If the House and Senate conferees assembling this week to negotiate a prescription drug benefit and Medicare reform bill do in fact come up with a final product, the only thing certain is that they will have built a house divided against itself.
Antonin Scalia is raging against the coming of the light.
Scalia's dissent from last week's epochal Supreme Court decision striking down Texas' anti-sodomy statute confirms Ayatollah Antonin's standing as the intellectual leader of the forces arrayed against equality and modernity in the United States. In establishing the deep historical roots of anti-gay sentiment in America, for instance, Scalia took pains to note the 20 prosecutions and four executions for consensual gay sex conducted in colonial times. He noted, approvingly, that even today, "many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their home."
Varsha Patel works in the stockroom at the Cintas industrial laundry plant in Piscataway, N.J., sorting dirty uniforms as they come in for cleaning. For eight hours she remains standing as she separates the damaged cloths from the merely dirty; at the end of the day, she says, "My hands, feet and legs are sore." For this she is paid a princely $7.94 an hour.
Varsha Patel (not her real name) has worked for Cintas, America's largest uniform rental company, since 1997, and it has not been the happiest of associations. Six months ago, her co-workers who hang clothing on racks positioned well above their heads had to hang 1,700 uniforms a day. Now they have to hang 2,000. And if she or her fellow workers take more than six sick days in a year, they'll be summarily fired.
The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party convenes here today at a national conference sponsored by the liberal Campaign for America's Future. The gathering comes not a moment too soon, not only because the party's progressive base needs to assert and renew its principles, but also because it has come under assault lately from its intra-party adversaries.
In a recent memo addressed to "Leading Democrats," Al From and Bruce Reed, the leaders of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, have all but read the party's activists out of the human race. Purporting to dispel some noxious myths about the Democrats, they write, "Real Democrats are real people, not activist elites."