1. Ideological consistency, rational beliefs

    Let me get this straight. The war on poverty hasn’t completely eliminated poverty. According to conservatives, this means it’s an abject failure and we should abolish all anti-poverty programs.

    Yet the war on terror hasn’t completely eliminated terrorism and is unlikely (like most wars on concepts) to ever do so. According to conservatives, this means we just haven’t thrown enough resources (including human lives) at the problem and we should double down on our anti-terror efforts.

  2. image: Download

  3. Have we finally reached peak GOP?

  4. Context.

    Happy Presidents’ Day!

  5. "All for ourselves, and nothing for other People"

    One consequence of the globalization of the economy is the rise of new governing institutions to serve the interests of private transnational economic power. Another is the spread of the Third World social model, with islands of enormous privilege in a sea of misery and despair. A walk through any American city gives human form to the statistics on quality of life, distribution of wealth, poverty and employment…Increasingly, production can be shifted to high-repression, low-wage areas and directed to privileged sectors in the global economy. Large parts of the population thus become superfluous for production and perhaps even as a market, unlike the days when Henry Ford realized that he could not sell cars unless his workers were paid enough to buy cars themselves.

    Noam Chomsky, "Notes on NAFTA: ‘The Masters of Mankind’" (pdf) March 29, 1993 (my emphasis)

    Two recent pieces of evidence for Chomsky’s predictions:

    1. The Wall Street Journal quotes Marx (!):

    Lately, the U.S. recovery has been displaying some Marxian traits. Corporate profits are on a tear, and rising productivity has allowed companies to grow without doing much to reduce the vast ranks of the unemployed

    2. And hey, would ya look at that:

    The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

    In 2012, the top 5 percent of earners were responsible for 38 percent of domestic consumption, up from 28 percent in 1995, the researchers found.

    Even more striking, the current recovery has been driven almost entirely by the upper crust, according to Mr. Fazzari and Mr. Cynamon. Since 2009, the year the recession ended, inflation-adjusted spending by this top echelon has risen 17 percent, compared with just 1 percent among the bottom 95 percent.

    Businesses that primarily serve lower- and middle-income people are feeling the pinch. Wal-mart, for example, has experienced a decrease in profits due to federal cutbacks in aid for the middle class (letting a temporary cut in payroll taxes expire) and the poor (cutting food stamps—about 20% of its customers use food stamp.)

    Millions of blue- and white-collar jobs have been shipped overseas for the past couple of decades. Now the middle class is shrinking as a market. The thing is, none of this was inevitable. It has mostly been the result of government policies that were designed by and cater to the interests of the 1%.

    I’ll end by quoting the first paragraph of Chomsky’s Nation article (my emphasis):

    Throughout history, Adam Smith observed, we find the workings of “the vile maxim of the masters of mankind:” “All for ourselves, and nothing for other People.” He had few illusions about the consequences. The invisible hand, he wrote, will destroy the possibility of a decent human existence “unless government takes pains to prevent” this outcome, as must be assured in “every improved and civilized society,” It will destroy community, the environment and human values generally and even the masters themselves
    How long, exactly, do you think the economy can grow based on the 1%’s appetite for luxury goods? How long until they destroy themselves with their own greed?
  6. The lightbulb moment

    So the workers at Volkswagen Chattanooga voted 712-626 against joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) tonight. What was interesting about this case is that Volkswagen was interested in forming a German-style works-council with employees there. One condition of accomplishing that was instituting a union at the plant. 

    Republicans heard about what was going on and went berserk, even threatening to cut off subsidies to VW. That’s how anti-labor these shitheads are: they’d rather risk having the plant leave the state than allow workers to form a union.

    And yet:

    …[M]any of the plant’s workers are themselves conservatives — and have started to wonder why the politicians who represent them oppose their right to organize. John Wright, 43, is a test driver at the plant and identifies as a right-leaning independent. He says he makes between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, and supports a wife and three young daughters. When Corker — who takes more money from the securities and investment industry than any other — came back to Nashville to voice his opposition to the UAW, Wright was puzzled.

    It made me really start thinking about my position, when it comes to political parties, because I can’t for the life of me understand why the Republicans and big money are coming against us so bad. To me, they’re attacking the average worker," Wright said, in the hours before the election results were announced. "To have politicians think that there’s nothing more important than coming down and picking on the little guy because he wants a union, there’s a national debt we’ve got to control, we have foreign policy things that we elect them to go up there to do, but you have to fly home for an emergency meeting because I want a union?"

  7. Jindal and his allies want the public to see them as entirely sincere. They’re not trying to crush teachers’ unions, and they’re not on a privatization crusade, intent on destroying public institutions. They just want to help low-income children, even spending public funds to advance their goal.

    But their purported concern for the poor is literally unbelievable. When the issue is health care and housing, Jindal and other conservatives say struggling families should rely on the free market and their capacity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When the issue is education, suddenly the right cares deeply about disadvantaged children and is eager to “help.”

    When Jindal and other school voucher advocates are ready to assist “poor and disadvantaged” families in ways that don’t undermine public schools and teachers’ unions, I’ll gladly revisit the debate. Until then, this looks a lot like a scam.

  8. It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
    — Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, 1935
  9. 21:22

    Notes: 1992

    Reblogged from questionall

    Tags: politicsmichel foucault

    Your question is: why am I so interested in politics? But if I were to answer you very simply, I would say this: why shouldn’t I be interested? That is to say, what blindness, what deafness, what density of ideology would have to weigh me down to prevent me from being interested in what is probably the most crucial subject to our existence, that is to say the society in which we live, the economic relations in which it functions, and the system of power which defines the regular forms and the regular permissions and prohibitions of our conduct. The essence of our life consists after all, of the political functioning of the society in which we find ourselves. So I can’t answer the question of why should I be interested; I could only answer it by asking why shouldn’t I be interested? Not to be interested in politics, thats what constitutes a problem. You should ask someone who is not interested in politics; “Why, damn it, are you not interested?
    — Michel Foucault, The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: On Human Nature, 2006 (via thesubversivesound)

    (Source: rabeevstheworld)

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Al Sharpton Quote

'Shared sacrifice' my ass


    Al Sharpton Quote

    'Shared sacrifice' my ass

  11. After making a big deal of publicly supporting the Affordable Care Act, Walmart—the nation’s largest private sector employer—is joining the ranks of companies seeking to avoid their obligation to provide employees with health insurance as required by Obamacare.

    It was not all that many years ago that Walmart announced, in response to harsh criticism over the low pay provided to Walmart ‘associates’, that the company would provide a healthcare benefit to its part-time, low earning employees. The uncharacteristically generous nod to worker needs was short lived as the company partially pulled back on the commitment in 2011, citing premium rate increases that Walmart deemed beyond their capacity to pay.

    Now, Huffington Post is reporting that the party is over for many more existing Walmart employees, along with all employees hired after February 1, 2012 that the company can classify as “part-time.”

    According to the 2013 Walmart “Associate’s Benefit Book”— the manual for low-level Walmart employees—part-time workers who got their jobs during or after 2011 will now be subject to an “Annual Benefits Eligibility Check” each August.

    Employees hired after Feb. 1, 2012, who fail to average the magic 30-hours per week requiring a company to provide a healthcare benefit, will lose their healthcare benefits on the following January. Part-time workers hired after Jan. 15, 2011, but before Feb. 1, 2012, will be able to hang onto their Walmart health care benefit if they work at least 24 hours a week.

    Anyone hired before 2011 will not be cut off from the company provided health insurance.

    Of course, Walmart carefully controls employee work schedules and will have the opportunity to design worker hours in a manner that will keep employees at a level below the threshold required to accomplish company healthcare benefits pursuant to the law.

    While there have been increasing reports of American employers reacting to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act by making plans to cut employee work hours so that these companies may deny health insurance as a benefit of employment—particularly in the restaurant and fast food industries—it appears that Walmart has been planning this move all along.

    If they can get away with it, companies like Walmart will always cut hours in order to get around changes in the law. Unfortuantely, I don’t know of any way to prevent them from doing this.

    (Source: sarahlee310)

  12. jakke asked: Assuming that Democratic and Republican voting blocs are pretty much firming up (to the extent that there aren't going to be changes to the federal balance of power any time soon) what do you think this means for getting legislation passed and what will that legislation look like?

    I’d say immigration reform is definitely going to be on the table. The Obama administration seems determined to pursue it. And Republicans have electoral incentive to play along. The GOP will have a hard time in Florida and the southwest (which is slowly shifting from pure red to purpleish) if they can’t win a bigger share of the Latin@ vote.

    But I doubt it will be as comprehensive as the politicians are making it sound at this point. Blanket amnesty is verboten. I’d guess that some sort of pathway to legal residency will be set up for the most sympathetic undocumented immigrants, like people whose parents brought them here without papers and those in the armed forces. Something like the DREAM Act would certainly pass this time around.  Such measures would be slightly easier for Republicans to sell to their base.

    I’m pretty sure fillibuster reform in the Senate will be on the agenda given recent remarks from Harry Reid. Legislators are very conscious of the fact that Congress’s approval rating is at an all-time low and that the public views it as dysfunctional. Many major bills have been blocked in the past four years or so, which makes them seem like a do-nothing Congress. Not a good image in the midst of a recession.

    I assume Republicans will be united against reform since they’re almost exclusively the ones who’ve been abusing the filibuster. But it looks like Reid has enough votes for rule changes come January. If this happens, we will likely see more legislation getting passed.

    I’d be surprised if a jobs bill and a housing bill to address foreclosures weren’t introduced by Dems this upcoming term. Congress needs to demonstrate that it’s actually doing something to help Americans who have been hurt by the recession. Republicans, of course, will probably oppose such legislation because shrinking the federal deficit is suddenly very important to them. Whether the Dems will have the necessary votes in the end will depend on what the bills look like.

    I bet Obama will introduce some sort of environmental legislation during his final term. I hate to say it, but another Irene or two over the next couple of years (which is likely) would increase the chances of passage. The GOP will have a very hard time continuing to argue that climate change isn’t real to a public that sees houses and piers being swept away by floods on the evening news. Ditto if winters continue to be so temperate and droughts keep affecting crops.

    Last thing, which may be bullshit: it’s true that Democrats don’t have a majority in the House, but I think they feel like they gained the support of the public to govern. That psychological edge doesn’t sound like much, but I think it’ll factor into how strongly Democrats will fight for what they want.

  13. jakke:

    This article kind of made my evening. The four-part plan (written by some conservative author I’ve never heard of):

    1. Tougher sentences for gang members
    2. Less unions
    3. No more teachers’ unions
    4. More charismatic candidates

    So not only is any talk of a ~Republican civil war~ totally bullshit because everyone is still agreeing on the same set of principles but also it’s pretty clear that this is how Democrats can keep campaigning on a gradually eroding status quo and getting elected because holy eff if a key plank your opponent’s strategy is literally just “more charismatic candidates” then the bar is pretty damn low.

    Hahaha they’re so screwed.

    I have seen similar articles and ideas from conservatives since the day after the election. The ones who have been saying there’s some sort of civil war among conservatives have largely been moderates and liberals (wishful thinking, probably). Conservatives truly believe they’re completely right about everything and that what they need to do is figure out how to trick convince all the folks out there who didn’t vote for them.

  14. vickiexz:

    PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical

    Once upon a time, we know, there really were knights and castles and quests, and maps whose blank spaces warned of dragons and magic. That being so, a medieval fantasy novel only needs to convince us that the old myths were true; that wizards and witches existed, and that monsters really did populate the wilds. Everything else that’s dissonant with modern reality – the clothes, the customs, the social structure – must therefore constitute a species of historical accuracy, albeit one that’s liberally seasoned with poetic license, because that vague, historical blueprint is what we already have in our heads.

    But what happens when our perception of historical accuracy is entirely at odds with real historical accuracy? What happens when we mistake our own limited understanding of culture – or even our personal biases – for universal truths? What happens, in other words, when we’re jerked out of a story, not because the fantastic elements don’t make sense, but because the social/political elements strike us as being implausible on the grounds of unfamiliarity?

    The answer tends to be as ugly as it is revealing: that it’s impossible for black, female pirates to exist anywhere, that pixies and shapeshifters are inherently more plausible as a concept than female action heroes who don’t get raped, and that fairy tale characters as diverse as Mulan, Snow White and Captain Hook can all live together in the modern world regardless of history and canon, but a black Lancelot in the same setting is grossly unrealistic. On such occasions, the recent observation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz that “Motherfuckers will read a book that’s 1/3rd elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they (white people) think we’re taking over” is bitingly, lamentably accurate.

    Foz Meadows is fabulous, also I think I could read about real life female pirates all damn day.

    This whole piece is well researched too, so it should come in handy the next time you hear a straight/cis/white/male nerd say something problematic (and since they really seem to enjoy spewing toxic nonsense, that will probably be soon).

  15. The so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws — they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.
    — President Obama • During a speech in Michigan today, clearly laying out his views on a new law that will make Michigan the 24th “right to work” state in the country. Michigan’s House of Representatives is expected to review the bill on Tuesday, and Gov. Rick Snyder could sign it into law by the end of the day. Massive protests took place at the capital building, and union workers opposed to its passage say they’ll be back tomorrow. source (via shortformblog)