Monday, October 5, 2015

Lectiones: Miscellaneous

Stuff you might think about reading:

Meme via Reclaim Reform.
Jersey Jazzman's fond farewell to Obama's worst cabinet appointment, the outgoing Secretary of Education, with a not very cheerful thought about his designated successor, New York State education commissioner John King, on whom I'd like to note the following statement from the New York State United Teachers:
“New York State United Teachers is disappointed in John King’s appointment as acting U.S. Secretary of Education. NYSUT has always considered John King an ideologue with whom we disagreed sharply on many issues during his tenure as the state’s Education Department commissioner. Just last year, our members delivered a vote of no confidence against him and called for his resignation. NYSUT urges its members to call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 — as well as a special White House telephone line dedicated to public comments at 202-456-1111 — to express their displeasure in John King’s appointment.”
And more below the fold!

Image via BrightHub.

Some extremely sharp political writing from the invaluable David Atkins on the "Middle American Radicals" or MARS voters, the tradition of enraged middle class Americans who supported George Wallace and Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan and have now apparently devolved on Donald Trump, and an even finer followup by BooMan, explaining "Why the Democrats can't be the Party of the Left":
a Democratic Party that wants to have a lock on the White House can’t be reflexively anti-Wall Street or pro-worker all the time across the board. It needs to serve more as broker or arbitrator. And this is more true as the other party becomes less of a good faith partner for negotiations. In the recent past, even Republicans as conservative and corrupted by money as Rick Santorum courted union votes and could be relied upon to consider their interests at least some of the time. Today, however, Republicans aren’t reliable allies to unions and they’re not reliable partners with the Chamber of Commerce, either. They won’t pave our roads or pay our bills, so the other party has to step into the breach and govern.
The positive part of this is that it gives the Democrats broad legitimacy as the only responsible and dependable party, and that’s something a majority-coalition party should have and actually needs to be successful.... for reasons of both money and votes, the Democrats can’t just be the workers’ party. But workers’ interests aren’t the only interests that have legitimacy. The Democrats aren’t being insufficiently populist simply because they’re chasing big money. They’re actually trying to fill a breach created when the Republicans abandoned their posts.
The failure of the Republicans to represent anything other than sheer Know-Nothing rage forces Democrats to occupy a bigger tent than we're comfortable with.

But it's not quite true that they represent nobody; it's just not voters but donors, their clients, asking for tax breaks, or support for the rightwing government in Israel, or permits to drill, permits to pollute, permits to poison, or just plain rent—the privatization of government businesses and common goods (education, national defense, and so on) so that they can keep sucking rent out of it. These people are nihilists just as much as the Trump voters, but nihilists with a purpose: not for government action but for government acquiescence.

One thing that occurs to me is that we might work harder at designing our big tent for some kind of coherence; for example to welcome one kind of money more than another, within a generally Whiggish or Progressive tradition: stockmen over bondsmen, in a formulation I worked out a couple of years ago, equity over debt.  Or think of it as productive forces over rent seekers: manufacturers, purveyors of transportation, leisure industries have some interests in common with workers, who are also consumers, and profit from growth (even as growth decreases inequality); rent-seeking operations like the FIRE industries or privatizers don't.

It would mean making less room for the hedge-fund liberals who love the party for its moral relaxation over issues of drugs and sex and stay to talk us into charter schools and perpetual corporate copyrights, but maybe that would be salutory; with more General Motors and less Goldman Sachs and Walt Disney* we might really be more of a working class party than before. Just saying.

*Disney being unique among huge entertainment companies for the way it lives off past glories, continually recycling old concepts it owns instead of buying new ones (isn't a new Mary Poppins about to arrive?) and scrounging for cheap actors and writers and begging government for extensions on the copyright law.

Image via WFMU.

Roy Edroso is back at the Village Voice! And in fine form:
At the National ReviewCharles C.W. Cooke dismissed arguments that less gun-crazy jurisdictions than the U.S. have fewer gun massacres by pleading American exceptionalism, pointing out that guns are so popular here that if the government tried an Australian-style ban, “such a move would lead to massive unrest, widespread civil disobedience, and possibly even a war.” So not only would it be futile — gun owners would kill you. Better to just learn to live with regular massacres, with which your odds are better.
Ah, yes, it's the American way! Right back to the Founding Fathers and their reaction to Shays' Rebellion: instead of getting all panicky and ditching the Articles of Confederation in favor of some new-fangled constitution providing a strong federal government to counter such rebellions, they just sat back and said, "Well, boys will be boys" and held on to the status quo.

No comments:

Post a Comment