Evening Photo: Thatcher, Reagan sit on an Oval Office patio – summer 1987

I’m still reflecting today on the passing of the Baroness Thatcher. Thought this photo was a lovely reminder of days gone by. I look at this, and wonder what they were discussing. Whatever it was, their mutual admiration was clearly visible.

Thatcher and Reagan

A picture dated July 17, 1987, shows former President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the patio outside the Oval Office. – via AFP/Getty Images

As seen from the Wall Street Journal piece: The Thatcher/Reagan Mutual Admiration Society, Remembered

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One in the many reasons to send the United Nations packing

**Posted by Phineas

It’s corrupt from top to bottom and the only people who get punished are those who expose it:

A U.N. whistleblower who was awarded a fraction of the damages he says he suffered at the hands of the United Nations urged Washington on Monday to withhold 15 percent of the U.S. contribution to the world body in accordance with U.S. law.

American James Wasserstrom was last month awarded 2 percent of the $3.2 million he wanted by a tribunal that found U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Ethics Office failed to properly review claims he suffered retaliation for alleging U.N. corruption in Kosovo.

According to Section 7049(a) of the 2012 U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Act, the United States is required to withhold 15 percent of its contribution to any U.N. agency if the secretary of state determines that it is not implementing “best practices for the protection of whistleblowers from retaliation.”

(…)

Wasserstrom complained in 2007 to the Ethics Office that he suffered retaliation for reporting alleged misconduct while head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Oversight of Publicly Owned Enterprises in Kosovo.

He had told the United Nations he was concerned about corporate governance in Kosovo and alleged the possibility of a kickback scheme tied to a proposed power plant and mine that involved top politicians and senior U.N. officials.

Instead of being protected as a whistleblower, Wasserstrom claimed he suffered retaliation, which started with his U.N. public utility watchdog office in Kosovo being shut down and his U.N. contract not being renewed.

Although Wasserstrom eventually won his case, he was only awarded $65,000, despite the fact that he says his legal fees, lost wages and other financial damage incurred amounted to well over $2 million.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Secretary John “Global Test” Kerry to invoke this law to protect a wronged American; relations with the world body that represents the voice of the international community are too important, you see. (1) More likely, as Rick Moran acidly observes, Kerry will use the UN appeal process as a dodge to avoid doing anything that might upset things. And, I think, in the hope that this pesky little prole will stop bothering his betters with minor matters.

There was a time when, if an American was ill-treated by a foreign regime, the government would try to find a solution and, if that didn’t work, would figuratively go punch the offending government in the gut and keep doing it until they recognized their diplomatic obligations. See, for example, the Barbary Pirates and the Mexican War. (2)

Now, while we can’t declare war on the United Nations, cutting our contribution by 15% would also be an effective gut-punch, one that would command attention and, I bet, meet with wide public approval. (Just “sequester” it…) But, cynical me, I don’t expect this administration headed by  “citizens of the world” to do anything to help Mr. Wasserstrom.

That might make the next cocktail party in New York just too uncomfortable.

Footnotes:
(1) If you detect a note or two (or several thousand) of sarcasm and cynicism, your senses are not deceiving you.
(2) Yes, I’m grossly oversimplifying things, but the shabby treatment of Americans was among the causes of war in each case, as well as others.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The “Walker Effect”: Wisconsin PEU membership cratering?

**Posted by Phineas

Or maybe it’s the predictable result of restoring liberty to the people and not using the force of law to extort money from them for the benefit of union bosses (1). Regardless, the reforms Governor Walker instituted and then defended against thug tactics in Wisconsin have sent the membership numbers of at least one public employee union, AFSCME, into a tailspin:

According a Labor Department filing made last week, membership at Wisconsin’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40 — one of AFSCME’s four branches in the state — has gone from the 31,730 it reported in 2011, to 29,777 in 2012, to just 20,488 now. That’s a drop of more than 11,000 — about a third — in just two years. The council represents city and county employees outside of Milwaukee County and child care workers across Wisconsin.

Labor Department filings also show that Wisconsin’s AFSCME Council 48, which represents city and county workers in Milwaukee County, went from 9,043 members in 2011, to 6,046 in 2012, to just 3,498 now.

(…)

They show why the state worker unions and their liberal allies fought such a protracted, bitter battle in 2011 over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s changes to the state’s labor laws. Under the old laws, state employees were obligated to pay dues to a union even if that worker didn’t want to belong to a union. Walker changed that to allow state workers to opt out of paying those dues. He also required unions to submit to an annual re-certification vote. Without those requirements, the unions have found it much harder to retain members.

And I’d say this is a good thing for Wisconsin, as early results from the reforms have shown. As public employee unions have grown (Disclosure: I pay dues to one — against my will), they’ve come to treat the taxpayers as cash-cows, milking them for ever-higher salaries and benefits (often far better than for comparable positions in the private sector), whether justified or even healthy for the state. They’ve fought even the mildest reforms tooth-and-claw, as witnessed during the protests and occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol in 2011. In effect, they were acting as overlords demanding tribute from a subject people and becoming enraged when the people said “no more.”

If these membership numbers are any indication, a large and probably growing swath of Wisconsin public employees don’t like how their unions operate, either, and are making their feelings known loud and clear. And this has to have the union bosses frightened as the reform movement spreads from state to state.

via Power Line.

Footnote:
(1) The dues they take in are often spent on political activities and influence buying to pursue policy goals that many of their members would object to, or even consider irrelevant to their interests. This is often done through large contributions in money and campaign work to (largely Democratic) legislators, who then reward their employers — the unions, not necessarily the voters. It is, in effect, a corrupt kickback arrangement.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Gone but not forgotten: Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher passes away at 87

Sad news this morning from Britain:

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, an outspoken woman known to many as “The Iron Lady,” has died at 87 after suffering a stroke.

“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning,” Thatcher spokesperson Lord Bell said in a statement.

Thatcher led Britain’s Conservatives to three election victories from 1979 to 1990, the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century. Alongside former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher battled against communism and saw the Berlin Wall get torn down in 1989.

On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his trip to several European countries after the announcement of Thatcher’s death.

“We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton,” Cameron said in a statement.

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II was sad to hear the news of Thatcher’s passing, adding that she would be sending a private message of sympathy to the family today.

Downing Street said the Queen has authorized a ceremonial funeral — a step short of a state funeral — to be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It said the funeral will be attended by a “wide and diverse range of people,” and the service will be followed by a private cremation. But it did not provide further details on the timing of the service, saying only that the arrangement are “in line with the wishes” of Thatcher’s family.

During 11 bruising years as prime minister, Thatcher transformed her country by a ruthless dedication to free markets and infuriated European allies. She transferred large chunks of the economy from the state hands to private ownership.

The former PM, alongside our great former President – the late Ronald Reagan – are among the most inspirational and fearless leaders of our time who, although gone, will always be studied, analyzed, fondly remembered, and highly respected. Their beliefs in individual freedom over centralized government were strong and formed a permanent bond between the two in what became a storied alliance and personal friendship, which stood the test of time.

Rest in peace, Baroness Thatcher, and may God bless your family and your country at this bittersweet time.