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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Europe And New Leaders Are Ukraine’s Only Salvation

Yes, Ukraine must focus on its immediate financial crisis and counter Russian machinations and threats, but its fate hinges on, to use hackneyed phrases, the creation of a rule of law and a stable democracy. Ukraine’s political elite and bureaucrats, of all political persuasions, have shown themselves incapable of these tasks in the past. Ukraine must turn to new and youngleaders – patriots not politicians —  willing to follow guidance and discipline from their neighbors to the West.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Putin’s First Move After Ukraine: 2 ½ Years For Throwing A Lemon



In Putin’s Alice in Wonderland, it does not matter whether white is black or up is down. Exonerating evidence is either ignored or not permitted. The sentence is phoned to the presiding judge from the Kremlin, while Putin denies any influence on the courts. They make their own independent decisions, he asserts with a straight face. (Stalin would also tell wives of victims that we would like to help but the courts have decided).
 


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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Olympics Host Putin Protects Mother Russia From A Tangerine-Tossing Student (And A Teenage Girl Too)

As Olympic athletes and world media bask in the sentiment and goodwill of the Sochi closing ceremony, they should be aware that their host will within a few days sentence eight young Russians to prison terms for exercising their constitutional rights to free assembly for acts that would merit a mild reprimand on any school playground throughout the world.
A Moscow court declared eight young defendants guilty of “application of force against representatives of authority” last Friday. The Moscow court conveniently delayed their sentencing until after the Sunday closing ceremony.  The eight – in their late teens or early 20s — were convicted of attacking heavily-armed, padded, and brawny special security forces at a May 6, 2012 demonstration on the eve of Putin’s inauguration to his third term as president of Russia.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Despite Western Insistence, Ukraine Demonstrators Can Accept Nothing Less Than Yanukovich's Removal

Western media outlets give the impression that the astute diplomacy of Europe saved the day, if that is indeed the case. Wrong. The bravery, heroism, discipline, and national pride of the Ukrainian people defeated an entrenched, corrupt post-Soviet autocracy as they camped out in sub zero weather, endured beatings by riot police, and braved sniper fire that killed more than fifty of their fellows. The Yanukovich regime, egged on by Putin’s demands for a brutal crackdown, underestimated the tenacity of their opponents. They did not anticipate the outrage of all Ukraine, even in Yanukovich’s eastern regions, at the specter of deliberate sniper fire and bodies with bullets to the head in makeshift morgues in nearby hotel lobbies and churches.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Ukraine Proves That Obama Has Led The United States To Irrelevancy On The World Stage

A chastened Barack Obama, who once naively believed that his intellect, personal charm, and multicultural understanding could sway Ayatollahs, post-Soviet dictators, Muslim fanatics, and Korean loons, is left with kicking the can down the road to prevent his initiatives from collapsing before his term is out. Despite tough talk of red lines and serious consequences, our enemies know he will not use American power. Time will tell whether Obama’s power aversion served the nation, but it does mean that to he will be ignored in those situations where it is in our national interest to show resolve, have a stiff back, and be willing to carry through on threats. This is the lesson that the Ukrainian crisis is teaching us.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The United States and Europe Dawdle While Ukraine Goes Up In Flames

Deadly violence claimed at least 18 lives in Kiev on Tuesday as riot police moved on activists’ encampments in the center of the city after protesters stormed the Ukrainian parliament. Inside the building, fights broke out as pro-government deputies blocked the opposition’s effort to submit a draft resolution to reinstate the 2004 constitution that would limit President Yanukovich’s power.
As protests against Ukraine’s pro-Russian president enter their fourth month, it is clear that the battle cannot be resolved by compromise. Both sides are employing scorched earth polices from which there will emerge one winner and one loser. The United States and Europe have so far abdicated the opportunity to provide real assistance to the opposition. Putin, on the other hand, will leave no stone unturned to insure that his allies emerge victorious.  In such confrontations, the street fighter wins and the gentlemen lose.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Stunning Defeat With Broad Implications For Labor: Tennessee Auto Workers Reject UAW Bid To Organize VW Plant

Hourly workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee narrowly voted to reject the UAW’s bid to unionize their Volkswagen plant. The union organizing drive was backed by the UAW,  VW’s German union, IG Metal, and the VW board of directors. The UAW’s goal was to bolster declining UAW membership and to slow the flight of automobile manufacturing to right-to-work states. Germany’s mighty IG Metal aided the organizing drive to protect VW jobs in high-labor-cost Germany under the guise of labor solidarity with their American brethren.

Germany’s co-determination rules, which equalize the number of labor and management seats on boards of directors, explain the VW’s board’s support of unionization of its U.S. plant. VW Germany went so far as to send instructions to its Tennessee plant to assist in, or at least not hinder, the pro-union campaign.

The UAW’s drive to unionize U.S. automotive manufacturing plants in the South and Midwest serves as a bell weather for organized labor’s prospects of gaining a union foothold in right-to-work states. The election has been closely watched by other foreign auto manufacturers, who have located in the South and Midwest to take advantage of lower labor costs and the U.S. market.

The VW vote indicates that auto workers in right-to-work states understand that the support of a foreign union to unionize their shop was a defensive move to limit outsourcing to lower-labor-cost parts of the world located in major consumer markets. The UAW’s Detroit model also appears to have taught autoworkers in right-to-work states to prefer an actual job that pays less than in unionized plants to no job at all.

Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, and Nissan USA can breathe more easily. The UAW defeat in Tennessee took place under the most favorable of circumstances for union organizers. After the VW defeat, it is hard to imagine the UAW cracking any plants in right-to-work states.

The IG Metal-UAW debacle in Tennessee adds to the list of organized labor failures at a time when it has a lock on the National Labor Relations Board under the Obama administration. Other bitter defeats include Michigan becoming a right-to-work state in 2012 and Boeing machinists caving to the threat of locating a major assembly plant expansion in South Carolina. Increasingly, economic conditions in right-to-work plants are dictating terms of work and pay in unionized plants. As unionized workers understand the growing impotence of union representation, the unionized labor force in private industry will continue its shrinkage towards zero, leaving only the besieged public sector unions.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

While Putin Basks In Sochi, His Robobloggers Answer All Critics (Including an F-Word For Me)

Beneath the calm exterior of the Putin regime lies a deep network of “power organizations” (secret police, prosecutors, tax police, secret informers, paid journalists) ready to silence investigative journalists, anti corruption bloggers, street protesters, potential rivals, and virtually anyone else deemed the slightest of threats to VVP.  Even my humble posts on Forbes catch the eye of the lumbering Putin “apparat.” Whenever I write on Putin’s Russia I can count on an immediate response from Putin’s rapid response team, whom I call Putin’s claquers, after the strategically placed “bravo shouters” in opera theaters.


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Friday, February 7, 2014

Krugman: Celebrate Choices That Ruin Lives, If That's What Big Government Wants

Paul Krugman’s (Health, Work, Lies) reveals he does not understand this most basic principle of economics. He seems to think that the choices people make under screwball government regulations will make them better off – as long as no one is forcing them to make these choices. Per Krugman, bad choices motivated by bad incentives are to be celebrated not sympathized!

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Obama's Spin Doctors Open Up A Pandora's Box With Their CBO Response

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that Obama Care will cost 2.5 million jobs sent the Democrat rapid response teams reeling.  The “non-partisan” CBO has labelled the president’s signature achievement a job killer. What to do?
The Obama team’s first reaction must have been: This must be wrong! Haven’t we been saying all along that employment problems are to be corrected by government spending? With the CBO’s determination that the ACA’s carrot-and-sticks are destroying jobs, we cannot admit that the unemployed and underemployed are victims of misaligned incentives, not of inadequate government expenditures. We need another angle. A voice from the back of the room:  Maybe we can say that, in certain circumstances, job destruction is good?
That was it. The best that Obama’s rapid responders could do for positive spin was that the ACA gives low-income earners new choices. They couldchoose to work fewer hours, or not at all, to keep their incomes low enough to maintain their insurance handout. A blessing instead of a curse, the ACA turns high school dropouts into budding poets, photographers, and writers (per Nancy Pelosi) whom free insurance saves from the drudgery of earning a living.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Obama: Hire Misty For Me

Misty DeMars, an attractive 37-year-old dark blonde woman from a Chicago suburb, played the role of poster girl for extending unemployment benefits at the president’s State of the Union Address. Obama called out Misty from her seat between wife, Michelle, and Joe Biden as the president described her pitiful plight as follows:
“Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager.  She put herself through college.  She’d never collected unemployment benefits.  In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home.  A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved.  Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter – the kind I get every day.  ‘We are the face of the unemployment crisis,’ she wrote.  ‘I am not dependent on the government…Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society…care about our neighbors…I am confident that in time I will find a job…I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love.  Please give us this chance.’”
Misty DeMars, the stylishly-dressed graduate of an elite college living in an upscale Chicago suburb, is Obama’s telling choice of the “face of our unemployment crisis.”  A much better choice would have been a high school dropout, who works in a chicken processing plant, drives a 16-wheeler truck, sweats on offshore drilling rigs, works on street repair crews in the heat or cold, or mans a cash register at the convenience store. His or her unemployment rate is three times Misty’s college crowd. The hardscrabble unemployed work under unpleasant conditions to put food on the table, gas in their cars and trucks, and clothe their children. They do not talk, like Misty, of losing a job they “love.”