SUFA Officially Endorses Jack Bauer

I was running through the news this afternoon, just wondering what it was that I was going to write a short article about. Tons of topics available, but most of them were going to take more time than I had available to work on an article. I saw a particular story and chuckled to myself that what I read wasn’t really “news” so much as it was “business as usual.” The article was chronicling the news that, and I know this will stun many of you into wandering the streets and muttering “there’s no place like home”, the nation’s largest teacher’s union has officially endorsed Barack Obama in his bid for President in 2012. First, isn’t it a little early to be endorsing a candidate? And second, does an endorsement actually mean anything anymore?

Let’s face it. A union endorsing the King of the Union Kiss Asses isn’t really news, is it? I mean, couldn’t the NEA just go ahead and announce that, going forward, they will officially endorse every Democrat running for President for the next several elections? And when it comes to kissing union ass, not only do Democrats do it well, but Barack Obama is the absolute best at feeding the union the lines they want to hear. Then again, Obama is the best at feeding just about everyone the lines they want to hear, which has led to several here at SUFA and also at the national level claiming that this President is the biggest liar we have had in office to date. That happens to be a statement that I agree with, for the record, although I am sure that it is because deep in my psychi, I am still unable to accept a black man as the President (because let’s face it if you are white in America, you are either overtly racist, or you are a racist deep inside in parts of you that you don’t want to admit to, but there are no non-racist white people, just ask the NAACP).

I was well aware that the NEA, which is based in, wait for it….. Chicago (I know, shocking, right? ) would be endorsing Obama long before this announcement. But doesn’t an announcement this early really tip their hand in a way that was perhaps foolish and certainly limited the credibility of the endorsement? We are still a year and a half away from the election. We are still a year away from the convention that will reveal the GOP nominee! The NEA doesn’t have any idea who the GOP candidate will be and they certainly don’t have any idea what the position of that candidate will be on the issues that may be important to the NEA union members. How can the NEA say that Obama is the best candidate when they don’t even know who the other candidate might be?

But doesn’t this really point out one of the ridiculous premises of the overwhelmingly ridiculous political spectrum in a poignant way? For the most part, don’t we already know that each group is going to endorse whatever candidate represents a specific party regardless of anything else? Is the Christian establishment going to suddenly endorse a Democrat for President? I think not. And the unions will endorse the Democrats. It just is what it is.

But it begs the question: Does a political endorsement these days have any purpose? I know that it used to. There was a time when that endorsement made the difference between winning and losing. But it seems that today, the only thing that an endorsement means is that there is yet another group of people who you owe a favor to. Because that’s how endorsements work in today’s political world. They are not earned based on your positions. They are bought based on what you have to offer for that particular group. In other words, politicians are bribing the political groups, or conversely, political groups are blackmailing the politicians. Either way, it isn’t what the average American thinks that it is.

And for the most part, aren’t any of the people who may choose to vote for a candidate based on the recommendation of a group they are affiliated with already going to vote for that candidate because they share the ideals and beliefs of the group? Realistically, aren’t the majority of teachers in the NEA going to vote for Obama regardless of whether the NEA endorses him? And realistically, do you believe that any of the teachers in the NEA who wouldn’t vote for Obama are going to change their vote because of this endorsement?

This isn’t the past, where the average voter not only didn’t know a lot about the candidates, but they would struggle to even find the information that they are looking for. Today, everyone has access to the internet. Information about a candidate is right at the fingertips of anyone who wants to search for it. So is anyone really relying on the endorsement of the NEA to help them make the choice? And as mentioned above, if someone was relying on the NEA to help them decide, doesn’t declaring your allegiance a year before you know the name or political positions of the opposition clearly state that it is an agenda driven decision rather than a thought out endorsement of the candidate most in line with the beliefs of the membership?

So I ask the readers at SUFA to offer up their thoughts. Do political endorsements from these big groups mean anything? Do you think that there is anyone out there making their choice for the Presidency based on the endorsement of their union or the National Christian Association? If you do think there are some out there making their decisions this way, do you think that the numbers are substantial enough to warrant candidates actually courting the big groups? Or has the time come, much like the unions themselves, where endorsements should go the way of the do-do?

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Comments

  1. I “sense” displeasure with the political process from you this morning, USW. Is that because the favors (whether paid for with cash contritubtions or votes) are corrupting? If so, isn’t that an argument against capitalism? I mean, if all one needs do is follow the path of logical reciprocity (and especially since unions are falling by the wayside), isn’t a logical conclusion that the corrupting influence in Washington (and state governments) money?

    Then one has to ask: “But who has the money?”

    Certainly not the deflated/deflating unions. Certainly not even Joe the illegal plumber.

    It’s corporate America that has the gelt. They and the (0.2%) [that to make you happy, but I’ll still call it the 2%’s]. So, money has corrupted the system and money will continue to do so (especially with globalization), yet SUFA seems to defend the process. Oh, it talks a lot about liberty and freedom and all the other libertarian talking points, but rather than attack the problem (money), it blames the unions and all those workers who don’t appreciate the good deal their getting?

    Maybe if we want to keep our jobs here in the good old US&A, we should agree to work for the same wages (without beneifts, of course) as those in Singapore or Brazil or India (where Goldman Sachs just thanked America by announcing their cutting 230 NY jobs so they can hire “thousands” in those countries).

    What does this have to do with endorsements? Look to the money behind the endorsements to find the corruption. Union workers were screwed over six ways to Sunday by Obama and most I suspect will vote for the lame MFer anyway … he is a liar … and so are the vast majority of politicians who dare speak to working for the public that hired them (with their votes) … because except for Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul (two from different sides of the aisle who won’t be bought off), the rest owe their asses to big money … on both sides of the aisle.

    Obama didn’t deliver jack to unions … in fact, he ignored his campaign promise to “walk the line where collective bargaining was being threatened” … why any union workers would vote for him now is beyond reason; the same as any “freedom loving/crying” conservative would vote Republican (with what they owe corporations—remember them, the bailed out?) …

    And in the end, Obama will your president for another four years …

  2. My quickie answer (have a newborn yelling at me again for a diaper and bottle) – early endorsement just signals who they are going to strongarm membership into supporting. Even in non-union shops you’re “advised” early on who to support and how (re: $$$$). I’m surprised that where you work now you haven’t been tapped on the shoulder to fork over some money to the appropriate PAC.

    Regards,

    Ray

    • Mid to big law firms donate to both sides of the aisle for obvious reasons. I worked for a very conservative firm that hired Geraldine Ferrara to court Democrats … it’s a “look at us” statement, especially when they knew the Reps wouldn’t win in 2008. I suspect that firm will do the same in 2012 because of the weak GOP field.

      Early endorsements are what Ray said … pokes in the arm, but when you point out the corruption beween Dems and unions, then Christians and conservatives, I suspect you’re purposefully avoiding Reps and big business. We’re about to watch Obama fold yet another tent and offer more corporate tax subsidies (corporate welfare) as a bargaining chip to deal with the Reps in Congress …

      Nationalize them and there’s no longer a need to bargain with anybody.

      • Funny thing about those subsidies-I think we shouldn’t have them but as long as we have out of control regulation which increases the cost of doing business-I think talking about one as a tax break without addressing the other is a tad lop sided.

        And yea, I suppose if we nationalized everything there wouldn’t be anybody to bargain with is true statement-just not at all sure Why you think that would be a good thing.

        • Because then the business has to flee to other countries at its own risk. We keep the infrastructure and talent; those that want to leave, good riddens. We keep the money and JOBS here.

          Do you think Goldman Sachs getting bailed out and then permitted to outsource is a good thing?

          • What I think is that it took government power to bail them out. I also think you make alot of assumptions about what all these per you evil power and money hungry politicians would do without any restraints on their power. You certainly don’t give the ability to act decently to any regular business owner. Yet you want to increase the control of government way beyond the power of any individual company and you think the outcome will be good for the country.

            • I think it’s about time we had true representation and not puppets. Strip the government of these lackeys and put 2 year term limits on elected officials; remove all the cash donations to campaigns and keep everything (as much as possible) local.

              • Well goodness that’s even more decentralized than State rights 🙂 I think 2 years is a little too restrictive-all we would have is elections and spending of money- but I do agree with term limits. As far as no cash donations-will have to think about that a little more. My only question is do you believe we can have this decentralized government of which you speak and still nationalize business? These two ideas seem to cancel out the other.

            • What I think is that it took government power to bail them out.

              The same government owned by big business. Vicious circle, isn’t it? So long as you protect the money, you’re not going to get a different result. So, either we accept being slaves to big business (talk about liberty) or we put business to work for the greater good. Seems logical enough to me.

              • Charlie….I have seen you say this for eons now…..so a question. HOw do you put big business to work for the greater good? But..let me aska couple of questions (well, maybe more than a couple).

                Let me assume that I am big business for this exercise and I am makinf a high grade purple widget, I hire people at whatever wage that I wish to hire them. I have whatever benefits I wish to bestow and I make a great profit. ( I do not buy the theory that the man sweeping the floors is the same as me, who designed the purple widget ). I am smarter and more productive than the floor sweeper…or he would be in big business himself. I have three homes, 2 boats, an airplane, swimming pool, three cars ( A Lexus, a BMW, and , hmmm…..a totally awesome big ass SUV.) I have these because I have designed a purple widget and marketed my purple widget and reap huge profits from it because the demand is there and someoneis willing to fork over obscene amounts of money for my purple widget. ( It really is an awesome widget ) I pay a wage that employs people. I have some benefits that they seem to enjoy or they would not work for me, They do not have to work for me but they choose to. Now, here comes…the Stella man…and decides that my widget should belong to the state and nationalizes my company. In other words, he forcefully takes my private property. Stella man decides that I am not entitled to anything more than the floor sweeper…..that we are all the same. I now have an option. Since it is my invention and takes my intellectual prowess to produce this awesome widget, I decide to go to Ambrosia ( the third sun of Pluto ) and open my business there. Leaving Pluto, Stella man says good riddance…we do not need anyone here that is capitalist. So, D13 goes to Ambrosia…with his invention……………..and Stella man has no more purple widgets, no more taxes, no more employment, just dumped 100 employees onto unemployment and welfare food lines and government (shudder) health.

                Question: What did you accomplish?

    • Ray

      Was my thought as well, it’s about the money. Obama knows where his popularity is at right now and it’s going to cost all of that billion he’s looking to raise and spend. I also wonder why ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and NY Times don’t go ahead and endorse Obama.

      • @LOI – they don’t want to seem too obvious is my guess – even though their own programming and angles betrays them. When newly elected Obama came to Philly a while back I was privy to some interesting inner-workings (via an investigation I was doing) on how pecking orders and access are established for POTUS. The media whores will stop at nothing to get access to POTUS – even if it means losing any hope of being objective. On the flip side, access to POTUS is quickly shit down or “managed” when dealing with adverse press folks.

    • Murphy's Law says:

      @ Ray- She has healthy lungs, I take it! Congrats, sir, I don’t think I said so the other day. And how is that big brother doing? And mom?

      As a teacher who doesn’t (and won’t) belong to a teacher’s union, I couldn’t care less who the NEA or any other union endorses.

      My teaching position requires travel to several campuses, and I work fairly closely with many teachers on those campuses. I hear them decrying kids’ entitlement attitudes, and how they are growing up in families who expect handouts from the government. I hear them talk about how difficult it is to teach their students to be responsible, independent, contributing members of society. Of course, they say….we want our students to graduate, go to college, and get a good job! No welfare mentality, no sir!

      Then I will hear those same teachers gripe about how low their raise was this year, how it is wrong to cut the education budget……When I state my opinion that most teachers have developed an entitlement mentality, at first I get a rather blank look. When I point out to them that 1) we work for a non-profit organization, 2) every dime in our paychecks came from someone else’s pocket, 3) we produce nothing that generates a profit, and 4) always expecting a raise is like a welfare recipient always expecting more benefits…..the dawning of realization hits their face. They usually have nothing more to say, except to agree with me. Most had never stopped to think about the hypocrisy of it or how teacher unions foster that hypocrisy.

      Thanks for another great article, USW.

      Murf

      • always expecting a raise is like a welfare recipient always expecting more benefits

        Except, of course, they’re actually WORKING …

        • Doesn’t matter…..it is the “expectation” that matters.

          • So they should work but not “expect” a raise while profits soar in the private sector? That’s a good deal for those with the gelt. No wonder you approve of outsourcing.

            • Charlie, my friend…..I do NOT approve of out sourcing at all. I never have and I never said that I did. WhatI have said is that out sourcing is a choice that business’ have that choice is that with our trade imbalances that favor over seas….outsourcing is ineveitable to compete. Bring trade into balance…then you will not have out sourcing.

              As to expectation……you should have no expectation of a raise. A raise is given for earned work…not seniority or being a nice guy. Tenure raises are a pariah to productivity.

        • Murphy's Law says:

          Good point, Charlie, and well taken…..but don’t miss my point….many teachers believe they should receive a raise every year just for showing up each morning (and I’ve seen some who don’t even do that). I have seen some classrooms that were dumps, absolute atrocities, in the large district where I work.

          I have seen a classroom where Jerry Springer was played on TV every day, and often the aide was asleep in a rocking chair when I walked in. The teacher was NEVER out from behind her desk, her a** firmly glued to her chair and her eyes equally glued to her computer screen. Trash littered the floor, and the room smelled so bad I felt I needed a shower every time I left it. I am not making this up, nor am I exaggerating. And I guarantee you this teacher felt she deserved a raise every year. And every one of my colleagues has multiple stories to match that one. It is the attitude of teachers like that one who remind me of welfare recipients. And unfortunately that is the norm rather than the exception.

          Murf

      • @Murf – daughter is doing well (and thanks for well wishes to all) – trying to get her sleep schedule flipped which has been a bear. She is a doll and just melts my heart. Our son is doing well – only two but he has taken a keen interest in being a big boy and helping any way he can! I love it!

        And thanks for the anecdotal on your experience as a teacher. Kudos for wakening some folks up I hope!

        • Murphy's Law says:

          It may sound nuts, but 2 yr olds are just about my favorites. I remember thinking one day, when my first son was 3 months old, that there was no way he could get any cuter. I was wrong.

          I wish you and your wife some sleep……and just enjoy this time as much as you can. Easy for me to say, I know…btw, If your son loves helping with his little sister, you two are doing something right!

          Murf

  3. Endorsements-Yea, I think they mean something,-because they usually come with the backing of money and with the media the addition of articles and stories slanted in favor of whoever they are endorcing. The coverage that all this money can buy-obviously has the power to influence people. Besides group think can be very strong when the organization concentrates on something specific-like abortion, gay marriage, the environment, race or your pay check-which can override all other issues for alot of people.

  4. I was curious, so I went back to the web site to see who won the contest to sing the National Anthem.

    Congratulations to Our Winner!
    Sean Bockstie, Waynesboro PA

    • USWeapon says:

      Yes, I had planned to mention it on open mic. With help from SUFA and some other folks, Sean went from Down 7 points to up 7 points and won going away!

      Thank you to all who voted!

      • Oops-Sorry didn’t realize you were going to bring it up – but I’m glad she won-I think she was the best. 🙂

      • Of course…..sir….you picked up 25 votes from my staff at the base under the threat of having to spend a weekend at Del Rio….in 108 degrees…..no pressure though. ( I love being a Colonel ).

  5. I think I read (don’t have time to go back) that this endorsement by the NEA also came with a mandate for a $10 across the board “tax” “donation” “dues” whatever they wanted to call it, of all members to beef up their political warchest. I think there are something like 3.2 million NEA members. Yeah, it’s all about the $$$$

  6. FORTUNE — How many ways are there to sidestep Congress’ refusal to make it easier for unions to organize? Let us count them. No, better than that, let’s add yet another example — this one involving Delta Airlines — to the growing pile of end-runs around Congress to reward a constituency this White House badly needs at its side in next year’s presidential election.

    Labor leaders bet big on an Obama victory in 2008, hoping Congress would enact, and the Democratic president would sign, “card-check” — legislation designed to turn around labor’s sagging membership rolls by ending secret-ballot elections in organizing drives. But card-check has never been able to pass the Senate — not even when Democrats took over Congress in 2006. Instead, presidential appointees friendly to labor are deploying agency muscle.

    The latest example is taking place largely out of sight — at the National Mediation Board, a little known agency that oversees union elections for railroads and airlines. Late in 2010, flight attendants for the nonunion Delta and its unionized Northwest Airlines (acquired in a 2008 merger) voted thumbs down on joining the Association of Flight Attendants. The board — where two of the three members are former top union officials — reacted by investigating Delta for “interference” in the election, prompted by union claims that the company circulated too much literature.

    Another vote is likely to follow, even though this was the third time Delta (DAL, Fortune 500) flight attendants had rejected the union. And here’s another twist: The union lost that November vote even after the NMB changed the rules — in place since the 1930s — to require that only a majority of those who vote, not a majority of the workplace, needs to sign off on unionization.

    “They voted under new rules that the unions asked for,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson told Fortune via email. “They’ve done everything asked of them. And because they said no to union representation, their decisions aren’t being respected; they’re being held hostage.”

    Two years after the merger, flight attendants are still operating under different pay scales, and face restrictions on transferring to new locations or changing jobs.

    On average, nonunion Delta flight attendants take home 12% more than their unionized Northwest counterparts (based on a typical 75-hour-a-month schedule); they enjoy more generous profit-sharing and retirement matches from the company; and they don’t have to dole out $43 a month in union dues.

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/30/news/economy/obama_labor_unions.fortune/index.htm
    more at link!!!!

    • Can the government require you to join a union???

      http://www.newsbusters.org/next-docket.html

      • We both know that if the Supreme Court continues on the same course it’s been following-pretty soon there will be nothing they can’t make us do. I actually would be hard pressed to think of anything the government can’t make us do now, if they decided they wanted to.

        • The Sixth courts decision on Obamacare was very interesting, saying the SCOTUS would have to rule congress could require virtually anything under the commerce clause, or they would have to strike it down. If it’s legal, any law they pass could potentially be tied to commerce.

  7. I wonder where BF has gotten too??

  8. In Contest to Find Worst Boss, Don’t Look for the Union Label

    By Stephen Clark

    Published June 29, 2011

    The AFL-CIO is hosting a bad boss contest in which employees of the union can’t enter.

    When it comes to bad boss stories, the AFL-CIO wants to hear all about them — hosting a contest in which the most abused worker wins a weeklong vacation. The only limitation to entering — contestants can’t be employees of the AFL-CIO.

    “Employees, officers, and directors (and their immediate family members and members of the same households, whether related or not) of Working America, Union Privilege or the AFL-CIO are not eligible to participate,” the AFL-CIO says at the bottom of an email

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/06/29/union-leaders-hold-contest-for-worst-boss-stories-that-excludes-them/#ixzz1RFiAAHq0

    • USWeapon says:

      @LOI… I can see what your angle is, but… Have you ever seen a contest where the empoyees, officers, directors, and family members were not ineligible? Every contest I have ever seen had that stipulation. It was more about ensuring fair practice in the contest than anything. What leads you to believe that this is any different?

      • Personal bias. Our business went under years ago when the single customer we supplied shut down due to it’s second round of union problems in two years. Add to that, I have seen several local businesses shut down or relocate due to ever increasing union demands. That said, my only angle was to post a current news story that included unions. I may be guilty in not looking any farther since it was a match to my personal feelings about unions.

      • Murphy's Law says:

        Apparently Stephen Clark felt it was different.

  9. At first glance this may not seem to fit with today’s topic-but it certainly shows the devises that are used to influence the people’s votes-that these organizations use.

    The Education of a Compassionate Conservative
    By Ed Kaitz

    “Uncompassionate” Conservatives

    National Review editor Rich Lowry doesn’t seem to care much for Texas Governor Rick Perry. In a recent essay entitled “The Rise of Uncompassionate Conservatism” Lowry admonishes Gov. Perry for “stomping all over [compassionate conservatism] with cowboy boots emblazoned with the words ‘Freedom’ and ‘Liberty.'” Lowry, who considers Gov. Perry the “Republican noncandidate flavor of the week,” aches for the luminous days when George Bush won over “the center as well as the right” with his signature insight into the wonders of compassionate conservatism.

    For Lowry, Gov. Perry’s “unadulterated doctrine” only appeals to the “doctrinaire” and simply proves that Perry has “been spending too much time at Federalist Society seminars.” So instead of educating his readers concerning the false dichotomy between being a compassionate conservative and being, well, Rick Perry, Lowry’s commentary only proves that he, like Bush, has swallowed to some extent that most ingenious of all leftist philosophical creations: that “compassion” can most effectively be sold as an organized, planned government thingy.

    Indeed, the “compassion” card is the Holy Grail to a progressive Democrat. It’s a philosophical ace in the hole that has allowed Democrats to rhetorically smother and intimidate Republicans for generations. It’s an idea, as Ronald Reagan should have known, more formidable than the Soviet military. It’s the reason a socialist like Barack Obama was swept into office in America a mere twenty years after communism was “defeated.” It’s the reason why Whittaker Chambers argued that for Communists, “the sense of moral superiority … [allows them] to berate their opponents with withering self-righteousness.”

    The brilliant French philosopher and journalist Jean-François Revel spent his life warning Americans and Europeans of the tremendous power of the left’s creative discourse on compassion and social justice. In books such as The Totalitarian Temptation, How Democracies Perish, and Last Exit to Utopia Revel collected a mountain of evidence in order to paint a very modern picture of a very old but successful, and enduring, leftist strategy:

    The Left’s winning strategy [is] to make [conservatives] fear the consequences of their own devotion to their philosophy, and to pressure them to abjure it altogether.

    For example, had John McCain been more confident in his philosophy and less petrified by what those on the left had already assumed was the internal moral poisoning that accompanied the Republican label, he might well be sitting in the White House today helping to orchestrate an economic recovery. To take just one example, back in October of 2008, many in the candidate’s inner circle — including Sarah Palin — were imploring McCain to publically address Obama’s twenty-year connection to his virulently anti-American preacher Jeremiah Wright. McCain refused. At the time, a top Republican official close to McCain put it this way:

    McCain felt it would be sensed as racially insensitive. But more important is that McCain thinks that the bringing of racial religious preaching in black churches into the campaign would potentially have grave consequences for civil society in the United States.

    “I don’t want to be known as a racist,” said the official, “and McCain doesn’t want to be known as a racist candidate.”

    In short, McCain’s desire to both educate the public about racially divisive preachers and openly defend his own philosophy of opportunity was no match for the concern he had regarding what those on the left might “sense” about him and the danger these same leftists would pose to “civil society.” Hans Christian Anderson wrote a famous story about this kind of psychological intimidation; it’s called “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

    Indeed, Revel made the fascinating observation that democratic civilization tends to spawn a particular kind of self-deprecating mindset among many of its domestic public servants in the face of internal and external intimidation. Revel says that in the battle for ideas between determined collectivists on the left and the laissez-faire capitalists on the right it seems quite natural that the more unscrupulous and tenacious leftists will have a competitive advantage. “But it is less natural and more novel,” says Revel, “that the stricken civilization should not only be deeply convinced of the rightness of its own defeat, but that it should regale its friends and foes with reasons why defending itself would be immoral and, in any event, superfluous, useless, even dangerous.”

    Leftist assumption of control of academia and the media was so swift and thorough during the 1970s and 80s only because many conservatives had swallowed the liberal line that such values as self-reliance, merit, individualism, and fairness were not only immoral and indefensible but quite possibly racist and borderline fascist as well. These were heady days for progressive thugs, especially in academia where conservative professors lived in terror of being outed by both students and faculty. Self-righteous and self-appointed inquisitors like then-Duke professor Stanley Fish typified leftist sanctimony during the early 1990s with statements like the following:

    Individualism, fairness, merit — these three words are continually in the mouths of our up to date, newly respectable bigots who have learned that they need not put on a white hood or bar access to the ballot box in order to secure their ends.

    Conservative devotion to objective standards of measurement and justice, in other words, is simply a racist tactic designed by “newly respectable bigots” in order to deny advancement to oppressed minorities.

    And while the philosophically unopposed progressives on the left have assumed a kind of imperial swagger in their derisive, anti-conservative rhetoric over the last few decades, nothing I’ve seen remotely captures the essence of their vanity as perfectly as President Obama’s address to congressional Democrats prior to the Health Care vote last March:

    [S]omething inspired you to be a Democrat instead of running as a Republican. Because somewhere deep in your heart you said to yourself, I believe in an America in which we don’t just look out for ourselves, that we don’t just tell people you’re on your own, that we are proud of our individualism, we are proud of our liberty, but we also have a sense of neighborliness and a sense of community and we are willing to look out for one another and help people who are vulnerable and help people who are down on their luck and give them a pathway to success and give them a ladder into the middle class.

    Much like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was the father of modern collectivism and social justice philosophy, Barack Obama seems to think that since most of us have particular desires that run counter to what he considers to be the public good, we are in need of a kind of liberation through persuasion. Simply put, if we cling to personal desires that create obstacles to communal justice then it merely proves that we are acting in ways contrary to what our more enlightened selves would desire. In his Social Contract Rousseau argues that this kind of myopia is synonymous with enslavement:

    When the opinion contrary to mine prevails, that only proves that I was mistaken, and that what I had considered to be the general will was not. If my private opinion had prevailed, I would have done something other than what I wanted to do, and then I would not have been free.

    Freedom, in other words, means liberating yourself from desires that run counter to the “general will.” And like many modern collectivists, Rousseau insists that someone with “superior intelligence” is necessary to “teach [the public] to know what it wants.” Those who refuse to obey the “general will,” says Rousseau, “shall be constrained to do so by the whole body; which means nothing else than that [they] shall be forced to be free.”

    The disturbing truth about all of this however is that unless confident, philosophically inclined conservatives are willing to challenge the left’s fabrication about morality on the plane of ideas, the Lowrys and McCains and Bushes of the world will — give or take an occasional and slim Republican victory — merely grease the skids for what George Orwell claimed back in 1947 would be a “trend toward centralism and planning.” Our only option, said Orwell, would then be to “humanize the collectivist society” that is surely just beyond the horizon.

    Back in the late 1960s Ayn Rand wrote a book — The New Left — in which she issued warnings to various establishment conservatives who were willingly being steamrolled by a fledgling minority of newly smug collectivists in America. Rand was one of the few to understand that America’s future depended more than anything else on winning a battle of ideas:

    In the absence of intellectual opposition, the rebels’ notions will gradually come to be absorbed into the culture. The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by precedent, by implication, by erosion, by default, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until the day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.

    On the other hand, said Rand, “you would be surprised how quickly the ideologists of collectivism retreat when they encounter a confident, intellectual adversary.”

    Freedom and Compassion: F.A. Hayek, Eric Hoffer

    Restoring confidence and enthusiasm for conservative philosophy therefore goes well beyond simply outperforming Democrats on issues of job creation and the economy. In other words, the survival of our constitutional heritage will ultimately depend upon whether conservatives can mount a confident, moral defense of their own philosophy of freedom, limited government, and self-reliance. The most effective initial strategy for mounting this kind of defense will necessarily involve a thorough examination of history’s greatest anti-collectivist thinking. Some of the most compelling philosophy ever written in both the West and the East was oftentimes a product of brilliant, gutsy thinkers who were supremely confident in their beliefs and entirely unmoved by leftist claims to moral superiority.

    Friedrich Hayek is one such example. A man of sparkling wisdom and penetrating vision, Hayek can serve as a kind of intellectual nuclear missile in the battle to reclaim the moral high ground from the left. Hayek’s 1960 masterpiece, The Constitution of Liberty, represents the most spirited and comprehensive attempt in modern times to extend the shelf life of constitutionalism, individual liberty, rule of law, and personal responsibility in the face of growing welfare-state collectivism. Hayek, like Rand, worried that Western intellectuals were being snookered by the left into accepting the claim that individual freedom and limited government were morally inferior to socialist-style redistribution:

    In the struggle for the moral support of the people of the world, the lack of firm beliefs puts the West at a great disadvantage. The mood of its intellectual leaders has long been characterized by disillusionment with its principles, disparagement of its achievements, and exclusive concern with the creation of “better worlds.” This is not a mood in which we can hope to gain followers. If we are to succeed in the great struggle for ideas that is under way, we must first of all know what we believe. We must also become clear in our own minds as to what it is that we want to preserve if we are to prevent ourselves from drifting.

    Hayek makes an appeal early on in the book that not only represents the book’s defining telos but also serves as a stake in the heart of any and all socialist claims to a superior moral position: “We must show that liberty is not merely one particular value but that it is the source and condition of most moral values.”

    In short, Hayek was able to spin over four hundred well-crafted pages around one of the most important truths in modern (and ancient, as we’ll see) history: collectivism actually conspires against public spirit and morality, while limited government and freedom give birth to both. In other words, Barack Obama’s state-imposed “sense of neighborliness” is actually the quickest way to smother the very freedom that is required to lay the foundation for a truly sincere sense of neighborliness.

    Hayek explored this theme in exquisite detail in his later 1976 book The Mirage of Social Justice. As always, Hayek clearly addresses his target:

    The commitment to “social justice” has in fact become the chief outlet for moral emotion, the distinguishing attribute of the good man, and the recognized sign of the possession of a moral conscience.

    Hayek understood that the high moral claims made on behalf of social justice constitute the creative tool the left uses in order to gain political power and arbitrarily reward various politically acceptable groups. This image of social justice, according to Hayek, “inevitably destroys that freedom of personal decisions on which all morals must rest.”

    Hayek details the way in which the “freedom of personal decisions” as opposed to social justice statism is absolutely critical for inspiring the kind of neighborliness and community spirit that forms the only suitable environment for genuine morality:

    Nothing can have a more deadening effect on real participation by the citizen than if government, instead of merely providing the essential framework for spontaneous growth, becomes monolithic and takes charge of the provisions for all needs. … It is the great merit of the spontaneous order concerned only with means that it makes possible the existence of a large number of distinct and voluntary value communities serving such values as science, the arts, sports, and the like.

    Simply put, says Hayek, big government “destroys public spirit; and as a result an increasing number of men and women are turning away from public life who in the past would have devoted much effort to public purposes.”

    A contemporary of Hayek, the American philosopher Eric Hoffer, went a step further than Hayek in his analysis of collectivist societies and their moral champions by offering the following observation in his bestseller The True Believer:

    The inordinately selfish are particularly susceptible to frustration. The more selfish a person, the more poignant his disappointments. It is the inordinately selfish, therefore, who are likely to be the most persuasive champions of selflessness.

    Hoffer made the fascinating observation that “the act of self-denial seems to confer upon us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others.” In other words, Barack Obama’s demonstrated contempt for his Republican opponents quite probably springs from his own self-righteous conviction regarding his philosophical “concern” for others — despite his frequent and expensive self-affirming vacations and golf outings.

    Like Hayek, Hoffer concluded that collectivist projects usually succeed in destroying any sense of public spirit. Those who hitch their fortunes to state-sponsored, social justice “transformation” usually are seeking to renounce the kind of personal responsibility that actually forms the basis for courteous human contact:

    There is no telling what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts, and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgment.

    Hoffer concluded that the “pride and arrogance” that constitute the aura of the righteously selfless have historically created much more trouble in the world than the kind animosity that has its “source in selfishness.”

    Freedom and Compassion: Aristotle

    Some twenty-three hundred years before Hayek and Hoffer, the Greek philosopher Aristotle issued similar warnings about the dangers of collectivism in his Politics. Aristotle unleashed much of his penetrating intellect on various and foolish contemporaries who had been seduced by the “attractive face” of social justice legislation. Not surprisingly Aristotle highlighted the very issue Hayek had underscored throughout his writing: the promised “sense of community” at the heart of all leftist claims to moral superiority is extinguished by the very “sense of community” legislation designed to advance a “sense of community.”

    In the words of the brilliant Aristotle:

    This kind of legislation may appear to wear an attractive face and to demonstrate benevolence. The hearer receives it gladly, thinking that everybody will feel towards everybody else some marvelous sense of friendship — all the more as the evils now existing under ordinary forms of government (lawsuits about contracts, convictions for perjury, and obsequious flatteries of the rich) are denounced as due to the absence of a system of common property. None of these, however is due to property not being held in common. They all arise from wickedness.

    In other words, Aristotle observed that the socialists of his day championed collectivist, “common property” answers to social problems based on their purported ability to produce something like Barack Obama’s “sense of neighborliness.” But Aristotle also noticed that collectivist societies — despite the promise of a “marvelous sense of friendship” — actually unleashed a kind of underlying mutual suspicion among its citizens:

    Indeed it is a fact of observation that those who own common property, and share in its management, are far more often at variance with one another than those who have property [privately] — though those who are at variance in consequence of sharing in property look to us few in number when we compare them with the mass of those who own their property privately.

    Aristotle makes the interesting observation here that has been confirmed in just about every utopian, socialist experiment ever inflicted on human beings: the level of suspicion and paranoia about who gets what and for what reason is exponentially greater than in societies where property is privately owned:

    When everyone has his own sphere of interest, there will not be the same ground for quarrels; and they will make more effort, because each man will feel that he is applying himself to what is his own.

    In addition, the continual fascination with socialism’s “attractive face” is due in part to what “looks to us” as the more chaotic, open turmoil that typically accompanies a free society replete with private ownership of property and business. When in fact a deeper, more sinister social pathology is created by “communitarian” notions of property:

    [T]he question of ownership will give a world of trouble. If they do not share equally in enjoyments and toils, those who labor much and get little will necessarily complain of those who labor little and receive or consume much. There is always a difficulty in men living together and having things in common, but especially in their having common property.

    Aristotle was probably the first to also observe that common ownership of property would effectively destroy the virtue of generosity:

    We may add that a very great pleasure is to be found in doing a kindness and giving some help to friends, or guests, or comrades; and such kindness and help become possible only when property is privately owned.

    As Hayek observed, freedom — not state-induced sharing — forms the basis for “a sense of neighborliness.”

    Freedom and Compassion: Alexis de Tocqueville

    On his travels through our country in the 1830s, the exceptional French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville argued in his timeless treasure Democracy in America that what made America fundamentally distinct from all other countries was the enormous number of what Hayek called “distinct and voluntary value communities.” One of the most powerful and thought-provoking of the many insightful chapters in Tocqueville’s book is one entitled “How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Principle of Self-Interest Rightly Understood.” In place of Barack Obama’s naïve but politically useful division of society into selfless Democrats and selfish Republicans, Tocqueville offers a penetrating analysis into how Americans would willfully channel their selfish proclivities into various public projects. This, according to Tocqueville, constitutes the essence of self-interest rightly understood:

    The principle of self-interest rightly understood produces no great acts of self-sacrifice, but it suggests daily small acts of self-denial. By itself it cannot suffice to make a man virtuous, but it disciplines a number of persons in habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, self-command; and if it does not lead men straight to virtue by the will, it gradually draws them in that direction by their habits.

    In other words, the proliferation of Hayek’s “distinct and voluntary value communities” represents the benevolent fallout from a citizenry committed to neutralizing what Tocqueville calls the “irresistible” pull that selfishness often has in a free society. The crucial point here is that the presence of the welfare state in America was virtually nonexistent in Tocqueville’s time, which is why he stresses virtues like “self-command” and “temperance” which are only developed through freely chosen, habitual practice. Tocqueville understood quite well the danger of imploring the populace to grandiose acts of self-sacrifice:

    Each American knows when to sacrifice some of his private interests to save the rest: we [the French] want to save everything, and often we lose it all.

    For Tocqueville, “saving everything” constituted the favorite justification for centrally planned, big-government “compassion.”

    Tocqueville was so smitten with America’s less than spectacular, more plodding approach to morality that he issued an appeal to “the moralists of our age” to take a serious appraisal:

    I am not afraid to say that the principle of self-interest rightly understood appears to me the best suited of all philosophical theories to the wants of the men of our time, and that I regard it as their chief remaining security against themselves. Towards it, therefore, the minds of the moralists of our age should turn; even should they judge it to be incomplete, it must nevertheless be adopted as necessary.

    Conclusion

    Last September, Henry Olsen, who is a vice president at one of the oldest and most respected conservative think tanks in America — The American Enterprise Institute — argued in a National Review essay that in addition to the 2010 midterm elections, the 2012 presidential election would represent the culmination of a “Fifty Years’ War” between “conservatives and liberals for possession of America’s political soul.” Echoing Pascal’s famous wager on God, Olsen presents American citizens with a no less monumental political wager:

    We Americans must, then, finally choose. Do we want a more egalitarian, stable, communal nation, one that knows fewer lows but experiences many fewer highs, and that faces the prospect of fiscal disaster? Or do we want to renew America’s promise, reapplying the principles of liberty and responsible self-government to today’s problems?

    In other words, even for the director of AEI’s “National Research Initiative” the choice for American voters is between the left’s promise of a more “communal nation” and the right’s commitment to the “principles of liberty.” The current situation in the highly unstable and dubiously communal welfare state of Greece should give Mr. Olsen some pause about the attractive but simplistic leftist moral dichotomy he has unconsciously imbibed.

    When highly placed conservatives like Mr. Olsen unwittingly embrace the leftist moral mythology, one has to take seriously Whittaker Chambers’ chilling disclosure to his wife upon abandoning the Communist Party back in 1938:

    You know, we are leaving the winning world for the losing world.

    Aristotle once said that the “greatest” means of ensuring the stability and continuation of a regime’s constitutional identity is quite simply “the education of citizens in the spirit of their constitution.” Sadly, says Aristotle, this is also “the one which is nowadays generally neglected.”

    So if Gov. Rick Perry’s cowboy boots are emblazoned with the words “freedom” and “liberty” then he, more than Rich Lowry, Henry Olsen, or Karl Rove probably has an insight into what makes — as Tocqueville said — the American constitutional system truly exceptional and enduring.

    No one will be reading Lowry, Olsen, and Rove 2,500 years from now but I’ll wager that the Tao Te Ching will certainly endure. Lao Tzu, who perhaps penned the most profound description of the connection between freedom and compassion, offered the following timeless advice to any and all truth-seeking politicians and intellectuals:

    Banish benevolence, discard righteousness:

    People will return to duty and compassion.

    Then again, Lao Tzu’s “unadulterated doctrine” probably doesn’t appeal much to less than “doctrinaire” compassionate conservatives like Rich Lowry. What a shame for the future of conservatism.

    • V.H.

      Curious.

      Who else do you share these articles with when you find them?

      And YES, I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!

      • Mostly on here-I do however use the information when I talk to people about my views. Why do you ask? 🙂 And do you agree with the article?

        Glad you are back!!

        • V.H.

          Because you should boil them down a bit and then circulate them to your entire email/internet network.

          You dig up some very good stuff. Going to give some thought on how to use this information.

          Before giving agreement let me read more thoroughly. I’ve been skimming and speed reading to catch up since the Comcast guy left an hour ago. For now I think my maxim that when one uses a stick to beat someone else, you give them the moral authority to hit you back, fits the article. The result is societal breakdown of civilized behavior. The left refuses to recognize this truth. So the only question is whether that failure is deliberate or born of ignorance.

        • V.H.

          I agree with the article, with some minor caveats and points.

          I disagree with the use of selfishness, even by Mr. Tocqueville. In my view our salvation lies in selfishness, that is rational egoism as Rand put it. Tocqueville, in using the term as he did still assigns the word the negative meaning commonly used today.

          This leads to my second point. The article ignores one of the major sources of the erosion. A prime collaborator of the collectivist philosophy has been our churches. The very institutions that Tocqueville so correctly identified as our strength a couple hundred years ago. I like to blame the Catholics mostly but even the Protestant churches have picked up the GREED and SELFISHNESS club to beat us with. Think of it this way relative to one comment in the article. Why does a free and successful people so willingly castigate itself and take on such guilt for its own success? I point to the long time effect of the churches in pushing the guilt, especially the Catholic church.

          Now for point three. The author claims the ideas presented by the cited historical figures as “conservative” in philosophical principle. This is a FALSE claim in historical context. These are traditionally LIBERAL ideas and arguments. They are only conservative in that the “modern” conservative and “libertarians” have become the remnant for these values.

          There is NOTHING “liberal” about the liberals or progressives of the modern era. By definition they are the conservatives, the reactionaries, the ones trying to shackle us to an OLD way that has been proven destructive to civilized society. In their constant pursuit of change and progress they wish to actually change nothing. They only strive for more effective and efficient means of carrying out our enslavement.

          How’s that for first day back?

          • “In my view our salvation lies in selfishness”

            Selfishness or self-interest? Libs try to pin selfishness on conservative types, but I think most of us believe in self-interest. If we all take care of our self-interests, we would be fine. ie, the butcher does not sell meat so that you can eat, but rather so that his family can eat. Translate that to any trade, business, job.

            • Kathy

              I mean selfish, not self interest.

              To understand lets start with the word “selfless”. The literal meaning, using the original roots of this word is “without self”. So the word “selfless” carries a hidden poison that we have ingested as we strive to prove we are not arrogant narcissists, or “uncaring” about the plight of our fellow humans.

              Selfish, is to have or be “with” one’s self. Confidence and pride in oneself are part of having a strong personal or self identity. To be selfish in this sense is the ultimate “virtue”. In fact, it is a requirement of full filling one’s “self interest”. Without solid understanding of who you are, of your wants, desires, and capabilities you can not determine what is your interest, let alone how to achieve it.

              “Selfless” is a facade that was built to hide the foundation of “Altruism” beneath it. For one who subscribes to sacrificing themselves, or others, for the good of complete strangers would have to become “selfless” to prevent complete insanity.

              I realize and acknowledge that my argument runs against conventional thought and use of these words. But that is the point of philosophy. To unveil the deceptions and discover truth.

              For further reading on this concept I suggest Ayn Rands, “The Virtue of Selfishness.” Her’s is not the only work on this, but it is one of the easiest to understand…………and shortest.

              • I’d say you did well-first day or not. Unfortunately, you may just have to accept that the definition of liberal has been hijacked. 😀 As far as churches, I see much disagreement on what different church’s think is the politically right thing to do. So I can not disagree with you too much-except to say that I do not believe that the church pushing mans responsibility to help his fellow man is hitting us on the head-unless he insists that government is the best/only way to fulfill this obligation. And although I will acknowledge that religions have done wrong things-I also believe the Judeo/Christian morals and belief in freewill helped to form the foundation of this country. And without that foundation we wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have. I know you totally disagree with me on this but I think we agree enough to further freedom at this time in history.

                I think the idea of being selfless is stupid-but selfishness is certainly not something to be proud of either-Perhaps Rand should have picked a better word. 🙂

            • And if he serves you rancid meat and one of yours dies from it, is he still serving his self interest? Maybe he wanted a new car and that required he sell the meat that had already turned rancid. You could argue ala BF that once the butcher does that (sells rancid meat that kills someone) others will avoid him at all costs. How would that work out for the person who died from it?

              • Charlie

                NO. He is NOT serving his self interest.

                Only in the leftist mind does man act only on short term need without regard to his long term goals. Ironic isn’t it how little regard the left has for human behavior yet want to put humans in charge of running the lives of other humans.

      • Welcome Back JAC! All moved in to your new progressive neighborhood?

        • Kathy

          thanks.

          About 100 more boxes to unpack………..well seems that way. Can’t move around in the garage and one bedroom.

          While waiting three weeks to get my internet connected I actually found a “conservative” radio station in the area. And of course a “progressive” one as well.

          I have now rejoined society, complete with Cable TV. Can’t wait to see how little time it takes to become fully depressed watching the news. 🙂

  10. And this one-well it just needs to be read so the unions and others can see that maybe just maybe they are wrong and should wait before they endorse. Or maybe I’m just trying to Justify posting it today. 🙂

    July 5, 2011

    Another liberal pundit opens his eyes
    Russ Vaughn

    An op-ed written in the L.A. Times by confessed left-leaner Rick Wartzman, may well be the first crack in the dam of case-hardened, liberal doctrine. Entitled Texas, the Jobs Engine, the article is just chock full of delicious quotes, several of which I’ll reproduce here for those of you who don’t want to read the original. First is Wartzman’s admission of his political leanings:

    That’s right, Texas: the reddest of red states, home to gun lovers and school textbooks that openly question whether the Founding Fathers intended for the separation of church and state. I am no ideologue. Still, whenever I get political, I tend to tilt reflexively to the left, making the jobs figure a bit disconcerting at first.

    While he tries dutifully to put some leftist spin on the reasons for the success of the Texas economy, for example, by pointing out that Texas is a huge energy producing state while conveniently neglecting the fact that the failing California economy is also one of the nation’s top energy producers, Wartzman can’t help but conclude Texas must be doing something right.

    But even with these significant caveats, Texas has long been the most robust jobs engine in the country, and its policies and practices deserve deeper reflection.

    Wartzman even touches on the possibility that the Democrats, with their failed impossible dream of every American being a homeowner and the resultant housing/mortgage disaster, could learn something from Texas.

    Also deserving of further exploration are the strict lending guidelines that Texas banks instituted after the S&L crisis of the 1980s. Those standards spurred institutions to keep larger capital reserves and take on fewer problem mortgages than were seen elsewhere in the country. As a result, the state emerged relatively unscathed from the most recent real estate meltdown.

    Then he really dives into the deep water behind the dam of doctrinaire liberal thought with this admission which will no doubt put him on liberals’ and trial lawyers’ ten most-wanted list:

    At the same time – and this, of course, is the tough part for those on the left to swallow – it is clear that the state’s limits on taxes, regulations and lawsuits are contributing to the job machine. “The most important thing I think that’s happened to us is tort reform,” Fisher, the Dallas Fed president, has said. He added that when John Deere and other companies have decided to hire in Texas, they’ve been largely driven by steps the state has taken to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits and to make it harder to bring product liability and class-action cases.

    Fisher is Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve bank , himself no knuckle-dragging conservative as Wartzman shows by citing Fisher’s Democrat bonafides:

    For those whose knee-jerk instinct is to dump on such logic, they would do well here to consider the source. Fisher served in President Carter’s Treasury Department and as a high-ranking trade official for President Clinton, and was a two-time Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. Although the former investment banker is certainly not an ardent leftie, he is no right-wing zealot either.

    That this op-ed appears in a liberal newspaper like the Times, which happens to be in the state most victimized by Texas’ economic success, is indicative that the common-sense conservative approach to business development and job creation implemented by Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature may be sinking into some liberal psyches at last. As I have said before here at American Thinker, the strongest message that Republicans can deliver to the American electorate in the coming campaign is to contrast the success of Texas, because of that common-sense approach, with the failed nonsensical economic policies of the Obama Administration and the Democrat Party where it controls statehouses and state legislatures, as in California.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/07/another_liberal_pundit_opens_his_eyes.html

    • There are four really important aspects to the success of Texas. (1) Open shop state (2) Tort reform (ie. liability caps and the elimination of lump sum W/C) (3) no state income tax and no state corporate income tax (franchise only) (4) a balanced budget requirement in our State constitution and no borrowing to balance the budget.

      Further, we are a pay as you go state. We also do not have sacred cows (except guns) to meet budget requirements.

      And, we are a fiercly independent lot. Charity covers 64% of our poor and indigent and that percentage is climbing. Less taxes that way AND enforcement of our laws that we have on our books. We are elimintaing the Cadillac driving, jewel wearing, mink coat adorned, x box and cell phone owner, 54 inch TV welfare recipient using food stamps to buy booze, cigarettes, and other sundries. We limit our U/E and actually investigate those that are on it and prosecute the free loaders. We have elimintaed sanctuary cities and are enforcing the immigration laws that are on the books.

      Of course, liberals do not like freedoms but that is ok……just leave us alone and stay the hell out of our state. We are doing it right….or at the very least…better than the Federal Government.

  11. 😐

  12. Conflicts of Interest

    Teachers union “benefits” frequently appear to benefit union officials more than they do union members. Recent investigative reporting has documented that when it comes to members’ retirement plans, union officials frequently offer up their endorsements to the highest bidder, regardless of whether endorsed plans actually meet teachers’ needs.

    In July 2007, angry teachers filed suit against the National Education Association for its shady endorsement of a “Valuebuilder” plan that does anything but build value for its members and the $1 billion they have invested there. A 2006 The Los Angeles Times exposé on union benefit plans found that the NEA “collected nearly $50 million in royalties in 2004 on the sale of annuities, life insurance and other financial products it endorses.” And what do its members get? The right to “pay annual fees totaling at least 1.73% of their savings,” which is about ten times as much as what teachers would pay for low-cost plans that offer comparable returns. “The costliest option in the NEA-endorsed plan charges 4.85% a year,” the Times reported. “That means an investor would have to earn a return of nearly 5% just to break even.” The only people who benefit from these plans are union officials who reportedly receive payments akin to kickbacks.

    An Ohio retirement planner told the Times: “The nature of the [union retirement fund] marketplace is such that you have these little under-the-table payments, or whatever you want to call them, and a good-old-boy network that really works against the teachers.” After profiling one teacher whose union-endorsed annuity netted one-fifth the return of her boyfriend’s 401(k), the Times wrote: “Public-school teachers across the country are in similar predicaments. And many have their unions to thank for it.”

    Further evidence of union officials’ willingness to line their organizations’ pockets rather than those of their members is offered by the New York State United Teachers, the largest state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (and the second largest of the NEA). In May 2006, the New York Post reported that then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer put off plans to receive NYSUT’s endorsement of his gubernatorial candidacy, since he was investigating the union’s financial relationship with insurer ING. A 2005 Forbes article highlighted the NYSUT Benefit Trust’s lucrative deal with ING, which pays “the union trust $6 for each of its members, or $3 million in 2005.”

    The annuities offered to NYSUT teachers, however, are not quite as lucrative, Forbes reported: “For union members the deal includes variable annuity expenses as high as 3.56% and cancellation charges of up to 7% of assets. A teacher who puts in $10,000 for a decade and earns 5% annually will forfeit at least $3,976, or 63% of his returns, in fees.” Meanwhile, “The union’s 300 staff people save through a separate, cheaper 401(k) run by Fidelity.” Spitzer’s investment protection chief told The Los Angeles Times: “Under the guise of giving objective advice, the union not only endorsed this product, they steered people to it. They ultimately became a sales arm of the insurance company.”
    NEA: Liable to Put Itself First

    Another critical issue is liability insurance, which is meant to offer teachers legal and monetary assistance in the event of a lawsuit. Liability insurance is one of the most common reasons why teachers join unions (many are unaware that non-union professional associations typically offer liability insurance at much lower costs). In 1993, Forbes reported on a striking example of the NEA fighting to keep its membership beholden to the union for insurance, even when government offers to pick up the check:

    Lamar Alexander, as governor of Tennessee, proposed that teacher’s liability insurance be provided by the state. To his astonishment, the NEA opposed him. “They were busy spending member money keeping the state from paying for liability insurance … They consistently advocate proposals that are against the interest of their members.”

    The same article made clear that the NEA fought the change not to help its members, but to punish teachers who aren’t members: “Significantly, nonmembers who pay fair-share dues are not eligible for union-provided liability insurance.”

    http://www.teachersunionexposed.com/conflictsofinterest.cfm

  13. Bamadad says:

    And she is not guilty, unbelievable.

  14. Of course good old Alex penned those famous words a few years before the American civil war (while slavery was thriving) so what did he have to worry about?

  15. Meanwhile…D13….still waiting….watching….planning….(Welcome back JAC)….surmising….( Yes, she was found not guilty….that does not mean she was innocent)…..sharpening various pointed objects…..scoping out the border…..both North and South….loading…..sighting three inches high at 100 meters…..(Searching in vain for DPM who seems to be in Mexican waters)….storing water and food….telling government agents to go to hell….putting American Flags on the lawn of the Houston National Cemetery Administrator…..(subliminal cut says Mathius is a conservative)….

  16. The Texas parole board refused Tuesday to stop this week’s scheduled execution of a Mexican national for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl in a case that has raised diplomatic concerns in both Washington and Mexico City.

    Humberto Leal, 38, faces lethal injection Thursday in Huntsville for the 1994 slaying of Adria Sauceda of San Antonio. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 4-1 to deny a reprieve request. The same panel refused by a 5-0 vote to commute Leal’s death sentence to life in prison.

    The government of Mexico, the State Department and the White House have agreed with Leal’s attorneys that he should be given a reprieve because of questions about whether the outcome of his trial would have been different if he had been allowed to obtain legal help from the Mexican consulate when he was arrested.

    Similar 11th-hour arguments were raised in recent years for at least one other condemned Texas prisoner. In that case, in 2008, Jose Medellin was executed for his participation in the rape and slayings of two Houston teenage girls.

    “At this point, it is clear that Leal is attempting to avoid execution by overwhelming the state and the courts with as many meritless lawsuits and motions as humanly possible,” Stephen Hoffman, an assistant Texas attorney general, said Tuesday in a brief opposing appeals to stop Leal’s execution.

    The Obama administration took the unusual step Friday of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Texas from executing Leal. The administration said the court should delay the execution for up to six months to give Congress time to consider legislation that would directly affect Leal’s case.

    Leal’s lawyers say police violated an international treaty by not telling Leal he could contact the Mexican consulate for assistance after his arrest for the murder of Sauceda.

    The federal government rarely intervenes in state death penalty cases. The thrust of the administration’s legal argument deals with the government’s international treaty obligations, not Leal’s guilt or innocence, or even whether he should ultimately be executed.

    State Department legal adviser Harold Koh separately has written Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials asking them to step in and put off the execution.

    Leal’s appeals, already rejected by Texas courts and lower federal courts, focused on a bill introduced last month by U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy that would allow federal courts to review cases like Leal’s where violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights is an issue.

    “If Texas were to proceed with the scheduled execution of Mr. Leal … there could be no dispute that that execution would be unlawful — specifically, in violation of treaty commitments validly made by the United States through constitutionally prescribed processes,” Sandra Babcock, a Northwestern University law professor who is one of Leal’s attorneys, said last week in her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    “Texas, by insisting on executing Mr. Leal before Congress has had a chance to act, seeks to break the United States’ promise,” Babcock said.

    Hoffman said two previous congressional attempts with similar legislation have failed and Leal’s claim that it would pass this session “is pure speculation” since most bills introduced never become law. He said it would be “remarkable under any circumstances” for the high court to issue a reprieve

    “At this point, it is painfully clear that Congress will not act to pass legislation to provide Leal with the relief that he seeks,” Hoffman said.

    Leal was about 1 1/2 years old when his parents moved from Monterrey, Mexico, to San Antonio.

    He was among about 50 Mexican-born inmates affected when President George W. Bush in 2005 agreed with an International Court of Justice ruling that they should be entitled to new hearings in U.S. courts to determine if their consular rights were violated at the time of their arrests. Congressional action is needed now because the Supreme Court subsequently overruled Bush and negated any impact of the Netherlands-based court’s decision.

    “Texas is not bound by a foreign court’s ruling,” Katherine Cesinger, Perry’s press secretary, said Tuesday. “If you commit the most heinous of crimes in Texas, you can expect to face the ultimate penalty under our laws, as in this case.”

    With the parole board’s decision, the governor only has the authority to issue a one-time, 30-day reprieve, Cesinger said.

    Police discovered Sauceda’s nude body on a dirt road in San Antonio in May 1994. Evidence showed she had been raped, beaten with a large rock and strangled. A large stick that had a screw protruding from it was left in her body.

    Among other evidence, the bite mark was matched to Leal. Her bloody blouse was found at Leal’s home. She and Leal had been attending a party not far from where she was found.

    Leal’s lawyers said it wasn’t until he already was on death row that he learned from a fellow inmate that he could have sought legal help from the Mexican consulate.

    Interesting followup on the discussion of treaties vs state or Federal Law… Texas does not give a rat’s ass about treaties. Violate the law in Texas…we don’t care what any treaty says. Fry the bastard.

  17. I’ll be the first to join you on dumping incompetent teachers. My stepson had one last semester, let him plagiarize his ass off at a junior college level, but we wouldn’t need unions if the system was nationalized. Unions are as corrupt as those seeking to corrupt them (whether it be politicians or businesses). I don’t defend unions the way some here defend tax cuts (with blinders). I have no problem with bad teachers being dumped. But not all teachers are bad and not all teachers who belong to unions are bad.

    • I agree with your assessment of teachers, Charlie, but think about what you just wrote.

      “Unions are as corrupt as those seeking to corrupt them (whether it be politicians or businesses)” “we wouldn’t need unions if the system was nationalized”

      So the unions are corrupt as the politicians and you want to give more control to politicians?

      Maybe you can expound here for me. What do you mean by nationalizing the system with respect to schools? Isn’t that the gist of public schools as they are now? Do you want to nationalize private schools?

      The whole idea of nationalization is repugnant to me. It’s basically the theft of a company by the government. In other words, a bunch of people gang up on another person and steal his or her livelihood so that they can have it for their own. Do you see it as something other than this?

  18. Charlie…..what are you going to do now that Huffpo and Media Matters are totally debunked?

  19. Wonder how the union will try to protect these criminals? Another arguement for home schooling:

    Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level

    http://www.ajc.com/news/investigation-into-aps-cheating-1001375.html

  20. V.H.

    This may surprise you at this point but I do not disagree with you 100% on the effects of religion in America. Where I disagree is that Judaism or Christianity is the original source of all these key moral concepts. Which leads us to the possibility and proof that humans can exist in a moral and just society without organized religions. But in my view this does not and should not mean we should try to eliminate religion from our lives. It does not negate the fact that there are places and times where religion has played, and still plays, a major role in supporting moral behavior in a community. What we do need to do is recognize the power it has over many and thus the potential for its corruption by those who love to control others. We must guard ALL our institutions against this corruption, not just our government.

    My reference of a club used by churches was not the idea that we have some responsibility to others. Although I stop short of “moral obligation”. Humans seem to be a naturally empathetic specie. Teachings of various churches/religions simply reinforce that behavior. What I was referring to was the attack on “Individualism” that goes with the “sales pitch” if you will. The primary tool of this attack is “guilt”. In my opinion the Catholic Church was the most effective at using this tool in the past. Not the only one just the oldest and thus most successful at it. The entire concept of “original sin” is repugnant to me. It is a direct attack on my ego designed to control me. It is the assignment of guilt by birth. The same tool used by the left to assign guilt to all of us because slavery once existed in this country. That is why our society is riddled with people ripe for the picking by the “Progressive/Collectivist” mindset. If you feel guilt about your success and the plight of others, you will eventually succumb to the notion that WE must bind ourselves with GOVERNMENT as the means to address these ills. Because ONLY government has the power to do so.

    As for those words, like liberal and selfish. I will not give up the fight. To do so would surrender truth and reason to the false and irrational. Besides, it makes for a perfect conversation starter when you tell some lefty that “I am a Traditional Liberal” and not some “Progressive hiding behind the liberal label”. Which you must follow quickly with “In fact, I am a Radical Right Wing Liberal”. The look on their face is priceless.

    • Any church that guilts you into doing something is not a Christian church. The idea of original sin is countered by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. The only way to overcome sin is through Him. That means that being “good” won’t get you back into God’s good graces. There is nothing you can do to save yourself.

      Matthew 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

      If you know that you are saved by God’s grace, then you are no longer bound by sin. Set your thoughts on Him and be confident that He is pleased by your actions. You have nothing to be ashamed of anymore!

      There should be no control over a person by the church if they are properly representing the word of God. Martin Luther expressed this best when he challenged the corruption of the Catholic Church. Check out his “Treatise on Good Works.”

  21. Terry Evans says:

    Hey New Yorkers…what’s up with this?

    NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An elderly Upper East Side woman claims a sanitation agent chased her, threatened her with arrest and slapped her with a ticket for putting day-old newspapers in a city trash can.

    Darbe Pitofsky, 83, said she was on her way for a cup of coffee around 6:30 a.m. on June 25 when she threw a brown bag filled with old papers in a city litter basket near her apartment on East 71st Street.

    She said a sanitation worker quickly jumped out of his vehicle and demanded her information to write a summons.

    1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria with Darbe Pitofsky

    “I froze,” Pitofsky told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “He just frightened the hell out of me, scared me to death, I was terrified.”

    She said the worker demanded a form of identification and threatened to “put her away” if she didn’t comply.

    Pitofsky said it took the worker 25 minutes to write the summons and when she complained that it would cost her $100, she said he threatened to make it $300.

    A representative for the Sanitation Department said street baskets are for pedestrian use only but added Pitofsky can challenge the ticket if she thinks there has been a mistake.

    Litter baskets across the city are marked with stickers that read “no household trash” or “no business trash,” along with a warning of a $100 fine for violation. The Sanitation Department has a platoon of enforcement agents tasked with enforcing litter basket laws. Their duties even include doing detective work on trash suspected of being illegally dumped.

    Pitofsky said she has already filed a complaint.

    Her story is similar to that of 80-year-old Delia Gluckin, who last December, was also fined $100 for “improper disposal” for throwing her newspaper in a trash can in Inwood.

    • Crazy, huh?

      “The Sanitation Department has a platoon of enforcement agents tasked with enforcing litter basket laws.”

      How would you like to be a NY taxpayer paying for this platoon? I belive SUFA’s resident progressive NYer is getting reacquainted with his progressive CA roots this week, so might not be available to chime in.

      • I’ll do it for him (having been a former NY resident/Manhattan, Brooklyn and Wrong Island). Fire the moron who gave her the ticket. End of story.

        • Terry Evans says:

          I’m sure i could live with that…along with canning the whole program.

  22. For the Colonel (Good afternoon, sir):

    or he would be in big business himself.

    First assumption is severely flawed but let us ignore it for now (there are diamonds hiding amidst lots of dust/coal, etc., Colonel–I think you’d agree).

    Okay, so let’s get to the crux of the matter. What if the wages were structured in such a way as to reward the fella who designed the widget a little more than the floor sweeper (say, a family needs $50K to survive comfortably and the designer makes $70K and the floor sweeper $50K).

    Now, there’s no reason for the 3 houses and all the other excesses. So, off to Pluto if that’s what you “need”. We’ll figure out how to make the widgets here, trust me. There’s nothing on this planet that can’t be reproduced (and often enhanced). There’s no one person who holds the blueprint on life.

    Nationalize it and end the nonsense. The way things are going now, the top 2% will be fighting for their lives in 20-40-50 years (because there will have to be a revolution and the longer it takes to restore the middle class, the more violent it will be).

    • Terry Evans says:

      What he needs is not up to you or anyone else. That is one problem I have with the Progressive mindset…they want to dictate what everyone’s needs are. Different needs for different folks…if the man earned enough for 15 houses and that is what he determines he needs, then let the guy buy 15 houses…think of the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and other tradesmen that those houses would employ. I don’t think we have any common ground here Charlie…there are areas where we do though.

      • My issue with “earning” always comes down to how does he “earn” it? Designing something may demand rewards but how do they extend to the guys who actually make the things, distribute them, etc.? This also goes to my feelings about inheritence (totally against it beyond a year or two salary and “maybe” 1 property). How does one born into millions “earn” that? Yes, we probably don’t agree on this stuff either, but it is an alternative view (way beyond what the Democrats want).

      • Terry:

        Question for you. You’re concern that progressives want to dictate policy (what I proposed earlier). Why does it not bother you that a government corrupted by big business gets to dictate how we live? Right now, after being bailed out against our wishes (the vast majority of Americans were not happy about bailing out Wall Street, yet they were bailed out without any strings attached), those same businesses (banks especially) refuse to put money back out on the street. They’re hording profits and keeping Americans (who bailed them out) not only out of work, they’re sending our jobs overseas.

        So, how does that kind of slavery (slaves to big business) sit with you? Serious question.

  23. Murph (on teachers). I am in full agreement with teachers who don’t perform being canned (and there are several who get away with it because of unions, no doubt), but if they were presented with options from Governments themselves that could turn them away from unions (to include stipulations they be fired for neglecting performance), I’d bet dollars to donuts they’d walk away. The problem is governments pose skinning them alive (seriously, a WI average wage is 42K —- add benefits and it’s 80-90%) … so, what, pay they minimum with no benefits (what gov’ts would do)? Entice them away and they’d fly (the good ones) is my bet.

  24. Ray Hawkins

    Howdy Ray. Just got caught up on SUFA reading and see a big CONGRATULATIONS are in order. What’s the matter? Ain’t you figured out what is causing that yet?

    Suggest you pack up yer family and your vast tech experience and move to Montana or Idaho. Time to become an independent contractor my friend.

    Hope all is well with your new one and the Mrs.. You will soon find out how the math of parent hood works. Hint, it is exponential on steroids. 🙂

    Best of luck and good wishes your way.
    JAC

  25. Follow up on my comment about watching TV from yesterday.

    Last night I watched the evening news, O’Riley a little of CSpan then Jon Stewart, Colbert followed by Rachel Madow.

    It took less than 12 hours for me to become depressed and disgusted with the TV. Although I did get to see a good history channel piece on the Myth or legend of the Minator and the empire of Crete.

    I find it fascinating how much TV has changed in the 4 plus years since I stopped watching. One commercial channel after another. And I am paying for these hundreds of channels trying to sell me crap. Both tangible and political.

  26. Thought for the evening:

    “Wealth is created by, and morally belongs to the individual creator. As Rand observes, since “man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.””

    • Rand was a lunatic. Man sustains himself by his own effort? Really? In what world? Forget the fact she used government subsidies to sustain her own miserable life, there are very few human beings today who live by their efforts alone. We all chip in (whether we want to believe it or not).

      Rand. Please.

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