• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    riverdaughter on About Kos and Netroots Na…
    someofparts on About Kos and Netroots Na…
    katiebird on Another fine product from Jane…
    riverdaughter on Another fine product from Jane…
    katiebird on Another fine product from Jane…
    riverdaughter on Another fine product from Jane…
    katiebird on Another fine product from Jane…
    riverdaughter on What’s in my Instapaper…
    katiebird on What’s in my Instapaper…
    riverdaughter on What’s in my Instapaper…
    katiebird on What’s in my Instapaper…
    riverdaughter on Obamacare subsidy rules overtu…
    r u reddy on Obamacare subsidy rules overtu…
    Sweet Sue on The Doomsday Code
    quixote on The Doomsday Code
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos debate Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    July 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Jun    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Odd
      How consistently male-dominated extremist religions turn to abusing women as a public good: GENEVA – Militants have ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq’s northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation, the United Nations said on Thursday. The “fatwa” issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) would potentially […] […]
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • Top Posts

The sad state of journalism

I followed a link from a Jay Rosen tweet to this article in The Awl about the 2012 American Society of Magazine Editor (ASME) awards. This year, there were 25 awards and all 25 of them went to male magazine writers. There were *some* female nominees but they were vastly outnumbered by male nominees and there’s a good reason for that. Female writers don’t get the spotlight on prestigious magazines and they don’t get the plum assignments for long form journalism:

ASME doesn’t make its submissions public. They did, however, provide a glimpse into some data on what was submitted in the category of Profile Writing, one of the contested categories. Of the 86 submissions, 59 were written or co-written by men—which means 68.6 percent of submitted stories had a male author. (Thirty-six were written or co-written by women.) There was also a big imbalance in subject matter—the number of articles about men outnumbered those with female subjects by nearly a 2:1 ratio.

And for the nominations, of all given to individuals (not magazines), there were only 12 women writers out of 49 stories nominated. (One piece did not have a byline.)

One plausible explanation for this lopsidedness is that there are fewer women writing long-form journalism in general, particularly at those publications that tend to get nominated for National Magazine Awards. At the New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic and The Atlantic, for instance, less than thirty percent of the stories published in 2011 were written by women, according to this year’s VIDA Count, which did a gender breakdown of bylines in each magazine.

“The thing about the National Magazine awards is that the byline gap’s symptomatic of the overall problem in assigning to women,” said Ann Friedman, the executive editor of GOOD magazine. “It just sort of nicely forces a conversation that we should be having anyway.”

Magazines with mostly male editors often have more male writers in their networks, a factor that influences how many editors assign pieces. And women who write long-form pieces for the most prestigious magazines can have a hard time getting editors to connect with certain topics.

“I think that on an idea level, being a woman does work against you,” said Vanessa Grigoriadis, a National Magazine Award winner. “Because what you’re interested in is not what your editors are necessarily interested in. Right? They’re baby boomers living in Manhattan. They’re interested in something different.”

The above excerpt comes pretty close to the truth, I think. There are additional theories that what women write about in women’s magazines isn’t generally of interest to the general public, and women’s magazines don’t write long form journalism. These both ring true to me. I’m not interested in reading “ladies” topics. One of the articles that was slighted was about why more women are choosing to remain single. I think I might have even read that one but it didn’t leave a deep impression on me. I think the editors that cited this are looking at the problem with the wrong perspective. If they want to reward some women for writing topics of interest to women in a ragmag like Cosmo or Glamour, it’s easy enough to create a category for this. My fear is that as soon as its created, some editor will recommend a male writer to write for it.

I think there is a basic misunderstanding about what women want to write about. I doubt that women who want to write for well known journals are planning to write about things that only appeal to women, like some slightly more serious version of Carrie Bradshaw articles. It’s a little offensive to me to even suggest that. Women who read The Atlantic are reading it for the same reasons that male readers do.

No, what I want to read are articles on current issues of a broad general nature that are written by women. For example, Rachel Maddow’s book, Drift, could have made several great long form pieces. The same goes for Karen Ho’s book on Wall Street culture. That book beats anything I have read that was written by a male on the subject. It would make an excellent series of long form articles. Michelle Goldberg at Salon has written some award worthy articles on the dominionist movement in the US. How those articles got overlooked by ASME is a mystery to me.

Women are quite capable of writing substantial, analytical articles on current issues. That’s what I like to read. I want them to be able to compete in the same marketplace as their male colleagues and they CAN do it. I want them to get the respect they deserve for tackling tough topics with insight and brilliance and in a style that is interesting to read. So why aren’t there more female nominees?

My theory is that when push comes to shove, editors who have power and influence do not mentor women. Karen Ho, the anthropologist might have something to say about this. It may be due to the infiltration or extension of the ‘culture of smartness’. Take The Atlantic, for example. As the article above noted, less than 30% of the articles in The Atlantic are written by women. And how the hell did Matt Yglesias get a spot at Slate writing about the Mommy Wars? Jeez, it’s almost like he’s phoning it in. Why isn’t Melissa McKewn writing more biting commentary at Slate about what it’s like to be a feminist in this political environment? Was it his Ivy League degree? Connections? Sometimes, I get the feeling that journals are running a welfare program for males of a certain socioeconomic group. ‘Front Office’ positions are frequently occupied by males with pedigree or connections. How about Ezra Klein? Matt Taibbi? Ta-Nehesi Coates? Kevin Drum? These are the next generation of writers who are being mentored to be the opinion makers of the future and there are very few women among them. Women don’t get regular gigs at magazines. Maybe that’s why so many of them end up writing books. If they don’t publish in book format, the body of their work never sees the light of day.

And think of all of the really superb female bloggers who don’t get the opportunities that Kevin Drum or Ezra Klein have had dropped into their laps. Why is Digby only now getting to write occasionally for Al Jazeera? And in 2008, the best political blogger in long form was a mysterious woman from San Diego named Anglachel. Her posts on the Obama phenomenon and analysis of the history of the Democratic party were sheer genius. This was a female blogger whose mind was like a well tuned performance engine. She was very well informed and had a level of expertise in political science that easily bested most A list male bloggers. Her privacy might have had something to do with her not making the big time but how many people knew she even existed? How many people were too busy praising the milquetoast drivel of Kevin Drum? Good female commentary can bring a unique quality to journalism. The best female bloggers see an issue from a more holistic point of view. They make connections men tend to overlook and their posts are rich in metaphor.

Getting nominated for an ASME is directly proportional to getting the opportunity to write long form journalism at a magazine. If women are never considered as potential employees and protégées, they’ll never get those opportunities. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking why no one will read what women will write. Maybe we should be asking why they don’t get the assignments that would showcase their talents as writers, not just women writers.

They’re out there if only editors would bother to find them.

Monday: Planes, Trains and the Obama-McConnell deal

Yesterday, I went to NYC to see the Rockettes at Radio City for the first time.  They’re every bit as good as you would expect.  The show is glitzy and, as Brooke would say, “kinda cheezy”.  But if you are looking for a pick-me-up during the Christmas season, you can’t beat the Rockettes. In fact, the Rockettes put on their first extravaganza in 1932 during the Great Depression.  It must have done the trick because they’ve been doing it ever since, with a brief hiatus during the 70′s.

The part that sucks is of low quality is actually getting into and out of Manhattan from the Joisy side.  I’ve written about this before.  Three years later, the process is even worse than before, if that can be believed.  Last night, when I took the Northeast Corridor train from Penn Station to Newark where my car was parked, the same, stupid, dehumanizing procedure happened again.  We arrived at the pink granited NJ Transit waiting area, a step up from the fluorescently lit but still dark and dingy laboratory mazes of underground Penn Station (NJ residents don’t get beautiful masterpieces like Grand Central.  Nooooo, they tore down the original Penn Station in the 60′s and parked Madison Square Garden on top of it.)  The NE Corr. train comes only once an hour, which is itself insane.  NJ is the densest state in the union and we get on measly train once an hour out of NYC?  Ok, so the waiting area is already almost out of seats at 20 past the hour.  The tickets are about 30% higher than the last time I bought them a couple months ago.  (Thanks, Gov. Christie!).  Over the next 20 minutes, the waiting area is packed full of tired, cranky, sweaty commuters.  Then the departure board assigns a track number and this heaving mass of humanity sprints for two narrow staircases.  There’s a lot of pushing and shoving and glancing at watches to see if you’ll have time to get a decent seat on the train.  Then there’s the Olympic Run-Walk down the platform to the front of the train because half the doors on the back end and closest part of the train to the stairs are closed.  We walk and walk for what seems to be forever while Brooke hobbles on her four inch heels (“I told you not to wear those shoes.”).  The train is the older style with one level.  The seats are about as comfortable as first class economy on Continental.  10 minutes later, it lurches out of Manhattan and lumbers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y back to Newark.  And why do we park the car at Newark when there is a closer train station to house in the town over?  Because it costs $22 round trip *per person* to get in and out of Manhattan 36 miles away from my house and the nearest train station.  And that’s with a transfer at Newark.  It makes more sense to park the car in Newark and pay for parking there than spend $44 to take the train.  Normally, we take the PATH train into Manhattan from Newark, but in the evening, the PATH reroutes to Hoboken from Manhattan before it doubles back to Newark.

Every time I do this routine, I ask myself, is this any way to run a railroad???  I’m a big believer in mass transit.  My grandfather was a bus driver in Pittsburgh.  I’ve done the Paris metro (which is a dream) and the London Underground, which is also pretty good.  So, I can’t understand why our major cities are so bad at this.  Neither NYC or Chicago has a train system that we could call world class.  Our trains are old and slow, infrequent and expensive.  This is inexcusable, especially when we have abandoned commuter rail tracks all over the state of NJ that no one is using anymore.  I spend hours and hours waiting for trains, changing trains and paying a fortune to get into Manhattan.  Next time, I’m driving.

Ok, I’m done.  Moving on.

Krugman has labelled the new stimulus package, er, tax plan, the “Obama-McConnell” plan.  Seems fitting, seeing how the Republicans pretty much wrote the terms and Obama, crippled by his stupid 11 dimensional chess moves with the first irresponsibly inadequate stimulus package has been forced to make this bad deal.  (Howz that media darling working out for you BTD?)  Paul sums it up in Block those Metaphors:

The point is that while the deal will cost a lot — adding more to federal debt than the original Obama stimulus — it’s likely to get very little bang for the buck. Tax cuts for the wealthy will barely be spent at all; even middle-class tax cuts won’t add much to spending. And the business tax break will, I believe, do hardly anything to spur investment given the excess capacity businesses already have.

The actual stimulus in the plan comes from the other measures, mainly unemployment benefits and the payroll tax break. And these measures (a) won’t make more than a modest dent in unemployment and (b) will fade out quickly, with the good stuff going away at the end of 2011.

The question, then, is whether a year of modestly better performance is worth $850 billion in additional debt, plus a significantly raised probability that those tax cuts for the rich will become permanent. And I say no.

The Obama team obviously disagrees. As I understand it, the administration believes that all it needs is a little more time and money, that any day now the economic engine will catch and we’ll be on the road back to prosperity. I hope it’s right, but I don’t think it is.

What I expect, instead, is that we’ll be having this same conversation all over again in 2012, with unemployment still high and the economy suffering as the good parts of the current deal go away. The White House may think it has struck a good bargain, but I believe it’s in for a rude shock.

Unemployment is personal to me.  I’ve seen what the current job market has done to the morale of people I care about.  But I find it shocking that so many people in conservative red areas of the next state over are so heartless and cruel to their fellow unemployed Americans.  My own relatives huff and puff mightily and fume, “Why don’t they take a job, ANY job?”  The answer is: Because there ARE no jobs.  In my area, Pfizer laid off 19,000 people.  That was just one of many ongoing and terrifying pharmaceutical company layoffs.  Even if you wanted to sell your house and move to another job, there just aren’t any.  So, paying the unemployed to hang on for another year with barely a penny to their names while they struggle to pay their housing costs is not going to cut it.  The money isn’t going to go back into the economy.  It’s going to whoever holds the mortgage.  And that bank will sit on it or lend it out at a higher interest rate.  Seriously, Paul, who benefits from this bill?

What we need are jobs, not more checks.  And we need real wage increases.  And this bill does nothing to help us.  It’s a bill written by Republicans for the benefit of the wealthy.  If I had my way with them, I’d redirect their private jets to the Cayman Islands and not let them off.  That way, they could spend all eternity with their obscene wads of cash and stop bothering the rest of us.  Yep, right smack dab on Hurricane Alley… with no way off the islands…

Anglachel has a new post up about Wikileaks. Check it out.  While I was catching up on podcasts last night, I heard someone say that State Department computers are configured to disallow copying to USB keys and other external drives.  So, whoever it was at the Pentagon who casually stumbled onto 250000 cables did it deliberately.  It might have been Private Manning.  But if the State Department secures its secrets among its own employees, you gotta figure that only some super sysadmin has privileges to access these files on some remote server.  That’s the way most pharmas work.  If you don’t have a need to know, you don’t have access, even if you’re on the same project.  So, who is really behind the leaked cables and what are they up to?  Anglachel provides some possibilities:

Let’s look ahead at the unwinding of events. While the left has been captivated by the human drama of the great man, deprived of flunkies to fuck and threatened by the diabolical Swedish court system, obsessed about how it could be me next!, there’s something rather important coming up in January, namely a change of government in the US. While I know that I lose all my Left Blogistan credibility by saying this, there really is a difference between the behavior of the major political parties when in majority power. The Republicans have no interest in compromising on anything and regard all other sources of political power (however ineptly wielded) as not just the opposition, but as an enemy to be terminated.

They’ve already made clear that the next two years are not going to be used to advance specific pieces of legislation – indeed, why should they since Obama has kindly moved their agenda for them – but to take down the enemy, and I don’t think anyone on the Left really understands just how ruthless they will be. Their control of committee chair positions means that the agenda from January 2011 through December 2012 will be investigate everything that could possibly be turned to their advantage.

It’s key that these documents were released under a Democratic administration. The focus will not be on who released the files, but that there were releases at all, just as the focus on Plame was not that someone outed her, but that she was connected to Joe Wilson. The actual crime, which is the act of taking documents and handing them over, will be elided – unless there is someone at the State Department who has shown a bit too much knowledge of and interest in some specific piece of data and who happens to be of liberal political inclinations, and then we’re talking a show trial along the lines of the House Un-American Activities Committee. That is why the State Department is saying to its current and would-be staff – do not have contact with that now-tainted information, do not discuss it, do not show special knowledge.

(By the way, I don’t think I ever personally said that the Republicans will try to impeach Obama.  They may not have to go that far.  But continually bombard him with hearings and inquisitions, the legal equivalent of harrassment, and waste his time?  Yeah, I think they would do that.  He’s not immune and he looks incredibly vulnerable.  It’s just like the Republicans to go for the old, the sick and the weak first.)

The NYTimes has discovered that the world really is run by a small, evil group to which no one we know belongs.  In A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives, we are told:

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

[...]

In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.

The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available.

Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small, like Dan Singer’s home heating-oil company in Westchester County, north of New York City.

This fall, many of Mr. Singer’s customers purchased fixed-rate plans to lock in winter heating oil at around $3 a gallon. While that price was above the prevailing $2.80 a gallon then, the contracts will protect homeowners if bitterly cold weather pushes the price higher.

But Mr. Singer wonders if his company, Robison Oil, should be getting a better deal. He uses derivatives like swaps and options to create his fixed plans. But he has no idea how much lower his prices — and his customers’ prices — could be, he says, because banks don’t disclose fees associated with the derivatives.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if I got a fair price, or what they’re charging me,” Mr. Singer said.

What we got here is a cartel.  Too bad we don’t have any reliable referees, let alone hard and fast rules, to protect Americans from small groups gaming the system.  You can thank Obama and the Republicans for that.

Which brings me to my final point, and I think I do have one.

I’m getting fed up with reading stupid crap from African American journalists threatening to take the African American community with them if Obama doesn’t get a second term.  If I were one of the millions of African Americans out of work and hurting during the Obama years, with no end in sight in his second term but more tearing apart of the social safety net, I’d be really offended by these people speaking for me.  How insulting to think that someone would pass up a better candidate just because they have an insufficient amount of melanin in their skin.  That’s what the likes of Colbert and Read are saying.  That the single most important thing to African Americans when making a political decision is not whether the politician is going to help them get a job or put food on their plates but whether he has right skin color.  It’s also insulting to women, who make up a far greater percentage of the Democratic base than African Americans and whose votes could be much more critical to the Democrats political prosperity in 2012.  Next time there is an election year, Democrats won’t be able to pull that Roe shit because no woman in her right mind will believe them.  And in the end, who cares?  The Rpeublicans don’t want Roe rescinded.  They get their voters to the polls with it.

But it is the cynical “pols will be pols” people I get most irritated with.  In the end, it didn’t really matter whether the politician in the White House was a New Democrat or an Old Democrat.  What mattered was that the Democrat was a leader, which Obama most definitely is not.  In this day and age, in this particular economic crisis, what was and still is required, was a person who would not let propaganda and and the machinations of the ruthless, predatory Movement Conservative Republicans and their noise machine stand in the way of doing what was right.  That person didn’t have to have a secret 11 dimensional chess strategy.  That person had to want to do the right thing for America and the vast number of people that are not rich and well connected.  That person saw what was coming and would have done anything to stop it, including exhausting their own personal wealth to win the nomination.  That person was and is a dedicated public servant who like Lincoln and FDR, would have put aside their own personal aspirations to do the right thing for the country.

That person is NOT Obama.  And now everyone knows it.  Now that we know, only the truly insane and disconnected will want to foist him on us for a second term.

Fairness, Dignity, Respect: Conducting Subversion in Public

She was us. But we're still out here even if she has moved on.

I have read a lot of Woe is Us comments and posts around the web in response to Anglachel’s excellent post, Hillary is not Going to Save Us.

“We are doomed.  We should just accept Obama’s Reign of Error and unopposed primary run in 2012.  We should get used to our batshit crazy Republican overlords.  All is lost!  The hosts of Mordor have won!”

This is bull $#@%.

You are not reading Anglachel’s post correctly if that is what you think she is saying.

What she is saying, and she can correct me if I’m wrong, is that leaders get power from movements, momentum, a bloc of supporters and a set of principles.  Neither Hillary not anyone else can save you if you don’t have a movement to support her or make any attempts to save yourself.

Here’s where I differ with Anglachel: I think Hillary would jump in if she knew there was a tidal wave of people ready to throw their support behind her or some other FDR style Democrat.  Obama is very weak.  His supporters, as Anglachel says, are numerically small but very vocal.  So what?  It doesn’t matter how noisy the Stevensonians are.  The Democratic party still needs to appeal to all of the other regular working class people out there.  And those people aren’t letting themselves be corralled anymore.  Witness the reports on the AmericaSpeaks forums that Corrente is reporting.  We know what kind of game the handlers are playing.  They are trying to present the policy prescriptions as a choice between bad and slightly less bad.  Nowhere are the “acceptable to the average guy” policies allowed.  And people are letting these agents of the wealthy know that they’re not interested in that.  They want to be masters of their own fates, not sheepish pawns in someone else’s fantasy.

But more than that, had Hillary won in 2008, she would be looking at a second term in 2012.  It’s nonsense for her to state that she’s out of politics because, well, I don’t know why she would say that.  She wouldn’t be too tired to run for her re-election in 2012.  So, there’s got to be another reason why she says she’s *planning* to sit it out.  As we have seen with many politicians, Hillary included, it is usual with candidates to reject the addresses of the voters whom they secretly mean to accept, when they first apply for her favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. We should therefore by no means be discouraged by what she has just said, and shall hope to lead her to the oval office ere long.

But why should she, or any FDR style Democrat, accept the hand of a Mr. Collins when what she/he really desires is a Mr. Darcy?  We’re not in fighting form for  successful courting.  What we need to be is an attractive voting bloc, not just a ragtag, disjointed bunch of discouraged disenfranchised working class schlubs.  And when I say “working class”, masslib, I am talking about all of the people the Democrats left on the table in 2008, whether they are college educated or not.  If you make your income from a paycheck and not investments, YOU ARE WORKING CLASS. Don’t be afraid of the term.  Your strength depends on recognizing what you have in common with the people who you once thought were your intellectual inferiors.  When the top 10% of the county makes 70% of the wealth generated here, you working people of all professions and condition of dirt under the nails are in the same boat. To the top 10%, you all look like a bunch of stupid losers. It’s YOU against that top 10%.

This is why Sarah Palin is so successful.  She has tapped into the anger of the people who have smelled the asphalt.  If you want to beat her, you have to join with the road workers.  Once you have established that you exist and that you share a common cause and a common set of principles based on Fairness, Dignity and Respect, you will start looking pretty hot to the politician who will fight for the right to carry your banner.

Yes, oh best beloveds, there are such people.  The world is ever thus.  There are people who will strive to accumulate power and wealth and who will step on the heads of anyone who gets in their way.  And there are people who will gird their loins for you and step up.  There are good people in the world.  Those people are not perfect.  No human has ever been born upon the planet who did not have flaws.  But there are people who try.  They try and sometimes they fail.  But they do not give up because civilization hangs together by the slimmest of positive efforts that overcome the negative ones.  Without effort to overcome the chaos in favor of establishing a good order for the benefit of all, we as a people would cease to exist.  So, we must all be doing something right every single day to hold ourselves together.

That means showing up at public meetings and not allowing others to shout you down.  That means sticking up for the working people, even if they are public servants who seem to be benefitting from your taxes.  That means rewarding solidarity with your support.  That means giving to others when you don’t have much yourself: feeding the poor, buying a gift for a disadvantaged child at Christmas, donating money to classrooms in need.  That means helping your friends who have become unemployed through no fault of their own.  That means standing up for them when the ignorant and narrow minded call them parasites after all of their years of hard work and taxes for the public good. That means never accepting the fate that others would assign to you.  That means women sticking up for themselves and letting go of Roe that has created a false sense of equality and has been used by your enemies to rally the opposition to tear down your rights.  That means never giving anyone consent to treat you as an inferior.  That means conducting your business in public, transparently, creating your principles and values and inviting others to join you.  That means imposing discipline on yourself and others to stick to the point, not be distracted by identity politics.  That means insisting on equality for all because the country can use all the help it can get from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, education level or any other criteria that separate us from one another.

Do not let them separate you from your friends.  Hold hands, get together, brainstorm, meet, plan, do, solve and never, never let the bastards grind you down.  Push back forcefully.  You don’t have a choice.  This is your country.  Take it back.  Insist on Fairness, Dignity, Respect.  Demand a New Deal.

If you build it, she may run.  Or someone else will take up the banner.  When she told us at the Convention to “Keep Going!”, I think this is what she meant.

Update: For those of you who asked, here is the proposal I wrote in 2008 for going forward.  It is preliminary and somewhat out of date.  But it’s a starting point for discussion.

ANewOrganizationforDemocratsinExile

 

Stalemate

The people who can master the Ring usually wisely turn it down

It just occurred to me that the Obama presidency is like what would have happened if Boromir had succeeded in taking the One Ring to Gondor.  They should have sent Faramir to Rivendell.

ANYWAY…

Anglachel has (yet another) informative post up, Primary Objective, breaking down the dynamics of primary challengers to incumbent presidents.  Go read the whole thing.  Here’s the conclusion:

There’s the landscape for a primary challenge. Anyone who would try this had best be ready to give up all hope of a political future, as he or she would be mounting a campaign against the dominant faction. There simply isn’t anything in the Democratic party analogous to the Movement Conservatives behind Reagan. Hillary is probably the only Democrat who has that kind of support and loyalty from her coalition, but is the last person in the party to deliberately undermine a sitting president that way. No other candidate has name recognition, an established base, and/or a defined cause.

Someone could act as a spoiler, much like Kennedy in 1980 or Bradley in 2000, but those two came in with media support and a dedicated base. Obama is unpopular in the party, but not mortally so (contra Carter), and he is still the beloved of the media (contra Gore) for intraparty battles, so is unlikely to be as damaged by a primary challenge as Carter or Gore. If there is another big economic shock and/or if unemployment stays as is or worsens, then the cumulative bad news may embolden challengers from his own faction and make the press distance itself from a loser.

Mostly, the danger to Obama will be in the general, where wider dissatisfaction, resentment voting and a less fawning press will put him in a condition closer to Humphrey’s or Gore’s in the general.

The trouble with the Democratic Party, an organization that is the worst in politics except for all the others, is that it has not discovered a way to recombine the populist and progressive modes of its liberalism in a way that matches the force of the New Deal coalition. Until it purged itself of the Dixiecrats, it could not do this. Since doing so, the progressive faction has not cared to do this.

It needs to build an analogue of the Movement Conservatives, and that cannot be done without the majority of the white working class once again agreeing that it’s material interests are best served by this party.

Now, I understand the reasons why she comes to the conclusions she does and I wouldn’t argue that her analysis would logically lead anyone to the same point.  But history does not necessarily have to repeat itself.  The facts lay out instances of failure when the Stevensonians have attempted to usurp the process.  What I take away from this is that there has been a schism in the Democratic party for quite some time now.  This is what Anglachel describes as the Stevensonians vs the Jacksonians.  I think most readers of this blog would say they are a little of both.  Yeah, admit it, you thought Tsongas was a contender, didn’t you? (Read the rest below the fold)

But I’m going to go out on a limb here and using absolutely no facts at all for this hypothesis will assert that over the last 40 years, the bulk of the country has been tending towards Jacksonianism, if that is a word.  And the reason I say that is because the American industrial landscape is a hulking, smoking ruin.  The working class no longer just works with its hands, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  The new working class now also encompasses workers in highly skilled, technical jobs that require a college degree or its equivalent. Pretty soon, the MBAs will be joining us, though they’re in a state of denial at present that they’re jobs are exportable.  The new working class is anyone who gets a paycheck for their income from another source.  This working class contains people like programmers, accountants, system administrators, chemists, biologists, geneticists, nurses and teachers.  They have now joined the busdrivers and autoworkers except that most of these new working class people have never been in unions.  They may have thought that their college degrees made them more “professional” and less likely to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that the older industrialized economy fought through.

Maybe the turmoil inside the Democratic party has as much to do with this new reality as the colossal stupidity of the Stevensonian wing.  Maybe the new working class has to come to some kind of understanding with itself and realize that the powers that be has taken the smart and well educated down a notch in the social hierarchy.  To the rich and well connected, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have.  Your purpose in life is to become a handmaiden to the shareholders.  You are a specialist, a technician, a servant.  Nothing more than that.

Of course, there will be people who through circumstances or initiative will become self-employed or budding entrepreneurs.  These people carry the weight of their own survival and everyone else’s on their shoulders.  These are your new independents.  Neither party really offers them what they need but when it comes right down to it, they’d rather not pay so much in taxes for all their hard work.  And the bonus class is making more and more of these people as they cut these former wage slaves free of their former secure tethers to a steady salary.

So, maybe it is putting the cart before the horse to expect that this group will prevail against the Stevensonians, who seem to come from an entitled class of pseudo liberals.  As Anglachel points out, what made the Republicans the dominant force in American politics today, besides the obscene gobs of cash, is a movement.  And Democrats don’t have a movement.  The Obama Movement was a manufactured one, slickly produced by a marketing team in some conference room, complete with powerpoint slides with carefully researched images created by  professional graphics teams and finished off with plenty of branded swag in complimentary gift totes after an elegantly catered luncheon.  (Smoke filled rooms are declasse)  The reason it didn’t last beyond the election of 2008 is because it was a fad, like flash mobs.  It didn’t really have meaning to the lives of the new working class, who just didn’t want another four years of Republicans in power.

Obama needs to get this through his thick head: he was never personally popular among the Democratic base.  He was just “The Democrat”.  No one really liked him.  He’s not charming.  He doesn’t have magical oratorial skills.  He’s not a political wizard with a secret 11 dimensional chess plan.  He’s not even good at politics.  He was gently carried over all of the obstacles of the 2008 campaign by the media and his own party.  And he knows it.  If he’s insecure and thinks he can’t do the job he is clearly unprepared for, he’s got a good reason to feel that way.  If he’d waited 8 years, even I might have voted for him.  But he didn’t.  And the fact that he is NOT “The Democrat” that everyone thought they were voting for because they didn’t really have a choice, has left the Democratic base deeply disappointed.

But unless Obama bows out, and I sincerely hope that someone convinces him that it would be the best thing for the party and the country, he will go on to lose the 2012 election and we’ll be stuck with another mean spirited, hard hearted conservative Republican.  And this is something the delusional left, like Chris Hedges and Will Bunch have to get through their heads: no one they suggest as an alternative is going to win.  The country isn’t going to suddenly become infatuated with Kucinich or Feingold or Dean.  Nah-Gah-Happen.  These Democrats do not resonate with the voters.  And forget Elizabeth Warren.  She’d be a great champion of protecting the middle class from financial predators but she’s never run for public office.  Whenever I see this stuff in various comment threads I have to wonder if what color is the sky on the commenter’s planet.

What this country needs is a real movement.  That voting bloc, that movement, is just sitting there, with no one currently representing or championing it.  A savvy politician would appeal to the realities of this new working class, consisting of the old working class and the new educated working class.  There is one obvious frontrunner there but as Anglachel points out, she won’t be disloyal to her own party.  But would she be disloyal to her country if she thought that the country couldn’t survive another four years of bad government from either side of the aisle?

Which is more important?  Party or country?

But whoever that champion of the new working class might be, he or she is not going to be able to win as long as the new working class does not realize that they are all in this together and that the education of the college professionals and technicals must form a coalition with the older union and industrialized workers.  Until that happens, the Democratic base will remain fragmented and at the mercy of a bunch of snobs that populate blogs like OpenLeft and FireDogLake and journals like The Atlantic and newspapers like The Washington Post.  They don’t want to associate with or acknowledge the reality of the new working class and so they will not represent or speak for you.

You have to form your own movement and speak for yourself.  Then you can pick the candidate of your choice to represent you and your interests and tell the snobs to go eat granola.

Tuesday Morning: Melange

There’s no consistent theme in this collection of posts.  Or maybe there is but I can’t find it yet.

To start off, let’s say for a moment that Democrats actually get their $#@% together and decide to primary Obama.  (not exactly a fantasy and not nearly as remote as it was last week at this time)  Who is the most likely person to succeed, I mean, besides the obvious?

My guess is Jim Webb, Senator from Virginia.  Now, Webb has a few liabilities and I’ll get to them in a minute.  But with Webb versus Obama, you would get the classic matchup between the Stevensonian and Jacksonian parts of the Democratic party.  The Stevensonians have their hands on power right now, or what’s left of it, since they’ve made a total mess of things.  But the Jacksonians have the votes the Democrats need to win next time.

RealClearPolitics featured a conversation with Webb yesterday about how to win back the Reagan Democrats.  I actually don’t like the term “Reagan Democrat”, which is why the media is probably going to use it every chance they get.  I’m certainly no fan of Reagan and have been a liberal all my life.  But Webb actually gets it better than most people who are sticking a label on disaffected Democrats:

We’re talking about why voters didn’t come around. Webb is weighing my report the morning after the election: Democrats won the smallest share of white voters in any congressional election since World War II.

“I’ve been warning them,” Webb says, sighing, resting his chin on his hand. “I’ve been having discussions with our leadership ever since I’ve been up here. I decided to run as a Democrat because I happen to strongly believe in Jacksonian democracy. There needs to be one party that very clearly represents the interests of working people … I’m very concerned about the transactional nature of the Democratic Party. Its evolved too strongly into interest groups rather than representing working people, including small business people.”

[...]

Webb seems less at home today. He identifies himself as a Democrat. But he has few Democratic leaders to identify with. He won’t say this. His criticism is discernibly girdled. He begins to tell a story about a conversation with a Democratic leader and pulls back. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he mutters. “I have had my discussions. I’ve kept them inside the house. I did not want to have them affect this election, quite frankly. I didn’t want to position myself in the media as a critic of the administration.”

But criticism is in order. Democrats’ suffered historical losses from Congress to the state houses last week. It’s an apt moment for Webb to step in. He is an atypical politician. Politics is not his alpha or omega. He’s authored more than half a dozen books, succeeded as a screenwriter and won an Emmy for his coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut. This success outside politics empowers him to be less political. Yet what suits Webb to criticism is not that. It’s the political sociology he embodies.

Webb represents an endangered species. It’s more than his red state Democratic stature, although that would be reason enough. The moderate House Democratic coalition lost more than half its lawmakers last week. But that Blue Dog set is still more common than Webb.

Webb’s one of the last FDR Democrats. An economic populist. A national security hawk. His Democratic politics are less concerned with social groups than social equality (of opportunity, not outcome). His values were predominant in the Democrat Party from FDR to JFK, the period in the twentieth century when Democrats were also dominant.

Before we go on, notice how the conventional wisdom saturated media, in its quest to shape a narrative (or under orders from someone else) positions Blue Dog Democrats as “moderates”.  Anyone who has been paying even a minimal amount of attention to politics knows that Blue Dog Democrats are just as conservative as their Republican colleagues.  But I digress.

In some respects, Webb is similar to Hillary Clinton.  (He could have lifted that last paragraph right out of our credo.) He’s got enough governmental experience to make Obama look completely unqualified: Combat vet, former Secretary of the Navy, Congressional liaison, novelist, journalist, Emmy winner, lawyer, Senator.  His son enlisted and served in Iraq, yet he is not an Iraq War proponent.  In 2008, there were rumors that he was up for consideration as Obama’s VP.  But he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in the VP position.  Is it because he had concerns about Obama or because he wanted the top position some day?  As far as superdelegates go, I think he held out as uncommitted for a long time.  Actually, I wish all of them had waited but that’s besides the point.  Karma will take care of the ones who jumped aboard the Obama bandwagon early.

Now, for his liabilities.

Continue reading

Sunday Morning: D’oh! Sooooo close.

The fallout from the midterm election is still being analyzed by the blogosphere and the mainstream media.  Some of the best analysis can once again be found at Anglachel’s Journal.  Her latest, The Failure of Team Obama , gets almost to the heart of the matter:

Political choices have political outcomes. Failure to act in the long-term interest of the party – which is just another way of saying failure to enact policies and engineer outcomes that will build mass support for continued electoral success – and subsuming party interests to that of elite factions within a party (and even more those elite groups spanning parties) will erode institutional strength:

[...]

This simple fact – that Obama chose the team he wanted, with full knowledge of who they were and where their loyalties lay – undermines the Obamacan apologists like WKJM who whine on about how we have to give The Precious more time and we aren’t being fair and times are tough and any way Clinton lost big at the midterms too and blah blah fucking blah.

This is also why the growing meme of “This is Bill Clinton’s old financial team, so really it’s all his fault because he started it, and Obama inherited his problems from Clinton, and it’s all due to the evil Clinton cabal!” can’t hold water. If the economic choices of the Clinton administration were wrong, then Obama should have had the wisdom to chose different advisers. There was time enough to see the long-term effects of those past political choices, with special emphasis on how the loopholes of the legislation (loopholes demanded by both Republicans and Democrats, each in turn guided by that cross-party interest group, Wall Street) were exploited under an out-of-control Republican regime.

[...]

The biggest problem here is not that Obama pulled the wool over anyone’s eyes. He was this way all along and has performed exactly as he said he would – center-right, non-confrontational, go with the status quo, listen to all the Very Serious People, and earnestly pursue bi-partisan capitulation.

The failure lies with those who believed his bullshit in the first place.

There’s more where that came from.  Go read the whole thing.

Add to that two small posts at Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix.  The first was about how the Democrats lost significant support in the states where Hillary Clinton had won the 2008 primaries by landslides.  In Dems Lose Clinton Country, Crawford writes:

Forty of 63 House turnovers to GOP were in states Obama lost to Hillary in 2008 primaries. Just something for the President’s camp to think about as they ponder a more daunting reelection map than they had faced before Tuesday.

Had Hillary been available to campaign – her position as secretary of state doesn’t allow it – could she have made a difference? Bill Clinton was more than available, barnstorming everywhere she might have helped, but Democrats still lost much ground in HRC 2008 states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana (12 House turnovers).

Although Obama won those states in the general election, Tuesday’s drubbing suggests he’ll be spending a lot of time there over the next two years.

The other post, Was 2008 an Outlier?, comes closer than a gnat’s wing to the truth but doesn’t quite connect:

How can elections two years apart look so different? But Tuesday’s vote seems to be the norm. Its center-right results fit into the main stream of the last 30 years far more than 2008′s assumed lunge to the left.

Even the Democratic congressional sweep of 2006 was actually more in keeping with tradition. Democrats won Congress largely by recruiting centrist candidates – which created a time bomb that exploded in their faces this week, as voters in those right-leaning districts and states switched back to the Republican column.

This has me wondering if Barack Obama’s election was merely an exception made possible by the alluring uniqueness of his personal history and appeal. If so, the biggest mistake Democrats made was in assuming that their recent successes were transformational, instead of merely temporary.

Let’s clear this up right now.  I don’t think that the Democratic party in 2008 really believed that Obama’s candidacy was transformational.  Obama was a franchise, complete with two autobiographies of a man who didn’t have a history, and a slick brand marketing campaign.  The Democrats sold the Transformation brand to win but forgot to include the crucial ingredient- actual transformation.  And the voters called them on it.

Continue reading

Thursday: What we’re up against because the “Creative Class” just *had* to have its way

Oh, how bittersweet to know what’s coming but unable to knock any sense at all into the children who got us into this mess.

I noticed yesterday that they seemed unusually quiet.  Well, except for the gits at the Big Cheeto who seem determined to blame all of this on the hicks in the sticks.

No, don’t blame it on an increase in the number of indies going Republican.  The problem is a good chunk of your own team didn’t bother to show up.  It’s that “party unity” thing you bludgeoned us with.  Remember when Nancy Pelosi brought down the gavel like she was late for a plane and the band struck up, “People all over the world, join hands, get on a LOVE train, LOVE train”.   That song is ruined for me. The party was being 1 part sincere and 45 parts mean spirited and contemptuous, rubbing salt in the wounds of everybody in Denver who was sent there to represent a middle class/working class constituency that was desperately looking for a return to peace and prosperity.  Instead, they were railroaded and stuffed in the closet while a small bunch of fanatics took over the party.

Based on the comments I saw on various blogs yesterday, the “creative class” intelligentsia still do. not. get. it.  They now seem receptive to the idea that Obama should be primaried, preferably from the left.  But they keep trying to ignore the only legitimate person in the room who has a shot of doing it.  Desperately, they grasp at names like Elizabeth Warren, who has never run for public office, and Russ Feingold, who just got tossed out of one for, I suspect, being a bit too much of a man of mystery.  Even Anglachel who was a Clintonista backs off from entertaining the possibility: Continue reading

Friday News: Things I don’t have time to read (but you should)

protein art. See foldit below

Running late again, sports fans.  I’ve been quizzing Brooke on lipids vs fatty acids vs trigycerides this morning.  Gahhh!  Make it stop!

So, anyway, I have a small compilation of news but I haven’t had much time to read them all the way through.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

1.) Myiq has already touched on this.  The New York Times has a big headline that reads:

Bill Clinton Urged Democrat to Quit Senate Bid

!!!

Jeez, the White House must really hate the guy(s).  Who do they hate more?  The beloved ex-president who is busting his ass campaigning for Democratic candidates or the Democratic senate candidate who supported the Big Dawg’s wife for president?  Damn, does this make sense?  Why would the White House cripple two important candidates 5 days before the election?  And why does the rest of Congress put up with it?

2)  Obama is a piss poor socialist.  According to Politico (always take with a grain of salt), under Obama Corporate profits have climbed magnificently.  Note to the socialists: this guy is giving you a bad name.

3.) Ted Strickland is toughing it out in Ohio.  Seems like a pragmatic guy.  The Big Dawg campaigned for him.  But it looks like Obama has the most to lose if Strickland loses:

Even as party leaders in Washington leave some vulnerable Democrats to fend for themselves in the final days of the campaign and scramble to shore up incumbents who might be more viable, one candidate is being given particular assistance: Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio, who is in a difficult battle for re-election.

The reason is not simply that he still has a chance of winning. For Mr. Obama, the fate of Mr. Strickland could be very much tied to his own, since a Republican in the Ohio governor’s seat could make his re-election to the presidency in 2012 that much more complicated.

Ohio is one of nine states where Mr. Obama expanded the Democratic map in the last presidential election, and his advisers believe the electoral votes here are likely to be among the most critical to assure his return to the White House. Republicans do not disagree and have used that argument in the final stages of the midterm election campaign as a motivating factor.

Wow, that’s a tough one.  Vote for the guy Bill Clinton endorses or vote for the Republican to exact revenge on the president you were pressured to vote for instead of the candidate you actually voted for in the primary of 2008.  I’d be asking myself, can I survive four years of a Republican governor?  Well, we in NJ are suffering through it.  It’s not pleasant and for sure the guy’s no long term thinker…

Ehhh, go with Strickland.  Obama’s not savvy enough to save his own ass in 2012.  And anything can happen.  He might even be challenged by a better presidential candidate from his own party.  (Hint to party: you only have *one* viable alternative)

4.) Charles Krauthammer is not really in David Brooks league as the Saruman of the right.  He doesn’t know how to finesse his words as finely as Brooks in such a way to make you think you have absolutely no hope of prevailing against the masters of the universe so why don’t you just bow down or slit your throat now, you helpless underlings?  Still, Chuck gives it the old college try and attempts to wrangle the obvious- that voters are pissed as hell at Democrats for a variety of reasons- into some kind of reason to celebrate the Reagan revolution?  Ehhh, I don’t get it.  Nevertheless, Chuck is taking the anger part seriously in a way the Democratic party is not:

The beauty of this year’s campaign, and the coming one in 2012, is that they actually have a point. Despite the noise, the nonsense, the distractions, the amusements – who will not miss New York’s seven-person gubernatorial circus act? – this is a deeply serious campaign about a profoundly serious political question.

Obama, to his credit, did not get elected to do midnight basketball or school uniforms. No Bill Clinton he. Obama thinks large. He wants to be a consequential president on the order of Ronald Reagan. His forthright attempt to undo the Reagan revolution with a burst of expansive liberal governance is the theme animating this entire election.

Democratic apologists would prefer to pretend otherwise – that it’s all about the economy and the electorate’s anger over its parlous condition. Nice try. The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in 12 Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in 10 think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic Party is falling apart. Democrats are four points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates, giving lie to the ubiquitous liberal conceit that the Republican surge is the revenge of lumpen know-nothings.

Yeah, he’s not in Brooks’ league.  It must be maddening.

5.) Anglachel has a trio of new posts.  I haven’t had time to dig in but don’t let that stop you.

Marketing and Sales

Clouds and Clarity

Plebian Acts

Hypergraphia:  It’s not a bug- it’s a feature!

And now for something completely different.  Have you ever had a secret desire to fold a protein but didn’t know where to start?  What would your friends think?  Does that mean you have to start wearing pocket protectors and a calculator on your belt?

Well, worry no more, secret protein folders.  You can get in on the game with no experience necessary.  In fact, you might even have an advantage if you know absolutely nothing about science and if you’re a female who works well with others in cooperative teams  (there’s a study that says so.  I’ll add the link later).  The game is called Foldit: Solve puzzles for science.  Check it out.  I expect The Confluence to have the winning team.  Let’s kick some tertiary structure ass!!!

Thursday Morning News: Aftermath

For your eschatological pleasure:
Good morning.  This is going to be short as I was up past my bedtime last night.

I’m putting my “podcast for the day” up front.  Gretchen Morgensen, financial reporter for the New York Times, explained the foreclosure debacle to Terry Gross on Fresh Air.  Yeah, yeah, I know Gross is a Kool-Ade drinker.  She still is one of the best interviewers around.  If you get lost in Dakinikat’s posts, you may find Morgensen’s summary easier to digest.

Ruh-Roh, Jon Stewart’s interview of President Obama sounds like it didn’t go so well, er, for Obama.

As example of the president’s supporters being unenthused, on The Daily Show comedian Jon Stewart called President Obama’s legislative agenda timid during an interview with the president set to air this evening.

“Is the difficulty you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered?” Stewart asked. “You ran with such, if I may, audacity, yet legislatively it has felt timid at times. That I am not even sure at times what you want out of a health care bill.”

“Jon I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you,” Obama responded, “This notion that health care was timid – you’ve got 30 million people that will have health insurance because of this.”

At many other times throughout the course of the interview Stewart joked with the president, basically questioning where the mantle of change that the comedian and many Democrats voted for had gone, leaving the president on the defense.

“You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change and the democrats this year seem to be running on please baby one more chance,” Stewart joked.

Stewart: “so you wouldn’t say you would run next time as a pragmatist? You would not, it wouldn’t be yes we can, given certain conditions.”

“No I think what I would say is yes we can but.” Obama answered to laughter from the crowd,  “but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

[....]

Asked the humorist: “What have you done that we don’t know about? Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?”

It sounds like Obama bogarted the mike the rest of the time with long, involved answers with multiple prepositional phrases.  He was probably coached to shut Stewart down.

Ayayayayay.  I have to check the DVR.  I find it amazing that the one guy in America who can conduct a serious, hard hitting, hold-them-accountable interview of a major politician is a comedian.  All hail the Jester.

In the aftermath of Obama’s slash and burn march through the Democratic party’s constituent landscape, the coalition he presumably built in 2008 is fracturing.  The New York Times reports that Catholics, women and the poor are fleeing him for the GOP.  Didn’t see that coming.  What was it that Harold Ickes said during the RBC hearing?  Disenfranchising all those votes was “not the best way to start down the path of party unity”?  From the article, Coalition for Obama split by drift to the GOP:

The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”

Here’s my take: Some of these groups never were firmly in Obama’s camp in the first place.  Some of these voters, the working class, for example,  voted for a Democrat, not Obama specifically.  Some were frightened into it, eg women.  And some were guilted into it lest they be called racists.  And now, they’re so angry at having their issues dismissed in favor of the banks that they’ll vote for  Republicans they like even less.  It’s not just that Obama has been so ineffective for them.  It’s that they could have had someone else.  You know the *other* candidate who won all those huge Democratic states by large margins and whose voters were suppressed?  Yeah, those are the people who are defecting in waves right now.

Here’s another interesting finding that jumped out of the poll:

There was clear opposition to addressing one of the government’s biggest long-term challenges — the growing costs of paying Social Security benefits — by raising the retirement age or reducing benefits for future retirees.

I’d kill the Catfood Commission.  Retirement at 70 is cruel.

Speaking of Social Security, Atrios went to another blogger conference with the White House.  Here’s the question he asked:

Q    Mine is an easy question.  Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are awaiting a report from the deficit commission, or deficit reduction commission, so I have been adamant about not prejudging their work until we get it.

But I think you can look at the statements that I’ve made in the past, including when I was campaigning for the presidency, that Social Security is something that can be fixed with some modest modifications that don’t impose hardships on beneficiaries who are counting on it.

And so the example that I used during the campaign was an increase in the payroll tax, not an increase — let me scratch that.  Not an increase in the payroll tax but an increase in the income level at which it is excluded.

And so what I’ve been clear about is, is that I’ve got a set of preferences, but I want the commission to go ahead and do its work.  When it issues its report, I’m not automatically going to assume that it’s the right way to do things.  I’ll study it and examine it and see what makes sense.

But I’ve said in the past, I’ll say here now, it doesn’t strike me that a steep hike in the retirement age is in fact the best way to fix Social Security.

So, what I get from this is that Obama doesn’t understand that those of us in our 40s and 50s have been paying extra into the social security system to pay in advance for the benefits we were counting on.  And when the time comes, we have every reason to expect that those funds will be there.  Oh, and retiring at 70 doesn’t strike him as the best way to solve the problem but he wouldn’t absolutely rule it out.

I would like him to absolutely rule it out.  And not touch benefits.  Ok, just get away from the social security issue altogether.  Just don’t even go there.  Just don’t.

Also from Atrios is this:

Big signs popping up around the urban hellhole with pictures of Obama, the 2008 logo/colors, saying “Support Obama. Vote Nov 2nd.”

That could come back to bite you in the aftermath of a big loss for Democrats.

Anglachel wrote another substantial, chewy post on WKJM’s Frustration (WKJM stands for Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall).  She takes on the Stevensonian side of the party that seems to be in control of the party apparatus this cycle.  (I’d LOVE to get her take on Chris Hedges ridiculous piece of revisionist history.  There’s some meaty material to work with there including what looks like a peculiar tendency towards left wing eschatology, although Hedges would probably vigorously deny it.)

About Josh Marshall, Anglachel writes:

What scares Marshall the most is not that Bill might be criticizing Obama, but that Bill’s very presence illustrates all that is missing from the current administration. Comparing the loss of the 1994 mid-terms to the potential loss of the 2010 mid-terms is an attempt to obfuscate causes by mindlessly jabbering about effects.

Yes, Obama came in to office with a hellacious mess on his hands – and a majority in both houses and an electorate screaming for change. He had the political opportunity of a lifetime to transform the fundamental terms of political engagement, just as both FDR and Reagan did. He could have taken on the banks. He could have charged ahead for substantive health care reform. He could have pounded the shit out the failed policies of the Reagan Revolution and pinned the blame for everything on them, and the country would have lapped it up exactly the way they responded to FDR. But he didn’t and now he will play (at best) catch up for the remaining two years.

WKJM is not the only one who is trying to avoid talking about thereasons for party discontent by presenting a half-assed and historically inaccurate picture of the 1994 mid-term election. What he doesn’t seem to get is that because the majority of the nation doesn’t hold the Clintons in contempt the way he and the other Purchased Fellows do, every time he (and others of his ilk) make this comparison, he keeps reminding us about the way Bill never quit, never gave up, never stopped articulating his vision of what the party should be and how he was going to work to achieve that end. And that resulted in retaining the White House in 1996, and gaining back House seats in the next three elections – 1996, 1998, 2000.

Basically, we’re being held hostage by these guys whose fervent belief in Clinton’s betrayal of the party is resistant to any presentation of facts to the contrary or even that the working class seem to still like him in spite of all that the Stevensonians feel Clinton did to them.  Never let ugly facts get in the way of beautiful theories.  That’s not politics.  That’s religion.  It’s based on faith, not reason.

In the aftermath of the healthcare reform act, the benefits seem to be accruing for Republicans this election cycle.  Quelle Surprise.  Have you gotten your bennies package for next year yet?  There goes another whopping chunk of change.

It’s almost as if Obama *wanted* the Republicans to win.

In Senate races, it looks like in the aftermath of Christine O’Donnell’s primary win in Delaware, Pennsylvania voters are turning to Sestak.

And now for something completely different, Melvyn Bragg of  the In Our Time podcast on BBC4 discusses the legends and myths related to The Unicorn.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

And now, the lighter side of emotional self indulgent navel gazing:

D’OH! A Round up of left blogosphere posts

The liberal blogosphere is hitting its stride today.  No, I’m not talking about the “A-List” bloggers.  They shot their wads in 2008.  No one goes there anymore.

Here’s a round up of some posts worth reading and one that deserves a dope slap:

1.) Anglachel’s back!  And she’s got some great posts from sunny California where Governor Moonbeam is taking on Meg “the Whore” Whitman.  Some juicy nuggets from Unforced Errors include:

Given that Hillary wiped the floor with The Precious in California in the primary back then and given the high proportion of female Democratic office holders, party functionaries and voters in California, you’d think Gov. Moonbeam would have the sense God gave geese and be very certain not to allow a breath of anything in or around his campaign that would hint of sexism or misogyny. That he and his staffers do not “get it” is the political problem. There is also the strategic problem that they have shut down attention to Whitman’s Arianna Huffington-esque “nanny problem”that was keeping her on the defensive.

It also follows on the heels of Jerry making an ass of himself by attacking Bill Clinton after a series of clever ads by Whitman, with Moonbeam offering rude and crude comments about the Lewinsky mess. Big Dog had to come in and save Jerry’s ass as well as showing the fool how an expert handles these things. Bill just smiled and thanked Whitman for bringing him back to the attention of the California electorate – with special thanks for bringing such a young and good looking version of himself back – and exclaimed about how popular he was and how much people were talking about him now, which forced a comparison between the peace and prosperity of his administration and the Republican mess that followed. He made the target of his attack the Republican record, not Jerry Brown’s petulance over a decades old loss.

Further, the use of the term whore (sorry, I won’t call it “the w-word”) wasn’t an outburst in the midst of a heated debate, but calmly put forth as a deliberate strategic move. How anyone could think that publicly calling a female opponent a whore could be a winning or advantageous strategy boggles the imagination.

Wow!  Jerry Brown dissed the Big Dawg after all he’s done for him?!  I guess no good deed goes unpunished.  Stunning.  Go read it and the other posts she’s written lately.  They are a things of beauty.  (Er, but skip her posts on gadgets.  Them she doesn’t do so well.)

2.) Ian Welsh has a call to arms for the left in  Repudiating Liberalism or Obama.  You can’t serve two masters and as Peter Daou wrote yesterday, “If you stand up for your principles, you may lose the election but keep your principles; if you ditch your principles, you’ll lose both”.  Like us, Ian saw the writing on the wall early and tried to persuade the blogosphere to get tough with Obama.  Like us, he was martyred for it (though I think we’re still feeling the effects of the flaying while Ian is being rehabilitated.  Go figure…):

If Obama was seen as liberal, and his policies then failed, liberalism would be discredited.  It must be made clear, starting as soon as possible, that he was not a liberal and that liberals and progressives repudiated him.  A few people doing it in 2010, mostly half-heartedly, when he had already been seen to fail, simply looks like rats deserting a sinking ship, as it did when conservatives in 2007 started saying Bush wasn’t actually a conservative.

I lost that argument.  Frankly, opinion leaders aren’t willing to take those risks.  They saw that Obama was popular with the base, that everyone was still in “hope without reason” mode, and even when they agreed (and some did) that his policies were a failure, that he’d betray unions, that he was going to be a disaster on civil rights, they wouldn’t do it. “The audience isn’t there yet.”

The art of opinion leadership had become “see where the mob is going, get out in front and pretend you lead them there.”

So be it.

What is done is done.  What needs to be done is this.  The liberal wing of the Democratic party must be SEEN to take out Obama.  There must be a primary challenge.  If there is not, liberalism will be discredited for at least a decade, time America cannot afford, since liberal solutions work and conservative solutions,  whether pushed by right wing Dems or Republicans, don’t.

Are you a liberal first, or a Democrat?  You can’t be both

Basically, Obama is taking down liberalism. He crippled the left in 2008 with the help of “male graduate student syndrome” (courtesy Anglachel) and the “sports illustrated swimsuit models with PhDs in architecture”, self proclaimed “creative class”, perpetually clueless idiots who rejected Hillary Clinton because they wanted a woman but not THAT woman.  You get the point.  Those guys are still out there.  They still run the party and they are still clueless.  Ian, even if they got a clue and turned on Obama, it’s kind of too late for them.  They’ve lost any credibility they once had.  By the way, Will Bunch will be accusing you of racism any second now.

We need a new left and so far, we’re having trouble getting our act together.  Still, the post is a good one and every word is true.  The left needs to distance itself from the horse it rode in on.

And here’s the Dope Slap

3.) BTD is featuring Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias in a post titled Making Excuses: HAMP vs. HOLC. By the way, why aren’t there any women writing for money in prestigious journals?  I almost expect to hear “It is written!” in a Monty Pythonesque falsetto.  But I digress.

Kevin and Matt make the lame ass argument that poor widdle Obama couldn’t have done more than the destructive and useless HAMP program because regular Americans didn’t want to see their neighbors get a break.  BTD answers:

Interesting how the bank bailouts went through and bank friendly policies have been followed by the Obama Administration despite their unpopularity but homeowner friendly policies were just too tough politically no? FTR, I support and supported TARP, but not the no strings TARP that was executed by the Obama Administration (in my view the saved banks should have been required to own up to their losses, engage in mortgage modifications and generally loosen credit. Just as this was no time for fiscal restraint, it was no time to tighten credit.)

In the end, what was the best political move for the Obama Administration in the first hundred days? The answer seems obvious to me – enact and execute policies that would do the most to lift the economy. That simply didn’t happen. The best example is the egregiously bad HAMP policy. The problem with HAMP was similar to that the entire Obama Administration policy towards the banks has- a dependence on the banks themselves. HAMP did not and will not work because in order for it to work, the banks must take a hit voluntarily. They will never do that.

There was no political reason, none whatsoever, that instead of HAMP, the Obama Administration did not instead create a new HOLC. The Obama Administration, guided by the bumbling incompetent Tim Geithner, chose to coddle the banks instead.

Drum and Yglesias’ excuse making for this failure is utter nonsense.

Yes, BTD, the excuses are twaddle.  But what excuse do you have for rejecting Hillary, except that she wasn’t the Media Darling?  Take a look at this interview she did with Maria Baritoromo during the primary season.  (and take note of how Baritoromo is short, snippy and impatient with Clinton.  Hillary deserved more respect than this but this is a stunning reminder of what she and we put up with):

Hillary and Obama were not the same.  They didn’t have the same policy goals.  We could see it.  BTD needs a dope slap to see it too.  Oh, but he’ll make some cynical, jaded remark about how all politicians are the same and they’ll all let you down in the end.  Know what?  I would have gladly taken that risk with Clinton.  She was prescient.  Obama acted like he didn’t have a care in the world and he governs that way.

As Ian says, bring on Obama’s primary challenger.  Preferably someone who is willing to stick to principle, come hell or high water.

So, sports fans, what have you found in your trip around the web?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 433 other followers