Thursday wrap

SEIU captives: We'll never get what we can unless we get out ... Labor's version of "Divorce Court" logs a rare episode this week as a small group of state workers decides whether to dump California's biggest public employee union. The state sent ballots Wednesday to about 600 librarians and educational consultants that make up tiny Bargaining Unit 21. They will decide whether to stick with Service Employees International Union Local 1000, switch to a newly formed union or go with no representation at all. (State government deals with 21 union-represented bargaining units when negotiating contracts. SEIU now represents nine, including Bargaining Unit 21.) The Association of Education Consultants and Librarians, which hopes to take over for SEIU, pushed for the vote. "We'll never get what we can unless we get out," said Monte Blair, a state worker who founded the new union. (sacbee.com)

GM-UAW Puts U.S. on the Road to Fascism ... In our country's history, there have been some limited instances of the federal government exercising some sort of control over private industry, but that was during wartime. The current assault on American capitalism by the Obama administration is unprecedented in both its scope and speed and should raise the red flag of alarm for all freedom-loving Americans. World history has shown us that the implementation of strict government controls over private industries has been one of the first steps in the introduction of various forms of Fascism to formerly free countries. The practice of a government taking control of private industries was refined by Benito Mussolini in Italy in the 1920's and it is called 'corporatism.' According to Wikipedia, political scientists use the term 'corporatism' to describe "a practice whereby a state, through the process of licensing and regulating officially-incorporated social, religious, economic, or popular organizations, effectively co-opts their leadership or circumscribes their ability to challenge state authority by establishing the state as the source of their legitimacy, as well as sometimes running them, either directly or indirectly." Mussolini described it more simply when he said, "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." (newsblaze.com)

Billionaire Leftists Usher in New Prog Era ... Former Colorado state rep. Rob Witwer has an excellent article in National Review on what the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes has dubbed the Colorado Model. The Colorado Model refers to liberal activists’ political strategy to make Colorado safe for Democratic candidates for years to come. The strategy, as Barnes described it, consists of seven different “capacities”: 1) “to generate intellectual ammunition,” 2) “to pursue investigations,” 3) “to mobilize for elections,” 4) to combat media bias, 5) to sue strategically, 6) “to train new leaders,” and 7) “to sustain a presence in the new media.” The Colorado left now has all seven in place, according to Barnes. James Dellinger and I examined the rapid conversion of Colorado from red state to blue state in our most recent profile of George Soros’s Democracy Alliance. (Capital Research Center’s Foundation Watch, December 2008) The left accomplished this transmogrification by pumping millions of dollars into select activist groups and institutions. The money came from the Colorado Democracy Alliance (CoDA), a state-level spinoff of the national Democracy Alliance, a billionaire leftists’ club. (canadafreepress.com)

Socialists applaud forceful French strikers ... Workers at Caterpillar's two plants in Grenoble, France, detained five of their management team in their offices on Tuesday morning and held them until 1 a.m. the next day. The workers have been on strike since Monday. On Monday, and again on Tuesday morning, management boycotted works council meetings called by the unions to discuss a plan involving 733 redundancies out of the workforce of 2,800 at its Grenoble and Echirolles sites. Earlier this year, US-based Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction equipment, announced it would lay off 22,000 workers globally. The French workers took the 5 management personnel hostage in order to force the company to negotiate. (wsws.org)

Ugly, ironic AFL-CIO protest backfires ... In a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Tuesday appearance on the state capitol steps to oppose the "Employee Free Choice Act" or "card check". Joe the Plumber, AKA Joe Wurzelbacher, was jeered and heckled by members of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. The union members were bused in at the order of union president William M. George. A radio on one union bus was deliberately cranked up to try and drown out Wurzelbacher. "Rat! Rat! Rat!" the angry union members yelled as Wurzelbacher attempted to speak. The dramatic event captured local headlines and filled local television screens. It had the ironic impact of vividly underscoring the point opponents have been making of the bill, that removing the secret ballot from workers asked to decide whether they wish to join a union would open them to acts of intimidation. (spectator.org)

Related video: Speech thugs disrupt Joe

Typical outcome to lengthy strike ... Workers at a Chatham County plywood plant will begin going back to work next week after eight months on the picket line. The striking workers at Moncure Plywood agreed Monday night to a new three-year contract with the company, winning many of the concessions they had sought, including shorter workweeks, lower health insurance premiums and seniority rights. But their victory was bittersweet because, in the midst of economic crisis, only 25 of about 110 strikers are guaranteed to get their jobs back. Workers and union officials fear the plant will soon go out of business. "Maybe it's not the victory people had hoped for, but it's a victory," said Charles Raines, 59, who worked 40 years in the plant before going on strike last summer. Company officials say 106 workers remain in the plant, which makes high-quality plywood used mostly in furniture. That's down from more than 200 when the strike began, and 143 just five weeks ago. (newsobserver.com)

Related video: Typical labor-state employee relations

Big Labor intimidation achieving desired effect ... We're told to ignore unprecedented deficit spending, the threat of socializing everything, and believe that everything's going to work out just fine as we blindly meld into one generic class of Americans, with underachievers elevated to mediocrity through entitlement and overachievers reduced to it for being successful. We're told to ignore the potential devaluation of the dollar and the rampant inflation that might conceivably follow as the printing presses crank out, in effect, play money. Other extreme leftist ideological dreams are springing up everywhere like weeds. Consider the Democratic leadership in Congress' plan to unionize American workers through a card-check voting surveillance system. This would allow organizers to intimidate workers into joining up. Why? Because the vote to unionize would be done in a public forum where individual workers are required to show how they voted. If you're a soft-spoken, nonconfrontational person who would normally vote against unionization in private, you might be inclined to change your vote in public if it meant avoiding jeering, harassment and threatening behavior. Unions, which have in most cases become utterly obsolete and are (for example) heavily involved with the bankrupting of the U.S. auto industry, would see to it that individual voting freedoms are lost. And it gets much more complicated than that. But now comes an incredible story from The Wall Street Journal last week involving FedEx, which has threatened to cancel the purchase of $7 billion worth of new Boeing Co. cargo planes if Congress passes a law making it easier for unions to organize at its (FedEx's) facilities! This law, for the sake of simplicity, has nothing to do with card checking, but the outcome would be similar. Ken Hall, director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters package division, accused FedEx of "blackmailing Congress" and "threatening to fire yet another torpedo through an already weak American economy." (postandcourier.com)

Rep. Chris Smith placed on Dirty Money Watch ... WHO: Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (aka card check) WHAT: Smith received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $2,000 in 2008 cycle; $1,000 in 2006 cycle. Boilermakers Union (PAC) $1,000 in 2008. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $10,000 in 2006 election cycle. American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $1,000 in 2008 election cycle; $500 in 2006 election cycle. Service Employees International Union (PAC) $5,000 in 2008 election cycle; $5,000 in 2006 election cycle. WHY IT'S DIRTY: At least eight members of these five unions have been convicted since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy. The Boilermakers have had at least 10 of its members and convicted and the IBEW has had at least 14, while the AFGE has had at least eight convictions and the SEIU has had at least nine convictions. The convictions include theft, fraud and embezzlement offenses. The amounts of embezzled funds range from over $5,000 to over $100,000. WILL SMITH GIVE IT BACK? Smith did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment. (washingtonexaminer.com)

WaPo News Union protects readers from anti-socialism ... Typing in the words "tea party" into a Nexis search of The Washington Post finds nothing about protesters against Obama economic policies in the last six weeks – no coverage of the February 27 rally across from the White House, and no coverage of any other Tea Party across America. But Tuesday’s Washington Post showed you didn’t need large numbers of protesters to get a prominent feature story. The front of the Style section carried a story (complete with three photos) of a protest of "about 50 people" in front of the White House against ... male circumcision. (newsbusters.org)

D.C. socialism nurtured by Big Print bias ... It has become almost amusing, watching how the "news" media are manipulating their own polls to keep the political weather sunny for their hero. The Washington Post kicked off President Obama's European trip with the headline "Blame for Downturn Not Fixed on Obama." Of course, what was "fixed" was the poll itself. So Obama's trying to implement socialism at 120 miles per hour, and with a straight face the Post reported that 62% of those surveyed still see Obama as a "new-style Democrat who will be careful with the public's money," while 32% see him as an "old-style tax-and-spend Democrat." An accurate assessment by the Post would conclude that (a) Obama's accelerated socialist policies make most conservatives pine for the good old days of "tax-and-spend Democrats," and (b) 62% of the public has no idea what is going on in Washington — primarily because they rely on outlets like the Post for their "news." This is one important reason why newspapers are on shaky financial ground. Washington Post readers who are not completely on the Obama bandwagon should see the discrepancies described here and feel completely manipulated. The Post is loading on the bias, coming and going, manipulating the polls after it paints pretty presidential pictures on the front page. (ibdeditorials.com)

Drummond Pike, TIDES, Rathkes cited in NYT dust-up ... In addition to working hard to sabotage the McCain campaign with that scurrilous story, The New York Times skillfully managed what it reported about ACORN, thereby protecting their choice for President, then Senator Obama. What did The New York Times know and when did it know it? What did The New York Times know and when did it know it? Plenty…and well before Election Day 2008. The email exchanged by Anita MonCrief and Stephanie Strom reveal that The New York Times managed what would have been politically explosive news that did not fit The Times’ own agenda: the full extent of the ACORN-Obama relationship. ... The article did not mention ACORN's connection to Obama, but it prompted Ms. MonCrief to contact Ms. Strom, initially using an alias and later identifying herself(as she later did with me in October 2008), and become an unidentified source for Ms. Strom. It was not until August 16, 2008 that a follow up article appeared. That Strom article, titled "Head of Foundation Bailed Out Nonprofit Group After Its Funds Were Embezzled," reported an ACORN announcement that a supporter had agreed to cover the embezzlement loss. That article began: "When the embezzlement of almost $1 million by the brother of the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as Acorn, surfaced last month, the organization announced that an anonymous supporter had agreed to make it whole. That supporter was Drummond Pike, the founder and chief executive of the Tides Foundation, which channels money to what it describes as progressive nonprofits, including some Acorn charitable affiliates. Mr. Pike is a friend of Wade Rathke, the founder of Acorn and its leader until the scandal broke, and he agreed to buy the promissory note that required the Rathke family to repay Acorn the money that Mr. Rathke’s brother, Dale, had stolen." (webcommentary.com)

Financial crisis doesn't go to waste: Union-backed fraud group cited ... It was Jimmy Carter and a Democratic Congress that established the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977 that set in motion the sub-prime loan program through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. It was Bill Clinton who pressured Freddie and Fannie to expand mortgage loans to low-income people and to do away with reasonable lending criteria. It was ACORN and its young, upcoming lawyer Barack H. Obama that pressured banks (especially CitiBank) through bogus lawsuits to further reduce the standards in the mortgage industry. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 1999). It was Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Sen. Chris Dodds, D-Conn., who ignored the warning of SEC regulators and the Bush Administration in 2004 of the pending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac train wreck. With the standards reduced and regulation blocked, the feeding frenzy for the sub-prime mortgage market was on. (visaliatimesdelta.com)

Congress to probe ACORN? Appearances can be deceiving ... The powerful Democrat chairman of the House Judiciary Committee appears to be on the verge of calling for congressional hearings on ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. And if such hearings come to pass, credit a Pittsburgh attorney for engineering his epiphany. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan long had been one of ACORN's most strident supporters. Just last October he chastised the FBI for allegedly leaking word of an investigation of what he called a "well-regarded" organization being attack by the wolf-crying of a "right-wing cottage industry" quick to allege "voter fraud." But Mr. Conyers began singing a different tune after attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, a member of the executive committee of the Republican National Lawyers Association, appeared before a subcommittee last month. She outlined a shocking portrait of ACORN from an organization whistle-blower. Ms. Heidelbaugh failed to obtain an injunction last year against an ACORN voter-petition drive in Pennsylvania. ACORN denies any improprieties. The allegations against ACORN are serious. They range from fraud to collusion to what The Washington Times called "a mob-style 'protection' racket." And they deserve a full and public airing. That such a previously adamant defender of ACORN is indicating he's ready to do just that is encouraging. But we would remind John Conyers that follow-through is everything. (pittsburghlive.com)

Labor-state Machinists go out on strike ... Seventy-five unionized employees of a plant that produces wrenches and other hand tools for customers such as Sears are walking a picket line Wednesday. Members of Local 1356 of the International Association of Machinists at SK Hand Tool Corp. walked off the job at midnight after rejecting a company contract offer. Negotiators for the Chicago-based firm are seeking wage cuts, elimination of dental insurance, greater health care cost-sharing, and reduced vacation time, the union said. "The company’s extreme proposal would eviscerate the collective bargaining agreement," Machinists’ officials alleged in written comments. (toledoblade.com)

35,000 paramedics go out on strike ... Ambulance paramedics have set up picket lines at five locations around British Columbia as they launch a strike to back demands for better wages and working conditions. John Strohmaier, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., says CUPE local 873 members began job action Wednesday morning as their contract with the B.C. Ambulance Service expired. He confirms pickets are up at five main locations, including the provincial and regional headquarters of the B.C. Ambulance Service in Victoria and regional headquarters in Vancouver, Kamloops and Prince George. Essential service legislation ensures ambulances will stay on the road, but the province's 35,000 paramedics will refuse administrative or other duties. (ctvbc.ctv.ca)

LIUNA pickets v. non-union workers ... Laborers International Local 17 began picketing on Broadway on Wednesday, saying the general contractor of a $12.1 million makeover of the street isn’t using local union labor. Around dawn, several union workers from Sullivan County showed up with signs that say “Unfair to Laborers,” and are picketing at two ends of the street. Binghamton-based FAHS Construction Group was the low bidder in the Department of Transportation-led job, which is being paid for by federal and state funds. “I would rather be working here,” said Duane Staten, of Monticello. He said he has spent the past four years getting training through the Laborers apprenticeship program, but hasn’t worked since December. Laborers 17 President Todd Diorio said he’s had several conversations with FAHS company representatives. FAHS has done several projects in the area, Diorio said, including the recent DOT Route 42 makeover in the town of Thompson. “They have made a lot of promises that they didn’t deliver for local labor,” Diorio said. “As of right now, they have no local laborers on the project and they don’t have a collective bargaining agreement with Local 17.” (recordonline.com)

Union-dues embezzler awaits typical wrist-slap ... The former bookkeeper of the International Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), Local 26, was found guilty today of federal charges of embezzling union funds, with the evidence showing that she stole more than $100,000 from the union. Rosa Della Porta, 44, of Highland Park, was found guilty following a 6½-day trial of one count of embezzlement of union funds. Following the reading of the jury’s verdict, United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez remanded Porta into custody, saying that the defendant would “say and do anything” to avoid the consequences of her actions. Della Porta was indicted by a federal grand jury last August for embezzling funds from ILWU Local 26 starting in August 2003 and continuing into June 2006. As the union's longtime bookkeeper, Della Porta was responsible for receiving union dues and other cash payments, and making bank deposits. During the trial, the government presented evidence that Della Porta frequently deposited less cash than the union received, concealing the embezzlement by creating two different deposit slips for the same transaction. The deposit slips presented to the bank frequently showed far less cash than the deposit slips kept in the union’s records. Judge Gutierrez is scheduled to sentence Della Porta on August 3, at which time she faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. (lawfuel.com)

Cement Union workers' mini-strike brings oppressive employer to heel ... A short labor strike Wednesday had pickets up at the Truman Sports Complex, shutting down work there for a few hours. But by evening hopes rose again that agreements would be reached to allow work to continue as the Kansas City Royals prepare for opening day and an open house this Sunday. Cement Masons Local 518 initiated pickets Wednesday morning, surprising some local officials who had cheered news Tuesday night that the carpenters’ union had settled before midnight. The concern had been that their negotiations might fail and shut down work at the stadiums, where more than $600 million in renovations are under way. (kansascity.com)

Workers abused by labor unions get free legal aid ... The non-profit National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is dedicated to providing free legal aid to employees that have had their rights violated by compulsory unionism. Their mission is to affirm “the right of every American to work for a living without being compelled to belong to a union.” The foundation strongly believes that compulsory unionism goes against Americans’ basic rights. The foundation argues cases involving unions taking workers’ money to spend on political causes, union violations of employees’ constitutional and civil rights, union interference in academic freedom, and any other union infringement of the individual rights of employees. Right to Work is an organization that mobilizes groups of people that believe in worker’s rights and individual freedom. Mix believes that the strength of the organization lies in its ability to “focus on grassroots” and “mobilize Americans.” (humanevents.com)

International Collectivism

Communist payoff revelation triggers Caracas crack-down ... National Assembly (AN) president Cilia Flores says the legislature has sent a request to the public prosecutor to investigate who whistle-blew salary details on Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) leader Oscar Figuera, broadcast on the opposition-led 24/7 television news channel Globovision. The details showed that Figuera got Bs.F 10,700 = $4,976 a month (Bs.F 128,400 = $59,720 per annum) on a basic salary of Bs.F 4,506($2,095) plus allowances and benefits. Flores says that the informant's identity has not been made public to protect him/her from public ridicule and/or criminal charges since they must have impersonated Figuera to steal his information as well as that of other political figures. She says "we know who they are and we will take appropriate action... The prosecutor must first establish criminal responsibility for the theft of the information ... we have already taken administrative action at the National Assembly (AN). In the interim, Flores has ordered a ban on opposition television cameras at the National Assembly (AN) precincts in Caracas ... the action is now the subject of a protest supported by the National College of Journalists (CNP) and demonstrators who have gathered at the gates of the parliament building. (vheadline.com)

Rainbow Tour: Chávez boosts Darfur genocide perp ... While the U.S. president took the limelight in London in the buildup to the G20 summit, two of his country's most outspoken opponents - the presidents of Iran and Venezuela - met in Tehran for talks. Hugo Chávez, after arriving on Wednesday in the Iranian capital on a two-day visit to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and top officials, told reporters: "Arriving in Tehran for us is like arriving at our own home." Chávez flew to Tehran from Qatar, where he attended a summit of Latin American and Arab countries. Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reported that Chávez had met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, and invited him to visit Caracas. However, Chávez has yet to comment on the international media storm created on Wednesday by a blog post from Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza, the reigning Miss Universe. In her post on the pageant's website, Mendoza recounted in glowing terms her recent trip to the notorious U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, which her president considers to be an illegal entity that must be returned to Cuba. Mendoza described how she "visited the Detainees camps" and "saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting." She goes on to say her tour was "a loooot of fun!" and that "I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful." (en.rian.ru)

Chávez: Give me Gitmo detainees ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has said that his country “would have no problems in receiving” prisoners released from the detention centre for suspected terrorists at the US navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba “We wouldn’t have any problem receiving a human being,” Chávez said in a phone-in interview program on Qatar-based Al Jazeera television Wednesday. The Venezuelan president, however, added that so far, his country has not been asked to assist in efforts to close the detention center at Guantanamo. Chávez, who travelled to Qatar for a summit of Arab and South American nations, expressed hope that new US president, Barack Obama, would release all the prisoners at Guantanamo “and return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba and do away with that miserable prison.” In the 90-minute interview, Chávez mentioned, among other people, Karl Marx, Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela and Mao Zedong. (thaindian.com)

Barack-Hugo go-between revealed ... Education journalist Sol Stern had this to say last October: 'Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for ‘the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.’ Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that ‘Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,’ and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: ‘Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!’ (examiner.com)

Historic monument to Lenin vandalized, to be restored ... A towering bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin was badly damaged Wednesday when a bomb exploded near the St. Petersburg train station where he gave a speech upon returning from exile in April 1917, months before the Bolshevik Revolution. Nobody was injured in the explosion on the square near Finlandsky Station, which occurred at about 4:30 a.m., police spokesman Vyacheslav Stepchenko said. He said the bomb had the power of about 400 grams of dynamite. The 10-meter statue, erected on Nov. 7, 1926, is one of the first examples of monumental Soviet architecture and escaped damage during the 900-day siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany during World War II. The statue will be dismantled Wednesday night and sent away for restoration, which is expected to cost 6 million to 8 million rubles ($17,300 to $23,500), St. Petersburg City Hall said a statement. The Communist Party denounced the explosion as "a politically charged act of vandalism," RIA-Novosti reported. State Duma Deputy Valery Rashkin, a Communist, said the blast might be an attempt to punish his party for its critical stance of the government during the financial crisis. "I am not ruling out that this was a kind of provocation for our criticism of authorities, an attempt to distract attention from the present-day conditions," he told RIA-Novosti. (themoscowtimes.com)

Chávez pays tribute to Iran ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez arrived in Iran Wednesday for talks with officials on bilateral issues. Reports say he is expected to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday as well as launch a joint development bank and bilateral investment fund. Mr. Chávez' visit to Iran follows a meeting with Latin American and Arab leaders in Qatar. The Venezuelan president has made several trips to Iran since Mr. Ahmadinejad took power in 2005. Both leaders have forged close ties. Later this week, Mr. Chávez heads to Asia for talks with regional leaders. (voanews.com)
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