Bush Auto Deal to Break Unions

Marcy Wheeler lays it out:

Yet then Bush throws in the demands that Republicans made–without noting that this was basically an ideological ploy to break the union, all the while demanding that employees of American-owned companies make significantly less than the employees of Japanese-owned companies.

Targets: The terms and conditions established by Treasury will include additional targets that were the subject of Congressional negotiations but did not come to a vote, including:

  • Reduce debts by 2/3 via a debt for equity exchange.
  • Make one-half of VEBA payments in the form of stock.
  • Eliminate the jobs bank. Work rules that are competitive with transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.
  • Wages that are competitive with those of transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.

These terms and conditions would be non-binding in the sense that negotiations can deviate from the quantitative targets above, providing that the firm reports the reasons for these deviations and makes the business case to achieve long-term viability in spite of the deviations.

In addition, the firm will be required to conclude new agreements with its other major stakeholders, including dealers and suppliers, by March 31, 2009.

Remember, the measure the Republicans were using to measure “wages that are competitive with those of transplant auto manufacturers” was the lizard lie number–the $73/hour, the number that includes legacy costs, the payments to retiree pensions. Otherwise, there would be no reason to make this stipulation–because if you use the real wage number, and not the lizard lie number, American manufacturer wages are already competitive with the transplants!!

So what Bush is demanding is that the UAW lower wages plus pensions to the level of Japanese wages plus pension (though since they have very few retirees, their pension number is basically zero). Alternately, they could lower this number by basically picking the pocket of a bunch of seniors, by taking away pension money those seniors already earned while they were still working. But one or the other will have to happen.

Now, Bush did give the Obama Administration an escape hatch: the ability to deviate from the quantitative targets provided that the companies report why they did so.

But as written, Bush’s last major act as President is to demand that workers for American-owned companies work less than workers for foreign owned companies. American capitalism, at its finest.

The Republicans have consistently sought to use a Detroit bailout to break the UAW. Blue collar factory workers have always been held to a different (read: lower) standard for bailouts than the white collar compatriots of the GOP on Wall Street. The parts of the bill that explicitly require workers at American companies make less than workers at foreign companies should be enough for Congress to oppose it.

The GOP has spent much of the last eight years preaching about the existence of people who hate America as a political attack on Democrats. While those narratives were always bunk, it is apparent that there are people in our government and ruling political class who hate most of America and want American workers to fail. Clearly now we see that it’s Bush and the Republican Party. This is sickening.

Continuing Prosecutions for Bush Era Crimes

Ari Melber makes a great point about outstanding questions of how the Obama administration will be able to restore the rule of law and prosecute those responsible for a number of civil liberties violations, war crimes, and anti-American acts.

The immunity crowd has one more card to play. Crimes committed on behalf of national security, they say, are different. On closer inspection, that claim also dissolves into an elitist pitch for the powerful.

The fact is that there are U.S. soldiers sitting in jail right now for what happened at Abu Ghraib.

The question is not whether to prosecute those crimes; that process has already begun. The question is whether the Bush administration correctly prosecuted the people actually responsible for the conduct — or whether the entire episode was blamed on those low on the chain of command.

This is very salient, especially given the intrinsic desire for people inside the Beltway to try and put the past behind us regardless of the consequences. There is always a desire to take any action on a situation and presume that it is sufficient to count as handling the problem.  We’re already seeing a drumbeat for Obama to put the past behind him and not investigate Bush era officialdom for their role in torture, warrantless wiretapping, and the illegal politicization of the Justice Department. Melber makes a strong case that because prosecution on some of these matters has already begun, the question should rightly be on whether they need stop with the new administration.

Continuing prosecutions of higher level Bush administration officials involves recognizing that the buck will almost never stop at a lowly grunt doing a job they weren’t trained to do. This isn’t about retribution or prosecuting the political. It’s about ensuring that there is meaningful disincentive for any other executive branch officials to ever again maintain such a casual attitude towards the law and the rule of law that they will not bow before the pressure of a White House with no moral inclination to keep the US government’s actions in line with our principles and beliefs.

Struggling for Praise

Matt Yglesias, evaluating whether George W. Bush is the worst President in US history, has to dig pretty damn deep to find some exculpatory evidence for Bush.

I think an issue like asking whether or not George W. Bush is the worst president we’ve ever had gets a little too imponderable considering the historical issues. I mean, say what you will about Bush, but unlike many American presidents he didn’t believe in slavery.

Let’s see how well that point in Bush’s favor plays out with historians.

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Truth & Accountability

The New York Times (finally) editorializes on President Bush’s knowledge and approval of US torture policies.

The amount of time and energy devoted to this furtive exercise at the very highest levels of the government reminded us how little Americans know, in fact, about the ways Mr. Bush and his team undermined, subverted and broke the law in the name of saving the American way of life.

We have questions to ask, in particular, about the involvement of Ms. Rice, who has managed to escape blame for the catastrophic decisions made while she was Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, and Mr. Powell, a career Army officer who should know that torture has little value as an interrogation method and puts captured Americans at much greater risk. Did they raise objections or warn of the disastrous effect on America’s standing in the world? Did anyone?

Mr. Bush has sidestepped or quashed every attempt to uncover the breadth and depth of his sordid actions. Congress is likely to endorse a cover-up of the extent of the illegal wiretapping he authorized after 9/11, and we are still waiting, with diminishing hopes, for a long-promised report on what the Bush team really knew before the Iraq invasion about those absent weapons of mass destruction — as opposed to what it proclaimed.

At this point it seems that getting answers will have to wait, at least, for a new Congress and a new president. Ideally, there would be both truth and accountability. At the very minimum the public needs the full truth.

Some will call this a backward-looking distraction, but only by fully understanding what Mr. Bush has done over eight years to distort the rule of law and violate civil liberties and human rights can Americans ever hope to repair the damage and ensure it does not happen again. [Emphasis added]

I challenge the NY Times editorial board to not forget this editorial nor their request for truth and accountability stemming from the Bush administration’s violations of American and international law. They are right that there will be many – Republicans, DC pundits, and calcified Democrats – that don’t want to spend time finding out what went wrong inside the Bush White House and who must be held accountable for it. In fact, I expect this position to be pushed for with deafening volume. It will be up to major media outlets like the Times to stand in the way of this desire to level down and gloss over the violations of the rule of law. Without major media outlets advocating for truth and accountability, none will take place. Again, I hope that the editors of the New York Times do not forget the words they wrote today come January, 2009.

Just Don’t Torture

President Bush knew of and approved of high level meetings in which White House officials like Rice, Powell, Cheney, Tenet, and Rumsfeld signed off on American torture policies. This strikes against the heart of who we are as a nation.

The ACLU and John Amato of Crooks & Liars are calling for a special counsel to investigate the Bush administration’s actions regarding torture and war crimes.

Join the ACLU and our friends at Crooks & Liars: Call on your members of Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations by the Bush administration of laws including the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act and federal assault laws.

Please sign on.

Digby et alia at Hullaballoo have been doing a ton of leg work on this story since it broke, shock of shocks, on late Friday.

Separate from the discussions of what this says about Bush and his cabal or how and when these officials should be tried for their crimes against our country (not to mention the almost entirely unknown list of victims of policies set and approved by Bush and his top officials), there has to be a public, thorough re-commitment to the rule of law. NJ House candidate Dennis Shulman gets the ball rolling with a good statement at Open Left. But this is just a small start. We need to proclaim loud and clear that we do not believe in torture, that what was done both from a legalistic standpoint and under the guidance of such opinions was illegal, and that those who made these decisions will be held accountable.

Contrary to what Bush has said in the past, America has tortured on his watch. It is wrong and it cannot be allowed to go without massive public scrutiny and investigation leading to the prosecution of those who orchestrated this strike against the US Constitution and America’s sensibilities of human dignity.


Turkana at The Left Coaster has more.

Worst Ever

History News Network:

In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations.

At least two of those who ranked the current president in the 31-41 ranking made it clear that they placed him next-to-last, with only James Buchanan, in their view, being worse. “He is easily one of the 10-worst of all time and—if the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities matter—then probably in the bottom five, alongside Buchanan, Johnson, Fillmore, and Pierce,” wrote another historian.

As Bob Cesca notes, history, science, and reality all have known liberal biases. You’d almost feel bad for the man – then you likely remember the amount of damage he inflicted upon our country and on the world to achieve such a low standing. And you stop feeling bad for him.

Don’t Back Down

Today’s Wall Street Journal includes a piece by Siobhan Gorman that reports that Bush is pushing Congressional Dems to come to the negotiating table on FISA and that he’s willing to make some concessions from his previous hard-line of retroactive immunity and expanded executive powers.

Over the two-week spring recess, administration officials contacted Democratic leaders to suggest they were open to compromise on updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “We definitely want to get it done,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. “We’ve had some initial conversations with Congress about the need to get FISA reform done quickly.” He added that Mr. Bush still prefers the Senate measure, which the White House negotiated with Senate Democrats.

In addition to rejecting immunity for companies, House Democrats want tougher judicial oversight of any eavesdropping effort. People familiar with the matter said the White House has floated ideas to find common ground but hasn’t offered a formal compromise proposal. Officials in both parties said judicial oversight might be an easier area for the administration to make concessions.

The White House’s more conciliatory posture reflects a recognition that the Bush administration’s leverage on national-security matters has slipped since this past summer, a top Republican congressional aide said. “There’s a recognition that if they’re actually going to get a product they can support, there’s going to have to be some new level of engagement,” the aide said.

It would be a profound mistake with repercussions lasting long, long past the expiration of President Bush’s term in office if congressional Democrats took this olive branch and negotiated FISA legislation that was acceptable to the Bush administration. The Bush administration want to negotiate now because they know that unless they get Democrats to deal with them now, they won’t get anything from Congress. This is a recognition that Democrats have been able to stall their push for retroactive immunity since last October and there is no resolution satisfactory to the Bush administration in sight.

For once, Democrats have power. Negotiating a “compromise” with Bush now would undercut the little power we have accrued in our efforts to defend the rule of law. There can be no compromise when it comes to expanding executive powers under this President, nor can their be a compromise when it comes to actions that strike against the rule of law.

Democrats must sit on their hands now and not extend them to President Bush. They should wait out the end of his term, then flex muscle in January 2009 under a Democratic president. If McCain is elected, that’s when we should be forced to consider negotiations. But to do it now just because Bush is asking nicely would be pure folly.