April 23, 2008

GOP Set to Block Pay Discrimination Bill

I wish I could say this were a surprise, but the Republican party has made it clear that they oppose civil rights and equal justice and protection under the law.

When the Supreme Court exposed last May that the existing pay discrimination laws weren’t concrete enough for their tastes and opened up an area of weakness that employers could exploit in order to pay the women on their payrolls less than the men for the same work and responsibilities, they suggested that if the American people had a problem with the lax legal language, that Congress take steps to correct it. A year ago, the House swiftly passed a bill to fix the problem. Today, when the Senate took up the same issue, the Republicans decided to filibuster it, and the Democrats, 3 votes short of the 60 required to break the filibuster, have to wait until they can rally more Republicans to their side.

And who has the quote of the day? No one else but the Republican contender for the Presidency, of course – Senator John McCain:

“I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems,” the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. “This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.”

No, Senator – if you were all in favor of pay equity for women, you would stop toting the Libertarian “government should leave business to its own devices” line and vote for the bill. This isn’t about trial lawyers, it’s about equal pay for equal work, and that’s absolutely clear on every level. By disguising it as a laissez-faire policy towards business, the only friends you make are the libertarians who care more about the rights of businesses and corporations than they do about the rights of their neighbors and communities (aka, Paul supporters – which I suppose he may be trying to curry favor with now that he’s clinched the nomination and Paul is out of the race).

If you were all in favor of pay equity for woman, Mr. Senator, you would allow the government to codify it as law, instead of trusting the foxes to guard the henhouse. The reason the Supreme Court exposed the weakness in the law was because one woman who was clearly discriminated against brought it to the government’s attention. The government was failing to serve and protect the people who elected it, and the business she worked for exploited that fact. It’s the goverment’s responsibility to provide for the protection of the rights and liberties of the people, not the business community, even if they could be trusted with such an important task (and one they’ve continually exhibited no interest in – after all, their responsibility is to their shareholders and stakeholders, not to the communities in which they live).

In fact, Senator McCain, you were so afraid of this bill that you didn’t even show up to vote against it; you just said it was a bad idea, tucked your tail between your legs, and headed out the back door. Heaven forbid you go on record against pay equity and have it held against you in November, eh?

[ G.O.P. Set to Block Bill Easing Limits on Pay Discrimination Suits ]
Source: The New York Times

An interesting take on it from a blogger at DailyKOS on the filibuster that I think sums this up nicely:

As if there were any question about what the right vote for American workers was, look at how endangered Republicans Coleman, Collins, Smith, and Sununu voted. Yup, with the Democrats. The Maverick, however, showed his independence again by not showing up to vote, but had he bothered to be there, he says he’d have voted against it.

The bill is actually about protecting the rights of American workers. It simply provides a remedy for workers–women and men–who have been victims of pay discrimination. It corrects a Supreme Court decision that severely restricted the right of workers to have their day in court. Pay discrimination is already illegal. This legislation would have fixed a bad SCOTUS decision that severely limited the ability of workers to hold their employers accountable for breaking the law.

Sound familiar? It’s the Protect AT&T Act all over again. Damn the rule of law, damn the rights of Americans. Let’s make some money. It’s the Republican way.

[ Republicans Defeat Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ]
Source: DailyKOS

On Staying Home

On NPR today, I heard an interesting statistic that came out of the voting in Pennsylvania:

Right now, the Democratic race is so divisive that unity looks elusive. Exit polls in Pennsylvania show that 43 percent of Clinton’s voters would stay home or vote for McCain, the likely Republican nominee, if Obama were the Democratic nominee, and 29 percent of Obama’s voters would do the same if Clinton were the nominee.

[ Loss Highlights Potential Weaknesses for Obama ]
Source: NPR

Let’s be absolutely clear here then. If and when Obama obtains the Democratic nomination in June, and if John McCain wins the general election in November, we’ll know exactly whose fault it is, and at whose fault to lay blame. For as much as I’ve heard Hillary supporters crowing about the cult-like mentality and support Obama supporters have for their candidate, it seems like the only folks who are unreasonable about their support for their candidate and appear to be particularly interested in handing the Presidency to a Republican in the fall are Hillary Clinton supporters – her win in Pennsylvania made that plain and clear.

And what are Republicans doing? Everything they can to tear down Obama and support Hillary, of course – they’re even running attack ads in North Carolina against Obama. On the topic of Hillary? Eerily quiet. Likely because they know full well they could decimate her in a general election, and they’d rather face her:

If they thought Obama was the weaker candidate, they would stand aside and let him more quickly end the primary contest. Yes, regardless of who ends up the nominee, the GOP benefits from us still fighting out state-by-state primaries and caucuses (even though caucuses don’t count and are in states that don’t matter). But what’s more important to the GOP, if they have any control over it, is getting the weaker opponent for McCain. Hence, the ads attacking Obama.

By running ads against Obama, the Republicans are trying to torpedo the more electable of our candidates. If Obama were to lose North Carolina, Hillary Clinton would make an even stronger appeal to the superdelegates to flip the delegate lead to her, thus ensuring a summer of Dems sniping at each other and greater opportunity costs. Dragging the nomination out until Denver would seriously weaken Obama, which is exactly why the Republicans are running ads against him.

[ GOP to Run Ads in North Carolina Against Obama ]
Source: DailyKOS

Don’t get me wrong – the Pennsylvania vote was neither unexpected or unwarranted. The rural Pennsylvania voter resonates more with Hillary than with Obama for a number of reasons, some of them legitamate, some of them not. From the NPR story:

But there’s another potential problem for Obama in Tuesday’s exit polls: One in five white voters said race was a factor, and three in five white voters chose Clinton.

“A lot of voters in a lot of these states have never voted for an African-American candidate before,” Devine says. “This is simply a new experience for them, and many of them are going to have to confront this in the course of the campaign.

I know Hillary supporters are incredibly tired of race being an issue at all in the politics of the Presidential election, but until Hillary delivers a visionary speech on any major issue, much less gender, there’s no denying it’s real, present, and clear.

I’ve said before that an Obama v. McCain matchup would be a slam dunk nationally, and even in the swing states that Clinton has claimed she’s only capable of winning, and now there’s more evidence to prove the point. It’s plain and clear, Pennsylvania aside – Clinton is the weaker candidate, and the future voters of the Democratic party plus their most reliable voting blocks (and potentially the most disenfranchised ones if this nomination goes south) have put their faith in someone who can win and turn this country around together.

[ Electability ]
Source: DailyKOS

So if Clinton supporters stay home on election day and we wind up with four more years of the same, I’ll be proud to fly the banner “Don’t blame me, I voted for Obama” if that day should come. I would challenge Clinton supporters to take a step back and decide what’s best not for the party but for a progressive America, for progressive politics, and progressive ideals and values. What’s really going to set us all back here, and who’s really best qualified to champion the cause?

April 13, 2008

10 Things to Know about John McCain

It’s about time we set our sights on the real target this political season, and while Hillary Clinton is doing as much as she possibly can to help self-destruct the Democratic party, I don’t think it’s her. In the end, it’ll be about how to get a level-headed, progressive person in the White House, and that means someone who’s not John McCain.

I’ve been a fan of MoveOn.org for a while now, ever since their inception, and even through some media characterizations of them as a “extreme liberal/left-wing group.” Oddly enough, while the values of its members are certainly progressive, there’s nothing extreme about MoveOn or its members, and they strike another ring of truth with a quick and dirty run-down of 10 things you may or may not know about John McCain:

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don’t):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has “evolved,” yet he’s continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi.”

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

4. McCain opposes a woman’s right to choose. He said, “I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.”

5. The Children’s Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children’s health care bill last year, then defended Bush’s veto of the bill.

6. He’s one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a “second job” and skip their vacations.

7. Many of McCain’s fellow Republican senators say he’s too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He’s erratic. He’s hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his “spiritual guide,” Rod Parsley, believes America’s founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a “false religion.” McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church “the Antichrist” and a “false cult.”

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

Let’s back up really quickly and hone in on some of those, shalle we?

First, let’s look at number one. “Sure,” you might say, “hasn’t he apologized for that? Said his opinion has evolved?” Perhaps, and I’m willing to give him the benefit there – maybe his stance has evolved, and if it truly has, it’s admirable that it has. Given his other behavior however, it’s less likely that anything about him has evolved, aside from a burning need to redefine his image and woo progressive voters who fall for his “maverick” aura.

Next, let’s move on to number 3. I think we’ve covered this one?

Next, let’s move on to number 6. Didn’t he recently say that Obama was “out of touch?” Hmm.

Okay, number 9. Yowch. Isn’t this what everyone was up in arms against Obama over just a little while ago? Uppity black people and the candidate needs to get up on stage and soothe the privileged (although admittedly, his speech became something so much more than soothing), radical fundamentalist Christians who believe that Hurricanes are God’s punishment (except when bad weather floods the midwest, then its just nature) and that Catholicism is a “false cult?” I’ll be patiently waiting your defining speech on religion, Mr. McCain (kind of how I’ll be waiting for Ms. Clinton’s defining speech on gender, if she’s going to keep up her old tricks – ZING!).

The rest, I think, speak largely for themselves. I’m not too concerned with his hot-headedness; I was one of those people who admired Howard Dean back in 2004 for being “un-presidential” when he started hooting and hollering from the campaign stage. I was happy to see a politician passionate about what they wanted to do for the country as opposed to being only excited about the power they could attain. I think that’s another thing that sets Hillary and Obama apart for me, but I’ve digressed enough about that.

At the same time, I’m eagerly waiting for the Democratic primary to come to a close so these facts will get out about McCain. He’s been riding a quiet wave of “no news is good news” while Hillary refuses to realize she’s no longer wanted and the media circles around that incessantly – eventually the cameras will have to turn to McCain and his own record and his own statements. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

[ 10 Things to Know about John McCain ]
Source: MoveOn.org

That About Sums it Up

election encounter

Looks about how it would go to me. If elections were like Pokemon (and I don’t really like Pokemon), we’d already have realized that it’s not just about picking the best person to fill the best role (although I think he’s the best there too), it’s also about picking the best person to beat the opposition.