Tuesday, April 29, 2008

If you are a woman, or know one, you need to know what the GOP did to you yesterday.

If you’re a woman, or know one . . . you need to know what the GOP did to you yesterday.

If you are an employment age female, or will become one, or know one, and give the first damn about her, this story may be more important to you than any other you will learn of this year. Its facts may certainly have greater impact on your personal life than just about anything else. The irony is, it’s a story you probably did not hear, at least if you restrict your sources of news to the national television media or newspapers.

Before I relay the story, let me recap what you probably did get from the broadcast and cable media. A bear killed its handler. The kids from the El Dorado sect are headed to foster homes in Texas. And there was video of snow at Lake Tahoe. So cheap, so easy, no in depth analysis or explaining required, and, via every marketing survey the networks use to hold the American audience, it’s the sort of mind-numbing, flatulence-inducing inanity we demand.

Whatever you do, do not expect me to actually try to grasp anything more complicated! I can’t do it. And besides, I’m not interested. I like vapid. I adore simple. I crave stupid.

An interjected inquiry: Did you catch Tuesday’s (April 22) Colbert Report? His guest, Susan Jacoby, author of Age of American Unreason, humorously — though I found none of the “truthiness” the least funny — provided a brief series of anecdotes describing just how regrettable is the current state of our overwhelming ignorance, and our national anti-intellectual desire to stay that way. By way of example: one survey demonstrated how a majority cannot locate Iraq on a map or globe . . . when the name is immediately over the country! Or 2/3ds of Americans don’t know what DNA is. Or how half the population cannot name all four gospels, or tell you the name of the first book of the Bible.

But the majority can identify the characters and stars of Desperate Housewives.

Now to the news you didn’t get, but should, given the criteria noted in the first sentence above, care a great deal about.

Ms. Lilly Ledbetter was the only female supervisor in Goodyear Tire & Rubber’s tire plant in Alabama. She worked for the company 19 years. Immediately prior to her retirement Ms. Ledbetter received an anonymous tip that, throughout her career, she had been earning considerably less than any of her male counterparts. As is typical of most companies, concerning non-hourly personnel, there was a policy at the plant that, with disciplinary sanctions for violation of the policy that could include termination, individual employee personnel matters were not to be discussed. At no time had she had any way of knowing the company was in strict violation of Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act.

Upon learning she had been illegally discriminated against, Ms. Ledbetter filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office and sued Goodyear for its illegal actions, actions the illegality of which at no time did Goodyear argue. Rather than attempt to defend a position that had no defense, Goodyear claimed the statute of limitations had run out for Ms. Ledbetter because she didn’t file within the 180 day time limit set by the law, even though she could not make a claim until she knew there had been a violation of her rights.

In every previous instance, the courts have held that the 180-day clock does not begin to tick until an employee learns he or she has been discriminated against, and the clock is reset with each new violation. Last year, the majority (all Republican members, by the way) on the US Supreme Court, the one John McCain likes so much, found for Goodyear.

Okay, okay . . . that’s water over the damn and there’s nothing anyone can do about that now, right?


In the United States Senate, “debate” (filibuster) of an issue can continue so long as the speaker(s) wish, or until such time as a “cloture” vote is called. Invoking cloture closes the debate, terminates the filibuster. Current senate rules now require a super-majority, or 60 votes to end debate and bring the issue to the full floor for an up or down majority vote.

Yesterday, Senate Democrats attempted to end the Republican filibuster of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Act would have made null last year’s Supreme Court decision. It would have made clear that tolling commences from the date the employee learns of the trespass, and the clock is reset to zero with each discriminatory paycheck. Forty-four Republicans backed the Bush administration and big-business interests, and blocked the vote to end the filibuster.

In practical terms, what this means is that, unless the Democrats win at least six more seats in November’s election, working age women and those who will turn working age within the next few years will, not only remain in constant jeopardy of discriminatory employment practices, they will have access to no legal remedy.

As I reported a few months back on the tragic ignorance of Steve, my Palm Springs’ mail carrier (Shouting at me that the Democrats have “done nothing, even though they have a majority in both houses!” “Know what a filibuster is Steve?” “They have a majority!” Steve had no clue what a filibuster was, or what he was ranting about.), the very same level of ignorance is pervasive in our country, and it is damning to the legislative notions of fair play and justice for all citizens.

How many of us know someone like Steve? A brother, perhaps? A father? Mother? Someone you work with? While they’re caught up in the utter nonsense of lapel flag pins, dodging bullets in Bosnia, whether the Ten Commandments should be erected in public squares at public expense, whether gays and lesbians should be permitted to marry, and who is and who is not an “elitist,” the mothers and daughters of America are being ravaged of basic employment rights, and the entire country is being steadily pushed to the economic precipice.

You know someone who’s going to vote GOP this fall? And while they are putting you or your spouse or your daughter and our country at dire economic and military risk by their vote, do you still consider such a one as your friend? How?

Contrary to popular belief and the sycophantic exhortations that political candidates will be showering you with, working hard, paying one’s taxes, and playing by the rules does NOT make of anyone a good citizen. Working hard helps meet one’s costs of living, getting that person from today to tomorrow morning. Paying one’s taxes helps keep the IRS off his or her back. And playing by the rules helps keep that person free from the long arm of the law. Being a good citizen means knowing at least as much about the country, its government, how it is supposed to work, and who’s doing what to whom, as what Jack Bauer is up to, one week to the next.

— Ed Tubbs

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