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The motivation behind dehumanization, misogyny and cruelty

Most ethical Americans were shocked by Donald Trump’s recent assertion that electing Roy Moore, an alleged pedophile and selective Constitutional law enforcer was better than electing a liberal Democrat.

I’m comfortable being a liberal Democrat. I’ve been a liberal Democrat since I was 18. Is it perfect? No. But being a liberal Democrat appeals to the rational scientist in me. During the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s said:

“Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”

That is a succinct summary of the scientific method. But the desire to do something for me is rooted in the motivation to live in a better world than the one I was born into, one where more people benefit from nature’s bounty over time.

That is probably what sets liberal Democrats apart from conservative Republicans- the motivation to live in a more bountiful world with happier people, not one that is free from stress or conflict. Perfection is not attainable. And there is more virtue in the act of overcoming evil than by eliminating it.

Ok, enough of my personal philosophy. I’m sure that many liberal Democrats approach their politics in many different ways.

But what Trump was implying the other day was that it’s preferable to vote for a child molester than a Democrat. That in someway, being a Democrat is worse than undressing a 14 year old and forcing her to touch you. We’re not talking about show and tell among pre-pubescent. We’re talking about a 30 year old man taking advantage of a 14 year old girl for his own sexual pleasure.

That’s better than being a Democrat?

What exactly is it they think Democrats are anyway? I know we’ve been the subject of smear campaigns and Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. But what is it they think we’re going to do with all that power if we get it?

One of the Republicans (can’t remember which one) supporting Moore insists that we want to open the borders, confiscate guns and have abortion on demand. I’m a feminist and a liberal Democrat and pro-choice, the trifecta, and even I don’t believe in these things as they are laid out here, without restraint or regulation or not in accordance with the constitution.

Let’s take abortion for example. I don’t believe abortion is acceptable after the point of viability unless there is a medical reason to have one. I’m sorry, I just don’t. It’s my “screaming infant at the side of the road test”. If a child can be born alive and breathing and able to cry, then aborting it would be equivalent to abandoning an infant at the side of the road. Decent people don’t do such things. So, no, if you wait too long, like 22-24 weeks, you shouldn’t be able to get an abortion. Let a committee of experts make that call like they do in Scandinavian countries, the most women friendly countries in the world, and save abortions after 22 weeks for fetuses that are severely deformed or a female that is in danger of serious health consequences and don’t make it an ordeal for them.

I digress again.

My point is that for many liberals, our positions have some logical consistency behind them. That applies to gun violence (domestic violence perpetrators shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. And if they’ve attempted to strangle their victims in the past, they REALLY shouldn’t get one). We shouldn’t let a lot of people into our country. Let’s start with curbing the number of H1B visas for IT and Research. They are depressing wages and killing the futures of American sciencists. If you absolutely need someone from China or India and they are that valuable to your bottom line, then give them a fucking green card. Don’t make their lives miserable.

I digress again. {{sigh}}

My point, and I was getting to it, is that there is something about liberal Democrats that has nothing to do with our politics that Republicans are very afraid of. It’s our humanity. The minute they see that what we stand for are all these people who want opportunities to share the bounty, they find us a threat to their own bottom line.

It explains a lot, especially sexual harassment in the workplace. If you’re a guy raised yo expect to achieve certain career goals and you have to compete, it’s a good idea to eliminate as many rivals as you can on the way to the corner office. Harassing your female colleagues has tremendous short term potential because victims, up to 80% of them, leave the workplace within 2 years. In workplaces where there are strictly enforceable anti harrassment rules, getting rid of female competitors takes the form of implicit bias. Everyone knows that women aren’t as smart as men, are less capable, not as ambitious. Or if ambitious, unpleasant to work with or not aggressive enough or <fill in the blank>. They get talked over during meetings, their projects are reassigned to men, they don’t get promotions. Over time, it takes its toll.

The purpose of cruelty, misogyny and dehumanization is discussed at length in this brilliant essay in The New Yorker. There is an audio link to it if you’re busy cooking turkey and need something to listen to. But basically what Donald Trump was saying to Alabama was this: those liberal Democrats are human beings representing other human beings and they’re going to take something away from you.

The problem with that scenario is that most Alabamans don’t have anything to take. They live in a very poor state where the remnants of white antebellum culture persist. That is the fruit of the English Cavalier and Indentured Servants culture. (Albion’s Seeds is a pretty good book. Yes, I actually read all my recommendations.) It’s outlived it’s usefulness in this century and this Democracy. But it lingers in Alabama where the remnants of the slaveowners force the poor and deprived to compete against each other for artificially scarce resources. And why is that? It’s because if a regular rank and file Alabaman starts identifying with the out groups, the plantation owner’s stuff is at risk.

This is the message that Donald is sending. Don’t vote for Doug Jones because then all the stuff my class is sitting on to the detriment of everyone else, poor school children, sick people, working class people living pay check to pay check, will have a huge spotlight directed at it and Donald Trump doesn’t want to have to share with those people in terms of higher wages etc.

So better a child molester than a decent anti-bully.

Got it.

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Tweet du Jour

I’m still laughing.

(Hope the cat made it)

Happy Thanksgiving!🍁🦃🍽

What happens to CHIP if the Tax Reform package passes?

It’s been 2 months since CHIP expired, leaving 9 million children at risk of losing their health insurance.

Pennsylvania is struggling with their budget and Republican legislature that is reluctant to approve the state’s share of this program.

But what’s going to happen after the passage of the Tax Reform package when $1.5 trillion dollars gets yanked out of the federal treasury because corporations have to have their cuts so that they can indulge in rewarding their wealthiest investors and a frenzy of stock buybacks?

Oh, yeah, they’re not going to invest in jobs or raising salaries if there is no incentive in the package to MAKE them do that. Do you think they’re stupid? No. Do they think YOU’RE stupid? Yes. Absolutely.

So, about 172,000 Pennsylvania children are going to be losing their insurance soon. Very soon. It’s an emergency. Speaking of emergencies, how would you like to be a working class parent barely able to afford CHIP who now has to pay out of pocket for an emergency room visit? Well, for those of us who can imagine what that’s like, we are horrified by the prospect.

So, what’s going to happen if the Tax Reform package passes before CHIP is reauthorized? Will there be any chance that it will be reauthorized?

Or will Republicans point to the budget and scream “We can’t afford it!!!”

I’m betting the cynical handwringing will commence in earnest.

We should judge our moral authority as a country by the way we treat our children. By that measure, we are deadbeats and other nations should avoid us.

Teenage Heartthrob

David Cassidy.

Happy Birthday to Me! Cake for everyone.

Common features.

Mark Halperin, worked for Politico, hated Hillary.

Glenn Thrush, worked for Politico, no friend of Hillary

Bill O’Reilly, Fox News, Hillary basher

Roger Ailes, Fox News, Hillary foe

Leon Wieseltier, editor at The Atlantic, thought women were brainless.

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, openly dismissive and hostile to Hillary.

What do these guys have in common?

They are all either serial harassers or have openly bragged about their sexist acts towards women (Taibbi published a book about his days as an ugly American in Russia).

Taibbi should be investigated. He says what he wrote wasn’t true but why should we take his word for it? Even the satire he wrote is reprehensible.

And finally, we have this from post election 2008 where Jon Favreau is seen groping the breast of a Hillary cutout in an attitude not unlike what Al Franken did to a sleeping Tweeden (in that case no contact appears to be made. It’s just a pose. With Favreau’s picture, well, is there any doubt?)

Favreau has his own podcast now. It’s Pod Save America. Jon and two other former Obama alums act like three frat boys discussing politics. How come Rebecca Traister has to go on The Ezra Klein Show? Why doesn’t Ezra go on The Rebecca Traister Show? Why does the brilliant Sarah Kliff take second fiddle to Klein and whiny Matt Yglesias on The Weeds? Why is it that Clare Malone gets buried between Nate Silver and Harry Enten in FiveThirtyEight? Why are they the equivalent of the Fox News hot blondes sandwiched between two guys? Who made this executive decision anyway???

I’m on a roll. I feel a rant building up.

Hillary actually tolerates Favreau. She’s a better woman than I am. Favreau paid ZERO price for that picture. Obama didn’t do anything about it. Favreau had to apologize in a “sorry, not sorry” thing and it was over. Obama’s attitude was Boys will be Boys and Favreau went on to write speeches for Obama. That’s how much Obama, feminist in chief, cares about women in American who were dismayed at the shitty way his campaign and the DNC treated his rival, who, by the way, won the popular vote in the primaries in 2008 but couldn’t carry all of the extremely undemocratic caucuses in states like Kansas and Iowa.

I don’t want anyone on any of these podcasts to keep skipping over the Obama years as if they never happened. There’s a whole generation of women who got burned by the likes of Taibbi, Favreau and Obama. Let’s take some scalps now. I want Taibbi’s and Favreau. I don’t care that Hillary likes Jon now. The guy shouldn’t have this much attention. He didn’t do enough penance.

Here’s my point:

We got our news, our narratives for the 2008 and 2016 from all of these guys. They mentored their protégés and those guys are now the new face of the pundits. They’re young and overwhelmingly male and they’ve cut their teeth on denigrating women or groping women or treating their images as objects of derision.

They are our next Walter Cronkites. Or they were going to be until they got taken out by their own behavior.

I’m still waiting for Taibbi and Favreau to get the ax. No, I don’t think they should be spared. I’m sick of these guys sucking up all the bandwidth.

The Harrassment on the Hill.

Man o man, the timing of this revelation about Congress having a special office to settle sexual harrassment and discrimination complaints funded by the taxpayer dollar is terrible. Tomorrow, Ajit Pai is planning to end Net Neutrality. I always suspected that “controlling the message” would be one of the strategeries the Republican mobsters would employ to keep a permanent lock on power. I think we need to look to state and local government to step in and intervene.

But I digress.

With the latest news about John Conyers having to use the office to pay off staffers he harassed, we are going to be riveted to this news. Because who controls the information about who has made use of this office? That’s right. The Republicans. We’re going to hear a steady drip drip drip of news about all of the Democrats until someone filed a FOIA request for records for an office that up until this day, most of us did not know existed.

Rebecca Traister’s Epic Interview

I’m on the road back from NYC but I stopped for lunch and to urge everyone to listen to the interview that Rebecca Traister gave in The Ezra Klein Show. The topic was the sexual harassment #metoo allegations that are accelerating and roiling every public sphere where men hold power.

It’s a long interview so get comfortable. She makes a lot of good points. I’m not always in agreement with her about some topics. I don’t agree that Bill Clinton improperly used his power with Monica Lewinsky. Sorry. I just don’t understand how that worked. There are other things you can get him on that are not Monica related but that interaction wasn’t an abuse of power. She was quite happy with her trophy until she was exposed by Linda Tripp and then had her life upended by Ken Starr. Traister and Klein might want to reevaluate their opinion based on how much harm was done by whom.

I also think we need to draw a line where we hold men responsible for their behavior and how we define bad behavior. There is a danger of going overboard. Traister touches on this briefly. It can’t be overstated. These claims have to be taken seriously, all of them. That is why they shouldn’t be taken lightly and we need to decide what was harassment and what is misperception. Today we are offered two examples: Franken is accused of improperly touching a woman’s butt during an event in Minnesota and Glenn Thrush is accused of making inappropriate passes at young female journalists and then bragging about it. The accusation thrown at Franken sounds like a misperception, the one directed at Thrush sounds genuine. Maybe we need to develop a scale.

She also talks about the impossible place Hillary Clinton was in during the campaign of 2016. But both she and Ezra completely forget that Trump benefitted from the absolutely awful way that the Democratic Party and Obama treated her during the 2008 campaign. There were many feminists who were shocked and appalled by the Rules Committee hearing in May 2008, the harassing of her delegates at the convention, the lack of a legitimate roll call vote. When she was forced to concede with the NY delegation, that, to ME and many others, looked like the equivalent of a rape and humiliation. It was unforgivable. But neither Traister or Klein want to talk about it. And they should because the party lost a lot of working class women over that. Those women went to the Tea Party. Maybe they were wrong and maybe some of them were motivated by race. But the rest of us were just shocked by it, as well as Obama being touted as some feminist gift to women when he was nothing of the sort and Michelle Obama decided to stay home and garden and be Mom in Chief and gave the finger to all the working moms who admired Hillary Clinton since 1992.

Not a peep. But they spent time praising his oratorical skills. Frankly, I never understood that, especially when he was forced to speak extemporaneously. Hillary was brilliant at talking policy on the drop of a hat. Obama meandered through corridor after corridor of prepositional phrases until the listener was lost but was convinced that it wasn’t the fault of the speaker.

Traister says there will be a backlash to the harassment fury. It’s coming. I’m guessing it will be fast and brutal if Roy Moore loses. He deserves to lose for his predatory behavior and his reactionary politics. But if he does, it’s going to ricochet back on the white women of America for taking his scalp. Will there be violence? I wouldn’t be surprised. For sure there will be ugly words in public.

Charge your tasers, ladies.