Monday, April 11, 2011


          Like the old Pravda It Spikes the Inconvenient Truth. Its Columnists with One Exception Run the Lefty Gamut from A to B.                                  
          The outrage of the country would engulf public unions if the story were allowed to fully get out. And I meanfully.
       But the nation’s slowly dying but still effective “mainstream media” have succeeded partially in clamping shut the faucets begging to let flow the surge of truth about public unions’ organized campaign of extortion against Wisconsin business which rivals anything the Capone thugs did in their “protection” racket against restaurants and dry cleaners in this town ninety years ago.  That the unions have done these things is still waiting to be told to Sun-Times readers by management which prefers its  consumers not be bothered by the truth.
          The left-leaning Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel played it Pravda- mum until forced by embarrassment to give it at least minimal coverage, that cowardly journalistic distinction does not belong to it alone…but is shared by two-paper Chicago--served by the Sun-Times, a wholly-owned intellectual captive of Democratic party liberalism filled with lefty columnists who lip-synch spurious “workers’ rights”…and the Tribune, a goulash of social liberals, toadies of a galaxy of billionaire Sam Zell’s dissolute media hires. Until exposed a few months ago, the Zell buddies had turned the paper into a near frat house bordello.  The paper’s public face was that of Zell, a red-bearded motorcycle-riding eccentric with a face an uncanny duplicate of the pitchfork-bearing symbol of Lucifer Matches.
       Of the two, only the Tribune finally allowed the truth to ooze out in driblets and so obscured, watered down, that is hardly memorable.   The Sun-Times has steadfastly kept any news of union retaliation against business in Wisconsin out of its pristinely pro-Dem pages.
          What circumvented the mainstreams has been the godsend of AM talk radio of which no broadcaster has been more compelling than Rush Limbaugh,  plus a remarkably effective news aggregation run by Rupert Murdoch, includingThe Wall Street Journal..  Always superb as an economic resource, it has become a full-blown gutsy advocate…with America’s No. 1 newspaper circulation…that offsets its rival, The New York Times.
         Still, despite the strength of Murdoch media holdings…The New York Post…Fox News Network and a string of talk radio outlets…it has begun—but not yet accomplished—the  wresting away of the age-old dominance of dinosaur liberalism: the two principal liberal newspapers, The New York Times, Washington Post and onetime “major” news magazines, Time and the flat busted Newsweek which recently was bought by a liberal billionaire Sydney Harmon husband of Dem Congresswoman Jane Harmon [Calif.] for $1 for which he was overcharged.  
        Earlier thanks to the Murdoch press, the story was revealed about  how the public unions threatened to punish-by-boycott  Wisconsin industries that supported the Walker budget.  Now the unions are threatening those which resolutelystay neutral.
         The Wall Street Journal obtained a letter sent March 26 to Union Grove, Wisconsin (Racine county) business owners and managers by  Council 24 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees…the most powerful wing of the AFL-CIO… which had turned down AFSCME’s plea to go public in opposition to passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.   Read this extract and see if it doesn’t evoke the days of Capone and the extortion racket:
      “DEAR UNION GROVE AREA BUSINESS OWNER/MANAGER:  It is unfortunate that you have chosen ‘not’ to support public workers rights in Wisconsin.   In recent past weeks you have been offered a sign[s] by a public employee[s] who works in one of the state facilities in the Union Grove area.  These signs simply said `This Business Supports Workers Rights,’ a simple, subtle and we feel non-controversial statement given the facts at this time.”  
        The letter outlines twisted critiques of the budget and concludes with this chilling Mafia-style threat masked in subtlety:
       “With that we’d ask that you reconsider taking a sign and stance to support public employees in this community. Failure to do so will leave us no choice but to do [sic] a public boycott of your business.   And, sorry, neutral means ‘no’ to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members.”   The letter was signed by one Jim Parrett, field representative for AFSCME who didn’t return the paper’s repeated calls.
       Comments the Wall Street Journal:  “So even businesses that stay neutral in the political battle are considered the enemy and will be punished.  Charming stuff and especially coming from a union that claims (wrongly) to be losing its constitutional rights.  Free speech for others apparently isn’t all that important.”  It reports that at least two Wisconsin businesses have been boycott-slugged, M&I Bank and Kwik Trip because either they or their business executives supported Gov.
Scott Walker’s budget initiatives or refused to publicly oppose them.”
        It is the only paper of national significance which has called the turn on public union political hacks.  Remember this is being written by a union member [American Federation of Television and Radio Artists AFL-CIO]): 1,400 dues paying members in Indiana along from what used to be 1,600 a few years ago.  Nationally state public employees used to stand at 35,000; now they number 28,700 with a falloff of dues.  
        And it concluded editorially: “This kind of union thuggery is all too common and is in keeping with the larger political goal of preventing union members from exercising their own rights of free association. The Walker reform that union leaders hate the most require unions to be recertified annually by a majority of their members and let those members opt out of paying dues…This is the prospect that has Wisconsin labor leaders so furious these days—furious enough that they’ll even threaten the livelihoods of local business leaders who won’t join them at the barricades. This is the nasty modern reality of government union power.”
        Misnamed “mainstream” liberal media may be fading…Katie Couric who became the first woman network news anchor with a job launching from NBC “Today” to CBS “Evening News” rivaling Jennifer Anniston’s latest film…has lost her bid after three years to resuscitate CBS from 3rd place. All that hype and a $15 million annual salary to-boot and the needle is still stuck at No. 3.  
     Undeniably there are many reasons but the one seldom cited is the proclivity of journalistic liberalism: the knack of hyping stories to enable the lefty cause while blacking out the unfavorable topics.
        But the one steady lodestar of liberalism remains—The New York Times.   In fact despite all the changes in consumer news-reading habits, this one paper continues to set the agenda for a massive number of commentators spanning the wire services to a local hayseed weekly editor in East Whistlestop, Nebraska who, short on time hopes to sound Manhattan-erudite.
      The Wall Street Journal is far different from its rival The New York Times.   In its news coverage it is hard to tell where it stands; it is easy to discern the Times editorial view in its supposed news lineage.   That is the hallmark of “advocacy journalism”—which sprang from lefty journalism classes at Ivy League universities.   Ironically, advocacy journalism got The Times into such trouble that it pushed entry into a war unwittingly (as to be revealed later on).
         The Times’ view of things has been gospel for network news, other big city newspapers (like Chicago’s) and a scattering of urban-suburban publications…this despite that most of the 75 dailies which have folded during the last five years have generally followed the left-leaning Times editorial slant although to be sure round-the-clock internet coverage of the news and the diversifying of news outlets have played havoc.
        The Times, known as the nation’s Gray Lady for its once lackluster format, was veering to bankruptcy as late as last year when it nailed a beneficent sugar daddy—a Mexican multi-billionaire who has just edged out Bill Gates as the richest man in the world.   He is Carlos Slim Helo (most generally referred to as Carlos Slim), 71, of Lebanese Christian heritage but decidedly leftist orientation, who by the most conservative account is worth $60 billion.
       His big ventures should have shocked the pristine Times’ sense of liberalism—but hasn’t: ownership of the Mexican phone monopoly allowing it to charge the highest rates in the world, courtesy of having been a crony of Mexico’s unsavory ex-president Carlos Salinas…plus his ownership of cell phone companies that dominate 70 percent of Latin America which have found interesting ways to discourage competition…Imbursa Banks, Carso Construction; Prodigy Internet (Mexico’s top provider)…profits of which depend on heavy exertion of business-government muscle.   In this country his holdings include double digit chunks of Sears and Saks Fifth Avenue.
             But if you’re going down the drain to all-but-certain bankruptcy as was the Gray Lady, one  can’t be choosy: the deal they struck was a $250 million loan from Slim who already owns 6.9 percent of the company which would enable the paper to refinance its existing debt and help free its borrowing capacity, granting Slim six-year notes with warrants convertible into common shares—notes carrying a 14 percent interest rate with 11 percent paid in cash  and 3 percent in additional bonds.
        Slim agreed to receive no representation on the Times’ board but will be among the largest single shareholders of the company—owning up to 17 percent of the common shares outstanding.  The deal is seen by consumer rights groups as hostile to common stockholders since under the deal Slim gets an initial 14 percent plus a warrant convertible into stock as a sweetener—unfair to the common stockholders meaning that free cash flow that would have paid them dividends will be used to pay what many experts see as usurious interest rates to Slim.
            The Slim Daddy Warbucks factor has given the paper breathing room but even in its salad days, beyond purveying elegant prose styles have produced serious embarrassments.   One was intriguing from the standpoint of its hostility to George W. Bush’s foreign-defense policy.  Editors gave Judith Miller the highly coveted national security beat.   No reason not to, given her status: winner of the 2002 Pulitzer for coverage of the Middle East.   Miller’s scoops were gained from heavy social networking—too much so said critics.
     Yet despite the paper’s passionate opposition to involvement in Iraq,   Miller’s coverage ran just the opposite: that Saddam Hussein indeed had WMDs Although her sources were anonymous her star status as journalist overrode all other reservations. 
       The book Gray Lady Down by ex-Timesman William McGowan [Encounter: 2010] tells much of the story.   Miller’s reporting ignited a fierce battle in the newsroom and on the editorial board.   Her in-house critics spread stories about her:  she had become far too cozy with sources, especially male ones.   But, her defenders averred, this was sexist, against the canons of feminism;  she was not exactly a looker like Sophia Loren but a plain, late 50ish matron, married to a 76-year-old guy, a true composite Times creature, born to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother; master’s degree from Barnard; academic honors for a Middle East term paper; former NPR correspondent with a leftward bias.
          Things were coming down against her when she produced a seeming blockbuster which could only come from someone with highly sensitive intelligence clearance—that we had intercepted thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes in Iraq which could only have one purpose—as casings for rotors used for enriching weapons-grade uranium that could have one purpose: production of an atomic bomb.
        This produced the anomaly of diversity, certainly the first in modern times for the paper: while the editorials and columnists warned against Iraq involvement, its celebrity national security correspondent was reporting authoritatively, though using anonymous sources, that a decade after Saddam Hussein claimed to have abandoned a quest for nuclear weapons, he had resumed it—“embarking on a worldwide hunt” for nuclear materials.   As Timesmen gritted their teeth,  the Bush people—including the man they hated more than anyone else, Dick Cheney—were citing their paper in a drive to go to war.  When copy desk liberals complained, Gerald Boyd, the Times managing editor snapped: “Listen, you guys shut up. She has a Pulitzer and your job is not to second guess her but get her stuff in this paper.”   
         Thus ironically, the Gray Lady, unblushing editorial page extoller of international restraint became through Miller on her front pages damn near an enlistee in the war herself. We now know that George W. invaded using The Times’Judy Miller stories as part of the pretext but found no WMD.  We now know that Miller’s key source was a charlatan named Ahmad Chalabi, an Baghdad-born ex-banker who got a MIT Ph.D in mathematics and who formed a committee here to encourage the removal of Saddam Hussein.   Chalabi cherished the idea he would return to Iraq and be elected its president.
       More “we knows.” We know that Chalabi was close to Scooter Libby, Cheney’s top staffer, that he introduced Libby and Miller to “Curveball” an Iraqi expatriate with the phenomenal ability to present supposedly Inside Saddam’s Iraq stories.  We know that Chicago prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald convicted Libby under his mandate to discover who leaked Valerie Plame’s CIA connections to Bob Novak, even though Novak had privately passed the word that the leaker was Richard Armitage, the undersecretary of state. 
           Continuing: we know that Judith Miller refused to divulge her main source about Iraq’s war buildup for which a federal judge found her in contempt and sent her to jail for a term of 18 months. And that finally Miller acknowledged her source was Scooter Libby.
          Thus the irony: The New York Times is back flush with an infusion of a billionaire’s loan whose lack of ethics the paper would condemn in others…the same far-left Times was led ingeniously  to be a  handmaiden to the Bush administration getting us into a war it itself opposed through the cozyness of one of its star journalists with an Iraqi hustler, his friend named CurveBall and also Cheney’s top guy.
        A scenario which would be turned down for a  novel, huh?


  1. ”The Walker reform that union leaders hate the most require unions to be recertified annually by a majority of their members and let those members opt out of paying dues…”

    “Hate the most…?” Well, that’s part of it. Others report that what the unions fear most is the item in the budget which terminates the State and local government practice of collecting the union dues – via payroll deduction – and remitting them to the unions.
    Unions in states which have already done this have seen a significant drop in union membership – up to 95% reportedly.

    When the dues are deducted from your paycheck the amount becomes more like taxes or Social Security deductions – out of sight, out of mind. But if you have to write out a check for $80 - $100 each month to the union you might being to question whether that is money well spent. And when you realize further that much of that money is going to be funneled back to the Democrats ultimately, you might think twice about it.

    Stop collecting the union dues for them and you might not need an annual re-certification…

  2. Are union dues pre-tax or after-tax?