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Electric Light Orchestra

This is another one of them “open thread” thingies

Love Stinks


This thread is for everyone who isn’t out celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Misery loves company, so pull up a chair, order a drink and tell us all about the person who broke your heart and burned the pieces.

Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For the hopeless romantic:

And a more complicated romance for the hopeless:

Hope your Romeos, Juliets and Quasimodos brought you plenty of red roses and decadent chocolates.

The payoffs – and obstacles – to attending to women’s work in the current economy

Brace yourself. I know this will come as a great shock, but the economic stimulus package does not, in the opinion of genuine academics, address gender realities in the economy.

From a must-read column by Professor Mimi Abramovitz:

Contrary to popular wisdom, spending on services like health care and education produces a bigger bang for the economic-stimulus buck than billions of dollars devoted to roads and bridges. …. For years service jobs have been “reserved” for women. Could this be why mostly male economists have pushed for “shovel ready” jobs held mostly by men as the way to dig us out of the economic quagmire? Could it be that sustaining the male-breadwinner and female-homemaker division of labor trumped economic good sense?

From Professor Susan Feiner learn about W.E.A.V.E and its position on the current stimulus package:

No. 1: Revive and enforce Labor Department regulations requiring affirmative action for all federal contractors.

No. 2: Set aside apprenticeship and training programs in infrastructure projects for women and people of color. Both groups are seriously underrepresented in the construction trades.

No. 3: Spend recovery money on projects in health, child care, education and social services.

Before going into detail on these three targets, let’s also look at two over-arching problems with the current plan: Too meager, too male.

Women make up a huge proportion of the workforce, they own homes in ever greater numbers, they have consumer clout – but economically, women are systemically disadvantaged in ways that make put them at greater financial risk then  men. Whether it be for reasons of justice or reasons of prudence, our country cannot afford economic measures that do not address this disparity in risk. We must design economic programs that put women forward.

Saturday: The blame starts at the top

Artist's rendering of Obama Administration's Principles

Artist's rendering of Obama Administration's Principles

The stimulus package passed but it needed the meddling of Republicans and centrists to get it into a form where it was acceptable- to Republicans.  I suppose they threatened to filibuster.  It seems you can have an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the Senate and the Democrats can still get rolled by Republicans.  Funny that.  When the Republicans had just a razor thin majority in the Senate, they were able to ram through whatever the f%*& they wanted.  Something about Republicans puts the fear of god into Democrats.

The bill by all accounts is inadequate.  The centrists took a utility knife to some of the provisions like new school construction.  Brief detour here:  I was on the school board when our district tried to build a new high school.  Our schools were dramatically overcrowded and out of date.  We presented a new high school that didn’t even have an auditorium (it isn’t used most of the time anyway).  At $52 million, it was going to be state of the art with an efficient use of space.  It was forward thinking.  We would have saved money for the district eventually because the size of the school, with smaller Hogwarts style subschools built in, would have allowed us to repurpose the schools we already had.  We begged, pleaded and cajoled the public to support the plan.  We lost by less than 300 votes due to a massive campaign by the Libertarian party who opposed higher taxes.  Long story short, we ended up building two additions to the high school instead and a new elementary school.  The biggest obstacle is buying the land, which has certain space requirements for athletic fields, etc.  It usually means we are buying family farms.  Anyway, the resulting school facilities are inadequate.  Taxes went up anyway but now there is no place to build any new schools without raising taxes even more.    The Libertarians made it much more expensive for every homeowner in my town in the end and the schools are overcrowded again.  Thank you Libertarian party.

My point is, there are communities around the country dealing with really old, decrepit school facilities and they could use the money.  But Susan Collins and Ben Nelson took the money out.  What were they thinking?  It isn’t in Democrats’ or Republicans’ best interest to screw the kids.  That kind of mistake comes back to haunt you years down the road.  Even more pointedly, what was Harry Reid thinking?  How is it that he let even one Democrat break ranks to negotiate important provisions away and collaborate with the enemy on more tax cuts?  I know that some of the damage they wrought was undone but the result is still an inadequate bill.  Does Harry Reid have no understanding of what is at stake in this debate?  This is a major economic crisis and it requires bold decision making based on core Democratic principles.

Ahhh, yes, core Democratic principles.  There’s the rub.  We have a president who made a point of running away from core Democratic principles.  During the campaign, he seemed almost afraid to call himself a Democrat.  Should we be surprised that there is a void at the top where a governing political philosophy should be?  Let’s not forget that Obama took a lot of money from Wall Street and they expect a return on their investment, not that they’ve been any good with their risk taking in general lately.  They’ve got a hold on Obama.  If he wants to win again in 4 years, he’s going to have to keep on their good side.  Unless he puts the banks into receivership and forces the bankers to take a loss, in which case, they presumably won’t have a lot of money to fund anyone’s campaign.

Paul Krugman commented about the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach yesterday.  The recession is going to end up being longer and harder than it has to be and it is directly related to the void at the top.  With Obama, all of his principles operate on a sliding scale.  Everything is negotiable.  There is no internal discipline or line that shouldn’t be crossed.  Obama is all about process, not principle.  And that lack of discipline serves as an example to others in his party who are behaving like Democrats in name only.

Could Al Franken have made a difference?  Funny how his swearing in keeps getting delayed, just long enough to have missed this important vote.  Regardless, unlike Bill Clinton who faced a hostile Congress controlled by Republicans, Obama triangulated when he didn’t have to.  That must really frost Kos’s crockies.

One more thing:

There is an inter-site debate going on right now about why it is that so many of PUMA friendly bloggers sat it out last year and hurled “you are a racist blogsite because I deliberately misinterpreted something one of your frontpagers said that was not racist but anyway, you shouldn’t have let them say it” missiles at us.  I don’t want to pass judgement on them.  However, it’s not our struggle.  We know who we are and what we stand for.  I stand by all of our frontpagers.  Not one of them has disappointed me or has written anything I would remotely characterize as racist.  The problem resulted from interpretation and by individuals who were sensitized to see certain events in purely racial terms. That is not surprising given the level of viciousness in the accusations of racism from the Obama campaign to even the most trivial comments.

I think the failure to unite last year under one organization, whether it was called PUMA or something else, was a result of relentless peer pressure and psychological warfare from the Obama campaign.  It could make a person question their committment to equality or any principles.  That was what it was designed to do.  It was meant to break down the personality and rebuild it in another’s image.  And we at The Confluence saw it coming, as did other sites.  There were plenty of evil trolls on this site last year who were breathing propaganda.  We could smell it from ten routers away.  (and yes, we know who you are and where you’re blogging from, Katherine from Arizona State University) But there is something about PUMAs and the frontpagers at *this* site in particular that make us a bit different and resilient.  Maybe it’s because so many of us grew up with parents or relatives in fundamentalist religions.  We recognize emotional manipulation much more quickly than others and are able to resist it because we know how to take our emotions offline.  Growing up fundy gives us weapons of resistence.  That is something I think people who grow up more conventionally do not easily acquire.

I admire the bloggers who resisted to any extent last year.  The pressure was intense and relentless.  I only wish they hadn’t turned on those of us who were on their side.  It made us a less powerful force and without critical mass, we were unable to achieve what needed to be done.  I hope we have all learned a lesson from this.  If you want to have power, you have to trust one another, hold hands while crossing the street, look both ways and stick together no matter what comes your way.

And now, let’s put it behind us and begin again.

Freitag Steely Dan Open Thread

Deacon Blues