Sunday :: Nov 20, 2005

It's YOUR Goose About To Get Cooked, Turkey!

by pessimist

In addition to the numerous polls showing a significant decline in the approval numbers for both King George in specific, and the PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse in general, there is good news on the electoral front. Newsweek has Bush at the Tipping Point, and as they have been VERY friendly to Bu$hCo up until recently, there must be something to this presentation - especially when even FOX can't spin it any differently.

Thus emboldened, the Democrats are finally on the attack. The question is: can they clearly frame the issues to those individuals who are going down with the GOP, and lay the blame where it belongs?

They seem to be trying. Take the so-called leadership of Congressman Roy Blunt, pinch-hitting for future jailbird Tom DeLay:

News Analysis: Acidic close of Congress signals curves ahead

"Bad poll numbers on your side unite your opponents and divide you a little bit," said Representative Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. The responses to poll numbers cited by Blunt were on display last week in an unusually messy congressional windup.

Democrats united to force House Republicans to look solely to their own membership to win approval of spending and budget measures that carried a political price given their reductions in spending on an array of social programs - cuts ready-made for campaign attacks. Fourteen Republicans opposed $50 billion in spending cuts over five years despite major concessions by their leadership twin moderate support. They acted partly out of fear that a vote for the cuts would expose them to Democratic political attacks, a fear well founded.

Within hours of the vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out news releases to the districts of 50 lawmakers who backed the measure to make sure voters heard that their representatives had "blindly rubber stamped" the leadership's plan.

For once, the Democrats weren't wandering about in a place that Gertrude Stein would have described as 'No there there'. As the next article demonstrates, there are real targets for the Democrats to hit successfully - and one has! His name just happens to be Blunt also!

Having a Blunt to bash helped this Democrat!

Democrat collects 58 percent of vote to take 94th District Missouri [State] House Seat

Kirkwood has traditionally been solid GOP turf with Democrats going for decades without a statehouse win. "There obviously had to be a lot of Republican crossover to get this number of votes," said Democrat Ellen Wentz, who did some door-to-door campaign work for [Democratic candidate] Jane Bogetto.
"One big thing I had going for me was that people are tired of Matt Blunt and this legislature and the way they are treating people," added Bogetto.
"When I went door-to-door, I heard people say they are fed up with Bush, and they are fed up with Blunt. They were especially upset with a letter mailed out by Rick Stream from the Byrd campaign which said Jane was an ultra-liberal promoting abortion and homosexuality. People aren't buying that kind of politics anymore," said Wentz.

Greg Shufeldt, campaign manager for Bogetto, said the Nov. 8 election was in good part about Blunt and the state legislature, despite assertions to the contrary.

"What we found is a lot of people who are convinced the country and the state is going in the wrong direction," said Shufeldt. "People know that when you kick 100,000 people off Medicaid in the state, that is going to end up hurting everybody financially in the end -- it's not right and it doesn't help anybody."

Maybe that basic idea is what it is going to take to reach Red Staters. Kicking people off Medicaid, off Medicare, out of their jobs - it isn't right and it isn't helping them one little bit. Republican policies and foot-dragging over changing this nation for too many years has brought us to a place we never thought we'd reach - and they should be very upset about this.

Maybe it takes being personally involved over many years to understand this. One Michigan family has this experience:

For a G.M. Family, the American Dream Vanishes

Four generations of the Roy family relied on General Motors for their prosperity.

Jerry's great-grandfather, John Westley Roy, came to Michigan from Missouri in 1931, in the depths of the Depression. He built a home five blocks north of a plant operated by General Motors' AC Delco division and worked there for a decade before he was injured and retired to a farm.

Mr. Roy's grandfather, Edward, worked at the Delco plant during the war, when it was converted into a machine-gun plant: he would tell a story about a day one of the guns came off a mount and began shooting holes in the wall of a cafeteria.

Mr. Roy's father, Gerald, started at G.M.'s Fisher Body unit in 1951, was laid off after a year and a half, and then got a job in 1954 at AC Delco. Gerald's sister, uncle and future wife, Delores, worked at the plant. The elder Mr. Roy remembers the 1950's and '60's as a golden era, when everything seemed possible. "There were three shifts - they worked around the clock," he said of the AC Delco plant, adding, "you'd go in there and you couldn't even hardly walk."

Jerry Roy faces the prospect of either losing his job or accepting a sharp pay cut.
Over more than seven decades, the company's wages bought the Roys homes, cars and once-unimaginable comforts, while G.M.'s enviable medical and pension benefits have kept them secure in their retirements. [T]he auto industry was the pioneer in advancing what became the American model for the social contract between workers and their employees - from the $5 a day Henry Ford offered workers in 1914 to the all-inclusive health care and pension benefits that became a mainstay of the vast expansion of the middle class in the second half of the 20th century.

When the web of labor contracts was woven during the postwar American auto boom, industry executives wanted, above all, to keep the union at bay and the profit rolling in. "The work forces were young, the pension costs were low, the exposure for health care wasn't really there and they didn't promise a lot to begin with," said Gerald Meyers, a professor at the University of Michigan and the former chief executive of American Motors. Each contract, he said, "added a little more and a little more and a little more."

In many ways, it was not the government but Detroit and other major industries, at the prodding of their unions, that created the American-style social safety net, and helped foster the shared prosperity that is now fracturing. [T]he G.M. that was once an unassailable symbol of the nation's industrial might is a shadow of its former self, and the post-World War II promise of blue-collar factory work being a secure path to the American dream has faded with it.

With young workers and no Toyotas and Hondas to worry about, there was little short-term downside to the industry's concessions. "The thinking in top management," he said, speaking from personal experience, "is that they've kicked this ball in front of us, and keep kicking it. And when it comes due, we're not going to have to pay it."

"It's like the national debt," he added. "We'll spend it now and let the kids worry about it. Well, here we are in 2005, and the kids are now the management. They're paying for their fathers' sins."

The Sins Of The Fathers Are Visited Upon The Sons

Today, Mr. Roy and Gerald, 71, who once helped him get his job, are both preparing to make sacrifices. [W]ith G.M. and other domestic automakers and suppliers fighting to survive brutal global competition, Detroit is planning to cut even more manufacturing jobs. At the same time, the industry is moving to rewrite or even tear up its labor contracts in a bid to turn itself around by drastically reducing both wages and benefits.

In early November , U.A.W. members reluctantly agreed to allow the company to shave $15 billion, or nearly 20 percent, from its retiree health care liability. The elder Mr. Roy and other retirees will now be required to pay monthly premiums, deductibles and co-payments for medical services for the first time, with costs of as much as $752 a year.

For his part, Gerald Roy is more worried for his son Jerry than himself. "What worries me the most, or bothers me the most, is him working for 28 years for G.M. and he might lose his retirement," he said.

Considering the following news, I suspect there is something a bit more important to be concerned about:

Not only is the company seeking to cut two-thirds of its 34,000 hourly workers in the United States, it wants to cut wages to as little as $10 an hour from as much as $30.

That would make it hard to pick up one's insurance costs on top of everything else. For some, that fortunately proves not to be much of a worry:

[T]he Roys are the lucky ones. Gerald and his wife, Delores, another G.M. retiree, are healthy and not on medication, and their son is single and does not have any children.

Indeed, others face more difficult times.

If the pay cuts go through, Larry Mathews said he would no longer be able to afford his son's college tuition. "We're going to have to make a choice between what bill to pay, whether to go to the doctor," said Mr. Mathews, who works at the same Delphi plant as Mr. Roy and is also the editor of The Sparkler, a paper for plant workers.

"I know I'm going to have to call my son at Central Michigan and tell him to come home," he said. "I bet those executives don't have to make those calls."
Mr. Mathews makes clear that he has no desire for his own son to continue the family tradition. "Given what we've lost here in the past decade, I really didn't want to see him come to work at G.M. or Delphi," he said. "The security just isn't there."

From this report, GM executives have little security to offer:

"If I look at our priority list on the things we need to do to get cost-competitive, wage rates are nowhere near the top for us," Mr. Wagoner, the G.M. chairman and chief executive, said in a recent interview.
Wages are less important because the industry is so much more efficient than it used to be and has already cut so many jobs.
At its peak, G.M. employed more than 600,000 Americans. G.M. plans to cut its blue-collar work force even further, though, to 86,000 Americans nationwide by the end of 2008, about the same number of people it once employed in Flint alone in the 1970's.

Jerry [Roy], knowing that his job may disappear and that his pay is likely to shrink no matter where he ends up, faces much greater uncertainty. "What can you do?" Jerry asked. "People survive somehow, regardless of what happens. I mean, it's sad, I could cry all night, but I'll figure out a way to get by - somehow."

Just don't ask your Republican Congress members for any help - they're attempting to fight off unemployment themselves.

There is a critique about the Democrats that asserts that they have no agenda to present to people such as the Roys and Larry Mathews. As I see it, this is a factual argument. It's time that they got one. There is no one else for this nation to turn to, as there is no viable third choice in this land - a lack of which might well be a cause of the totally of direction change that an either-or two-party political system imposes upon this land, and which causes a major upheaval regardless of which party gains power. It might also prevent the sort of total domination of power - and neglect of the voting constituency - that both parties have historically displayed when they control everything.

But such situation is exactly what we have to deal with, and we can advance from no other. It is the Democrats and a chance at change, or the GOP and a continuation of the failed policies of the last five years. More and more workers - most notably those in the airlines - are seeing their pensions disappear into the overdrawn Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as America's MBAs take the path that former AMC CEO Gerald Meyers described above. The corporate-friendly GOP-dominated government is allowing this to happen because they think they can get away with this.

It's your call, Mr. Gander. The match is lit, and the gas is on. Shall we light the oven and cook your future to a crisp, or would you like to do something else?

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