Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

by Liberty Chick

If you want to take a pulse on the political vibe in this country, one need only look at Wisconsin.  The state has become the barometer for judging not just the public’s appetite for political battle, but the competitive landscape as well.  The spotlight on anything that has six degrees of separation from a Koch brother has been great drama for Wisconsin’s ongoing soap opera, but audiences in the state and nationwide might get a better show by turning their attention leftward.  Few have examined the strange pattern of money and favor trading that’s been pervading Wisconsin’s beloved circle of progressive politics.

The activity in Wisconsin over the last few months becomes crucially pertinent as the state gears up for the 2012 Wisconsin Senate race.  It’s worth looking at the financial innards  of the Supreme Court race and the protests against Governor Scott Walker in order to assess what the fight for the Wisconsin Senate seat, soon to be vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, will look like.  What many don’t realize is that this race could have broader implications – not just in national politics, but in specific policy areas, like health care and your personal medical records, for example.  Lots of money, fueled by liberal business interests and an ever-growing progressive movement in Wisconsin, has already been freely flowing.

But is anyone watching? Who are some of these donors?

Let’s start by looking back at the recent Wisconsin protests and the Supreme Court election, and then dissecting some of the money trail.

The hostility stemmed from the union reform bill signed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on March 11th as a stand-alone portion of the overall budget repair bill.

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[original post 9/11/2010]

In the six days that followed the attacks on September 11th, the New York Stock Exchange was closed for the first and longest time ever since the Great Depression and World War I.  The markets would reopen on September 17th, but to quite a rocky start.  During the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the heartbeat of our nation’s economy stopped, suspended in time.  And a forgotten class of Wall Street workers faced the difficult decision of whether or not to return to work. Those who did would return to a completely different world, one that had already changed them forever.  And today, nine years later, many of them are still there.  In a polarized political environment where the bad behavior of a few has unfairly demonized all of Wall Street’s workers, their contributions to our post-9/11 recovery have been largely ignored.  But had these workers made the choice back in 2001 never to return again, what might have happened?  This is one story, out of many, of the courage, determination and dignity of an entire class of forgotten patriots who stood by their country in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001 when it would have been so easy to simply walk away.

 

Nine years ago, my brother Will was working for a Wall Street brokerage firm just steps away from what is now known as Ground Zero.  His office building overlooked Trinity Church on one side and the World Trade Center on the other.  Just on the other side of the river, near his home in Hoboken, NJ, he boarded the PATH train every day, bound for the bustling station at the World Trade Center.  Like so many others, he went to work on September 11th thinking that day would be just like any other.

Just before 8:46 am as Will was settling into his day with his co-workers, a loud, screeching sound of shearing metal boomed just outside their building.  He looked up at the trading desk manager, and both were stunned.  Will thought it might be a high rise construction accident; the desk manager suspected an explosion.

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[original post 8/17/2010]

obamamural460

A stinging report was issued yesterday by Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The report, titled “Analysis of the First Year of the Obama Administration: Public Relations and Propaganda Initiatives,” outlines a host of propaganda activities conducted by the Obama administration at the direct expense of the American taxpayers.  It notes in part,

“The Obama Administration frequently used federal resources to promote the President’s agenda. In many cases, the Administration relied on the reach and resources of federal agencies and their personnel to promote certain of the President’s favorite programs. The White House also leveraged ties to the arts and entertainment community to embed propaganda in the content of television programming and artwork. These propaganda efforts violated appropriations riders and federal law prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for publicity or propaganda purposes.”

“The White House also used its inherent visibility advantages to multiply the effectiveness of websites containing misleading and controversial information. The White House used its resources to push visitors to websites that urge grassroots activism based on false and misleading information. The President’s right to sell his policy recommendations to Congress and the public is not disputed; however, using the resources of the federal government to activate a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign is an abuse of office and a betrayal of the President’s pledge to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”

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[original post 7/24/2010]

Andy Stern has just gained yet another job.  Earlier this month, Stern also accepted a position on the Board of Directors for SIGA, a producer of anti-viral and biological warfare defense products.

But this job seems to have some policy teeth, with a think-tank title akin to Media Matters or the Center for American Progress, and it comes with perhaps some welcome company as well.

andy-stern-091231

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union, is joining Georgetown University’s public policy school as a research fellow.

Stern, 59, retired in May after building his union into one of the largest in the labor movement and increasing his own influence with President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers.

Stern will coordinate research at Washington-based Georgetown on wage reform, labor policy and retirement security, according to an announcement on the school’s website.

Stern of course maintains his position as an adviser on Obama’s deficit-reduction commission, a post to which Obama appointed him in February of this year.

This announcement comes only weeks after the announcement that Ed Montgomery, who has been serving in the White House as both a member of President Obama’s Task Force on the Auto Industry and as the Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, will leave the Obama administration to take over as Dean of Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute.  As very active leaders in the labor movement, both Mr. Montgomery and Andy Stern certainly know one another, and have shared visits at the White House for such activities as Obama’s White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth.

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[original post 4/12/2010]

stern

According to Ben Smith of Politico, Andy Stern, longtime President of the Service Employees International Union, is rumored to be resigning from his position. From the Politico post:

Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern, one of America’s most prominent labor leaders, is set to resign, according to a member of the union’s board and another SEIU official.

The President of an SEIU local based in Seattle, Diane Sosne, broke the news to her staffers at 11:35 this morning, local time.

“Last night I received confirmation that Andy Stern is resigning as President of SEIU. He has not yet made a public announcement; we will share the details as we become aware of them,” Sosne wrote in an email obtained by POLITICO.

Sosne offered no explanation for the move, but another SEIU official speculated that Stern had finally tired of the draining job.

Read the entire Politico post here.

Hmmmm…I’d speculate differently. Here are my top guesses:

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[original post 2/1/2010]

Ten minutes prior to the start of a December 15th, 2009 board meeting of the Riverside Community College District in California, board members are handed a 52-page document filled with millions of dollars in projects to be funded by the district’s taxpayers, who themselves are struggling under the state’s 12.4% unemployment rate.  The document, a draft Project Labor Agreement (PLA), will commit long-term construction and ancillary projects for the next several years to labor unions.

At least twenty-three members of the public, many of them local private business owners who oppose the PLA, have attended to publicly comment on the proposal.  Two of the board members have never even seen the PLA prior to today, and have asked for a special session to review it.  Despite opposition from the public, and the concern voiced by those two board members, the remaining three board members have moved that the Board of Trustees authorize Chancellor Greg Gray to negotiate the final PLA with the Riverside and San Bernardino Building and Construction Trade Councils. Board Trustees Virginia Blumenthal and Janet Green dissented.

riverside-ca

So, without adequate time for all to review the draft, without any backup analysis provided to justify the use of up to $350,000,000 in Measure C taxpayer funds, without giving the public reasonable time to voice their opinions, and with an unemployment rate of over 12% when non-union workers are in even greater need of jobs than union workers…why would three of Riverside’s five board members vote to move forward with a final negotiation anyway? Why the rush? Residents and business owners in Riverside are wondering the same thing, and hope to have the chance to weigh in before the PLA’s final draft is signed.

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[original post 12/4/2009]

As President Obama concludes his first jobs summit, almost a year into his presidency, the nature of the guest list hints at a deliberate initiative that’s been underway for over 15 years – and it’s not one of the obvious presumptions that most would make.  Notice that of the list of leaders invited, the majority are labor union leaders, leaders of businesses with government contracts, or leaders of businesses that operate on partial public funding.  There is a common element across most of the businesses represented:  in one capacity or another, even if they are private sector businesses, most on the list benefit from some form of public money.

There is a legal precedent over 15 years old that is the pervasive push behind such a premise, one that was the product of ACORN and labor union coalitions.  And judging by Change to Win / SEIU’s Anna Burger’s plan for today’s jobs summit, it’s evident that this precedent is in play as we speak.

aburger

It’s no coincidence that in the wake of America’s economic crisis, some lawmakers have been pushing for infusions of public funds into the private sector.  No, we’re not just talking bank and insurance company bailouts. We’re talking about tax credit and incentive programs, health care reform proposals, green jobs programs, energy efficiency initiatives,  and even real estate development companies.  As the conservative accusations of socialism have begun to sink in with progressive leaders -especially with union leaders, who are especially sensitive to being perceived as public spenders – the language has been changing.  Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” doesn’t sound so scary when it’s wrapped in the glove of words like “co-ops” and “public-private partnerships” and “national service”, which are now quickly being mainstreamed into the rhetoric.

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[original post 11/17/2009]

Throughout the debate over health care reform, there has been a great deal of discussion over the role of special interests in influencing the votes of lawmakers. Liberal democrats, progressive think tanks and mainstream media have repeatedly accused anyone who opposes government run health care of standing with special interests instead of with needy Americans, painting them as greedy and selfish. And now that a bill has passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate, big government proponents of a ‘public option’ are already attacking their fellow Democrats’ own bill, insisting that it may as well have been written by special interests.

Funny they should mention that. Because, just like the stimulus bill, it was written by special interests.

laborPACdonations1b

While it’s true that Republicans certainly receive their fair share of donations from the health industry, the surprising truth is that Democrats actually receive more.  Because there’s one giant special interest sector that everyone seems to be leaving out:  Big Labor.  And in the monarchy of labor these days,  there is one queen that’s at the top of the money chain, and that’s the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the top billing union in its parent coalition, Change to Win. Especially when it comes to the issue of health care.

Let’s start first by breaking down the numbers.

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