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?”

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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.

Thursday: Charity, a question and a poll

Well, that didn’t last long.  My car is making unpleasant noises and is hard to steer.  Not sure what’s going on but I know who’s going to make it right so off I go back to the garage this morning.

In the meantime, Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist, is setting out to prove that secular people can be as generous and caring and humanitarian as religious people.  He has found two charities that are worthy of your attention. You *can* do good without God. Take a look:

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The Question: In less than a year, we have seen marches for the 99% by Occupy Wall Street, Rallies on the Mall for Secular people and even vigils of hoodied people for Trayvon Martin.

Where the f^&* are the women???  Why isn’t NOW, NARAL, the Feminist Majority, etc, planning a massive jillion woman march in Washington?  I am completely baffled by our lack of a presence.  We should be out there with big signs that say, “I’m female and I vote”.  The best I’ve seen so far is the protest in Virginia, while well attended, is hardly the national presence we need sitting down in Washington.  Yeah, they’re tearing up the Mall right now for renovations but c’mon, this is just inexcusable.

Side question: has anyone other than me noticed that NOW seems to have mission creep?  I know that marriage equality, racism and Trayvon Martin are important issues but maybe it would be better to just stick to the basics for awhile and stop trying to be all things to all people.  The site is starting to remind me too much of the all suffering, sacrificing mother who can’t say no to all the demands on her and neglects her own interests.

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The Poll:  Atrios is getting down to the final wankers for the lead up to The Wanker of the Decade.  Who is it going to be?

Tuesday: Stupid Girls

The Obama 2008 campaign certainly brought out the best in Americans didn't it?

Update from Ugsome: “The way I look at it, the Democrats are so far to the right on women’s issues that the only way the GOP can differentiate itself is with witch burnings and scarlet letters.”

There’s more than a kernel of truth in that sentiment.

r u reddy pointed me to this article in the NYTimes that describes how Obama’s campaign was going to roll out it’s initiative to sweet talk women on March 23 but Rush Limbaugh’s timely little Slutgate rants made them move up their timetable.  Why waste this golden opportunity?  Obama and Jon Favreau must be peeing themselves over this.  They don’t have to do anything for women, not even make any particularly strong statements.  All they have to do is open their arms and say, “Come to papa, we understand.”

By the way, has anyone seen this video of the Obama Staff inaugural ball from January 21, 2009?  You know, the one where JZ and the staffers sang “I’ve got 99 problems but a bush ain’t one”?  Yeah, no double entendre there.  The bitch version used to be one of Obama’s traveling campaign theme songs during the primaries.  You know, the primaries against his opponent who happened to be a bitch or a sweetie or a honey or some other stupid word:

As Ugsome says, “Cynical. If he’d done squat for women’s rights he wouldn’t have to focus his tender attentions like this.”

Let’s put it this way, the Republicans wouldn’t have turned up the crazy like this if they didn’t sense some weakness in the Democrats on the issue of women.  And that weakness goes back to 2008.

All you’re going to get from the Democrats is cynical game playing in an election year.  Remember, these are the people who used misogynism against not one but two female politicians in 2008.  They know that if Obama has to make a choice, he will sacrifice women to get the evangelical vote.

Don’t think we’re not watching, Democrats. Democratic congresswoman, Chellie Pingree, in Maine wanted to run for Olympia Snowe’s Senate seat but decided against it when a former governor who is running as an independent got the backing of the Democrats.  If that slap in the face doesn’t get your attention, nothing will.  Even the excuse she was forced to give for the betrayal by the Democrats makes no damned sense because if Olympia Snowe had not decided to resign, she would have been a sure vote for the Republicans when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. So even if Pingree had lost, there would have been no net change in votes.  In other words, Chellie Pingree was guilted into leaving the Senate race because the whole responsibility for future Supreme Court nutcases was going to be on her head if she lost to a Republican.  Does anyone really believe this steaming pile of horsesh*$?  If Obama and the Democrats really wanted to reach out to women for their votes this year, the disaster in Maine was not a good start.

Well, I’m just a single voice in the wilderness and the rest of the women in the left blogosphere are too afraid to challenge their brethren about Obama.  The guys will pull the same guilt trip on them and they’ll hold back, the chickenshits.  But let me just tell them now that they are going to be responsible for what happens to women if they don’t speak out and demand something from Obama and the Democrats right now, *before* the election.  If you make it easy for him, he will owe you nothing.  This is a good time to test the commitment of your male blogger colleagues.  Either they are with women or they aren’t.  Demand that Obama come out and declare his unequivocal support for women to make their own choices without any patronizing language.  Demand that he risk pissing off the religious.  Demand that he tell extremists where to shove it.  Demand that he enthusiastically support women’s equality and reproductive rights.  Make him promise that he will put the full force of his office behind enforcement of those rights.  Make him get rid of the conscience rule right this minute.  And make him swear in public that he will never, ever again cut a deal with any politician to sacrifice women’s rights in order to pass a piece of legislation.

If you can’t make him do those things, then he doesn’t deserve your support.  He is either with 53% of the American public or he isn’t.  He either needs you and will do everything he can to get you or he’s no good, he’s no good, he’s no good, baby, he’s no good.

And he’s also down in the polls.  His approval rating has dropped steeply since last month from 50% to 41%.  It’s supposedly due to gas prices but there are also intimations that the public isn’t buying all the rah-rah over the economy.  They don’t believe it’s getting better.  I’m with them on that.  Women are also among the chronically unemployed and they are watching.  We are not amused to be the pawns in some political game that has been designed to get Obama votes. He’s on the ropes and he’s looking vulnerable.  Now’s the time to get him to commit.  Make him pay for every vote.  Make him grovel.  If you don’t, you’re just a bunch of stupid girls.

And that goes doubly for NARAL, the Feminist Majority and any other bunch of stupid girl activists who have pledged to work for Obama in 2012 without getting anything in return.  During Slutgate, I scrupulously avoided signing my name to any useless online petition for those organizations.  The last thing I want is to be ashamed of these organizations emailing me to support Obama after he’s used them.  He’s no better than Romney and Santorum and he doesn’t deserve your support until he’s willing to sacrifice himself for women.  He really needs our votes because he’s lost support among white men.  Now is the time to make him put up or shut up.  It’s either us or the fundies.   By their fruit you shall know them.

Wednesday: Melange

A mixture of things from around the web:

1.) Charles Pierce writes that Obama’s press conference yesterday featuring Slutgate and contraception left him uneasy.  In Standing Up for Sex, Pierce writes:

Not a simple, mumbling word about the right to decent health-care, let alone the right to choose. Given a golden opportunity to say flatly that he and his administration were foursquare behind these rights, he gave the whole thing a pass. I’m sure he’s got poll numbers that tell him not to say “abortion” in public but, damn, this was disappointing.

This is what I mean when I say that this issue can only be a political winner for the Democrats if they go out and make it one. How hard would it have been for him to say, “Look, it’s probably not a good time in history to be using the war metaphor, but there’s no question that the Republican party is a vehicle in an organized campaigh to roll back women’s rights in the most personal sphere of their lives, and, as long as I’m president, that won’t happen.”?

I’m glad he called Sandra Fluke. I just wish he’d show that he appreciates the incredible political gift she gave him.

Obama thinks his party affiliation speaks for itself and we should read into his statements what his real thoughts and intentions are.  And this worked so well in 2008.  Everyone thought he was a liberal even though he didn’t embrace liberal or even Democratic or New Deal principles.  Everyone thought he was an anti-war candidate even though this was all premised upon what he *might* have done had he actually been present at the IWR vote.  Everyone thought he was a feminist, which flew in the face of hard evidence that we watched and heard with our very own senses.  In the past four years, he has shown himself to be none of the things he was assumed to be so, and, as far as I’m concerned, we should not assume or presume that he is onboard with sex being guilt free for adult women.  More likely, he has no natural empathy for women in this regard so he’s more inclined to do what’s good for him politically and not for women socially.  And right now, he thinks it is good for him politically to reach out to evangelicals and the women’s vote will just flock to him because women are assuming he is not as bad as the Republicans.

I think he is just as bad, if not worse, because his attitude encourages complacency.  It will all be taken care of, don’t you worry.  A year from now, women are going to be kicking themselves for not being more demanding of him.  You’re only going to get a commitment from him under duress and until you hear him choke it out in a high squeaky voice, don’t assume anything.

2.) Speaking of beliefs that may or may not have any basis in fact, have you checked out the Richard Dawkins Belief Scale?  Unlike women’s rights, you don’t have to commit to a god or atheism.  It’s perfectly Ok to land somewhere along the scale.  I’m a 5.78324.  Some people might round that up.  Here it is:

  1. Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
  2. De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
  3. Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
  4. Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
  5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
  6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
  7. Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.

Assuming that there are not as many 1′s out there as the Beanie Boys would have you think, why should we allow the 1′s to run the country based on judeo-christian biblical principles?

3.) More on belief.  Pat Robertson may have exceeded his stupidity quota.  When asked on the 700 Club about why God kills people with tornados, he had this to say:

There ya’ go, tornado victims.  Let this be a lesson to you.  Don’t buy a farm in the middle of tornado alley.  Don’t be a person who earns a living in tornado alley either.  And woe to you on the west coast in the earthquake zone.  The kinfolk say, move away from there!  Californy is NOT the place you want to be.  Also, if you are anywhere where you could be swept away by a flash flood, get caught up in a hurricane or Nor’easter, burnt to a cinder in a wildfire, trapped in a heat wave, engulfed in a blizzard, frozen in a cold snap, eaten by wild animals or poisoned by insects and plants, or irradiated by a particularly unusual and strong solar flare, well, it’s your own damn fault.  Did God promise you a rose garden?  You should have bought one of the time shares in Glenn Beck’s underground bunker cities and retreated to it with your 6 months supply of dried ravioli and Tang.

I guess Stephanie Decker, who protected her kids from the tornados with her own body and lost her legs as a result, should be thankful that God didn’t demand more of a sacrifice for living in the wrong place.  But I have faith that with the help of doctors, physical therapists and prosthesis engineers, Stephanie *will* walk again.  Hang in there Stephanie.

4.) A couple of days ago, a PR person for Chris Viehbacher tried to do a What Chris Really Meant response to Chris’s insensitive and clueless presentation of the reasons why his company was getting rid of its own scientists and turning to cheap and desperate small company scientists for potential blockbuster drugs.

Now, Viehbacher’s point seems to be that small biotechs and mid sized companies are more nimble and innovative than big behemoth pharma companies so, and here’s the logic of the bonus class in all it’s glory, big pharma scientists just aren’t as good as those in smaller biotechs and therefore deserve to have their jobs eliminated.

This ignores two things that Viehbacher is either denying or completely ignorant of.  The first is that those of us who up until recently worked in big pharma until we were dumped for working in big pharma, did not start our careers in big pharma.  Nooooo, we were in medium pharma.  The first pharma I worked at only had 3 research sites and the one I worked at in Princeton was relatively small having about 400 people total working on about 5 different therapeutic areas.  It was all self contained with chemistry, biology, animal facilities, structural biology, analytical, scale up, everything in one building.  But then came the mergers and more mergers and we added more facilities and companies and satellite research centers in different companies and then we got consultants to come in every couple of years and rejigger everyone, just to keep it light and breezy.  Every time there was a merger, work would come to a screeching halt for two years so the managers could play musical chairs and find a department headship position, usually by doing a real Julius Caesar meets Brutus in the Senate scene.  So, big was never OUR idea.  It was the bright idea of the finance guys, the consultant guys and the Viehbacher guys who got big bonuses from every merger they made.

The second thing that undermines Viehbacher’s argument is that all of those big pharma scientists that he thought were no good are now working for the small companies and acedemic groups that Viehbacher is planning to rape.  Now that they’ve been liberated from the shackles of big pharma wage slavery, they are working more nimbly and innovatively at small biotechs and university labs with vastly reduced salaries and benefits.  And this must warm the cockles of Viehbacher’s heart enormously.

5.) Finally, Titli Nihaan, my new favorite internet chef (until #1 child gets her own show), shows us how to make a Cassoulet and gives us some French lessons as a bonus!  This is the halal version.  I tried it the other night but made some even leaner substitutions.  Delicious. Er, Magnifique!

Tuesday: It should be obvious but… #standwithsandra

(Note before we start: This is not a pro-Republican blog.  Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.  And we are most definitely not Reagan Democrats or conservative Democrats or birthers.  We are liberal, FDR style, Democrats in Exile who want our party to start acting like DEMOCRATS.)

It should be obvious to women that what is good for the Democratic party is not necessarily good for them.  But I think that what we are experiencing currently is a bit of the shock doctrine applied to gender politics.

The political strategy of the Democrats seems to be to let anti-woman legislature proceed without much pushback until it reaches a critical stage before they jump up and down in protest.  The outrage on our behalf seems concocted.  No, it’s more than concocted.  It’s entirely false.  Know how I know?  We still have only 17% representation in Congress.  You’d think that if women’s interests were all that important to the Democrats that they would do something about that.  Here in NJ, we have 13 (or is it 12 now?) representatives to Congress and not one of them is a woman.  Not one.  Well, you might say, maybe that’s just a recent phenomenon.  No, it is not.  We haven’t had a single woman representing us in Congress in all of the time I’ve lived here in the past 20 years.

In 2006, Linda Stender, a state congressperson, ran for my district, NJ-07, and came within 4000 votes of winning.  4000 votes in a district this dense is trivial.  It’s *tiny* here.  In 2006, the party seemed to be behind her.  When she ran again in 2008, it looked to me like the party abandoned her.  She was a pro-choice liberal Democrat.  Rahm Emannuel’s Democrats were more student body president types.  Unexciting, compliant, obedient schmoozers who tried to hide the fact that the were Democrats and carefully scrubbed all traces of reproductive rights issues from their campaign webpages.  You can almost hear the consultants telling them, “Don’t let them think you’re a liberal Democrat and for god’s sakes, get rid of the pro-choice stuff.  The secret to winning this year is to grab the not-quite-as-crazy evangelical vote.  Don’t worry about the Democrats.  They got no place to go.”

This year, the New Jersey Democratic party isn’t backing even ONE woman challenger for any Congressional districts.  There is one woman named Diane Sare who is running as a LaRouche Democrat, whatever the f^&* that is.  That’s it.  All of the rest of the candidates are men.  Are we to believe that in the entire state of NJ with over 8.8 million people, we couldn’t find at least one Democratic woman per district to challenge Republican male representatives?  Unbelievable.

Some of the districts do not yet have Democratic challengers so it could be that the party just hasn’t put the names up there yet but still, this is just a really sad state of affairs.  You might want to check your own state to see who your state Democratic party is promoting.

The representation in Congress is pathetic.  We rank 71st among nations behind Pakistan, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.  Can you believe that?  In places where you can’t walk down the street without getting harassed for not wearing your hijab and where religious courts still hold women in subjection, they have more women in elected office than here.

We have to hold the parties accountable for this sad state of affairs.  We’re not going to make any progress with the Republican party this election season but now would be a very good time to make the so-called sympathetic men in the Democratic party put their actions where their mouths are.  I call on women today to demand two things from the Democratic party immediately:

1.) That their local and state Democratic parties nominate a woman challenger for every seat currently held by a Republican for the 2012 elections.

2.) That they impose a quota on themselves, and write it into their party platform, to have no fewer than 34% women in their Congressional and party delegations, committee chairmanships and nominations for elected office, and that elected men who are not pulling their weight for Democratic party values be asked to step aside for a female challenger.

It’s the least they can do.  To do anything less makes them look like they are using the current attack on women’s rights as a political game to attract women to the Democratic party without actually having to do anything to promote women’s causes.  We are more than 50% of the population and we deserve better than this.  If they can’t committ to those two things this year, without question, with all of the fire on gender issues raging around them, then they are not our allies and we need to discuss how we create a party that is more responsive to our needs as quickly as possible.

And what is happening to women’s rights will be repeated with the social insurance programs.  The Republicans will be allowed to introduce legislation unchallenged by Democrats and then Democrats will howl that they’re trying to impoverish old people.  It’s a game where the things we value most are held over a pit of snapping crocodiles by the very same people who promise to save us from the crocodiles only if we give them everything they want.  It’s extortion and it’s evil.

Don’t give Democrats a pass.  Now is the time to strike a hard bargain.   I can hardly believe what I’m seeing these days when women are pulled off of the steps of the Virginia Capitol and carted away for trying to defend their rights.  You’d think this was 1918.  But it just proves that women’s suffrage means nothing if all you can vote for are men.

Komen Caves and the Tipping Point

Just announced about half an hour ago on CNN: The Komen Foundation is reversing its decision to defund Planned Parenthood :

The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed a controversial decision not to renew funding for some Planned Parenthood projects, the group said in a statement Friday.

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” the statement said. “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”

[...]

CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said Thursday that 250,000 of its members had signed a petition urging the Komen Foundation to reverse its decision.

“The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood,” the organization said in a statement. “In responding to questions about its decision, the foundation cited as its rationale a sham ‘investigation’ into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns.” who the group called “one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress.”

When I was on Twitter yesterday, I saw a many, many tweets from women who were fed up with the efforts of the religious right to force their ideology on them.  We may have reached the tipping point.

If I were a Democratic politician, I would use this weekend to reassess my position on caving to the right on just about everything.  The religious right is on its way out and so may be any politician that panders to them.

More on the reversal by Jennifer Preston at TheLede at the NYTimes. Here’s another data point on the Tipping Point hypothesis:

It was the perception that the Komen foundation was inserting politics into providing health care services, especially to underserved women, that helped prompt a firestorm of debate online and offline.

At Planned Parenthood, Heather Holdridge, who is the director of digital advocacy strategy, said there have been multiple online organizing efforts in the past on the organization’s behalf, but this one was different, in part, because people organized themselves online.

“I think this was a tipping point for us,” Ms. Holdridge said. “I think something has happened, where people are upset that two great organizations that have this shared mission were now in this difficult position. And so, we have been seeing that response through our supporters, some of whom, were not our supporters before Tuesday afternoon.”

The Komen foundation said that it would be making calls to its key supporters and affiliates starting this afternoon to figure out how to “get back to doing our work. “We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.”

Women are tired of this crap.  It’s been 40 years of fighting off these raging religious lunatics who stubbornly refuse to evolve past 1300 BC.  It’s not a coincidence that the number of atheist, freethinker and skeptic groups and online voices have sprung up in the past couple of years.  Since Obama took office, the right has had a free for all because the Democrats absolutely refused to push back for fear of losing the votes of the religious.  It’s been the Conscience Rule, followed by the Stupak debacle in the health care bill, the Mississippi Personhood amendment, Kathleen Sebelius overruling the FDA advisory board on Plan B and the red beanie boys from Vatican Inc.  There’s been very little standing between the rabidly anti-choice inmates who have taken over the asylum and women.  Democrats don’t want to get involved unless they can turn it into some kind of campaign trick.

And reproductive rights are just the tip of the iceberg.  The economy is still lousy and is staying lousy for women who don’t get hired back at the same rates as men.  We still have to put up with discrimination at work because it’s subtle and if a guy’s not groping you, there’s no accountability.  It’s only gotten worse since Obama and his macho guys stomped all over Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in 2008.  But it didn’t stop there.  They took that assholery and unaccountable behavior into the White House where their dismissive behavior and the refusal of some of the bigwigs to work with women like Sheila Bair, Christina Romer and Elizabeth Warren has lead to the continuation of a lagging economy at the mercy of unpunished bankers.

It’s hard to believe that the majority segment of the population of this country is as besieged as it is.  It’s just one damn thing after another.  Komen was the last straw.

We need a zillion woman march on Washington.  This shit’s got to stop.

The New Apostolic Reformation’s bat$#!^ crazies, Gender Glasses and CNN tells the (partial) truth about the 2008 primaries

Terry Gross did an interview with Peter Wagner, a leader of the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR.  NAR was one of the organizers of the prayer rally that Rick Perry attended.  This interview is jaw dropping.  I have to hand it to Gross for handling this well.  What she does is ask Wagner to talk about the emperor of Japan’s “marriage” to the Sun Goddess and he takes it from there.  It’s in the first part of the interview.  Go listen.

There’s a picture of Wagner of his wife.  They look so sweet.  He’s a rounder, more cherubic version of Colonel Sanders, she looks like one of those nice ladies you meet at a church bake sale who always makes those killer combo bars.  You would never know that they are a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.  Their earnestness disguises a disrespectful hardness towards your personal belief system.  What *they* believe is inviolable.  What YOU believe is up for negotiations.  And they will never, never stop trying to convert you or pull the country over to their way of thinking.  It never occurs to them that they sound unhinged or that their belief system concentrates everything on an afterlife and nothing on ameliorating the suffering in the current life.  It’s narrow minded, conformist and judgmental.  They determine what is moral and if you don’t get with the program, you’re a target for evangelism or social shunning.

Sure, these people are making a living but don’t think for a second that they don’t believe it.  The sun goddess of Japan is a demon and the emperor had sex with her.

Uh-huh.

It sort of reminds me of this guy:

If you’re one of them, yes, you really do sound this crazy.  No, I cannot take you seriously.  I don’t care if I’m not going to paradise with you.

By the way, there is evidence that more  Americans identify themselves as atheists, freethinkers and naturalists.  Peter Wagner has his work cut out for him.

Note:  I see that @apostolicnews is now following me on Twitter.  Please note that I am not your typical elitist snob.  I know people like you personally, know what you believe, know what programs you watch and understand the way you think.  I reject your form of christianity not because I’m a snob but because I find it arrogant and disrespectful of other people’s belief systems and incompatible with goodwill to all people.  Save your breath.  You are not going to make any converts here.

**********

On another note, The American Prospect has finally gotten around to posting something about the hidden discrimination that women face in the workplace in the post Sexism’s Low Grade Fever.  Here’s a money quote:

The unwelcoming workplace isn’t a deadly cancer; rather, it’s a steady low-grade fever that wears you down by degrees (if you’ll forgive my pun). You can diagnosis this illness through one critical measure: Women rarely stay long enough to rise up through the ranks. Or because they rarely rise, they leave. That’s a loss of momentum for women’s careers and energies—and a loss of energy and talent for the organization that derides, diminishes, and disparages their work.

For instance, I’m reminded of a major nonprofit that produced an impressive, in-depth project related to violence against women. When I congratulated the women who’d produced it, they told me that their bosses had been openly hostile to the project—and had ignored, undermined, and belittled their efforts at every turn. They’d never have been permitted to do it, but they’d wrangled a grant for it on their own. The project made an enormous splash and got critical White House attention. But within months after they’d finished the project, all but one of the women who produced it were gone; they were either pushed out or departed on their own. The women had to work on creating successful careers within different organizations—a real loss of momentum for them and talent for the organization. The men who’d rolled their eyes at the project were left to collect the awards.

Yes.  It’s always a stupid idea until the woman is out of the way and then it’s suddenly brilliant for the guy who stands to benefit when she leaves.

It’s about a week too late and sounds very familiar.  Here’s a recent Confluence post on this.  And here’s another.   Actually, I can probably go back through the last couple of years to find similar posts that I wrote.  This is a big problem that has been simmering for quite a while.  I don’t know whether guys have gotten more blatant about it lately or whether it was always there.  Or maybe the problem is that enough women have developed enough expertise in their fields that the discrimination is severely hurting their careers and they’re just discovering that the behavior they’re coached to deploy doesn’t cut it.  The problem is that men aren’t cooperating and women have had enough.

E.J. Graff, the author, says we should quantify it?  (I think I suggested that first) Ok, but quantifying it goes beyond simply measuring salaries and promotions that Graff suggested.  In fact, if you only do that, you will miss all the memorable self-esteem and career crushing “features” that working in male centric environments have to offer.  By the way, did you know that Finland (yes, them again) has a program run by the government called Gender Glasses?  It conducts investigations of workplaces where gender discrimination is alleged.  One of the tools they use to ferret out the truth is statistics.  EVERYTHING can be measured, including how much men ignore their female colleagues.  Just mine the digital data that is already archived on the company servers.

If I were an enterprising politician, I’d run with this.

***********

One more thing: Peep pointed me to this post at CNN this morning that shows what a disaster the 2008 Democratic primary has been for the Democrats.  Most of this analysis is correct, although I disagree on a few elements.  For example, Obama’s “superior” organization in the caucus states was helped by the fact that no one who complained about being screamed at, jostled, locked out and overwritten at the caucus sites who was a Hillary supporter was actually taken seriously.  If superior organization means hiring operatives and thugs and bussing people in from an adjoining state to go to caucuses to make sure you win no matter what, then, yeah, Obama did a much better job at that than Clinton.  The other thing is that the way the DNC at first withheld and then awarded the delegates in Michigan and Florida at the May 31, 2008 RBC hearing completely invalidated the votes of every other Hillary voter in all the other primary states.  And the fact that this is what the DNC was planning all along was crystal clear shortly (like within a day) of SuperTuesday in early February 2008.  The fix was in that early.  Buying the superdelegates was just icing on the cake.

So, now it looks like buyer’s remorse has set in and Obama doesn’t have coattails.  No s#@%, Sherlock.  As Harold Ickes said at the RBC meeting, it was not a good way to start down the path of party unity.  Obama didn’t have the consent of half of his own party and those of us who witnessed what the party did to its stronger candidate will never forget how we were disenfranchised so it could anoint a banker financed, shmoozing political neophyte to the presidency during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  And don’t say, “Nobody could have predicted”.  We did.

(I love this comment from the CNN article:  THOUGHT OF THE DAY:  If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you weren’t a racist, please do our great country a huge favor and vote for someone else in 2012 to prove you’re not an IDIOT.)

There is still time to replace him at the top of the ticket.  To do otherwise would be extremely irresponsible.

Oh, By the way, whatever happened to this guy who gave away the entire NJ 121 vote delegation  to the candidate who lost the state in the primary in 2008?

White House vs Women: Joe Biden does it wrong

Gee, I hope the food was better than the conversation

Oooo, Joe Biden was on The View recently and discussed the allegations that surfaced in Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men about the problems senior staff women were having in the White House.  Ahem.  From what I can tell, Joe is trying to make it sound trivial or he’s in denial:

Vice President Joe Biden today disputed the controversial characterizations of the Obama White House author Ron Suskind made in his new book,”Confidence Men,” as a bastion of sexism that was insulated from a diversity of opinions.

“I don’t know who they’re talking about,” Biden said of former White House aides who reportedly told Suskind that the administration fostered a hostile work environment for women. “Obviously, they didn’t talk to Michelle Obama or Jill Biden. Because if there’s sexism in the White House, the person engaging in it is in trouble.”

The vice president made the comments during an appearance on ABC’s “The View” to talk about his nearly two-decade campaign to end violence against women.

“I’m not suggesting there’s not some instance where a staffer thought they were not treated well,” Biden said. “But look at  the high-ranking staff on my staff, on the president’s staff — 70 percent of the high-ranking people on my staff … they’re all women. I literally, when this came out, I asked them, I asked them had they seen it. And nobody is aware.”

Before we get to the substance of Joe’s remarks, let’s get one thing straight: the women in question have made very serious, not trivial, allegations of discrimination.  Those allegations should be investigated thoroughly.  These days, it is possible to measure the degree to which women and men were treated differently in their roles.  It is possible to mine data that is already retained on email servers and on digital recordings of meetings.  A variety of metrics can be used to determine whether there is a correlation between position, location of office, direct reports and access.  In fact, just about any parameter you care to measure can be dumped into a statistical package and trends, principal components and, probably, the truth, should come spilling out.  We rely on data mining and statistics for a wide variety of legitimate reasons these days and this is a perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of this.

OK, back to what Joe said and why we should ignore it.

1.) Joe says that if there was any of that hostility going on, by golly, Jill Biden and Michelle Obama would know about it.  First, excuse me, but are Jill and Michelle the house mothers for the senior White House staff?  From what I can tell, Michelle Obama is not a working woman.  She has decided to sit this administration out and weed the garden.  It is unclear to me what line of authority she would have with the female staff in the White House, nor is is clear what she could do about it if someone complained to her.  In fact, I can’t think of why anyone would complain to her.  It makes no sense.  Jill Biden, if I recall correctly, is an English professor.  Again, how would Jill be aware of the working environment of the professional women working in the White House?  Secondly, regardless of how Michelle and Jill are treated in their casual interactions with Obama’s male staff, the nature of such interactions are not professional, they are social.  It is unlikely that Rahm Emannuel is going to tell them to shut the f^&* up or talk over them in the reception line or at dinner.  Nah-gah-happen.

The only reason I can see that Joe would bring up Jill and Michelle is that he was appearing on The View, a chatty news show tailor made for women in a more traditional lifestyle.  If they’re watching The View, they’re not working.  (Maybe working women watch the view on the DVR but I personally can’t stand The View.  It’s the worst of the stereotype of women’s programming.  It’s watered down news discussed in a gossipy, coffee clatsch setting.  Something about it makes me think back to my vaguest recollection of Virginia Graham.)  View afficianados stay-at-home moms or senior women like my mother.  So, Joe is out there doing a political stump speech so as not to lose the ladies.  It looks to me like the White House is trying to get ahead of this.  November 2012 is going to be very scary for Obama.

2.) Asking your female staff if there is an issue is NOT going to get you anywhere.  It takes a lot of courage to say you think there might be a problem that needs to be investigated.  No one wants to walk around with a target on their back.  And lately, I have been reading (in more than one place) that the White House environment may be “tough” on women.  Once again, it’s OK if a high pressure environment is “tough”.  Presumably, the women who accepted those jobs knew that it would be when they signed on.  The question is, was “toughness” from women reciprocally appreciated?  My guess is that it is not.  We can find out by looking at the way women and men are described by their peers and supervisors.  Are men “tough” but women “abrasive”?  Are men driven but women “not team players”?  How about we ask Brooksley Born who was routinely described in such unflattering terms by her peers like Arthur Levitt, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin.

So, Joe goes to his female staff and asks them to rat on the guys who already potentially have the means to make their lives inconsequential and they say they don’t know what he’s referring to.  Big surprise there.  What would have happened if Joe had said to his whole staff, men and women alike, “These are serious allegations.  If I didn’t look into them, I might not be getting the best performance from my staff.  I think we should start an investigation and see if there are any trends in the data.  If there are, we can put a plan in place to make sure we address each one of the issues. Who’s on board with that?”

I might actually have respect for the guy.  If I were a woman, I wouldn’t be put on the spot.  If I were a man, I’d be reviewing my past behavior.  I’d expect some resentment down the line when the truth comes out.  “It’s just the way we’ve always done it” or “You can’t stop people from hanging out or working differently with people like them”.  No, you probably can’t stop it.  But you can make sure it isn’t rewarded.  But the only way to make sure it isn’t rewarded is to become aware of it in the first place.

Joe really screwed up.  And the lefty blogosphere is strangely quiet.  I have read nary a word from the Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias types out there.  Lefty blogosphere women are also quiet.  Are they afraid they’ll lose the access they already have?  How about it, Susie Madrak?  You think you’re not getting access because of your “dirty fucking hippy” remark?  More likely, they didn’t like your attitude.  You were too pushy, abrasive, aggressive.  I’ll betcha Josh Marshall could have gotten away with that.

The problem is real.  It’s not in your head.  The details are familiar to those of us who have had to put up with this crap in the corporate world.  Even Stieg Larsson, the author of the Millenium series wrote a subplot where one of his female characters runs into the same damn thing at her new job.  Same maddeningly familiar bad behavior with the email, meetings and phone calls.

It won’t get better unless you say something.  Women have very little real estate in the mainstream media opinion pages as it is and what women are there straddle the generational and gender divide uncomfortably.  Kathleen Parker at WaPo is a case in point.  In her post on the issue, the last few paragraphs couldn’t be less helpful:

Most of the complaints aimed at Obama’s house concerned Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel. Both are now gone. And Obama has made efforts to create a more woman-friendly environment.

He knows how to listen to women, which probably explains his popularity with the gentler sex, but he’s still a guy and can’t be faulted for being more comfortable in his down time hanging with his male pals. Women like some girlfriend time, too.

But to the larger point of women feeling less engaged and appreciated at the elevated levels they’ve earned, there is a clear solution, as hinted above. More women. More women. More women. There are plenty to fill an equal number of slots — no more scrounging to find qualified candidates.

And the best part: Women no longer have to try to be like men. They can be women, which is, one humbly submits, even better.

Yes, let’s reinforce gender stereotypes.  Women are the purer, gentler sex.  Instead of encouraging them to get tough without penalty, women will civilize the White House.  And we’ll add more of them even if it doesn’t matter if 90% of them are female and the 10% that is male sets the agenda and has all of the access.  Women like Parker completely miss the point.  Women staffers don’t want more “girlfriend time”.  They want to be movers and shakers on the same professional footing as their male counterparts.  Please, don’t do us any more favors, Kathleen.

But I suspect that Kathleen and Joe Biden come from the same generational conditioning.  While we can ignore Kathleen as being insufficiently familiar with the aspirations and expertise of the White House female staff, Joe Biden should really know better.  If he doesn’t, then he shouldn’t hire any more women.  No, seriously.  Why frustrate them and allow their efforts to meet with obstructions?  You’re only costing the tax payers money.  Just hire only guys and then shit will get done.  They might not be the best solutions to the issues they are dealing with but at least there won’t be ideas that will sit on the shelf because they couldn’t get an audience.  Let’s just see the White House in all of its sexist glory.

And if the White House is arguing that the problem is solved now that Summers and Rahm are gone, they must really think we’re stupid.  I don’t believe it for a second.  The President himself set the tone.  He’s the one who had the exclusive basketball games and golf outings.  He’s the one who mocked Christina Romer in a meeting.  He knows what he’s doing and if he doesn’t, someone should tell him before 2012.  Why any woman would vote for him after the past three years of economic disaster and poor treatment of his female staff defies logic.

Poor Republicans and Obama women.  Perfectly stupid together.

Obama and women: Two views

What’s up with the lefty blogosphere women?  They should be all over Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men, and yet, whooosh, it’s like a giant empty space where the commentary should be.  Are they uncomfortable?  Embarrassed?  Can’t quite believe it?  If they’re going to continue to prop up guy culture, they ought to ask themselves, what’s in it for them?

There are two new points of view about presidential politics and women in the news today.  One of them gets it, the other is puzzling in its apparent cluelessness.

First up, the Washington Post nails the problem.  Maybe it’s proximity or experience.  I have to say that this kind of behavior is not limited to politics where men are used to being aggressive.  It pops up wherever there is a surplus of guys in a workspace.  Here are the money quotes from White House remains a man’s world, some say (note the qualifier lest the ladies get in trouble for complaining):

To win with your idea, you need to make an argument, in front of the decision-maker. You need to be heard.

Also, you need to be seen.

And that is what matters in this flap over the White House being a “hostile work environment” for women in the first years of the Obama administration, as communications adviser and political pro Anita Dunn describes it in a new book about the president’s term.

[...]

But are we still having this conversation? About women struggling for a seat at the table?

Well, yes. “And having to articulate that you need a seat at the table!” says Jennifer Lawless, who directs the Women and Politics Institute at American University. It’s a numbers problem — 83 percent of the members of Congress are men, which puts the United States in 90th place among the world’s legislatures, for all you politics workers obsessed with scorekeeping.

“So you can play a pivotal role,” Lawless says, “but first you have to earn that role and then articulate that role, before you can raise your voice.”

You have to develop work-arounds, say women who have gone through the revolving door of government and academia and the private sector, to learn that there’s a fake meeting and a real meeting, and to make sure that you get to the real meeting, the one they might be having while you are dropping off your kid at school.

Elaine Kamarck recalls having to fight for inclusion as the vice presidential adviser for reinventing government in the Clinton White House, and “after about 10 times where my issues were discussed in the senior staff meeting, without me somehow being considered a necessary person to be present, I complained enough to [White House Chief of Staff Leon] Panetta until he let me in.”

Seating, meetings and e-mail loops are everything. Because power in Washington is proximity to the principal, “There can be an aspect of bullying to male-female relations,” Kamarck says.

Because? “White Houses tend to attract people with really, really strong wills, and they tend to attract men who think their ideas are right,” and the good manager, as Panetta was, she says, keeps them in line. “They get all tough and macho, and they can try to roll you.”

But if they don’t pinch your butt, you haven’t got a case.  In my humble opinion, women can definitely compete in this environment iff they aren’t penalized for adapting to it.  Unfortunately, a woman who tries to assert herself is labeled “abrasive”, “not a team player” or a “bitch”.  Then they have to be “coached” so they know what to say to whom so they don’t come off as too aggressive or too passive.  Somehow, the women are forced to navigate this field of eggshells without irritating men who have to work with them.  It never works.  If a group doesn’t have to accomodate you, it won’t.  If men find that they can exploit the working environment to take advantage of opportunities that women don’t have, they will.  It’s the same thing with corporate regulation.  If you let corporations get away with murder, they’ll murder.

That’s why it is so important that managers hold everyone accountable for their actions, collaboration and productivity.  Hey, it’s up to the managers if they want to get anything out of the women they hire.  If it starts looking like the females in your group aren’t as much in the know as the guys and their productivity isn’t as stellar so they continue to end up in the junior staff level year after year, maybe, you should look into the situation.  If you’re not going to take their expertise seriously and let them fend for themselves in a hostile, unchecked working environment, you might as well just hire all guys.  No, really.  Don’t waste your time with women if you don’t bother to find out if the environment they’re in is presenting obstacles to their productivity.

The second post comes from Rep. Carolyn Maloney in Huffington Post, who seems to have gotten all Emily Litella and is discussing another issue altogether.  I have to say that I’m disappointed in Maloney because she defends Obama’s record on women by citing examples that have nothing to do with the issues addressed in Suskind’s book.  Maloney says that Obama is committed to mothers breastfeeding and mothers’ concern for good nutrition and childhood obesity.  Huh?  Is this the same Carolyn who wrote about the 30% Solution in Rumors of Our Progress have been Greatly Exaggerated?  Curbing childhood obesity and getting a break to pump your breasts are pretty easy problems to solve compared to getting your share of recognition and responsibility at work.  And in that area, Obama has clearly shown himself to be decifient who seems to be insensitive to the way guys in his White House have muscled their female colleagues out of the way.  Come on, Carolyn, women are more than mothers.  Maybe it would help if you read the book first to know what the problems were.  Anita Dunn and Christina Romer are not commenting on their inability to meet their parental responsibilities at work.

I realize that a lot of Democrats are invested in Obama and don’t want to admit that he’s been less than a feminist so as not to scare off the womens’ vote in 2012.  But they’d be doing all women in all walks of life a huge favor if they confronted the issue head on and demanded a full investigation of the data.  Without that investigation and exposing the underlying hidden power structure for the country to see in all its ugly detail, we will continue to sweep the problem under the rug and perpetuate the problem in politics and throughout business.

Reading this book has convinced me that Obama is not a feminist.  Just because he appointed Hillary Clinton to State (hardly the first female in that position) and two women to the Supreme Court (we’re still underrepresented there.  After all, we are 51% of the population.  So, one or two more justices should do it.), doesn’t mean he is aware of the inequities of the workplace or is laying down the law there so that men are accountable for their behavior.  If anything, Suskind’s book reinforces the sense that Obama lives very much in a guy’s world and that world mentored and financed him for reasons that seem inexplicable to me.  Unless, that is, he is the physical and mental epitome of guyness that other guys instantly relate to.  And since guys usually have the power and the money, Hillary Clinton never had a chance once Obama came on the scene.  It’s hard to believe that the four years of a weak Obama administration may be attributed to the fact that Hillary was not a guy but, sadly, I think that’s the conclusion I’m coming to.  I thought it might be policy or intelligence or personality or something we just didn’t know about.  But no.  It might just be as simple as her inability to project a certain kind of cool masculinity to the wealthy, aggressive powerbrokers.  Obama’s comfortable with the guy thing and has no intention of rocking the boat, because it is working so well for him.  So, we shouldn’t be surprised that his White House is hostile to women who have to work there.  After all, they’re probably thinking they were hired because of their experience, intelligence and hard work.  And look where that got Hillary.  How could they know that they didn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi?

Suskind’s fawning prose that intends to illustrate how “brilliant” Obama is as a politician and speaker is probably the weakest part of the book.  Those sections go on at length and really needed an editor.  But I am giving him a chance to make his argument.  I keep waiting for the brilliance to illuminate me but, sadly, it just doesn’t. After Suskind quotes some passage of one of Obama’s speeches that I am supposed to find inspirational and stirring, I think, “That’s it?  That’s all there is?  Hang on a minute, let me rewind this thing.  Ok, {{listen, listen}}, no, I just don’t get it.”  Clearly, I am missing that gene (probably on the Y chromosome) that will allow me to appreciate Obama for the amazing orator that he is.  His campaign staff should take that into consideration.  His Obamaessence just doesn’t resonate with some of us. Some of us are unreasonable sticklers for results.

Or maybe we should re-evaluate our impressions of Obama based on the evidence, not on some intangible quality that can only be detected by people who want to be just like him.   Maybe he’s just a guy who got carried into the White House on the shoulders of other guys and is unaware of how he is inflicting guyness on his female staff to their detriment.  Maybe he’s not anything special and people like Suskind should stop trying so hard to convince us that he is.   And this guy is no feminist.

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