A little inspiration for everyone on the road this Labor Day weekend:
Author Page for Erik Loomis
Kevin Drum’s piece about the Paul Ryan budget was illustrative not only of how horrible that granny starver is and how much of a professional con artist he is, but also of how the current generation of young(ish) Democrats see priorities. Here is an excerpt:
But it gets worse: He wants to cut all other spending—aside from Social Security and Medicare—by 70 percent. And even that understates things. He’s made it plain that he doesn’t want to see substantial cuts in the defense budget, which means that the domestic budget would probably have to go down to something like 1.5 percent of GDP. That’s a cut of 80 percent or so and it affects everything. It affects prisons, food assistance, education, the FBI, assistance to the needy, courts, child nutrition, drug abuse counseling, FEMA, rape prevention, autism programs, housing, border control, student loans, roads and bridges, Head Start, college scholarships, unemployment insurance, and job training. Everything. Most of these programs would simply disappear, and the ones that remained would be shriveled and nearly useless.
You all can talk about the horrible reality of Ryan’s budget in comments, but I found that list super interesting for what it did and did not include. It’s a pretty good run-down of what people value these days. Some traditional subjects–education, unemployment, etc. Some topics that have only recently galvanized our national interest–autism, FEMA. And then nothing on the environment. That’s what struck me. This list in 1970 or 1980 or 1990 would have likely had 3 or 4 environmental programs listed. EPA. Superfund. Clean Air and Water Act enforcement. Etc. Today, nothing. And that’s pretty indicative of how far the environmental agenda has fallen off the map for a lot of young progressives. Today, you have young people with environmental concerns even running away from the term. That’s both shocking and sad for the planet.
Note that I’m not trying to be unfair to Drum. Such a list could have been drawn up by any number of people and it wouldn’t have included environmental programs.
1. Old-school manipulation of workers by Murray Energy. Mitt Romney gave a speech at their mine in Beallsville, Ohio earlier this month. Murray closed the mine for the day, docked the workers the day’s pay, and then forced them to attend the rally. Asked about this, Murray’s COO Robert Moore went full Orwell: “Attendance was mandatory but no one was forced to attend the event.”
Murray is the same company that owned a mine in Utah that collapsed in 2007, killing 6 miners and the company has a notoriously bad safety record.
The workers are angry about all of this but fearful of losing their jobs.
I guess the coal industry’s ability to rule Appalachia like a medieval fiefdom hasn’t declined since the 1920s by as much as I thought.
2. As one might expect, the Republican platform declares total war on unions, ranging from a nationwide right to work a person to death law to barring public unions from political participation (no doubt only to apply to Democratic participation of course–exception for the cops to be expected!) to ending paycheck deduction for public sector unions. I fully expect Republicans to embrace to make labor unions illegal within a decade.
3. Looks like Boeing is going to try and bust the union of its engineers and technical workers, having rejects the union’s offer to simply extend the current contract. Who can blame them, it’s not like Boeing receives billions of dollars in government contracts or anything.
4. The sooner the rare corrupt union official is sent to prison, the better. Let’s hope these UFCW workers get real leadership now.
5. A glimpse into the future–where we are all temporary and contingent labor living in poverty. Just like the Gilded Age!
6. I’m the last person to say that political conventions really matter, but the fact that there is no Labor Caucus at this year’s DNC is telling. Labor’s only missions within the Democratic Party are to serve as a GOTV mechanism and to give money to candidates.
I always thought Clint Eastwood was the genial, George H.W. Bush type of Republican voter. Didn’t care much about the social issue stuff, didn’t much care to pay taxes, bought into his own character, whatever.
Yet another good reason not to watch a single second of either convention.
And just to be snarky, it’s as good as time as any to note that Eastwood is vastly overrated as a director.
As for Romney, he probably wishes he was an Eastwood character, but he’s really just Mr. Morton, the old railroad tycoon from Once Upon a Time in the West.
The National Football League Players Association, a year removed from being locked out by NFL owners, are monitoring the NFL’s current lockout of the league’s officials for its ramifications on player safety, the union’s top official told ThinkProgress. And as officials attempt to end their dispute with the league before the start of the regular season next week, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said the union reserved the right to examine “every possible remedy” to ensure the safety of its players.
The use of replacement officials, Smith said, “flies in the face” of the players’ efforts to make the game safer during their own negotiations, which resulted in a lockout by NFL owners, before the 2011 season. “The issues that we, the players, pushed hard for in the collective bargaining agreement were structural, fundamental changes in the way football is played,” Smith said. “All that flies in the face of a unilateral decision to prevent the most experienced on-field first responders from being involved in an incredibly physically challenging activity.”
It’s clear that the owners value union-busting far more than player safety, to which they only give lip service. Waldron gets to the crux of it:
It’s quite clear, from the memo and from the NFL’s actions to this point, that the league has embraced the tried-and-true corporate strategy of locking out its workers and then attempting to wait them out, hoping to settle on its own terms. The easiest way out now, it seems, is for officials to abandon their fight, but Arnold made it sound as if the NFLRA is prepared to continue waiting for the NFL to negotiate. “They locked us out. We’ve been serious, made major concessions, and have been willing to negotiate. But all they’ve told us is to take it or leave it,” Arnold said. “It takes two sides to negotiate. We’re prepared, we’re ready to go.”
Again, I don’t think this is going to work for the NFL, not with real games on the line, not with playoff performances on the line, not with 24-7 sports radio talking about the replacement refs costing teams games. But the NFL is simply the most prominent employer using early 21st-century union-busting tactics. This type of thing is happening all over the country without 1% of the coverage the referees receive.
Speaking of NFL player safety, Jeffri Chadiha has a good list of 10 concrete things the NFL could do to make players safer, including eliminating kickoffs, forcing all concussed players to sit a minimum of 1 full game, and creating a licensing board that would declare whether players are healthy enough to be certified to play. Of course, the owners will hate most of this because it will mean higher labor costs through the expanded rosters necessary to cover for the concussion depletions.
Probably the best thing Obama has going for him in his reelection campaign is that John Kasich so overreached in his union-busting tactics, making the people of Ohio very angry at the Republican Party. My year in rural Ohio was eye-opening, having coincided with the 2010 midterms. Ohio is a strongly pro-union, pro-economic justice as any state in the country. But the good people of the Buckeye State are also susceptible to the cultural warfare card Republicans play. That’s the threat to Obama. Particularly when you get into southeast Ohio, the open racism skyrockets. And had Kasich not reminded Ohioans that Republicans will take away your good jobs, Ohio could very much be a toss-up. But it really isn’t and combined with Republican failures to make inroads in Pennsylvania, the electoral math still looks grim for Romney, even assuming Ryan flips Wisconsin.
Which U.S. president wins in a knife fight? The rules:
To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the redditor Xineph:
Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency. Fatal maladies have been cured, but any lifelong conditions or chronic illnesses (e.g. FDR’s polio) remain.
The presidents are fighting in an ovular arena 287 feet long and 180 feet wide (the dimensions of the  Roman Colosseum). The floor is concrete. Assume that weather is not a factor.
Each president has been given one standard-issue  Gerber LHR Combat Knife , the knife  presented to each graduate of the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Assume the presidents have no training outside any combat experiences they may have had in their own lives.
There is no penalty for avoiding combat for an extended period of time. Hiding and/or playing dead could be valid strategies, but there can be only one winner. The melee will go on as long as it needs to.
FDR has been outfitted with a  Bound Plus H-Frame Power Wheelchair, and can travel at a maximum speed of around 11.5 MPH. The wheelchair has been customized so that he is holding his knife with his dominant hand. This is to compensate for his almost certain and immediate defeat in the face of an overwhelming disadvantage.
Each president will be deposited in the arena regardless of their own will to fight, however, personal ethics, leadership ability, tactical expertise etc., should all be taken into account. Alliances are allowed.
I expect everyone to have obvious answers here. But is the result so obvious as to feature TR, Jackson, and Washington? I don’t know that things would go this way. Personally, I might put some money down on Lyndon Johnson. And Zachary Taylor was a tough, tough man.
What is the flag of the United States of America?
I bet you thought it was this:
Such a nice flag. Doesn’t it want to make you eat some apples, light some fireworks, steal the natural resources of poorer countries.
And it’s so versatile. Here are a couple of beautiful examples.
But that’s just the flag for you and I, the flag of the 99%. The United States of America has two official flags. There’s also the flag of the 1%. Until now, it was known as the flag of the Cayman Islands:
Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.
The floating party, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht “Cracker Bay,” was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney’s bid.
“I think it’s ironic they do this aboard a yacht that doesn’t even pay its taxes,” said a woman who lives aboard a much smaller boat moored at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.
Romney’s Cayman-based investments have come under fire during the campaign.
The event, attended by no more than 50 people, along with Romney relatives, including older brother Scott, appeared on no public calendars. ABC News obtained a schedule of the Romney campaign’s “Victory Council” and waited dockside to speak with members.
“It was a really nice event. These are good supporters,” said billionaire Wilbur Ross, an energy industry executive.
I mean, we could criticize Romney for holding an event on a yacht called the CRACKER BAY (!!!) with a flag demonstrating that this billionaire, like the Republican candidate himself, pays no taxes to the United States government.
But then that would be insulting the real flag of the United States of America, the one that allows plutocrats to concentrate their wealth. Which is the true meaning of America after all.
Maybe it’s a good thing that the LGM event in New Orleans got canceled.
Because it turns out that we are on stage in beautiful Franklin, Pennsylvania this weekend–and no one even told us!
This is easy enough for me since I’m in the area but the rest of the crew better hightail it out here to western Pennsylvania.
And boy howdy are you all in for a treat. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Farley’s comedy show based around battleships. Lemieux and djw will be doing their updated “Who’s on First” routine. SEK will be literally driving on stage in his own Batmobile.
As for me, I’ll naturally be doing my 1 man show on the Centralia Massacre. Whether I mock castrate myself like the lynchers are supposed to have done to Wesley Everest, well, you’ll just have to pay the $25 to find out.
Sadly, I don’t have any more historical films of boxing cats to show you. But General Motors’s bizarre animal newsreel series from the mid 1930s was more than just boxing cats. It was also smoking cows!
One of the generally agreed upon things in the modern, 21st century wealthy nation world (or at least the politically progressive part of that world anyway) is the democracy of the crowd. We love the crowd, whether real or virtual, love being a part of it, participating in it with our technology and sometimes our feet and our voices. We look to our partners in the crowd for good restaurant recs on Yelp, find out what’s happening out in the world on Twitter, feel solidarity from it in Occupy protests. But this is not your old-school crowd of nameless, faceless people called out for rallies by the union president. In the new crowd, we all have equal voices, with our individual rights and feelings protected and even prioritized. We feel empowered to destroy a business’ reputation on our beloved Yelp if they didn’t note a food ingredient we didn’t like in a salad we ordered. Each and every one of us (or at least a few of us in combination) can grind an Occupy meeting to a halt if we loudly register our anger at this or that position, or just because we aren’t comfortable with the process.
We love this tension between the crowd and the individual, the empowering solidarity, even if we wouldn’t necessarily call it that with most of our online interactions. But is the individual just as manipulated by the crowd of other individuals as by a corporation or political party or any other institution? In our empowered individualism within a huge community of equally empowered individuals, are we any more savvy? Are we participating in a democratic process through an Occupy protest or is the bogged-down consensus process that Occupy so values an open opportunity for stools from the police to sabotage the movement’s ability to do anything (I’m not saying this actually happened, but given the history of police infiltration in American social movements, it seems quite plausible. Plus the answer to the above question is likely both)? Is an anarchist who is showing influence within a movement and convinces some other people to break windows without larger approval from the entire movement a committed thinker or an agent provocateur?
For that matter, is there any reason to believe any kind of customer review online? This Times piece on professional “reviewers” being paid by self-published authors to give positive reviews, a process that seems to lead to increased sales for many, suggests to me that we, even the most supposedly savvy of us, are as manipulated now as ever. The crowd and the empowered individual does not protect us in any way, in fact, it may make us more vulnerable as our confidence lets our guard down.
On Twitter, Matt Zeitlin (@MattZeitlin) said about the Times article, “Possible future scenario: online customer reviews are ruined, publishers become more authoritative.” I thought that was interesting. Does the fact that anyone can say anything mean that all statements become equally worthless without some kind of expertise to back it up? For that matter, could we see a future where, as a broader society, we see the pendulum swing back toward expertise and institutionalized leadership in books, politics, or all the other ways in which we distrust expertise today?
And while it may seem that comparing political movements and profiteering manipulation on websites are apples and oranges, in my mind they are part of the same phenomenon.
Obviously I could be wrong about all of this, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about in my spare moments for the last few days.