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Religious Narcissists and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s 8 best lines in her dissent

The religious narcissists think they have won this round but I guarantee you that this is only temporary.  Supreme Court justices die eventually.

When I talk about religious narcissists, I am referring to people who derive their self-worth and sense of superiority from their faith.  In this country, we have official separation of church and state but we worship those who worship.  Because we have a habit of deferring to the faithful, respectfully allowing them to propound on morality without interruption, religion has become another refuge for scoundrels.  Before you faithful go off on a hissy fit, allow me to clarify.  The Hobby Lobby case that was decided today does not reflect the views of all people of faith.  It reflects the views of a very narrow set of fundamentalist religious adherents whose voices have been magnified.

Let me explain why people who score high on the narcissism scale use religion to hide and how even more powerful narcissists use them to advance their goals.  To recap the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, here they are:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

– See more at: http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/#sthash.HtiA1zJT.xqpRZ0p8.dpuf

If you can’t see how certain fundamentalist religions give the religious narcissist status, you haven’t been paying attention to Anita Bryant, Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson and the plethora of mega church pastors and their fan base over the past several decades.

We can argue about what triggered the events that lead to so many people to join fundamentalist religions in the 70’s and 80’s.  I think Reagan had a lot to do with it.  There was a whole swath of people in the late 70’s who were left out of the social revolutions of the mid-20th century.  They just missed the cutoff to join modernity.  There are a lot of Betty Drapers out there who were conditioned to accept the limited roles for women that the 50’s relegated them to and a lot of men who started to feel economic pressure and competition from younger women and african americans entering the workforce.  Conservatives tapped into that confusion and anger by aligning themselves with the religious right.

I went to an open house type of event sponsored by my brother’s church once and I was at once struck by the amplified emotions.  There was a band where the participants became instant rock stars, lots of heart wrenching images flashed on huge projector screens and little children were being led to small above ground pools where they were baptized.  It was unnerving.  There was too much noise, too much music in just the right major chord progressions, too much stimulation, too much MUCH.  The whole effect was like highjacking the sympathetic nervous system, to make the heart beat in time and stimulate the lacrymal ducts.  I couldn’t take it.  I felt coerced.

But that’s just me.

I walk around with type 4 deflector shields deployed because I know that a religious narcissist does not respect boundaries.  It’s part of what makes them so successful.  They feel entitled to intrude on your privacy, your morality, your belief system.  In our culture, we Americans give the religious permission to do this because we do not feel it is polite to tell them to stop.  If you do tell them to stop, you must be persistent and forceful.  You must be so persistent and forceful that they take offense. And since they call foul so often and our culture reinforces their superior moral status, they usually get away with what they’re up to.  In this manner, the plutocracy is able to use them as an engine to promote their economic agenda by coupling it with social conservatism.  I’m sure I am not revealing anything new to readers here.

The introduction of faith based initiatives has exacerbated the problem.  Now, the executive branch has the ability to give money without accountability to churches who have the power to shape their congregations’ political views.  The Republicans made the churches flush in the Bush administration but, curiously, the Obama administration has done little to dismantle the program.

So, now we have religious institutions crowded with people who do not respect boundaries and feeling their cheerios and unwittingly serving Mammon.

Today, the religious narcissists got another shot of narcissistic supply.  They are sitting high and straight and “puffed up”.  This won’t be the last time they get their hit as long as this Supreme Court is composed by these members.  Note that the three women justices are all on the losing end of each ruling.  It should be clear now that the government is being conscripted to dismantle any autonomy that women have.  If they can be forced to pay additionally for their reproductive protection, there’s really no limit what can be forced on women in the name of religion.  Why are they working outside the home at all?  Do they really need as much money as a man?  Men support families.  Women also support families but only bad women support families on their own.  Men have authority, therefore, they should be bosses.  Women aren’t supposed to speak in congregation according to Paul.  If my corporation is “closely held” and religious, isn’t that like a congregation?  Can’t this congregation make rules to suit it without the interference of the government?

It’s coming.

But, like I said earlier, it’s not all religions that behave this way.  The mainstream protestant churches, especially those who ordain women, don’t seem to behave this way.  I hope we hear from them soon. It’s only the fundamentalist sects and fringe elements that attract a disproportionate number of narcissists that we need to worry about.  Nevertheless, it’s time we start to take on the religion industry in this country and one of the first places to start is by making a big stink over the faith based initiatives.  There’s no reason we need to give the religious narcissists more power with tax payer money.  I don’t care who is in the White House.  Find another, more ethical way to win elections.

We, on the other hand, must learn to identify the narcissist in religious clothing and make them feel unwanted and unpopular even at the risk of incurring their wrath.  And, yes, they will get very, very angry.  But better an angry genie in a bottle than a content one on the loose wrecking havoc.

Deploy your shields.

In the meantime, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg writes that the court has “ventured into a minefield” with this ruling.  Among her best lines from her dissent are:

“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

and

“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

Read the rest here.

Narcissists, scapegoats and the golden child

A few months ago, I said I would be revisiting the topic of narcissists.  It might have been Phillip Zimbardo’s book, The Lucifer Effect, that lead me to read more on narcissism and malignant narcissism.  Or maybe it was one of those moments that we all have from time to time when something we see that is out of focus suddenly snaps into place.  I had interactions with many narcissists last year in every possible area of my life.  The one at work was particularly awful. But whatever it was that finally clued  me in, I realized how narcissism has been allowed to run amok.

We all have the capacity for narcissism. Most healthy human beings have to be somewhat narcissistic to survive.  In this economic environment, we have all been pushed a bit further on the spectrum because a false sense of scarcity has been created and we are all competing for the same piece of the pie.  It pays to be more selfish, to project more confidence and talent than we actually have, and to adopt an “every woman for herself” attitude.  But most of us do not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a way of seeing the rest of the world as merely actors in the play we wrote ourselves and are directing.

Here are the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

– See more at: http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/#sthash.HtiA1zJT.dpuf

Based on the number of politically tone deaf statements from the plutocrats about how the rest of us envy their success, it has become painfully obvious that there is a surplus of narcissists at the top. But you might be surprised by how many people with NPD hide behind religion.  A very religious person is very hard to criticize and our social structure gives them a convenient cover screen.  How could a person who praises the lord and loves Jesus (and lets you know about it all. the. time.) be selfish, manipulative and malicious? It’s a brilliant place to be if you want control but want to come off looking sweet and pious while simultaneously believing that you are superior to others because you have The Truth.  Many cult-like and high control fundamentalist religious organizations encourage this kind of narcissism in their converts. The Duggar family is a perfect example of this mindset.

And then there is the right wing noise machine that seems to encourage a base narcissism in its target audience.  The unlucky “deserve” what they get while the rich “deserve” what they’ve gotten.  And what’s wrong with saying things that are racist?  You’re allowed to be a racist if you want to be.  (I’m just paraphrasing the incredible things I’m hearing from the Fox News crowd lately.  Personally, I think racism is revolting in thought, word and deed.) Putting people down to make yourself look superior is a hallmark of a narcissist, although I doubt that these same Fox News watchers would be as comfortable saying it’s Ok to be anti-semitic.  Just a guess.

The relationships that develop in a family poisoned by a narcissistic parent illustrate on a micro scale what can be projected to a wider audience in the political sphere.  In a family when one of the parents has narcissistic personality disorder, the children in the family are frequently pitted against one another.  The NPD parent designates one of the children as the scapegoat.  The role of the scapegoat may rotate but it’s usually one particular child that is targeted.  This child is usually the more sensitive child, the one who doesn’t play the game and flatter the narcissist, the truth teller.  When the NPD parent injures this child using emotional manipulation and encouraging the others in the family to “mob” (bullying by group), the NPD parent gets a whiff of narcissistic supply.  They get off on control and their ability to make someone else feel inferior, to sabotage and limit their success. The goal of the NPD parent is to make the scapegoat bend to her will by using ostracism, mockery, malicious gossip and alienation.  Yeah, imagine living with that.

The golden child, on the other hand, can do no wrong.  No matter how much the kid screws up, the NPD parent will make excuses.  It’s not his fault.  The problem started before he came along.  He needs time to mature.  He will never suffer the consequences of his behavior nor will there be any criticism of his limitations.  Indeed, any minor accomplishment is made to look magnificent.

And then there are the flying monkeys.  Flying monkeys are the siblings, and others, who act as the hit men for the NPD parent.  They are sent on missions to obtain information from the scapegoat that gets reported back to the NPD parent.  The parent then uses that information to spread rumors, gossip and malicious mockery through his or her own actions or the actions of the flying monkeys.  The gossip may contain a hint of truth but this is usually blown out of proportion.  The more voices that propagate the gossip, the greater the negative effect on the scapegoat.

So, here’s my leap from micro to macro and what we will be subjected to for the next two years until the presidential election.  The narcissists are in charge.  They control the horizontal and the vertical.  All the moneys are belong to them and they are determined to extract every penny of what they think they are owed.  They will do this by conscripting the US government to cover their debts even if it means impoverishing the tax base.  They don’t see labor as consisting of real people.  Labor is a resource to be used when it is needed and discarded when it is not.

I’d like to use the term exploitative profit mining to describe the effect of unfettered narcissistic capitalism on the general public and predict that this will continue to result in economic instability and eventually, the dangerous undermining of democratic governments.  The early and mid 20th century saw the negative fallout of this kind of behavior with WWI, the Great Depression and WWII.  I’d hate to think we are going to have to live through those kinds of upheavals again but the rise of ultra right wing and nationalistic parties in Europe in the wake of austerity, as well as the political chaos caused by the Tea Party fanatics here in the US have me very worried that we’re headed for trouble.

Over the past 6 years, we have become all too familiar with the typical behaviors and attitudes of narcissists.  Do not look to them for any sense of empathy.  They do not possess it and the only mechanisms for keeping them in check have been abandoned at this point.  Check out any review of Tim Geithner’s book, Stress Test, if you want to know what he,  the lieutenant of the narcissists, did on their behalf.  Keep in mind the characteristics of narcissists as you read it.

Their most significant triumph to date has been to get their golden child elected.  The scapegoat is Hillary Clinton.  Look at any comment section of a left leaning blog and you will find this is true.  Obama inherited the financial crisis.  That’s why the economy sucks.  The Republicans hate Obama.  That’s why the ACA is FUBAR.  Obama didn’t start the war in Iraq.  So, it’s not his fault if the void we left when we pulled out of Iraq has destabilized the country.

(Sidenote: Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker was interviewed on Fresh Air yesterday.  In the last 4 minutes of the interview, Filkins lays out the culpability of the Obama administration with respect to the current crisis in Iraq.  It’s not pretty. Expect Filkins to suffer some scapegoating for truth telling about the golden child’s “accomplishments”.)

Hillary can do nothing right.  Everything she says is scrutinized in order to put the worst possible spin on it.  She’s not perfect, that’s for sure, and right now, unless I see her move to the left boldly to take on the exploitative profit miners, it will be hard for me to justify voting for her.  But, golly gee, nobody is as bad as the left seems to think Hillary is.  According to the left, she and her husband wrecked welfare and imposed an unconstitutional piece of legislation on gay people while single handedly destroying Glass-Steagall.  Then they wickedly danced around the fire while chanting incantations, laughing evilly at the suffering of others and killing the bees.  It’s an image of the Clintons that completely cuts out the crazy Whitewater scandal, the crazy Monica scandal, the hours of congressional hearings and special prosecutions over billing records, and the millions of dollars that they and their friends and everyone who ever worked for them were forced to spend on what turned out to be harassment suits.  This during the Newt Gingrich years.  Remember Newt??

But it doesn’t matter.  Hillary Clinton is facing flying monkeys on the left as well as the right.  And while we can’t do anything about the flying monkeys on the right, I just have to wonder if the flying monkeys on the left have thought this through.  The books I’ve read say that the flying monkeys are not always aware of what they are doing.  The narcissists controlling them make them feel included, like they’re one of the club.  And it’s fun to get that sip of narcissistic oxygen that comes with watching the scapegoat flailing and not succeeding.

There’s a danger to this though.  If Hillary truly is the last great hope of the left in 2016, and she sees that the narcissists and flying monkeys on the left are determined to see her fail, then her only choice to win the White House is to appeal to the disaffected voters of 2008 who abandoned the Democrats for the Tea Party.  That wouldn’t be me.  I’m still in exile.  I’m talking about the more socially conservative Democrats who felt snubbed by Obama and his supporters writing them off, calling them religious, gun toting, bitter knitters.  She’s got to get her votes from somewhere and if the crunchy lefties and snobby lefties are going to get prodded by the narcissists to go after her non-stop from now until 2016, then she’s going to have to appeal to the Reagan Democrats.  At this point, the left is all but conceding that she is the inevitable candidate (why they say this is anyone’s guess but it’s out there).  And if it is true that the left is finally, reluctantly, going to get behind Hillary, it’s going to be undermining its own candidate if it keeps telling the world how loathsome it thinks she is.

That’s something to think about.

On the other hand, Hillary has to come to terms with her scapegoat role.  Once you have become the scapegoat, there is virtually nothing you can do about changing it. Defensiveness doesn’t do much good. The scapegoating will continue until the narcissist dies or the flying monkeys get a clue as to how and why they are being used.  As long as the flying monkeys are getting off on what they’re doing, finding it successful, and the golden child remains protected, don’t expect anything to change.  The scapegoat has a choice.  Go along with it or divorce the whole family.  You can never appease the narcissist enough to be your own person.

The world ends not with a bang but a PowerPoint presentation

My laptop is still out for repairs. I am preparing for a blow to my bank account. Tips gratefully accepted.

In the meantime, I had one credit left at audible so I downloaded the latest book on the coming zombi apocalypse, The Girl With All The Gifts. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by telling you it’s about zombies. Where would summer be without a zombie beach read?

I won’t get too much into the plot, because I can’t without totally spoiling it for you, but I did find the historical narrative on the apocalypse struck pretty close to what I imagine the truth will be.

The narrator says that after the initial phase of the infection, there was a brief calm and window of opportunity to do some emergency research. But while the pathogen was temporarily quiet, looking for new victims, “global capitalism” was still on a feeding frenzy, tearing the world apart as quickly as it could. Of all the elements of this book, I found this the most believable, I can almost see the suits on Wall Street trying to find a way to corner the market on respirators and disinfectants.

But what was really funny, but not belly laugh funny, unless you’ve been on the receiving end of the MBA masters of the universe bean counting strategy when it comes to research, was the plan that the capitalists, and governments at their mercy, put in place to take advantage of that brief lull to conduct some in the field R&D. They found two articulated buses used by the national science museums and retrofitted them with labs and bunks. Each bus would accommodate 6 scientists each, to be comprised of a mix of biologists and organic chemists. That’s two buses of twelve scientists total to save the world.

One can easily imagine the presentation of this plan and the slick PowerPoint slides to accompany it. On one slide would be the pretty picture of the buses, the next a floor plan where the air locks, microscopes and hoods would be. Then a breakdown of the costs on the next slide:

“The shareholders are prepared to commit $10 million to retrofit the buses, 12 FTE’s for the research. Salaries are competitive with academic research for post-docs at $37,000/year but this is unimportant. If they return, and their experiments are reproducible, we anticipate further renumeration to come from prizes so our costs there are minimal. In essence, this is a self-funding grant. It goes without saying that we will hold any patents and government will fast track approval. Any questions?”

Anyway, the timeframe of the book is years later and the survivors find the buses. No sign of the teams though. It turns out that the pathogen didn’t give them much of a break in the action and those 12 people were just pampered slackers who futzed around with the shareholders’ expensive equipment. Totally unproductive. The MBA’s should have just cut them out all together. What a fricking waste of money.

5 sponges. Highly recommended.

A few of my favorite things

Mermaid Song

Stuff I like.

1.) Cold grapefruit

2.) Chalkboard paint!  (Use liberally)

3.) Sandals that can be repaired with Gorilla glue

4.) Hydrangeas

5.) The Sunroom

6.) Mermaid Song paint

Ok, it’s your turn now.

The Desolations of Smaugs

Gotta make this quick so I can bop down to the farmers’ market in East Liberty.

Here are two posts that belong together.  The first is about the crazy amount of money that the wealthy are just sitting on and not investing.  In The World’s Richest People are Sitting on Gigantic Piles of Cash that aren’t Earning them Anything, we get confirmation of what we have suspected for some time, that is, rich people are hoarding money.  But the reason they are hoarding makes no damn sense.  Apparently, the wealthy are waiting for a market correction before they dive back in to investing and since that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, they’re going to sit on the cash.  Now, I can understand that feeling if you’re a poor schlub like me, hoarding the miserable little bit of IRA you have left after several years of employment insecurity.  It makes less sense if you’re a plutocrat with more money than god.

Hmmm, maybe we should be wondering why the wealthy think there is going to be a pullback.

The second is about the consequences of hoarding all that money.  When the shareholders demand more money and less investment, companies tend to shutter their facilities.  Recently, Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, NJ closed it’s doors and is preparing to dismantle the site.  When I was a young chemist a long, long time ago, I visited the Nutley campus.  Like many research facilities, it was more like a small town with a gatehouse and a shuttle that delivered the visitor to her destination.  Now that Roche has decided to stop doing research in the US because shareholder value (and Americans are notoriously easy to lay off since they have virtually no labor protections whatsoever), the Nutley facility is about to undergo a radical transformation.  If it is anything like my facility where the rent the company was demanding from small startups was prohibitively high, they probably won’t get many takers.

In other words, if some of the scientists they laid off decided to get together and try to operate one of the buildings as a small incubator, they wouldn’t be able to afford it.  And these days, vulture capitalists want a lot of the research done up front so they don’t actually have to risk any money at all.  That makes research on small scale even more difficult to finance.  Rent, reagents and researchers are expensive.  So, if Roche can’t get any takers to rent its empty labs, it may go the route of some of the other companies in similar circumstances and demolish perfectly serviceable, and in some cases, brand new research buildings, rather than keep them on the books.

Lovely.

One final thing, Hillary Clinton gave an interview to Terry Gross, former Obama fangirl extraordinaire, the other day.  It got a little testy about half way through when Gross started pushing her on same-sex marriage.  Hillary talks primarily about her four years as SOS and seems to think that Edward Snowden had other options to spill the beans.  I’d have to differ with her there though.  Snowden had superuser privileges.  Anything he revealed while he was still in the US would trace right back to him very quickly.  You don’t give su privileges to many people, or at least I don’t think the NSA and its contractors would.  I could be wrong about that.  It seems a little sloppy to allow one person to download massive amounts of information and have no one notice.

Given the reaction of the Obama administration to leakers, I think Snowden did the only thing he could have done and I’m not unhappy that he did it.  I meet people everyday who are pretty non-political who are keenly aware of what Snowden revealed and they are not happy to know that the government has so much information on them.  Until Snowden, the conversation about spying on Americans was tepid at best.  Hillary should know by now that timing is everything.  Snowden forced door open and let the sunshine in a lot more quickly than some politicians might have found convenient but he sure did get their attention, didn’t he?  No putting the genie back in the bottle now or slowing that genie down now.

Ok, enough with the foreign policy stuff.  What about domestic issues?  I want to hear about that now.  No time like the present.  Let’s not put it off any longer.

 

Enough with the rain already

Screenshot 2014-06-13 17.55.01This is the fifth day of cloudy, cloudy with a touch of drizz, cloudy with thunderstorms or cloudy with thunderstorms followed by soaking rains.  I’ve been waiting forever to do some painting outside the house and the garage keeps getting flooded, which means the foundation there needs some repair as well. Cha-ching!  It’s driving me crazy.

What’s the weather like where you are?

 

Iraq: The project that will not die

Open Carry extremists in Texas

Open Carry extremists in Texas

The first significant split I had with my brother happened over Iraq.  That’s because he was struck with temporary moronity  propagated by Fox News that trickled down to all of the other media outlets by what I suspect was a small evil group of psy-ops specialists.

It’s hard to be the only scientist in the family.  I’m sure I sounded like some unpleasant klaxon harshing the “let’s go kick some Haji ass!” mellow.  Everyone in America seemed to be on the same team.  There was no talking to them. There was no proof that there were WMDs in the desert.  There was no evidence for a nuclear weapons industry.  And you could be damn sure that if there was oil to be had there, it was going to be hoarded by the companies who went in there to get it.  That last one was a particularly difficult concept to get across.  They just didn’t understand WHY you would want to withhold oil from the global market.  It just sounded crazy.

So, now Iraq is falling apart and Obama wants to sit on the sidelines and let it happen.  In a way, that’s understandable.  It wasn’t his war.  He didn’t start it.  Also, he supposedly gave a speech about it that no one can find a record of.  And there’s that Nobel he needs to live up to.

But part of the responsibilities of being the leader of the free world is having to do some pretty unpleasant things.  I never thought that the president that took over from Bush in 2008 was going to be able to walk out of Iraq on the first day.  You don’t have to be a “war monger” to realize that stabilizing a country that has been deliberately de-stabilized by a bunch of ideological and greedy nut cases is a top priority.

But I get the feeling that the Obama campaign never got over its campaign mindset.  It’s been all about being the fricking cock-on-the-walk and controlling the foreign policy to the point of strangulation lest a political rival look good.  What followed was not a serious commitment to responsible behavior  but a couple of announcements that the war was over even though the country is still a chaotic mess.  I’m as disappointed with some of the pacifism at all costs people on the left as I am with the haji-kickers on the right.  Getting out of Iraq was never going to be easy and not laying the ground work for doing so carefully is going to hurt all of us.

For one thing, we can all expect gas prices to spike now.  Yep, it’s going to happen.  And if we are on a saddle point of plunging back into recession, this is certainly going to help that along.  When oil spikes, everything gets more expensive.  Poorer people are already wondering where they’re going to get the money to feed their kids.  Imagine how that’s going to go when the already high cost of food goes even higher.  How do you get to work?  What’s going to happen to the industries that rely on tourism?

But that’s a little selfish whining from some first world citizen, right?  I mean, how would you like to be a Kurd watching as the US prepares to screw you over again 30 years later?  Or any Iraqi really who lived through the last 10 years?  And if there weren’t religious extremists in the country 10 years ago, there sure are now because there is nothing that will create dangerous extremism better than instability and economic hardship.

There’s a warning there for Americans but we’ll probably be too distracted and hypnotized to realize what it is before it’s too late.

Insulting the Wimmin Brains on Hillary vs Obama

Obama backers promise to bring back the Christmas Tree in 2016

Obama backers promise to bring back the Christmas Tree in 2016

I have the day off so I’m going to the Three Rivers Arts Festival and you can’t stop me.  Will take pictures.

Yesterday, I saw that Digby had a brief flash of insight into the mind of a post-PUMA Hillary supporter.  Referring to Noam Scheiber’s incredibly insulting proposal that Hillary Clinton was stupid enough to believe that the Democrats and the undemocratic Obama patrons of 2008 would let her run in 2016, Digby writes:

I’ve come to think of this in a slightly different way. I think this was decided back in Denver in 2008. The primary campaign was a near tie with Clinton continuing to win races all the way up to the end. (In any previous presidential campaign there would have definitely been a convention challenge to such a tight outcome.) It featured two important “firsts” with an African American and a woman competing for the same prize. It was very emotional. The political arguments among the two camps were fierce but they were both coming from the same center-left policywing of the party, which means there was an agreement, somewhat by default, that this agenda was the preferred agenda of the voters. Both sides fought tooth and nail for the same policies.

In essence, the result of that 2008 near tie vote was that Obama got to go first with the understanding that Clinton would automatically get the nomination 8 years later. What this means is that (barring unforeseen circumstances)there will have been no left wing challenge in presidential races for 16 years and I think that suits the Party and its rich donors just fine. They hate primaries. And since they will have had 16 uninterrupted years of preferred policy, even as the voters get to feel the inspiration of the two historic firsts, why would anyone rock the boat?

Progressives might have been able to leverage that fierce competition in 2008 but they got caught up in the emotion just like everyone else so there wasn’t any real ideological challenge. Unfortunately, it probably ended up being the last primary in which they could have had a voice for a very long time. Too bad.

Savor that for a moment.  Just an instant and no more.  What Digby is saying is what all of us Clintonistas have known for 6 years: the primary was a virtual dead heat and at any other convention, there would have been a floor fight.  But *someone(s)* didn’t want a real primary.  Those someones found it more expedient to ram Obama down our throats whether or not the country wanted it or not and they were willing to rig the nomination to get it.  I suspect those someones were the same people who looked a bit further into the future and didn’t want any cramdowns on securitized mortgages or policies that would force the medical/insurance business to negotiate on costs.

Ok, the moment has passed.  Digby will never admit to being one of us because she is a chickenshit. This is as close as we’ll ever get to the notion that Digby and the rest of them were perfectly aware of what was going on with the primary.  They’re no different than we are except they said nothing.  I think there is a Edmund Burke quote about that.  Come to think of it, how do we know that Digby isn’t just messing with our heads?  Maybe the slight acknowledgement that the Clintonistas were right is meant to soften us up to whatever happens in 2014-2016?  I don’t trust anyone who didn’t pipe up in 2008 or 2012.

But I do not think that anyone offered Hillary a deal.  Ok, maybe someone in the Obama campaign floated it at one time but Hillary is not stupid.  I’ll go to the grave believing that it was Hillary who asked for State before someone locked her into a political grave as VP.  (Biden who??)  If my hypothesis is correct, she was smart enough to know that she didn’t want to become permanently associated with Obama’s domestic policies on the financial crisis and health care.  That would mean she was shrewd and also not totally onboard with what she saw coming.

No, the reason why Hillary’s name has been floated for the last 6 years as Obama’s successor is because that’s what Obama’s backers want everyone to focus on. (You read it here first, folks.) The push to defer everyone’s gratification is not for Hillary’s sake.  It’s so that we will placidly go along with every banker and medical/insurer friendly policy they cook up.  We are lead to think that when Hillary is in office, it will all be ok.  It’s merely a formality.  We had to let the African American go before the woman, that’s all, as if we were all so shallow and simple-minded and easily lead to believe that being the first something is more important than being good at your job. (Insert picture of the Grinch lying to Cindi-Lou Who who is no more than two) Just wait until 2016 and there will be another historic victory for the Democrats, as if competence and good policies have no place in this strategy.  We will finally get the Democrat we wanted in the first place in 2008, instead of the guy who is in the White House now who ramped up the exploitation of everyone not making a living off their investments.

And if my “Promote Deferred Gratification- Pull the Rug Out From Under Everyone Who Waited for 2016 Strategy” (Let’s call it the Cindi Lou Who Strategy for short) is correct, then maybe Obama and Clinton were not as close in policy as everyone was initially lead to believe, right?  Because if they were as identical as the Obama contingent says they were, it wouldn’t have mattered which one was nominated in 2008.  But we know intuitively that this isn’t true because rigging the nomination in Obama’s favor in 2008 was maniacally important to someone(s).  We saw it happen.  And those people knew what was coming in 2008 (read Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short) which suggests that it wasn’t a matter of electability.  Anyone who lived through September 2008 was going to prefer the Democrat to the Republican and, Clinton, had she been nominated, would have won in a landslide.  She would have been the most visible reminder of the last prosperous economic times  and good government that we had.  Given the series of events in 2008, one might almost be tempted to believe that the nomination of Obama was to ensure that a real Democrat would *not* become president.  So, who’s zooming who?

I have no illusions as to whether these Obama backers want Hillary to run in 2016.  If they feel that their new policies are concretized and their ability to harvest money from us has no chance of being deterred, they probably won’t care who gets into the White House.  It won’t matter if it’s a Democrat, Republican or The Rent Is Too Damn High candidate.

This is Hillary Clinton’s reality and the reality by which the left should judge her fitness to run in 2016.  If she is just going to be a placeholder, why vote for her?  On the other hand, if she is going to represent real change, isn’t it likely that the Obama backers are going to try to bring her down again?  If she’s silenced her critical voice for 6 years in the hopes that she’ll get the nod to run again, she hasn’t done us any favors.  A politician who cares about the fate of the middle class and the loss of policies that made us a great nation shouldn’t have gone along with the campaign to defer our gratification for her run 8 long suffering and destructive years down the line.  Or maybe she’s going to be a stealth candidate, in which case, no one should or would trust her.  The powers that be can’t take that risk and how would the rest of us know  for sure what she was up to?

So, there you go, folks.  I have no idea what’s in her head and no one else does either, except Bill, I suspect.  But the one thing I don’t want in 2016 is to have to vote for a person who said and did nothing to rock the boat for 8 years because she was promised another shot at the nomination.

I am not a stupid woman.

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One final thing: Obama didn’t run against McCain in 2008.  His campaign had him running against Sarah Palin, a pretty low bar, when you think about it, considering that his campaign had already softened up the media and American public to accept playing to overt sexism a part of Obama’s rite of passage.

Just something to chew on.  Carry on.

Lying to yourself

Justin Wolfers at the NYTimes The Upshot is trying not to take the new GDP numbers too seriously:

An economic report issued this morning provides a good example of the hazards facing election forecasters. The Bureau of Economic Analysisreported that in the first quarter of this year, Gross Domestic Product, a broad indicator of the health of the economy, shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent. Even worse, an alternative and more accurate measure, called Gross Domestic Income, shrank at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. If that persisted, we’d call it a sharp recession.

But no one is using the R-word. Nor should they. Markets have taken the news in their stride, and few economists have changed their view that the economy is growing and will continue to through 2014. Likewise, consumers remain confident about their economic prospects. Their confidence rests partly on other indicators that suggested far better growth throughout the quarter, such as nonfarm payrolls, which grew by 569,000 over the same period.

And the economy motored along after that bad quarter ended, with employment growing strongly and unemployment falling in April, and new claims for unemployment insurance falling through May. Importantly, we know that the weakness in G.D.P. is partly due to one-off factors — it snowed heavily, keeping many of us indoors, rather than out making and buying stuff — and it partly reflects influences, like the inventory cycle, that don’t have an enduring effect.

In any case, G.D.P. data are known to be noisy, and subject to a lot of later revision — so much so that the difference between the first and the final reading of G.D.P. growth is typically 1.3 percentage points. For all we know, the recent measured decline in output may be revised away.

But many election forecasters rely on quite mechanical models, linking their forecasts to a single economic indicator. The worst of these models assert that a single quarter’s G.D.P. growth is sufficient; others average G.D.P. growth over several quarters, but they still put a lot of weight on very recent data. Because these computer models read the data so literally, they overreact to statistical noise. If the election were to be held next month, they would have no choice but to interpret this morning’s data as evidence of a recession, leading them to forecast a huge swing against the president’s party.

Oh, Lord, we can’t have that.  “We must protect Obama at all costs” has been the operative slogan since 2008.  Let’s all pretend that he’s a genius, playing 11 dimensional chess and his speeches are the bomb-diggity. (I just learned that phrase from number 1 child and I intend to use it all the time now).

Wolfers needs to get out more.  I meet very few people who are prospering and I meet a LOT of people these days in my part time job.  From what I can see, we are all pinching pennies.  The reason the economy is sucking is not all weather related, unless you see working people as crops that need to be periodically harvested for the last teensy bits of disposable income they have.  I swear that every industry has a meeting with some Wharton graduate giving a presentation where the numbers have been run to predict the threshold of the pain point where the consumer will be forced to fork over their hard earned dollars for gas, salad, auto insurance, health insurance, tuition, rent/mortgage.  It’s all been carefully modeled.  And each industry thinks it’s the most important one that the consumer can not live without.  We all have to have food and insurance and a place to live, amirite?  Where else are they going to go?

But income is part of a closed system these days.  It can’t be created out of nothing.  Every penny is accountable to the shareholder.  And if there is no money going into the system, it’s difficult to see how the economy continues to expand.  The contraction is real and it’s coming from the top.  The money is being hoarded or spent on the biggest yachts in the world.

The Great Recession or the Little Depression has dragged on too long but a person like Wolfers or Paul Krugman or some smart ass Democratic operative might not know it.  It’s dragged on and people are diving into the corners of their nests for a few eggs that are left, if there are any.  But this hasn’t stopped the MBAs and marketing dudes from creating new and improved ways of getting those last remaining dollars first.

So, color me unsurprised if the numbers that Wolfers finds so easily dismissible right now turn out to have real impact in November.  The economic contraction is real.  Whatever expansion was in the works may be getting strangled by the effects of the endless winter and the impact of the Obamacare individual mandate.  If you see your part time hours getting cut, you might not be quite so confident as a consumer.  Every item in a store starts to look like a moment of pain requiring a careful calculation of how many hours of work are required to buy it.

Wolfers can’t even use the R-word but I can.  It’s called a recession.  If I were a Democrat running a campaign, I’d be worried.

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In addition…

Apartmenttherapy has been doing a series of posts lately on the realities of living on a strict budget.  The posts on food shopping have generated quite a bit of controversy with some readers in what sounds like the Obama contingent scolding poorer readers for not buying the best organic foodstuffs from Whole Foods.  It’s gotten ugly at times.  Even the “calming the waters” post from Cheryl Sternman Rule at The Kitchn affiliate makes a lot of assumptions that would only occur to someone at the top of Maslow’s pyramid of needs.  It’s a tragedy that we’re even having food fights like this.  Maybe Justin Wolfers should hang out in some of the blogs I visit regularly.

As for me, I have discovered Aldi, I buy bags of frozen chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s (because they are that good for that price), I am learning to avoid the “fuel perks! for food” scam at my local Giant Eagle and I am gardening this year.  Yes, yes, the weather sucked last year and all I got was squash, which I hate.  (So, I’m not planting any squash this year).  Call it the triumph of hope over experience.  I have a lot of yard and there’s no excuse for not turning it into a food manufacturing facility.  There’s a farmer’s market in East Liberty on Saturday mornings that I will visit when I can and when I’m in Target, I will look at whatever is on sale.  So there.  :-pppp