Sick Leave and Retirement Are Not “Social Issues”

The Post has another Annapolis preview this morning, this time following the “x things to watch for” rubric. In this case, the lucky number is 7.

Pretty much what you’d expect, with Hogan/Busch relationship, Baltimore, and the eight senators and delegates running for other offices in the April primary (not sure why “more than half a dozen” is the reference, you’d think “eight” would be both more precise and use fewer words) on the list. 

No sign of Todd Eberly in this article, but one item on the list makes no sense whatsoever. Number 4 is entitled “Hogan’s response to social issues,” which would be a wonderful topic of discussion. For example, does Larry Hogan support HB16, a bill by Delegate Ric Metzgar that would allow discrimination against LGBT individuals under the guise of “religious freedom”? 

The problem is that two of the three issues Ovetta Wiggins discusses (paid sick leave and retirement plans) are not, under any rational definition, social issues. A June 30 Vanity Fair article entitled “What Will Be The G.O.P.’s New Social Issue?”by the generally annoying Michael Kinsley explicitly distinguished “social issues” from “economic” ones:

Abortion, marriage equality, gun control, drugs, prayer in the schools, affirmative action, the “War on Christmas”: these are all classified as “social issues” (as opposed to economic and foreign-policy issues) . . .

This is a common sense distinction familiar to anyone who’s followed politics for more than, say, ten minutes. Paid sick leave and retirement issues are bread and butter economic issues. They relate to the wages and benefits and conditions of employment of ALL workers. They will be heard by the House Economic Matters Committee in Annapolis, if some external indicator was needed. They may be excellent indicators of something – economic justice/inequality, for instance – but it defies explanation to cast them as “social.” It’s not even remotely a close call.

 Unless, of course, the idea is to use “social” as a signifier for “controversial,” in the hopes of giving encouragement to opponents of the proposals for paid sick leave and worker retirement accounts (“oh, well, it’s one of THOSE issues. They’re SO divisive. Sigh.” I don’t know what Ovetta Wiggins’ views on the subject are, but the Post as an entity is and has been for many years – decades, in fact – openly hostile to labor and workers’ rights. Seen in this view, what we have here – perhaps – is the subtle hand of management tweaking a subhead to disparage and denigrate an issue that is vigorously opposed by the Fred Hiatts and Charles Laneses of PostWorld (not to mention owner Jeff Bezos, but the Post’s elitist hostility to workers rights long predates his arrival, so he gets a pass for this discussion).

It’s kind of sad, but reading the newspaper has become an intelligence agency exercise in decoding the preferences of the people doing the writing. I think I liked it better when our overlords and social betters just whacked us in the head with a 2×4. At least we knew where we stood then.

Annapolis Preview – The Post Needs A New Expert

Apparently, every Washington Post reporter has one name on their Rolodex when it comes time to write an article about Maryland politics. And it turns out to be Todd Eberly, our favorite know-nothing analyst, who always predicts doom for Democrats when they act like, well, Democrats. Today’s otherwise uneventful preview article finds the Post and Eberly warning Democratic legislators against, well, doing their jobs.

A string of overrides could set a confrontational tone for the session. It also would send a clear message to Hogan, whose approval ratings soared last year as he battled cancer while continuing to govern.

“I think it could be telling. It would be a declaration that ‘We are Democrats first,’ ” said Eberly, who called the vetoes a “shot across the bow.”

There’s a lot of moron packed into those two short paragraphs. Where to begin?  “Confrontational tone”? Hogan’s a Republican, while 65% of the House and 70% of the Senate are Democrats. They stand for different things – confrontation is part of the deal in politics. Additionally, why warn Democrats against confrontation, when Hogan gave a highly “confrontational” State of the State speech a year ago? And then puzzled even his own party’s legislators by attempting to sabotage a budget that had been agreed to by all concerned?

Next, is it the Post’s view that because Larry Hogan is personally popular, Democrats should just do what he wants? What other “clear message” might veto overrides carry with them?

Next, Eberly’s nonsensical “we are Democrats first” comment. These are Democratic Party elected officials – how else would he like them to act? Like Republicans? There are some key issues embedded in those Hogan vetoes and the underlying bills. Asset seizure, criminal law changes regarding marijuana paraphernalia, voting rights for ex-felons. Eberly seems to be saying that legislators shouldn’t legislate in ways that Hogan disapproves of – why? Any difference between the various overrides, or is it just a general principle that Democrats aren’t supposed to be Democrats? What a load of horseshit.

And finally, the “shot across the bow” nonsense. When national Republicans filibustered every bill for so many years, was that a shot across the bow? When Maryland Republicans use the filibuster in Annapolis, is that a shot across the bow? Don’t remember those arguments being made by the only known Maryland political analyst used by the media. So why is it a shot across the bow for Democrats, who have the requisite votes within their own party to override vetoes, to use an available means of legislative expression?

I can’t really think of a good answer to any of my questions. And if the answer involves deferring to Hogan because he has cancer, you and I can’t be friends any more. Which you ought to know if you’ve been reading this blog for any significant amount of time. Personal courtesy and expressions of support are all well and good, but cancer is not a political bargaining chip to be traded upon. Politics is making real, hard choices about big issues, and no vote on policy – ever – should be made out of sympathy. 43,000 ex-felons shouldn’t have the question of their voting rights decided because Larry Hogan got sick. Which I really shouldn’t have to explain to a professor of political science.

I’m done. A little too dizzy and out of breath for a mic drop but I feel better now. To the Washington Post – please do a Google search and find someone else to discuss Maryland politics. My future mental health thanks you in advance.