If public school teachers spent more time teaching in classrooms and less time community-organizing in political war rooms, maybe taxpayers wouldn't feel as ripped off as they do. Before the Big Labor bosses start complaining about "teacher-bashing," let's be clear: An increasing number of rank-and-file teachers feel exactly the same way.
Retired New York teacher Vinne Cusimano, who was required to pay forced union dues in order to work, wrote me this week after receiving the March 2011 edition of his union's monthly publication. The cover of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) magazine reads: "Defend What Matters! Educate. Collaborate. AGITATE." Inside the pamphlet, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi rails against "malicious politicians" in Wisconsin and elsewhere proposing "extreme anti-union" budget cuts. He urges his members to join "advocacy" efforts to "maintain critical resources" and lectures about the need to "value education over ideology and greed."
Cusimano, who taught for four decades in the Empire State, fired back at Ianuzzi in an open letter:
Barack Obama's new era of civility was over before it began. You wouldn't know it from reading The New York Times, watching Katie Couric or listening to the Democratic manners police. But America has been overrun by foul-mouthed, fist-clenching wildebeests.
Yes, the tea party movement is responsible — for sending these liberal goons into an insane rage, that is. After enduring two years of false smears as sexist, racist, homophobic barbarians, it is grassroots conservatives and taxpayer advocates who have been ceaselessly subjected to rhetorical projectile vomit. It is Obama's rank-and-file "community organizers" on the streets fomenting the hate against their political enemies. Not the other way around.
First lady Michelle Obama said, "Let's Move!" Who knew Democratic politicians in Wisconsin and Indiana would take her literally?
Faced with stifling debt, bloated pensions and intractable government unions, liberal Midwestern legislators have fled those states — paralyzing Republican fiscal reform efforts. Like Monty Python's Brave Sir Robin and his band of quivering knights, these elected officials have only one plan when confronted with political hardship or economic peril: Run away, run away, run away.
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor's collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
Thanks to the persistent investigative work of young pro-life journalists, Planned Parenthood's ruthless, money-grubbing colors are on full, fresh YouTube display. But as shocking as the illicit new videos from Live Action Films are, the routine, parental authority-sabotaging advice the taxpayer-funded abortion racket gives teens every day deserves more front-page headline news, too.
Live Action is a California-based "new media, investigative and educational organization committed to the protection and respect of all human life" led by Internet undercover pioneer Lila Rose. The group's latest video footage at abortion clinics in Perth Amboy, N.J., the Bronx and four cities in Virginia shows Planned Parenthood officials aiding and abetting individuals posing as criminal sex traffickers seeking abortions for underage girls.
At Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Tuesday, lifelong government rail promoter Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $53 billion high-speed train initiative and half-joked: "I'm like the ombudsman for Amtrak." As with most gaffetastic Biden-isms, the remark should prompt more heartburn than hilarity. Just who exactly is looking out for taxpayers when it comes to federal rail spending?
Vigorous independent oversight of public infrastructure binges is especially critical given the nation's long history of mass transit slush funds, cost overruns and union-monopolized construction projects to nowhere. Among the new projects championed by the Obama administration: a $10 billion New Jersey-to-New York commuter rail tunnel pushed by Senate Democrats that state officials won't pay for but believe everyone else in the nation should be forced to subsidize. When Biden talks about "seizing the future," he's talking about seizing your wallets for his party's electoral security.
Oops, they did it again. President Obama's grabby-handed environmental bureaucrats have earned yet another spanking from the federal judiciary over their "determined disregard" of the rule of law. Isn't it time to give these misbehaving government hooligans a permanent timeout?
Federal judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana excoriated the Obama Interior Department Wednesday for defying his May 2010 order to lift its groundless ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. Nine months later, not a single permit has been issued. Several deepwater platforms have moved out of the area to take their businesses — and an estimated 5,000 jobs — overseas. Billions of dollars in potential oil revenue and Gulf lease sales-related rent have also dried up.
Here's a modest proposal for liberals who say they support job creation: Stop smearing successful, law-abiding private companies whose values don't comport with yours. I'm looking at you, New York Times.
Chick-fil-A is an American success story. Founded by Georgian entrepreneur Truett Cathy in 1946, the family-owned chicken-sandwich chain is one of the country's largest fast-food businesses. It employs some 50,000 workers across the country at 1,500 outlets in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia. The company generates more than $2 billion in revenue and serves millions of happy customers with trademark Southern hospitality.
So, what's the problem? Well, Chick-fil-A is run by devout Christians who believe in strong marriages, devoted families and the highest standards of character for their workers. The restaurant chain's official corporate mission is to "glorify God" and "enrich the lives of everyone we touch." The company's community service initiatives, funded through its WinShape Foundation, support foster care, scholarship, summer camp and marriage enrichment programs. On Sunday, all Chick-fil-A stores close so workers can spend the day at worship and rest.
President Obama's storytellers recently launched a White House blog series called "Voices of Health Reform," where "readers can meet average Americans already benefiting from the health reform law."
I propose a new White House series: "Voices of Health Reform Waivers," where taxpayers can meet all the politically connected unions benefiting from exclusive get-out-of-Obamacare passes — after squandering millions of their workers' dues to lobby for the job-killing, private insurance-sabotaging law from which they are now exempt.
"We're going to have to out-educate other countries," President Obama urged this week. How? By out-spending them, of course! It's the same old quack cure for America's fat and failing government-run schools monopoly. The one-trick ponies at the White House call their academic improvement agenda "targeted investing" for "winning the future." Truth in advertising: Get ready to fork over more Cash for Education Clunkers.
Our government already spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, according to recent analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Overall inflation-adjusted K-12 spending has tripled over the past 40 years, the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy points out. Yet American test scores and graduation rates are stagnant. One in 10 high schools is a dropout factory. And our students' performance in one of the most prestigious global math competitions has been so abysmal that the U.S. simply withdrew altogether.
Let's give the "climate of hate" rhetoric a rest for a moment. It's time to talk about the climate of death, in which the abortion industry thrives unchecked. Dehumanizing rhetoric, rationalizing language and a callous disregard for life have numbed America to its monstrous consequences. Consider the Philadelphia Horror.
In the City of Brotherly Love, hundreds of babies were murdered by a scissors-wielding monster over four decades. Whistleblowers informed public officials at all levels of the wanton killings of innocent life. But a parade of government health bureaucrats and advocates protecting the abortion racket looked the other way — until, that is, a Philadelphia grand jury finally exposed the infanticide factory run by abortionist Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., and a crew of unlicensed, untrained butchers masquerading as noble providers of women's "choice." Prosecutors charged Gosnell and his death squad with multiple counts of murder, infanticide, conspiracy, abuse of corpse, theft and other offenses.
There isn't a shred of evidence that deranged Tucson massacre suspect Jared Loughner ever listened to talk radio or cared about illegal immigration. Indeed, after 300 exhaustive interviews, the feds "remain stumped" about his motives, according to Tuesday's Washington Post. But that hasn't stopped a coalition of power-grabbing politicians, progressive activists and open-borders lobbyists from plying their quack cure for the American body politic: government-sponsored speech suppression.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting rampage, Democratic leaders mused openly about reintroducing the Orwellian "Fairness Doctrine" — a legislative sledgehammer targeting conservative viewpoints on public airwaves. New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter assailed the Federal Communications Commission for failing to police broadcast content and vowed to "look into" more aggressive language monitoring. Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey blamed "incendiary rhetoric" for triggering "unstable individuals to take violent action." In his own manifesto calling for resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn pressed public officials to "rethink parameters on free speech."
I agree with President Obama. When it comes to politicizing random violence, he and his supporters have been "far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than" they do. Recognition is the first step toward reconciliation. It's time to recognize the poisonous pervasiveness of the Blame Righty meme.
For the past two years, Democratic officials, liberal activists and journalists have jumped to libelous conclusions about individual shooting sprees committed by mentally unstable loners with incoherent delusions all over the ideological map. The White House now pledges to swear off "pointing fingers or assigning blame." Alas, the Obama administration's political and media foot soldiers have proved themselves incapable of such restraint.
There are many heroes who showed indomitable courage and grace under fire during this weekend's horrific Tucson massacre. Blowhard Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was not one of them.
If the White House has any sense, President Obama will stay far away from the demagogic Dupnik and his media entourage when he visits Arizona on Wednesday to memorialize the victims. Indeed, if the White House is truly committed to unifying the country, it will explicitly disavow Dupnik's vulture-like exploitation of the shooting rampage.
Within hours of the bloody spree, Dupnik mounted more grandstands than a NASCAR tour champion. A vocal opponent of S.B. 1070, the popular state law cracking down on illegal immigration, Dupnik immediately blamed Arizona for becoming a "mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Fun fact: Bill Daley isn't the only new chief of staff in the White House with longtime ties to the Chicago Way. Yep, it's No Windy City Corporate Lawyer Left Behind Week in the nation's capital.
On the other side of the White House, deep-pocketed campaign finance mega-bundler Tina Tchen was named first lady Michelle Obama's new right-hand woman. Or rather, left-hand woman. The self-described "progressive" attorney from Chicago is taking over as chief of staff in the East Wing following the expected departure of Susan Sher. Tchen personally raised more than $200,000 for the Obama presidential campaign while a lawyer at white-shoe Skadden Arps. (No word on whether Mrs. Obama gave her the same anti-corporate lawyer, fat cat-bashing lecture she delivered on the campaign trail.)
Now, stick with me here as we diagram another Chicago shuffle. As usual, all roads lead to the Daley political machine:
No matter how you rearrange President Obama's inner circle, it still looks, smells and tastes like a rotten Chicago deep-dish pizza.
Ready for the latest topping on this moldy old pie? It's a possible chief of staff slot for Wall Street banker/lawyer/wheeler-dealer William Daley, brother of outgoing Chicago mayor/machine politics mastermind Richard M. Daley (also the former boss of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and first lady Michelle Obama), whose retirement paved the way for former Obama chief of staff and Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel. Phew.
The White House is reportedly looking to manufacture a "pro-business" aura with Bill Daley, who holds a "corporate responsibility" executive office at J.P. Morgan and once headed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the latter, a left-wing hate object and Obama punching bag leading up to the midterms.
Diligent English farmers of old once shared a motto about the blessings of work: "Industry produces wealth, God speed the plow." Indolent New York City union officials who oversee snow removal apparently live by a different creed: Sloth enhances political power, Da Boss slow the plow.
Come rain or shine, wind, sleet or blizzard, Big Labor leaders always demonstrate perfect power-grabby timing when it comes to shafting taxpayers. Public-sector unions are all-weather vultures ready, willing and able to put special interest politics above the citizenry's health, wealth and safety. Confirming rumors that have fired up the frozen metropolis, the New York Post reported Thursday that government sanitation and transportation workers were ordered by union supervisors to oversee a deliberate slowdown of its cleanup program — and to boost their overtime paychecks.
Why such vindictiveness? It's a cold-blooded temper tantrum against the city's long-overdue efforts to trim layers of union fat and move toward a more efficient, cost-effective privatized workforce.
Welcome to the Great Snowmageddon Snit Fit of 2010.
Ho, ho, ho! Just in time for Christmas, the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a new salvo against people of faith. Even as billions around the world celebrate the birth of Christ, joyless, abortion-obsessed secularists never take a holiday.
On Wednesday, the ACLU sent a letter to federal health officials urging the government to force Catholic hospitals in the U.S. to perform abortions in violation of their core moral commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn. They're counting on sympathetic Obama rationing czar Donald Berwick — a recess appointee whose radical views on wealth and health redistribution were never vetted by Congress — to dictate which religious principles hospital operators can and cannot follow.
When bureaucrats talk about increasing our "access" to x, y or z, what they're really talking about is increasing exponentially their control over our lives. As it is with the government health care takeover, so it is with the newly approved government plan to "increase" Internet "access." Call it Webcare.
By a vote of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday adopted a controversial scheme to ensure "net neutrality" by turning unaccountable Democratic appointees into meddling online traffic cops. The panel will devise convoluted rules governing Internet service providers, bandwidth use, content, prices and even disclosure details on Internet speeds. The "neutrality" is brazenly undermined by preferential treatment toward wireless broadband networks. Moreover, the FCC's scheme is widely opposed by Congress — and has already been rejected once in the courts. Demonized industry critics have warned that the regulations will stifle innovation and result in less access, not more.
No matter how soothing the White House overtures to business leaders sounded this week, an inconvenient fact remains: Washington is gripped by crab-in-the-bucket syndrome. And there's no cure in sight.
Put a single crab in an uncovered bucket, and it will find a way to climb up and out on its own. Put a dozen crabs in a bucket, and 11 will fight with all their might to pull down the striver who attempts escape. President Obama sought to reassure 20 CEOs that he wasn't the king crab holding them down: "I want to dispel any notion we want to inhibit your success," he cooed. "We want to be boosters because when you do well, America does well."
Environmentalists hate sprawl — except when it comes to the size of their expansive pet legislation on Capitol Hill.
In a last-ditch lame duck push, eco-lobbyists have been furiously pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pass a monstrous 327-page omnibus government lands bill crammed with more than 120 separate measures to lock up vast swaths of wilderness areas. Despite the time crunch, Senate Democrats in search of 60 votes are working behind the scenes to buy off green Republicans. House Democrats would then need a two-thirds majority to fast-track the bill to the White House before the GOP takes over on Jan. 5.
Yes, the hurdles are high. But with Reid and company now vowing to work straight through Christmas into the new year (when politicians know Americans are preoccupied with the holidays), anything is possible. The Constitution is no obstacle to these power grabbers. Neither is a ticking clock.
When jihad-bent American Muslims target American soldiers on American soil, why does America yawn?
The Fort Hood massacre has faded from view. The Little Rock Army recruiting station ambush barely registered on the national radar screen. And the arrest this week of a Baltimore-area bomb plotter, intent on blowing up a military center and murdering our troops in the name of Allah, was met with a collective shrug. It's pointless to rally citizens around "never forget" when their heads are in the sand.
There is no such thing as a "free" government benefit. Ask small-business owners who are footing skyrocketing bills for bottomless jobless benefits. While politicians in Washington negotiate a deal to provide welcome temporary payroll, income and estate tax relief to America's workers, struggling employers wonder how long they'll have to pay for the compassion of others — and whether they can survive.
The Beltway deal hinges on extending federal unemployment insurance for another 13 months. This would mark the sixth time that the deadline has been extended since June 2008.
Open-borders radicalism means never having to apologize for absurd self-contradiction.
The way illegal alien students on college campuses across the country tell it, America is a cruel, selfish and racist nation that has never given them or their families a break. Yet despite their bottomless grievances, they're not going anywhere.
It's time for America's youth to buckle up and take a rough ride on Reality Highway. For the past two years, President Obama has promised our children the moon, stars, rainbows, unicorns and universal health care for all. But the White House Santa's cradle-to-grave entitlement mandates are a spectacularly predictable bust.
Don't take it from me. Take it from Obamacare's own biggest cheerleaders.
One of my favorite television programs is "How It's Made" on the Science Channel. The documentary series shows "how the everyday objects people use become the things they are." From ketchup and flip-flops, to nail clippers and snare drums, to NASCAR engines, hydraulic cylinders and motor homes, the show takes viewers on wondrous autobiographical journeys of the mundane products we too often take for granted.
Though it originated in Canada and has become a global phenomenon, "How It's Made" is largely a tribute to individual American ingenuity and American entrepreneurs. The show's myriad episodes spotlighting U.S. inventions also serve as potent antidotes to the government-centric vision that reigns in the White House these days.
America is in debt past its eyeballs. Unemployment remains stuck near double digits. Small and large businesses, unions and insurers are clamoring for Obamacare waivers in droves. Jihadists are making a mockery of homeland security. And border chaos reigns. So, what's one of the Obama administration's top domestic policy agenda items this month? Combating distracted drivers.
What? You missed the Million Anti-Distracted Drivers Protest March on Washington and the Great Grassroots Groundswell for federal intervention on our highways and byways? Don't worry. You weren't the only one.
Energy czar Carol Browner needs to go the way of disgraced green jobs czar Van Jones: under the bus and stripped of her unbridled power to destroy jobs and lives in the name of saving the planet. ASAP.
One of the Beltway's most influential, entrenched and unaccountable left-wing radicals, Browner has now been called out twice by President Obama's own federal BP oil spill commission and Interior Department inspector general. How many strikes should a woman who circumvented the Senate confirmation process and boasts a sordid history of abusing public office get?
Chalk up another Code Red Elmo moment for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While Islamic terrorists groom suicide bombers starting in kindergarten, the grownups in charge of protecting America can't seem to reach an elementary level of competence.
The "good" news: Hindsight-driven bureaucrats at DHS moved to ban high-risk cargo from Yemen and Somalia this week after a global air scare involving makeshift printer/toner cartridge-bombs. The bad news: More than nine years after the 9/11 jihadist attacks, untold numbers of high-risk flyers have been able to board, ride and pilot American planes — some with Transportation Security Administration approval to boot.
Do Americans share President Obama's desire to impose redistributive social justice on the well off? In liberal Washington State, of all places, voters gave a definitive answer this Tuesday: No! The resounding rejection of a punitive "Robin Hood" initiative shows that it's not just red-state Republicans who oppose extreme tax hikes on the nation's wealth generators.
As Capitol Hill resumes debate on whether to extend the so-called "Bush tax cuts," the White House should pay special heed to the fate of little-noticed Initiative 1098. Its defeat by a whopping 65-35 margin doesn't bode well for Team Obama's class warriors still clinging bitterly to their soak-the-rich schemes. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insisted this summer that saddling higher earners with higher taxes was "the responsible thing to do." Given the chance to weigh in at the ballot box, a diverse majority of voters in the other Washington determined otherwise.