+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++

I keep looking at this 57 year old sign and my brain just kind of shuts down. The world has changed just over the span of my life, and in this case…not for the better.


(via Mike the Mad Biologist)


  1. Holms says

    Well… my distant understanding of the conservative / oppressive vote is that it always existed, but swapped parties some 40 years ago. Therefore the Republican decline is matched by the Democrat improvement, making it somewhat zero-sum.

  2. outaworkee, back at work for now. says

    I used to be a Republican in the 70’s. More for progress and encouraging people to move up. That party has left the building, and maybe even reality.

  3. Azuma Hazuki says

    Holms has it right: from the time of Lincoln until approximately Eisenhower I’d have been a proud Republican. From Eisenhower to, let’s say, George H. Bush, a proud Democrat.

    Now I just want them all to die in a meteor strike. >< Politicians have no accountability or morals anymore, and the writing was on the wall when Nixon was pardoned.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya says

    Holms, we have no labor party anymore. Not since the neoliberals took over the Democratic party. We’re down to negative sum.

    Remember, it was G.H.W. Bush who proposed NAFTA, and Bill Clinton who got it passed. Similarly, Little Boots proposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (aka NAFTA on steroids).

    Guess who is now busting his comfortable shoes trying to get the TPP passed?

  5. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    Azuma @4


    With the exception of race, every single aspect of the current social and political conflict played out in perfect miniature two thousand years ago. The same people, the same personalities, the same rhetoric–the conservative oligarchs nobly defending the meritocracy and the freedom and justice that it stood for, the wicked populist demagogues cynically manipulating the know-nothing hoi polloi in brazen attempts at undermining democracy to set themselves up as kings…

    At least, that’s how history recorded it. Because guess who won back then? Guess who always wins?

    Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus: Dead.
    Gaius Marius: Dead
    Gaius Julius Caesar: Dead.
    Wat Tyler: Dead.
    Huey Long: Dead.
    Mohandas Gandhi: Dead.
    Martin Luther King: Dead.

    Funny how things always turn out that way.

  6. scimaths says

    “free working men and women produce more and consume more”

    Interesting, given the problems of over-consumption that this was being so explicitly held up as a good thing.

  7. gsciacca says

    The 1956 Republican President was Eisenhower and the South voted Democratic (but not Texas or Florida). Maybe things will turn around again in another 57 years.

  8. says

    Makes one’s head spin. Now they’re using the deplorable “southern strategy”. Oh, and since the ’80s “Keynes” is a swear word.

  9. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    “free working men and women produce more and consume more”

    Interesting, given the problems of over-consumption that this was being so explicitly held up as a good thing.

    I take it as spending more, that is more money circulating.

  10. says

    As usual, Paul Krugman nailed the facts in discussing respect for workers, economic changes, and the Republican blind spot(s) that causes so much legislative trouble.

    [excerpts below are from this NY Times article

    … what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity [referring to the establishment of “Labor Day”]. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans.

    Consider, for example, how Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, marked Labor Day last year: with a Twitter post declaring “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yep, he saw Labor Day as an occasion to honor business owners.

    …Time was when their [conservatives] ire was directed at bums on welfare. But even at the program’s peak, the number of Americans on “welfare” — Aid to Families With Dependent Children — never exceeded about 5 percent of the population. And that program’s far less generous successor, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, reaches less than 2 percent of Americans. …

    How can someone who works for a living be considered the moral equivalent of a bum on welfare? Well, part of the answer is that many people on the right engage in word games: they talk about how someone doesn’t pay income taxes, and hope that their listeners fail to notice the word “income” and forget about all the other taxes lower-income working Americans pay.

    … if you consider someone who works hard trying to make ends meet, but also gets some help from the government, a “taker,” you’re going to have contempt for a very large number of American workers and their families….

    … economic inequality has soared over the past few decades, and while a handful of people have stratospheric incomes, a far larger number of Americans find that no matter how hard they work, they can’t afford the basics of a middle-class existence — health insurance in particular, but even putting food on the table can be a problem. Saying that they can use some help shouldn’t make us think any less of them, and it certainly shouldn’t reduce the respect we grant to anyone who works hard and plays by the rules.

    But obviously that’s not the way everyone sees it. In particular, there are evidently a lot of wealthy people in America who consider anyone who isn’t wealthy a loser — an attitude that has clearly gotten stronger as the gap between the 1 percent and everyone else has widened. And such people have a lot of friends in Washington. …

  11. laurentweppe says

    As usual, Paul Krugman nailed the facts in discussing respect for workers, economic changes, and the Republican blind spot(s) that causes so much legislative trouble.

    It’s not a blindspot: is a symptom of decadence: parasitic dynasts tend to become increasingly inept as generations passes: at first they’re smart enough to realize that their long term survival demands a certain amount of compromise with the plebs: that’s when you get stuff like fordism (Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible), then they start believing that it’s possible to con the hoi polloi into voting for keping the economic competition rigged ad vitam æternam : that’s when you get demagogues talking about the Welfare Queens Conspiracy, and then, when the con starts to show signs that its not working as well and as undyingly as they thought, they convince themselves that the plebs already wants to commit a class based genocide and that the only thing that can protect them is to build an army of uniformed thugs and then threaten to let them loose on the populace to keep it obedient. Right now you’re between step two and three, Europe is still somewhere between step one and two (for how long…?) and Syria is what happens after step three

  12. wilsim says

    #9 I was having a good day until you had to go and intrude on my reality with some horror, er, um, I mean history.

  13. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Also, it was the 50s and the republicans acknowledged working women? O.o

  14. AsqJames says

    PZ @16:

    #9: I’d really be surprised if the Gracchi and Caesar were still alive.

    But not Wat Tyler?

  15. says

    Young Republicans, that poster is from the good old days you’re always saying you want to get back to. Start by embracing each point on the poster, and while you’re at it start agitating for a return to the tax rates in place at the time of the poster.

  16. Alyosha says

    #6 A. Noyd,
    Lest we forget that FDR was the only US President to shore up the economy and boost employment with a war…
    Ha! Not waging war to artificially stimulate the economy USED to be a Republican brag.
    AND the guy who warned the States against the influence of the military-industrial complex was the one who helped defeat the hordes your current President is so often compared to, WAS a Republican himself.
    It makes sense now. As you were.

  17. A. Noyd says

    It’s just, I’m trying to wrap my head around where they think America’s prosperity comes from if not war. I guess the genocide of indigenous Americans and constant squabbles with other colonizers over borders and governing don’t count?

  18. mildlymagnificent says

    Interesting, given the problems of over-consumption that this was being so explicitly held up as a good thing.

    But it’s a recognition of where people were coming from. If you were 20 to 40 years old in 1956, you were either born during the Great Depression or you tried to get your first job then. Having a well paid job and not being subject to the make do and mend attitudes your parents forced you to live by when you were growing up would make 1956 America a truly wonderful place and time to be. (Unless you were one of the truly unlucky ones.)

    Same thing for the non-wartime prosperity pointer. Many people see the manufacturing and other profitable activity supplying the combatants before the US became directly involved in WW2 as the only thing that got the US out of the depression in the first place. Having lots of jobs in factories going gangbusters producing consumer goods rather than munitions looks very rosy from that point of view in 1956.

  19. anuran says

    Holms, before you dislocate your arm patting yourself on the back consider it was the Democrats under FDR who made all those New Deal era labor and electoral reforms, Social Security, tamed the hideous financial sector, modernized the country with things like REP and TVA, actually got workers some rights and so on. The Republicans fought all of these tooth and nail.

    Republicans such as the Mellons and Prescott Bush tried to stage a coup against Roosevelt to bring Fascist economic policies to the US. It was only because of Marine Corps General Smedley “Bulldog” Butler that they failed.

  20. Menyambal --- flinging the squaler says

    A war economy is basically the tax-and-spend that modern conservatives so decry. And yeah, a lot of people who lived through both think that WWII got the USA out of the Great Depression. A lot of Englanders will tell you that their economy went to shit as soon as that war ended. Put the two together, and WWII was the best economic news for some time.

  21. Baktru says

    Republicans? Celebrating Labour Day? I.. What? Where I come from Labour Day is for all intents and purposes the socialist national holiday!

  22. laurentweppe says

    Republicans such as the Mellons and Prescott Bush tried to stage a coup against Roosevelt to bring Fascist economic policies to the US. It was only because of Marine Corps General Smedley “Bulldog” Butler that they failed.

    To be fair, their attempt was so badly planned that it would probably have failed even without the guy they wanted to use as a figure head ratting them out.

  23. madscientist says

    Well, back in the 1980s I suspected something must be going wrong since I seemed to agree more and more with William F. Buckley (though I never supported Reagan and Buckley was a great admirer and friend of the ol’ geezer). It’s so bad these days that Obama makes Reagan look good (and Dubbyah – well, he makes Pol Pot look good); I never would have imagined I’d say a president looked awful in comparison to Reagan.

  24. dogofman says

    It’s kind of interesting that US of A’s right wing party uses the same red colour that signifies socialist and communist parties in the rest of the world.

  25. Holms says

    anuran @ 28
    Holms, before you dislocate your arm patting yourself on the back…

    Are you just completely unaware of the fact that there is a thread going on right now that is alllllll about dialling down the pointless insults and general asshattery? That could have been said just as well – better, actually – without the weird condescension.

    Also, where exactly was I even remotely self-congratulatory in my post? This hostility just seems to come so naturally to many here that it has come to be the default setting, whether warranted or not.

  26. gussnarp says

    It’s true that the 1968 Presidential election marked a rather hard switch of political party identities in the U.S., but it is also true that the Republican party has tended to be very pro-big business since at least William McKinley (T.R. was a bit of an anomaly). So it’s still surprising to find the Republican party supporting labor so openly and strongly. We can probably find some reasons to explain this though.

    For one, that 1968 switch due to civil rights and the Southern Strategy has led to a great deal of political polarization. Most of the twentieth century prior to that was marked by Democrats and Republicans not really being that far apart.

    But I think the real impetus behind this poster is something quite different. This was the height of the Red Scare, and labor was divided, some groups had been allied, to some extent, with the far left and socialism and communism, others opposed communism vehemently. During the Red Scare there was a purge, if you will, of pro-communist elements from organized American labor. The major unions, struggling for political influence and the support of their members, turned harshly against any potential communist sympathizers. Once that happened, having workers join organized labor put them in the anti-communist camp. Far better to have them in the AFL-CIO than floating out there unaffiliated and then joining the Wobblies or the commies. Combine that with the state of the parties pre-1968, where Republicans couldn’t get a vote in the South, and with the huge growth of American manufacturing in the North where huge swaths of people had already joined unions, and it becomes a no brainer for the Republican Party to support organized labor.

    All this is off the top of my head, and it’s been a while since I’ve read labor history, so it would be instructive to see more detailed coverage of American labor during the red scare. Also, I hope you’ve found my inconsistent capitalization of terms entertaining, as I don’t want to go back and fix it.

  27. lpetrich says

    Republicans being red and Democrats being blue is a historical accident — it dates from 2000. In previous decades, newscasters had used different colors, like Republicans blue and Democrats red.

    As to the transformation of the Republican Party in recent decades, that party has become the party of Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederacy. Senator Trent Lott even went on record as stating pretty much that in 1984, and the rest of the party did not complain very much.

    As to this Gilded Age II, I don’t know how much longer it will last. I thought that the Occupy movement might be the beginning of the end of it, but it has been a flash in the pan.