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    • Obama’s Speech on War with the Islamic State
      Let’s just quickly point out the obvious: air power only works if you have effective ground troops backing it up, or your enemy is easily dissuaded from war by losses of infrastructure. Otherwise it wrecks great destruction, and does little more. To put it simply, this strategy will certainly help those fighting the IS, but [...]
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The White House ignored the State Dept’s warnings on Syria for Years

It looks like the gloves are off.  Josh Rogin at The DailyBeast reports the following this afternoon:

Throughout 2011 and well into 2012, President Obama’s White House barred Hillary Clinton’s State Department from even talking directly to the moderate Syrian rebels. This was only one of several ways the Obama team kept the Clinton team from doing more in Syria, back before the revolution was hijacked by ISIS and spread into Iraq.

The policy feud has flared up again in recent weeks, with Clinton decrying Obama’s Syria policy, Obama’s inner circle hitting back, and the president himselfcalling criticism of his Syria moves “horseshit.” Obama and his former secretary of state promised to patch things up at a social gathering on Wednesday. But the rift is deep, and years in the making.

Clinton and her senior staff warned the White House multiple times before she left office that the Syrian civil war was getting worse, that working with the civilian opposition was not enough, and that the extremists were gaining ground. The United States needed to engage directly with the Free Syrian Army, they argued; the loose conglomeration of armed rebel groups was more moderate than the Islamic forces—and begging for help from the United States. According to several administration officials who were there, her State Department also warned the White House that Iraq could fall victim to the growing instability in Syria. It was all part of a State Department plea to the president to pursue a different policy.

“The State Department warned as early as 2012 that extremists in eastern Syria would link up with extremists in Iraq. We warned in 2012 that Iraq and Syria would become one conflict,” said former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. “We highlighted the competition between rebel groups on the ground, and we warned if we didn’t help the moderates, the extremists would gain.”

But the warnings, which also came from other senior officials—including then-CIA chief David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—fell on deaf ears. Obama’s small circle of White House foreign policy advisers resisted efforts to make connections with rebel fighters on the ground until 2013, when the administration began to train and equip a few select vetted brigades. For many who worked on Syria policy inside the administration, it was too little, too late.

Look, guys, I hate to sound like a broken record, really I do.  Do you think it gives me any pleasure to point out that lack of planning, principle and follow through that has characterized the Obama administration for the last six years?  Hell, no.  I have to live in this country too and at my age, there’s no other country in the world that’s going to accept me as an immigrant.  (Though if there is anyone in New Zealand who wants to sponsor me, I’m all ears. )

I can understand the White House’s embarrassment and desire to keep all this dissension under wraps.  But I don’t appreciate the PR campaign they have unleashed against the former SOS simply because she chooses to reveal her difficulties with the White House.

On the other hand, maybe Hillary will learn to be more sympathetic towards people like Edward Snowden.

One can only hope.

Team Players are always guys

If you are still under the illusion that Obama is some kind of feminist, even after Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men showed otherwise, look no further than the rationalizations anonymous White House spokesmen are giving about why Janet Yellen is not favored to be appointed the next Fed Chairman.  This piece by Neil Irwin has gotten a lot of coverage for the past couple of days because it spells out exactly why women are not welcome in the Obama administration or anywhere else where the Obama fanboys have influence.  

But I told you exactly what the mentality of these sexist assholes was a couple of years ago.  That’s because women in the corporate world have been there.  And Obama hired these guys to run his show:   

The short story, it’s typical corporate under-the-radar discrimination.  The women staffers and cabinet members will no doubt be told that they are being too sensitive or paranoid but after their work fails to get the recognition it deserves or requires, she’s going to feel the stress of always being on the outside looking in and missing the crucial milestones necessary to get a promotion and exercise power.  When the crucial decision making meetings happen, she won’t be aware of them.  They might be impromptu, like during lunch at a table where few women are invited to join.  Or at golf games.  Or a meeting may be arranged where the scheduler has a propensity for the hierarchical and no juniors are invited, most of those juniors happening to be women.  Or the female staffer may need to gather information and sends out a survey email, which for some unknown reason, several more senior sycophants fail to respond to.  Or at a department meeting during your presentation, the guys talk over you or interrupt you or speed up your presentation or slow it down so they can ask you questions that were not in the scope of the presentation.  If you’ve been taking data, you’ll have realized by now that men rarely receive this kind of treatment, but it all contributes to making you look just a little bit unprepared or not quite knowing what’s really going on (because you weren’t there when they told the guys what was really going on).  Heck, you’re lucky you get a chance to present at all.  The stars get their 45 minutes of fame at every meeting while you have to book a slot months in advance.  That kind of stuff.

With the “She’s not a team player” rumors flying out there, Yellen is already doomed to be the least successful Fed Chairman ever appointed.  Team Player is code word for not one of us, i.e. male. The White House has already pre-approved the implicit bias treatment of Yellen.  She won’t know what’s going on when her subordinates meet and unless she’s got some plan to monitor their behavior, she won’t know when they’re ignoring her emails or dragging their feet.  If she raises her voice or expects results, they’ll call her “difficult to get along with”, which is code word for “bitch”.  Eventually, she’ll be called ineffective and the White House guys will have won.

We already know this.  Because many women have already lived it.  The landscape we survey in the Yellen- Summers competition is well known territory.  What’s so surprising is that the White House has absolutely no shame in putting it out there.  They are either so stupid they are unaware that they are admitting to implicit bias of a sexist nature or they are arrogant enough to think they can get away with it.  Well, the country has been letting them get away with sexist shit and rewarded them for it since 2008.  In neither case does it reflect well on Obama, his White House staff or his economic policy.  

Running the Fed well isn’t their point at all.  It’s getting their way, being in total control, winning.  It’s the dick waving thing again. Don’t expect Obama to come down on this kind of behavior.  Instead, he appears to be quite comfortable with it.  Well, it’s worked so well for him.  Sort of sums it all up, doesn’t it?  

To the Phones

Smaug makes his opening bid

Following Atrios at Eschaton, Call the White House, your Senators and your House members to say no to proposed cuts to Social Security via the Chained CPI.  They *are* cuts.

This is what the 1% have been waiting for.  This is why the bankers and well-connected have been strangling the money supply for the past 4 years and holding the economy hostage every time there is an expiration of their tax rates.  They need for us to feel enough pain so that we will give up something that is very important to us.

It has never been about the deficit.  It has always been about weakening and then eliminating the social insurance programs and using the chained CPI to calculate Social Security benefits is their first blow.  Don’t let them get away with it without a fight.

Say “NO!” to the Chained CPI.  But don’t just stop there.  I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t oppose a law or proposal without a working counter proposal.  Don’t just complain.  So, tell your elected officials that you would like to strengthen Social Security by raising the payroll tax on higher income earners.

Here’s who to call:

White House

202-456-1111

Your Senators

Your House Members

We didn’t share in the prosperity, why should we share in the austerity?

Spread the word!

Saturday: Power Wash

It’s a nice day, the kid is available, why not power wash the house? That’s what’s on the menu today. I’m headed off to the rental place to pick the washer up. Fun, fun.

In the meantime, remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote that Pfizer was a poster child for The Strategy of No Strategy and that the pension fund would start looking like a target soon?

Gettin’ closer. Pfizer announced on Thursday that they were ending their pension plan. Yep, everyone will now be transitioned to a 401K. Isn’t that special? It looks like people with pensions in companies that were acquired may be safe (please, please, please) but, you know, who knows at this point. The change in the pension plan will affect people who will be turning 55 in about the year 2018. Unfortunately, I know a number of Pfizer employees who may be affected by that and can only imagine how thrilled they are at this news after the cruel amount of stress they’ve been through in the past 4 years.

So, to recap, for scientists living in America but not some parts of Europe:

  • Pharmageddon continues at a steady pace, throwing many, many scientists out of work, perhaps permanently.
  • The only jobs we can get pay a LOT less. You don’t even want to know.
  • Benefits are few to non-existent.
  • Job-hopping and instability is now “expected”. You may have to leave your family behind. Better yet, don’t have a family.
  • You might end up working for a CRO where your input in projects is restricted to task oriented, boring procedures all day, like widget making. No more creativity or learning will be necessary after all those hard science courses.
  • You probably won’t be getting that pension you were counting on after 2 decades of work.
  • If you want health insurance for yourself and your family, you’ll have to pay through the nose for it from your vastly reduced salary at a CRO.
  • Your 401K is tanking- again. But THIS time, because you are out of work, there won’t be any build-back.
  • You are slowly being turned into an “entrepreneur” without any of the benefits. No group insurance rates, no labor protections, no reasonable business loans, and the costs of starting your own pharma, with all of it’s associated risks, are astronomical and suicidal. If you haven’t asked yourself whether all of the entrepreneur talk politicians keep touting will eventually lead to abuse and exploitation of workers without protections, now’s the time to think it over.
  • And finally, the morons in Congress whose skinny necks you would like to wring right now are blithely and capriciously talking about significantly reducing the only retirement option left to you- Social Security. (BTW, see Charles Pierce’s destruction of David Brooks this week. Very satisfying. I strongly suggest David Brooks stay out of central New Jersey because there are a lot of unemployed cancer researchers who he finds indistinguishable from Maury Povitch trailer trash who would like to rip the face off of people like him- metaphorically, of course.)

You know those elected people in Washington? Yeah, I hate those people. I knew the bastards would be putting the screws to us before the election to make people panic and agree to anything. But I never thought they could be this clueless, savage or viciously cruel. I’m not afraid but I am extremely angry at both parties. And, Yes, I know one party is much worse than the other but it hardly makes a difference which party is the worst when both have now crossed the threshold to the dark side. That leaves the vast majority of us without representation but still paying taxes, unemployed or not. And taxation without representation fueled the last revolution.

We are living in a kleptocracy and Democrats did not try hard enough to keep it from happening. Everything you’ve ever worked for your entire life can be stolen from you piece by piece. Your career, your patents, your house, your pensions, your retirement nest egg and all of those extra taxes you paid into a Social Security plan. Promises can be broken, you could get screwed and end up dying poor and no one is held accountable.

Yep, what Washington, DC needs is a good power wash, on the inside.

P.S.- Working people who vote Republican because of social issues should have their heads examined.

‘gits
****************************************
One more thing: according to a new book by James Mann, Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner didn’t get along at the beginning of the Obama administration. Geithner was muscling Clinton aside when it came to dealing with China. It seems that Geithner wanted the Treasury department to be in charge of foreign policy with China and to concentrate solely on economics. Clinton wanted to address more than economic matters and wasn’t going to yield on China. There was a standoff and Clinton won. But she was overruled on the issue of ambassador appointments. Why is that significant? It’s because the ambassador that Obama appointed to China is none other than former Republican presidential candidate and wealthy chemical company scion Jon Huntsman. Yep, read it and weep, labrats. The guy that Obama appointed to China at a time when our jobs were hemorrhaging there was none other than a Republican chemical company guy who speaks Mandarin.

No wonder this administration doesn’t give a royal F#%* about the destruction of our American research industry. It was the plan all along. Right, Mr. Geithner? You guys did nothing to slow things down. In fact, you went out of your way to make it easier for our companies to relocate to Shanghai.

So, let’s review: the people who really didn’t get along with Tim Geithner were all women. They were Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, Christina Romer and Hillary Clinton. I’m sure there are others but any woman who stands up to Geithner and disagrees with him is ok by me. All of these women proposed policies that were ignored by Geithner and the White House but would later turn out to be right. In every case, Geithner had the upper hand except in his interactions with Hillary, where she had a victory on overall policy with China but didn’t get to pick the ambassadors.

And we’re still not at war with Iran.

It’s amazing how so many Democratic party activists got it so wrong. I wonder how that happened, given that they supposedly do not fall for political mind tricks and propaganda…

Real Life Stuff

Ayayayay!  Woke up about 15 minutes later than I planned.  Have to actually *be* somewhere this morning.  So, this is going to be short.

If there are any intrepid reporters out there who want to see what’s going on in the drug industry, check out the Drug Discovery Day activities at the CoRe building at Rutgers University.  There will be 50 companies and recruiters available.  You can be depressed directly or you could network and be depressed.  Choices, Choices!  Actually, I wanted to go to this but I have another event that might be more interesting, but we’ll see.

On the MF Global front, there were signs and implications a few months ago that something was up.  Enough signs that the White House was aware of it, albeit it on the late side.  Gary Gensling, former Clinton advisor and now head of the CTFC, became concerned last Thursday that MF Global was comingling is monies.  This turned out to be true.  The whole article has the feel of people trying to patch together a timeline so no one looks totally awful.

It’s not Monday but I still feel manic.

 

Excuses, excuses

Why *this* picture?

I don’t know why I am surprised at this but it looks like some of the lefty blogosphere guys are circling the wagons around Obama over Anita Dunn’s allegations that the White House could have been in court over the hostile working environment for women.  Kevin Drum is the latest to try to defend the president’s honor:

There really do seem to be legitimate complaints on this score, but on one of the most dramatic quotes about this, there’s a striking mismatch between what Ron Suskind heard and what he reported in his book. Here’s what he said he was told by former White House communications director Anita Dunn:

Looking back, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace….Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace for women.

But here’s the full quote:

I remember once I told Valerie [Jarrett] that, I said if it weren’t for the president,this place would be in court for a hostile workplace….Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.

This doesn’t necessarily change the substance of the charge about the White House atmosphere — though it might, depending on what Dunn meant — but it definitely changes what it suggests about Obama himself. Why on earth did Suskind leave that bit out? It’s only eight words, and it’s not as if he was short on space.

Yes, let us split hairs, Kevin, and turn this into another kerning dispute.

Do the eight words matter?  I’m listening to the book right now and I haven’t gotten to that part but from other posts I have read on the details, I would say, No, the eight words are not that important in the whole scheme of things.

From what I can tell, the infractions were obvious early on.  They included meetings that women were not invited to attend, expertise not listened to and a distinct lack of direction from Rahm Emannuel, who failed to signal to the campaign leftovers that election season was over and some of these women were their seniors. The women staffers initially attempted to get Obama’s attention but he brushed it off as an artifact of the campaign.  Then, they went to Valerie Jarret, who, IMHO, took exactly the wrong approach and attempted to “pinkify” the female experience at the White House with women only activities and baby showers.

From my own perspective as a female in a male dominated industry, I have something to say about this.  I don’t think women are that put off by the occasional F-bomb.  It’s a little startling the first time you hear it but you get used to it and then feel comfortable slinging it around.  Throwing footballs around in the office?  Also not a problem as long as they’re the Nerf variety and you are not made to play monkey-in-the-middle.  It’s the power plays that are going on in the background to which no woman is invited that is the single most irritating, infuriating and unfair thing about working with guys.

It wasn’t always this bad and from the two companies I have worked for, it seemed to me that the problem was worse at the international company compared to the American company. But even a lot of American guys still act like any promotion of women in their midst is a direct threat to their affirmative action program for white men.  You can’t hire one single woman more than they think is acceptable before they start whining about how “more qualified men” were overlooked as if we didn’t already have more than our share of mediocre men in our midst.  Come on, Kevin, Ezra, Josh, Ta Nehisi, it’s true, isn’t it?  How many prominent writers that are quoted at length on our lefty blogosphere are women?  It’s always the same *guys* who are working at The Atlantic, WaPo and Mother Jones.  Digby is getting her share now but it took a long time for her to get off her asteroid in the Oort Belt and into mainstream circulation and she is a much more perceptive writer than someone like Ezra Klein who seems to be adopting the values and attitudes of his editors and mentors.  Anyway, I digress.

I suspect that for women working in the White House, there was a sense that things had already been decided before they entered the meeting room.  There were unannounced meetings in someone’s office where projects were discussed, strategies planned, and work divided up that underlined the impression that the women who were supposed to be doing that work were not very relevant.  Am I right, ladies?  I suspect that Obama’s lieutenants had proteges and they were not female.  And those proteges were given a lot of responsibility and airtime to make themselves look important and responsible and trusted with information that women did not have access to.  Their executive hair was already sprouting.  And here were these women, come from academia and prestigious positions of their own who were sidelined.  They study and work very hard to become experts at their subjects and they are upstaged by some male asshole who seems to have the ear of the most powerful people in the room.  Well, that’s what it sounds like from what I have read.  How did *that* happen??

So, they took their complaints to Obama and he ignored them.  It’s not that they were not being assertive enough.  It’s that the lines of authority had already been established and they were established between the senior and junior men and not the women.  And who could blame them?  It is human nature for people to gravitate to people most like themselves.  Men will choose to hang out with men because it’s more comfortable.  That’s why it is so important for the guy at the top to set the tone with his direct reports and make the rules so that this doesn’t happen and everybody doesn’t waste their time, make bad decisions and suck up taxpayer money.  But in Obama’s White House, Rahm, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner were the head honchos and, apparently, they didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to pivot away from outrageous sexist behavior to a more professional working environment.  With the exception of Hillary Clinton, how many times have we seen pictures of meeting rooms in the White House where all of the participants were male?  More than *I* can count.

The meetings with Jarret went on until the women finally had a dinner with Obama in November 2009.  That’s almost a whole year before he finally got around to taking them seriously and it was a very important year in terms of the economy. In the meantime, Obama continued to have pick up basketball games with the guys.  What’s up with that, anyway?  Couldn’t anyone find a bat and a softball so everyone could play?  And baby showers, Valerie?  Really?  Even in my workplace, men attend baby showers.  It sounds like males and females were even more segregated in the White House than they are in some uncomfortably hierarchical international companies. What we had was an attempt to suburbanize the experiences of the genders where the men had the equivalent of hanging out in the garage and the women sat in the living room and talked about their labors and deliveries.  It’s so dumb I’m surprised the women went along with it. Maybe it made the personal experience bearable but I can’t see how it made the professional experience better. Jarret and Obama should have worked harder to provide more opportunities for the sexes to mix so that they saw each others as human beings with similar interests and aspirations.

So, maybe Obama was the only thing that spared the White House from landing in court.  On the other hand, what were the women supposed to do?  If you can’t get the President to enforce an open and transparent working environment, what makes you think you’re going to get better treatment at the EEOC?  And the Supreme Court has recently ruled that the women of Walmart, who were experiencing the same kind of bullshit on a much vaster scale, didn’t have anything in common to bring a class action suit.  If the dudes aren’t groping you in the hall closet, if you’re only complaint is that opportunities are passing you by, you haven’t got a case.  So, that’s that.

Really, it’s shocking that the guys of the lefty blogosphere haven’t caught on to the pernicious way that the misogyny of the 2008 primary season has added to the hostile environment of the workplace for professional women.  I could swear that the problem has gotten worse, or maybe I’m just more attuned to it these days, but it seems to me that the unchecked sexism of the 2008 election season has given guys the green light to act with impunity in the workplace. When forcing a female manager out of her position or  laying off junior staff who mostly happen to be women could mean the end of careers, some of these guys may be getting away with murder.  Why are guys like Kevin Drum so quick to defend other guys for this kind of behavior unless they were themselves benefitting from the backroom deals and male exclusion zone?  Are they feeling any kind of ping of conscience for taking advantage of advantages that are not available to women?  Is Barack Obama so insensitive and conditioned that he thought some of his most talented women were just bitching over pick up basketball games?

Like I said before, everything can be measured.  That’s where the truth of the matter will manifest itself.  In these days where everything is digitally recorded somewhere, there is no need for the “he said/she said” defense.  Honest, well intentioned people who value fairness will want to get to the bottom of this problem in the most objective manner possible.  Would that include Kevin Drum?  Let’s get the data from the emails, phone calls and meeting appointments.  Let’s see who sequestered information and whose requests for information were ignored.  Let’s roll the tape on the way meetings were conducted.  Let’s see who got the plum assignments and from whom.  Let’s see who was described in terms of acceptable social behavior and who was praised for accomplishments.  And then let’s develop some guidelines so this doesn’t happen in the White House, or any other place of business, ever again.

If Suskind’s book sheds some much needed daylight on the way women are treated in the workplace, he will have done us all a big favor.  I can tell you that the first chapter, focussing on the way Timothy Geithner treated Elizabeth Warren, had my blood boiling.  I’m betting that he could have never gotten away with this if she were a man.  Same with Hillary Clinton, although, now that she has proven herself to have a set of three titanium testicles by surviving a lot of outrageous sexist behavior, she seems to have won some sort of grudging respect.  But no woman should have her expertise and credentials sidelined in order to preserve a hidden hierarchy and mentoring system to which she has no chance of belonging.

The answer is no, Kevin.  Dunn’s extra eight words didn’t significantly change the meaning and Obama didn’t make things better.  If he had made things better in the beginning when it first came to his attention, this crap would have never made it into the book. Dunn’s allegations were hardly the only ones.  The inattentiveness to their complaints reinforces our perception of Obama as being a poor manager who doesn’t set a good example and doesn’t care how his female employees are treated.

But we suspected that before the election.  Now, we know for sure.

UPDATE:  I followed this link from Eschaton to a Elizabeth Warren video.  Remember, according to sources close to him, Tim Geithner was planning to develop an “Elizabeth Warren Strategy” which was to be “a plan to engage with the firebrand reformer that would render her politically inert.”  But he settled for barring her from running the agency she created.  Geithner’s got to go.

 

Pass it around.

And here’s her website where you can make a donation and keep the firebrand burning:  Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts

Told’ja

So, the truth comes out about what it’s like to work as a woman in the White House. In Ron Susskind’s new upcoming book, Confidence Men, Women in Obama’s White House felt excluded and ignored:

A new book claims that the Obama White House is a boys’ club marred by rampant infighting that has hindered the administration’s economic policy and left top female advisers feeling excluded from key conversations.

“Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,” by journalist Ron Suskind due out next Tuesday, details the rivalries among Obama’s top economic advisers, Larry Summers, former chairman of the National Economic Council, and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. It describes constant second-guessing by Summers, now at Harvard, who was seen by others as “imperious and heavy-handed” in his decision-making.

In an excerpt obtained by The Post, a female senior aide to President Obama called the White House a hostile environment for women.“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.

[...]

It says that women occupied many of the West Wing’s senior positions, but felt outgunned and outmaneuvered by male colleagues such as former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Summers.

“I felt like a piece of meat,” Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, said of one meeting in which Suskind writes she was “boxed out” by Summers.

Dunn told Suskind that the problems began during the 2008 campaign. At one point she was viewing a television ad with other campaign officials and was shocked to see no women in the spot.

“There isn’t a single woman in this ad,” Dunn said. “I was dumbfounded. It wasn’t like they were being deliberately sexist. It’s just there was no one offering a female perspective.”

The ad was later reshot, with women included.

“The president has a real woman problem,” an unnamed high-ranking female official told Suskind. “ The idea of the boys’ club being just Larry and Rahm isn’t really fair. He [Obama] was just as responsible himself.”

Based on interviews with more than 200 people inside and outside the White House, Suskind’s book comes as Obama faces the lowest poll numbers of his tenure, and deep discontent over his economic policies.

According to the book, female staffers, like Dunn and Romer, felt sidelined. In November 2009, female aides complained to the president about being left out of meetings, or ignored.

Dunn said in the interview that her husband, now-White House lawyer Bob Bauer, was “surprised to see me as someone who could be talked over in meetings.”

The short story, it’s typical corporate under-the-radar discrimination.  The women staffers and cabinet members will no doubt be told that they are being too sensitive or paranoid but after their work fails to get the recognition it deserves or requires, she’s going to feel the stress of always being on the outside looking in and missing the crucial milestones necessary to get a promotion and exercise power.  When the crucial decision making meetings happen, she won’t be aware of them.  They might be impromptu, like during lunch at a table where few women are invited to join.  Or at golf games.  Or a meeting may be arranged where the scheduler has a propensity for the hierarchical and no juniors are invited, most of those juniors happening to be women.  Or the female staffer may need to gather information and sends out a survey email, which for some unknown reason, several more senior sycophants fail to respond to.  Or at a department meeting during your presentation, the guys talk over you or interrupt you or speed up your presentation or slow it down so they can ask you questions that were not in the scope of the presentation.  If you’ve been taking data, you’ll have realized by now that men rarely receive this kind of treatment, but it all contributes to making you look just a little bit unprepared or not quite knowing what’s really going on (because you weren’t there when they told the guys what was really going on).  Heck, you’re lucky you get a chance to present at all.  The stars get their 45 minutes of fame at every meeting while you have to book a slot months in advance.  That kind of stuff.

Oh, Ladies, I have seen it all.  These are deaths by a thousand paper cuts.  It’s disrespectful, isolating, humiliating and prevents you from looking like you’re doing your best job.  But it’s not grabbing and propositioning.  Without the sexual aspect, this more pernicious and devastating career stalling form of discrimination never gets the proper attention it deserves.  The fact that this is happening at the Obama White House does not surprise me at all.  I’ve seen this report coming for two years now, ever since the bunch of guys who run Obama’s campaign thought it would be a great idea if Michelle took on a more traditional first lady role.  Let her stay at home with two school aged adolescents who no longer require full time care.  She can garden in her spare time and lecture all the other mothers about nutrition.  It so fits the upper middle class suburban mother demographic.  Her sphere of influence is to set an example of what a demure, respectful, “had my fun in my career but now find complete fulfillment as a full time mother with a lot of time on my hands to make you feel inadequate as a mother” should be.  This is the game in the suburbs, who can outmother.  Who chauffeurs more, who is more alert to safety issues, who sets more limits on their childrens’ {freinds, TVtime, sugar ingestion, independence}  She is a throw back to the woman who defers, whose identity depends on her husband.  I’m sure the evangelicals are eating it up with a genuine jesus plated spoon.  But her example does not help the women who are tasked with working with her husband and his cabinet.  The specter of Michelle, digging in the garden like a good PTA mom, contributes to an attitude that women don’t put their careers first.  They can’t handle it.  They’ll stress out and go home.  But the worst type of stress is caused by male generated obstructions that keep you from getting your work done efficiently.

The kind of behavior described in Susskind’s book results in a lot of lost opportunities.  There won’t be a lot of thinking outside the box if half of the staff doesn’t get heard or taken seriously.  It’s a waste of talent.  It costs us money.  Think of Christina Romer, giving the right answer as to the size of the stimulus package, overridden by Geithner and then having to fight for the privilege to give her input during meetings when guy after guy were called on and she was passed over.  If I were her, I’d be pissed.  But let me guess what happened when she brought it up.  She was told she wasn’t being a team player, that she was too sensitive.  What she really meant to say was, “I had something important to say and now you are going to make your decisions without hearing it”.  And they probably did.  Romer stuck it out for a couple of years and then had enough and went home.  It’s real discrimination all right but there’s no definition for the disrespect and dismissal that happens day after day.  It’s pervasive and nebulous.

What could the White House have done differently?  Well, first, it could have refrained from running such a bloody relentless, sexist campaign.  Second, it could have instituted a training program and guidelines and hold violators accountable.  That might have included instructing male staffers to answer all phone calls and emails promptly no matter who was requesting, it could have monitored the response time to those requests and analyzed the data to determine who were the biggest offenders, if could have had meetings videotaped and analyzed for inappropriate indifference to the input of female attendees or interruptions of her presentation.  It could have analysed the words used to comment on the presentations of men and women.  A computational linguist might have been hired to to this.  The White House might have made a rule about golf outings.  All golf outings must be composed of equal parts men and women.  Same with any on-site activity.  Male or female only lunch groups should be discouraged.  It’s hard to monitor off-site activities but any opportunities that result in the male staff taking their shirts off in a bar while their female companions remain clothed should be discussed as to the messages sent to all members present and the public at large.  How about a dress code?  You can’t force guys to take off their ties but there has to be a female equivalent to give them power.  Find a way to get rid of symbols of male authority and female subordination.

Have training sessions that explain how damaging it is to refer to assertive women as “not team players” or “hard to work with” or any other code word used to undermine her authority.  For too long, women are coached to walk a thin line and never be too assertive or two passive so as to not upset the mens folk.  It never works.  Women can always be criticized for something.  This coaching of female staff is completely wasted because the violators of creating this hostile workplace (and trust me, it is very hostile) are never held responsible for their behavior.  That behavior makes it very difficult for women to present their ideas and work in a manner that will be recognized and will get things done.  And when you hire women on your staff and let the men act like cock-of-the-walk assholes, the only ideas you’re going to get to work with will be the ones generated by cock-of-the-walk assholes and women will despise you because none of your solutions seem to have anything that will make their lives better.

What we’re seeing at the White House is the same kind of cut throat, kill your enemies behavior seen in corporate culture.  That culture is exacerbated by the business school class that is always trying to climb over the broken back of the person who stands in their way of the next position up the ladder.  It seeps down to all levels of the corporation and becomes intensified among the rank and file where keeping one’s job becomes a vicious and nasty game of musical chairs.  Most upper managers are men and they identify with men and many women are left without mentors or the respect they need to stay in the game.  That’s why you can see departments lose 80% of their women staffers during a layoff and never blink an eye.  Of course, some areas and fields of expertise are different than others but when the women of MIT set out to document the atrocities, they found that it wasn’t just all in their heads.  It’s real.  But it can be fixed, if there is the will to do it.  It doesn’t look like the White House thinks this is an important issue to tackle.

The fact that it’s happening at the White House and that Obama hasn’t done anything in 3 years to mitigate it, speaks volumes to me about just what kind of president he is.  Corporate, sexist without even knowing it, probably dismissive of complaints, oblivious that there’s a problem at all and incurious about why it is that so many of the people he promotes and listens to are male.

Ladies, we KNOW these guys.  Why in world would we ever want to vote for another man for president is beyond me.  Obama seems to be taking this country backwards to the 60’s.  He has learned nothing.  And sexism, far from being unimportant in the whole scheme of things, like rescuing the economy, it is the linchpin as to why the economy is in as bad shape as it is.  Sheila Bair wanted to nationalize the biggest banks, Christina Romer wanted to double the stimulus package.  They were both overruled.  The next in line to be press secretary, Karen Finney, was passed over so that Jay Carney, a dude on Biden’s staff could take the position.  What happened there?  What was even more shocking is that Nancy Pelosi wasn’t initially invited to the talks about the debt ceiling crisis.  That’s inexcusable.  No-, really, I’m amazed that the media let them get away with that.  The only person who seems to know how to command attention and respect in Obama’s cabinet is Hillary Clinton.  And we don’t even know the whole story there.  (I’m betting she doesn’t put up with un-returned phone calls and emails)

This book should be good.  I’m using one of my last 2 audible credits to snag one.  But if I were one of the Obama girls who latched onto him to look cool and aspirational instead of old, stupid and menopausal, I’d be feeling pretty stupid right now.  Big mistake.  Massive.

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