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WEB PAGE INDEX
Includes recent updates

 

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Welcome We Are the IAM....and We're Pleased to Meet You  Updated  05/09/04
Update for Stewards
IAM LOCAL LODGE ELECTION GUIDELINES Americans for Democratic Action 
Understanding the Issue of  Trade
When You Cease
To Be Employed
 NEW  06/08/04
SPECIAL INTERESTS TAKE OVER
 NEW  06/19/04
PRESIDENTIAL MATCH
Find out which candidate fits your views
 NEW  06/19/04
Edited Letter to the Editor of the Sioux City Journal
Straight Talk about the President's Iraq policy
 
         
         
         

WELCOME TO OUR EDUCATION OFFICERS PAGE

This page is an attempt to educate our membership and the public on subjects which will include items from our Lodge, Grand Lodge, AFL-CIO, Iowa AFL-CIO and the labor movement in general. John Herrig, our education officer, will be submitting items for this page periodically. Check back often for updates. If you have questions or want further information on any items posted you can e-mail Brother Herrig by clicking on his name.

Just to get started you can check out our IAM History page where you'll find the history of the first 100 years of the IAM, About Lodge 1426 where you'll find our charter and current by-laws, our Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO page where you'll find questions and answers on Iowa unemployment insurance and Iowa Workers Compensation and our Help for Stewards page for some important information for shops stewards. Of course all the pages on our site are education tools and you can learn something about the labor movement by visiting any of them.

"APATHY IS WEAKNESS, ACTION IS STRENGTH", 
and as the banner says "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER"

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Update for Stewards
(The following articles are from the IAM Educator, Update for Stewards. Check back often for the most recent updates.)

From the Introductory Issue:

Orienting New Workers

Defending Dues: The Bottom Line

Fighting on the Job

Get Your Story Straight

From Volume 1, No. 1:

Steward-Member Confidentiality

Getting Members to Help Out

Lie Detectors in Discipline Cases

Assertive Grievance Presentation

 Updated  05/01/04
From Volume 1, No. 2:

Turning Negatives into Positives

Prior Records and Discipline

Witness for the Union

Mobilizing Your Members

 New  05/03/04
From Volume 2, No. 1:

Strategic Grievance Handling

Lying to Cover Up Dishonesty

"GLBT": It Stands for "A Union Issue"

Movies that Motivate

 New  05/09/04
From Volume 2, No. 2:

Effective Listening

Demotions as Punishment

Stewards and Politics

Managing Your Time

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When You Cease To Be Employed

  The current economic climate is creating tough times for working families by way of massive layoffs and plant closings.   Perhaps you have had first hand experience of, (or are anticipating); a separation from employment due to these layoffs and plant closings, or maybe a Worker’s Compensation injury, FMLA, or some other circumstance has caused a break in your employment.   Have you ever wondered what happens to your membership during this purgatorial period of non-employment?   The answer lies within the IAM Constitution and Lodge Bylaws.

  The IAM realizes the financial burden that can accompany unemployment and makes allowances to help minimize any hardship incurred by its members.   Article G of the IAM Constitution allows for the issuance of Unemployment Stamps “…for the purpose of aiding members to maintain their goodstanding.”   There are, of course, established criteria to determine eligibility.   The complete constitutional article, which addresses Unemployment Stamps, is displayed below in its entirety.

  ARTICLE G (I.A.M. CONSTITUTION)
UNEMPLOYMENT STAMPS

Purpose

     “SEC. 1. Unemployment stamps are issued for the purpose of aiding members to maintain their goodstanding.                      

 

Eligibility

     SEC. 2.   Unemployment stamps shall not be issued to members who are on vacation or engaged in any business or profession outside of the trade.   Unemployment stamps shall be issued to members pursuant to the provisions of Sec. 3 of this Art., at a minimum charge of $2.00 per month; $1.00 to be transmitted to the G.L., the remainder to be retained by the L.L.

 

Conditions of Issue

     SEC. 3.   Members who are unemployed for the major portion of any month (the major portion of any month shall depend on the major portion of the regular working days in any month), and who suffer a total or proportionate loss of earnings, due to separation from employment, layoff or furlough, or sickness or disability, are entitled to unemployment stamps for that month and are thereby excused from the payment of regular dues, upon complying with the following conditions:

     They shall register their names and addresses in the out-of-work book or communicate with the S.T., or business representative of the L.L. stating they are unemployed, or sick or disabled, any time within a two-month period.   The matter of reporting is entirely the member’s responsibility.

     Commencing April 1, 1974, a member’s monthly dues or special levies must be paid within the 2 months’ limit provided for in Sec. 14, Art. I.

     The S.T. shall place the unemployment stamp in the square of the month next following that of the month in which the last stamp was placed.

     Members who have received unemployment stamps shall, immediately upon securing employment, report to the S.T., or business representative.

 

Violations

     SEC. 4.   Members who violate any of the provisions of this Art., or who obtain unemployment stamps by false pretenses or misrepresentations of the facts, shall be guilty of misconduct and subject to charges, trial and penalty therefore as provided in Art. L of this Constitution.”

       Siouxland Lodge No. 1426 Bylaws, Article XI, reads as follows;

ARTICLE XI
BENEFITS

  Section 1. Unemployment stamps, strike benefits, retiring cards, withdrawal cards, and other benefits shall be as defined in the IAM Constitution.

   Although some companies help us to identify those members who are unemployed, (via their dues check-off report), it is still the individual member’s responsibility to inform the proper Local Lodge officer of their employment status.   In fact, it is the responsibility of you, the member, to inform the proper Local Lodge officer of any change in your employment status.   This allows us to help identify if you should apply for Unemployment Stamps, a Withdrawal Card, Retirement Card, etc.   By doing so you can avert having your membership fall into lapse, thus losing member benefits, and avoid a costly reinstatement fee.

   Understanding the benefits and options that are available to you can save you aggravation and headaches, as well as money.   As this Webpage states, “Knowledge is Power” – and in this case – “Knowledge is [also] Pragmatic”.

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IAM LOCAL LODGE ELECTION GUIDELINES
- Checklist of Ten Key Issues -

Introduction

A.     The following is a brief overview of the key issues involved in conducting elections for local lodge officers.

B.     In addition, and prior to conducting any election, it is essential that all those involved review and be completely familiar with the following:

  • Pertinent provisions of the IAM Constitution (see, especially, Articles B, C, and Article II, Sec. 3 and 4)

  • Local Lodge Bylaws

  • Official Circular 809 (LMRDA Election Requirements)

  • Official Circular 787 (Absentee Ballots)

  • Official Circular 815 (Voting Rights of Retired, Laid Off, or Exempt Members)

(the IAM Constitution, Local Lodge Bylaws, and any Official Circulars are available at our Lodge Hall, see our Secretary Treasurer and/or Education Officer)

I. Offices to be filled by election

A.     The office of President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Secretary-Treasurer, Conductor/Sentinel, and three (3) member Board of Trustees, and any other officers who are members of the lodge Executive Board.

B.     The term of office for all officers is three (3) years.

II. Eligibility for local lodge office

A.     A member must be in good standing of the local lodge for at least one (1) year at time of nomination.

B.     Must be working at the trade during the six (6) month period prior to the nomination meeting (members who are retired on pension and paying full dues may run for the office without regard to the "working at the trade" requirement, however, they may not run for the office of business representative or general chairperson. They are also ineligible to run for any offices that have a direct impact on the collective bargaining agreement).

C.     Must satisfy meeting attendance requirement, if any (See Attachment B to the Checklist).

D.      Is not on indefinite layoff (See Official Circular 815).

III. Eligibility to vote for local lodge officers

A.     Members who are in good standing.

B.     Retired or exempt members and members on indefinite layoff (but such members may not vote for positions having a direct effect on the collective bargaining agreement, such as stewards or committee persons).

IV. Notification of nominations and/or elections

A.      Local lodges can satisfy all their obligations under the IAM Constitution and the law by having the recording secretary mail a single, combined notice of nomination and election. This mailing must be done not less than sixty (60) days prior to the election and must be mailed to each member qualified to vote at their last known home address, even if the lodge knows the address is incorrect.

B.     The notice must contain the date, time, and place of nominations of the election and the runoff election, should one prove necessary. It must be accompanied by an application for an absentee ballot and must specify who is entitled to receive and absentee ballot.

  • The requirement to send notices by mail does not apply to local lodges in Canada.

C.     The notice should also be posted on bulletin boards, appear in newsletters, and be posted on the lodge's web site, if they have one.

V. Conducting nominations

A.     All nominations must be made from the floor by a member in good standing.

B.     Members may nominate themselves.

C.     Nominations may not be submitted in writing.

D.     Members who are not present may be nominated, but they must have a letter on file with the recording secretary stating that they will accept nomination for that particular office.

VI. Voting by absentee ballot and how handled

A.     Members may vote by absentee ballot if they:

  1. Reside more than twenty-five (25) miles from polling place.

  2. Are confined by verified illness.

  3. Are on vacation, official union business, employment assignment, reserve military leave, or on leave qualifying under U.S. and/or Canadian family leave laws.

B.     The recording secretary must:

  1. Mail ballot packets to members who have filed written requests within five (5) days of the close of nominations or as soon thereafter as ballots are available and present all voted absentee ballots the the inspectors.

  2. Preserve all absentee ballots along with election materials for one (1) year, including all written requests for ballots, lists of ballots mailed, identification stubs, unused ballots, ballots returned for incorrect addresses, envelopes containing voted ballots, voted ballots, challenged ballots declared void, impounded ballots, and eligibility rulings made by the inspectors, tellers, or recording secretary.

VII. Handling requests for distribution of campaign literature

A.     All candidates must be treated equally!

B.     All candidates may inspect (but not copy) membership mailing lists once during the thirty (30) days preceding the election and all candidates are entitled to have their requests to mail campaign literature (at their own expense) treated equally.

C.     Candidates will not be given a copy of the mailing list, but gummed labels or addressed envelopes will be prepared by the lodge at a predetermined price, not less than the actual cost, and mail campaign literature for the candidates.

VIII. Appointment of election tellers

A.     The president shall, at least sixty days prior to the election, appoint at least three (3) tellers to conduct the election in a fair and impartial manner.

B.     Tellers are responsible for conducting the actual balloting and tabulating the ballots; their specific duties are outlined in Attachment A to this Checklist.

IX. Rules governing ballots and the balloting area

A.     Voting instructions should clearly inform members as to the manner in which their ballot must be marked, the number of votes allowed for each office, and that write-in votes are not permitted.

B.     The ballot itself should be arranged so that candidates for each office are clearly identified, with legitimate nicknames if the candidate so requests, and with the position of the candidate on the ballot being determined in any reasonable and fair manner, in accordance with the bylaws and/or past practice (such as alphabetically, by order of nomination, or by lot).

C.     Ballots must contain a numbered, detachable stub upon which the voter will provide identifying information, including the voter's name, address, lodge, and book number.

D.     The balloting area and at least a fifty (50) foot area surrounding it must be designated a "campaign-free" zone, and booths and/or partitions must be provided to permit members to mark their ballots in privacy.

X. Role of observers

A.     Each candidate has the right to one observer, but a candidate may not serve as his/her own observer or that of any other candidate.

B.     Observers must be members of the lodge and serve at the expense of the individual candidate.

C.     The following rules apply to observers:

  1. They must be permitted in areas where they can observe the voting and tabulation procedures.

  2. They may not handle ballots.

  3. They may not engage in campaigning (by wearing campaign apparel during voting or otherwise).

  4. They may not converse with voters or obstruct the balloting process.

ATTACHMENT A

CONDUCTING AND TABULATING THE BALLOTING
-Duties of Local Lodge Tellers-

When conducting an election, tellers shall:

A.     Conduct the actual balloting and tabulation.

B.     Account for all ballots, voter registers, and voting material.

C.     Determine the eligibility of voters and resolve challenges.

D.     Ensure that the polls open and close at the stated times, permitting members to vote if in line at the designated closing time.

E.     Inspect the ballot box, in the presence of the observers, before the start of balloting and then secure the box.

F.     Seal the ballot box during any periods in which balloting has been interrupted and verify the seal before the ballot box is reopened.

G.     Where machines are used in place of paper ballots, verify that they have been cleared and are in good working order prior to the start of the voting, insuring that the machines are locked during any periods in which voting has been interrupted.

H.     Require members voting on-site to identify themselves as required by the election rules and record each member as having voted.

I.     Permit members to vote challenged ballots, and place such ballots in an individual envelope with the reason for the challenge written on it.

J.     Place challenged ballots in the ballot box and resolve challenges, if of sufficient number to determine the outcome of any election.

K.     Provide a replacement ballot to a member who has spoiled the initial ballot and maintain custody of such ballots and account for them.

L.     Open absentee ballots, check the enclosed detachable stub to determine the eligibility and identity of the voter, and commingle ballots cast by eligible voters with those cast on-site, prior to the start of the tabulation process.

M.     Require voters to cast their ballots in the secret balloting booths provided.

N.     Maintain a campaign-free zone around the voting area, periodically police the area during the balloting and remove any campaign materials.

O.     Prohibit members from lingering in the election room or engaging in campaigning while waiting to vote.

P.     Refrain from wearing any campaign buttons or political garments indicating support for any candidate.

Q.     Report the results of the election and ensure that all election records are delivered to the recording secretary of the lodge for preservation for one (1) year.

When tabulating the ballots, tellers shall:

A.     Prohibit candidates or observers from handling ballots.

B.     Not open ballots until the observers for the candidates are present, if they choose to be in attendance.

C.     Record votes for the candidate(s) designated by the voter, if the tellers can determine the voter's intent.

D.     Void that portion of the ballot if a voter fails to vote for the state number of open positions for any office, however, this does not void the entire ballot.

E.     Void a ballot in its entirety if the voter has defaced the ballot or made markings which identify the voter.

F.     Void the ballot for that office if the voter has voted for too many candidates for one office.

G.     Count the ballot cast on-site and impound the absentee ballot of a voter who has cast an absentee ballot and also votes on-site.

H.     Void the ballot for that office if a voter has indicated a write-in vote.

I.     Mark "void" through any ballot or specific portion of a ballot which is not being counted, record the reason and initial the ballot.

J.     Void any absentee ballot without a completed identification stub.

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ATTACHMENT B

MEETING ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS

Article B, Section 3, of the IAM constitution grants to local lodges the authority, through their bylaws, to require members to have attended up to fifty percent (50%) of the regular lodge meetings held during the twelve (12) month period ending the date of close of nominations in order to qualify as an officer or delegate. Several points need to be clearly understood when applying this language.

A.     Only regular meetings count in determining a member's eligibility. Special or called meetings are not counted.

B.     Only meetings at which a quorum was present count.

C.     Article B, Section 3 lists the various reasons for which members may be excused from regular meetings. The lodge should adopt a clear policy on the time limits for submitting requests to be excused.

D.     The lodge must establish a method of determining who, in fact, attends the meetings. A sign-in sheet or log book must be kept. The lodge must establish a policy as to the manner in which members must sign-in or register.

E.     Any lodge policies established in connection with the meeting attendance requirements must be enforced in a uniform manner.

F.     When lodge members have been granted excuses from attending some meetings, the method for determining their eligibility is as follows: take the number of meetings held; then subtract the number for which the member was excused; divide by two and round all fractions down in favor of the member.

Any questions as to a particular member's eligibility must be resolved promptly so that the process of printing the ballots may proceed in a timely manner. To facilitate the resolution of eligibility questions, the sign-in sheets or log book and the record of approved excused absences should be available at the nominating meeting. The president of the lodge is the final arbiter in these matters, subject to appeal to the International President.

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Understanding the Issue of Trade

(Included in this article: Trade History, Trade Differences, and Action You Can Take)

  Recently Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) conducted a short seminar on “free trade” at UFCW Local 222’s Labor Hall.   Some of what follows are what was discussed at the seminar – hopefully it will enhance your understanding on this most important issue, which affects virtually every working family in the United States.

  How did we get here and why was it done?

  In 1944 two International Financial Institutions were formed – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.   (For those who are not aware, the IMF is the world's economic police force, and prevents hundreds of millions of people throughout the world from escaping crushing poverty).   The first real trade agreement was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947.   On the heels of world war, the idea behind GATT was that nations that traded with each other would not go to war against each other.   The next major trade agreements didn’t appear until nearly 50 years later – NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in 1994 and the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 1995.   And there are two more trade agreements on the horizon – CAFTA (U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement) and FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) scheduled for 2004 and 2005 respectively.

  How do these trade agreements differ?

  GATT only addressed trade in goods, (basically, if you can drop it on your foot you can trade it), and had no firm legal basis, thus it had very little power for enforcement.   The WTO is an inter-governmental body composed of 134 countries, (kind of like an international chamber of commerce), which governs trade between participating countries and governs national laws that impact trade. The WTO can fine countries or impose trade sanctions if it decides a member is putting up unfair barriers to trade -- like, oh, stringent product-safety standards – the WTO ignores the U.S. Clean Air Act.  The WTO allows countries to sue other countries for unfair trade practices.   Under NAFTA corporations gained the right to sue countries (Note: corporations can only sue other NAFTA countries’ governments, not their own governments.)   Corporations are not just using their new rights to protect themselves, but to go on the offensive against environmental regulations that cut into their profits and they can sue for “anticipated lost profits”.   This is imaginary money that a corporation says it could have made…if some law hadn’t been there.   The bottom line is corporations can circumvent democracy by making people pay for environmental, labor, and social protections.   President Clinton sold Congress on NAFTA by signing “side agreements” to include labor and environmental provisions – they are worthless and unenforceable because they are not part of the text of NAFTA.   CAFTA is a trade agreement between the U.S. and five Central American Countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) utilizing NAFTA-type guidelines.   CAFTA is an extension of NAFTA and is a stepping-stone and a model for the FTAA.   The FTAA expands NAFTA from 3 countries to 34 countries, (the entire Western Hemisphere, except Cuba), plus it could privatize essential services like water, education and health care.   Just imagine that an educational company could say that publicly supported education is an unfair advantage to its own for-profit schools – they could sue the government directly.   In addition to the essential services nightmare, the FTAA could weaken laws and local democracy and eliminate any possibility of labor or environmental negotiating groups.

  This is how the trade agreements would be created;

  1) Representatives of transnational corporations would do the advising.

2) Transnational corporations [only] have access to the representatives by meeting with them prior to each major trade meeting to make their wishes known.

3) Congress votes, but the vote is governed by “Fast Track” rules which limit debate to 20 hours in each house and bans amendments (the vote is either up or down, virtually without any time to do “impact studies”).

4) Any disputes would be resolved by three “trade experts” [whose identities are secret] based solely on trade law not the whole body of national law.   AND, their decisions are final – to appeal, you must convince them that they were wrong.

  A question you should be asking yourself; 
WHO IS MISSING FROM THIS PICTURE?

  What can you do?

  Many of the candidates will try to talk around global trade issues and evade addressing the real questions.   Hopefully, this will prepare you to make it more difficult for the candidates to sidestep the question and force them to make a solid commitment.

  On the topic of Labor and Environmental Provisions, and their Enforcement - when the candidate says that “labor and environmental” provisions should be included in trade agreements, encourage them to answer the critical questions of WHERE and HOW.   As mentioned before, “side agreements” are worthless and unenforceable.   Labor and environmental provisions need to be in the actual text of the agreement themselves.   The issue of enforcement is also crucial.   Labor and environmental provisions, which cannot be enforced, are of no value – they should be enforced the same way the rest of a trade agreement is.   Otherwise, trade agreements will include strong provisions for enforcing intellectual property (copyrights) and investment provisions, but weak or no provisions for enforcing labor and environmental protections.   AND, make sure that you tie the question to the FTAA.

  Thus, when a candidate says “I am for including labor and environmental provisions in trade agreements” it is important to follow up with a question that forces them to be more specific:

Questions to ask the candidates:

  “Will you oppose the FTAA or other agreements that do NOT have core environmental and labor standards in the actual text of the agreement, enforceable like the rest of the agreement?”

  A.     Will you commit to labor and environmental provisions in the actual text of the agreement, not side agreements?

B.     Will you reject the FTAA or other trade agreements if they do not include such provisions? 

and

C.     Will you commit to enforceable provisions?

  On the topic of Trade in Services Agenda - it is vital that the candidates clearly indicate their opposition to the “trade in services” agenda.   This is important because although “trade in services” is an integral component of the FTAA, it is also being pursued at the WTO through the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).   Many of the candidates are not very familiar with the services issue so we must do what we can to make them aware of it.

  Of those candidates who have stated their opposition to the FTAA a question to ask them might be:

  “You have stated your opposition to the FTAA, and that’s great.   However, the Bush Administration is also negotiating the expansion of the WTO, specifically to include “services” provisions that would promote privatization, deregulation, and abusive temporary worker entry programs.   Can we count on you to oppose this sort of “services” agreement through the WTO and elsewhere?”

  For those candidates who have not clearly stated their opposition to the FTAA, the “services” provisions are one very good reason to take a strong position against the Bush FTAA.

  For more information, resources or questions contact:

  Bill Holland
The Iowa Fair Trade Campaign
515-288-4296
iowatrade@yahoo.com
http://www.fairtradenow.org

  Or try one of the links listed below

“Basic Facts about the WTO”
http://www.thefactz.org/WTO/wto_basicfacts.html

  “Everything You Wanted to Know About World Trade but were Afraid to Ask”
http://www.realchangenews.org/pastarticles/features/articles/everything_about_WTO.html

  “A Primer on the WTO”
http://www.eurosur.org/wide/wspa/wtoprim.htm

  “Common Questions on Trade”
http://www.coc.org/focus/women/faq.html

  “About the FTAA”
http://therootcause.org/ftaa/analysis1.sht
ml

  “What is CAFTA?”
http://www.teamster.org/governmt/tradeissues/cafta/whatiscafta.htm

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SPECIAL INTERESTS TAKE OVER
click here to read this report

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PRESIDENTIAL MATCH
Find out which candidate fits your views
From John Herrig, Education Officer, Siouxland Lodge 1426 IAMAW

This is perhaps the best campaign educator that I have ever come across. All you do is answer the questions as prompted and at the end it will tell you which candidate best represents your views and philosophies. 

My results (no surprise) were #1 Kucinich at a 66% match; #2 Kerry at a 62% match; and, Bush at an 18% match. I think they only use those candidates that are still actually running for president.

I suggest emailing this to as many people as possible (I've already mailed my entire list) and possibly even post the link on your bulletin board. I think it would go a long way at informing people who really will look out for them - I feel they get tired of hearing the same old rhetoric from Organized Labor, etc. This match is based entirely on their own answers.

I would suggest that anyone making use of this, leave the "party" preference (page 6) open. This will allow the program to select the best candidate for you regardless of party affiliation. Otherwise, there is not any reason to concern yourself with issues [if you are just going to vote "party line".] 

The link is 
http://www.presidentmatch.com/Main.jsp2

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Straight Talk about President Bush's Iraq policy
Edited Letter to the Editor of the Sioux City Journal
Sent to the Journal by John Herrig, Education Officer of Siouxland Lodge 1426 IAMAW
The unedited version is below the edited version. 

Recently Nancy Pelosi offered something all too rare in Washington these days – straight talk about President Bush’s Iraq policy.

Immediately the President’s attack dogs went on the offensive.  The President, and his liege, are attempting to bully the American people into silence over his failed policies in Iraq and elsewhere.  They say it is somehow unpatriotic and even dangerous to criticize the President during wartime.  But straight talk shouldn’t be silenced or shamed.

Tom DeLay questioned Pelosi’s patriotism saying, “…her words are putting American lives at risk…” and that she has “…a responsibility to the troops and to this nation to show unity in this time of war.”

In 1918, Theodore Roosevelt said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

It appears as though Tom DeLay has it backwards.

Original Version Sent to the Journal

Recently House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi offered something all too rare in Washington these days – straight talk about President Bush’s Iraq policy.

Immediately the President’s attack dogs went on the offensive, seeking to intimidate her [and other like-minded Representatives] into silence.  The President, with his liege in Congress, have been trying to bully the American people into silence over his failed policies in Iraq and elsewhere.  They say it is somehow unpatriotic and even dangerous to criticize the President during wartime.  But straight talk shouldn’t be silenced or shamed.

House Majority leader Tom DeLay responded to the questions that Pelosi raised by saying, “…her words are putting American lives at risk…” and that she has “…a responsibility to the troops and to this nation to show unity in this time of war.”

In 1918, Theodore Roosevelt said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

So it appears as though Tom DeLay has it backwards.

Until very recently, members of Congress and the news media have been reluctant to look critically at the Bush administration’s handling of the war.  We now know that nothing Bush told us about the war has been true.  We now know that this administration has “greenlighted” rights-abuse of the Iraqi people and those detained in prison.  We’re now paying the price for the lack of critical thinking inside and outside the Bush administration.  We now see that unquestioning acceptance by too many in Congress and in the media can lead the country down a dangerous pathway.

The lesson here is that we should always encourage differing viewpoints in a democracy.  Leaders should be willing to be challenged by differing viewpoints – it will ultimately help them do a better job.  AND, it does not make you unpatriotic.

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