Category Archives: War on the Working Class

Imperial Sugar Off the Hook

A few years ago a sugar refinery owned by Imperial Sugar of Savannah, Georgia, exploded. Fifteen people were killed and dozens were injured, some severely. The explosion was the direct result of a corporate refusal to obey safety rules designed to avoid just this kind of event. OSHA, over a single 2-year period, hit Imperial Sugar with over 200 Notices of Violation. Corporate management ignored them. After all, we all know OSHA is just a busybody nitpicker that gives corporations a hard time for no reason. They know what they’re doing. They don’t have to listen to some liberal government pinhead whine about how they should have done this irrelevant action instead of that one.

That’s how – and why – 15 people died. Continue reading

Moloch in Action: How It Works

Jim Morin, Miami Herald

Bush Nominates Yet Another Racist to the Federal Bench (updated)

People for the American Way are reporting that Bush has just nominated yet another racist, sexist, anti-labor judge to a seat on the Federal bench, this time for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Leslie SouthwickPresident Bush has nominated Leslie Southwick to fill a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Bush previously tried to fill the seat with Charles Pickering and then Michael Wallace, both of whom faced significant opposition due to their disturbing legal records, especially on civil rights.

“Regrettably, Southwick also has a troubling record and appears to be cut from the same cloth as the others,” said Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way. “First Pickering, then Wallace, and now Southwick – Bush has completely struck out on the Fifth Circuit.”

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Greg Palast: “The 2008 Election Has Already Been Stolen”

What a difference an “R” makes.

In talking to people around me and reading blog comments, I’ve realized that there’s a significant misunderstanding about our voting problems and it all revolves around a single letter: R.

People seem to think that the phrases “vote fraud” and “voter fraud” mean the same thing. They don’t. We need to clear that up before we can move on to the main business here – that the firing of the USA’s is about stealing the 2008 election.

Voter fraud: fraud perpetrated by voters. IOW, somebody pretending to be somebody s/he’s not or pretending to be eligible when s/he’s not. You know, like in Chicago in the old days when the Mayor’s Machine turned out hundreds of people who used phony documents to vote numerous times in the same election.

But that was in the pre-electronic days (almost the pre-electric days) when such things were not just possible but easy. Voter fraud hasn’t been a problem since the 50’s, pretty much, and recent investigations of suspected voter fraud turned up NOTHING. No evidence of a widespread movement. No evidence of a tiny organized cadre. No evidence. Period. As Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, put it in the Houston Chronicle, among Republicans it is an “article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections.” Not fact. Not proof. Certainly not on the basis of evidence. Faith.

Voter fraud simply doesn’t exist except in the paranoid ravings of rabid Republican extremists – you know, the people who run the GOP these days: Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, James Dobson, Karl Rove, the Texas Republican party, and everybody who reports to Karl Rove – which is, as we’ve been learning lately, pretty much everybody in the Bush govt.

Vote fraud (no “r”): fraud perpetrated on the voting process. IOW, an attempt – usually by a political party and its operatives – to subvert an election in order to obtain a victory they would otherwise not enjoy. IOOW, to steal it.

Unlike voter fraud, vote fraud is very, very real. The evidence isn’t just available, it’s overwhelming.

Which brings us to Greg Palast.

In an interview with the online zine BUZZFLASH’s Mark Karlin, Palast – who broke the story of the wholesale suppression of minority voting rights in Florida in 2000 – was asked if the 2008 election was going to be stolen and replied, “It already has been.”

The prosecutor firings were 100% about influencing elections — not about loyalty to Bush, which is what The New York Times wrote. The administration team couldn’t tolerate appointees who wouldn’t go along with crime. In the book I present the evidence that Karl Rove directed a guy named Tim Griffin to target suppressing the votes of African American students, homeless men, and soldiers. Nice guy. They actually challenged the votes and successfully removed tens of thousands of legal voters from the voter rolls, same as they did in 2000. But instead of calling them felons, they said that they had suspect addresses.

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An Exemption Already? – The Minimum Wage, Samoa, and the DLC

Last night I decided to re-animate Dispatch from the Trenches (see description at right under “About”) at its old site on Blogger. I intended this to be the first new post but true to Blogger form it’s down again so I’m posting it here. *sigh* I guess maybe it would be better if I found a new host….again. (Are they ever going to get it together?)

I think everybody not a millionaire thinks it’s about time the minimum wage got raised to something like a level that at least matches the inflation rate, and all power to the Democrats for finally taking the first step toward that goal. We’ve been waiting a long time.

But this is disturbing.

After years of protection from the likes of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff, employers on the Northern Mariana Islands would finally have to pay workers the federal minimum wage under legislation before the House tomorrow.Democrats have long tried to pull the Northern Marianas under the umbrella of U.S. labor laws, accusing the island government and its industry leaders of coddling sweatshops and turning a blind eye to forced abortions and indentured servitude. But Abramoff, the once-powerful Republican lobbyist now in federal prison, spent millions of dollars from the island and its business interests currying favor with Republicans, aligning support with conservative interest groups and thwarting every effort to intervene in the Northern Marianas’ economy.

But Republican leadership aides accused the Democrats of using a double standard by imposing the higher minimum wage on a government with a Republican representative to the United States while continuing to exempt a territory with a Democratic delegate. American Samoa and the tuna industry that dominates its economy would remain free to pay wages that are less than half the bill’s mandatory minimum. Continue reading

The Truth About the "Jobless Recovery"

Over at The American Street, Mark Kleiman asks “Is the jobless recovery a product of management ideology?” It’s a remarkably stupid question for a smart man to ask. He writes as if there’s something new in this.

Of course managers always want to control costs; it’s part of their job. But companies used to boast about how many jobs they created and how well those jobs paid. Now that seems to have changed.

Michael Parenti predicted a decade ago when the Soviet Union fell that with the competing system gone, corporations were no longer going to see any reason to support a higher standard of living. So it has proved. But that’s the only real change; the owner class has despised workers since the time of Ancient Rome. If the existence of the Communist system goosed them toward the creation of a middle class to brag about, that pressure has been aleviated and they’ve simply reverted to type.

A Commenter named “paul” who’s had some experience of high-level economics courses wrote to clue Kleiman in to the realities of what prospective managers are taught:

Of course it’s ideological, not least because of the implicit lesson in many introductory economics curricula that doing something heartless is justified by the cold, cruel, yet rational laws of the marketplace, whereas doing something compassionate or equitable is at least prima facie a suboptimal economic choice.

Duh. Mr Kleiman notes, naively and inaccurately, that

If managing like Ebeneezer Scrooge was something to be embarrassed about twenty years ago, and something to boast about today, then one would expect somewhat more Scrooge-like behavior now than then: perhaps enough more to show up in aggregate wage and employment data.

I also wrote an answer, specific to that statement but also to his general point. Here it is.

It boils down to this: Owners don’t like having employees. Owners see us as pains-in-the-butt: we want days off to take care of sick kids, we rebel against 80-hr work-weeks, we want health care, some vacation time, managers that don’t abuse us, etc etc etc–and this all costs them money. They don’t give a damn about creating a middle class because, like most people who only accept reality when it hits them upside the head, they don’t see the connection between a healthy middle class and their profits.This is a psychological reality and has been for well over a century, Henry Ford notwithstanding. 20 years ago I worked for a company that spent more than $150,000 developing a machine that would replace 2 workers making less than half that much. The machine worked but had to be repaired constantly and replaced every year or so. Even tho in this particular case real people would have been more cost-efficient, the company continued to throw between $70 + 80,000/yr at this machine rather than give the job back to actual people.

I’m not denying paul’s point, or Mark’s,only saying that there’s nothing new here. Owners will grab any excuse–economic theory, automation, competition–any excuse to cut their workforce and/or pay it as little as they can get away with. Since industrialization clued owners in to the utopian dream that employees could be done away with entirely, owners have been chasing that rainbow and rewarding anyone who came up with a new tactic. This is just the latest round.

Managing “like Ebeneezer Scrooge” has never been “embarrassing”. I’m sorry, Mark, but I’ve been working-class all my life, I’ve spent over 40 years in factories of various kinds, and to me that’s the statement of someone who’s never actually been there. Not once in the last 40 years have I seen a manager “embarrassed” by Scrooging his employees unless it was a good man ordered to do so by his bosses. Not once in 40 years have I so much as heard rumors of a manager who’d been disciplined, let alone fired, for treating his workers like shit unless there was a lawsuit involved. I have, otoh, known a number of instances when managers deliberately treated their employees badly in order to get a promotion–and got it.

They look at us the way Cicero looked at the tenants in his slums–we’re a mob, unruly, stupid, and contradictory. We’re lazy, we steal, no matter how little they’re paying us we’re not worth it, we’re little better than animals and we need somebody with a whip and a gun present at all times to keep us from reverting to the jungle. The vast majority of owners feel that way; that’s what drove them to be “owners” in the first place: they needed to set themselves apart from “the herd.”

That attitude was held in check for a short period (the end of WWII to the mid-70’s) by the power of unions and pro-labor govt policies. When Reagan proved the unions could be busted and changed pro-labor policies to pro-corporate policies, the era was over. Welch was one of the first to figure it out, that’s all, and he took advantage of it. Since then they have been chipping away at established pro-worker institutions like the 40-hr week, overtime pay, the living wage, pension plans, health insurance, and vacation pay. We have now reached the point predicted in the sci-fi of 50 years ago when automation and globalization can eradicate both us and the middle class and still make a profit. They pile onto each of us the workload of 3 people and call it “productivity”; they make us compete for the lowest possible wage and call it “efficiency”; they cut our health care and steal our pensions and call it “fiscal responsibility.” But really it’s the same old crap in a new dress. They’d just like us all to go away and stop pestering them. We’re rabble, a drain on their pocketbooks and stock portfolios. If we can’t afford their outrageous rents, let us live on the streets. If we don’t make enough to feed our families, let us starve and decrease the surplus population.

Scrooge works as a character because he represents an attitude that’s been prevalent among the owner-class since the time of Ancient Rome, not because he’s an exception. And if we allow the plutocrats to control our society as they did, we will suffer the same fate.

Hustling the Regs:The Real Conservative Game Plan

Conservatives have insisting for years that govt is too expensive, too top-heavy with regulations, too big, and too clumsy. They have run year-after-year on platforms promising to cut all that away and strip govt to what they consider its essentials: the military and promotion of corporate interests. All that is well-known. What is less well-known–so much so that you might as well call it un-known–is the responsibility they themselves have for doing exactly what they accuse liberals of doing: creating a bigger, more expensive, more insensitive govt weighed down with idiotic regulations.An example of this typical right-wing manipulation–or at least the first half of it–comes from todays AJC in an editorial on the so-called “Regulatory Reform Act that Republicans are proposing in the Georgia Senate.

Disingenuously titled the “Regulatory Reform Act,” SB 361 has overheated language that contends “unnecessary government regulation can smother the flame of small business and creativity.” Those lofty-sounding words are little more than a ruse to summarily weaken the oversight authority of every regulatory agency in the state.The bill seeks to set up a series of rulemaking boondoggles that would make Rube Goldberg proud. It would, for example, require the state’s Environmental Protection Division to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before advancing new rules for industries that affect the state’s natural resources

This is Part One of the conservative game: plant piles of new regulations onto govt agencies which will require lots of money and staff to implement. Part Two comes a few years later: Complain loudly that govt agencies are fat, slow bureaucracies with too many employees and too many regulations. Repeat as needed.

There’s nothing new about this. Yellow-dog Dixiecrats invented this approach the day after they knuckled under to LBJ and his Great Society programs. Led by Sen James Eastland of Mississippi, Republicans and Dixiecrats teamed up to lard Johnson’s bills with acres of means testing, ever-tightening eligibility requirements, caveats, conditions, and exemptions, all with incredibly complicated formulas designed to a) keep as many poor people off the roles as possible; b) give the opponents weapons with which they could excuse denying states the funds they were entitled to; and c) create the enormous Federal bureaucracy that would be necessary to implement all those complex formulas, a bureaucracy they could then run against as “bloated” and “excessive” and “wasteful.” They created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and then attacked it.

Johnson, a shrewd legislator who knew every trick in the book, was fully aware of what they were doing and said so in public. But with Southern Democrats lining up with Republicans and the majority coalition threatening to bury his bills if he didn’t agree to their “safeguards”, he had little choice. Something, he said in effect, was better than nothing, and he wrote afterward that he had been counting on being able to alleviate the worst abuses forced on him later on as the programs took effect. Unfortunately, Viet Nam started taking all his time and energy (the Tonkin Gulf incident was only a few months after the marathon session that saw most of the Great Society programs enacted) and he never got back to it.

Equally unfortunate, I don’t think even Johnson realized what the full effect of the volumes of riders added by conservatives was going to be–a massive Federal bureaucracy dedicated by law to severely undercutting the very result it had supposedly been created to promote. From the very beginning, the regulations attached to the GS laws by the coalition ensured that welfare programs would be incredibly expensive to run but have only a minimal effect on reducing poverty itself. Eastland, for instance, in one famous rider that he sponsored, ordered that women on welfare who tried to go back to school to better themselves would lose all their benefits, including food stamps, Section 8 housing subsidies, and their ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) health coverage. They would also, in many instances, be declared ineligible for Federal education loans and/or grants. IOW, you want an education, you’re on your own–we’re pulling the plug.

Then there was the infamous “husband clause” in which Federal assistance was cut drastically or eliminated outright from a single-parent family if the recipient married, even if the husband was unemployed and on some form of assistance himself. The effect of this rule–aimed almost exclusively at minority recipients–promulgated by the “family values” party was to break up tens of thousands of families living below the poverty line in neighborhoods all across America and deprive the minority community of the stability the two-parent families Pubs claim to be so fond of could bring to a fractured underclass. .

The word “hypocrisy” comes to mind immediately, doesn’t it?

These and other Draconian regulations combined to make certain that the poor would stay poor, tied to a subsistence-level existence in perpetuity. And we all know what happened then: the Pubs spent the next 25 years attacking “welfare queens” and the poor too “lazy” to better themselves. It was a double-blind, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” system, and it worked like a charm. A Democrat was finally forced to sign legislation gutting the few protections and what little assistance the poor had left, and ordering them into menial, minimum-wage jobs with no future and not much present. Over 40 million people (some say the number is even higher than that) no longer have any health care at all, and most of them are people who would have qualified for some form of Medicaid before Clinton signed that landmark travesty of a bill.

All that’s happening in GA is that the right wing is adapting this old trick to a new goal: doing the same to every other govt program they dislike, ie, any govt service that helps people instead of the rich corporate donors on whom the right-wing depends for its existence. If they’re allowed to follow-through on their plan, we will see the final degradation of the middle class and the same two-tiered society boasted by Ancient Rome–plutocrats and plebes.

Most of you don’t have to guess which tier you’ll be in.

The Working Class and Blogging

David Neiwert at Orcinus has written an excellent post about the controversy over Junior’s military record that erupted when Michael Moore called it “desertion” and Wes Clark refused to renounce him for it. The second half of the post is as good a primer as exists of the facts behind the controversy–a quick read will bring you right up to speed.

And as long as we’re there, David wrote a post earlier in the week concerning what he called the “Latin Americanization” of American workers, or what others have called the “race to the bottom”, ie, the competition to offer corporations the cheapest possible labor with the least possible protections. In the context of Bush’s bogus immigration proposal to legalize so-called “guest workers” (a program that has failed miserably in Europe, btw), he quote John Kenneth Galbraith on the likely results:

Galbraith…details painfully just how many jobs we are losing, and what that means for working people. I was particularly struck by this passage, since it brought back Church’s remark like a bell:

What does Bush want? He wants a growth rate high enough to get him through the election. That’s obvious. After that, he doesn’t care. His clientele — the military contractors, oil companies, pharmaceutical firms and big media that control this government — make their money on patents, contracts and the exercise of monopoly power. (Case in point: Bush is pressuring impoverished Central Americans, in trade negotiations, to add 10 years to the length of drug patents.) These people have no interest in full employment. They like unemployment, weak labor, low wages and a government that bullies on their behalf. And after the election, if Bush wins, that is what they will get for four more years.

And I was likewise struck by Galbraith’s description of the outcome of Bush’s proposed immigration reforms:

This program will permit any employer to admit any worker. From any country. At any time. The only requirement is that it be for a job Americans are not willing to take. But it is easy to create such jobs: Cut wages. Terminate the unions. Lengthen the hours. Speed up the lines. Chicken farmers have known this for years. Bush’s plan is a blank check for every bad boss this country has…. For millions of citizen workers, what would happen? The answer is clear: Bad bosses drive out the good. Good bosses will turn bad under pressure. The terms of our jobs would get worse and worse. Who would want a citizen worker? A bracero will be so much cheaper, more loyal, and under control. And who among us, in our right mind, would want to look for work? Unless, of course, we needed to eat. Or pay the mortgage. I am not exaggerating: This is a threat to us all.

All of this is thought-provoking enough–and I highly recommend that you go to Salon, sign yourself in for the day, and read Galbraith’s whole piece–but what struck me was the paragraph that followed those quotes.

I’m not sure how many people writing in the blogosphere — or working in journalism, or especially among the pundit class — have a clear sense of the reality of this existence — what it is like to be trapped working for a Wal-Mart or a Con-Agra or any of the thousands of faceless bad bosses whose main purpose in life seems to be finding ways to worsen everyday life for their workers: refusing raises, shortening hours, slashing benefits, pitting employees against each other, allowing work conditions to steadily deteriorate. Eventually they may taste it, of course (anyone who works for a midsized or small-town chain newspaper already has), but for now it is mostly an abstraction, and thus not something as important as, say, John Kerry’s haircut.

It’s a good point and it got me thinking–how many bloggers in this massive blogosphere are actually working-class, actually suffer daily at the hands of bosses concerned only with the bottom line who have little respect let alone appreciation for the workers under them, how many actually have to cobble their meager finances together in an effort to stretch a steadily shrinking paycheck to cover ever-rising prices? And while I was thinking this, I realized that I am one of those but I have never admitted it, never openly acknowledged it, let alone identified myself as a working-class stiff.

Well, I am. I’ve said I teach acting, and I do, but it’s part-time at best. By far the vast majority of my working life is spent in a shop where I fix broken pallets for resale. It’s a form of recycling, which is nice, but it’s also a brutal job physically which I’m getting too old for, full of mind-numbing repetition and serial injuries. I hate it but I hang onto it in large part because, for the first time in my life as a laborer, I have a thoughtful boss who is flexible, cares about his people, and pays enough for even an oldster like myself to get by (some of his younger workers make as much as $50K/yr–a phenomenal income for a recycling worker; they are normally paid minimum wage). He provides group medical insurance (one of the few employers I know of who does) and has been known to pay for lost time due to injuries out of his own pocket when they aren’t serious enough to be covered by Workman’s Comp.

All of this is so contrary to my previous work experience that even if I could make more doing something else I wouldn’t leave because I know I’d wind up working for yet another petty tyrant who hates his employees and would replace them all with robots if he could because robots don’t get sick or have kids that need to be taken care of or threaten to join unions or refuse to risk their lives because he doesn’t want to pay for safety equipment. I know I’d wind up working for one of them because they are–by far–the kind of managers today’s corporations train. I know this because I have worked for so many of them over the years and for so few of the kind I have now.

If there is outrage on these pages about how corporations and their bought-and-paid-for govt stooges use us as cannon-fodder and make our lives harder and harder and more and more marginal with policies, laws, and a tax structure that favors the rich at our expense, then that’s where that rage comes from: a personal experience as one of those who has to pay the consequences when a corporate Scrooge demands yet another sacrifice to boost his dept’s profit statement a penny or two or throws hundreds of us out into the street to boost his stock price another half-point or moves the whole company to Ecuador so he can pay 8 cents an hour and boost his aleady-record profits even higher.

There are millions of us struggling down here where nobody ever looks who have things to say nobody ever listens to, suggestions nobody ever takes, and ideas nobody ever respects. We should have a voice, too.

Campaigning for Corporate Corruption

Anyone who doubts the political season is acting on Republicans as well as Democrats because, after all, President Junior is unopposed and too busy being presidential to lower himself to the level of politicking ought to take a closer look.

The LA Times reports that Bush has been on the donations-trail and continues to make fund-raising his #1 priority. He’s doing pretty well, too:

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s reelection campaign raised a record $130 million last year, officials said Wednesday — more than triple what Howard Dean, the top fundraiser among the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls, amassed in 2003.The figure eclipsed Bush’s fundraising total of about $100 million for the 2000 primaries.

And while the Democrats must spend the money they are now raising in pursuit of their party’s nomination, Bush entered the year with $99 million in the bank — a hefty sum to begin touting his record, particularly in battleground states, even before the Democrats nominate a candidate in late July.

Nor is Bush taking a rest from fundraising.

Earlier this week, he collected an estimated $2.8 million at an appearance in St. Louis — the largest amount raised at a single event in Missouri history.

And he is due to attend fundraisers today in Knoxville, Tenn., and Palm Beach, Fla.

The Bush campaign has set a goal of raising $170 million; some expect the total to reach $200 million or more.

Imagine–$$$200MIL$$$, enough to fund a small army, to be spent on tv and radio in the service of re-electing possibly the worst President in US history, the vast majority of the donations coming from corporate-based donation-machines. Why is that so important to them? Here’s one recent example from The Misleader (via Atrios):

Bush Acts to Reward Companies Who Cut off Seniors’ Drug CoverageLate last year, President Bush promised retirees that “if there’s a Medicare reform bill signed by me, corporations have no intention to dump retirees [from their existing drug coverage]…What we’re talking about is trust.”1 The White House and its congressional allies backed up Bush’s assertion by claiming the bill included a special tax subsidy to “encourage employers’ to retain prescription-drug coverage” for their retirees’ and not to cut them off.2

But just three months after Bush’s pledge, the Wall Street Journal now reports that the White House quietly added “a little-noticed provision” to the bill that allows companies to severely reduce – or almost completely terminate – their retirees’ drug coverage “without losing out on the new subsidy.”3 In other words, the president did not just break his promise to sign a bill that prevents seniors from losing their existing drug coverage. He actually acted to reward companies who cut off their retirees with a lavish new tax break.

The provision was no mere oversight by the president. The major backers of the provision were Lucent Technologies, General Motors, Dow Chemical and SBC Communications – all major campaign contributors to the president. According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, executives from those companies have donated almost $140,000 in hard money and $2.5 million in soft money to Bush and his party since 2000.

Nothing much has changed, apparently: an electioneering Bush is once again talking out of both sides of his mouth, promising goodies with the left side while the right side works actively not just to void the promises but to reverse them. No news there.

And the stealth-attacks continue unabated, wherein the Admin claims it’s doing one thing while it’s really doing something else. Take the new rules the Admin has proposed for workers’ overtime pay. On the one hand, as Scott McClellan put it in his daily briefing yesterday:

…the proposed rule by the Department of Labor would restore overtime protections that have eroded over five decades to millions of white-collar workers who deserve overtime protection today and are not protected by the current rules. And this proposal would guarantee overtime to 1.3 million more low wage workers.It would help simplify the rules and make them more relevant to our modern work force. It will enable the Department of Labor to be better equipped to enforce the law to protect more workers. It will enable the Department of Labor to make sure that workers better understand their rights under the law, and that employers understand their obligations and pay their employees properly.

On the other, what the Administration is really doing was outed by the Associated Press today:

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is giving employers tips on how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year.The department’s advice comes even as it touts the rules by saying workers will get $895million in increased wages.

Among the options for employers: Cut workers’ hourly wages so that regular and overtime pay equal the original salary, or raise salaries to the new $22,100 annual threshold, making them ineligible.

Under the old rules, an employee could make as little as $155 a week and still be classified as a “professional” or “white-collar” employee, and thus exempt from overtime. The new rules would increase that annual pay rate to $22,100 from $8,060.

The department says it is merely listing well-known choices available to employers now or under the new rules. “We’re not saying anybody should do any of this,” department spokesman Ed Frank said.

No, of course not.

What this means is that while Junior is selling his new rules on the basis of how they will help low income workers, he’s simultaneously teaching employers how to get around them officially. This is a new wrinkle on an old tactic: instead of saying one thing and doing its opposite, he’s doing what he says but then promoting officially-sanctioned ways of ducking it. Neat. “We’re going to change a few rules in time for the election, boys, but don’t panic–it might look like we’re favoring workers here but we’ll tell you how to avoid the rules so you’ll actually benefit from them.”

Given that he’s been pulling this shit for the full 3 years he’s been in office, why is it, then, that anybody is taking this seriously:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — President Bush’s sweeping proposal on Wednesday to give legal status to millions of illegal workers was a political document as well as an immigration policy and sought to re-establish his credentials as a compassionate conservative at the starting gate of an election year.White House political advisers have long talked of the critical importance of Hispanics to Mr. Bush’s re-election. But political analysts said that his latest proposal was also designed to appeal to a much larger political prize, suburban swing voters, who might see the plan as evidence of a gentler Republican Party.

“For a party that’s trying to look more inclusive and welcoming, the proposal has broader thematics that show an openness to America’s new immigrants,” said Bill McInturff, a leading Republican pollster.

This Administration has a consistent record of making policy promises for political gain that it will then ignore, subvert, or countermand as soon as their political usefulness is at an end, so why are national papers lauding this obviously insincere electioneering proposal as if it were genuine? Why are pundits on both sides debating, praising, and examining it as if it were actually going to happen?

It won’t. The right wing is up in arms over it–“Many conservative Republicans called Mr. Bush’s plan nothing more than amnesty for lawbreakers…”–and that means the same thing it’s meant for 3 solid years: when the election is safely over, the proposal will either die, be killed outright, or be changed to the point where it’s meaningless in order to assuage Junior’s conservative critics.

After three years’ worth of palpable and proven lies, why are we choosing to believe yet another one?