The Employee Free Choice Act  

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The scariest section of text in the bill reads thusly:

`(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a).

Since I started hearing about EFCA, all I have heard about is doing away with the secret ballot. What most people that I talk to seem to think is that instead of voting secretly, they will still be able to stand up during a vote and declare whether or not they want a union in their workplace. This is not so. What EFCA is trying to accomplish is the abolition of the vote altogether. Simply by signing a union card, you are casting your vote. In the past, signing a card meant nothing more than saying that you supported an election. Many people will sign the card thinking that this is still the policy.

With this slick little piece of legislation a union could easily turn a non-union company into a union company. Let's say a company has 200 employees, but seasonally hire 100 more employees to handle a larger workload. The union could flood the application pool with its supporters. All the union would have to do is get 50 more cards signed. One quarter of the the companies regular employees would, in effect, be deciding the union question for the other 75%. Under the system now, a vote would be scheduled, and by the time it is held, the seasonal workers would be gone. The union could get away with it, too. All it has to do is to pay its members while they look for jobs at non-union companies. It already pays its members to picket and disrupt businesses, so it's not too much of a stretch.

From the AFL-CIO website:

Here's Why We Need the Employee Free Choice Act:

America's Working Families Are Struggling

The middle class is stressed and shrinking, and working families are finding it harder to make ends meet. Wages just aren't keeping up with the cost of living, and job security, health coverage and the promise of a secure retirement are vanishing. Workers are hurting, and the entire economy is feeling the effects.
If they left wages alone, then the cost of living would be reigned in by wages. It's funny how businesses, when left alone, will not produce items that they cannot sell.
Corporations and CEO's have all the power

Corporations and CEOs aren't treating workers fairly. They cut back on workers' health care and wages, while CEO pay skyrockets. They intimidate workers who join together to negotiate a contract, while protecting their own perks and benefits.
During all of the attempts at organizing that I have been through, management has been very careful with what they say. It all seems to boil down to one rule: "No organizing on the clock. Save it for your breaks, lunches, and free time." That's it. Never have I heard, "If you vote for the union, you are fired."
But the system is broken

The best opportunity we have to rebuild the middle class and put workers on the right track is through giving workers the power to bargain for a better life. Union workers have better wages and are more likely to have health coverage, pensions and protections on the job that non-union workers—and where unions are strong, even non-union workers get better pay than in areas where unions are weak.
Look at the workers of GM and Chrysler and see where all this bargaining has gotten them - the same pay rate as non-union workers from foreign auto makers and a soon to be bankrupt company.
The Employee Free Choice Act Will Help Build an Economy That Works for Everyone

Unfortunately, current law puts the decisions about forming unions and bargaining in the hands of corporations, not workers. In our company-dominated system, corporations deny workers the freedom to choose a union, and they have free rein to coerce, intimidate and even fire employees to keep them from forming a union to bargain for their economic well-being.

Again, never seen anyone fired during an organization attempt. The system being proposed here leaves too many holes for fraud and corruption.

I also got a good laugh when I read this:
Supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress and millions of workers around the country, the Employee Free Choice Act would level the playing field and put the power to choose a union back where it belongs—in the hands of workers. It will restore workers' power to bargain for a better life, rebuilding the middle class and strengthening the economy for the long term.
Their "bi-partisan" coalition consists of 279 members of the House and Senate. Of the 279, six are republicans from the northeast. Of the six republican, only four are still serving. In the Senate, there are no republicans signed on, just 45 democrats and two independents. That's very bi-partisan there, guys, way to go.

Obama's Contradictions  

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From Time Magazine's Man of the Year interview of Barack Obama:

"And outside of specific policy measures, two years from now, I want the American people to be able to say, "Government's not perfect; there are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel like the government's working for me. I feel like it's accountable. I feel like it's transparent. I feel that I am well informed about what government actions are being taken. I feel that this is a President and an Administration that admits when it makes mistakes and adapts itself to new information, that believes in making decisions based on facts and on science as opposed to what is politically expedient." Those are some of the intangibles that I hope people two years from now can claim."

We have our first example of Obama's "transparent" government in his reaction to the Blago case. "I had no contact with the Governor or his office," Obama said, "and so we were, I was not aware of what was happening."

As far as making decisions based on fact and science? Obama recently named John P. Holdren as his science advisor. This will be the person advising on the best use of technology to improve America, yet Holdren does not understand himself the way that technology can improve things like extraction of natural resources. This flaw alone could prove devastating for the American economy.

Obama also went back on his word about not employing lobbyists in the field for which they were lobbying he appointed Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture.

From 2000 to 2006, Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, and his wife collected $42,782 in subsidies from the department he was tapped Wednesday to oversee.

Also, Vilsack is a partner at a lobbying law firm that trumpeted his advice to clients on agribusiness development and renewable energy – a job that appears to bump up against Obama’s promise to bar appointees from working on issues related to their employment for two years.

With all of Obama's backtracks, maybe it's a good thing he said he wanted to do things like bankrupt the coal industry during the campaign. At the rate he's going, we'll see a bailout for them instead.

Which Taxes to Raise, Which Services to Cut?  

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I read a very thought provoking and rather well thought out post today at DemConWatch. With the burst of the housing bubble, multiple industry bailouts, and loss of jobs, government at every level is looking at cutting services and raising taxes. But which services to cut? Which taxes to raise? Taxes are, after all, a necessary evil as our government needs to get funding from somewhere.

That article asked for comments from the readers, and I am doing the same. If taxes have to be raised, or services cut, which do you feel are necessary? Below is the comment I posted on their site. Just a little setup: the commenter before me posted a list of things like tax on gasoline, taxing incomes of the wealthy, and sin taxes. Here is my comment:

I heard something today...

The sin taxes might actually be detrimental to a budget in the long run. When they impose a sin tax, it is usually a little more about changing behavior rather than making money. In Virginia, Tim Kaine is proposing doubling the tax on cigarettes in order to offset the cost imposed on medicare and medicaid when smokers develop emphysema/lung cancer. If they didn't smoke, though, chances are that they would live much longer. We would have many more people living many more years and the cost of general health care for all of them, even if all they required were routine checkups and treatment for minor illneses, would equal more than the outlay under the system where individual freedoms may mean that people choose to live a little more recklessly.
As far as what services to cut? I agree with Karen-Anne in that there is a whole lot of waste that needs to be cut before any essential services lose a penny. They should look at expense accounts and future contracts, and they should definitely look for more efficient ways to govern before raising any taxes or cutting any services. If our leaders tell us that sacrifice is essential, they need to set that ball rolling by setting an example.

In the business that I am in, I have seen expenses in certain areas swing to the good by large amounts simply by stressing to the employees the importance of "best practices". I have seen the same accounts swing back terribly when those same practices are allowed to fall by the wayside. The difference? Better management led to the good swings while poor management led to the bad. Our leaders, no matter what the level of government, are being paid to manage their local/state/federal governments. It is time they start doing so.

Ayers, Wright, Rezko, Blagojevich, and Bill Richardson?  

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Bill Richardson, Obama's appointee for Secretary of Commerce, is now being investigated by a grand jury for allegedly giving California firm CDR Financial Services a lucrative government contract in exchange for campaign donations.

A person familiar with the proceedings told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the panel is looking into possible "pay-to-play" dealings between CDR Financial Products and someone in a position to push the contract through with the state of New Mexico.

So, how many corrupt politicians does it take to change Washington?
Just one, but he brings all his buddies with him, anyway.

Leadership: Academic Elitism vs Principled Wisdom  

Posted by Rob Barton

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From Scott at Conservatism Today:

President-elect Barack Obama swiftly revealed the direction his team would take, as the Washington Post noted last Sunday:

All told, of Obama's top 35 appointments so far, 22 have degrees from an Ivy
League school, MIT, Stanford, the University of Chicago or one of the top
British universities...

While Obama's picks have been lauded for their
ethnic and ideological mix, they lack diversity in one regard: They are almost
exclusively products of the nation's elite institutions and generally share a
more intellectual outlook than is often the norm in government. Their erudition
has already begun to set a new tone in the capital, cheering Obama's supporters
and serving as a clarion call to other academics. Yale law professor Dan Kahan
said several of his colleagues are for the first time considering leaving their
perches for Washington...

Absent-Minded Professors

Just what America needs, huh? A bunch of pointy-headed theorists who have never accomplished anything outside of Planet Academia, rushing to Washington to tell inhabitants of the real world how we can solve all our problems.

We tried this "best and brightest" approach under Kennedy. As the article notes, that's how we got mired in Vietnam. We had our own President Egghead with Jimmy Carter. He was always the smartest man in the room, and usually the least able to decide what course of action would be best to take.

High intelligence and even higher education is not a prerequisite for leadership - it is a warning signal. More often than not, these types suffer from Absent-minded Professor Syndrome - great genius in the laboratory or the classroom, but an inability to locate their car keys and an empty place where their common sense should be.

Dangerous Geniuses

Occasionally you find a highly-intelligent, highly-educated person who is not totally incapable of completing normal tasks successfully. Someone who can shoot hoops and smoke a cigarette at the same time. Someone like Barack Obama. Their education tells them that they have all the answers. Their high intelligence tells them that they are the only person who can save America from itself.

This is dangerous. Once this conclusion is reached (and I believe it already has been) it's all over. These people might have good intentions. They might make the trains run on time for awhile. But soon no policy, no law, no relationship becomes as important as maintaining power. Mistakes will be made, laws will be broken and ignored, preachers and grandmothers will get thrown under the bus.

This doesn't just go for liberals, either. One of my favorite theoreticians ever is Newt Gingrich, and he suffered from the same problem. For a short period of time, he accomplished great things. But his belief in his own greatness caused him to make mistakes, break rules of ethics and throw people under the bus. Until the bus made a detour and ran him over. Since he's gone back to working as a theoretician, he's been doing great things again. But he should never be President.

If extreme intelligence and high educational achievement are not positive character traits in leaders, what is? Wisdom, based on timeless principles of individual liberty. Reasonable intelligence mixed with common sense and love for that which is good. A high sense of personal morality.

The article notes that my political hero, Ronald Reagan, graduated from tiny Eureka College. Certainly he was an intelligent man; you don't save multiple lives as a teenage lifeguard, become a top sports announcer, become a household name as an actor, become President of an actors union, become governor of the largest state in the nation, and then become President of the United States without intelligence. Being one of the best in the world at whatever you choose to be doing at any given time takes some smarts. But his intelligence and education were not uncommon.

As President, he would nod off during meetings when advisors talked about missile throw-weights. The minutia didn't interest him. Pointy-headed academics didn't interest him. He was interested in the big picture.

He believed that insuring personal freedom was the greatest goal of government. He knew that socialist utopianism doesn't solve problems, that government planners don't solve problems, they exacerbate them. And he knew these things because he knew all about the existence of evil.

And because he knew about evil, he knew what Soviet communism was. He learned this as President of the Screen Actors Guild, when he had to carry a gun with him to cross picket lines and when he had to battle Soviet infiltrators in the film industry. And because he knew evil, he knew that the Soviet Union would someday crumble from within. He knew that if America ever applied the right types of pressure, it would crumble sooner.

The academics laughed at the "ignorant cowboy" when he said the following in June of 1982 to the British Parliament. None of the great minds with their fancy degrees knew what Reagan knew: That the Soviet Union was doomed because it was evil, if free men and women would just shine their light upon it.

We're approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political
invention -- totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because
democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy's enemies have refined their
instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order, because day by day
democracy is proving itself to be a not-at-all-fragile flower. From Stettin on
the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism
have had more than 30 years to establish their legitimacy. But none -- not one
regime -- has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets
do not take root....

(t)he gift of vision, the willingness to see the
future based on the experience of the past. It is this sense of history, this
understanding of the past that I want to talk with you about today, for it is in
remembering what we share of the past that our two nations can make common cause
for the future...

History teaches the dangers of government that
overreaches -- political control taking precedence over free economic growth,
secret police, mindless bureaucracy, all combining to stifle individual
excellence and personal freedom.

President Reagan then predicts the future:

Historians looking back at our time will note the consistent restraint and
peaceful intentions of the West. They will note that it was the democracies who
refused to use the threat of their nuclear monopoly in the forties and early
fifties for territorial or imperial gain. Had that nuclear monopoly been in the
hands of the Communist world, the map of Europe -- indeed, the world -- would
look very different today... At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the
world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their
barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must
civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet,
deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?In an ironic sense Karl Marx was
right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the
demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the
political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West,
but in the home of Marxist-Leninism, the Soviet Union.

It is the Soviet
Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human
dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty. The rate of
growth in the national product has been steadily declining since the fifties and
is less than half of what it was then. The dimensions of this failure are
astounding: A country which employs one-fifth of its population in agriculture
is unable to feed its own people...

I have discussed on other occasions,
including my address on May 9th, the elements of Western policies toward the
Soviet Union to safeguard our interests and protect the peace. What I am
describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom
and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it
has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression
of the people.

He went further in his Evil Empire speech in 1983.

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware
the temptation of pride -- the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above
it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and
the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant
misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and
wrong and good and evil...

Whittaker Chambers, the man whose own
religious conversion made him a witness to one of the terrible traumas of our
time, the Hiss-Chambers case, wrote that the crisis of the Western World exists
to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it
collaborates in communism's attempt to make man stand alone without God. And
then he said, for Marxism-Leninism is actually the second oldest faith, first
proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation, "Ye shall be as

The Western world can answer this challenge, he wrote, "but only
provided that its faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as
communism's faith in Man."

I believe we shall rise to the challenge. I
believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose
last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our
strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And
because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over
those who would enslave their fellow man.

We forget what leadership based on the wisdom of conservative, small government principles looks like, because we haven't seen it on a national scale since Reagan left office. We'll need to see it again following four years of Barack Obama and his fellow academic elites.

Alexandria Hires Ethicist to Decide Cuts  

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Alexandria policymakers are finding it hard to make the tough decisions that must be made when budget cuts are unavoidable. Property values in the area have dropped, leaving a sizeable hole in the city budget. Their solution? Pay an ethicist $9,000 a year to make the decisions for them.

Faced with painful choices about who will suffer most from looming budget cuts, Alexandria officials have taken the unusual step of paying a professional ethicist to help them grapple with the moral issues involved.

Michael A. Gillette is an ethicist who works for area hospitals helping them make decisions about patient care, but he has taken a part time job making decisions for the leaders of Alexandria as to who should and who should not bear the brunt of budget cuts. He has proposed things like turning apartments initially being built for the mentally ill into temporary homes for the disabled.

"If the limb comes off, at least you saved the life. That's what true scarcity feels like," said Gillette, a Lynchburg, Va., City Council member who often uses the battlefield clarity of old "M*A*S*H" episodes to goad his listeners.

First of all, shame on the "leaders" of Alexandria. They were appointed/elected specifically to make the kinds of decisions that they are now pawning off on Gillette. Politicians today are not capable of making really tough decisions because they feel they will not get re-elected if they take services away from their constituency. So they hire an ethicist to make the decision. Now the onus is on the ethicist, and the politicians continue collecting a check for the work that they farm out. Ethical? I think we should ask Mr. Gillette.

In Alexandria, social service officials first began seeking Gillette's advice on clinical quandaries, which represent the bulk of his work. But over time, especially since the weakening real estate market stung the city last year, money questions have gained urgency. They now pay him a $9,000 annual consulting fee.

Second, shame on Mr. Gillette. What kind of ethicist takes money from an already failing economy to do a job that someone else was already paid to do? Even kids in elementary school know that it is unethical to give someone else the answers to the test.

Obama Already Answered Open Questions  

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"What will you do as President to restore the Constitutional protections that have been subverted by the Bush Administration and how will you ensure that our system of checks and balances is renewed?" - Kari

"The constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It only spells out what the government cannot do to you. It does not spell out what government must do for you." Having said that, next question:

"Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor - ideally Patrick Fitzgerald - to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretaps?" - Bob Fertik

"What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can't prejudge that because we don't have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve."
Obama may have his own witchhunt to deal with after all. But then again, Fitzgerald may want to keep his job. Strangely enough, there were no questions about Blagojevich.
"What will you do to promote science and mathematics education to Elementary and Middle School students?" - JasonWyatt

"You know, sometimes I'll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there's all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it's just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn't cut it today. Let's give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!"

""What will you do to end the use of mercenary forces (ie Blackwater) by our military?" - Betsie

Obama's new chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (IL), wants to institute three months of "Universal Civil Defense Training" for college-aged Americans. He argued that this mandatory service was necessary, "because we have a lot more challenges." In other words, we won't need companies like blackwater because they will be replaced with the SS Civil Defense Force.

""What will be done to make the banking industry accountable when there are so many substantiated stories about their mismangement in relationship to selling bank owned properties and managing potential foreclosures?" - Robyn

"We've got to have transparency, openness, fair dealing in our financial markets and that's an area where I think over the last eight years we've fallen short. We've got to provide a blood infusion to the patient right now to make sure the patient is stabilized. We can't worry short term about the deficit ... We've got to make sure the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving." So to hell with sound financial planning. Let's just throw money at the problem until it goes away.

We all saw what we were dealing with when Rasmussen did it's poll of Obama voters last month, so I guess it comes as no surprise that people posting questions at didn't know that President-elect Government had already answered them.

Top Ten Republican Candidates for 2012  

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10) David Petraeus

Although ordinarily a good candidate, I can't see anyone directly linked to Bush being elected, barring a dismal Obama failure or a massive terrorist attack here at home.

9) Mark Sanford

Sanford has gained a popularity bump from conservatives by turning down any kind of state bailout for South Carolina. He has good experience in fixing a budget, as well, and we all know that the next president will need that.

In 2003, South Carolina was in an almost $1 billion financial hole in addition to a $155 million unconstitutional deficit. After years of engaging in a tug-of-war with the Legislature over the issue of spending, we’re starting to see signs of progress - the 2007 budget process started in the black for the first time in 16 years.

8) Micheal Steele

Has called for the repeal of federal gasoline and diesel taxes as an immediate, short term solution for our energy crisis. He also supports tax breaks on green automobiles and repealing the death tax.

7) Tim Pawlenty

Balanced the Minnesota budget not by raising taxes, and not by cutting spending, but rather by slowing the rate of funding growth for state services.

6) Mike Pence

Pence describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." He supported no amnesty immigration reform, a ban on embryonic stem cell research (he cites the viability of adult stem cells.

5) George Allen

A former governor of Virginia, and a former US senator, George Allen definitely has the credentials required. His loose lips are a detriment, a la the "Mucaca" quip.

4) Bobby Jindal

The governor of Louisiana is actually my favorite in the list, but he recently batted down any talk of him running for president when he announced his bid for re-election in 2011 in Richmond, VA. Jindal is currently experiencing the same kind of buzz created in 2004 by a certain senator from Illinois.

3) Newt Gingrich

Any credit for Bill Clinton's bi-partisanship taken by the Democrats needs to coupled with Gingrich and the "Contract for America". Gingrich is a conservative's conservative. He also posesses national recognition that no other person above him on this list can claim.

2) Mike Huckabee

Huckabee was the favorite amongst conservatives during the primaries. He is curently hosting his own show on Fox News. The only thing holding back Huckabee is his poor comedic timing.

1) Sarah Palin

Round 1 may be over, but Palin thrust herself into the national political spotlight with her no nonsense approach and her appeal to regular folks. Like her or not, there is no denying that she is the superstar of the party right now.