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Oh Hell Yeah!


Joseph Cannon rocks:

The hidden lesson of the Glass story concerns old media versus new media — for-pay writing versus for-free writing. Today, you’ll find much better writing on the blogs, and you won’t pay a dime for it. Why? Because a blog writer markets his work directly to readers, not to editors. Nobody cares if a blog author has age spots or sagging tits or a funky smell or outdated clothes. Nothing compels a blogger to wow colleagues with youth and charm. The best writers have no colleagues, no youth and no charm. They have fangs. Life has taken big bites out of their hides, and they want only to bite back.

I would NEVER sully myself by accepting money to blog.

(unless the price was right)

Three Cups of Tea, The Confluence Book Club Selection

This is my first experience at hosting The Confluence Book Club.  And I feel a little awkward suggesting a book I haven’t read yet. I keep thinking what if I hate it?  What if they hate it?  But, isn’t that part of the give and take in a vibrant book club?  So here it goes:

Taking our inspiration from Riverdaughter’s post Saturday morning (Saturday: A little thing for the girls), the next selection for The Confluence Book Club (the week of February 23-28) is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen:

From my own observations, and remembering a childhood proverb from Africa, there is a saying that “if you educate a boy—you educated an individual, because he often leaves the community to find work, and may never return or send back money, but if you educate a girl—you educate a community, because when the girl becomes a mother, she will remain in the community and instill that value in her community. – Greg Mortensen


Mortenson advocates girls’ education as the top priority to promote economic development, peace and prosperity, and says, “you can drop bombs, hand out condoms, build roads, or put in electricity, but until the girls are educated a society won’t change”.

Mortenson wasn’t looking for a mission.  He thought he was just going to climb a mountain:

On July 24th, 1992, Mortenson’s younger sister, Christa, died from a massive seizure after a lifelong struggle with epilepsy on the eve of a trip to visit Dysersville, Iowa, where the baseball movie, ‘Field of Dreams’, was filmed in a cornfield.

In 1993, to honor his sister’s memory, Mortenson climbed Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain in the Karakoram range.

After K2, while recovering in a local village called Korphe, Mortenson met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand, and made a promise to help them build a school.

From that rash promise, grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign, in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

. . .

The book traces how Mortenson kept this promise (and many more) in the high country of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson was up against considerable odds. Not only is the region remote and dangerous, it is also a notorious breeding ground for Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. In the course of his work, Mortenson was kidnapped and threatened with death; he endured local rivalries, deep misunderstandings, jealousy, and corruption, not to mention treacherous roads and epic weather. What kept him going was his passionate belief that balanced, non-extremist education, for boys and girls alike, is the most effective way to combat the violent intolerance that breeds terrorism. To date, Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute has constructed fifty-five schools, and the work goes on.

The Three Cups of Tea website has an abundance of information that includes a readers guide and an extended author interview.

Reviews of the book mention concerns with the awkwardness of the writing.  But, Greg Mortenson’s story is so compelling that when the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library scheduled Mortenson to speak tickets ran out months before the event.  And fans flew in from all over the country.  The library hosts author events all the time but we  had never seen such an enthusiastic response from the public.

So there is some indication that this is a book people like to talk about. . . . (I’m nervous, OK? — I still haven’t read it myself!)

To give everyone time to buy or borrow Three Cups of Tea and read the book, I’m setting a general date of February 23-28 for our discussion.  And I hope we’ll have a rousing-good discussion!

The Audacity of Democracy

Fellow PUMA’s Please Tune Into




No We Won’t

Tonight 8pm Eastern

Filmaker Brad Mays

Producer Lorenda Starfelt

Discuss the release of The Audacity of Democracy

You Talk Too Much

From Swanspirit:

The latest stat I heard was that if a woman speaks for over 25% or 30% of the conversation WITH A MAN or MEN in almost any interaction, professional or social or personal …she is considered overbearing and monopolising the conversation …

Sam Donaldson manages to disparage Carly Fiorina, Cokie Roberts, Kirsten Gillibrand – and David Paterson – in one fell swoop

[cross-posted at Founder’s Blog, 51 Percent; h/t to friend M.M. for drawing my attention to the clip from This Week with George Stephanopoulos]

Watch this. Set aside the matter of whether being a woman helped or hindered Ms. Kennedy’s bid for Secretary of State Clinton’s Senate seat. Pay attention, careful attention, to Sam Donaldson. Notice that the minute Cokie Roberts and Carly Fiorina even mention broader issues of gender parity, and more particularly, when Roberts notes that in the November general election that only 36 percent of the electorate were white men, Donaldson cuts her off, with an assist from George Stephanopoulos, and launches into a into a combination whine (“please try to continue to do it without us”) and pompous bloviation (Governor Paterson has, by defying the New York powers-that-be “shot himself in both feet” by “blundering” into appointing Kirsten Gillibrand.)

Scared, Sam?

I agree with with the commentator at The New Agenda: “The patriarchy is especially threatened by our push for equal representation….”

So scared that blustery old men like Sam Donaldson cannot even hold back from a move familiar to any woman who has ever partaken in a profession “round table” or meeting. The minute a woman starts pressing a significant and weighty point that a man does not want to hear he starts talking over her. Rather than the male moderator – in this case Stephanopoulos – telling him to pipe down so Roberts could at least finish her sentence, the male moderator tries to gloss over the moment of sexist rudeness (no, not just rudeness, sexist rudeness) with a lame joke (“at least you asked [before seamlessly launching into your interruption]”). As with racist put-downs, this sort of joviality in the face of sexist rudeness compounds the problem. It certainly does not put in his place the original sexist interrupter, who could not even bear to hear out the comment being made about proportional representation.

With four men (including Stephanopoulos himself) and two women at the round table, there is not even 51 percent representation on This Week, at least this week. But I would love to get a careful breakdown of the speaking time of the four men and the two women: if Stephanopoulos and his producers cannot produce a panel of 4 women and two men or at least three and three, then it would useful if Stephanopoulos careful made sure that the two women get close to 51 per cent of the air time. It would be better if this were achieved by having 3 or 4 women on the panel, because that would further the more tangible goal of 51 percent women in every public sphere, and because it would not require deviation from with ingrained norms (albeit ill-fitting in this case) about speaking time being roughly alloted per person (assuming that is the norm on talk shows like This Week). But listen again to the clip and imagine if Fiorina and Roberts had had 51 percent of the air time. Whether you agree with their specific views or not, how might the overall conversation have been different? More representative of a range of views and ideas more likely to be held by women than by men?

Winning the Equal Representation Argument

You Are In Good Hands with Women In Charge

You Are In Good Hands with Women In Charge

Be forewarned, ladies. If you dare to think you are entitled to equal representation in government, you are doing something called “femi-whining.”

Don Surber says so, and his post made the “best of the blogs” on RealClearPolitics, so he must have a point. Right?

Surber objects to an article by Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post, in which she mentioned – gasp – numbers! (We all know girls can’t do math, right, Larry Summers?) In any case, Ms. Kornblut uses the fact that only 16 (now 17 again) out of 100 Senators are women. His intelligent and informed response to this?

Boo hoo hoo.

Senators are elected. Before you are elected you have to run. It was pretty hard for Minnesota to elect a woman this year because both major candidates were men. But if Norma Coleman and Alice Franken had run… well, we still would not have a winner but I think my point is made.

Clinton was not elected president because she was not a woman? Well, of the 20 leading contenders last year, 18 men were denied the job as well.

But Kornblut lives in a world where women are entitled to 50 Senate seats without bothering to campaign for them (emphasis added).


Yes, Don Surber, it IS nonsense. And let me tell you why.

Continue reading

Speak for yourself, Frank

Frank Rich is still basking in the afterglow of Obamagasm.   When you’re in love, everything he does is wonderful, even when it’s not.

For example, Mr. Wonderful won Frank’s heart with his superb, inspiring, poetic eloquence.  Everything Obama said touched that spot in the heart that brought instant tears to the eyes with visions of promise, new worlds, golden vistas, vast tracts of land…  Ahh, I’m getting all verklempt just thinking about it. 

But Obama’s inaugural speech was sobering.  It was the kind of thing he says in the gray hours of the morning just before he says he hears the lark when you’re still listening to the nightengale.  The rude awakening your daddy told you about is about to come crashing down on you.  But Obama is there.  The “Ooo, baby, baby” is gone but he’s still going to rock your world one last time before he leaves you to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Poor Frank blames us for overspending and taking Bush’s advice to consume.  We were profligate.  We lived only for today.  That bad dude, Bush, he seduced us.  Oh, woe is us, but we brought it on ourselves.

Excuse me?

I never liked Bush, didn’t vote for him- twice. I begged my relatives not to give in to his pseudo religious siren song because I smelled a kleptocratic rat.  But did the country listen?  I paid my bills on time, didn’t get over my head in debt.  I didn’t buy myself a second home I couldn’t afford.  I put the 12% of my income away in my 401K as I was told I must if I want to skip the Alpo in my old age.  I went on ONE expensive vacation in my life and I paid for it- in advance.  I’ve lived with furniture hand me downs to buy a new roof for my house.  I carefully budgeted a basement reno.  And still, I worry about my job, like whether I’ll have one next year.  I worry that my attempts to stimulate the economy, because it is that important, are going to eat into any savings I have and it won’t be there when I need it most.  Here I am, minding my own business, being a good, responsible citizen.  What did I and millions of Americans as responsible as myself do to deserve to have our nest eggs looted for gambling chips?  What did Taggles do to deserve to be laid off when she has a son to raise?  What did SM77 do to have her contract jobs dry up so that she’s forced to apply for food stamps for herself, her mother and her daughter? We aren’t the agents of all this destruction and pain.  We’re collateral damage.

Not one of us deserves to have our hours and salaries cut.  After all, we have been told for years that we are the most productive people on earth at the same time that the fruits of that productivity went to line the pockets of the “bossies”.  Here’s a better idea: confiscate the wealth from those who stole it from us in the first place.  Rescind the tax breaks for the Accentures and other white collar organized crime companies that took their headquarters off shore.  Pass a retroactive windfall profits tax on anyone who speculated and made money off of energy.  Tax Frank Rich back to Clinton levels.  If you made out like a bandit during the Bush years, now is the time for YOU to give back.  Maybe Frank and Maureen could outsource their columns to India.  Surely, there is a well qualified but poorly  compensated woman in Hyderabad who is more than capable of turning out drivel in the style of Frank Rich at a significant cost savings to the NYTimes.  When it comes to sacrifice, you go first, Frank.  Lead by example.

While Frank and MoDo and other Timesy people were at the Bush years cocktail parties with the backroom for the upcoming Obama orgy, the rest of us were pulling our weight.  There wasn’t any Obamagasm for us.  We just wanted the Bushies to go away and never come back.  We wanted competence and experience; Frank gave us Obama.  We wanted a Treasury Secretary that would be responsible and accountable to US; Frank’s Obama has given us Geithner.  The party’s over but it was good for Frank and now he feels guilty for enjoying himself so much.  So we must feel guilty too.

Hey, it’s your bed, Frank, YOU can crawl into it and sleep in the wet spot.

Obama Makes Black People Smarter

20090121044149_img_1478-simulacrum_of_hopeIt’s a good thing President Black Obama is…black on slow news days.  Talk about a reliable “go-to” subject.  I mean, now that it’s obvious that two-thirds of Americans polled are going to support him no matter what he does, reporting on what he does is, frankly boring.  So, why not ask what his being black means to America if you’re a columnist up against a deadline?  We never get tired of that.

Thanks to the New York Times, we now know that “researchers” have shown that just having a black president makes black people test better.  Which seems to bode well for new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s job:

Educators and policy makers, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, have said in recent days that they hope President Obama’s example as a model student could inspire millions of American students, especially blacks, to higher academic performance.

Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.

Whew!  I know I feel smarter!  Andrew Sullivan claims news of the “Obama effect” blew his mind, and for some reason made him relate the heartwarming tale of his African American teacher neighbor’s concerns about her students’ use of the dreaded “n-word,” which they never use in reference to the new president.  On second thought, maybe the “Obama Effect didn’t take with me, ‘cuz I don’t see what the flock one thing has to do with the other, but that could just be me.  At least, now we know what happened to Andy’s mind, though.

Deroy Murdock sees a connection.  Writing for RealClearPolitics, Murdock puts forth the theory that Obama’s “erudition” will eliminate the “ghetto culture” and cause young black men to pull their pants up and stop belittling people like him and his siblings for “acting white,” just because the Murdock kids got good grades.  Some scars stick, I guess.  Though, I never knew you couldn’t get good grades if your butt was cold.  And, those kids who picked on the Murdock family probably call Obama the “n-word” all the time, being immune to the “Obama effect,” like they obviously are, since they must be about 35 -40 years old by now.

CNN informs us that some people think that America will demand that Obama be twice as good as a white president would have to be, while others do not.  They also clue us in to the fact that “twice as good” as his predecessor ain’t saying much, making the whole premise moot.  But, what the hell do I know, I’m one of those “Obama effect” immune “n-words” who used to pick on Republican kids.

In other “news,” did you know that the day before the inauguration,  Matthew J. Clark put a statue of Barack Obama on a donkey and dragged it through the streets of Des Moines, Iowa all the way to the capitol building, while onlookers waved palm fronds and Secret Service-style SUV’s followed?  Betcha didn’t.  But, he did.  The “performance art” exhibit is called, “Simulacrum of Hope: Simulation of the Triumphant Entry of the Christ.”  Here’s Matthew on Matthew:

Matthew J. Clark is an unidisciplinary artist and sculptor who is neither living nor working in New York, New York. He hasn’t a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and knows absolutely nothing about painting. His technical proficiency at 3-dimensional art could speak for itself if he would let it. In a self-fulfilling exercise of ostracization and alienation, he works tirelessly designing, constructing, and re-designing and re-constructing concept-driven sculptures and installations that he understands most people misunderstand. His work examines emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, metaphysical, psychological, physiological, sociological, and societal realities, hyperrealities, and dream-like states of consciousness, along with semiotics. Matt insisted that he end this bio with the declaration, “Words have no meaning.” He can’t stop.

He is not represented by the Marian Goodman Gallery which has offices in New York and Paris. I think I have pneumonia.

Does the “Obama effect” apply to white people in reverse?  Probably not, whatever’s troubling Matt is probably a pre-existing condition.  And, speaking of lingering troubles, the Cabbage Patch Weeble, Rod Blagojevich, has hired a public relations firm to handle his upcoming “Screw Your Impeachment Trial” media blitz.  In true Blago ham-fisted style, the firm he chose is notorious for its clientele, primarily, Drew Peterson, the latest Peterson to be accused of killing his inconvenient wife.

In case you just can’t get enough Obama, and I’d be shocked if you could, there’s always Pocket Obama.  Yes, you too could have a pocket full o’ Obie quotes to consult anytime your hopium levels plunge.  And, if that’s not enough, you can generate your own inaugural speech here, secure in the knowledge that you couldn’t possibly do worse.

And, the wheels are off the bus.  The people under it say, “hi.”

You can consider this an open thread.

Cross posted at my place, Cinie’s World, natch.