Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bastard of the Day

Today we honor one of the greatest bastards in a field full of them: embattled Rep. Tom DeLay. The news is that DeLay will not be running for reelection, but I have no doubt we haven't heard the last of the most corrupt former exterminator in history.

Our country will feel the pain of the legislation he rammed through Congress for years, maybe generations. Confused about Medicare prescription drug plans? Thank DeLay. Losing your job thanks to CAFTA, the worst trade agreement since NAFTA? Thank DeLay. When Congressional Republicans came up with an idea so bad that even their own kind wouldn't necessarily support it, they turned to the Hammer to deliver fence riders to the Cause. His career path led from killing bugs to killing scruples.

As Jim Hightower and others have reported, DeLay is also the poster boy for American sweatshops. When you buy that "made in U.S.A." shirt for a few dollars, don't think for a minute that it was made by garment workers on this continent. It probably came from the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory where the labor laws we take for granted stateside do not apply. Even dyed-in-the-wool conservative Senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska was disturbed:
Moved by the sworn testimony of U.S. officials and human-rights advocates that the 91 percent of the workforce who were immigrants -- from China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- were being paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage and were forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing, work 12 hours a day, often seven days a week, without any of the legal protections U.S. workers are guaranteed, Murkowski wrote a bill to extend the protection of U.S. labor and minimum-wage laws to the workers in the U.S. territory of the Northern Marianas.
The U.S. Senate passed his bill unanimously. But the House never even considered the bill. Why not? Thank Hammerboy DeLay, lover of the good life in the Marianas, where he was regularly feted by territorial leaders and factory owners. Maybe he'll miss golfing and snorkeling in that Pacific paradise now that he is retiring. More likely, if he doesn't go to jail, he will become a lobbyist for those islands of shame.

For Tom DeLay, Bastard of the Day is too kind.

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