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April 2009 Archives

April 1, 2009


In a stunning new development, White House sources say the President's Auto Task Force is finalizing a recommendation that General Motors be put in its entirety on eBay, the popular internet auction site. The plan will be presented to President Obama upon his return from the G20 Summit later this week.

"The President charged us to think outside the box," said one task force member who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "And so we did." Faced with trying to find buyers or investors in an economic downturn, the task force "entertained every idea," said the source, "from bake sales to chain letters." One task force member suggested setting up a Facebook "Cause" that would allow the social network's near 200 million users to contribute to the ailing automaker. In the end, though, the eBay option won out. "It was the consensus solution," said the source, "It's easy and it appeals to the President's affinity for using new technology to solve yesterday's problems."

Assuming the President's sign-off, the auto behemoth could be in among the used cars and Elvis memorabilia on the popular site by this weekend. The bidding price is expected to start at

Continue reading "BREAKING NEWS: GM To Be Put On eBay" »

Card Check Update: As Support Weakens in Senate, Dems Scramble for Half a Loaf

The Hill reported yesterday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) continues to express great skepticism about the card check bill and still refuses to be a co-sponsor, an article of faith for virtually all of her Democrat colleagues. Today, The Hill reports that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) -- another of the tiny band of Democrat non-sponsors -- is looking for a compromise as well, and says he will approach Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) about it. We've said before that a bad idea in Washington ought not lead to a compromise that results in half of a bad idea.

The biggest issue facing the country right now is the economy and the Senate should be about the business of finding ways to fix it without saddling us all with crushing debt for the rest of our lives. Much as the unions want to tie card check to the economy, the plain fact is that it has nothing to do with it. This is about democracy and sadly the unions are in the anti-democracy camp along with their many allies -- all Democrats -- in the House and Senate. Up until now, anti-democracy has not been a place most politicians have wanted to be. Ah, the things they'll do for money.

Sens. Pryor, Feinstein, Specter and any others looking to have it both ways would be well-advised to spend what little time they have on the real issues facing America and not on currying favor with the anti-democracy crowd.

April 2, 2009

Budget Side-by-Side

As the WaPo reported today, the Republicans released their budget today. This just pinged inf from Minority Whip Eric Cantor's office,a side-by-side comparison of their budget vs. the Dems' budget. Mind you, this is their view of beauty. If something pings in from the Dems, we'll post that, too.

April 6, 2009

The New York Times: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

In yet one more case of bald-faced hypocrisy, here's this nugget from the New York Times lead editorial yesterday:

"More fiscal stimulus will be needed to support more demand and, in turn, more jobs. At the same time, the administration’s early promise to champion middle-class issues and a progressive labor agenda must be realized, rather than eclipsed, as appears to be the case at present. Goals like stronger unions will not change the quality of workers’ economic life overnight, but moving toward them, starting now, will help to renew the hope that proved so fleeting this week." (Emphasis ours)

So far, so good. But then there was this item that ran in the Boston Globe on Friday:

"The New York Times Co. has threatened to shut the Boston Globe unless the newspaper's unions swiftly agree to $20 million in concessions, union leaders said. Executives from the Times Co. and Globe made the demands Thursday morning in an approximately 90- minute meeting with leaders of the newspaper's 13 unions, union officials said. The possible concessions include pay cuts, the end of pension contributions by the company and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees now enjoyed by some veteran employees, said Daniel Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe's biggest union, which represents more than 700 editorial, advertising and business office employees."

Looks like the Times is all for stronger unions and a progressive labor agenda, as long as it doesn't apply to them.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln a 'No' on Card Check

Dealing what is likely a death blow to the anti-democracy card check bill as we know it, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) has announced she will stand with the forces of democracy and not support the card check bill, according to this story in Arkansas Business. While this means the bill in its current form is dead, anyone who's dealt with organized labor can tell you it's never over. We can expect the discussions on an ill-advised "compromise" to begin at once.

Those who would attempt to curry favor with their union benefactors would do well to remember that when it comes to democracy, there's just no compromise.

April 11, 2009

Flat Earth Society Poll: 'Earth is Flat!'

Just saw this from Michael Calderone over at The Politico. A poll of mostly -- emphasize mostly -- dinosaur journalists asked, "On balance, has journalism been helped more or hurt more by the rise of news consumption on the Internet?" A whopping 65% said the internet hurt more.

Well, of course they did. Here's a list of who was surveyed:

Peter Beinart, Gloria Borger, David Brooks, Carl Cannon, Tucker Carlson, Jonathan Chait, Roger Cohen, Steve Coll, Sam Donaldson, Bob Edwards, James Fallows, Howard Fineman, Frank Foer, Ron Fournier, Jeffrey Goldberg, Jeff Greenfield, Glenn Greenwald, David Gregory, Mark Halperin, Christopher Hitchens, Al Hunt, Mort Kondracke, Jim Lehrer, Ruth Marcus, Joshua Micah Marshall, Chris Matthews, Jane Mayer, Doyle McManus, John Micklethwait, Dana Milbank, Markos Moulitsas, Katherine McIntire Peters, Todd Purdum, Cokie Roberts, Eugene Robinson, Tom Shoop, Roger Simon, Scott Simon, Ray Suarez, Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer, Leon Wieseltier, Juan Williams, Judy Woodruff, Fareed Zakaria.

Again, mostly -- mostly -- Gore-Kerry-Obama voters, liberals, Dan Ratherites who lament their loosening grip on the information we all receive.

Had anyone asked, we would have been in the 35% that thinks that journalism's been helped by the extra eyes and opinions and lots of people calling "BS" on their collectively biased view of the world.

April 12, 2009

The Battle Over Card Check: Just Beginning

Here's a good piece by Andie Coller of The Politico for those who thought the card check would just go gently into that good-night. It notes that during this current Congressional recess, unions have "rolled out a national TV ad and grass-roots campaign to coincide with the congressional recess," noting, "... there is still a chance that a stripped-down version of the bill will pass this year."

Remember, when it comes to democracy, there is no compromise. Ask Neville Chamberlain.

[UPDATE]: Looks like it's the cavalry to the rescue according to this story in Monday's WSJ from Brody Mullins. The Chamber is rolling out a million dollar ad campaign in Nebraska, Virginia, Louisiana, North Dakota and Colorado. You can see the ads featured on the front page of the Chamber's YouTube channel. They're pretty good.

NLRB: Most Elections Held Within 38 Days

The WaPo features a roundtable of sorts on card check today, with voices pro and con. But the anti-democracy advocates keep repeating some old and tired canards. Among them is this notion that elections are subject to interminable delays by employers -- who by the way, are exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. No matter.

And so we strolled on over to the NLRB website to see how long it takes to conduct union elections. In their 2008 annual report -- a non-partisan document - Chairman Peter Schaumber on behalf of the Board says:

"There are those who have expressed a view that the Board’s representation processes take too long. Our performance in FY 2008, as in prior years, demonstrates that those concerns are not warranted. NLRB elections are held expeditiously. Indeed, our latest statistics show that initial elections are held within a median of 38 days, one day less than the 39 median days achieved in FY 2007, and 95.1 percent of all initial elections are conducted within 56 days of the filing of the petition, compared to 93.9 percent in FY 2007." (Emphasis added)

It has been discouraging how the facts have been routinely discarded throughout this debate. The unions' henchmen - and women - in the Congress are often heard railing about election delays as a central reason for undermining democracy. From a plain examination of the facts, it looks like they'd better find another argument.

Continue reading "NLRB: Most Elections Held Within 38 Days" »

April 15, 2009

Tea Party Day!

After considerable build-up, it's finally here, Tax Day and Tea Party Day. There will be scores of events around the country to protest the ever-growing government and the spending necessary to keep it running at its inefficient best.

Here's the website for the national group, but you can also text "Teaparty" to 69302 to get updates. The DC event will be at the Treasury Department (fitting, isn't it?) at noon. The joy of this whole push has been the absolute rage it has engendered on the left. If not one person shows up at a single event today, it will have been worth it to have made the crazies even crazier. That alone feels good.

Enjoy the Tea Party in your area.

After All That: Obama Administration Says Chinese Currency Not Manipulated

After all the sturm und drang from the unions and their allies over china's currency, specifically complaints that the Chinese are manipulating their currency, today reality ran headlong into the Obama Administration - or maybe the other way around. The Bush Administration was roundly derided for 8 consecutive years for refusing to find -- in its semi-annual Report to the Congress on International Economic and Exchange Rate Polices, as required by law - that the Chinese were manipulating their currency in order to make their exports artificially cheaper in the US and around the world.

So Obama campaigned on it, Treasury Secretary Geithner in his confirmation hearings (when they weren't king why he didn't pay his taxes) reinforced the point. Both said the Chinese were in fact manipulating their currency and b'gosh once they got hold of the levers of government they would say so.

...or not....

Today, in Geithner's report to Congress, he found that in fact China is not manipulating their currency after all. Who knew?

This is but one more reminder that politics is easy, governing is hard. All these pronouncements made in the heat of the campaign start to fade -- or get finessed -- once the rubber meets the road. Let's see if Obama bears the brunt of the same barrage suffered by his predecessor for making the identical finding.

April 16, 2009

Fairfax County Parks to Begin Charging Admission Fee to Residents

Here's a disturbing turn of events - and a parochial issue. Looks like Fairfax County is going to begin charging county residents, county taxpayers who've already paid for the privilege - an entry fee to use county parks. As a big user of the parks myself -- and a big taxpayer -- this is more than a little annoying. And all the real-life consequences noted in the WaPo article -- long lines to get in, people parking in nearby neighborhoods and walking to the parks -- are real. Remember, admission now is not free for county residents. We pay for it already with our taxes. It's presumably what taxes are for, no?

Here's a link to a petition started by county resident and park user Sandy Kosch, or you can e-mail the county directly. Here's a link to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board home page and here is the feedback form. Probably best to do it all.

Have at it.

[UPDATE]: If you're on Facebook, there's also a group you can join there called, "NO Fairfax County Park Fees."

April 20, 2009

Politics Online Conference Kicks Off

This great annual event -- that has grown from a classroom at GW University to the Reagan Building - kicks off today. Here's a link to the POLC '09 agenda.

Come on by tomorrow at 10 for a scintillating and spellbinding panel entitled, "Public Affairs in the Digital Age: Real People = Real Results." Who knows? You might run into somebody that you know.

You can also follow along on Twitter: @POLC09.

April 21, 2009

Hedrick Smith, Frontline and Old, Tired News

Just happened to catch this on the radio on the way home tonight, at the tail end of the Lehrer News Hour, a teaser for the reliably-lefty Hedrick Smith and the reliably-lefty Frontline. It's a show about how the Chesapeake Bay, among other waterways, is of course terribly polluted. Here is the gloomy opening: "Crabs have long been the trademark of Chesapeake Bay but the catch is now down more than 50% from 25 years ago..." All the news is bad, you know. Where the old spy Bill Moyers when you need him?

Only problem is, the WaPo reported this on the front page of the lowly Metro section today, "A Baby Boom Of Blue Crabs." It notes that the crab population is up by 120 million this year, a whopping 43%. Poor ol' Hedrick likely put this story to bed a few years ago. and hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

Maybe Hedrick's fact checker went in the last round of cuts over at PBS.....

April 23, 2009

China Emerges as Global Leader, and Critic

According to this story, China is taking advantage of the economic slump to step in an help developing nations, serving up a little criticism along with its aid to developing countries. It's interesting -- when you talk to manufacturers who do business around the globe, every one will remark that China's stimulus saw almost instant results, while it is likely that US manufacturers will maybe never see the results of the trillion dollars spent by our Congress to stimulate the growth of government.

Hard to blame the Chinese for that.....

April 24, 2009

What's in Store for Health Care? Rationing.

Reliable wise man Charles Krauthammer has a great piece in today's WaPo on the topic of health care, making the point that under Obama's plan, there will be rationing. As people gather for the biennial debate over health care policy, there is one mantra they should repeat over and over again:

"There is no 'blank check,' universal coverage health care system in the world."

Let's try that again:

"There is no 'blank check,' universal coverage health care system in the world."

One only need to cast their eyes northward to Canada to see that the median waiting time there for surgical or other therapeutic treatment now exceeds 17 weeks. The UK, too, is famous for its waiting list of people waiting to get on the waiting list for treatment. No joke.

Congress isn't very good at delivering the bad medicine -- the spinach, in Krauthammer's terms. They promise, promise, promise. Everything will be better - and cheaper. Truth is, with mandated universal coverage comes rationing -- not sometimes, but always. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad choice, but we need to make that choice with our eyes wide open.

There is no "blank check," universal coverage health care system in the world.

Continue reading "What's in Store for Health Care? Rationing." »

April 27, 2009

For Unions, Less Transparency

Here's this, from today's Washington Times. Not a good development for the cause of transparency, which apparently doesn't apply to Administration allies:

The Obama administration, which has boasted about its efforts to make government more transparent, is rolling back rules requiring labor unions and their leaders to report information about their finances and compensation.

You can read the full story here.

And if you think this is a lousy idea, if you are pro-transparency, drop them an e-mail and let them know.

Helen Black, 1922-2009

We lost a great one on Saturday, a one-of-a-kind. I never knew her, but I can say she raised at least one fine (albeit politically misguided) son, my friend Bill Black. He was as devoted as a son can be, and his affection for his mom was palpable to anyone who knows him. This video of her on Bill's blog -- on the occasion of her 85th birthday last year -- pretty much sums up the wily, mischievous, full-of-life spirit that was Helen Black.

"On the day when the weight deadens on your shoulders and you stumble, may the clay dance to balance you. And when your eyes freeze behind the gray window and the ghost of loss gets in to you, may a flock of colors, indigo, red, green, and azure blue come to waken in you a meadow of delight. "

- from "Bennacht" by John O'Donohue

May she rest in peace.

Politics Online Conference Video on C-SPAN

The nice people over at C-SPAN have posted a video on their site of the panel we did last week on digital public affairs at the Politics Online '09 Conference. Thanks to Doug Crew who spotted it on C-SPAN last night, and alerted us to the fact that it was there. Apparently he was having trouble sleeping 'til he saw it. For our part, we think it's scintillating.

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About April 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Pat Cleary.com in April 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

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