As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They Just Hate People

The Bush Administration and 36 Republican Senators showed their true colors today when they saw fit to hijack our nation's security to ensure that airline screeners remain underpaid and overworked. It is embarrassingly clear that the Republican Party is a party that hates people, and would rather expose them to risk from terrorism than allow them to get ahead. Indeed they save their angriest, most vicious and hateful threats for the working people that built and sustain this country. If Democrats simply let people know about this, raised awareness of the Republican contempt for anyone who gets their hands dirty or cashes a paycheck every week, they would never lose an election again.

President Bush and his Senate allies will kill a Sept. 11 antiterror bill if Congress sends it to the White House with a provision to let airport screeners unionize, the White House and 36 Republicans said Tuesday.

"As the legislation currently stands, the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

Senate Republicans swiftly backed up the threat with a pledge by more than enough senators to block any veto override attempt.

"If the final bill contains such a provision, forcing you to veto it, we pledge to sustain your veto," they wrote to the president. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., planned to offer an amendment to strip the provision from the bill.

Listen to what the Republicans are saying here. If you allow screeners to collectively bargain with their employers, to give them the opportunity to leverage their labor the same way all federal employees can, to utilize the free market in the same way businesses and governments do every day, we will stop all attempts to make the country more safe.

This is what is less important than the scourage of letting airline screeners unionize:

Other measures in the bill would improve rail and aviation security, provide funds for state and local emergency communications systems, improve intelligence sharing between federal, state and local officials, and expand a visa waiver benefit for favored countries.

The Republicans would rather NOT improve rail and aviation security.

They would rather NOT give funding to state and local emergency communications systems, systems which would be deployed first in the event of any incident or catastrophe, either natural or man-made.

They would rather NOT improve intelligence sharing at all levels.

They would forego all of these efforts to actually make America safer, if it means that a security screener might make $2 more an hour and get better health care. They would rather deprive security screeners who are on the front lines the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can pay your bills.

And this is not isolated. The Bush Administration has vowed to veto The Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow any worker to join a union without fear of intimidation or harrassment or losing their job. The bill will also likely face resistance in the Senate to reach a filibuster-proof majority. The vast majority of Republicans hate people who work. The trade policies they favor sell working people out and eliminate their jobs. The labor policies they favor reward union busting and mass firings of union organizers and sympathizers and practices designed to hinder free choice. The business policies they favor increase the stratification between rich and poor, doling out billions in corporate welfare while shrinking the social safety net. The bankruptcy policies they favor essentially eliminate bankruptcy protections for working people. The health care policies they favor do little more than create tax shelters for the wealthy, doing nothing for the 47 million uninsured. The anti-poverty policies they favor do nothing to alleviate poverty, and indeed have left record numbers of Americans in severe poverty, the highest levels in 32 years, and have created a culture of meanness toward poor people that indirectly leads to things like sport killings of the homeless.

But this is the last straw. The Republicans would make us less safe to guard the bottom line of the corporate paymaster to whom they subcontract out the airline screening operation. They could not stomach the sight of a working man or woman being able to own a house or a car, or provide for their children. They HATE PEOPLE, anyone who works for a living.

Let me show you Michael Chertoff's defense of this absurdity, and while I don't think any commentary is needed I'll provide some.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that allowing screeners to unionize would impede the department's quick response to possible threats. (because they've been so quick to respond so far -ed.) Fast redeployment of screeners, such as in response to Hurricane Rita and the failed London plot to blow up airliners, cannot wait for negotiations, he said. (see, it's been negotiations slowing them down all along! Or not.)

Chertoff said screeners are as much on the front lines in the war against terror as military troops (and we need to treat them just as badly by depriving them of equipment and health care).

"Marines don't collectively bargain over whether they're going to wind up, you know, being deployed in Anbar province or in Baghdad," (and that's why they're still in Iraq at all, since most of them agree with the American people in wanting redeployment) Chertoff told reporters after a briefing with senators. "We can't negotiate over terms and conditions of work that goes to the heart of our ability to move rapidly in order to deal with the threats that are emerging."

The talking point here is that screeners have to be quickly deployed to places where threats emerge. So they can screen the wreckage, you see. I don't even know what this means. Is the plan to shuttle screeners all around the country when a threat alert goes to red? Are screeners on 24-hour alert?

No, of course not, the answer is explained in one sentence.

Other federal employees have collective bargaining and whistle-blower protection rights.

Other federal employees have the right to organize, and the Republicans want to keep it away from airline screeners. They don't want to have to pay anyone what they're worth. And they'd rather torpedo pending antiterror legislation than do it.

This is an embarrassment that we live in a country where this isn't the only news. Democrats should be talking about this for the next three weeks and shaming these Republicans who put profit over security. The campaign ads should be cut. Democrats are not perfect in this regard; we have our own corporate wing. But Republicans are BOUGHT AND PAID FOR by corporate interests. Anyone who isn't on the side of working people in this country ought to make that fact well-known. And the Democrats can do it for them.

Fortunately, Howard Dean is calling out those who don't support working Americans.

Regardless of where you live or what you do, labor unions are our first line of defense for worker's rights. What do they fight for? Raising the minimum wage. Improving labor standards. Expanding health care benefits. Every day, millions of Americans work hard and play by the rules but are still struggling to get by. Democrats understand the important role that labor unions play to fix this crisis.

Congress is set to debate a bill that will restore American workers' right to freely choose whether or not to form a union. Call on the White House to join the Democratic majority and support the Employee Free Choice Act.

We should be shaming the Republicans at every opportunity with this, over the EFCA and the threatened veto of 9-11 legislation. We have two major parties in this country, and one of them actively hates the vast majority of people who live here.

I'd say that's a campaign issue.

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