Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Support Your Local Blogger

At the risk of some people who shall remain nameless accusing me of being an echo chamber, I'm simply going to cut and paste and link to Slantblog to give Terry Rea a plug for a very witty new venture. And to wish him best of luck with it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wish I Were Anywhere Other Than Here

No that's not really true. It's just the line in a Jimmy Buffet song about "The Great Filling Station Hold Up" from one of his old albums. I was listening to it on my road trip to Cleveland, Ohio. It's my husband's and my annual trip to the Jake to see his beloved Indians play.

We get together with a group of friends and get loge seating - yes we splurge! And best of all, we get to see and get caught up with a bunch of friends from Ohio, including one we became close friends with in Fort Lauderdale over 20 years ago when we were all in Young Democrats together down there.

So, although I'm perfectly happy to be here, I'm mighty sorry I'm missing the blog conference in Martinsville. If not for this big weekend, I would've been there because it's fun to put names and faces together. And I envy every one of you who are getting to do it!

Have fun and raise a glass for me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

George Allen, Apologies, Soft Teeth and Whiney Throats

There’s a very funny scene in the movie Gone With The Wind. Newly widowed Scarlett O’Hara is slightly tipsy when Rhett Butler calls on her. She has just lost her second husband, Mr. Frank Kennedy, who was originally her sister Suellen’s beau.

Scarlett had used her Southern belle charm and feminine wiles to get Mr. Kennedy to wed her not because she felt any love for him, or even animosity for her sister, but simply because he had money and the Yankee carpetbaggers had stuck a tax on Tara, her family’s plantation, that she couldn’t possibly hope to pay. For Scarlett, Tara was her land, her heritage, and her father’s great legacy to the O’Hara’s. So, save it she must at any cost.

But in doing so, she wrecked her sister’s life and Frank Kennedy’s life too. And she was directly responsible for his untimely death as well.

So in a rare moment of contrition, a self-pitying Scarlett O’Hara had nipped at a bottle of brandy and in that condition, she spilled her gut to Rhett about how she feared going to hell for all she had done.

He laughed and said, “Why Scarlett, you’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry that he stole but he’s very sorry that he got caught and is going to jail.”

One can’t help feeling the same way about George Allen’s belated apology to Siddarth for the macacca remark.

First, there’s the matter of the timing. It took Allen nearly two weeks to call Siddarth directly. Then, it was only after the SurveyUSA-WUSA-TV poll put the Senate race at 48-45 that he bothered to do it.

Meanwhile at the same time Allen was apologizing to Siddarth, his campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, was still busy blaming the whole fiasco on the liberal media for blowing it out of proportion. Here’s the money quote from today's Washington Post:

“Mr. Wadhams, an itinerant political hit man known for his nasty attacks on opponents, told Republican leaders in a memo sent over the weekend that the Webb campaign and the media had ganged up ‘to create national news over something
that did not warrant coverage in the first place.’

He continued: ‘Never in modern times has a statewide office holder and candidate been so vilified.’ In other words, Mr. Allen is the victim -- not the 20-year-old student whom he mocked with an insulting, possibly racist slur in front of scores of chortling supporters and demeaned by saying, ‘Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!’ ”

And while Wadhams was busy proving the campaign is still clueless about racial sensitivity, another Allen staffer was emailing conservative Republican bloggers, trying to stir the mud by attempting to inflame them over a satirical movie poster that Ben Tribett put up on NLS. That movie poster showed the faces of Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Jim Webb superimposed on the bodies of Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase from the old flick Three Amigos.

(Here's a link to the original post of the satirical movie poster and one to Ben's post about the Allen staffer's email to Republican bloggers.)

According to the Allen campaign, this was very offensive to Mexicans.

The simple facts are the following: 1) it didn’t come from Webb’s campaign but from an independent blogger who is completely beyond anybody’s control but his own; 2) has not offended any actual Hispanic; and 3) no actual Hispanic was offended by the making of the original film back in the 1980s.

Of course, look for Allen campaign staff and Republican bloggers to now spend endless time and pixels whining about how there is a double standard for Allen and Webb and how Democrats are terribly unfair to them.

The simple truth is that there is a world of difference between an independent blogger making fun of a candidate and a sitting senator using a racial epithet that is caught on tape to insult a real person. Remember, this was directed at a 20 year old young man who was one of the few non-whites in an audience. That had to be very uncomfortable for him.

More troubling is the fact that these people are proving on a daily basis that they really don’t know why Allen’s racist remark was so bad. They honestly don’t get it. They are the same people who probably couldn’t distinguish why Mel Brooks’ humor wasn’t racist while Andrew Dice Clay’s was.

For the racially challenged, here’s why. Dice Clay used racial stereotypes to make fun of black and brown people. Mel Brooks used the same stereotypes to make fun of bigotry and the bigots. They both took the same material but there was a huge difference in what they did with it and the messages they sent to their audiences. One attacked whole groups of people; the other affirmed tolerance and made fun prejudice.

Meanwhile, it’s not simply the racial insensitivity that has disturbed people but Allen’s meanness of spirit. He was caught on tape insulting and bullying a young person.

He has not shown any real contrition. While he was out apologizing, his manager was busy negating the apology by continuing to whine about how unfair the whole thing was anyway. It leaves the impression that they never meant the apology but grudgingly had to make it. Like Scarlett O’Hara, they are very sorry they got caught.

Meanwhile Allen, Wadhams, and their conservative Republican allies are like the classic bully in the schoolyard. When someone their own size comes along and stops them from bullying the smaller children, they run home to their mommas whining “unfair, unfair.”

Come to think of it, I don’t know if their teeth are soft. But they sure have whiney throats.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Conservatives Running Amuck With Panic

It’s official, conservatives are running scared in the Allen-Webb contest. The latest SurveyUSA poll, conducted for WUSA-TV, has Allen at 48% to Webb’s 45%. That’s a statistical dead heat. (Not Larry Sabato has the results and, as usual, spot on analysis)

Of course, Democratic bloggers are ecstatic because of the very same news.

But Mason Conservative is already running his nightmare scenario that if Allen goes down, that means that Democrats will be in charge of the Senate. He’s even posted a list of all the Democratic senators who will become committee chairs. Oooh scary!

Instead of the whack jobs in there now who have enabled this President to piss away a budget surplus and put us into debt to enrich his wealthiest friends with tax cuts we may get fiscally responsible adults who can actually balance a budget. And instead of getting mired in a civil war in Iraq, letting our ports go unprotected, and throwing millions of taxpayers’ dollars at the ineffective Department of Homeland Security, we might actually get a coherent and effective program to fight terrorism at our borders rather than squandering our resources on inaccurate intelligence reports and ineffective defense programs.

Perhaps we’ll get a sensible energy program before gas sells for $10 a gallon. We might also get leaders who understand economic policy, global warming (which really is happening), and foreign policy. The people who are there now have botched up the Middle East, made us less safe than before and less prosperous too.

In their stead, we might get people with an intelligent plan, a coherent strategy, and some genuine compassion for the middle class.

Oh, and nobody is going to impeach Bush. But would it actually be a terrible thing to hold his Administration and the Republicans in Congress accountable for the mismanagement, incompetence, and corruption that have marked their time in office? Aren’t they the ones who always talk about the need to take personal responsibility?

Or is that only meant for ghetto kids? Meanwhile, does being a rich, white man mean never having to say you’re sorry?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Newflash - Tom Davis Really Is A Republican

One thing you should never do is call Tom Davis a RINO. The Congressman’s voting record is solid Republican. In fact, he has voted with President Bush 87% of the time, and even more incredibly, with Tom DeLay 88% of the time. He votes the GOP party line 89% of the time.

Which brings me to the next point. Davis is no centrist either. On issue after issue that would define a moderate, his votes rank with the solid conservative wing of his party.

For example, on children, family and education issues, Davis earned a solid 61% favorable rating from the very conservative Family Research Council and only 8% from the National Parent-Teacher Association. The liberal Children’s Defense Fund gives him a 0% rating. Meanwhile, the National Education Association (NEA), a non-AFL-CIO teachers’ association, which tends to tack liberal, gives him a 25% rating.

Generally, even pro business Republicans are labeled moderate if they are pro-choice, like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe or Arlen Spector. And Tom Davis, at some point in his past, was considered moderate on this issue. But lately Davis has received a 91% rating from Right to Life, the granddaddy of the pro-life groups, and 40% from Planned Parenthood, and 0% from the pro-choice NARAL.

In addition, he famously signed a subpoena to have Terri Schiavo appear before the Government Reform Committee, which he chairs, so members could observe how she was fed and provided with hydration. It was a cheap ploy engineered by Davis, Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert to whip up support among the most extreme elements of the pro-life base and which the rest of the public reviled as heavy-handed government interference in a private family decision.

So, Davis can no longer even claim the center on social issues where even the most pro-business Republicans usually go in order to keep the coveted centrist mantle in moderate swing states.

And he doesn’t tack to the center on the business issues either.

Davis received a 100% rating from the Chamber of Commerce and 15% from the AFL-CIO.

But those statistics get comical when you realize how much union support Davis actually pulls in. Looking at Open Secrets, Davis received $10,00 from the National Association of Letter Carriers. He also received substantial contributions from the American Postal Workers. In the 2004 election cycle the following government employee unions contributed to his campaign coffers: AFGE, NEA, NTEU ,and International Firefighters.

Let’s do the math here. The NEA gave Davis a 25% favorable rating but contributed to his campaign? So did he American Postal Workers, AFSCME and AFGE, both of which also rated him at 0%. Meanwhile, the National Association of Government Contractors gave him a 100% favorable rating.

And it’s no wonder. With support for legislation like the following, they’d be nuts not to continue supporting him:

PRIVATIZING FEDERAL JOBS—H.R. 3058—A rule by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) covering outsourcing and privatization of work by federal agencies (Circular A-76) is tilted heavily in favor of private corporate contractors. The Bush administration has made privatizing government services a top policy priority. An amendment was introduced to the fiscal year 2005 Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill to prohibit funds from being spent to implement OMB's privatization plan. The bipartisan amendment would allow lawmakers the opportunity to rewrite the privatization process to be fairer to federal workers and more accountable to taxpayers. It passed June 30, 2005, 222-203 (R: 24-202; D: 197-1; I:1-0) AFL-CIO Position: Y=Right; N=Wrong

Davis voted this down. In other words, he voted wrong from the point of view of the people who enriched his coffers by thousands of dollars. Seems like these folks aren’t getting the bang for their bucks. If private industry trade groups consistently voted against their members’ interests at these rates they’d find their fannies out on the street in a membership rebellion. Maybe rank and file labor union members ought to start questioning what their union dues are being spent on too.

And, incredibly, in an area that has lots of military and retired military, Davis even managed to receive a 0 rating from the Disabled Veterans of America.

But Davis supported President Bush on the war in Iraq and voted in favor of it twice.

In addition, Davis voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act, for a Constitutional Amendment on flag burning. He voted to extend Bush’s tax breaks, which benefit the wealthiest 1% of the population, he voted for a Constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, and he’s even voted for the privatization of Social Security.

Meanwhile, the 11th CD is trending blue. Its citizens are mostly not pro-life. Nor are they in favor of the privatization of Social Security, an unending conflict in Iraq, or the continued erosion of well paying federal jobs to private contractors whose workers do not enjoy the same health and pension benefits as federal workers.

From the snapshot of Tom Davis’ record, he does not appear to be in step with his district anymore. But at least you can’t really say he’s a RINO.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wannabe Southerners

For the big flap about George Allen’s blunder on Friday, you can go here, here, and here.

It seems that Allen, speaking in Breaks, Virginia, a town near the Kentucky border, introduced a young Jim Webb volunteer, S.R. Sidarth, who’s been following him around, videotaping Allen’s speeches.

Allen decided to have a little fun at the videoptaper’s expense by introducing him to the crowd. It would have been fair game and maybe even nothing more than a bit of friendly joshing between the campaigns but it turned far uglier when Allen said:

"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come."

Bloggers, starting with Not Larry Sabato, went into overdrive trying to figure out what the ‘Macaca” label meant. Although Dick Wadhams, from Allen’s campaign, attempted to explain it as a reference to Sidarth’s “Mohawk haircut” a picture over at Raising Kaine shows clearly that Sidarth doesn’t have a Mohawk. They’re long out of style anyway so that was a lame explanation.

One suggested meaning was that Allen had mispronounced Macaque, a small, brown monkey. The term may also be a racial slur among the French speaking Tunisians. Allen’s mother is a French Tunisian so one line of speculation is that it was a term that might have been used in his family.

NLS, the Washington Post and Raising Kaine now all have copies of this videotape of Allen’s remarks, so you can go over to it and judge for yourselves.

The biggest problem with George Allen, though, is that he’s a wannabe Southerner who doesn’t get it.

Yes, there are bigots down South. There are also bigots in Canarsie, Brooklyn, parts of the Bronx, and certainly in Boston too. But embracing Southern culture doesn’t mean having miniature nooses in your office, hanging up the Confederate flag, and wearing cowboy boots when you are really from Southern California.

Lots of thoughtful Southerners from both major parties and of all political stripes have spent many years trying to heal the racial wounds of the past, especially in the South, while still trying to hold on to all that was good about Southern culture including its love of tradition, its romanticism, its wonderful storytelling tradition (let’s face it many of our nation’s best writers are Southerners), and it’s beautiful musical traditions. Everything from bluegrass to the haunting mountain folk songs to Nashville’s country sounds to blues.

And Southern cuisine is among the finest in America too from Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina barbecue to the wonderful lowland seafood dishes.

There’s a great deal of Southern culture – both white and black – to be proud of. Its racist past is not among of those things. And yet it’s precisely that which Allen seems to hold most dear. Could it be because he never really understood Southerners or true Southern culture?

It's a long way, after all, from the beaches of Southern California to the the real Virginia, which is Jim Webb's heritage. Let's face it, Webb is the real deal so he doesn't need to wrap a Confederate flag around himself and swagger and posture.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Advice On How To Make An Omelet

I promise to give you some great advice on how to make an omelet if you’ll just bear with me. It’s advice I picked up from a Russian prince. But first I’m going to take a detour back to the question of the Jim Webb’s “Born Fighting” slogan. Yes, I must.

An insightful reader wrote a comment on yesterday’s post stating that the slogan was ambiguous because she didn’t know whether Webb meant the bad kind of fighting – supporting the military, the neocons, the wars, etc. – or the good kind of fighting – sticking up for the underdog, the oppressed.

Before I answer with my thoughts on fighting, let me give you my bona fides. I am a former anti-war activist. A peace and love hippie from the sixties. Ok, in my case really from the seventies. But most of what we think of as the sixties happened in 1968 and after. And the anti-war movement really hit its peak in the early seventies. Woodstock, arguably the most iconic event of the sixties, took place August 17, 18 and 19, 1969.

In 1968, when I was 14, my boyfriend and I walked into a police station in Suffern, NY, a small suburban hamlet about 40 miles from New York City and handed a bemused police sergeant a daffodil. Daffodils, for some reason that I don’t recall anymore, became the universal hippie symbol for peace and love.

The cops didn’t know quite what to do with either the daffodils or us. Neither did the passersby on the street to whom we handed out flowers on a chilly early spring evening. It was cold enough that I was wearing a long winter coat over my ankle length granny dress. My hair was long and straight and parted down the middle. My 15 year-old boyfriend wore his hair almost exactly like mine, long and parted in the middle. He was attired in faded, ripped jeans and a denim work shirt. We were wearing the hippie uniforms of 1968.

But I have one more solid credential of my former hippiedom that’s even harder to challenge than my actions and appearance that night in March.

When I was 15, I went to the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel, New York. Actually, I hitchhiked to it. By the time I arrived, the fence at the entrance had been knocked down and in the ensuing chaos nobody bothered to collect our tickets. So I have all three days’ tickets in perfect, mint condition. I have been told they are worth a lot of money to collectors of antique memorabilia. That may be true, but I’ll never sell them. To me, they are priceless.

As I got older, I became more politicized and radicalized. I joined anti-war groups, including the Student Mobilization Committee. I lived a few towns away from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of the oldest pacifist organizations in America, located in Nyack-on-the-Hudson, New York.

I had lots of friends who worked there, including a few who sat out the war as conscientious objectors. FOR was a religious organization so its members were able to get the coveted CO status. That wasn’t easy because draft boards were very suspicious of draft dodgers and didn’t hand out conscientious objector exemptions to just anybody. But FOR’s credentials as a legitimate religious, pacifist organization were impeccable.

But I never joined FOR although I admired them greatly. I still do. But I’m not a pacifist. There are a lot of wars I’m still against. But a few that I thought were necessary too.

And I think that fighting is appropriate. But then I went from being an almost pacifist to a self-styled revolutionary while I was still in my teens. Of course, by the time I was in my 20s, I actually gave up romanticized fantasies of me and Che in the jungles. Instead, I became a reform Democrat and I never regretted it.

You see, I think that whenever possible peaceful change is always better than using violent means. And I believed then, and still do today, that America is a democracy. That means we have the power to change things and make a difference through the ballot box. And one thing that living through the Watergate era proved to me was that we are also still a nation of laws. Even those who hold the highest office who would subvert our Constitution for their own gain will get caught and punished.

I still have faith in America.

And I have great faith in the need to wage peaceful fights, but fights nonetheless. The voting booth and the ballot box, the strike and the picket line, the sit in and peaceful civil disobedience are all part of the arsenal of waging a fight for social justice in a democracy.

But so is the right to pick up a gun to defend one’s family and property. Rosa Parks recounted her memories of growing up watching the Ku Klux Klan march down the streets of her neighborhood in Alabama. She also remembered seeing all the black men standing on their porches, clutching their hunting rifles, as they watched the bigots march by.

And Mother Jones wasn’t just some sweet old lady who organized overworked children in the coalmines. She once pummeled a man nearly to death with her heavy boots when he broke into her home. Although the authorities arrested her and wanted to bring her to trial, the charges of attempted murder against her were dropped when the victim was identified as an ally of a prominent businessman with whom Mother Jones and her union were involved in a labor dispute.

There is only one kind of fighting. What distinguishes a moral and ethical fight from one that is an immoral abuse of violence is what it is you are fighting for. Without a fight, and often a bloody fight, many of the gains that were made by the working class, by blacks and by women would not have occurred.

Oh, and the advice on making an omelet. It comes from Mikhail Bakunin, a 19th Century Russian prince who was also a notorious anarchist. First you’ve got to break the egg.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Real Woman Are Born Fighting

KathyinBlacksburg, one of my favorite writers on Raising Kaine, wrote about some Democratic women who have given her and the Jim Webb campaign a hard time because of the “Born Fighting” logo that the campaign adopted. The logo was taken from Webb’s book by the same name about the history and heritage of the Scots-Irish. According to Kathy, some women object to what they perceive as the militaristic theme of Webb’s campaign.

I suspect their real objection is to the fact that Jim Webb is a former Marine and a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis. In answer to their objection, I’d say that although I am pretty much anti-war when it comes to Iraq and I was also against the Vietnam War (I marched in a lot of anti-war demonstrations during those days), it’s time to grow up and realize that we don’t live in a perfect world. We need men and women willing to defend our country. That’s not the same as wanting to be aggressors who go looking for wars of choice. In fact, Jim Webb was an early opponent of the Iraqi war. And those who conceived of the notion of pre-emptive warfare were civilians who had never seen the inside of a military barrack, not the real soldiers.

Having said that, what exactly is wrong with being “born fighting” anyway? Although I mightily respect the Scots Irish that Webb wrote about – my husband is one of them – they are not the only ethnic group that has had to grow up fighting. In fact most of humanity has had to fight for every bit of economic or social justice they’ve ever won.

Here’s a quote to illustrate it:

“Pray for the dead. Fight like hell for the living.”
Wonder who said it? Was it some jingoist white man before blowing an Arab to smithereens in the Gulf?


That quote came from Mother Jones, a labor icon who fought in the thick of many of the battles for working people to achieve economic and social justice. Born in Cork, Ireland, on August 1, 1837, she immigrated to Toronto, Canada, after the British killed her father, an Irish freedom fighter. Mother Mary Harris Jones was an organizer for the United Mineworkers Union and the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the Wobblies. She organized children who worked at dangerous jobs in the coal mines and led several children’s strikes, where the young strikers carried signs saying “We Want Time to Play” and “We Want to Go to School,” which got the nation to focus on reforming child labor laws. She was a fierce warrior in the battles for workers’ justice. Mother Jones was in the thick of every major labor battle of the early 1900s. She was dubbed the mother of the labor movement and the Miner's Angel. She was born fighting.

If it weren’t for women with courage, daring and fighting spirit, every social justice movement would have been poorer and less effective. To be a warrior – to be born fighting – does not necessarily mean that you have to pick up a weapon, murder another human being, or extend the physical suffering of our fellow human beings. But it does mean standing up for injustice, risking personal comfort and even safety, and taking a stand for others.

A perfect example was Rosa Parks. She was a seamstress and maid who refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama one day in 1955.

Back in the 50s in much of the South buses were segregated with the front reserved for white people. But when the buses got crowded, blacks were also required to give up their seats in the back to whites. There were cases of pregnant black women having to stand so young white men could sit. And in some cases, when there was no room left, blacks had to get off a bus to make room for white passengers. Yet they paid the same fare as whites did. One day Rosa Parks, long active in the early Civil Rights movement, had had enough of the injustice and decided to challenge it. When ordered to give up her seat, she refused and was arrested for it. Here is how she described what she did and why:

“People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became”

She has been called the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. And she was born fighting.

In more modest ways, so are most women who get involved in politics.

Every woman who ever carried around a petition on a cold day in March to get signatures so her candidate could be on the ballot was born fighting. Every woman who ever worked a phone bank or canvassed door to door to win an election was born fighting. And every woman who ever marched on a blazing hot day in Selma, Alabama, or a freezing cold day in Washington, DC or New York City or anyplace else for a cause was born fighting. Cindy Sheehan setting up Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas was born fighting. And so were all the brave women in the union movement, the anti-war movement, the Civil Rights movement. You don’t have to pick up a gun to be born fighting. But you have to have courage, be willing to suffer for what you believe is right, and you have to say a resounding yes to justice.

Any woman who has a problem with that probably wouldn’t vote for Jim Webb anyway.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Who Really Cares About America?

Do you remember the Biblical story about King Solomon and the two women who claimed the same infant as theirs? One of the mothers had tragically lost her own baby and each woman was claiming that the surviving child was hers.

The women were brought before King Solomon, who was reputed to be the wisest leader in the ancient world, and he had to judge which one of these women was truly the infant’s mother. It was a custody case that would have daunted a lesser judge.

King Solomon ordered a guard to divide the baby in half and give one half to each woman. One of the claimants agreed that that was a fair decision. But the other cried out to stop it saying, “No, give her the child but spare its life.”

Solomon, of course, gave the baby to that woman declaring that she was the child’s real mother. Her love for her child was stronger than her desire for custody. All she wanted was her baby’s welfare regardless of her personal sacrifice.

While it’s hardly as dramatic, there’s a situation going on in Congress that reminded me of that story. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I often see weird connections that others don’t. Anyway, here’s the story.

Republican leaders in the House have cobbled together a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $7.25, which is what the Democrats and the AFL-CIO have wanted and Republican business lobbyists have opposed. They’ve claimed that any rise in the minimum wage would only lead to small businesses having to lay off workers because they couldn’t afford the additional salary expense. Certainly the US Chamber of Commerce and many other business trade groups have stridently maintained that claim during the entire nine years that the minimum wage has remained at $5.15 an hour.

But those clever Republicans have linked the raise in the minimum wage to a bunch of tax cuts that would benefit the wealth. Surprise, surprise!

Included in this trifecta, as the Republican lawmakers themselves have dubbed it, is a permanent cut in Estate Tax and a series of narrowly targeted tax cuts to businesses and wealthy individuals. Now the same business lobbying groups that have been opposing the minimum wage, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business lobbying group; the National Association of Manufacturers; the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors; and the Tax Relief Coalition are tripping over each other to be the first to endorse it. Leading the way, the U.S. Chamber admitted that tax cuts, which benefit their wealthiest members, are more important than stopping the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the Democrats and their allies in organized labor are opposed to this trifecta bill because they know that now is not the time for even more tax cuts for greedy rich people. They recognize that any bill that will lower federal tax revenues by $268 billion over the next decade on top of the already record deficits would be injurious to poor people. Shrinking tax revenues will almost certainly force draconian cuts in economic and social programs such as food stamps and Medicaid that lower income people depend upon, causing them more harm than benefit despite a wage hike.

Because our deficit is already so large, there probably will have to cuts to social programs some day anyway, but this shell game will only make them even deeper. So, the very people the Republicans say they want to help will actually be hurt far more by this scheme that does nothing more than line the pockets of the richest and greediest traitors in America.

By the way, rich and greedy are not necessarily synonymous. There are lots of wealthy people who are opposed to cutting the Estate Tax and who are earnest, responsible citizens that care about the fiscal health of this country.

But there is a very small minority of very wealthy people who have already plundered our Treasury. They don’t care about the costs of the war in Iraq, from which their businesses are benefiting through lucrative contracts. They don’t care about families that have to raise money for their sons and daughters to buy body armor because the Pentagon says that it can’t afford to supply the troops with lifesaving equipment. And they certainly don’t care about the children of the working poor who have no health insurance and would go hungry without food stamps. In fact much like that woman who lied and claimed the baby in King Solomon's day, they care more about their selfish desires than about the well-being of their fellow human beings.

Ironically, it's the working people of this country who care about the nation's fiscal health. Who care about America. They're the ones willing to forego the raise rather than see this travesty that would shrink tax revenues and balloon the deficit.

Who cares more about America. It's not the Chamber of Commerce and it's not the business lobbyists who have only contributed to a culture of corruption on Capitol Hill.