Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

The Indispensable Advocate

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 work force at Piscataway isn't notably young; most of the plant's 145 production workers are women in their 30s, 40s and 50s, almost all of whom make between $6.50 and $9 an hour. Many, like Varsha Patel, are...

Past Tense

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." When exactly party activists ceased to be real people they do not specify. It's easier to identify when the DLC began to demonize the Democrats' foot soldiers: That began in 1985, in the wake of Walter Mondale's overwhelming defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan. That the Democrats needed some midcourse...

Civil Unions

For a moment there, it almost looked as if the Democrats were getting their act together. Leaders of the key Democratic constituency groups have begun meeting to develop a strategy and the wherewithal for winning the battleground states in the 2004 presidential election. On May 8 the president of Emily's List, Ellen Malcolm, hosted a gathering of the heads of various environmental, pro-choice, civil rights and labor organizations to look at how they could have the greatest impact in next year's race. (The gathering was a tribute, in its way, to the regular meetings of conservative leaders hosted by anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist.) The centerpiece of the May 8 meeting was a presentation by Steve Rosenthal, until recently director of the AFL-CIO's political program and now director of the labor-backed Partnership for America's Families. The Partnership is one of myriad so-called 527s -- the tax code designation for organizations that are springing up now that campaign reform has banned...

Union Army?

Europe wants an army. Tony Blair wants a European rapid deployment force that can work through NATO in concert with the United States to build "one polar power" that spans the Atlantic. Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and the leaders of Belgium, Greece and Luxembourg -- the continent's leading critics of the war with Iraq -- want a rapid deployment force to be the military arm of a distinct European Union (EU) foreign and security policy. They want to get that force up and running by next year, and to establish a headquarters for the command in Belgium. But Belgium, as the Bush administration has noted with some asperity, is already home to the headquarters of NATO. To both the State and Defense departments, the idea of plunking an alternative to NATO just down the block from our own alliance must seem more devilish French mischief. Europe's desire for a continental strike force, however, antedates its current rift with the United States. It derives in part from Europe's shame at...

Intelligence Designed

So whose books were more cooked -- Enron's accounts of its financial doings or the administration's prewar reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? Enron's books didn't lack for detail. They were simply and deliberately fictitious. They documented all manner of energy sales and swaps that in fact never transpired but that had to be conjured up retrospectively to explain how Enron's apparent assets and profits were so dazzling. The administration's accounts of the Iraqi arsenal were also detailed. Descriptions of Saddam Hussein's weapons caches were the centerpiece of the president's State of the Union address and the sum and substance of Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council. The secretary told the council there was convincing evidence that Iraq had hundreds of tons of chemical and biological agents and that it had been buying uranium from Niger to put its nuclear program on fast-forward. But yesterday's certitude is today's confusion. Task Force 75 -- the armed...

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