Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Lying Senator McConnell - And Who Pays His Freight

When you cover the United States Senate and go through the Congressional Record every day, you become accustomed to reading a lot of nauseating, hypocritical and untrue things coming from the Republican side of the aisle. As Senate Minority Leader, it's apparently Mitch McConnell's job to lead the pack in pushing a right-wing agenda based mostly on lies and distortions.

And he was in top -- gutter-level? -- form on Monday when he gave one of his speeches against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which died in the Senate on Tuesday under the weight of a Republican filibuster that kept the legislation from getting the "up or down vote" the GOP crowed about so much when they controlled the Senate.

Here's Lyin' Mitch on the floor of the Senate, actually speaking this garbage for the record, and likening a bill that would allow workers to unionize easier -- by skipping a full vote if they chose to -- to the tyranny that the Founding Fathers fled.

No, I'm not kidding. And be warned: If you've eaten in the last hour or so, you may not want to read this:
More than three centuries ago, settlers in the New World began to put into practice the political ideals that brought them here and for which many of their descendants would later fight and die.

One of the most important of these was the ideal of political freedom, and one the most concrete expressions of it was the right to vote in secret, without harassment and without coercion. Rejecting the English Parliamentary tradition, several colonies, including all the New England colonies, established secret elections as the norm.

The secret ballot has been standard everywhere else in this country for more than a century. It simply hasn't been questioned. Americans have come to assume that in everything from electing their high school yearbook editor to their President, their vote is sacred and it is secret.

That is, until now. The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" is an assault on the centuries-old practice of secret voting, and the fact that we are here in this Chamber discussing it at all is a scandal.
See, I wasn't kidding. And don’t you just love the part where a leader in the party that tried to hide Representative Mark Foley chasing teenaged Congressional pages around the capitol can refer to this as a scandal?

But is he lying? Well, yeah, he is because beneath the bluster and the coating of slime, McConnell knows damn good and well that the EFCA would not have kept any group of workers from having a secret ballot unless they expressly chose to forego that method of unionizing in favor of the easier petitioning that the bill would have allowed.

"I listened again to what the Republican leader said about secret ballots, and I know there is a disconnect here, because, again, this legislation doesn't get rid of that," said Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) in response to McConnell's flight from truth.

“Those who do not support the Employee Free Choice Act have tried to mislead people by claiming that this bill takes away employee rights to a 'secret ballot.' This is simply not true," said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the chief proponents of the legislation. "This bill does not establish a new election process; it merely requires employers to honor employees’ choices on whether or not they want to unionize."

Ah, but you see, that's not what folks say at the National Restaurant Association, who published as their "National Restaurant Talking Points" on the EFCA that "America’s political system is based on respect for individual liberty and democracy. Abolishing secret ballots for American workers goes against what America stands for. If Congress passes this proposal, they will be stripping away all the protections that federally protected secret ballots provide for American workers."

That's heartwarming concern for workers from an organization that fights every minimum-wage increase tooth and nail and that, if they could have their way, would see to it that every restaurant worker in America gets $1.00 per hour and has to shop at a company store.

The people at the Food Marketing Association are equally aghast, telling member companies to call their Senators because "This proposal would take away secret ballot voting rights of American workers on the critical question of deciding whether or not they want to be represented by a union."

And I'll bet anything that you can guess who donates a boatload of money to keep Mitch McConnell in office -- yes, it's the National Restaurant Association and the Food Marketing Association. Oh, and McConnell also pays a lot of his campaign expenses via generous donations from OSI Restaurants, of Outback Steakhouse fame, and Darden Restaurants, which owns such outlets as Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

McConnell has accepted almost $50,000 from just those four organizations over the last several years.

So there you have it… The most powerful Republican in the U.S. Senate battles every single Democratic proposal that would help working Americans and also has the nerve to lie about the consequences of the latest of those bills in such a slimy way.

But then, look at the company his wallet keeps.

Sorry to shock you like that.