Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, December 26th, 2010.

Moonlight, Magnolias, and Mothballs

Obama Administration

E.J. Dionne reminds us that April 12, 2011, will mark the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War. Except countless gasbags to declare to us that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights, which is hogwash.

The usual argument that the war was not fought over slavery hinges on the fact that the northern states went to war to preserve the Union, and Lincoln himself declared that he was willing to protect slavery in the southern states if that would keep southern states in the Union.

However, it is a bare-assed, unadulterated fact that the only reason several slave states tried to secede and form a new confederacy was to protect the institution of slavery, a point Dionne makes very clearly. Any other “causes” the confederates thought up were clear afterthoughts.

So South Carolina started the war by firing on a federal military installation, Fort Sumter, leaving Lincoln little choice but to send troops to put down the rebellion. And ever after, generations of southern whiners have called this the beginning of the War of Northern Aggression. And the culture of denial and victimhood continues to this day.

Other stuff to read — another good article on the reason global climate change is causing colder winters in some places (like here). Steve Benen explains why Florida is screwed.

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The GOP: Keeping Workers in Their Place

Obama Administration

I hope all of you had a lovely Christmas Day. Now, back to work.

Naftali Bendavid writes in the Wall Street Journal that when Republicans take control of the House, they will be changing the name of the Education and Labor Committee to the Education and Workforce Committee. Apparently, Republicans so hate labor unions they cannot even abide the word “labor.”

This committee changes names every time control of Congress passes to the other party. It had been Education and Labor for a long time, but in 1994 the Newt Gingrich House changed the name to Economic and Educational Opportunities, thereby eliminating both work and labor. But no one liked that name, so later Republicans changed it to Education and Workforce. But when the Dems took Congress back in 2006, it became Education and Labor again. And round and round we go.

Bendavid writes,

“Workforce” is a term employers are likely to use, while “labor” is more evocative of the union movement—after all, they call it the American Federation of Labor. … “Education and the Workforce was the name selected by Republicans more than a decade ago to reflect the committee’s broad jurisdiction over polices that affect American students, workers, and retirees,” explained Alexa Marrero, a spokeswoman for committee Republicans.

And that’s it — “workforce” is a term employers are likely to use; it is the mass of people who are employed or employable; a resource for employers. However, “labor” can also refer to all people within an economy who work for wages, not just organized unions. In that usage it is a synonym for “workforce.”

So what’s the big deal? IMO Republicans see a “workforce” as something docile and exploitable. A “workforce” doesn’t stand up for itself; it meekly takes its paychecks and does what it’s told.

But labor has muscles. It is uppity and makes demands. Can’t have that.

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