Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fairness and Equality: John McCain is clueless

Most of the debate about my participation at John McCain's Oakland University town hall meeting has been about me -- the T-shirt I wore, how I got the senator to notice me, and even whether I had a right to be involved at all. Although these issues are worth discussing, the question I asked John McCain and the answer he gave me are more important.

When I asked John McCain why he did not "show up to support equal pay for equal work," he stated he opposed the legislation because the only ones who would benefit from it would be trial lawyers and others in that profession.
Here's why I found McCain's answer unacceptable: The legislation McCain opposed would have given backbone to anti-discrimination laws. As it is now, a woman has only 180 days to figure out her pay is not fair and equal.
What is so magical about 180 days? Does John McCain believe it is OK to pay a woman less than a man or pay an African-American less than a white person simply because it might be necessary to hire a lawyer in the pursuit of justice? People who have been the victims of any crime, including discrimination, will need lawyers, period.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act makes every unfair, unequal paycheck a crime, and it removes the 180-day, ridiculously unfair statute of limitations. After all, if a man is robbed, but he does not discover the theft until the 181st day, does it mean there has been no crime?

This November, I hope voters remember John McCain refused to support a law that would have made it easier to find equality and fairness in the workplace.

Our future depends on it.

Fort Gratiot, May 13

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The McCain Initiative

Oakland University Campus, Rochester, Michigan

Seven members of BlueNovember.Org participated in John McCain's May 7th town hall meeting at Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, to ensure the discussion included issues important to average Americans.

Each member was prepared to ask a substantive question of the senator, who chose to limit his opening remarks to three topics:

Human trafficking
Internet pornography
and Religious freedom

Hayley, one of BlueNovember.Org's youngest members chose not to wait until the question and answer period for an opportunity to create a meaningful dialogue. She stood up to display the tee shirt she was wearing which stated:


The senator acknowledged her and gave her the first question. She asked him why he opposed a bill that would have helped support a woman's right to equal pay for equal work. Basically, Senator McCain explained that the bill would only benefit trial lawyers, not women.

Susan, another BN.Org member, asked Senator McCain to discuss his philosophy that "Free Market Forces" should be the way we protect our environment. Susan stated that our government and the American people should decide how to best protect the environment, not corporations. Additionally, Susan asked if oil was the real reason we invaded Iraq. To this, McCain stated, "No Ma'am, we thought they had weapons of mass destruction."

Other populist issues were brought up, but the question lingering in the minds of BN.Org members was this: Do the McCain supporters of Southeast Michigan really think internet porn, sex slaves, and religious freedom are the issues most Americans struggle with on a daily basis?

If so, they are the most out-of-touch audience this side of $4.00 a gallon gasoline and wrap-around unemployment lines.

Read more about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act here.

Monday, May 05, 2008


The last seven years have been a scary time. We've seen so many horrors that the mind sometimes simply fogs up, and it's hard to keep them in any sort of remotely clear focus: the pointless slaughter in Iraq, the violation of civil liberties, torture, the suppression of sound science, the failure to heed the warnings before 9/11, the shameful indifference to the needs of veterans, the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, the growing control of our government by corporate lobbies--the dreary list goes on and on.

Last week a new bit of right-wing nastiness passed across our newspapers and computer screens; it ought to be getting more attention. This was the decision of the United States Supreme Court in favor of an Indiana law requiring voters to furnish a picture ID before voting. Sounds innocuous, doesn't it? In fact, it's a transparent Republican maneuver to suppress the votes of people--the poor, African-Americans, the elderly--that traditionally vote Democratic.

The important point to bear in mind is that there is absolutely no evidence that voter fraud is a problem. There is no plot among any group of voters to cast fraudulent votes. It doesn't happen. There is no need for this law. It does not address a current or imminent threat.

So why was it passed? For one reason and one reason only. The republican-controlled Indiana legislature knows that many elections are decided by narrow margins. If they can keep a few voters from the polls or make voting more difficult, they could swing an election. And they also know that the voters who currently do not have a photo ID are overwhelmingly likely to vote Democratic. According to Professor Amitai Etzioni of George Washington University, roughly 11% of the population lacks a picture ID that would satisfy the requirements of this law (see here). And it's obvious that the people without driver's licenses and passports are not your typical Republican voters.

This law is so brazen in its intent to disenfranchise certain segments of the American electorate that you have to go back to the poll taxes and other nefarious mechanisms of the Jim Crow South to find a parallel. It's one more Republican effort to steal elections they cannot win on the issues.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Robert Byrd on "Mission Accomplished"

Robert Byrd, Democratic Senator from West Virginia, was one of the few brave souls who consistently and eloquently opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. People sometimes mock Byrd for his grandiloquent style, his antique, courtly manner, and his dedication to pork-barrel projects for his home state, but in this case, he was far wiser than most Americans and most members of the United States Senate. Here is what he said on the Senate floor yesterday:

Tomorrow, we mark the fifth anniversary of the now infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, which was delivered by President Bush on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. Five years ago, I took issue with the President’s choreographed political theatrics because I believed that our military forces deserved to be treated with respect and dignity, and not used as stage props to embellish a presidential speech.

The President’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” and the “end of major combat operations” proved wildly premature and dangerously na├»ve. The complete lack of foresight and planning by the President for what lay ahead became tragically clear in short order. Our nation continues to pay the price every single day. More than 97% of the more than 4000 Americans killed in Iraq lost their lives after the President’s flashy declaration of victory.

Years from now, I expect that history books will feature the sorry “Mission Accomplished” episode as the epitome of this administration’s reckless and arrogant foreign policy, which has reaped disastrous consequences for our nation and the world. We have seen a President who is eager to use American troops for a political backdrop, yet is seemingly indifferent when it comes to providing them with the equipment they need, quality health care, or a real plan for ending the war.

President Bush has said that history will judge him on his decision to go to war in Iraq. I say that history is already delivering its verdict. It is evident in the strains of the long and multiple deployments that are wearing down our mighty military, and in the suffering of the American people as they bury their fallen heroes. It is evident in the fear and distrust with which the rest of the world views us, and in the instability wracking the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the Bush policies.

President Bush has recklessly squandered more than 200 years of American leadership, good will, and prosperity. If that is what he was aiming for when he took office, then he can claim “Mission Accomplished.” That is his legacy. As we write the next chapter in our nation’s history, let us commit to building a new legacy that restores the promise of America, both at home and around the world.

Mission Accomplished?

Today, 1 May 2008, is the fifth anniversary of the infamous "Mission-Accomplished" speech, delivered by President Bush on the aircraft carrier, Abraham Lincoln. Since the beginning of this war—begun in deceit, executed and expanded with incompetence—over 4000 Americans and perhaps a million Iraqis have died. Millions more Iraqis fled the country and now live in uncertainty and destitution, while those remaining in Iraq endure unreliable services and rampant corruption. Divided into mutually antagonistic regions and neighborhoods, Iraq is ravaged by sectarian war. The rights of women have been diminished, as religious fanatics have imposed misogynistic, medieval laws throughout the country. The United States has become a debtor nation, and economic recession lowers our standard of living. Allowed to prosper in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda has grown in strength. The reputation of the United States is in tatters. Iran has become the dominant local power in the Gulf. The United States has engaged in torture, kidnapping, and the violation of civil liberties, at home and abroad.

Way to go, George! And way to go, John McCain, who has enabled this war from the start, enthusiastically supported the administration's "surge," and completely failed to show the slightest understanding of the realities of Iraqi culture and politics. If you think the Iraq war was a great idea, then John McCain is just the president for you.