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Gender Bias in the Hard Sciences? No Duh

Madame Marie Curie- 2 time Nobel winner

Here’s the bad news:

Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. Abundant research has demonstrated gender bias in many demographic groups, but has yet to experimentally investigate whether science faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic science. In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as signifi- cantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student. Mediation analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent. We also assessed faculty participants’ preexist- ing subtle bias against women using a standard instrument and found that preexisting subtle bias against women played a moder- ating role, such that subtle bias against women was associated with less support for the female student, but was unrelated to reactions to the male student. These results suggest that interven- tions addressing faculty gender bias might advance the goal of increasing the participation of women in science.

I disagree with the premise in the first sentence after the abstract that there is a severe shortage of scientists that is going to worsen by the end of the decade.  That simply isn’t true.  What *is* true is that there will be a shortage of scientists who want to keep doing work in the sciences for minimum wage, which is where industry wants to take us.  Industry can keep whining about the lack of labor but what it really wants is cheap labor that it can lay off at will and underpay and as I  have said before, smart people tend to steer away from that kind of work.  If they make enough money, they can do science as a hobby, like D. E. Shaw.  But I digress.

Pick any woman working in the hard sciences, academic or industrial setting, and they will all of them tell you some personal horror story.  I myself know of several:

  • The female chemist who was hired to be a group manager.  I heard non-stop snippy comments from her male subordinants about how she was just a quota.  Her qualifications were nothing special.  She was taking the place of a more qualified male chemist.  No, they didn’t have anyone in mind specifically.  Just in general.  Since she was the ONLY woman at her level, I could never figure out why the guys felt they needed 100% of those positions all to themselves.  They couldn’t even fork over one position to a qualified woman?  Were we supposed to be running, some kind of affirmative action program for white male chemists because 90% representation at the managerial level was unacceptably low?  Are white male chemists some kind of protected group?  This was just after she took her position, so I could never figure out how they made the decision so quickly that she wasn’t worthy.  My interactions with her pretty good.  I liked the way she communicated.  It was low key but very focussed.  And she was pretty smart and asked the right questions.  She got to the heart of the matter without a lot of bullshit.  So, whatever those guys were seeing, I totally missed. Anyway, after a few years, she left the company and went elsewhere.   I still occasionally run into the guys who worked for her and while I consider them my friends, I think they were totally unfair to this woman.  They’re still grumbling about having had to work for her for no particular reason that I can tell.  There were a lot of male managers who they readily admit were worse in terms of expertise and managerial ability.  We laugh about a horror show they were, but for some reason, no one says they shouldn’t have had a crack at a managerial position. They feel quite differently about this female manager for no tangible reason.  It’s like, “I’d work for a woman but not that woman”.  But in actuality, they can’t think of a single woman they’d want to work for.  Go figure.
  • The female supervisor who got pushed out of the way for a male supervisor who schmoozed his way to the top and undermined her at every opportunity, in front of her direct reports and behind her back.  There were witnesses to the out in front behavior and behind closed doors behavior. She got very little credit for the mountains of work she did.  Having worked with her closely, I know she was very smart and actually knew the science.  The man who replaced her was a lot more political and connected.
  • The guys who steal projects from women, usurp their authority, have meetings with her collaborators behind her back and then accuse them of being “out of the loop” and “not up to date” afterwards.  That is extremely successful.  Those guys get promotions.  Well, it’s a cutthroat world and the number of jobs are shrinking.  It’s every man for himself.
  • When there are positions available, they go to men.  When there are promotions, they go to men.  Sometimes the same man, over and over and over again.  That is why some departments have very few women in them.  Women remain junior for much longer and do not get mentored.  When it is time to cut staff, the junior people get the ax.  Voile! No more women.
  • Women get graded on their behavior.  They are always told to not be too pushy.  But if they back off too much, they can’t get their work done.  Then, they are told to be more assertive.  So, they try that, but they’re told it’s not assertive in the “right” way.  You’re either “not a team player and too aggressive” or “ineffective”.  Your success depends on your ability to walk on eggshells.  What does this have to do with the actual science?  Nada.  But if the guys don’t want to play with you, and these days when there are fewer and fewer jobs, they have a lot of incentives to make your contributions look insignificant, it’s exceptionally easy for them to pull out the behavioral critique to put you in your place.  They wouldn’t get away with that with a man because men in science are perceived to be more competent and pushy behavior in a man is seen as a good thing.

The GOOD news is that this should be a somewhat more tractable problem to solve in the sciences because scientists have a greater respect for actual data.  If you collect enough data and take enough measurements and show correlations and present this information in a seminar with enough numbers and charts and graphs, they might start treating it like a problem that needs to be solved.  It could be another project.

There is also the possibility of using diversity and sensitivity training to work through why men have their crazy ass attitudes to women who are just trying to do their jobs.  For instance, men who have stay at home wives who do not work are probably the worst bosses for women.  That’s not to say that they are mean or slavedrivers.  It’s just that they see the world through a traditional male-female point of view.  A man who works for such a boss is going to be seen as more needful of promotions and raises because the boss with a stay at home wife identifies with a male’s traditional responsibility.  But he may not be able to identify with his female direct reports and their responsibilities.  Show that boss enough papers and studies in respectable peer reviewed journals and he may be easier to re-educate.  This might not be the case with the guy who runs the accounting department (well, not right away), but scientists should be more responsive when they see all conditions and parameters tweaked and analyzed.

Well, anyway, that’s the way they handle gender bias in Finland.  They have a department that analyses workplaces where there are allegations of gender bias and they measure EVERYTHING.  That is where the truth lies.  It is not a “he said-she said” problem.  That’s too subjective and rarely works unless someone leaves a smoking email or is caught on tape. But absolutely everything can be measured.  It’s a much fairer, more objective way of finding the truth. Your attitudes and conditioning lead you to do certain things, write certain things, order your environment a certain way.  You can count the number of times male colleagues respond to a female colleague’s emails and phone calls, what meetings she is invited to, how many time she is responded to during those meetings, who is talking while she is presenting and for how long, how many times is she interrupted, how close her workspace is to positions of importance, how much space she has in square feet.  You can search performance reviews for words that describe behavior instead of competence and outcome. Do the same for male reports, compare and contrast. If there is gender bias in the data, it will be hard to ignore.

If Obama were really the feminist icon he’s supposed to be, he’d order the EEOC to apply the statistical analysis model to ferret out the truth instead of putting all the burden on women plaintiffs. I’m not holding my breath.  But it COULD happen.  If women file a complaint against a company or managers, the burden should be on the company to prove it isn’t true.  Submit to a statistical analysis and see what turns up.  Men like statistics, right? Women could develop a new appreciation for them as well.  The goal is not to punish but to make people accountable for their behavior whether they are aware of it or not.  Of course, repeat offenders should be punished but this method is more likely to figure out what it is they’re being punished for.

Hmmmm, maybe what we really need is a very powerful woman and true feminist icon to advocate for this kind of thing once she leaves public office.  {{hint, hint}}

Anyway, the study comes as no surprise.  I haven’t read the PNAS paper all the way through yet.  (How nice that PNAS is offering this one gratis.) This study won’t be the last you’ll be hearing about this.  That’s because women are starting to realize that they can make math and numbers work for them.  They just need access to the data.

What Does Cardinal Timothy Dolan think about UNEMPLOYMENT?

Hey, did you hear the one about the Catholic bishop who is going to give a closing prayer at BOTH party conventions this year?*

Ladies? How do you feel about this? Remember back in 2008 when you climbed aboard the Obama bandwagon because he made you feel so creative and young and hot?

What has he done for you lately? Did he banish the Bush Conscience Rule or merely attenuate it? Did he stand up for your rights in the health care bill or capitulate to the Bart Stupaks because a *win* for him was more important that a loss for you?

Did he do anything about your unemployment problem in the he-covery? You know, the one where he thought it jobs should be manly man jobs so a guy could feel good about himself? Remember this blurb from Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men about where the pathetically inadequate stimulus money for jobs would go?:

That was where the jobs would be: nurse’s aides, companions to infirm seniors, hospital orderlies. The group bandied about ideas for how to channel job-seeking men into this growth industry. A need in one area filling a need in another. Interlocking problems, interlocking solutions. The Holy Grail of systemic change.

But Obama shook his head.

“Look, these are guys,” he said. “A lot of them see health care, being nurse’s aides, as women’s work. They need to do something that fits with how they define themselves as men.”

As the room chewed over the non-PC phrase “women’s work,” trying to square the senator’s point with their analytical models, [Alan] Krueger—who was chief economist at the Department of Labor in the mid-1990s at the tender age of thirty-four—sat there silently, thinking that in all his years ofstudying men and muscle, he had never used that term. But Obama was right. Krueger wondered how his latest research on happiness and well-being might take into account what Obama had put his finger on: that work is identity, that men like to build, to have something to show for their sweat and toil.

“Infrastructure,” he blurted out. “Rebuilding infrastructure.”

Obama nodded and smiled, seeing it instantly. “Now we’re talking. . . . Okay, let’s think about how that would work as a real centerpiece…. Don’t even get me started about potholed highways and collapsing bridges,” Obama said….

And just like that, a policy to repair the nation’s infrastructure was born. The federal government, in partnership with the private sector, would call upon the underemployed men of America to rebuild the country, and in doing so restore their pride.

;

Did he pay any attention to the women in his inner circle who told him to ask for more money in the stimulus and at least $100 billion for a jobs program? Did he care about YOUR pride? Economic needs? Kids you need to support?

No, he did not. By the way, read Confidence Men if you have a chance. If the last 4 years haven’t turned you off your kibble with Obama, that book will definitely do it.

Having Cardinal Dolan at the convention is what I would call a swift kick in the teeth. You’ve already decided that the Democrats are going to save you from the Republicans draconian crackdown on reproductive rights so Obama’s campaign has now written you off the list of voters he has to work for. Jeez, did you get ANYTHING in exchange for your vote or did they just scare the pants off you?

So, now that Obama has you in his win column, he can ignore you and go for the anti-abortion Catholics. Do you think they’re just going to give him their votes for nothing? They’re not stupid, you know.

Next time you have a chance to vote for a competent woman, give it more than a few seconds thought before some dude talks you out of it.

*Um, are we also going to get a moment of encouragement from the non-believers or don’t they count?  What about it, Democrats?  Are non-believers citizens who also deserve respect or is it just politically expedient to stuff them in a closet and tell them to be quiet?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is putting up this billboard in two places in Charlotte as well as one place in Tampa:

***************************************

In the meantime, I’ve got other things to do. And here’s something a little bit different. Misschievous, a Canadian-Swiss youtuber, now living in Switzerland, has lost a lot of weight in the past year by cutting out almost all carbs from her diet. Here she presents three different lunches, lower in carbs but not carb free, that look delicious. If you want even fewer carbs, leave out the wrap and honey. Enjoy:

The Democrats don’t have the Wimmins’ vote all locked up?

I think you girls are overreacting

How can that be??  I thought the Republicans went to war on us and everything so that we’d *have* to go running to the Democrats for shelter.  What’s that you say?  Women aren’t doing well in this little Depression and Obama deliberately ignored their employment situation in order to cater to the men?  Or could it be that the confirmed reports that women in the Obama White House said they were working in a “hostile working environment” have made women distrustful of Obama?  It got so bad they had to take their complaints to Valerie Jarrett who set up a dinner between them and the president where he patted them on the head and did nothing.  IIRC, Jarrett arranged baby showers and chicks’ nights, just the kind of thing to make them feel important and that their expertise was valued while the president took the guys on golf outings where the real work got done.

Oh, wait, the NYTimes article says it’s *single* women who are the most ambivalent about Obama.  Well, I can vouch for that.  If you’re a single mom and you lose your job, there’s not a whole lot you can fall back on.  You’re pretty much left to the tattered social safety net.  Um, we’d much rather have jobs, preferably in our old professions, not as the flag bearers on some road construction crew.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not what we have years of experience doing.  But unfortunately, the money to boost employment went to construction projects because we didn’t want to upset the mens folk.  And anyway, according to Christina Romer, Obama’s chief economic advisor who was roundly ignored by the all guys all the time White House, the amount of money to fund employment projects was woefully inadequate.  Romer suggested that a paltry $100 billion would go a long way to put millions of Americans back to work but Obama ignored her.  And besides, Obama didn’t ask for enough money in the regular fiscal stimulus package so, you know, tough noogies ladies.  Why aren’t you married??

Speaking of married women, I worked with several who were the primary breadwinners for their houses.  Yep, their husbands had part time jobs, at best.  It really sucked for those women when they lost their technically and educationally demanding STEM jobs, forcing their families into a panic situation.  Of course, this happens to men whose wives don’t work as well but in their case, the road back to employment is easier.  Men benefit from the old boys’ network and guys just help guys, know what I mean?  I’m sure you do.

So, there you go.  Democrats are not pulling the ladies in like they were hoping.  Republicans are alienating them as well.  They think women are getting unnecessarily bent out of shape over the whole abortion and contraception stuff.  You can almost hear Republicans rolling their eyes.  It sounds just like the Democrats rolling their eyes over womens’ economic issues.

Both parties deserve to lose this year.

********************************

Ahhh, this is more pleasant.  Patricia McBride and Mikail Barishnikov dance Tchaikovsky with choreography by Ballanchine. (McBride was a Ballanchine dancer, Barishnikov was not but he’s brilliant here anyway)  It’s so hard to find good Ballanchine choreography on youtube I’d almost forgotten how deliciously light it is.  Ballanchine is known for quick, technical footwork.  This ballet doesn’t have a whole lot of that but there’s still more of a modern edge to it.  I can remember the first time I saw an ABT ballet after being soaked in Ballanchine for years and thinking that ABT was slow and involved a lot more posing and acting.  Ballanchine got rid of a lot of grace notes and got down to the business of movement.

Here’s the recent Bolshoi version of the same pas.  It’s just different.  The extension is grander and it’s absolutely lovely but the last variation seems a lot less dangerous and thrilling as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re motivated, you can sync the ballets and watch them together.  Then, you’ll see that you can fake a lot of dancing with loveliness.

Saudi American Values

Death of a Princess was a docudrama that was released in 1980, two years after the execution of Saudi Princess Misha’al for adultery.  You can watch the movie on youtube where it has been broken into parts.

Up until the year the film was released, most people living in Saudi Arabia didn’t know the details of what had occurred, even though the execution was carried out in public.  The documentary filmmaker, Anthony Thomas, was only able to ferret out the truth by speaking to a few people in Saudi Arabia who knew the royal family personally.  There were many strange details about the execution that didn’t make sense.  For one thing, judicial executions usually happen in a particular square.  There’s a formality about it.  But in this case, the execution of the princess and her boyfriend happened in a parking lot that had been hastily prepared with a pile of sand.

Thomas finally did get to the bottom of this story and when the movie was released, it caused quite a stir in Saudi Arabia where copies of it had to be smuggled in.  People identified with this girl who chose to live a free life for a few days, something most Saudis only dream about.  In 2005, the PBS program Frontline looked back at that movie and the controversy surrounding it.  As with most things Frontline does, there is a thorough cache of supplementary material including interviews with journalists, cultural experts and activists.

The interview with Ali Al-Ahmed is particularly enlightening.  Remember that this interview happened in 2005, back in the Bush era when Condoleeza Rice was Secretary of State.  But what he says about how the Saudis conspire with conservative religious fanatics to keep the public’s eye away from what is really going on in their country is very relevant today here in America.  We have learned from the Saudis.  Here is a piece of the interview:

You wrote that, in fact, women to some extent are the line in the sand between modernization or remaining a medieval kingdom.

It’s true. You cannot really go forward and progress as a society when 50 percent of your population are oppressed. And it is the tipping point. This is the line you have to cross. It’s the frontier we have to conquer in order to tell ourselves we are walking straight.

This is, to me, like a man walking with half his body paralyzed. This is our society, a paralyzed society, because half of it is not moving, and the other half is trying to move. But we are dragged back by [the fact that] half the society is paralyzed, and this is not going to change internally. External help must be offered, especially from the United States.

Is the United States playing that role?

The U.S. has one thing in its mind, which is [its] interest. And I think it has been harmful for the U.S. There is no harm that the United States can do to itself by encouraging — not forcing, encouraging — one of its closest allies to allow women their freedom. It’s not against Saudi culture or society to have women attain these freedoms that I talked about. It is against the government’s policy, yes, but it’s not against the culture or the religion of that society.

And the U.S. has not been vocal. And this is the last country in the world besides Kuwait where women cannot vote. This is the last country in the world where women cannot drive and cannot attain these freedoms that I spoke about. And it is very easily done if this is a priority. I asked a U.S. official recently about it: “Have you ever had a program to encourage the Saudi government to allow women more freedom or to improve their status?” And the answer was, “No.”

Because?

“It was not important to us.” And I said that “Well, I think I’ve started to rethink my appreciation of a democratic system.” If a democratic government [or] society does not think it’s important to have its own values protected and promoted to its own friends, then there is something wrong with these values.

The role of women in Saudi Arabia is in some ways a concession to the religious conservatives who are so important in propping up the royal family, correct?

The religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia consider women one of their most important issues. They are obsessively concerned with women. The royal family uses these extremists to suppress society and to preoccupy them with fictitious issues, from “How long is your beard?” [to] “Can I say ‘bye-bye’?” I’m not kidding — “Can I say ‘bye-bye’? Is it OK to say ‘bye-bye’ instead of ‘salaam’? Is my robe longer or shorter?”

So they figure out that if you make women an issue, then you have 50 percent [of] society paralyzed and part of the other half concerned, obsessed about suppressing the 50 percent. … The conservatives of Saudi Arabia feel the need to control society and guide it, and they use women as a means to control that society. And that pleases the royals, who would like a society that’s obsessed with long beards and short robes rather than a society focused on equal rights, democracy, human rights and education and so on.

Has 9/11 changed that?

Absolutely it did. Society has now realized it has been fooled all along, and the religious conservatives are nothing but a tool in the hands of the royal family to suppress society. At the end of the day, the same people who issued fatwas against elections turned 180 degrees and said, “Oh, elections are good.” Two years before they said, “Elections are evil; they are imitations of the infidels.” The Saudi government decided to have limited elections; then suddenly it became a good thing. They figured out the game, and I think more people are figuring out the game, and the religious conservatives very soon will have very little influence in the country.

So what’s the game?

The game is, “We are doing this to protect our religion, to protect you.” … They don’t think democracy means you will participate. They equate democracy with sexual promiscuity, with rapes. That’s why, as long as society is obsessed with women and the fact that they have to be covered and suppressed, then we won’t have a democratic society, a society that’s looking for participation in government.

It puts the recently renewed battle over contraceptives in a whole new light, doesn’t it?  And now we have people fighting in state legislatures over whether it is proper to say the word VAGINA in public.  The hits and obsessive battles over trivialities are coming fast and furiously now.  I don’t think we will start making women wear veils but in a very short period of time, the religious conservatives have successfully taken women back to the 60’s.  It’s hard to believe that my daughters will have *less* freedom than I did and that we are reintroducing shame and restrictions.  But this has happened in countries like Iran and Afghanistan where the ruling mullahs rejected modernity for women after a period of relaxation of strict tribal rules when bare faces and miniskirts flourished.

It’s seems futile to point out to American religious conservatives that they are being used to suppress democracy in this country but that appears to be what is happening. I see the mission of the Catholic bishops and the “religious freedom” meme in a whole new light.  I also see *both* parties conspiring to distract the public with attacks on women.  None of this is really that surprising.  It’s just strange to see it distilled as succinctly as Al-Ahmed has done.

Prove me wrong, Democrats. Why don’t you come right out and say what’s going on? Let’s hear Obama get up and make a truly significant, meaningful, emotional “Reverend Wright-esque” speech in defense of American women.  Let’s see him lay out to the American public what the game is, pledge to stop playing it and challenge the other side to stop too.

Remember, national women’s groups are meeting in Baltimore at the end of June.  I challenge them to demand that both parties stop using women as a distraction and route to suppress democracy in this country.  They should refrain from endorsing ANY candidate for president until they get a firm committment from both parties to stop using women and to tell the religious nutcases and Catholic bishops to back the fuck off.

This is not a game and we’re not going to play it.

Remember the Ladies?

So, now that the left is having another litte orgasm over suspension of deportation of DREAMers, let’s reflect a bit on what all of this means.

First it was the LGBT community that threatened to withhold money and that choked some (ultimately meaningless) words from Barack Obama about same sex marriage.  Don’t get me wrong, he should have said this back in 2008 when he was a candidate because it was the right thing to do, instead of winking to his more evangelical constituents that he opposed it.  But it doesn’t really matter because the outcome is zero sum.  There’s a brief blip of feeling really good about the guy until you realize that he has no intention of doing anything about it.  It will be up to the states to discriminate or not and he’s cool with that.

Then came the hispanic community demanding compassion for the families he’s breaking up and bright students whose lives he is ruining with the disastrous and aggressive deportations.  Those students in many cases had no choice in the matter when they came to live here as children.  For all intents and purposes, they’re American except that they weren’t born here.  If I were king, I’d have found a way to naturalize them by now.  That would be the Christian thing to do.  All Obama has done is kinda sorta said they won’t be deported but there are no guarantees.

We are hearing more and more stories that one of the reasons he has been so ineffective at getting legislation through is that he doesn’t like the political process where you have to go around and ask people to do things for you or you have to hold things over their head and threaten them.  Obama just doesn’t like face to face interactions.  It’s not his thing.  Maybe he should have stuck to writing autobiographies and dispensed with the detestable politicking.  It’s never too late to reconsider…

So, who’s left? Ahhh, yes, we haven’t heard from the women yet.

WHY haven’t we heard from the women??  Have they not sought an audience with the Lightbringer?  If they have, did they get one? Why haven’t we read about that? With the latest outrage in Michigan, where female legislators are forbidden from even saying the word VAGINA, one can only imagine that Obama must be determined to stride the halls of the White House to meet with representatives of women’s groups to assure them that This. Will. Not. Stand!  And yet… {{crickets}}

You know, women are not really a special interest group.  We’re more than half of the population.  We’re getting attacked in a way that will affect our ability to work effectively and that will impact our economic situation.  And what affects the economic situation of more than half of the country should be something that is pretty high in Obama’s priority list.  But the strange silence of women and the even stranger silence of Obama on women, is downright spooky.

I’ve noticed that the National Organization for Women is having their annual convention in Baltimore on June 29- July 1.  They will be discussing the War on Women, which suggests to me that they have already bought into the Democratic framework and have decided to hide behind Barack Obama’s skinny legs for protection against those meany Republicans.

This is pathetic.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so disgusted in my life.

Unlike the LGBT and hispanic community, women outrank ALL of the supplicant groups.  They shouldn’t be grumbling that Obama gave them a half an hour of his time and acted like a pissy little prince.  They should make HIM come to THEM.  The frostiness should be coming from their side until he gets down on his knees and kisses their asses.

Reclusive Leftist wrote a post four years ago called Archimedes Lever about the power of women to shape elections.  They can demand just about anything they want and get it but they almost never do.  Like Dorothy, they have no idea that their ruby slippers are capable of transporting them home.  They have always had this power.

This is not as hard as you think, ladies.  All you have to do is demand representation and justice for your sex- now.  Not in a couple of months, not next year, and not with some ineffectual mouthing of words with indefinite content that have no power behind them.

Sure, there will be a bunch of Democrats and pundits who will ask whether it is wise to ask for so much in this bad economy.  Guess what, YOU are the economy and if you don’t get what you want, you should pick up your ball and go home.  There is no point in playing with people who do not see you as their equals and who do not think they have to work for your vote.  Sure it will be tough to fight every single battle all over again.  It looks like we’re going to have to do that anyway, apparently without any help from Democrats.  It’s been done before and the elderly conservative obstacles who fanatically vote for Republicans over abortion won’t be around much longer.  The Republican’s electoral chances are waning and they know it.  That’s why they stepped it up this year.  But we’ve always known the evil in the Republican party.  It’s in the Democratic party where the evil needs to be ferreted out and exposed to sunlight.

Don’t underestimate your power.  Rahm Emannuel, Steny Hoyer and all of the other bastards in the Democratic party can’t match it.  They can be all macho and tell you no and you can tell them to go fuck themselves in November. It will make them weak in the knees. If they’re not going to do anything for you, the Republicans have won anyway and as I’ve said, the Republicans are on their way out.  You can figure out how to use your votes more constructively.

Use your lever and see what happens.  The Democrats are in a tight spot. Let me spell it out for you: The Democrats entire electoral strategy, and that which they are pinning their hopes this year, depends on women staying on their side. In fact, you might almost say that all of the new laws enacted against women this year play right into their hands.  At this point, they have no reason to try to curtail any of them.  All they have to do is nothing and they will look good in comparison.  But if you ever decide that’s not good enough for you, they’re going to start shitting their pants.  You can get anything and anyone you want this year.  Now is the time to ask for everything.

Let this be the summer that they will Remember the Ladies.

MAY 7, 1776
ABIGAIL ADAMS TO JOHN ADAMS

        “I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives.

        “But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken; and, notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims, we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.”

President is “Pissy”, film at eleven

The Washington Post has an article about how Democratic activists have found Obama to be an unsympathetic, whining, “Well, what do you want ME to do about it?” useless, all-about-him president when they go to him with problems.

To say this portrait of the president is unflattering would be an understatement.  I hate to blame the victims but you should have seen this coming for all of the reasons we have tried to point out in the past four years.  Still, some of the examples of interactions with Obama have been downright pitiless. Take this exchange that Obama has had with immigration activists who have been alarmed by the step-up of deportations under Obama:

Bhargava, 43, an Indian American who came to the United States as a child, had spent much of 2008 registering minority voters. The rise of a fellow community organizer, a black man, delivered to office on the shoulders of a new ethnic coalition, “hit me on so many levels,” Bhargava would later recall.

So it was an uncomfortable moment when Bhargava looked in Obama’s eyes and told him that he was presiding over a “moral catastrophe” in immigrant communities. He asked Obama to use executive powers to stop many deportations, said it was time to “lean in” on revamping the country’s immigration system and listed a number of Republican senators he should lobby.

The president grew visibly frustrated as each successive advocate spoke. He said that the advocates, too, should be pressing Republican lawmakers, that he sympathized with their concerns but that he did not have the legal authority to stop deportations.

Tensions mounted when Obama argued that his administration’s policy was to focus on deporting criminals and others deemed to be security threats.

“No, Mr. President, that’s not what’s happening,” interjected Angelica Salas, the head of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. She was seated directly across the table from Obama and leaned toward him as she spoke, her hands trembling and her voice rising. “You’re deporting heads of households, mothers and fathers.” She said that “young people are sitting in detention centers when they should be sitting in the best universities in the country,” according to meeting participants.

Obama looked taken aback by the direct confrontation from Salas and then turned to aides seated against the wall, according to several participants. The aides affirmed that, yes, criminals were the priority.

Turning back to Salas, Obama asked: “What do you want me to do, not enforce the law?” He explained that he could not just ignore laws he didn’t like.

The president spoke sternly. Several participants described him as defensive. One person said that, at times, Obama was “pissy.”

How about working to *change* the law so that it didn’t rip families apart, impoverish children and turn them into vulnerable international orphans? Just a suggestion.

The funny thing is that this article highlights his interactions with immigration and gay rights activists.  It says nothing about women’s groups, which makes me wonder if they were even able to get a meeting or were so discouraged that they didn’t even try.  Isn’t it weird how in this year on the “War on Women” that womens’ advocacy groups are so invisible?  I’m telling you, it’s downright creepy.

There is a danger for the party to look like it’s tied too closely with special interest groups but working people, who the White House blew off earlier this week, and women, who it has always blown off, are NOT special interest groups.  The debacle in Wisconsin is particularly striking.  The White House, in fear of looking like it was sitting next to the dweebs at the loser lunch table, left labor to twist in the wind.  The worst thing that Obama did with respect to Wisconsin wasn’t that he avoided the state.  It was that he made no attempt to argue in any speech to the state or the nation about how important it was to the future of the country, economy and all working people that labor was respected, protected and championed.  There is a very good argument to be made there and Obama did not make it. Bill Clinton, who went to Wisconsin, had to do this.  The 99% need to remember this because the differences between how the two presidents stand up for labor couldn’t be more illuminating.

But that doesn’t mean that the president isn’t passionate about things:

The Barack Obama who spars with liberals in private seems far different from the man most Americans have come to know for his even-keeled, cerebral presence. He drops the formalities of his position and the familiar rhetoric of his speeches, revealing a president willing to speak personally and candidly to his allies, and also one who can be thin-skinned, irritable, even sarcastic and hectoring if his motives or tactics are questioned. He talks about his own ethnicity, his immigrant roots, his political high wire as a black president with a Muslim middle name — and then seems surprised when advocates who took deep inspiration from his election nevertheless question his commitment to their causes.

Awwww, the poor man.  It’s really hard to be half African America son of an immigrant with a funny middle name who is the most powerful person of the free world. He gets picked on. These activists, it’s all about them.  They have no idea how hard it is to be Obama.  First he campaigns as the first post-racial, post-partisan president and then people put unrealistic expectations on him to actually live up to his soaring, aspirational campaign rhetoric.

I think the people spoke in 2008.  They were willing to give Obama a chance to rise above his humble means, his prep school background and Harvard pedigree, and lead and they were willing to do this because he ran as the Democrat and once upon a time, that meant something.  Now, it seems like he didn’t really mean any of what he said.  Either that or he’s not really all that into you, activists, and he’s falling back on being the aggrieved party to get you to back off.  And if that doesn’t work, he’ll just be mean and pissy, reverting back to his “Can I just eat my waffles?!?” personality that was conveniently overlooked in 2008 by the very same groups he captured.

This is not a new Obama, it’s the same guy.  But the smoke has cleared now.  He got away with sidelining the activists in 2008 and now in 2012, they’re frustrated.  Well, no one held him accountable before the 2008 election or asked him to show them his policies.  He didn’t need policies back then because anyone who questioned Obama’s readiness, commitment or preparation was automatically bludgeoned with the “racists!” sledgehammer. They were all supposed to “Hang on a second, sweetie.” while he schmoozed them.

Of course, it isn’t too late to hold him accountable before he gets the nomination in September.  He’s not the only game in town and there are real politicians out there with actual policy plans that would make suitable substitutes.  The question is, do the various factions of the Democratic party have the courage to demand satisfaction?

You can’t complain later if he blows you off next year if you do nothing this year.  And you can’t complain if he gets booted out of office because the general public is disgusted with the excuses while their lives are being ruined.

No one is forcing him to take four more years of abuse and name calling. If he really doesn’t want to deal with those people, ie his base, he can always join the speech circuit, or become the new CEO of Pfizer and hasten its demise. There are options. He shouldn’t worry about disappointing us if he decides not to stick it out and yields the spot to a better Democrat. We’ll understand.

The infamous “sweetie” clip looks completely different to the party activists this year, doesn’t it?

DNC to Arkansas Voters: “F%^& you”

Following West Virginia’s primary vote example, Arkansas voters are fixin’ to deliver a message to the Democratic party today.  Tennessee lawyer, John Wolfe, was running a mere 7 points behind Barack Obama in recent polls of the Democratic presidential primary there.

Oh, I know that a lot of people are going to call the voters of Arkansas racists or, even worse, conservatives.  But in 2008, Arkansas voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton and, well, we saw how that turned out at the convention.  So, maybe, they’re not racists or conservatives.  Maybe they’re just pissed that their primary votes last time meant absolutely nothing to the DNC and they are trying to communicate their extreme displeasure with the suck ass job that Barack “I would give myself a B+” Obama has done in the intervening four years.

The DNC has told Arkansas straight out that it doesn’t matter who it votes for in the Democratic primary, Barack Obama is getting all of the delegates.  Yep. They say he hasn’t complied with the delegate assignment rules.  I’m not sure the voters really give a flying f^&* what the delegate rules are. They just want to register their discontent and be counted.  As I recall, it was the DNC’s robotic adherence to The RULZ!, while feverishly working to undermine them, that lead to Obama’s nomination in the first place, voters for the other candidate be damned. But that’s the official decision.  Which leads me to wonder why states all over the country spend millions of taxpayer dollars to stage a primary where the results have already been determined by the party.  That’s money that could be used to hire some teachers or pave some roads or repair bridges or pay for some poor kid’s asthma medication.

It’s also just hints at what Katiebird has been saying about how the party could make a change in the lineup if it wanted to.  If primary results are meaningless and the party has decided who will get the delegates, then that means that if they get enough of these messages from primary voters who are disgusted with Obama, they could have a serious discussion with their candidate and maybe even bring in a relief pitcher.

Nothing is certain, not even Obama’s name on the ticket, until the balloons drop at the convention.  That’s not being a fantasist or crazy.  That’s seeing an opportunity to put pressure on the party that most other activists seem to have missed.  You don’t have to settle.

But one thing is for damn sure, if the party ignores its voters during primary season this year, they may not have a chance to make amends before the general election in November.  And there’s no amount of bad mouthing Romney you can do to make them ignore their anger at the party and Obama.  If I were the party, I’d get out front of the problem early and find out exactly what it is that voters want.  Because Arkansas is not an isolated example.  Kentucky is also having a primary today and while Wolfe isn’t on the ballot there, voting “uncommitted” is an option.  Then there’s Texas next week where Wolfe is on the ballot, and New Jersey in June where write in candidates are allowed.  Guess who I’m writing in? So, there are plenty of opportunities left for voters to slow the party down from rolling right over them.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

*************************************

I read this post yesterday at Digby’s about how the Democrats have made themselves a party of special interests and now the rest of the country is rejecting it.  While I understand the hypothesis, I disagree with it.  It just gives progressives an excuse to whine that no one understands them and all the good stuff they are trying to do.

The problem with this argument is that in 2008, the party had a humongous opportunity to break out of the perception that it is beholden to special interests but it passed on it.  By electing Clinton, they would have gotten back all of the working class people (by the way, that would include everyone not working on Wall Street).  The biggest pull they had was that millions of women from both sides of the aisle would have voted for her.  And this is why what happened to the party in 2008 was a self-inflicted wound that has festered: women are NOT a special interest.  Women are 53% of the population.  By electing Hillary, they would have acknowledged that fact.  By electing Obama, they aerosolized their base into a bunch of competing factions and then proceeded to gleefully neutralize the power of those factions.  The party has now become exactly what Digby fears it is.  It is perceived as being the refuge of the culturally disenfranchised groups who have no power and are completely at the mercy of the party fundraisers.  Those fundraisers have all the real power to direct policy, and they have- for their own benefit.  Without the money, Obama and the party is left to pander for the support of the groups it has gone out of its way to weaken in the past four years.  And the rest of the country, under stress economically is just tired of the austerity, unemployment and their dismal future prospects.  Republicans have seized on this situation by pouncing on those disenfranchised groups making it necessary for Obama to go after them, albeit weakly, and that makes him look even more beholden to them while paradoxically not being able to offer them much more than lip service.  It’s a fricking disaster.

The struggle is not between the liberal Democrats and the rest of the country.  The struggle is between the liberal Democrats and the moneyed interests that have taken control of the party.  The rest of the country *loves* liberal policies like Medicare and Social Security.  They’d love a modern New Deal initiative too, if only the party had a candidate who would put one together.  That’s never going to happen as long as one weak president is beholden to the guys who funded his campaign the first time.  With Obama, we get the worst of all worlds.  He’s a moderate Republican disguised as a liberal Democrat.  Karl Rove couldn’t have designed it better.

It could have all been avoided if the DNC had actually allowed a real roll call and floor fight at the convention in 2008 instead creating the false illusion that one candidate was soooooo far ahead of the other that there wasn’t a contest.  Too late to redo 2008 but 2012 is still available, and as we have seen above, primary votes are fungible to the Democrats…

As for whether African Americans would have abandoned the Democrats, I have my doubts.  *Maybe* the party might have lost the male portion but African American females would have won with either candidate. I think they would have come around. Then there were all of the Republican women I met when I was canvassing and phone banking who couldn’t cross lines in a closed primary but were determined to vote Democrat in the general.  That would have been more than historic.  That would have been a complete cultural shift and we missed it.

Oh well.

And Gallup says that Hillary Clinton is incredibly popular.

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