Sunday, 26 August 2007

GUEST COMMENTARY: FRANK MIELE ON ILLIBERAL LIBERALISM

Ken Berwitz

No need to add a thing to this commentary, it speaks for itself.  Very, very eloquently.

See if you agree:.

The liberals war against liberalism: What is so scary about free thought?


FRANK MIELE

Whatever happened to liberals?

One thing I have learned by writing columns on global warming the past two weeks is that liberals are less interested in free expression of ideas than in total compliance with their ideas, less interested in critical thinking than in being critical, and less interested in the truth than in their truth.

It wasnt always so.

In fact, considering that I was raised as a good Democrat and a proud liberal, it pains me to have to admit such distaste for the current state of liberalism. But how can I remain silent when so many people tell me that they agree with my ideas, but are afraid to speak up for themselves because of the names they will be called? How can I remain silent when I have a position of power to defend myself, and I know that young people in colleges across this nation are afraid to turn in papers that contradict the liberal social agenda of their professors? How can I remain silent when there is so much at stake?

Week after week, I endeavor to write columns which raise questions and propose answers. Week after week I am told by my liberal friends that my questions are foolish and my answers are stupid. Yet I wait in vain for anyone to read my last two columns on global warming and show me where I went wrong. What I hear instead is that all the climate scientists in the world agree that global warming is man-made and ruinous, with the implication left hanging or spoken aloud that I am supposed to shut up, get in line and do what I am told.

Sorry, but I dont work that way.

What I believe in is looking at the evidence for myself, weighing it with the scales of logic and reason, and then making up my own mind. I have been studying the evidence on global warming for more than two years, and for all the reasons already listed the past two weeks I am convinced that this is a manufactured crisis.

Telling me that all the climate scientists in the world disagree with me doesnt counter my argument; rather, it demonstrates that my opponent is willing to fabricate evidence. Many, many scientists disagree with the hypothesis that human industry has accelerated global warming to a dangerous level. To claim otherwise does not make it so.

The other argument repeatedly used by global warming advocates to belittle their opponents is to say that their case is supported by peer-reviewed research. Thats fine, but many opponents of the Global Warming Movement have also published in peer-reviewed journals. Besides, peer review does not ensure that the conclusions of an article are correct merely that the author followed accepted principles of the scientific method in striving to prove a significant hypothesis. It should also be noted that when a vast majority of scientists concur with a theory, peer review may easily turn into peer pressure. Thus peer review could be a form of peer-imposed censorship as alternative viewpoints are marginalized or denied publication.

It is certainly a form of elitism basically limiting discussion of serious ideas to a few thousand degreed academicians. Well, sorry, but I spent eight years in college and graduate school, and I dont buy the idea that universities are the fount of all knowledge. A good idea is just as good whether it came from the barbershop or the Journal for the Preservation of Self-Important Professorships. Indeed, the marketplace of ideas is of no value whatsoever unless it is an open market.

At least, that is what I believe. So, too, I think, did Socrates the father of philosophy. And so too did liberals in the days when I counted myself among them. In fact, liberals are supposed to welcome debate, free expression and open exchange of ideas. But you would never know it when you read the words of the global warming cabal. They are intent on halting debate, even to the point of proposing to make it a crime to deny global warming.

It is almost as though liberals are at war with liberalism itself with the spirit of freedom. Consider, for instance, what liberals themselves say they believe in. Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, wrote an interesting essay on What it means to be a liberal in which he lists 10 fundamental principals that encapsulate the liberal position. Here are the first three:

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference.

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate....

Say what?

I just need to look at my mail bag to know that some liberals have gone seriously astray in their efforts to doubt their own truths and be tolerant and respectful of difference. And as for rights, the only one I know for sure that liberals apportion to me is the right to remain silent.

Here are a few examples of liberals doubting their own truth in response to my last two columns on global warming (note: grammatical and spelling errors have been corrected):

Those who claim that research has been falsified have not been able to demonstrate that to legitimate climatologists. Its easy to make claims. Its not so easy to back them up. But Im not surprised that those on the right dont understand how science works. Those facts are cleverly hidden in books.

The way Frank Miele cherry-picks factoids to match his Rush Limbaugh opinions right down the line every week is absolutely irresponsible. He says there is no scientific certitude about a long-range trend but he doesnt seem to realize the simple fact that there is no such thing as scientific certitude. There is however something called likelihood. The overwhelming evidence is that this warming trend is most likely to be due to human activity. But Frank and his right-wing cronies only like things to be black or white.

Another right-wing rant... Frank does not appear to understand science.

With all your latent scientific knowledge you should be the USAs leading climate scientist. The problem is not that youre a schmuck, which you are, or that youre an a--hole, which you are, but that youre a damned FOOL.

Nor is this kind of ambush mentality limited to liberals who read my column, and want to shut me up. It appears to be part and parcel of the liberal agenda to bring all humanity into compliance with well the liberal agenda.

An example of this mentality was exhibited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during the Live Earth concert last month, when he jumped into the vanguard of global warming fanatics by denouncing skeptics as corporate toadies for villainous enemies. Remarkably, he declared that holding a scientific view counter to his own was treason, and said, we need to start treating them now as traitors.

Off with their heads, as the equally emphatic Queen told Alice in Wonderland.

Fortunately, RFK Jr. does not control public policy yet, but he speaks for a large group of people in this country who want to silence or besmirch the opposition. In a sense, the Global Warming Movement is the framework for a liberals version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, although presumably without the bloodshed. Todays corporate toadies would have been called capitalist roaders back in 1966 when Mao launched his attack on the culture, history and freedom of his own people but arent they really the same thing? Isnt the name-calling just an effort to stifle debate?

The Cultural Revolution was an effort to institutionalize Communist Party thinking as the mechanism of massive social change under the guise of inevitable progress. Similarly, the Global Warming Movement is intent on institutionalizing environmental thinking that will lead to massive social change under the guise of indisputable science. Mao used the Cultural Revolution to empower the masses to crush intellectual debate and the free exchange of ideas in the service of the higher calling of class struggle. The Global Warming Movement is empowering the mass media to crush intellectual debate in the service of the higher calling of saving the planet.

The pronouncement of the Cultural Revolution included these words:

...our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic authorities and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.

Substituting just one phrase, we easily arrive at a pronouncement that describes the intentions of modern liberalism as embodied in the Global Warming Movement:

...our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic authorities and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to [our beliefs], so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.

Well, I have been criticized and repudiated, but Im not going anywhere. Needless to say, I am prepared to struggle against ignorance in all its forms, whether political or scientific, no matter how loudly I am shouted down. There is no opinion which does not have an opposite, and no truth which cannot be challenged.

Liberal or not, it is up to all of us to listen to opposing ideas, expose ourselves to challenges, and engage in Socratic dialogue. Otherwise we will be no more than stagnant, unevolving, politically correct lumps of mud that will never experience the pleasure of walking upright, unafraid and unbowed.

It is time to live the life of free thought that we espouse.

.


A REPORT FROM THE PARTY OF THE LITTLE GUY

Ken Berwitz

Everybody knows Republicans are the privileged elites, the ones who are more comfortable with the a-list crowd than the little guy. Which, of course, is why the south and midwest are so solidly Republic....er, wait a minute, that doesn't work, does it?

No it doesn't.  And it is one of the greatest triumphs of the Democratic party that they have kept so many people believing this blatantly fraudulent claim for so long, even to this moment.

Case in point:  Here is an Associated Press story about the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton.  See which type of folks she seems at home with:.

OAKS BLUFF, Mass. (AP) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to her favorite family vacation spot Saturday to raise money for her presidential campaign at a celebrity-studded event where she took some pointed swipes at President Bush. Clintonaccompanied by her husband and their daughter Chelseasmiled broadly and swayed to the music as singer Carly Simon and her two children, Ben and Sally Taylor, sang "Devoted to You" for a Martha's Vineyard crowd of more than 2,000.

Simon, along with actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, showered the Clintons with praise and predicted the senator from New York will be elected as the nation's first woman president.

"Is it Mrs. President or Madam President?" Simon asked a smiling Clinton.

The Clintons frequently vacationed on Martha's Vineyard during their years in the White House. The senator told the crowd that the family has been vacationing in the island for 14 years.

Bill Clinton told the crowd his wife would make the strongest president among those seeking to succeed Bush in January 2009 because she has the best plans to deal with national security, climate change, health care and education.

"If we were not married and Hillary asked me to do this, to be here tonight, I would be here," the former president said.

In her speech, the New York senator blasted the Bush administration on everything from failure to address problems with global warming to education and the economy.

She aimed her sharpest remarks at what she described as the Bush administration's "indifference and incompetence" in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

"It is a national disgrace," said Clinton who is traveling to New Orleans this week to mark the second anniversary of the disaster. "What happened because of Katrina was a turning point in our country."

Clinton also sharply criticized Bush for his handling of the Iraq war, repeating her call for the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops from the country.

"I believe that if he does not extricate us from Iraq by the time he leaves office, that when I am president I will," she said. "I want to be a president who gets back to setting big goals for our country."

The $50-per-ticket event was expected to raise more than $100,000 for the campaign. .

Yep, there's a little-guy event if there ever was one. Martha's Vinyard, playground of the downtrodden, with Carly Simon singing, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen lovingly looking one, and $50 a ticket to hear a few songs, be treated to an angry stump speech and be trolled for further contributions. 

How much do concerts on the beach cost at Riis Park, which serves the less fortunate folks of Brooklyn and Queens? 

Those Republican candidates sure do hobnob with the smart set....er, wait, I forgot again, this is Hillary Clinton. 

Sorry, never mind.


GUEST COMMENTARY: FRANK MIELE ON ILLIBERAL LIBERALISM

Ken Berwitz

No need to add a thing to this commentary, it speaks for itself.  Very, very eloquently.

See if you agree:.

The liberals war against liberalism: What is so scary about free thought?


FRANK MIELE

Whatever happened to liberals?

One thing I have learned by writing columns on global warming the past two weeks is that liberals are less interested in free expression of ideas than in total compliance with their ideas, less interested in critical thinking than in being critical, and less interested in the truth than in their truth.

It wasnt always so.

In fact, considering that I was raised as a good Democrat and a proud liberal, it pains me to have to admit such distaste for the current state of liberalism. But how can I remain silent when so many people tell me that they agree with my ideas, but are afraid to speak up for themselves because of the names they will be called? How can I remain silent when I have a position of power to defend myself, and I know that young people in colleges across this nation are afraid to turn in papers that contradict the liberal social agenda of their professors? How can I remain silent when there is so much at stake?

Week after week, I endeavor to write columns which raise questions and propose answers. Week after week I am told by my liberal friends that my questions are foolish and my answers are stupid. Yet I wait in vain for anyone to read my last two columns on global warming and show me where I went wrong. What I hear instead is that all the climate scientists in the world agree that global warming is man-made and ruinous, with the implication left hanging or spoken aloud that I am supposed to shut up, get in line and do what I am told.

Sorry, but I dont work that way.

What I believe in is looking at the evidence for myself, weighing it with the scales of logic and reason, and then making up my own mind. I have been studying the evidence on global warming for more than two years, and for all the reasons already listed the past two weeks I am convinced that this is a manufactured crisis.

Telling me that all the climate scientists in the world disagree with me doesnt counter my argument; rather, it demonstrates that my opponent is willing to fabricate evidence. Many, many scientists disagree with the hypothesis that human industry has accelerated global warming to a dangerous level. To claim otherwise does not make it so.

The other argument repeatedly used by global warming advocates to belittle their opponents is to say that their case is supported by peer-reviewed research. Thats fine, but many opponents of the Global Warming Movement have also published in peer-reviewed journals. Besides, peer review does not ensure that the conclusions of an article are correct merely that the author followed accepted principles of the scientific method in striving to prove a significant hypothesis. It should also be noted that when a vast majority of scientists concur with a theory, peer review may easily turn into peer pressure. Thus peer review could be a form of peer-imposed censorship as alternative viewpoints are marginalized or denied publication.

It is certainly a form of elitism basically limiting discussion of serious ideas to a few thousand degreed academicians. Well, sorry, but I spent eight years in college and graduate school, and I dont buy the idea that universities are the fount of all knowledge. A good idea is just as good whether it came from the barbershop or the Journal for the Preservation of Self-Important Professorships. Indeed, the marketplace of ideas is of no value whatsoever unless it is an open market.

At least, that is what I believe. So, too, I think, did Socrates the father of philosophy. And so too did liberals in the days when I counted myself among them. In fact, liberals are supposed to welcome debate, free expression and open exchange of ideas. But you would never know it when you read the words of the global warming cabal. They are intent on halting debate, even to the point of proposing to make it a crime to deny global warming.

It is almost as though liberals are at war with liberalism itself with the spirit of freedom. Consider, for instance, what liberals themselves say they believe in. Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, wrote an interesting essay on What it means to be a liberal in which he lists 10 fundamental principals that encapsulate the liberal position. Here are the first three:

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference.

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate....

Say what?

I just need to look at my mail bag to know that some liberals have gone seriously astray in their efforts to doubt their own truths and be tolerant and respectful of difference. And as for rights, the only one I know for sure that liberals apportion to me is the right to remain silent.

Here are a few examples of liberals doubting their own truth in response to my last two columns on global warming (note: grammatical and spelling errors have been corrected):

Those who claim that research has been falsified have not been able to demonstrate that to legitimate climatologists. Its easy to make claims. Its not so easy to back them up. But Im not surprised that those on the right dont understand how science works. Those facts are cleverly hidden in books.

The way Frank Miele cherry-picks factoids to match his Rush Limbaugh opinions right down the line every week is absolutely irresponsible. He says there is no scientific certitude about a long-range trend but he doesnt seem to realize the simple fact that there is no such thing as scientific certitude. There is however something called likelihood. The overwhelming evidence is that this warming trend is most likely to be due to human activity. But Frank and his right-wing cronies only like things to be black or white.

Another right-wing rant... Frank does not appear to understand science.

With all your latent scientific knowledge you should be the USAs leading climate scientist. The problem is not that youre a schmuck, which you are, or that youre an a--hole, which you are, but that youre a damned FOOL.

Nor is this kind of ambush mentality limited to liberals who read my column, and want to shut me up. It appears to be part and parcel of the liberal agenda to bring all humanity into compliance with well the liberal agenda.

An example of this mentality was exhibited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during the Live Earth concert last month, when he jumped into the vanguard of global warming fanatics by denouncing skeptics as corporate toadies for villainous enemies. Remarkably, he declared that holding a scientific view counter to his own was treason, and said, we need to start treating them now as traitors.

Off with their heads, as the equally emphatic Queen told Alice in Wonderland.

Fortunately, RFK Jr. does not control public policy yet, but he speaks for a large group of people in this country who want to silence or besmirch the opposition. In a sense, the Global Warming Movement is the framework for a liberals version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, although presumably without the bloodshed. Todays corporate toadies would have been called capitalist roaders back in 1966 when Mao launched his attack on the culture, history and freedom of his own people but arent they really the same thing? Isnt the name-calling just an effort to stifle debate?

The Cultural Revolution was an effort to institutionalize Communist Party thinking as the mechanism of massive social change under the guise of inevitable progress. Similarly, the Global Warming Movement is intent on institutionalizing environmental thinking that will lead to massive social change under the guise of indisputable science. Mao used the Cultural Revolution to empower the masses to crush intellectual debate and the free exchange of ideas in the service of the higher calling of class struggle. The Global Warming Movement is empowering the mass media to crush intellectual debate in the service of the higher calling of saving the planet.

The pronouncement of the Cultural Revolution included these words:

...our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic authorities and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.

Substituting just one phrase, we easily arrive at a pronouncement that describes the intentions of modern liberalism as embodied in the Global Warming Movement:

...our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic authorities and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to [our beliefs], so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.

Well, I have been criticized and repudiated, but Im not going anywhere. Needless to say, I am prepared to struggle against ignorance in all its forms, whether political or scientific, no matter how loudly I am shouted down. There is no opinion which does not have an opposite, and no truth which cannot be challenged.

Liberal or not, it is up to all of us to listen to opposing ideas, expose ourselves to challenges, and engage in Socratic dialogue. Otherwise we will be no more than stagnant, unevolving, politically correct lumps of mud that will never experience the pleasure of walking upright, unafraid and unbowed.

It is time to live the life of free thought that we espouse.

.


HOW TO SCREW UNION WORKERS AND GET THEIR VOTES FOR IT

Ken Berwitz

It's a neat trick.  By screwing the workers you get their "leaders" to support you.  Then you'll get a vast majority of votes from the people you screwed.  And it is all done with the support of liberal Democrats, those nice folks who are supposedly on the workers' side.

How is this done?  Robert Bluey, writing for www.townhall.com, provides the details.  The bold print is mine:.

Liberals Target Union Watchdog
By Robert Bluey
Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Office of Labor Management Standards, the federal governments union watchdog agency, has recouped more than $100 million for American workers since 2001. But the increased oversight on unions hasnt gone over well with liberals in Congress, who are trying to slash the agencys budget for next year.

Last month, pro-labor Democrats in the House successfully fought back a Republican-led challenge to restore $2 million to the agencys budget. The Senate will take up the bill when Congress returns from its August recess.

The liberals revolt against the Department of Labor agency comes on the heels of an increased crackdown on union misbehavior and greater scrutiny of union finances. Following the 2000 elections, the Office of Labor Management Standards reversed nearly a decade of lax enforcement under the Clinton Administration.

The result has been a steady rise in investigations and convictions under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Since 2001, for example, the agency has filed 810 indictments, won 781 convictions and recouped $101 million in court-ordered restitution for union workers.

Recent convictions include a Teamsters president in Houston who was sentenced to 78 months in prison for embezzlement and mail fraud. He was ordered to pay $121,478 in restitution. The president of the National Association of Letter Carriers in San Mateo, Calif., was indicted for embezzling more than $170,000 in union funds. And the president of the International Longshoremens Association in Puerto Rico was convicted of embezzling $1.9 million in union funds and falsely reporting the amount of dues paid on the unions financial disclosure forms.

Those forms, available for public consumption at UnionReports.gov, have been a source of contention for labor unions ever since the Department of Labor revised them in 2003the first change to union financial reporting since 1959. The AFL-CIO warned that it would cost all unions more than $1 billion to comply, and that it could spend upwards of $1 million to meet the governments new disclosure requirements. Those figures were greatly exaggerated, however. The AFL-CIO spent a total of $54,150 to meet the new requirements.

The increased transparency has revealed some embarrassing expenditures for unions, such as the $1.9 million spent by the International Association of Machinists on its very own Lear jet. But while transparency is a good thing for union members who expect good stewardship from their leaders, it has met resistance on Capitol Hill, where many liberals count on union leaders for fundraising help. During a recent debate over the Department of Labor spending bill for next year, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D.-Wis.) argued the Office of Labor Management Standards budget should be cut.

Obey defended the move to cut the agencys budget by $2 millionabout $11 million short of Bushs requestby saying that any increase in funding would enrich the one portion of the Labor Department which has been doing very well, thank you.

Its true that the agency has been doing well, especially considering that it employs about 350 people in offices across the country and is the only federal agency responsible for union enforcement. But after years of being starved under President Clinton, the Office of Labor Management Standards is still below its 1980s staffing levels. Don Todd, deputy assistant secretary for the agency, said enforcement had fallen off so dramatically in the 1990s that a union stood the chance of being audited only once every 200 years. Even today the agency can audit only about 4.6% of unions each year.

Republicans in Congress have fought back. Rep. John Kline (R.-Minn.) offered an amendment to restore about $2 million to the agencys budget, which would have kept its funding from declining from this years level. It was rejected, 186-237, on a mostly party-line vote.

Citing the agencys success in winning restitution for union workers, Kline said, Some of my colleagues may dismiss these monetary results as just small change compared to the billions of assets held by labor unions, but they miss the point. Stealing from your fellow union members is against the law, regardless of whether the theft is $10,000 or $100,000. And anywhere in the country but Washington, D.C., $10,000 is a lot of money.

Conservatives have also attacked liberals for cutting the agencys budget while at the same time increasing money spent on enforcing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The law, passed in the wake of the Enron scandal, has driven American businesses overseas because of its burdensome regulations. Liberals went above and beyond the Bush Administrations funding request for the SEC by $3.1 million.  .

This is despicable. 

Personally, I am strongly supportive of unions and of the men and women who join them.  People join unions because that is the only way they'll ever get a fair shake from management.  Without unions they'd be individuals against large, rich entities and they'd be screwed - just like they were before the union movement.

So what do a great many (not all, let's remember, but a great many) unions do?  They screw the workers, and do it while pretending to be their protectors and benefactors.  The dirty, backstabbing pigs.

And, based on the article above, their despicable actions are all too frequently facilitated by Democrats, "the party of the working man".  Now THAT'S a screwing!

What a sweet deal:  Democrats stifle investigative oversight, the unions in question are more easily able to screw the workers, the unions show their appreciation with donations of the workers' money to the Democratic party, and the Democratic party shows its thanks by making it easier to continue the screwing.

Don't hold your breath waiting for any features about this sick trick on the Today show, network news, or most major city dailies. 

 


HOW TO SCREW UNION WORKERS AND GET THEIR VOTES FOR IT

Ken Berwitz

It's a neat trick.  By screwing the workers you get their "leaders" to support you.  Then you'll get a vast majority of votes from the people you screwed.  And it is all done with the support of liberal Democrats, those nice folks who are supposedly on the workers' side.

How is this done?  Robert Bluey, writing for www.townhall.com, provides the details.  The bold print is mine:.

Liberals Target Union Watchdog
By Robert Bluey
Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Office of Labor Management Standards, the federal governments union watchdog agency, has recouped more than $100 million for American workers since 2001. But the increased oversight on unions hasnt gone over well with liberals in Congress, who are trying to slash the agencys budget for next year.

Last month, pro-labor Democrats in the House successfully fought back a Republican-led challenge to restore $2 million to the agencys budget. The Senate will take up the bill when Congress returns from its August recess.

The liberals revolt against the Department of Labor agency comes on the heels of an increased crackdown on union misbehavior and greater scrutiny of union finances. Following the 2000 elections, the Office of Labor Management Standards reversed nearly a decade of lax enforcement under the Clinton Administration.

The result has been a steady rise in investigations and convictions under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Since 2001, for example, the agency has filed 810 indictments, won 781 convictions and recouped $101 million in court-ordered restitution for union workers.

Recent convictions include a Teamsters president in Houston who was sentenced to 78 months in prison for embezzlement and mail fraud. He was ordered to pay $121,478 in restitution. The president of the National Association of Letter Carriers in San Mateo, Calif., was indicted for embezzling more than $170,000 in union funds. And the president of the International Longshoremens Association in Puerto Rico was convicted of embezzling $1.9 million in union funds and falsely reporting the amount of dues paid on the unions financial disclosure forms.

Those forms, available for public consumption at UnionReports.gov, have been a source of contention for labor unions ever since the Department of Labor revised them in 2003the first change to union financial reporting since 1959. The AFL-CIO warned that it would cost all unions more than $1 billion to comply, and that it could spend upwards of $1 million to meet the governments new disclosure requirements. Those figures were greatly exaggerated, however. The AFL-CIO spent a total of $54,150 to meet the new requirements.

The increased transparency has revealed some embarrassing expenditures for unions, such as the $1.9 million spent by the International Association of Machinists on its very own Lear jet. But while transparency is a good thing for union members who expect good stewardship from their leaders, it has met resistance on Capitol Hill, where many liberals count on union leaders for fundraising help. During a recent debate over the Department of Labor spending bill for next year, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D.-Wis.) argued the Office of Labor Management Standards budget should be cut.

Obey defended the move to cut the agencys budget by $2 millionabout $11 million short of Bushs requestby saying that any increase in funding would enrich the one portion of the Labor Department which has been doing very well, thank you.

Its true that the agency has been doing well, especially considering that it employs about 350 people in offices across the country and is the only federal agency responsible for union enforcement. But after years of being starved under President Clinton, the Office of Labor Management Standards is still below its 1980s staffing levels. Don Todd, deputy assistant secretary for the agency, said enforcement had fallen off so dramatically in the 1990s that a union stood the chance of being audited only once every 200 years. Even today the agency can audit only about 4.6% of unions each year.

Republicans in Congress have fought back. Rep. John Kline (R.-Minn.) offered an amendment to restore about $2 million to the agencys budget, which would have kept its funding from declining from this years level. It was rejected, 186-237, on a mostly party-line vote.

Citing the agencys success in winning restitution for union workers, Kline said, Some of my colleagues may dismiss these monetary results as just small change compared to the billions of assets held by labor unions, but they miss the point. Stealing from your fellow union members is against the law, regardless of whether the theft is $10,000 or $100,000. And anywhere in the country but Washington, D.C., $10,000 is a lot of money.

Conservatives have also attacked liberals for cutting the agencys budget while at the same time increasing money spent on enforcing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The law, passed in the wake of the Enron scandal, has driven American businesses overseas because of its burdensome regulations. Liberals went above and beyond the Bush Administrations funding request for the SEC by $3.1 million.  .

This is despicable. 

Personally, I am strongly supportive of unions and of the men and women who join them.  People join unions because that is the only way they'll ever get a fair shake from management.  Without unions they'd be individuals against large, rich entities and they'd be screwed - just like they were before the union movement.

So what do a great many (not all, let's remember, but a great many) unions do?  They screw the workers, and do it while pretending to be their protectors and benefactors.  The dirty, backstabbing pigs.

And, based on the article above, their despicable actions are all too frequently facilitated by Democrats, "the party of the working man".  Now THAT'S a screwing!

What a sweet deal:  Democrats stifle investigative oversight, the unions in question are more easily able to screw the workers, the unions show their appreciation with donations of the workers' money to the Democratic party, and the Democratic party shows its thanks by making it easier to continue the screwing.

Don't hold your breath waiting for any features about this sick trick on the Today show, network news, or most major city dailies. 

 


A REPORT FROM THE PARTY OF THE LITTLE GUY

Ken Berwitz

Everybody knows Republicans are the privileged elites, the ones who are more comfortable with the a-list crowd than the little guy. Which, of course, is why the south and midwest are so solidly Republic....er, wait a minute, that doesn't work, does it?

No it doesn't.  And it is one of the greatest triumphs of the Democratic party that they have kept so many people believing this blatantly fraudulent claim for so long, even to this moment.

Case in point:  Here is an Associated Press story about the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton.  See which type of folks she seems at home with:.

OAKS BLUFF, Mass. (AP) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to her favorite family vacation spot Saturday to raise money for her presidential campaign at a celebrity-studded event where she took some pointed swipes at President Bush. Clintonaccompanied by her husband and their daughter Chelseasmiled broadly and swayed to the music as singer Carly Simon and her two children, Ben and Sally Taylor, sang "Devoted to You" for a Martha's Vineyard crowd of more than 2,000.

Simon, along with actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, showered the Clintons with praise and predicted the senator from New York will be elected as the nation's first woman president.

"Is it Mrs. President or Madam President?" Simon asked a smiling Clinton.

The Clintons frequently vacationed on Martha's Vineyard during their years in the White House. The senator told the crowd that the family has been vacationing in the island for 14 years.

Bill Clinton told the crowd his wife would make the strongest president among those seeking to succeed Bush in January 2009 because she has the best plans to deal with national security, climate change, health care and education.

"If we were not married and Hillary asked me to do this, to be here tonight, I would be here," the former president said.

In her speech, the New York senator blasted the Bush administration on everything from failure to address problems with global warming to education and the economy.

She aimed her sharpest remarks at what she described as the Bush administration's "indifference and incompetence" in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

"It is a national disgrace," said Clinton who is traveling to New Orleans this week to mark the second anniversary of the disaster. "What happened because of Katrina was a turning point in our country."

Clinton also sharply criticized Bush for his handling of the Iraq war, repeating her call for the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops from the country.

"I believe that if he does not extricate us from Iraq by the time he leaves office, that when I am president I will," she said. "I want to be a president who gets back to setting big goals for our country."

The $50-per-ticket event was expected to raise more than $100,000 for the campaign. .

Yep, there's a little-guy event if there ever was one. Martha's Vinyard, playground of the downtrodden, with Carly Simon singing, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen lovingly looking one, and $50 a ticket to hear a few songs, be treated to an angry stump speech and be trolled for further contributions. 

How much do concerts on the beach cost at Riis Park, which serves the less fortunate folks of Brooklyn and Queens? 

Those Republican candidates sure do hobnob with the smart set....er, wait, I forgot again, this is Hillary Clinton. 

Sorry, never mind.


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