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September 4, 2014

republicans, concern-trolled

This nice piece by Heather Cox Richardson is a stunner of an historical context of the modern Republican Party in the guise of an op-ed.  Her premise is that the GOP actually has a long and storied history of broad appeal and populist policies, under Lincoln, Roosevelt (Teddy) and Eisenhower.

It's a scholarly look back (Richardson has a book on the history of the GOP coming out), and it ends with a sucker punch to the kidneys:

Twice in its history, the Republican Party regained its direction and popularity after similar disasters by returning to its original defense of widespread individual economic success. The same rebranding is possible today, if Republicans demote Reagan from hero to history and rally to a leader like Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower -- someone who believes that the government should promote economic opportunity rather than protect the rich.

It's one of those things that's a bit of a shock — before Reagan, Republicans has a history of using government to implement the public good, and are partially responsible for things like public universities, income tax and and publicly funded infrastructure.  Oh!  And ending slavery.  And yet now they are a bunch of vicious, crypto-racist sock-puppets bought and sold by whoever can afford to buy them TV ads.

And in this context the Reagan "revolution" was not so much the ascension of the Reagan Republican as it was the final victory of the wealthy in controlling government policy.

It all sounds so Koch brothers, doesn't it?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:11 AM

September 3, 2014

chris christie: let's leave it at that

So yeah the awful that was August 2014 is now leaking into September.  Super.  We're learning to love the awful.

So here's some distracting comedy from the second most arrogant governor on the Eastern Seaboard, Chris Christie, as he works on his foreign policy chops:

It was not, according to several of those in attendance, a tough or unexpected inquiry. But Mr. Christie, usually known for his oratorical sure-footedness, offered a wobbly reply, displaying little grasp of the facts and claiming that if he were in charge, Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, would know better than to mess with him.

According to an audio recording of the event, he said Mr. Putin had taken the measure of Mr. Obama. "I don't believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment," Mr. Christie said. "Let's leave it at that."

That to my knowledge is absolutely unique in the history of American politics: a potential candidate counting his bullying as a qualifying argument for the presidency.

And I know I know, Lyndon B. Johnson, but I don't recall President Johnson ever shutting down a bridge to send a shot across the bow of some first-term podunk Representative.

Chris Christie is a living monument to his own self-regard.  Whatever.

Oh, and who's the first most arrogant governor on the Eastern Seaboard?  How about everyone just vote for Zephyr Teachout next Tuesday.  Let's just leave it at that.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:21 AM

September 1, 2014

happy labor day

So this iteration of this blog has been around for ten years give or take, which means ten times, give or take, that I've had the chance to say something cheeky about Labor Day.  You know, the day that we celebrate working by not working, the day that Republicans celebrate labor by toasting those who bust unions, bla bla bla.

Here's the thing.  It's nice to have a holiday, and it's nice to go through the motions to honor the American worker, but these days there isn't a much more exploited commodity than the American worker.  The few interests that actually directly employ their workforce do so in a way as to avoid granting them things like full-time employment and benefits that come with it (see Walmart and Starbucks).  Meanwhile the rest of American industry has adopted a model of "efficiency," under which every conceivable function of labor is contracted and subcontracted out until the workforce is nothing but a bunch of permatemps who are hired and fired at will.

Basically, "efficiency" is as deadly a threat to the middle class as anything, as it by definition marginalizes the workforce.

Of course there's dribs and drabs of good news.  The Labor Department is pushing back against the concept that franchise employees have no recourse against the actual franchises, and "wage theft" is now an actual phrase that carries meaning now, so that's good.

But, aside from being awesome to each other, if you really want to recognize Labor Day, read this from last year — Ken Layne explaining how Labor Day has been and is a scam to keep you poor and miserable.

Make sure to finish it before you go back to work tomorrow.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:28 PM