Socially Responsible Companies: be Socially Responsible

Erik LoomisI like this strategy from the Teamsters, handing out flyers outside of Chipotle because one of their big tomato contractors refuses to recognize IBT organization of their processing plant. Particularly when dealing with the out of the way parts of the supply chain where there’s no good public way to raise awareness, such as get journalists to pay attention and write a story like this, targeting the big buyers makes a ton of sense. Moreover, if Chipotle claims to be socially responsible, prove it. So often in the corporate world “social responsibility” means “making consumers feel good about their issue of the day,” thus GMO based activism. But actual social responsibility means treating workers with dignity throughout the supply chain. Chipotle needs to step to the plate here and pressure the contractor to recognize the Teamsters.

—Eric Loomis
Pressure the Big Companies on Conditions in Their Supply Chains

Thomas Frank Is Too Nice to the Democrats

Listen, Liberal - Thomas FrankI just got Listen, Liberal, Thomas Frank’s new book. I have only read about a quarter of it and I don’t intend for this to be a review. It is, well, a Thomas Frank book. He’s such a fine writer and polemicist. The way he builds an argument is thrilling. It’s easy to get taken away in the same way that you are by a Martin Luther King Jr speech. But there is, I think a fundamental problem with his argument: he still blames the economic conservatism of this country primarily on the Republicans.

Don’t get me wrong, mostly the Republican are the direct cause. But the issue is kind of like when Derek Bentley told Christopher Craig, “Let him have it!” In that case, Craig pulled the trigger, but the court (incorrectly in my opinion), found Bentley guilty of murder and hanged him. The Democrats have been Derek Bentley. Throughout most of my life, the Democrats have moved to the right on economic issues. This has pushed the entire political playing field to the right. And this is not surprising. The DLC and similarly minded conservative Democrats wanted to do just that. It wasn’t about winning elections, it was about changing policy.

But the conservative turn of the Democrats started long before the DLC and Bill Clinton. It was not Reagan who started the deregulation trend in this country; it was Jimmy Carter. Republicans like to paint him as an ultra-liberal, but that is based upon nothing but the Iranian hostage crisis. Of course, today, Carter is extremely liberal. It just goes to show you what happens when the liberal party in a two-party country starts lifting policy from the conservatives. I don’t blame Carter; I think he was and is an honorable and decent man. But he was the start of our big right turn.

And think about that. The Democratic Party turned to the right because of two southern Democratic presidents. So by the time we had a chance to elect a president after an economic crisis unlike any in my lifetime, the “liberal” northern president can’t even think outside of the box created by those earlier southerners. Remember how people talked about how “liberal” Gore was? I remember when he ran in 1988 and he was far too conservative for any Democrats outside the south. Today: he’s a liberal hero.

I think that a kind of con has been done to liberals in this country. You see it most clearly on MSNBC (the small part of it that is still liberal). Liberalism becomes redefined as a subset of its former self: social liberalism. I think this was meant to just take economics out of the question. We would all just meet in that great Thomas Friedman center because for a certain class of people, it isn’t a question of opinion, but of Truth™. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, the Republicans felt the need for their own economic turf. So they moved further to the right (today into a fantasy land). So now the center is considered liberal, and someone who would have been called just a Democrat in 1965 chooses to call himself a socialist today. It’s a bad situation. I don’t think that Obama is as conservative as he is because he’s reasoned himself there; I think he’s that conservative because it doesn’t even occur to him that any more liberal position is possible. (I think showing that something else is possible is the greatest favor that that hippy socialist Sanders has done for the country and the party and, hopefully, Hillary Clinton.)

I suspect that Thomas Frank would agree with everything that I just said. But what I don’t think he fully comprehends is that the Democrats really didn’t give the Republicans any choice. There was never going to be a Kumbaya moment where the Republicans met with the Democrats in the middle. That’s not the way that politics works. Good lord, a third of this country is still trying to litigate the Civil War!

Of course, Thomas Frank knows who he’s writing for: liberals. And I’m not sure that most of us are ready to admit just how culpable we’ve been for the mess that this country has become on economic issues. They hanged Derek Bentley. They didn’t hang Christopher Craig, who was released from prison in 1991 and was still alive as recently as 2006.

Anniversary Post: Daffy Duck Is Born!

Daffy DuckI’ve gotten rather tired of doing anniversary posts. So tomorrow, I’m going to start doing at least some fake anniversary posts: things that didn’t happen, so far as I know. That doesn’t mean I’m going to do them every day. But it will make it easier when I get a bad day. Not that tomorrow is a bad day! I haven’t looked. Anyway, I’m rerunning last year’s anniversary post, because it deals with a really important event. At least to me. Daffy Duck!

On this day in 1937, the first appearance of Daffy Duck was made in the Looney Tunes short, “Porky’s Duck Hunt.” In those early shorts, Daffy is a much more likable character. He’s kind of like Bugs Bunny, but absolutely insane. He’s also a lot more like a real duck. I find him quite charming. And this sets up a long collaboration with Porky Pig. Although in subsequent shorts they are more friends or, as was more true later on, Daffy was often trying to con the trusting Porky. My favorite is “Fool Coverage” where Daffy sells Porky accident insurance that will pay a million dollars, “Provided the accident occurs as the result of a stampede of wild elephants in your own living room, on the Fourth of July — of any year — between the hours of 3:55 and 4:00 pm, during a hailstorm.” Which of course is exactly what happens.

Daffy Duck V 1.0

Anyway, here is the short that started it all:

Daffy Duck V 2.0

There is a middle period where Daffy is still kind of duck like, and still mostly insane. “Yankee Doodle Daffy” is a good example of it:

Daffy Duck V 3.0

Later, the portrayal of Daffy Duck turned very meta — with Daffy constantly jealous of Bugs Bunny. These are still quite good, but I don’t really like the two characters being pitted against each other. It doesn’t show either of them in the best light. My favorite later Daffy Duck cartoon is “Duck Amuck” where he is all alone. Or is he?

Happy birthday Daffy Duck!

See Also

Joe Miller Joke Book
Bugs: Rabbit or Hare? (One of my favorite and most popular articles!)