Dec. 8, 2009
The American Spectator
During the first year of the Obama administration, conservatives have directed much of their fire on the major legislation the president is pushing through Congress. This concern is justifiable, as Democrats are moving bills aimed at taking over the nation’s health care system, creating a national energy tax to limit carbon emissions, and enabling unions to rapidly add members by denying workers a secret ballot on unionization.
But as critical as it is for the right to expose the damaging consequences of such major legislation, conservatives must not lose sight of the fact that there is more than one way for the president to impose his vision on the country. Each day, throughout the executive branch, presidentially appointed bureaucrats who remain unknown to most Americans make decisions that have consequences for the entire nation. And in President Obama’s case, his appointments serve as a plan B, allowing him to realize the parts of his agenda that he is unable to enact through the legislative process. In some instances, Obama’s more radical appointees have withdrawn or resigned once their extreme views have come to light. One prominent example is Van Jones, who was forced to resign as the White House “green jobs czar” after the revelations that he once described himself as a communist and that he signed a petition of a group that raised questions about whether the Sept. 11 attacks were an inside job. Yet many other troubling Obama appointees have escaped major scrutiny. Some have had their nominations stalled in the Senate, while others are already hard at work implementing liberal policies.
“This administration is moving very quickly on the appointment side of things to put people in place that, because of the regulation state that has built up over the past 40 years, will have within their realm the power to affect every area of this country without our elected representatives having so much of a say in it,” Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government, told TAS. Wilson, whose group has been closely tracking Obama’s appointments, specifically highlighted labor and environmental policy as among the most worrisome areas.
Obama gave the first indication that he planned on handsomely rewarding unions for the role they played in getting him elected when he named California Rep. Hilda Solis to be secretary of labor. Solis was first elected to Congress in 2000 as a union candidate, and as a member of the House of Representatives from 2001 until her appointment this year, she racked up perfect or near perfect vote ratings from every major union. She also served as treasurer of American Rights at Work, a pro-labor group that maintained the “Shame on Elaine” attack website aimed at her predecessor, Elaine Chao. And shortly after being confirmed, she went to work reversing many of Chao’s policies to the benefit of her union allies.
While liberals look at the agency as an entity that only regulates businesses, under the leadership of Secretary Chao from 2001 through January 2009, the Labor Department also took its responsibility of regulating unions seriously. Chao beefed up the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), which polices unions, and during this time, the division’s actions led to 929 convictions of corrupt union officials and to the recovery of more than $93 million on behalf of union members. Yet shortly after Solis was sworn in as the new secretary of labor, the Obama administration announced its intention to slash the OLMS budget by more than 9 percent, while at the same time boosting the budgets of the divisions tasked with regulating businesses. As a result, corrupt union bosses will have a much freer hand with which to bilk their members.
BUT THIS IS JUST a small part of Obama’s efforts to use the Department of Labor to pay back unions. He also tapped two women with close ties to unions — Patricia Smith and Lorelei Boylan — for other top positions within the department. While working for the New York State Department of Labor, Smith and Boylan spearheaded a controversial program in which the state partners with unions and other liberal community groups to police workplaces.
“Just as no one wants to live in an area riddled with crime, nobody wants to live in a neighborhood where workers are paid sweatshop wages,” Smith said when announcing the program in January 2009. “New York Wage Watch will increase labor law compliance by giving regular people a formal role in creating lawful workplaces statewide, and thereby improving the quality of life in their communities. It will also help law-abiding employers, who struggle to compete with businesses that undercut them by violating the law.”
But in practice empowering “regular people” actually means that the government is deputizing unions to help police workplaces.
“New York Wage Watch is labor law enforcement at the purest, most grassroots level,” boasted Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, in the press release announcing the program.
Boylan, who runs the initiative, was nominated by Obama to head the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division, but her nomination was withdrawn in October. Smith, who actually devised the Wage Watch program in New York, was appointed by Obama to be solicitor of labor. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) placed her nomination on hold, meaning that Democrats will need 60 votes to move it forward. Her status was still in limbo as of this writing.
Even more worrisome for the American business community is President Obama’s attempt to pack the National Labor Relations Board with union lawyers who would make rulings that would achieve many of the same results as labor-friendly legislation. The most obvious example of such legislation is the Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The bill’s two major provisions would deny workers a secret ballot in voting on whether to unionize, and force employers into binding arbitration proceedings when negotiating contracts with unions. To this date, Republicans have succeeded in preventing EFCA from becoming law, but the bill’s legislative fate may not even matter if Obama gets several controversial nominees to the labor panel confirmed.
Currently, there are only two members on the five-member NRLB — one is a Republican and the other a Democrat. To tilt the balance of the board, Obama tapped two union lawyers (Craig Becker and Mark Pearce). He also appointed a Republican Senate staffer, Brian E. Hayes, in hopes it would dissuade Republican senators from blocking the other two.
Becker, a longtime labor activist, is the associate general counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The left-wing magazine In These Times wrote that he “helped lay the intellectual foundation for the Employee Free Choice Act.” More relevantly, he wrote a law review article arguing that the major aims of EFCA could be achieved through rulings by the regulatory body to which Obama has appointed him.
“This is somebody who has announced ahead of time that he thinks he can do much of the left’s agenda through the regulatory process,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in an interview with TAS. “It’s one thing for him to say he intends to do something, but when you look at it, where are the guardrails? Who says he can’t? Who slaps him down?”
Norquist said that if Becker were confirmed, all that would need to happen would be for somebody to file a complaint arguing that the unionization process at a particular business was unfair, and the union-friendly board could decide in the person’s favor and set rules for unionization and collective bargaining along the lines of what is prescribed by EFCA.
Canada Free Press
By Dennis Jones Sunday, December 6, 2009
In the business world most executives get an annual performance evaluation that reviews the past year’s accomplishments or shortcomings and compares them to previously agreed upon goals and accountabilities. As 2009 draws to a close, the following is a recap and review that President Obama might receive for his performance over the past year starting with his previous experience:
Prior Relevant Experience
- 3 years in the US Senate (two spent running for President) – no major legislation authored, only credit taken for legislation introduced by others.
- 7 years in the Illinois state senate, a part-time calling that allowed him to serve as a part-time law professor.
- Three years as a “community organizer”.
Selected Domestic Policy Accomplishments
- Tripled the budget deficit to $1.4 Trillion (daily interest on the national debt is now over a billion dollars a day).
- Pushed for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the pork-laden Stimulus of $787 billion that he personally promised would keep unemployment from rising over 8%. In fact, unemployment been over 8% since the ARRA was passed in February and in the 10% range every month since August.
- Championed ill-conceived Cap and Trade legislation based on faulty and fraudulent science.¬† If passed, this legislation would amount to a substantial tax on every American and severely crimp the economy.
- Made health care the number one issue in America and socialized medicine the country’s priority when polls reflect that it is not the first priority of Americans.¬† Meanwhile 8 million jobs have been lost in the worst economic slump since the great depression, Iran and North Korea are accelerating their nuclear programs uncontested and both federal and many state budget deficits are unsustainable.
- Agreed to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, found by the 9/11 Commission Report to be the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, and four other terrorists legal protection and potential not guilty verdicts via a civil trial nearby the site of the attacks.
Selected Foreign Policy Accomplishments
- Failed to get Russia to agree to sanction Iran for its nuclear programs at a cost of selling out Eastern Europe and giving up the anti-ballistic US missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic
- Apologized for America and expressed solidarity with Muslims in his Cairo speech during his four nation trip to the Middle East and Europe. “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism—it is an important part of promoting peace,” he said.
- Schmoozed with dictators Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega at the 34-country Summit of the Americas and again apologized for America: “We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations.”
- Accomplished absolutely nothing on his recent trip to Asia widely panned by the media of both the US and Asia.
- Pondered what to do in Afghanistan for 100 days and then committed more troops. General McChrystal advised him to commit more troops in his one five-minute meeting with Obama three months ago.
Miscellaneous Selected Accomplishments in Random Order:
- Ceded the most power to unelected officials in history creating he largest number of Czars, not elected and not confirmed by Congress, ever.¬† Their qualifications will be another column.
- Changed the image of the US from strength to weakness by his high profile bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia, to Vladimir Putin and to the Japanese Emperor.
- Scolded CEO’s for travel expenses then took Mrs. Obama to a Broadway show via presidential jet.
- Failed to bring the Olympics to Chicago after a very public personal effort.¬† Both he and Mrs. Obama jetted off to Copenhagen, on separate jets, in a highly visible lobbying trip that was unconvincing to the Olympic committee.
- Won the Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing precisely nothing.
- Sold a flight on Air Force One that over-flew Manhattan and panicked the city.
- Gave high-profile thoughtless gifts, an Ipod to the Queen of England and to Prime Minister Gordon Brown a box of 25 DVD’s of classic American movies.¬† In contrast, the Prime Minister gave Mr. Obama a very thoughtful and symbolic gift—an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet that complemented the oak from the Gannet’s sister ship, HMS Resolute, carved to make a desk that has sat in the Oval Office in the White House since 1880.
- Achieved a record number of cabinet picks that subsequently withdrew due to tax other ethics problems.
- Building a cabinet with the least amount of private sector experience since 1900. Less than 10% of the cabinet members have private sector experience.
- Met with Andy Stern, President of Big Labor’s SEIU 7 times in a record 22 visits (the most frequent visitor according to white house logs) after pledging to keep lobbyists out of the White House.
Summary of Performance:
- Performance generally unsatisfactory.
- Ineffective, lacks leadership skills and experience.
- Has difficulty focusing on agreed-upon priorities.
- Not fiscally responsible or able to adhere to a budget.
- Exhibits poor judgment when dealing with peers and colleagues.
- Not suitable for rehire.
There’s a new picture of Obama that’s sticking in my mind, like a song that keeps playing in your head (the one that keeps playing for me this week is “Empire State of Mind,” especially the lines by Alicia Keys).
In this mental picture of Obama, he’s crunched down in a tiny cockpit and wearing oversized Kamikaze goggles.
His plane is completely coming apart, pieces flying off in all directions, and he’s stepping on the gas, going faster and faster with that big million-dollar smile fixed on his face like everything’s cool.
That picture first popped into my mind when the survey from Gallup on Obama’s crashing poll numbers showed that his approval rating among whites has dropped to 39 percent (down from 61 percent in February) and the White House simultaneously announced that Obama will be flying off to Europe to pick up his peace prize and stopping in Copenhagen to vow that the United States will cut its greenhouse emissions by nearly 20 percent over the next 10 years.
Given the administration’s job-killing agenda, Obama might well be able to more than accomplish that energy-cutting goal without adding a single windmill.
With unemployment already at 10.2 percent (actually 17.5 percent by the government’s own numbers, counting “discouraged” workers who’ve quit looking for a job and counting part-timers seeking full-time), and the economy still losing a quarter million jobs per month, and 2.9 million jobs lost since Obama signed the $787 billion non-stimulating stimulus bill into law in February, the administration’s economic agenda is basically a suicide mission that treats job creation like cigarettes — something to discourage through increased regulations, more central controls and higher taxation.
The basic Law of Demand principle in Economics-101 shows that consumers purchase less of something when the price goes up, and it’s no different with employers and entrepreneurs when they’re deciding on how much labor to purchase or how many jobs to create through business expansion or new start-ups.
So how can Obama maintain that economic recovery and more jobs will be delivered through his administration’s agenda of higher costs on business by way of carbon taxes, higher energy prices for consumers and employers, the cancellation of secret ballots for workers in union-organizing drives, mandated hikes in the minimum wage, higher payroll taxes on business to fund proposed health care mandates, a new surtax of 5 points on the incomes of the nation’s key job creators, a higher inheritance tax that directly drains capital from the small business sector that’s creating most of the new jobs in the economy, and a 69 percent increase in the tax on capital gains, all of which are clear disincentives to new investment and job creation?
It’s either a complete lack of understanding of even the basics in freshmen economics or a refusal to accept the reality of how the world works, a blind devotion to what’s been proven to be a failed ideology, a Kamikaze mission, a last ditch effort to intentionally go down in flames as a spotless devotee of statism and collectivism.
So off he’ll fly, picking up a peace prize and vowing to obey international directives that will diminish America’s sovereignty and economic growth. Totally ignoring the recent disclosures on how climate researchers have trumped up global warming numbers and plotted to crush dissent, he will advocate a global redistribution of wealth scheme in which the United States, already $12 trillion in the hole, will send hundreds of billions to the world’s poorest countries in order to green up a planet that’s already cooling. And so it’ll be windmills for Ethiopia and a redistribution of American wealth on a global scale while the official arbiters of climate science continue to rig the warming “consensus” by silencing their critics by way of organized disparagement and exclusion from publication in peer-reviewed journals.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Obama pledged that his administration would “base our public policies on the soundest science” and be “open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions.”
The Steady Drip pubished
John Armor practiced law in the U.S. Supreme Court for 33 years, and is currently the counsel for the American Civil Rights Union, whose website is at: http://www.theacru.org. He lives now in Highlands, N. Carolina, and is working on a book about Thomas Paine. View all articles by John Armor
From Our Writers:
It has been almost a year that little Barry What’s-His-Name, the Kenyan-Indonesian-African-American lad has been going to school as President of the United States. This is an interim Report Card to his political parents, the voters of the United States.
English Comprehension: Barry has the more extraordinary ability to speak in English than all but a small handful of students who have ever attended this school. However, this ability to speak in complete sentences, using words that seem appropriate to the subject at hand, is coupled with a near total lack of content in those speeches. A+ for delivery, F for content. As Benjamin Franklin observed, “Here comes the Orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.”
Social Studies: With Barry’s approval, one of his confederates, Little Harry Reid, spent $300 million to purchase the one-time services of Little Mary Landrieu to vote yes to put the Health Care Bill on the floor in the Senate. But, it turned out that Little Mary thought it was only $100 million. They paid 200% more than Little Mary was willing to go for. ”C” for sizing up the situation. ”F” for acting appropriately. As Oscar Wilde said, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”
Science: The very week that internal documents in a British university surface, showing that the scientists who most support global warming have falsified their data, Little Barry decides to take part in a meeting that assumes that those false data are true. Barry and his selected playmates persist in the view that science is decided by the number of scientists who hold a particular view, rather than which scientist has a theory which best fits the observed facts. ”F” for comprehension of what science consists of. ”F” for application of science in the real world. When Galileo was challenged on his theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun rather than the Sun around the Earth (the common belief of the day) he is reported to have said, “Eppur Si Muove”–”And Yet It Moves.”
Economics: Little Barry has shown a distressing tendency to equate borrowed money with earned money, that either can be spent for “investment” with equal effect. Even if there were no waste in the spending, and no fraud in the counting of the results, the radical difference between borrowing which must be repaid, and spending of present, real money, would remain. ”F” for understanding the basics. ”F” for application in the real world. Milton Friedman from ”Free to Choose”: “You can be sure that we’ll all be able to find very good reasons why we should be the ones to spend somebody else’s money.” Ben Franklin from Poor Richard’s Almanack: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
History: Little Barry has given several speeches in class about the conduct of warfare and the manner of ending a war successfully. Apparently, he has been neglecting his homework assignments. ”F” for comprehension. ”F” for application. As Vince Lombardi observed, and Winston Churchill also did before him, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Actually, that precise quote came from a John Wayne movie and was attributed to Lombardi.
There is no doubt, however, about Churchill’s position. Spoken in Commons, “You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory–victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”
Conclusion: Little Barry is not doing well here at the school. Not only do I fear that he will not be promoted at the end of this session, without serious private tutoring to fill in the gaps in his current knowledge, I do not think he can successfully complete the current year. The voters should come and see me, at their earliest opportunity.
Signed:Miss Irmingard Sweeney, Sixth Grade, Unified School District of the United States of America
Arutz Sheva is reporting that Obama is demanding, that in connection with the terrorists for Gilad trade, which is being made with Hamas, Israel release an additional 1,000 terrorists as a gesture to “moderate” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen.
In response to U.S. demands that Israel free an additional 1,000-some terrorists as a “gesture” to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, Lieberman said that previous releases of Fatah terrorists “have not proven themselves. The Olmert administration did this several times and it did not work, and we do not plan to allow it to happen,” Lieberman said.
What could go wrong?
Just days after the terrorist shooting at Fort Hood, Texas by a devout Muslim in the military, Janet Napolitanto appointed two other devout Muslims to positions within the Department of Homeland Security.
Devout Muslim Arif Alikhan was appointed to Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at DHS. Before his appointment, Alikhan was Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles – in charge of public safety for the city – a position he held since 2006.
In 2007, Alikhan was instrumental in removing the Muslim terror tracking plan in Los Angeles.
Also appointed was devout Muslim Kareem Shora, who was born in Damascus, Syria. Shora is now a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).
His appointment was loudly applauded by the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Comittee (ADC).
Shora joined ADC in 2000 as legal council and is a vocal advocate for Muslim civil rights.
The ADC reportedly has close ties to anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi.