"corey robin"

Dear Democrats: Americans elect con-artists, not war-heroes

The campaign ad for Retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath's run for Congress in Kentucky is inspiring: a woman who beat all the odds and covered herself in glory, standing against the cowardly Mitch McConnell's hand-picked wormtongue in a state where the GOP stands ready to snatch away health-care from thousands of voters. Read the rest

The Democrats' tax-credits for job training idea has been discredited for decades

Chuck Schumer is trying to reconcile the neoliberal and left wing factions in the Democratic party by offering a slate of policies that are supposed to appeal to both sides: some ($15 minimum wage) are solid, but one recommendation is so face-palmingly dumb that it's almost impossible to believe they made the cut. Read the rest

America's institutions can preserve liberty, but they're also pretty good at destroying it

As trumpism metastasizes, I've taken some comfort in the American system of checks and balances, especially the independent judiciary and the strong Constitutional tradition, which lets impact litigators like EFF and ACLU leverage the courts to overturn the executive branch; I've seen this work many times with EFF and other civil liberties organizations. Read the rest

Universities fought unionization's 'one-size-fits-all' using identical arguments

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that grad students working at private universities can form unions, something that the universities themselves have fought tooth-and-nail for years, with elite universities posted FAQs explaining why trade unionism was a bad match for academic institutions: that each academic institution was unique, and so unlike any other place, that collective bargaining just couldn't work. Read the rest

Reminder: the GOP has been attacking veterans and their families for years

After Donald Trump attacked the family of a dead Army captain, fallen in the field, on the ground that they were Muslims, many were shocked at the new low that the Republican presidential candidate had sunk to. Read the rest

Lessons from the DNC: Ronald Reagan, the Southern Strategy, and "abnormal politics"

John Scalzi makes a very good case that the DNC's major message is that "this year is not about Democrat versus Republican, or conservative versus liberal, it’s about normal versus highly fucking abnormal" -- but Corey Robin persuasively argues that abnormality has been normal for a long time in the GOP: "the rational, prudential conservatives [Democrats] think they know [in the GOP] are in fact ultra-revanchist songstresses of domination and violence." Read the rest

Corporations influence politics, but not in the way you think you do

It's not that they buy politicians (there's some of that), it's that they order their workers donate to, write to, and vote for their preferred politicians, with reprisals for employees who don't toe the company line. Read the rest

State GOPs: no benefits unless you shut up and obey your boss

Writing in the NYT, Corey Robin highlights the frightening trend in state GOP labor laws to deny unemployment benefits to workers who are fired for breaking the "behavioral norms" demanded by employers, from dating workers from rival companies to posting unhappy work-related remarks to the Internet. Conservative douchebag Ben Stein loves these rules, and wants high schools to help instill them by vigorously punishing "talking back" -- if you're subordinate, you need to learn not to be insubordinate.

For more background, see the Economic Policy Institute's 2013 report, The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012. Read the rest

Easiest excuse for taking freedom: security

Here, in concise and precise language, is the best pricking of the security bubble I've seen:

Security is an ideal language for suppressing rights because it combines a universality and neutrality in rhetoric with a particularity and partiality in practice. Security is a good that everyone needs, and, we assume, that everyone needs in the same way and to the same degree. It is “the most vital of all interests,” John Stuart Mill wrote, which no one can “possibly do without.” Though Mill was referring here to the security of persons rather than of nations or states, his argument about personal security is often extended to nations and states, which are conceived to be persons writ large.

Unlike other values — say justice or equality — the need for and definition of security is not supposed to be dependent upon our beliefs or other interests and it is not supposed to favor any one set of beliefs or interests. It is the necessary condition for the pursuit of any belief or interest, regardless of who holds that belief or has that interest. It is a good, as I’ve said, that is universal and neutral. That’s the theory.

The reality, as we have seen, is altogether different. The practice of security involves a state that is rife with diverse and competing ideologies and interests, and these ideologies and interests fundamentally help determine whether threats become a focus of attention, and how they are perceived and mobilized against. The provision of security requires resources, which are not limitless.

Read the rest