While the shutdown is ostensibly about a border wall, I think it’s useful to remember that infamous statement from Steve Bannon during his brief tenure as White House strategist, in which he called for “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” Yesterday, an anonymous Trump administration official wrote an op-ed in Tucker Carlson’s journalistically-challenged tabloid site The Daily Caller, suggesting that the shutdown “is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.” From TPM:
The op-ed’s author wrote that “many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce” and that “we do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them.”
Ha, right! That’s 800,000 people! Meanwhile, unpaid TSA screeners are calling in sick, aircraft safety inspections are stalled, FDA food inspections have stopped. The list goes on.
In case you missed the news about Joshua Tree National Park, some idiots took advantage of the shutdown to chop down threatened Joshua trees to make illegal trails for off-road vehicles.
There was a debate last week over the suggestion that Elizabeth Warren may face the same “likability” issues as Hillary Clinton. I would argue that the idea of “likability” for a female candidate is problematic, as it fails to address the very real social context in which female authority figures are seen as less likable than their male peers. This piece on NBC does a pretty good job of explaining the issue.
Regarding Warren, I’d suggest that the fair question to ask is not “Is she likable?” but rather, “Can America overcome its sexism and anti-intellectualism enough to vote for her?” I wish I could confidently say yes, but I’m not so sure, despite the success of female candidates in the midterms. The authoritarian wave sweeping the world is very much a reassertion of traditional ideas about masculinity. I say all of this as a big fan of Elizabeth Warren, who has always felt like an alter ego if I’d gone to law school. I even dressed up as her for Halloween once.
This week’s comic is one final holiday classic before I head back into the trenches, although it has been updated to reflect 2018 data about the CEO-to-average worker pay ratio. The original strip from 2011 cited a statistic of 343 to 1. According to this Forbes article citing an AFL-CIO report, the pay gap has widened to 361 to 1. In the 1950s, the ratio was more like 20:1. Thank goodness no economic policies have been enacted to exacerbate this trend!