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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020 : (None)
Political Wire logo Americans Have Little Faith In the CDC
The Covid Conversation Is Changing
Trump Schedules Rallies In Iowa and Georgia
Trump Will Headline House GOP Fundraiser
Manchin Wants $2 Trillion Cut from Reconciliation Bill
Wisconsin Senate Candidate Charged with Four Felonies

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  For Every Action...
      •  Unemployment Benefits End for Millions
      •  Abbott Is Sinking
      •  One Week to Go for Newsom Recall
      •  Proposed Colorado Map Is...Interesting
      •  (Back to the) Back to the Future: Reader Predictions, Part I--Donald Trump
      •  Happy Labor Day! (Answers)

For Every Action...

There is, of course, an equal and opposite reaction. We're not sure that quite works in this case, but it's not far off. Now that the Texas abortion law has taken (temporary?) effect, and the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen (temporarily?) not to get involved, there has been much maneuvering on both sides of the issue.

Let's start with those who are pro-choice or who, at very least, don't care for what Texas is doing:

  • The Department of Justice: AG Merrick Garland is still evaluating his options, but he announced on Monday that anyone who engages in acts of violence against abortion providers/seekers will be dealt with harshly. He also said his department is looking at ways to challenge the new Texas law.

  • Private Businesses: Broadly speaking, the response from major corporations has been muted, primarily because they don't want to touch this hot-hot-hot button issue with a 10-foot pole, but also because they suspect it's a short-term issue and they can wait it out. We'll see if the Switzerland impersonation works.

    This is not to say that no business interests have taken a stand, however. The rideshare services Uber and Lyft have both announced that they will cover legal fees for any driver who is popped under the Texas law. The dating apps Bumble and Match have created funds to help Texas women get abortions. And GoDaddy has shut down at least one abortion-tip website that was being hosted on its servers.

  • States and Localities: The city of Portland, which is quite lefty, looks like they will be the first blue city/state to take action against Texas. The city council will vote tomorrow to ban all city officials from doing business with people or companies in Texas.

    More broadly, there are now dozens of op-eds out there like this one. It argues that blue states should empower citizens to sue other citizens for $10,000 if they are unvaccinated. You can replace "are unvaccinated" with any of a dozen other things that Democrats don't approve of, but the bottom line is that a protest/response like this would be very popular with many Democratic voters. We will be surprised if one or more very blue states don't take the plunge.

  • 666 Problems: That's 567 more problems than Jay-Z has, so you know it's serious (note: that link is NSFW). Anyhow, the Satanic Temple is preparing a suit that argues that the Texas law interferes with their ability to practice their religion, the same way that drug laws interfere with certain Native American religions. This is obviously a ready-made punchline for the late night hosts, but the Satanists do make a pretty good point about Texas' alleged commitment to religious liberty for all.

And then there are those who are anti-abortion:

  • Red States: Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, and South Dakota have announced that they plan to adopt laws modeled on the Texas law, while Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio haven't said it openly, but are expected to give it a shot as well. Kentucky and Louisiana have Democratic governors, so maybe those states won't make it work, but the other six probably will.

  • Aspiring Republican Presidents: Two of the states listed above, namely Florida and South Dakota, are led by folks who think of themselves as 2024 presidential or vice-presidential candidates, namely Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem. They are expected to be the loudest advocates for Texas copycatting because they know it will thrill the base. Obviously, the rule of law, and any costs to their respective states, be damned, because all that matters is the brass ring. More broadly, it's looking like support for the Texas abortion law is going to become the new litmus test for who is and who is not a worthy Republican, possibly even more important than the other litmus test, which is "Was the election stolen or not?"

    Moderate former Republican representative Charlie Dent believes that the Republican Party is making a huge mistake if it goes all-in on a far-right, minority-held position on abortion, as they will take a beating in the midterms. He specifically sees a more intense version of what happened with the Terri Schiavo situation in 2005, after which voters turned away from the GOP in droves. Dent may be right about this, but today's Republicans worry almost exclusively about making it through the primaries, and abortion is likely to help them there.

And finally, some individuals don't seem to have much of an opinion at all:

  • Donald Trump: Trump made the current state of affairs possible by appointing three anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. And his base, on the whole, is pretty happy about what Texas is doing. However, when he's been asked about the current situation, he has prevaricated and said...basically nothing. For example: "I will tell you this, we do have a Supreme Court that's a lot different than it was. Before it was acting very strangely and I think probably not in the interests of our country. I'm studying it right now. I know that the ruling was very complex and also probably temporary."

    Trump does not care one bit about abortion, per se (unless he gets some temporary girlfriend pregnant, in which case a quick trip to a blue state will solve the problem), and he also doesn't want to take a strong stand on one side of the issue, only to find the ground shifting beneath him. So, he bloviates. Either that, or he's losing marbles at a rapid pace, and is even less able to express himself than he was six months ago.

What it boils down to is that battle lines are forming. The Republicans wanted to "unsettle" what had been a "settled" issue, and they have succeeded. That success could prove to be the key to the 2022 midterms, one way or the other. If abortion becomes the issue in 2022, that might just be enough to save the House for the Democrats. In any event, they have every incentive to keep this issue alive and in the news until Nov. 2022. It is a LOT better than Afghanistan. As we have pointed out dozens of times before, in politics, a week is a long time. (Z)

Unemployment Benefits End for Millions

In just about the worst possible commemoration of Labor Day that one could imagine, a lot of out-of-work Americans have now been cut off from unemployment benefits. Nearly 8 million people lost all benefits as of Monday, while another 2.7 million lost the $300/week the federal government was providing but will still have state benefits. Those 10.7 million folks join another 2.7 million who were cut off earlier in the summer.

At the moment, many jobs are available. That number stands at roughly 10 million, which is the highest it's ever been in the United States. However, the states that cut off unemployment benefits back in June or July did not see a tidal wave of job applicants, and it's unlikely that the states that cut off unemployment this week will have a different experience. Many people are delaying their return to the job market due to concerns about health risks, or lack of child care, or lack of transportation, or a desire to change careers/go back to school, or a simple unwillingness to "settle" for the first paycheck that presents itself. It is also clear that some workers will never return to the job market, entering into an earlier-than-planned retirement.

And so, it is going to take a while to see exactly what the impact of the canceled benefits on the job market will be. It will take longer still to see how that shapes the overall economy, and even longer than that to see how the political prospects of the two parties are affected. Oh, and if the Democrats pass the two infrastructure bills, and then dump hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy for construction projects, childcare, education, rural broadband, green technology, etc., then everything gets even more complicated. Point is: We'll all have to live with uncertainty for now. (Z)

Abbott Is Sinking

Roughly monthly, at least while school is in session, the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, Austin, conducts a poll of Texas voters. And one of the things that gets polled is the governor, whoever they may be. Since taking office, Gov. Greg Abbott has recorded an approval rating as high as 56% (in April 2020) and a disapproval as low as 28% (in January 2020). Those halcyon days are behind him, however, at least for now. In the latest from the Texas Politics Project, the Governor is underwater, with just 41% of Texans approving of his job performance, and 50% disapproving. In addition, 52% of Lone Star State residents say that Texas is going in the wrong direction. That's the worst number that has been recorded since the pollster began asking that question back in 2008.

As you can imagine, this is the worst poll Abbott has gotten during his tenure. However, it does not appear to be an outlier. The second-worst poll he has gotten was...the last one. And the third-worst poll was...the one before that. So, there's a pretty clear trendline here.

It is clear that Abbott is being dinged badly for his pandemic "management," such as it is. In that way, he's having the same polling experience as his brother-in-arms (or, maybe, his brother-in-no-shots-in-arms) Ron DeSantis. These are fellows are ostensibly shrewd political operators, and we simply cannot understand how they did not see this coming. With many culture wars battles, like ones about Dr. Seuss books, or Starbucks coffee cups, or Mr. Potato Head, or kneeling football players, there is no real victim. And for others, like ones about trans athletes, the victims are not Republican voters. But the victims of pandemic-as-culture-wars are overwhelmingly Republican. Of course there was going to be a backlash, even among the base.

Will Abbott recover? That is a very good question, and one where we have no clue as to the answer. There's the pandemic, of course, but there's also the new voting law, which Abbott will sign into law today. And, of course, there's also the abortion law. And the "anyone can carry a concealed handgun" law that took effect yesterday. Will these rally the troops back to the Governor's side? Or will they further alienate the base, maybe because some of Abbott's supporters are women, or maybe because some of his supporters are people of color who will be harmed by the voting laws, or maybe because the abortion thing goes south and turns Texas into a pariah (along the lines of what happened with North Carolina's bathroom bill). Who knows what will happen? We don't feel too bad about not having the answer, though, because Abbott surely doesn't know, either.

One other thing: We've generally pooh-poohed the low approval ratings Joe Biden is pulling right now because it's a long time to the midterm elections, and even longer to the presidential elections. A state governor is at least a little different, however. While the vote for president tends to be very much about "How is my life going?," governors tend to be evaluated much more on their record. Further, Joe Biden will do or say dozens (or hundreds) of things that make news before the next election. Governors find their way into the headlines much less, and so the big stories that do break through—good or bad—tend to linger in the mind for much longer. Put simply, the sour taste left by poor pandemic management is likely to last much longer than the sour taste left by the Afghanistan withdrawal. So, Abbott might really have reason to worry right now, particularly if he's not "rescued" by voting laws/abortion/guns. (Z)

One Week to Go for Newsom Recall

One week from today is "Election Day" in California, when voters will decide whether to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) or to toss him overboard. We put Election Day in quotation marks because that has rather less meaning than it once did. To start, some polling places are already open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and starting this weekend, the number will expand dramatically. On Election Day itself, the hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In addition, a great many voters—very likely the majority—will vote via absentee ballot. Those folks' ballots will be counted as long as they are postmarked on or before next Tuesday, and received on or before the Tuesday after that. Given the state of the USPS these days, absentee voters might not want to push their luck too much, but there are certainly a few days left to put one's ballot in the mail without having to worry.

The polls these days are consistent in showing that Newsom will keep his job. The latest is from the Trafalgar Group. That is a mediocre polling house with a Republican bias, but even they have "keep" coming out on top by nearly 10 points (52.8% to 43.1%). No poll—good, mediocre, or crummy—has had it closer than 8 points since CBS News/YouGov had "keep" at +4 back in early August.

If Newsom does get recalled, there are only two people who might plausibly replace him at this point. The only viable Republican is radio host Larry Elder, whose platform is about as far-right as it gets. He thinks homelessness is not the state's problem, wants to get rid of the minimum wage and various environmental protections, prefers to elevate many drug-related offenses from misdemeanors to felonies, would implement a laissez-faire policy on pandemic management, and wants Roe v. Wade overturned. Elder consistently polls in the high 20s and low 30s; the other Republicans are all in single digits. If the supporters of the other Republicans—John Cox, Kevin Kiley, Kevin Faulconer, Caitlyn Jenner, etc.—recognize that these folks are lost causes, they might coalesce behind Elder and get his final total up into the low 40s.

Meanwhile, the only viable "Democrat" is Kevin Paffrath. We put his party affiliation in quotations because while that is how he's listed on the ballot, he clearly chose the most opportunistic option, not the one that necessarily reflects his politics. Some of his positions are pretty Republican; for example, he wants to repeal the state income tax on anyone making less than $250,000. On other issues, he's pretty Democratic; for example, he wants to replace prison sentences, in some cases, with community service.

Meanwhile, on many issues, Paffrath's just...unrealistic. For example, he wants to relieve traffic congestion by building new roads, including variable-direction toll roads. Paying for that will be something of a challenge if he also cuts income taxes. Meanwhile, there's no space for new roads where the congestion is. And as to variable-direction toll roads, well, (Z) has only driven Southern California freeways at rush hour about 10,000 times, but his hazy memory of those experiences is that the 405, 10, 105, 110, 5, etc. are jammed in both directions. Variable-direction roads seem to work pretty well in, say, San Diego, where the majority head into the city for work, and out to the burbs when the day is over. But this is no panacea for much of the congestion in the state; certainly not Los Angeles.

According to the latest data from Political Data, Inc., a total of 5,722,921 ballots have already been cast; that's 26% of all the voters in the state. The breakdown of those is 53% Democratic, 24% Republican, and 22% independent. It's possible that Democrats who hate Newsom are really stepping up, but failing that, he figures to have a pretty good safety net when the first tallies are announced next Tuesday night. It could be that the outcome is known by then, even with the outstanding ballots. (Z)

Proposed Colorado Map Is...Interesting

Colorado's Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, which will be creating a new congressional district this time around, released a preliminary map back in June. Democrats weren't too happy about it, and besides, it was put together pretty quickly after the detailed census data was released. Now, the Commission has gone back to the drawing board and come up with an updated map. This is the one that, per state law, will be subjected to public comment, which is the first step in potential adoption.

Here are the two maps, side by side. The original is on the left, the updated map is on the right:

Most districts 
are in or around Denver, and so the map doesn't really show the tweaks that have been made, because you'd need
a zoom. However, CD-2 has grown much larger by area in the new map, to include the northwest corner of the state,
while CD-3 has grown a bit smaller by area; it was going to be most of the western half of Colorado, but is now the
southwest quadrant plus about half of the southeast quadrant.

The maps have some pretty noticeable differences, particularly as regards CO-2 (dark green) and CO-3 (peach).

There are three big storylines that come with the new map, if it's the one that is adopted. The first is that it would create four basically safe Democratic districts and three basically safe Republican districts, which mirrors the current 4D, 3R U.S. House delegation. The second is that the new district, CO-08, would be a pretty swingy district in the northern Denver area. It's very plausible that Colorado would end up 4D, 4R despite being quite blue, which is why the state's Republicans tend to describe the map as "not bad," while the state's Democrats continue to grit their teeth (albeit not as much as they were with the first map).

And then there is the third storyline, which is the one that everyone is talking about. Perhaps you've heard of one Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)? Well, she lives in Garfield County. On the first map, Garfield remained in her current district, CO-03. On the new map, however, Garfield is in CO-02, which is represented by Rep. Joe Neguse (D). CO-02 figures to be one of the safe Democratic districts if the new map is adopted, and the liberal Neguse is popular, having won his first two House elections by 26 and 27 points.

Assuming this is how things work out, Boebert would have four viable options:

  1. Challenge Neguse, likely as a pretty big underdog.

  2. Run in CO-03 as a semi-carpetbagger. That's legal, since it's not necessary for representatives to live in the districts they represent. However, voters don't generally like it, and while CO-03 figures to be safe Republican, it might also attract other viable challengers.

  3. Move to CO-03, which largely eliminates the carpetbagger issue, but not the possibility of drawing serious Republican competition.

  4. Declare that her work in Congress has been completed, retire, and go back to serving customers at her restaurant while carrying a gun.

If we had to guess, we would say that the likeliest option is #2, followed by #1, #4, and #3.

There's still a whole rigamarole that has to be gone through before this map can become official, not to mention another round of data from the census bureau, which could lead to more tweaks. Nonetheless, at the moment, it looks like those folks who would prefer to be rid of Boebert (which includes most Democrats and many Republicans, we would guess) have some reason for optimism. (Z)

(Back to the) Back to the Future: Reader Predictions, Part I--Donald Trump

The fall TV season begins this week! That is an event that is not as significant as it once was, and whose start date is not as clear as it once was. The advent of cable TV and of streaming will do that. The important thing is that this is the issue of TV Guide that is on newsstands right now:

TV Guide's 'Fall Preview'
issue, with two of the stars of 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' on it

Why is that the important thing? We'll get to that.

For now, let us confirm what you've probably already guessed from the headline, or figured out by scrolling down the page: We are finally going to run the 2021 predictions that readers sent in back in January. You may recall that we ran some pundit predictions on January 5 of this year. Then we ran some of our predictions on January 6. The reader predictions were supposed to commence on January 7. However, there was a bit of news on January 6 that required some attention on January 7, and so made that impractical, as reader C.K. in Union City, CA, correctly guessed would be the case. We pushed the schedule back, and then pushed it back again, but the aftermath of the insurrection and then the commencement of a new presidential administration, along with all the related stuff, pushed the reader predictions into February, and then March. Eventually, any sort of "sensible" date to run them was long past, and it was time to come up with an alternative schedule.

That is where the TV season, and in particular the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide, come in. (Z)'s maternal grandmother, Jean G. Stewart, always got a copy of that issue as soon as it came out each year. Then she and (Z)'s grandfather (George Stewart, the one who liked to smoke on "It's a Small World") would read all the previews of all the shows, and predict which ones would make it and which ones would not, writing their guesses on the Guide itself. When the grandkids—(Z) and his brother—got old enough, those guesses were added, too. In 1984, for example, there were four votes that "Night Court" would be a success (Yes!), and four votes that "Miami Vice" would fail (Oops!). Each year's picks would be reviewed on or near Jan. 1, since most shows' fates were pretty clear by this time. And because the gap between making the picks (early September) and seeing how they turned out (January 1) was not too long, it was plausible to keep them in the back one of one's mind while watching to see what would happen. Much harder to keep things fresh in the memory for a whole year.

Under ideal circumstances, we would run the predictions in January. And if we solicit reader predictions again, which we are likely to do, that is hopefully what will happen. But with Plan A having fallen apart due to external circumstances, the Jean G. Stewart Memorial Plan B is not a bad alternative. It is worth noting that she was also a political junkie who allowed her garage to be used as a polling place for years and years, and who passed that particular interest on to (Z). If she knew (Z) was writing a blog like this (she passed in 2003), she would be over-the-moon delighted. And if she knew she was making a guest appearance, that would be the icing on the cake. Heck, maybe she does know. If they have Internet in the Great Beyond, then you can bet your bottom dollar she is a reader. And that she hates Donald Trump, since she was a liberal New Deal Democrat.

Before we get to the first group of predictions, a few notes:

  • We got about 400 e-mails with predictions, containing as few as zero predictions ("I am not going to try, because I'm terrible at this") to as many as 30. In total, there were about 2,000 predictions.

  • We have edited those down, and organized them into 12 groups of around 12 each. So, we'll be running about 150 reader predictions, in total. To avoid overload, we'll do one group per day on weekdays until we work through them all.

  • We edited and organized them once before, but it was necessary to redo that process, for obvious reasons. We trimmed out predictions that have already proven indisputably incorrect. We did keep some that have already come to pass; the rest are things that could still possibly happen, ranging from "very plausible" to "real longshot."

  • We let a few pretty grim predictions through. This was not done for shock value, but in order to try to capture the full range of what we received.

  • It will come as no surprise that "Trump," in its various iterations, was mentioned over 1,000 times across the various predictions. "Infrastructure," "McConnell," "COVID," "pandemic," "statehood," "indictment," "Biden," and "economy" showed up a lot, too. On the other hand, Afghanistan was mentioned one time, as was Roe v. Wade, while the word "abortion" didn't appear at all. The future is uncertain, even if you have a crystal ball like we do.

  • We will return to the predictions early next year, just like with the TV Guide, and on that occasion we will comment on each of them, and how true they came.

  • We know we have other back-burner content we haven't gotten to yet. That will come soon, once we clear this from the backlog.

  • We hope this is interesting, even at this late date!

And with that, here is the first group of predictions, which are about Donald Trump himself:

  • A.C. in Palmer, MA: Donald Trump will not sit for his presidential portrait. The National Portrait Gallery will still commission a portrait and, upon receipt, will hang it backwards (i.e., facing the wall) in perpetuity.

  • J.B. in Silver Spring, MD: Trump will unveil his new mantra, "Keep Grift Alive!"

  • A.R. in Los Angeles, CA: Cyrus Vance Jr. will indict Trump, but his lawyers will delay any trial until 2022. No federal charges will be brought against Trump.

  • J.S. in Seattle, WA: Donald Trump will be prosecuted in courts in two states—Georgia and New York—but (sadly) not in federal court.

  • J.A. in Redwood City, CA: Trump will respond to all of the legal charges against him as he always has, by engaging in as many delaying tactics in the courts as he can. Even if he cannot find any more top-tier law firms willing to have him as a client, there will be lesser-grade firms still willing to make a name for themselves in conservative circles. Also, Trump's health will begin to decline, a circumstance that his legal teams will attempt to leverage in his favor. Years from now, Trump will pass from this earth before all of the civil cases against him are concluded.

  • D.Y. in Fishers, IN: Some portion of the Trump clan will flee the U.S. to some friendly spot like Saudi Arabia or Russia in response to substantial credible legal charges.

  • S.C. in Mountain View, CA: By the end of 2021, Trump will either be: (1) living in a foreign country that has no extradition treaty with the United States, or (2) if not in prison, a defendant in a criminal trial that could result in a prison sentence, or (3) committed to a psychiatric hospital, either involuntarily, or persuaded to do so "voluntarily."

  • T.M. in Downers Grove, IL: By the end of 2021 Donald Trump will be rocking back and forth on the floor of a locked padded room, babbling incoherently about Hillary's e-mails, Hunter's laptop, and a "stolen" election. He will remain there for the rest of his days.

  • M.C.G. in Madison, WI: Trump will threaten to start his own TV network, but, among many other threats, it will never materialize.

  • L.V.A. in Idaho Falls, ID: Donald Trump will not enter into any contracts for regular appearances on any networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, OANN, Newsmax, CNN, MSNBC, or affiliates).

  • A.H. in Espoo, Finland: Mar-a-Lago will be for sale before January 20, 2022.

  • B.H. in Westborough, MA: Melania will separate from Donald.

  • C.M. in Dublin, Ireland: Melania Trump will not divorce Donald Trump or start divorce proceedings.

  • S.B. in New Castle, DE: A flood of documentaries, books, and a miniseries on the Trump presidency will be released. At least two of the books will be bestsellers and one will win a Pulitzer.

  • P.S. in Marion, IA: Trump will fade into obscurity (or worse) quickly, his approval ratings will tumble below any number he enjoyed as President for the rest of his living days, well down into the 30's (where Nixon remained in his post-Presidency).

  • C.Z. in Sacramento, CA: No more of my precious time will be wasted by being forced to see, hear, or read about the cancer that is Trump.

Coming up tomorrow: Predictions about Trump's family and his supporters, including the right-wing media.

Happy Labor Day! (Answers)

Yesterday, we ran a 12-question Labor Day-themed quiz. Here are the questions again, this time with answers:

1. The first labor union in American history, founded in the 1790s, was for people involved in the production of...what?

  1. Shoes
  2. Metal goods (it was a union for blacksmiths)
  3. Rope
  4. Tobacco products
  5. Newspapers

In 1794, shoemakers in Philadelphia organized a union called the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers.

2. We would not want to let this occasion pass without noting the toil of the millions of folks who could not join labor unions because their time, and their person, was not their own. This passage was excised from a prominent document before its final draft was completed:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.

Who is "He"?

  1. God
  2. King George III
  3. Ramón Ferrer, captain of La Amistad
  4. Simon Legree, principal antagonist of Uncle Tom's Cabin
  5. Jefferson Davis

This is the anti-slavery passage that Thomas Jefferson wrote for the Declaration of Independence. His fellow slave owners suggested it might not be the best idea to suggest that slavery was, in any way, less than perfect. So, this portion was excised.

3. What is generally regarded as the first Labor Day celebration took place when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off from work to stage a parade in New York City. The president who was in office on that day is also known for what other "first"?

  1. First president to hold the White House Easter Egg Roll
  2. First president to take the oath of office in his own home
  3. First president to be filmed by a movie camera
  4. First president to have his voice recorded
  5. First president to ride in an automobile

The parade took place on Sept. 5, 1882, with Chester A. Arthur in the White House. The other firsts: Rutherford B. Hayes (Easter Egg Roll), Grover Cleveland (movie camera), Benjamin Harrison (voice recorded), and William McKinley (automobile).

4. Meanwhile, the president who was in office when Labor Day became a federal holiday was the only president to...?

  1. Be awarded a patent
  2. Serve non-consecutive terms
  3. Serve on the Supreme Court
  4. Take the oath of office from someone who was not a judge
  5. Graduate from Stanford University

Grover Cleveland signed the bill on June 28, 1894. The other "onlys": Abraham Lincoln (patent), William Howard Taft (Supreme Court), Calvin Coolidge (oath of office), and Herbert Hoover (Stanford).

5. Who is generally regarded as the inspiration for the American version of Labor Day?

  1. The Molly Maguires
  2. Steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie
  3. Labor leader Samuel Gompers
  4. Author Henry David Thoreau
  5. The Canadians

Yep, it's the Nades. On March 25, 1872, the Toronto Printers Union went on strike for better working conditions and reduced hours. Although the strike did not achieve its goals, Canadian workers commemorated the strike with an annual celebration thereafter. The practice spread to the United States, and then elsewhere, over the next several decades.

6. The federal law that formally recognized the right of labor to bargain collectively was named for what U.S. senator who sponsored it?

  1. Justin S. Morrill
  2. George H. Pendleton
  3. John T. Sherman
  4. Robert F. Wagner
  5. Robert A. Taft

It was the Wagner Act of 1935. The Morrill Act was about land-grant colleges, the Pendleton Act reformed the civil service, and the Sherman Acts committed the government to purchasing silver and to combating monopolies. The Taft-Harley Act was about unions, but came more than a decade after the Wagner Act, and was actually anti-union.

7. It is uncommon to celebrate Labor Day in September, the majority of countries do it on or near May 1, which is International Workers' Day. Roughly how many countries have already had their Labor Day this year?

  1. 100
  2. 125
  3. 150
  4. 175
  5. 200

161 countries celebrated on May 1 this year, and another 12 moved the commemoration to May 3, as May 1 was a Saturday. Jamaica celebrates on May 23, in honor of the date in 1938 when Alexander Bustamante led a labor rebellion leading to Jamaican independence. Similarly Trinidad and Tobago celebrates on June 19, in honor of the 1937 protests that birthed that nation's trade union movement. That's a total of 175 countries who celebrated sometime before the U.S. did this year.

8. Which of the groups of three below includes countries that will also be celebrating Labor Day today?

  1. Andorra, Spain, and Turkey
  2. Argentina, Mexico, and Israel
  3. Austria, Germany, and Switzerland
  4. Bermuda, Canada, and Palau
  5. Brazil, Fiji, and Tuvalu

Those are, in fact, the only three besides the United States and its territories.

9. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans will consume 7 billion...what?

  1. Hot dogs
  2. Pounds of watermelon
  3. Cans of beer
  4. Gallons of lemonade
  5. Kilowatt hours of electricity powering their air conditioners

That's around 20 hot dogs per American. Most of these other quantities would come in at something less than 7 billion, except the kWh for air conditioning. That's much closer to 700 billion kWh between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

10. What is the relationship between the Oscars and organized labor?

  1. The Oscars were created by Hollywood's first labor union
  2. The Oscars were not created by a union, but were founded to create some paid union work during the "slow" season
  3. The Oscars were not created by a union, but the first three ceremonies were sponsored by a union (the Screen Actors Guild)
  4. The Oscars were created primarily by Ralph Morgan, who would go on to serve two terms as head of the Screen Actors Guild
  5. The Oscars were created in an effort to undermine unions

Louis B. Mayer of MGM and some of his buddies first created the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as something of a guild, under their control, in hopes of persuading actors, directors, and other talent that there was no need to unionize; they could just join the guild (if they were important enough, that is). AMPAS was also meant as a PR operation, to sell the notion that working in Hollywood was all sunshine and rainbows, and only a scrooge would want to unionize under those circumstances. Obviously, Mayer's scheme did not work out.

11. Suppose you're going to have a movie night featuring only Best Picture winners about blue-collar laborers. What's the oldest movie you can show?

  1. "It Happened One Night" (1934)
  2. "The Life of Emile Zola" (1937)
  3. "Of Mice and Men" (1939)
  4. "How Green Was My Valley" (1941)
  5. "On the Waterfront" (1954)

"It Happened One Night" is a screwball comedy, and "The Life of Emile Zola" is a biopic. "Of Mice and Men" is about blue-collar laborers, but did not win Best Picture that year, as it was up against "Gone With the Wind." That leaves "How Green Was My Valley," which is about a family of Welsh coal miners, and famously beat out "Citizen Kane" for Best Picture (not to mention "The Maltese Falcon" and "Sergeant York"). "On the Waterfront" is also about blue-collar laborers, and also won Best Picture, but came 13 years after "How Green Was My Valley."

12. And finally, which of these actors was nominated for an Oscar for playing a blue-collar laborer?

  1. Marlon Brando (Terry Malloy in "On the Waterfront")
  2. Sally Field (Norma Rae Webster in "Norma Rae")
  3. Meryl Streep (Karen Silkwood in "Silkwood")
  4. Henry Fonda (Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath")
  5. Paul Newman (Hud Bannon in "Hud")

Always good to end an a positive note, so all five answers are correct. Brando and Field won for these performances; the other three also took home Oscars, but for other films ("Kramer vs. Kramer," "Sophie's Choice," and "The Iron Lady" for Streep; "On Golden Pond" for Fonda and "The Color of Money" for Newman).

And there you have it. If you got 6 or more, that's very good; (Z) knows a thing or two about writing plausible wrong answers on a multiple choice test. (Z)

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