employed on government stimulus projects be paid "prevailing wages," which is defined as the salary and fringe benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area. The prevailing wage is usually on par with union wages and higher than the average wages for the same category of employees in the same county. For bricklayers in Madison, for example, the "prevailing wage" is $30.61 per hour but the average bricklayer there earns $25.77 per hour, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Working 40 hours per week over one year, a bricklayer under the prevailing wage would earn $10,000 more. The prevailing wage for cement workers is $29.78 per hour in Madison, compared to the average cement worker wages there of just $20.80 per hour — an annual difference of $18,678. Major U.S. government construction projects have required contractors to pay prevailing wages since 1931, but the Labor Department has acknowledged that the stimulus law will apply the same wage standard to certain projects that previously weren't covered. It plans to release new instructions but hasn't said when that might happen. (google.com)

Oklahoma GOP smacks down D.C. union organizers ... The state House weighed in Thursday on a federal measure on certifying unions. Senate Concurrent Resolution 8 urges Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, said discussion was a waste of time because all seven in the state’s congressional delegation said they oppose the measure. The so-called "card check” legislation would let a bargaining unit, such as a union, be formed if more than 50 percent of workers sign cards. Now, if more than 30 percent sign cards, the National Labor Relations Board schedules a secret-ballot vote. No secret-ballot election would be required under the Employee Free Choice Act. "I believe it is a fundamental right to cast a secret ballot in this country, and I praise our state’s federal delegation for trying to uphold that right,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, a professed ex-union member. The nonbinding resolution, which earlier passed the Senate, won House approval, 56-33. Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, called the resolution a publicity stunt. A former union member, Morrissette said injuries occurred on that job and without the union, "most people would have been cast aside like today’s trash.” (newsok.com)

Carpenters protest against oppressive non-union labor ... About 60 union carpenters took to the sidewalks of Tacoma and Ruston on Thursday to protest two companies they said are paying less than standard union wages and benefits. For about three hours, members of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters marched outside the Point Ruston development off Ruston Way protesting Rain City Contractors Inc. of Lakewood, which worked at the project last year. The carpenters then moved to the equipment yard for Berg Equipment and Scaffolding at 19th and East D streets on the Tideflats. They waved signs, rang bells and banged on drums for about an hour. (thenewstribune.com)

Mine Worker goons remembered ... Emotions ran deep in Pennsylvania's coal regions after the murders of United Mine Workers reformer Joseph ''Jock'' Yablonski and his wife and daughter -- inside their Clarksville, Pa., home, in the dead of night, by killers hired by UMW officials. Because of that, the trial of one accused killer, UMW President W.A. ''Tony'' Boyle, was moved away from coal fields to the Philadelphia suburb of Media. I worked in the Philly bureau of The Associated Press at the time (1974) and was assigned to cover that sensational trial. To this day, I think Boyle was innocent of those murders. He was a crook, to be sure, but other UMW officials had more reason to kill Yablonski and got deals in return for testifying against him. Boyle had a dreadful lawyer, however, and the prosecutor was the brilliant and ruthless Richard Sprague, who more recently has represented notable casino owner Louis DeNaples. In any case, Boyle died in prison 11 years later. More to the point (in view of today's main debate over unions) is the story of how the UMW became so corrupt in those days, when union bosses were able to rig elections involving mine workers or (in Boyle's case) even former workers. (mcall.com)

International Collectivism

Venezuelans bristle under communist dictatorship ... State governors and municipal mayors allied with the opposition declared themselves in “emergency and resistance” in protest against President Hugo Chávez’ use of the recently reformed Decentralization Law to order military takeovers of ports and other public facilities in several states. The states involved are largely under opposition control. Pablo Pérez, governor of one of them -- Zulia, in west Venezuela -- said the aim was to demand “respect for and abidance with the constitution.” Chávez’ critics claim the new reforms go directly against the grain of the original Decentralization Law. Acción Democrática leader Henry Ramos Allup said the opposition expected to have a meeting with Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to give him “proof” of what was going on in Venezuela. The opposition has embarked on a strategy aimed at drawing the attention of the international community to what they perceive as Chávez’ increasingly excessive abuse of presidential power. (laht.com)

Trouble in Workers' Paradise ... Tension is building on the labor front as employees in Venezuela’s state sector digest the implications of the economic measures announced by President Hugo Chávez amid the annual round of negotiations on collective bargaining agreements. Teachers at state schools across the country staged a 24-hour national strike on Wednesday, though there were widely varying claims as to its success afterwards. (laht.com)

Chávez: Destiny smacks down militant unionists ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called a huge failure the efforts by the opposition to paralyze the educational system for 24 hours via a strike called by the Colegio de Profesores. Chávez denounced that the strategy is part of a much more ambitious plan of the middle classes and the national oligarchy, which is to create a parallel government. He noted that the counterrevolutionary operation had received a major defeat and that for the future of the country “we are those destined to win and they are destined to lose.” Since 1998, the Venezuelan government has increased the teachers salaries by nearly six fold, which multiplies now with the 20 percent increase of the minimum wage announced last Saturday by Chávez, reports Prensa Latina. (periodico26.cu)
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