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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 25, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Give No Heed to the Walking Dead [The Scholar’s Stage, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-19] The People’s Republic of China is wealthier than any rival America has faced. Its leaders are convinced […]
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Coming out of the fog

thinking

What were you doing (or thinking about doing) this time last year?

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The Elephant in the Room

The other day I penned an essay post entitled “The Persistence of Patriarchy: Women in the Workplace,” to begin a dialog about how to eliminate this beast that was unleashed upon women everywhere throughout this election season.  This post was not meant as an assault on women in history who have achieved greatness or merely escaped the boundaries of our patriarchal worldview, nor was it intended to diminish by any measure the accomplishments of women around the globe; but the fact remains that we are a culture based on a patriarchal worldview.  My premise about how we got here may not have exhausted all the vast theories and scientific evidence available on the subject, but it does lay out some basic concepts about the genesis of patriarchy, with an underlying message that no matter what started it, this idea no longer has relevance and should be changed.

While we here at the Confluence may not see the world from a patriarchal viewpoint, the majority of our culture still apparently holds onto this idea either consciously or subconsciously.  We can ignore it and continue to hold up our successes to make ourselves feel better or we can focus on the weaknesses that led us here.  Certainly there are women that have broken barriers all throughout history; but this does not diminish the fact that they had to overcome sexism and patriarchal viewpoints in order to do it within their microcosm.  The election of a president functions as a view of the full citizenry in determining who can achieve this goal and who should be held back and from this vantage point we can see that sexism is alive and well and living in the good ole US of A.

One of the major weakness we suffer from is that despite the fact that women represent a majority of the citizens of this country, too many are complicit in carrying the banner of patriarchy.   THIS IS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.  As women, we are the only ones who can effectively address the existence of other women who would wear a Sarah Palin is a C*nt T-shirt, attack another woman because of her choices, or publicly berate a candidate over their attire.  Many women will even challenge the fact that sexism is still a problem.  They immediately begin quoting statistics about women’s achievements as a way to somehow dispel the notion that our society is still patriarchal.  I believe we need to first turn their worldview around before we can convince men to level the playing field.  Anti-Feminist groups know this is our weakness and exploit it to defend against the notion of patriarchy and sexism such as this anti-feminist rant:

“Various feminists proclaim that women are ‘under siege’, that a monstrous social bias against them, if not a virtual war, is going on, that women have little respect or power (Steinem, Faludi, Tavris, etc.) Yet the notion of the American woman as a powerless “victim” is one of the most absurd notions ever foisted upon anyone. American women live, on average, seven years longer than men. They control 86 % of all personal wealth [PARADE Magazine, May 27, 1990], and make up 55% of current college graduates. Women cast 54% of the votes in Presidential elections, so they can hardly claim to be left out of the political decision-making process!…

It is much more realistic to suggest that women have cleverly seized the upper hand by pretending to be helplessly trapped below! Looking at the full picture, and not the tiny, distorted one that feminists and those they have duped present, we see a very different picture: The American woman emerges as perhaps the most privileged large group in history, enjoying a never-before- seen level of affluence, power, leisure, and health, supported by the work, discipline, and self-effacing, life-destroying exertions of a group they have bamboozled – their men – into believing their cries of “victimization””
Source: http://www.debunker.com/patriarchy.html

I’m very sorry to burst these people’s bubble, but sexism, misogyny and patriarchy are alive and well and stomping on women everywhere.  I present to you that there is a serious need to explore why sexism remains an acceptable public expression.  I believe that we continue to see words and actions like these publicly uttered and displayed because patriarchy is much more firmly entrenched than racism. Unless we are willing to ferret out the root cause and address it head on, patriarchy will continue to hold women back.  Let’s commit to following Bella Abzug’s lead:

We are coming down from our pedestal and up from the laundry room.  We want an equal share in government and we mean to get it.”

This brings me to the following questions – Do YOU believe patriarchy exists in our culture today? If so, can we continue to be a patriarchal society and still eliminate sexism and its defense mechanism misogyny?  How does one take on patriarchy and what are the alternatives? What steps must we take?  How do we get these other women to see that if you can call Sarah Palin a C*nt, then so can you, your mother, your sister or your friend be called the same.  You know what they say: “How do you eat an elephant?….One bite at a time.”  So, are we up to the task ?

The Song of Our New ObamaNation: The Bitch Deserved It

Our New ObamaNation

Our New ObamaNation

Most people in this country do not know how explicitly misogynistic Barack Obama’s campaign was. They don’t have time to sit at the computer and read The Daily Kos, or Talking Points Memo, or The Huffington Post. They didn’t read the vile, endless hatred spewed at women by Obama’s supporters. They believe the lovely stories spun by the corporate media: that Obama was saintly and above all negativity and “unifying,” while his opponents rolled around in dirt. And even when Obama or his surrogates did or said something overtly misogynistic, the media either did not cover it, or excused it.

After all, the bitch deserved it. 

As for Obama’s followers, they refused to admit that his sexist language against Clinton and Palin was intentional. Oh really? Then why didn’t he apologize for it? That’s what a smart political operative does when his words are “misinterpreted” to be offensive to a particular group of people.

There is no logical answer to this question, except that yes, he did flip Hillary off, he did mean to call Sarah Palin a pig, he did intend to slam Hillary when he took the stage after a primary victory to the song “99 Problems (And a Bitch Ain’t One)”, and he did mean to use Clinton’s femaleness against her when he called her “likeable enough” and said she was “periodically down” with her “claws” coming out.

But logic has been in short supply when discussing this election. Over and over again, we women have been told not to believe our lying eyes and ears, to participate in our own marginalization “for the good of the country.” Well, some of us realized that the election of Barack Obama would legitimize the use of misogyny as a tactic against any woman who dared to challenge the entrenched patriarchy in America. And try as we might, we just couldn’t be excited about taking the country in that direction.

Continue reading

Fitness Diary: Getting Started

I took a spin class at lunch today. I’ve been away a long time and decided not to push up the resistance on my bike too much this week. Everything was Ok until the trainer played Welcome to the Jungle when I nearly jumped off the bike. Blech! If you don’t like the music, the class feels like waterboarding. But the skinny twentysomething with the perky blonde ponytail also had some Queen and finished with All Along the Watchtower, which was a relief. 🙂

I used to be a fitness addict before I discovered blogging. Exercise is a good habit even though there has been some significant backsliding for me lately. If you too want to work off your Thanksgiving dinner in advance, there’s no time like the present to get started. Here are some tips I have picked up from our fitness center trainers over the years:

1. See your doctor before you do any vigorous activity. Make sure you aren’t stressing your heart and that your blood pressure is under control.

2. Invest in a heart monitor. To get the most out of your workout, you want to stay in your target heart rate zone for most of the time with little bursts into the cardio zone. You can get a quick estimate here.

3. Wear comfortable clothing. Your clothes don’t have to make a fashion statement. Women should get a sports bra or tank with shelf bra. Make sure your clothes aren’t too baggy and loose in case they get caught on the equipment. Invest in a good pair of shoes. I sweat by Nike Airs because the shock absorption can’t me beat but they may not work for you. So test a few pairs until you’re comfortable with them. Some fitness classes, like spinning, use cycling shoes but these are usually optional.

4. Pick a good time of day to just do it. I don’t recommend early morning because I have read studies that say most exercise induced heart attacks take place early in the day. The body apparently needs to warm up first. My favorite time is lunch time. I take my lunch back to my desk afterwards. But whatever works best for you. What we are aiming for us compliance and regularity.

5. Try a variety of fitness routines until you find the ones that a. Fit your goals and b. You truly enjoy. If you aren’t making progress and you’re not having fun, you won’t go. It’s harder to form a habit if you don’t feel like complying.

6. Women- Try to fit a weight lifting/ strength training segment into your routine. It will help you get some nice muscle tone and it is really good for your bones.

7. Mix it up. Change your routine and diversify your activites to train different muscle groups and keep your interest.

8. Do it in a group. In fact, this is the ONLY way I exercise. The gym is the only place where I want peer pressure. The comraderie is great and people help and encourage each other. Get a regular partner and you’re less likely to skip a workout.

9. Drink water. You don’t have to go overboard. Just take a water bottle with you and drink when you’re thirsty.

10. Warm up and cool down. If you stretch your muscles first, you’re less likely to strain something. Cooling down allows the muscles you have had in tension to return to their resting state. It will make you less sore.

11. The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is stupid. If you’re working too hard, you may be working against your goals. Pushing yourself past your target heart rate too much may give your heart a workout but if you want to lose weight, it’s not going to do you any good. A spin instructor told me that a good pace is one where you are panting lightly and you feel at about 60-80% difficulty. If you are gasping for air, dizzy or getting chest and abdominal pain, stop, even if you’re in the middle of a workout. instructors are more attune to these things nowadays and they may let you know when you’re pushing it too hard. Train your body to accept more stress gradually. You’ll see better results and fewer injuries. When you first start, measure your heartrate periodically and if you find it too high, take a break or ease up.

12. In some classes, posture and position are more important than getting your heartrate up. If you don’t know how to perform an exercise, get an instructor to show you and position you correctly for maximum effectiveness. Doing an exercise wrong can cause injury. Instructors want you to progress so don’t be afraid to ask. Also, some exercises can be modified and still give you a great workout.

12. I keep mentioning fitness centers because I believe it’s a good idea to train your body correctly. Many centers offer an introductory trial membership that is affordable. This is a really good place to start. But if you don’t have one nearby, you can still get a great workout at home. All you need is a pair of good athletic shoes, 2 five lb weights and a DVD player. Commit to walking 2 miles everyday at a brisk pace. Every other day, use the weights for strength training. Buy a strength training video and work out in front if the tube. I recommend anything by Karen Voight. Her routines are gentle and her positioning is very good.

13. Don’t expect to see instant results. If you want to lose weight, don’t weigh yourself for awhile. Keep your favorite pair of skinny jeans around and put them on periodically to see if they fit better. This is especially important if you are strength training. When you build muscle, your not going to lose as much weight but you should see fat melting and feel more toned. So the scale may just depress you. Stay away from it. Habits are more likely to stick when you perform a task 21 times. So, keep at it regularly for four weeks or so. In about 6 weeks, you should start to look and feel better. If you don’t, see your doctor. You may have a metabolism problem. Or ask your instructor for suggestions. You may have to switch to a different kind of workout to get the results you want.

Now, put down the laptop and get out there! I want everyone to work off that turkey gravy before next Thursday. I burned off 483 calories today. That stuffing is now guilt free. Tomorrow, I’m going to work off the mashed potatoes.

Monday, Getting a Plan

My plan to become slender and willowy and alluring is not working out and the reason seems to be that though I go for days and days eating only celery and RyKrisp and a soup made from birch twigs and lichen, I black out occasionally and when I regain consciousness I am crouched over the half-eaten carcass of a gazelle and my hands and face are red and sticky and I’m disgusted, of course, and yet very rare gazelle does taste good when you’re hungry, and the exertion of chasing one and bringing it down does make a person ravenous.

– Garrison Keillor, A Puritan’s Path To Weight Loss and Eternal Happiness

I spent the weekend cleaning closets and trying to distract myself from the attractive treats calling me from the kitchen. Aside from the occasional lapse (where I’d duck into the refrigerator for a slice of cheese) the weekend was mostly successful. The closets are clean and the treats are (mostly) still there. Continue reading

The Progressive Sturmabteilung

idiocy

Obamanation is starting to scare me worse than G-Dub’s neo-fascists ever did.  Rick Moran writes in a post at American Thinker:

Opponents of gay marriage in California are suffering the effects of a childish tantrum thrown by those who lost on Proposition 8. There have been attacks on Mormons for leading the fight for the ballot initiative as well as racial epithets hurled at African Americans because 70% of them voted “Yes” to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Now these activists have taken their derangement to another level; they are publishing lists of ordinary people who donated to the “Yes on 8” coalition

[…]

This is stupid and self defeating. Rather than trying to change their opinion, they are making these people enemies for life. And carrying out pogroms like this against people who oppose gay marriage based on their religious beliefs borders on bigotry.

There are other means of protest to make your displeasure known than targeting individuals. All the gay marriage advocates are doing is sealing their fate the next time such a measure goes before the votes.

I live in California and I voted against Prop H8 because I think gays and lesbians have just as much right to be miserably married as us straight people.  Unfortunately, the majority of the voters here disagreed with me, including a bunch of people who voted for Barack Obama.  While American Thinker is a conservative website, I agree with Rick Moran that targeting individuals, businesses and churches that supported Prop H8 is wrong. 

Not everyone agrees with me, however.  TBogg in a post at Firedoglake titled “Blowback is a Bitch” writes:

The kind of person who contributes money to deny their fellow citizens their civil rights are not someday magically going to be part of the solution: they’re the problem. These are not people to be reasoned with; they’re ignorant, they’re haters and they’re bigots and the only thing people like that understand is power.

So when they stick their noses in other people’s affairs, they forfeit the right to be considered just another “ordinary person”. They’re involved and they would be foolish to expect that those other people in whose private affairs they have meddled wouldn’t return the favor. As they say: you pays your money and you takes your chances.

You “takes your chances” when you exercise a Constitutional right?  When did that become a progressive principle?  From the comments to TBogg’s post:

“Your freedom of speech does *not* include freedom from the consequences. Deal with it.”

and:

“Take no prisoners.”

and:

“If you enlist in the Culture Wars (e.g. writing a check), expect to receive fire.”

and:

“Isn’t there some scripture verse about sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind?”

That rhetoric is not very reassuring, is it?  There is a word for people who use intimidation to get their way.  The word is “bully.”  But it doesn’t stop at FDL.  John Cole posted this at Balloon Juice:

This is pretty amusing. After actively campaigning to end the right to marriage for a large group of people, including donating money, blackmailing businesses, and turning the issue into a religious crusade, people are absolutely mortified to find out to be publicly associated with the cause. There is, after all, a reason the Klan wears hoods.

Yeah John, because people who sincerely believe that marriage is a religious sacrament between a man and a woman (a view shared by the candidate you fanatically supported and many of your fellow Obama supporters) are no different than a terrorist organization that lynched black men.  Why, they deserve to be punished, not persuaded! 

Perhaps we should make the people who supported Prop. H8 wear special armbands so they can be easily identified.  Businesses and churches could be required to post signs identifiying them as well.  I seem to recall that tactic being very effective at intimidating people in the past.  I also recall you being outraged in the past when conservatives “outed” or retaliated against people they disagreed with.  Hypocrite much?

Leave aside for the moment that targeting political opponents is counter-productive, it is also anathema to democratic principles.  That’s why we have secret ballots.  There is also the “Law of Unintended Consequences” to consider.  Did it ever occur to anyone that targeting donors for retaliation provides a good reason to repeal the laws requiring public disclosure of campaign donations?  Jeebus! 

Progressives used to have principles.  Liberals still do.

Monday: No blank check for YOU

President Elect Obama, the Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers, gave an interview to 60 Minutes last night.  The New York Times watched it so we wouldn’t have to.  Senator Abstract Painting finally told us what he really represents.  In short, banks and financial institutions get all the money in the Treasury; little people losing their houses?  Ehhh, not so much:

President-elect Barack Obama said in an interview on the CBS program “60 Minutes” on Sunday that one of his top priorities will be to “restore a sense of balance” to the regulation of financial markets, but rejected the idea of a so-called “new New Deal” for America.

Mr. Obama acknowledged the parallels between the current economic crisis and the problems of the Great Depression, but said that he supported solutions that are “true to our times.”

“For us to simply recreate what existed back in the 30s in the 21st century — I think would be missing the boat,” Mr. Obama said in the interview. “I think the basic principle that government has a role to play in kick-starting an economy that has ground to a halt is sound. I think our basic principle that this is a free market system and that that has worked for us, that it creates innovation and risk taking, I think that’s a principle that we’ve got to hold to as well.”

Didja get that?  Mr. Smartest President EVAH does not believe in doing his research, finding out what worked in the past and updating those solutions for the benefit of average everyday Americans.  No, he believes in the “innovation and risk taking” of the “free market”.  Well, I’m glad we got that settled.  It only took us a year to figure out W.O.R.M. (What Obama Really Meant).

But wait!  There’s more:

In his first post-election interview, the president-elect also reiterated his support for providing additional assistance to Americans facing home foreclosure as well as government involvement in bailing out the troubled automobile industry.

“It can’t be a blank check,” Mr. Obama said of a plan to help automakers. “My hope is that over the course of the next week, between the White House and Congress, the discussions are shaped around providing assistance but making sure that that assistance is conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders, all the stakeholders coming together with a plan — what does a sustainable U.S. auto industry look like?”

No blank check for you, says Lord of Fiscal Responsibility Who Was MORE Than Happy To Vote on the FIRST Paulsen Bailout Bill That Was Nothing But a Blank Check.  When that first bill came around that gave us taxpayers the unique opportunity to buy up all of the banks’ toxic assets but not get anything in return, Obama was totally onboard with that.  Someone in the Senate, we still don’t know who, snuck a provision in the second bill that gave the government the option of actually owning pieces of those banks.  We’re silent partners, pretty much, but at least if the money ever comes back, we’re entitled to a substantial chunk of it- theoretically.  But this was not a requirement for Obama.  He was content to write the banks a blank check.

Now, he could be singing a different tune in a couple of months.  Maybe someone like Paul Krugman can school him on what The New Deal really was all about.  That way, he won’t end up sounding like clueless laissez-faire free marketeer George Will.  We hope this happens behind closed doors would be far less embarrassing than doing it on national TV:

Stimulating the banks, er, economy with money may not be enough.  A NEW New Deal may indeed be what is called for, complete with restructuring of mortgages with HOLC, government projects that put people to work and affordable healthcare for all Americans so that companies like GM can dig themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves by designing nothing but gas guzzling asphalt boats.  It’s doable.  I mean, he’s only going to have a Democratic Congress to play with.  If things get tough in Appalachia, even the hardest hearted Blue Dog Democrat could be pressured to bend.  Heck, it worked so well with delegates at the convention, I can’t believe Obama’s already lost his touch in 4 months.

You can see where all of this is heading.  We now see Obama for what he is.  The presidency has solidified him out of his air of mystery.  He doesn’t have to play the game anymore.  He could have just said, “Screw it, I’m a Democrat and I cherish the principles of my party.  I’m going to restore the social safety net.  Take *that*, David Broder!”  But he did not.  Personally, I’m angry.  The money is saving the asses of the people who innovated and risk took us into this mess but when it comes to a solution for the rest of us, a New Deal is already off the table.  He must have learned that from Pelosi.  Well, his backers got what they wanted- the ability to to whatever the f^&* they want without consequence and absolutely no obligation to the rest of us.  What’s that you say, Obamaphiles?  That’s not what you wanted??

Tsk, tsk, $600,000,000 in small money donations just doesn’t buy what it used to.

Speaking of money, MABlue pointed me to this chilling article in Portfolio about The End of Wall Street.  Read it and you will want to go sharpen your pitchfork and hunt down the person who dreamt up 401K’s.  There isn’t a prison harsh enough for the people who did this to us.

In the meantime, PUMAs, it’s time to work off those turkey dinners in advance.  We’ve been sedentary for a year now and we need to get up and boogie before the fat hardens.  So, make a commitment to yourselves to put in at least 30 minutes of heart pumping activity into your day this week.  I’m hitting the fitness center at work.  I have stepper today, chisel tomorrow, treading on Wednesday, Spin on Thursday and Zumba on Friday.  That will entitle me to a helping of stuffing with gravy.

Here’s some morning music from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to get you started: