Friday, March 02, 2018

Trump the Terrible

One must not make too much of this but there are some interesting parallels between Ivan the Terrible of Russia and Donald Trump -- including one very thought-provoking possible parallel.

For a start, Trump wants to make America great again. Ivan DID make Russia greater.  He conquered several adjoining states and thus greatly expanded the territory of Russia.  We live in very different times now so that is not to be expected of Mr Trump but both men aimed at national greatness.  Mr Obama stood for national shrinkage as far as I can tell.

And Ivan was eccentric.  He was not "presidential".  He actually appears to have gone mad on a couple of occasions.  So Mr Trump's tweets are a minor eccentricity by comparison.

And Ivan was popular with the people but unpopular with the Russian establishment.  Ivan too had a big "swamp" that he had to drain.  And he did drain it.  Quite a few heads came off the "boyars" (elite).

But, as Mr. Trump has found, draining the swamp is not easy. So Ivan still found the swamp frustrating

So here's the thought provoking bit.  At one stage Ivan got so frustrated at the lack of co-operation from the elite that he took himself off to the countryside and told people he had abdicated. 

The Boyars were of course delighted -- for five minutes.  Then they realized that they couldn't do anything without Ivan to sign the paperwork.  They were also afraid that the people might revolt against them.  They knew that Ivan was popular and that they were not.  So they had to beg him to come back.  He did.  But his price was high.  He got a whole lot of things that he wanted out of them.

So could Trump do something like that?  Could he get so frustrated with the GOP not doing what they were elected to do --abolish Obamacare and build the wall -- that he retired to Trump Tower and refused to come out again until the GOP had sorted itself out?  Maybe even Trump is not radical enough to do that but it could work.  Go Ivan!


Supreme Court Backs Trump… Massive Changes Underway For Illegal Immigrants

Immigrants detained for removal proceedings may be held indefinitely and are not entitled to a bail hearing, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The ruling means that immigrant detainees, who are sometimes held for months and years on end, have no recourse to challenge their confinement.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion for the court, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined most of Alito’s opinion, though they also wrote to say they do not believe the court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

In a rare move, Justice Stephen Breyer read part of his dissent in the courtroom during Tuesday’s proceedings. The justices only read their dissents from the bench when they mean to emphasize their disagreement with the majority.



Government unions play politics with unconstitutional dollars

Jeff Jacoby

FORTY YEARS AGO, the Supreme Court ruled that where a union represents public employees, even workers who don't join the union can be forced to pay "agency fees" as a condition of the job. While the First Amendment shields nonmembers from having to subsidize a union's ideological or political activities, the court held in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, it allows them to be assessed their fair share for the neutral costs of collective bargaining.

As the ensuing decades made clear, however, when it comes to public-sector unions, there is no separation between collective bargaining and politics.

Virtually everything government unions do is political: They endorse candidates, undertake political campaigns, lobby legislators, and hold politics-drenched conventions. They make no secret of their partisan loyalties and clout. On its website, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, a prominent government union, boasts: "All across the country, at every level of government, candidates for public office [have] learned . . . to pay attention to AFSCME's political muscle." And thanks to Abood, much of that muscle has been bought with fees collected from unwilling state employees.

For a long time it's been obvious that Abood got it wrong. In Janus v. AFSCME, a case the Supreme Court took up this week, the justices have a chance to overturn that precedent and get the issue right.

Banning agency fees wouldn't eliminate unions from government workplaces, but it would mean that unions could no longer compel nonmembers to pay the equivalent of union dues for representation they never asked for. It would also mean states could no longer trample employees' First Amendment rights in the name of "labor peace."

On Monday, as the high court heard arguments in the Janus case, union leaders and Democratic officials held political protest rallies around the country, wailing that the sky will fall if Abood is overturned. The lawyer for AFSCME, David Frederick, raised a similar alarm during his oral argument in Washington.

"If the other side succeeds in persuading a majority of you to overrule Abood," Frederick said, "it will affect thousands of contracts. More importantly, it is going to affect the work of state legislatures, city councils, school districts, who are going to have to go back to the drawing board. . . . In many collective bargaining agreements, the fees are the tradeoff. Union security is the tradeoff for no strikes. And so if you were to overrule Abood, you can raise an untold specter of labor unrest throughout the country."

It's a hollow threat. And there is empirical evidence to prove it.

Since 2012, six states have adopted right-to-work laws, bringing to 28 the number of states in which no employee (private or public) can be forced to join or support a labor union as a requirement of the job. Under the new rules, agency fees dried up and some (not all) unions lost members. But none of the states that moved into the right-to-work camp were paralyzed by the "untold specter of labor unrest" that AFSCME and its allies are now warning of.

"The record in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and elsewhere is that it is not a huge burden," says Daniel DiSalvo, a professor at City College of New York and expert on public-sector labor issues. Of course there have been some transitional wrinkles, "but you'd be hard pressed to find any evidence that the new laws were hard to implement or that they caused all kinds of problems."

Not only are agency fees already barred in the 28 right-to-work states, they are forbidden in the federal workplace too. None of the 2.7 million Americans who work for Uncle Sam can be coerced into paying tribute to a labor union against their will. Plainly, labor peace does not depend on compelled speech by reluctant government workers.

Abood should be overruled because it egregiously tramples government workers' rights — regardless of the impact on public-sector contract bargaining. But the justices can rest easy: The impact will be trivial. States, state workers, and the Bill of Rights will all be better off. And unions will be free to go on politicking. Just as long as they keep their paws out of nonmembers' paychecks.



Exploiting Teenager Rage

The school shooting in Parkland, Florida, shows how quickly our media elites move horrors from tragedy to political opportunity.

They amplified the loudest voices of the shooting aftermath: teenage survivors who demanded gun control "solutions" like banning all semi-automatic assault weapons. These teenagers might accomplish in one week what the anti-Second Amendment crowd, led by these same media elites, has failed to do for decades.

Survivors of failed abortions (like Gianna Jessen or Melissa Ohden) have never held their attention for five seconds. That conflicts with the narrative.

Liberal journalists have openly discussed how these teenage advocates could be a crucial factor in defeating the gun-rights lobby. They could become the key to the kind of turnout necessary for putting Democrats in the majority in Congress. So they gave them every opportunity to push for liberal victory without any need to be civil.

David Hogg, the most prominent student survivor, went on CNN and proclaimed politicians shouldn't take money from the National Rifle Association because they are "child murderers." CNN morning anchor Alisyn Camerota didn't correct him — or condemn his statement, regardless of the fact that he'd just stained the reputations of millions of NRA members by labeling them killers. She said nothing. She was satisfied — pleased, in fact. happily posted the clip with the headline "Shooting Survivor Calls NRA 'Child Murderers.'"

CNN hosted a "town hall" full of leftist rage against anyone who believes in Second Amendment rights. Their agenda was obvious from the program's title: "Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action." They used the hashtag #StudentsStandUp to promote it. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch were verbally slashed by the students without mercy.

Survivor Cameron Kasky stood a few feet from Rubio and smeared him on national television: "it's hard to look at you and not look down the barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz, but the point is you're here, and there are some people who are not." Kasky also said he wished he could have questioned "the NRA lady" (Loesch), since he "would ask her how she can look in the mirror, considering the fact she has children, but, you know, maybe she avoids those."

In the next hour, when Loesch was on, people in the audience shouted "murderer," and "burn her," and student survivor Emma Gonzalez lectured her that she would be a better mother: "Dana Loesch, I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that ... you will not."

Moderator Jake Tapper allowed the audience to be as immoderate as it wanted. He tweeted afterward: "People freestyled a bit" — a bit? — "and I wasn't inclined to reprimand a school shooting survivor or parent who lost a child for expressing him or herself in a question — even if aggressively."

But this is the most amazing part. In the aftermath, no one in television "news" replayed the students' rudeness as a storyline worthy of condemnation, or even comment. It matched their own political agenda and emotional temperature. When Rep. Joe Wilson yelled, "You lie!" at then-President Obama in 2009, these networks all angrily replayed it ad infinitum as a national disgrace. They called it "infamous." CNN's headline on the video clip read "The Heckling Heard 'Round the World."

Even Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito shaking his head at the 2010 State of the Union was projected as inappropriate.

Remember these student hecklers when CNN and their colleagues decry how President Donald Trump has single-handedly ruined civil discourse. Trump mocking CNN as "fake news" caused far more media outrage than Hogg calling the NRA "child murderers."

It will happen again and again. They are hell-bent on ridding this country of the Second Amendment, one tragedy at a time.



Workers Defeat UFCW

In recent years, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has experienced a number of setbacks. Since 2001, the union has lost over 100,000 members. In addition to declining membership, the union has experienced unwanted press attention over the past few years. For example, after a 2015 indictment, UFCW’s organizing coordinator for the marijuana industry was sentenced to prison for fraud and other crimes late last year.

Another UFCW boss, Mickey Kasparian, has been mired in a scandal involving sexual harassment and discrimination for over a year. In January, two officials at two different UFCW locals were indicted for crimes, including racketeering; both men are alleged to have had ties to the Mafia.

On February 7th, the UFCW suffered another setback. On that day, there was an ambush unionization election at a co-op grocery store in Northfield, Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning city about 40 miles south of Minneapolis. While the workers who supported unionization had the backing of UFCW Local 1189, the workers who opposed the union were on their own. The co-op’s management remained neutral; and no third-party organization intervened. In the end, however, the union’s opponents didn’t need help; they were able to defeat the UFCW — one of the largest and wealthiest unions in the country — with over 55% of the vote.

The secretive unionization effort began last summer, but it took until last month for the union to finally collect the 12 signatures that it needed for an election. Pathetically, the unionization campaign still resorted to using dishonest tactics to gather these few signatures. For example, some co-op employees were told that signing a union authorization card only meant that they wanted more information. (In actuality, signing such a card gives a union the right to represent an employee.) Co-op workers were also falsely told that over two-thirds of the staff had already signed the cards.

Many co-op employees were unaware of the UFCW’s campaign until the posting of the Notice of Petition for Election in January. There was no agreement among union supporters as to why exactly the store needed a union. Some workers wanted higher pay, while others claimed the co-op had engaged in unspecified unfair labor practices. The union organizer claimed the co-op was hiding money from its workers and could afford to pay them more. It’s unclear how she would know this.

Several co-op employees decided to fight the union. One of the union’s opponents, Bob N., managed to get a copy of the contract that the UFCW negotiated with a Minneapolis co-op grocery store. Bob posted this contract in his store’s break room. It turns out that the Northfield co-op’s wages and benefits were as good as — and in some ways better than — the compensation package that the UFCW had negotiated with the co-op in the much larger city. Of course, unlike the employees of the Minneapolis store, the workers at the Northfield store don’t have to pay union dues. Bob also wrote several newsletters and put up a number of posts from the, a blog that chronicles the activities of the union, for his co-workers to read.

Although the UFCW had the advantage of both time and resources, it still lost the ambush election. It appears the UFCW would like to try to unionize the Northfield co-op again next year. The good news is that next time, the union’s opponents will have had an entire year to prepare for the election, rather than less than three weeks. Bob and his co-workers who opposed the UFCW are a great example of how regular people, with very little time to organize, can still defeat a powerful union when they’re armed with the facts.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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