I am a fan of unions - and not ashamed to admit it. Unions more than any other social institution have been what made America great and gave millions of working people the opportunity to live in decent housing, have health care, and send their kids to college. Unions really did create the great American middle class. Good union wages and benefits have done more to strengthen our national economy than any amount of tax breaks lathered onto America's richest and greediest bastards.
This past weekend was Labor Day, a time to recognize and honor America's working men and women. It is traditionally a holiday that pays homage to our nation's proud union heritage.
Of course, organized labor has been under attack for years by the political far right as their politicians and media mouthpieces try to roll back the clock to the "good old days," those just preceding the Great Depression, when business was king and labor was insignificant - back in the days when entire families, even little children, had to work in factories just to earn enough for bare survival - back in the days when factory owners weren't encumbered with so many bothersome regulations like minimum wage laws and safety and pollution standards.
This year the conservative rage against unions has become absolutely deafening. Scott Walker started the ball rolling in Wisconsin by de-unionizing public employees, and a bunch of other states have jumped on his bandwagon. And they are after anything else that has even the slightest hint of being helpful to the poor or the elderly. Medicare is in their gun sites, as is social security, food stamps, and unemployment insurance.
But its damned tough to get a job, or even keep a job, when the people who own America's industries are busy sending as many jobs as possible overseas. About the only people standing up for the disadvantaged in America are...unions!
In addition to being a fan of unions, I am also a fan of James Hoffa. I have mentioned it in this space before, but on a sunny spring day in 1999 I stood outside in a park in Washington DC and watched as Mr. Hoffa's sister, Judge Barbara Hoffa Crancer, swore him in as the President of the Teamsters International. He gave a fiery inauguration speech that day, and, I am pleased to say, he is still blazing away more than a decade later.
This weekend James Hoffa introduced President Obama at a Labor Day rally in Detroit, a city that knows too well the economic realities facing our country today. During his remarks, James Hoffa spoke unkindly of the teabaggers and went on remark, "Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, let's take these sons-of-bitches out and give America back to America where we belong!"
Fox News (sic) immediately edited the remarks to make it sound like he was encouraging people to "take out" the baggers - in a terminal sense rather than in an electoral sense - and all of the right-wing loonies went ballistic yelling about Tony Soprano and union "thugs." When the smoke cleared from that nonsense and it became apparent what had really been said, the spew turned to his use of the term "sons-of-bitches," as if those shocked news whores had never heard salty language before.
Tonight I heard one conservative commentator saying that tea-partiers and right-wingers never disparage others in such crude ways - but I lived in Arizona for three years, so I know that is horseshit.
America needs jobs - and not the dismantling of the New Deal! If Barack Obama won't stand up and demand a just world for the little guy, then he needs to get the hell out of the way and let people like James Hoffa call the country to action. It's time to fight back!