huffingtonpost.com — Back in March of 1984, the owner of the Baltimore Colts moved Baltimore's beloved football team to Indianapolis. He said he wouldn't do it, but, in the middle of the night, 12 Mayflower moving trucks were hired to tear out the region's heart and soul under cover of darkness. It was incredibly unpopular, extremely underhanded, and it devastated the people. It even brought Baltimore's mayor to tears. What's happening in Michigan this week is no less deceptive and devastating. The Republican legislature is ramming unpopular bills down the people's throats. That they're doing it in this murky, under-cover-of-darkness lame duck session is evidence enough of how unpopular it is. First it was the right to work law, and now it's bills restricting women's freedom to control their bodies and health care choices. First the workers, now the women -- we can only wonder whose rights they'll pile into their moving vans next.
truthdig.com — Is there a wave of nostalgia for the 1930s? I wouldn’t have thought so, at least not until the Republicans of Michigan passed the bucket of anti-union legislation last week. The procedure they used to pass "right-to-work" was pretty sneaky: no hearings, no public readings, voting by a lame-duck legislature and signature by a governor who had given the impression that such doings and law were not part of his agenda. I was surprised at what Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, and his boys did. I was even more surprised when I found myself humming "Which Side Are You On?"—Florence Reece’s labor anthem of 1931.
washingtonpost.com — Are you as sick of the “fiscal cliff” as I am? Actually, that’s a trick question. You couldn’t possibly be. Having to read and hear the constant blather about this self-inflicted “crisis” is an onerous burden, I’ll admit. But just imagine having to produce that blather. Imagine trying to come up with something original and interesting to say about a “showdown” that has all the drama and excitement of, well, a budget dispute. Here is one observation about the fiscal cliff that is based not on guesswork but on empirical fact: The politicians who brought us to this precipice are the same politicians we’re counting on to keep us from tumbling into the void. This suggests to me that if you’ve got a parachute, now might be a good time to strap it on.
washingtonpost.com — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has — or had — a quirky slogan to describe his governing philosophy: “relentless positive action.” His approach, as I heard him describe it at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, was to find practical solutions and avoid unnecessary partisan division. Relentless positive action, he kept repeating. The mantra sounded more Dale Carnegie than Karl Rove, but it was goofily charming. Not anymore. Now it seems more like a sad commentary on the hopelessly fractured state of our politics.
talkingpointsmemo.com — Remember that scene in Star Wars when they’re in the garbage compactor on the Death Star? Now imagine it’s John Boehner in the garbage compactor. Now imagine John can’t get through to C3P0. Boehner is still at least nominally fighting over the tax hike for income over $250,000 a year, a battle that’s clearly already been lost. It’s not crystal clear to me whether this is Boehner’s own viewpoint, to the extent something like that could be identified, or simply a measure of his weak position in the face of House GOP fire-eaters. But the difference may not matter. As Boehner digs in, McConnell is now openly working against his position, trying to organize a tactical retreat on the tax question and thus leaving Boehner increasingly exposed.
commondreams.org — We’ve seen how Washington insiders write the rules of politics and the economy to protect powerful special interests, but now as we enter the holiday season, and a month or so after the election, we’re getting a refresher course in just how that inside game is played, gifts and all. In this round, Santa doesn’t come down the chimney — he simply squeezes his jolly old self through the revolving door. It’s an old story, the latest chapter of which came to light a few days ago with a small item in Politico: “Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading ‘global health policy’ at Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group.” A familiar name. We had talked about Liz Fowler on Bill Moyers Journal in 2009, during the early stages of Obama’s health care reform. She was at the center of the action, sitting behind Montana Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee at committee hearings.
boldprogressives.org — Corporate lobbyists and their allies on Capitol Hill have a terrible new idea: hiking the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. This would save the federal government about $5.7 billion a year, but cost seniors $11.4 billion over the same period. There are a better ways to cut Medicare costs, and they wouldn’t cost a single penny of anyone’s benefits. Here’s three possible choices for how we can do that.
prospect.org — A few years ago, somebody (forgive me for forgetting who it was) suggested that newspapers should have a daily feature called "Things That Are Still True," which would remind readers of important facts that are still important even if they haven't generated news in the sense of being new. In that spirit, during the current budgetary debate it's a good time to remember what I think is one of the three or four most enduring and important facts about American politics and public opinion. Almost half a century ago, Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril argued that Americans as a whole were ideologically conservative but operationally liberal, meaning that in broad terms they like "small government," but when one gets specific it turns out they like almost everything government does, and want it to do even more of it.
alternet.org — The lightning-quick adoption of union-busting ‘right-to-work’ legislation in Michigan this week by an outgoing, lame-duck Legislature was a political coup led by vengeful Republicans as payback for their corporate patrons, including the billionaire oil baron Koch brothers and their front group, Americans for Prosperity. There is no other way to interpret the events of the past few days other than to see it in the starkest of Hobbesian terms: while the state’s GOP still held legislative power, it enacted a bill to undermine the fundraising ability of organized labor—an obsession among right-wingers dating to the 1940s South, when states enacted similar laws to prevent organized labor from helping civil rights activists.
jaredbernsteinblog.com — Why is it that the one person/public institution that’s bringing real grown-up concern and action to the current economy and the plight of the people in it is an unelected body? How we really devolved to the point where so many of our elected officials are so enthralled to vested interests that their jobs are no longer to serve the vast majority of us who depend on a tight job market? Instead, to keep the bucks rolling in, they choose to serve Grover, the Kochs et al, lobbying for tax cuts, corporate breaks, less regulation, and so on, leaving it to a dwindling band of the truly concerned and Fed Reserve technocrats to worry about jobs, wages, middle class incomes and poverty. So, I’m glad Ben Bernanke is standing tall, doing his best to keep the focus on growth and jobs. But the fact that he’s virtually alone in that pursuit is what’s so disturbing.