The title of this blog means something to me. I wasn't always sitting at a computer while on disability. I'm proud of the work I did, and of the people I had the privilege of working for, with and/or over. When people found that I was a hard hat who was once the Treasurer of NYC Mensa, they often ask "How was it working with the people in the construction trades?" And, while I always found the question offensive, I always answered honestly. "I found more intelligent people in construction than I did at Mensa meetings." That's true!
That's why I was horrified as I've watched, in shanties on high rise building construction in Manhattan, on oil refinery platforms in Canada, in nuclear plants in Ohio and New York, in paper mills in Maine and rocket fuel refineries in Baltimore, the morphing of once strongly Democratic blue collar, union workers into Republican cheerleaders.
The reasons are, of course, many. Some are reasons for the switch do the Democratic Party proud. (i.e.: Anger at job losses due to desegregation of construction unions lost some Dem workers to the GOP.)
But what seems to be a big reason is the "wimp factor." The men and women toil with their muscle, in outdoor conditions that make the complaints of office workers about how cold the walk from the heated parking lot to their heated office seem a bit shrill.
There is little time for in depth conversation when welding steel on a parapet 90 feet above a cement floor, or while humping heavy pipe into place within confined spaces.
So, these folk speak rather plainly. Nuance is not a constant companion. As the work is often dangerous, a blunt and factual intercourse is most appreciated.
Long winded conversations are saved for lunch of after work at a local gin mill.
The Republicans, while screwing these folks through the tax codes, loose pension regulation and anti-union legislation, did one smart thing.
They stayed on message; they came up with easily understood points and fought for them even when they knew they would lose.
Democrats tried to be all things to all people, and wound up being ill defined and seemingly weak.
In just a few sentences, a newly minted Republican blue collar worker could give you a synopsis of the Republican Party that, while it might appeal to the lower, more base, prejudices and feelings of his/her audience, they made the listeners think that they'd be a part of a powerful movement.
When was the last time a Democrat felt that she/he was part of anything powerful?
For me, it goes back to JFK's inaugural speech . . . a time before most Americans were born.
And, lately, the feeling of weakness is overwhelming. So, as I mentioned on this blog yesterday, it's time to change.
While many of the Liberal mega-blogs, and many of the hosts on Air America, are frantically attempting to hide the fact that the Democratic Party could have stopped this heinous bill from being passed, thankfully, some
see through the BS, including The Nation
takes a stand and tells it like it is.
Did John McCain and his GOP colleagues cave? Yes. In particular, they betrayed the courageous military officers and Pentagon lawyers who for months fought for the rule of law. But the refusal of many Democrats to confront this constitutional crisis is more scandalous. For weeks Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders enjoyed the luxury of sitting on their hands while McCain and other Republicans publicly bucked the White House. But when vigorous Democratic opposition might have slowed the bill until a saner, less politicized moment after the election-season recess, a tepid Senator Reid refused to stand in its way: "We want to do this. And we want to do it in compliance with the direction from the Supreme Court. We want to do it in compliance with the Constitution." Never mind that the whole bill is out of compliance.
As more than 300 law professors wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders, the enemy-combatants debate is "an urgent test of our nation's constitutional and democratic values." Democrats as well as Republicans have failed the test.
The Founding Fathers would not believe that, while America rolls back the clock to where a Monarchy again rules this land, and detention, torture and lack of legal redress once again soil America's skirts, Briton Cites 'Divergence' With U.S.
, with her top legal official taking pains to differentiate her justice with America's willingness "to do things beyond the law."
It is a shame that blogs and organizations that gained trust by speaking honestly and directly about problems in America are now so tied into the Democratic Party that they have become a new DLC - The Democratic Liberal Chorus, instead of an independent voice.
There is no hiding the fact that Harry Reid cut deals that failed the American people, Liberals and the standing of America in history.
It is time for a Move-On, KOS, or Atrios to speak up for what is right, not what is politically convenient.
It's time for Air America hosts to stop toeing the DLC line, and quit telling us "Democrats do speak up. Just turn on CSPAN3 and you'll hear them."
While there is certainly a right-wing bias in the media, and Dems get much less face time on political talk TV, the Dem leaders DO get some time. And, they use it to again echo the GOP lines, but with a little sad violin accompaniment.
Sure, you'll get a Russ Feingold or Carl Levin occasionally. But the vast majority of air time afforded Dems goes to the likes of Harry Reid and (once a firebrand, now a tumbleweed) Nancy Pelosi. And they both use the time poorly. So poorly, that things like Legislating Violations of the Constitution
go virtually unnoticed by the majority of Americans.
Sadly, it seems that the more popular the TV show, the less likely a Democratic leader will say anything that would distinguish her/him from a moderate Republican.
(With that in mind, I was shaking my head as Lincoln Chaffee, a Republican, voted AGAINST an awful Republican bill on torture and detainment, but a bill on which the Democrats couldn't even muster a filibuster.)
Things have gotten so bad, I wouldn't be surprised if Democrats somehow turned the new Woodward tome
into a plus for Bush.
By parroting the "We must put winning the 2006 election" above all of our important principles, we only play an electoral version of "Leave No Democratic Politician Behind", which may someday garner a political win, but you'll hardly recognize the candidate/party you've won with.
The knee-jerk "Must Win" process allowed Clinton to bend over on flawed and vindictive Welfare Reform, instead of a bill providing training, child care and hope for those trapped in poverty. Of course, as this was pre-Katrina, many Democrats had fallen for the con from Republican (and Democratic Repug-Lite politicians) that there were only a few lazy "Welfare Queens driving their Caddies (Lexus's?) to pick up Welfare Checks" that would be effected by the bill.
Clinton also signed the disastrous telecommunications bill, that left us with hate radio on so many stations across America, where now there are more different faces of right-wing talk radio than there are different (local) news broadcasts. Now, an operation like Clear Channel can produce a single radio news spot that will be run in hundreds of cities and towns, providing only that news that a huge media outfit would like their customers to hear.
Now let me be clear, Clinton held back the fascist tied for 8 years, and accomplished much when faced with external forces and internal havoc.
But he knew how far he could go without having his feet held to the fire by his left-wing.
And that IS a problem.
Both during and since the Clinton years, we (in the Democratic Party sense) have been gaining momentum in a slide to the bottom.
While the worst, and most unappetizing group of fascist/theocratic thugs are riding roughshod over the true Republicans who still remain in that party, we seem to have mastered losing the unloseable elections.
While Clinton was peaking in popularity, we lost the House. We needed to turn a Republican Senator, just to bring that body into a tie between Dems and Repugnants.
And we then lost the Senate, giving the coming little coward an America who was hogtied and unable to resist the torture the little psychopath was looking to inflict.
We ran a sitting vice-President (who had viced under an unbelievably popular, yet fully viced himself, President) against a cowardly pip-squeak who had trouble stringing two syllables together and would need help finding America on a map.
Our candidate, many say, did the gentlemanly thing by not contesting the fraudulent election process, and standing by as a rogue Supreme Court decided that it, and not the voters, should decide Presidential elections.
Should Gore have tried a coup?
Maybe not. But shooting off a few paragraphs of fact and passion at the eulogy to democratic elections in America might have been appropriate.
Gore could have, legally, been that single Senator that members of the Black Caucus so desperately needed in order to force a look into that fatally flawed election.
But, we are the well-behaved Democrats in a school full of bullying sociopath Repugnants, and we wouldn't think of raising a fuss. Would we?
We ran disabled war veterans (Max Cleland) against ugly, racist thugs, and lost.
In 2004, all those mega-blogs told us we could NOT lose! We had a hot-damn honest-to-God war hero we'd run against the Howdy Doody on steroids playing landscaper in an ass-ugly, weed-covered farm in Crawford, Texas.
Of course, our hero had to play the same game that Harry Reid and the Accessories played on this torture bill.
He'd have to get so close to Republican positions that, were both sides in the foxholes one should expect in a political battle for the life blood of our country, if one sneezed the other would be wiping snot from their face.
Kerry took that plan and ran with it.
He played Repug-lite on Iraq. More troops? Sure! More money? Of course!
Say anything about a totally illegal invasion? Nope!
Criticize the tactics of fear? Not so much!
Tell the flat out truth to the followers who so wanted a true leader?
ARE YOU CRAZY! That's not how you play politics.
So, after another miserable day of losing poll numbers, we were left to whine about "Election Fraud!", as if that was a brand new happening in American politics. For Christ's sake, I'll bet there was some finagling back during the early Greek democracy.
Instead of whining for the passed 2 years, someone should have taken the entire membership of the Dem party, sat them down and screamed "You don't win elections by showing your people how closely you can follow every asinine thing your opponent does.
You win elections by showing folks true leadership qualities.
And, for a political party to inspire people, the party must stand for something.
And NOT by standing up for something as meek as sitting on its hands when the country is imperiled!
Do you really expect busy, overworked, underpaid Americans to look forward to standing in a line at a polling place in order to elect people who will, when America is about to be assaulted, cut deals that prevent the members of that party to try and stop the assault?
Sure there's election fraud. But Democrats outnumber Republicans nationwide, and if you would only show that by electing Democrats our country would/could change, there would be such an outpouring of support that it would be near impossible to switch enough votes to turn the election with impunity.
Instead, we get told "Forget what you just saw happen." If you'll only hold together and vote Democratic, after winning the election we Dem politicians will run into the nearest phone booth and switch to our Super Hero tights.
Well, phone booths are hard to find, and after watching the Democrats, tine after time, capitulate and/or enable atrocity after atrocity to be enacted upon our Constitution and our ideals (from Patriot Act through Bankruptcy Bill, from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib), many of us don't believe the Dems would know what to do with such powers. They'd likely ask the Repugnants for advice.
So, as I said in yesterday's post, I'm switching registration. Green or Independent, I'm not yet sure.
That certainly doesn't mean that I'll vote for a candidate from my new party who might have little or no chance of winning. But, if I'm only offered a Repugnant against a Dem-Lite, that yes I'll vote for neither.
And the Democratic Party will change, or more and more Democrats will help form a party that actually follows the principles that made the Democratic Party great, and, for too short of a time, helped make America great!
For now, I'll vote for anyone, from whatever party, who sincerely wants to get us back on track AND isn't afraid to stand up for what is decent and just . . . without looking to cut deals that lead to naught but Pyrrhic victories and leaving America hoist on a Republican-lite/Democratic petard.
Accessories to Torture
These are grim days for the Constitution. The House and the Senate have passed the catastrophic "compromise" negotiated by senators McCain & Co. to the President's "enemy combatants" bill. The only thing compromised is the rule of law; the bill still strips detainees of the right to appeal, broadens the President's unilateral powers to decide who is an enemy and which interrogation methods violate the Geneva Conventions, and fatally undermines the War Crimes Act. The bill was rushed to passage just days after the Canadian government exonerated Maher Arar, "rendered" by the United States to Syria, imprisoned and tortured for nearly a year.
Go here for the whole article!