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Harold Meyerson at the Washington Post takes on right-to-work laws in The Lansing-Beijing connection:

The gap between U.S. capital income and labor income hasn’t been this great since before the New Deal; why widen it still more? The answer, in Lansing no less than in Beijing, is political. The Republicans who took control of the Michigan statehouse in 2010 understand that Democrats’ foot soldiers come disproportionately from labor. GOP efforts to reduce labor’s clout help Republicans politically far more than they help any Michigan-based businesses or local governments. (The legislation, which Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law Tuesday evening, establishes right-to-work requirements for the public sector, too.)

Those who doubt that the intent of Michigan’s laws is more political than economic should consider the two kinds of unions exempted from its reach: police and firefighter unions. Their contracts are among the costliest that local governments confront: Police and firefighters generally (and rightly) retire earlier than do other public employees, with relatively generous pension benefits. But in Michigan, police and firefighter unions often endorse Republicans. Shrinking their treasuries and political power by subjecting them to right-to-work strictures would only damage Republicans’ electoral prospects (and may well play poorly to voters).

Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post displays another example of her finely honed penchant for upsidedownism in The double-down president:
Boehner’s good-faith attempts at a deal, offering new revenue through reforms as well as leaning toward some limited tax-rate increases, have been met with mockery. Obama’s laughable idea of a balanced deal includes taking control of the debt ceiling and doubling revenue demands, while offering little in the way of spending cuts.
Jules Witcover at the Baltimore Sun asks Is anybody sad that Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate? and wonders whether he irritated Democrats or Republicans more:
The South Carolinian's decision may reflect personal frustration with his ability to move his party more to the right in the Senate. But it also highlights the growing influence of outside voices like Mr. Limbaugh and ultraconservative radio and television commentators and supposedly independent super-PACs in shaping public opinion on right-wing causes.

In a political world increasingly driven by big money, conservative Republican-leaning groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute have until fairly recently led the way as aggressive generators of intellectual content. But effectively selling their ideas to a broader constituency has been another matter. For all of Mr. DeMint's talk of waging "the battle of ideas," his prime contribution in changing hats may be as a salesman, not a philosopher.

Maureen Dowd at The New York Times just can't steer clear of the "slutty" label in A Tale of Two Women, a column that otherwise contains only others' opinions about the controversial film Zero Dark Thirty and the fictional and real version of the woman whose doggedness tracked Osama bin Laden to his Pakistani hideout.  

Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times warns about the lousy record of predictors in the presidential sweepstakes this far out from the next election in :

With the dust barely settled from this year's election, voters are already being asked whom they like for 2016, and on the Democratic side, it's a landslide for Clinton, with 61% of Democratic voters favoring her.

And that has produced a wave of predictions from people who ought to know better.[...]

That doesn't mean the rest of us have to fall for Hillarymania. Yes, she's done a generally estimable job as secretary of State, but the last president to ascend from that springboard was John Quincy Adams. Yes, she'd be the most experienced candidate in the race, but that was true in 2008 too, and she bungled the campaign.

Besides, it's not clear that Clinton wants to run.

Leo Gerard at In These Times writes Dethrone ‘Filibuster King’ Mitch McConnell:
McConnell is the filibuster king, master of all that he and his minority minions can obstruct. With the filibuster, he zealously bludgeoned to death bills passed by a majority in the House and supported by a majority in the Senate. What was intended to be a precision tool McConnell brandished as a machine gun, murdering all majority-supported legislation in sight. Filibuster is derived from the Dutch word for thieving pirates. It is the minority stealing voting rights from the majority.
Dan Kervick at New Economic Perspectives writes Full Employment as the New Progressive Paradigm:
The fact is that the progressive movement in America, at least so far as electoral politics goes, was bumped over the political cliff long ago and is barely hanging on by its fingernails at the edge of the precipice. Ambitious progressive dreams of social transformation have now been replaced almost entirely by scrambling, draining efforts just to slow down the pace at which the plutocracy takes the gains of the past away from us.

We have a Democratic administration that now openly pursues and endorses policies that just a generation ago Republicans would not have dared to propose in public. We are asked to feel grateful for a health care reform plan that entrenches the corporate power of Big Health and is an adaptation of the plan put forward by Republicans in the 80’s. And if Barack Obama—who actually won the election—manages to limit the cuts in Medicare to just $100 billion or so, he’ll count it as a victory. Any plans to expand the role of social insurance programs or the role of democratic government in the equitable provision of public goods and services? Out of the question!

Lynn Stuart Parramore at Alternet writes 6 Things Money Shouldn’t Be Able to Buy:
In Santa Ana, Calif., they call it “pay-to-stay,” a system in which those arrested for relatively minor crimes can pay around $100 a night for a clean, quiet, less-crowded alternative to a squalid county jail. Money can buy you amenities like iPods, exercise bikes, cell phones, and even work-release programs. According to Prison Legal News, a Pasadena program advertises to “clients” in brochures inviting them to “Serve your time in our clean, safe secure facility! ... We are the finest jail in Southern California.” The price tag? $135 per day. [...]

Strapped local and state governments argue that the pay-to-stay programs generate much-needed cash. But what about fairness? Apparently that's expendable.

Leonard Pitts Jr. at The Miami Herald writes that a Good pol should never say never:
Sen. Lindsey Graham says that if Democrats agree to entitlement reform, “I will violate the pledge for the good of the country”—a stirring statement of patriotism and sacrifice that warms your heart like a midnight snack of jalapeño chili fries.

In other words: bull twinkies. If you want the truth of why a trickle of GOP lawmakers is suddenly willing to blaspheme the holy scripture of their faith, it’s simple. The pledge used to be politically expedient. Now it is not.

Mark Bittman at The New York Times writes Pesticides: Now More Than Ever:
After the publication of “Silent Spring,” 50 years ago, we (scientists, environmental and health advocates, birdwatchers, citizens) managed to curb the use of pesticides and our exposure to them—only to see their application grow and grow to the point where American agriculture uses more of them than ever before.

And the threat is more acute than ever. While Rachel Carson focused on their effect on “nature,” it’s become obvious that farmworkers need protection from direct exposure while applying chemicals to crops. Less well known are the recent studies showing that routine, casual, continuing—what you might call chronic—exposure to pesticides is damaging not only to flora but to all creatures, including the one that habitually considers itself above it all: us.

Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine writes Politico Accidentally Exposes Beltway Elite, mocking Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen for revealing their insularity while failing to recognize his own.

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