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      In 1817, David Ricardo formalized the Law of Comparative Advantage. Since then, it has stood the test of time as one of the very few laws that an economist can point to and say: “This is indisputably true.” It’s because of this law that you only rarely find an economist who doesn’t believe in unrestricted free [...]
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Political Realities for people on the left who have missed out on the hardship opportunities of the Obama years

STFU.

Seriously.

You know who you are. Ok, it’s anybody writing on Digby’s blog.

Oh, you didn’t know that Hillary’s voting record while she was in the Senate was more liberal than Obama’s? That was your fault that you didn’t bother to look it up in 2008.

And by the way, I’m not afraid to say “liberal”. It’s not a dirty word. It’s how we ran the country for 60 years after the Great Depression.

Speaking of Depressions, if you managed to not lose your job during the past 7 years, then please defer to those of us who have who know what true hardship is. You have no idea. And that goes doubly if you haven’t had a sick family member or have been turned down for those so-called generous ACA subsidies because you made too little income. Yeah, wrap your head around that one, oh, you precious people who are sniffing at your pitiful presidential choices.

Only people who have been spoiled by fortune would turn up their noses to be represented on the world stage by a politician with more accomplishments than all of the other presidential candidates from either party for the last 4 election cycles combined.

As for corporations, I have actually worked for corporations. Corporations are ways of getting things done. If I had a choice to work for a corporate lab again doing structural biology, I’d jump on it. Drug discovery works really, really well in a corporate setting because every function is under one roof.

The problem is not the model. The problem is the financialization of corporations. The Wall Street managers trade corporations like baseball cards, seeking only short term gain and destroying perfectly good working models.

To continue to rail on corporations is simplistic and assumes the same level of simple thinking in one’s audience. I’m not going to do that. Say what it is you are really thinking and I will show you where you are wrong. Don’t shove Americans into this rinky-dink small business model that the Republicans glorify when it doesn’t work for every industry.

In fact. don’t go on about anything you don’t really know. Stop talking to just your own little email list.

As for Wayne LaPierre’s comment about Obama and Hillary and demographic groups, you should have seen that one coming. In 2008, the left had a choice: it could go for the guy who came out of nowhere, played up his first African-American president credentials, and took the money his big financial CORPORATIONS donors were giving the party (what utter hypocrites you are) OR you could have chosen the best possible candidate you had in front of you who just happened to be a woman. You went with door number one. Obama did a lot of unhelpful things that his big financial CORPORATION donors paid for him to do in the past seven years and now everyone thinks he is a liberal. Go figure.

It should come as no surprise that the people who were really hurt by this sucky economy are going to think that the Democrats are going try to slip a cookie cutter of Obama past them in the guise of the first woman president. It’s going to be all uphill but Democrats left this door wiiiiide open by stupidly cheering every teeny little scrap of a piss poor policy Obama left his fingerprints on in the past seven years. And he’s had it easy compared to the Clintons. Where were the special investigations of the Obama years? Oh, that’s right.

There were none.

Sure, some ignorant bigots on the right said ignorant bigoted things about his skin color but he is, after all, the most powerful person in the world. Surely, he is big enough to put his racist critics in their places. After all, no one on the left is going to cut Hillary a break for being a woman, as history has shown from their shameful behavior in 2008.

Look, you people of small, parochial political thoughts, here is your reality. Hillary Clinton is not your enemy. She is the strongest politician in the country. Elizabeth Warren is not your savior. She is a less than first term senator who will need the financial backing of people who you do not like in order to become president. One of these people has been learning for the past 22 years how to deal with Republicans; the other will be at the mercy of whoever buys the Oval Office for her.

It’s your choice. You can get behind the best candidate we’ve got who can take on the right wing juggernaut or you can whine about how you can’t get who you really want right now.

But for gawd’s sakes, stop acting like overprivileged moody teenagers. You threw a tantrum, got what you think you wanted last time and it didn’t work out. The rest of the country has no patience for you anymore.

Lipinksi Rules, Biotech Bootcamp and Sharktank

Back about 20 years ago, a medicinal chemist named Lipinski came up his “Rule of Five” for whether a chemical compound had “drug like properties”. Never mind what they are, unless you’re planning to start a lab in your garage. There have been variations on the “rule of five”, like, do you really need a drug right out of the starting gate? Why not look for lead-like compounds? What are the properties of those? And how did you come up with these rules anyway?

The bottom line answer is, well, after you’ve seen a bajillion compounds coming out of high throughput screening and have worked on thousands more, you just know. You can look at a compound and say, ehhhh, that’s never going to be a drug. The tailpiece has too many carbons or the scaffold is too skimpy or that compound is promiscuous. (Um, that’s as sexy as drug design gets by the way). In general, this comes with years of experience and lots of practice.

But now there is a different Lipinski involved in drug discovery. This is Dan Lipinski, the Democratic representative from Illinois, and he’s all about making drug discovery more appealing to vulture capitalists. His latest initiative, hooking up labrats to the money, is profiled in a recent article in Nature called Biotech Bootcamp. It made me throw up a little. Here are some money quotes:

David Johnson was just one minute into making his pitch when the interruptions started.

“Why do I care?” barked a bespectacled man at the back of the seminar hall. Johnson, chief executive of the California biotechnology start-up GigaGen, blinked. He had condensed his company’s story into a neat ten-minute presentation for I-Corps, a nine-week course designed to teach business skills to entrepreneurial scientists like him. Now his talk was derailed.

At first Johnson did not understand the question. He thought it was aimed at the therapy that GigaGen, based in San Francisco, plans to develop for people with weakened immune systems.

“No. You. Why do I care about you?” the man demanded.
Johnson was not the only one getting gruff treatment at I-Corps’ kick-off meeting in Chevy Chase, Maryland, last October. When another team squandered a few precious minutes elaborating on the need for new therapies to treat pain, I-Corps creator Steve Blank pounced. “If you spend the next ten weeks telling us about pain, you’re going to be in pain,” he said.

Drug discovery, meet Sharktank.

You know, I just want to reach into the journal and strangle this Steve Blank guy. Here he is barking at a dude who has probably spent untold years doing research on the subject and all that matters is the bottom line. What have you done for me lately? What’s in it for Steve Blank?

It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective:

It will take years to find out whether the approach and theory behind I-Corps is adaptable to the unique challenges of drug development. But it was already clear by the conclusion of the inaugural class last December that many of the 19 teams had learned some unexpected lessons: several companies were told to drastically change course, and in some cases to abandon promising science for something more market-savvy. “You can be a great researcher and you can think you have great ideas,” says Congressman Dan Lipinski (Democrat, Illinois), who had pushed to see Blank’s approach implemented for government-funded research. “But until you’re forced to talk to a potential customer, you never really know.”

Yes, I’m sure that’s what Watson and Crick thought when they worked on the structure of DNA. Who’s going to buy this thing?

“So, I said to Francis, who cares what we can do with it? It’s just f***ing awesome!”

They probably thought they had great ideas. Ha! What did they know? What’s really important is how much money can they make for the investor. How is this ball and stick model of some stupid polymer going to change my world? What has it got to do with me?

This quote was gobstopping:

Lipinski has long been concerned about the quality of research funded by the US Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme. The funds are intended to stimulate translation of scientific discoveries into the marketplace, but critics have raised questions about how effective the programme is. A 2013 analysis by Nature found that the top earners of such grants were rarely focused on commercialization. “Sometimes it seems like SBIR is being used in many cases not to further a business, but to continue research,” says Lipinski.

That’s right, sometimes biotech startups will do anything to get the money to further their research. They’re utterly shameless.

Anyway, read the whole thing. I’m not saying that this approach doesn’t have some merit. But in the industry, we call them project reviews. Things *do* get cut on a fairly frequent basis. The difference is that research is (was) still thought as having intrinsic worth. It isn’t always clear to the business community why science should pursue something but each little revelation may become extremely important to someone else in another company 15 years from now. Lipinski, Blank and the sharktank approach don’t seem to get that. So, I have to ask, who put Dan Lipinski in charge in the first place??*

Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline summed up the Silicon Valley attitude to drug discovery research the other day in Silicon Valley Sunglasses, and while Derek and I have differing views on the role of government in drug discovery, we do agree on the basic problem with putting Silicon Valley entrepreuers in the driver’s seat:

There’s another problem that’s not unique to the Valley, although it does tend to give people a bad case of it. That’s the “Clearly I’m smart and successful, so clearly I have something to offer in this other field over here” one. We all succumb to that one now and then; it’s human nature. You can watch Mark Cuban display it here, with respect to medical testing.

But here are a couple of recent examples of the more localized problem. I wrote last year about Emerald Therapeutics, an outsourced-lab-assay company backed by Peter Thiel (who may also be interested in their antiviral therapy ideas). Here’s another article on them, and it asks, in so many words, “Why is new drug development so comparatively torpid when app development is so torrid?”. I couldn’t provide a more succinct version of the Silicon Valley/biopharma disconnect if I tried.

According the article, the folks at Emerald “. . .think it comes down to the difficulty of running experiments in the life sciences”. But I’d like to propose that this difficulty, at least for early-stage work like Emerald is proposing to do for people, is largely a matter of contrast. If you’re used to being able to sit down and bang out code, any time, anywhere, with all kinds of tools (libraries, compilers, virtual machines, what have you) at your fingertips, then yeah, working up a new assay protocol in a cell line is going to seem agonizingly slow. Multibillion dollar ideas can be cranked out in the coding world very quickly, if you hit the right place at the right time, but just you try that in the lab. Now, I have no problem with Emerald running assays for people, although it may yet be harder than they’re thinking. But they’re not removing as much of a bottleneck as they might think. The real bottlenecks are figuring out what assay to run, and what to do with the data once you have it. Can’t outsource those.

That’s what I think has been Valley-ized there, the idea that very, very soon now something will just wildly, exponentially take off. As much as I might like to see something like that happening in biopharma, though, I can’t quite make myself believe it. Technology, Silicon Valley style technology, is human-designed and human-optimized for other humans. As human beings, we’re playing on our home turf there. But the biology of disease is an away game if there ever was one. The inner workings of cells and the ways that they work together are flat-out alien compared to anything we’ve ever built ourselves. People who are used to coding up apps have never experienced anything like it, and many of them don’t seem to realize that they haven’t. Expecting the sorts of behavior that you get from human-built technologies, and expecting the same effects from the techniques that work to optimize them, is an expensive accident waiting to happen.

Derek is understating the challenges of research here. The thing that really ticks off the beancounters, as I have seen from personal experience, is the number of iterations researchers have to go through to understand something. It takes multiple assays, multiple rounds of synthesis, multiple trips to the syncrotron for dataset collection, multiple attempts to make the protein. There are just a lot of steps and they have to be repeated over and over again. Each one costs money. Some of them lead to dead ends but the only way to know that is to actually do the research, presumably with your small business loans. Those steps and the costs associated with them freak MBAs out. They carve a significant dent in “shareholder value”, therefore, they must be investigated, limited and controlled. And that is when researchers find themselves in a real bind because there can be no breakthroughs without the annoyingly slow, agonizingly expensive tests, assays and datasets. Public flaying of nascent biotech CEOs is not going to make this better. Ok, maybe you’ll eventually hit on another Cialis. Other than that? I have serious doubts unless there is an unusual degree of kismet involved.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who have no idea how complex biopharma research is. Congress seems to be buying into this mindset that these geeky researchers just need to start thinking like fast and nimble Silicon Valley types and  MBAs on steroids. They are making the challenge of drug discovery even more difficult than it already is. It’s already a long, hard slog without money.

I just hope that the presidential candidates take some time to work through these issues. Private capital is probably not going to be enough to save the drug discovery research infrastructure at this point. What is needed is long term investment, stability and continuity of research, and a lot fewer people trying to get rich quick on someone else’s backbreaking labor of trying to find that new antibiotic.

* It just occurred to me that Dan Lipinski’s thought process is more messed up than I thought. There is a pervasive misunderstanding that academic groups do basic research and they pass on their fully developed drugs onto private companies that develop them. This is wrong. Small companies, big companies, multinational companies do real research. They need to do real research because academic groups pass on frequently little more than nuggets of leads and hints of ideas with a soupçon of druggy goodness. It is very rare for an academic group to produce the fully monty. So, if Lipinski is shocked, SHOCKED that a biotech would use its small business loans to do real research and doesn’t understand why that’s necessary, we have a serious problem on our hands. That means the whole Congressional approach to funding is based on a lie.

That’s going to hurt.

No idea what she was thinking

So, the new story is that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account to send messages when she was Secretary of State. She should have used her .gov email for archival purposes. Or maybe there’s another super secret State email system that we’re not privy to.

I have no idea what she was thinking but I very much doubt that she used a personal email account for four years and the president didn’t know about it. We might see him do the “I’m shocked, SHOCKED that anyone would violate official records protocol around here!” act but I would be tempted to not believe him.

One thing I do know for sure. A woman who has been investigated to death as Hillary Clinton has been would know better than to use an unofficial email system without some kind of official permission. Otherwise, it’s just feeding fuel to the Bengazidads and agent-provacateurs-posing-as-knit-your-own-sandals-type-peacenik-lefties.

Wouldn’t you know it, the top comments on the NYTimes piece are full of the word “entitled”. That must be a focus group tested word that is known to drive Democrats completely over the edge. Amiright? What would Jane Caro say about the fact that the most accomplished woman in the world still has to battle with the “you’re not worthy because you feel entitled” crowd on her own side? I suspect that her response would start with the word “F^&*”.

And how do we know about the unofficial email address? The State Department has been giving copies of email to the committee investigating the Benghazi…thing. They’ve given 300 emails so far. Wow, one might almost suspect that Hillary’s email could be used as a fishing expedition to find all kinds of things that the Republicans didn’t like, not that that’s a good reason to violate official protocol or anything.

Anyway, it’s not my job to defend Hillary. That’s her job and she usually does it very well. But let’s just say that this scoop doesn’t seem all that chewy and delicious yet. It’s not like her to leave a hole this wide to drive a campaign ending truck through. She tends to be more prepared than that.

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

Obviously the news is still mostly about the Arizona tragedy and all the political and social issues being talked about. Let’s take a look at a few articles on the subject to see what’s new there. First as was mentioned yesterday, those crazy Westboro Baptist Church religious nut cases plan to protest the little girls funeral. Just when you thought those people couldn’t be more sick and evil. But heartening is the reaction and the people that plan on protected the family and funeral:

Arizona lawmakers moved quickly Tuesday to try to block protesters from the funeral of 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Green, passing an emergency measure prohibiting protests within 300 feet of any funeral services.

[…]

The actions were prompted by the Westboro Baptist Church, a publicity-seeking Kansas congregation known for demonstrating at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, arguing that their deaths are retribution by God for America’s acceptance of homosexuality. The church announced it would protest Green’s funeral, scheduled for Thursday, because the family is Catholic.

The protest drew instant and unanimous condemnation from Arizonans.

“Protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim is despicable,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams. “It’s time to bring Arizona in line with the many other states that protect the sensitivities of victims against groups that use fear and hate to denigrate the lives of Americans.”

Adams sponsored the emergency measure that prohibits people from picketing or protesting within 300 feet of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue or other establishment during or within one hour of a funeral service or burial service.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously Tuesday. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure Tuesday evening.

If that’s the face of not accepting homosexuality in America, no wonder many in the GOP have been moving in the direction of repealing DADT and being open to gay marriage. Something to think about and understand when it comes to changing the tone and framing of a political/social topic.

Politico has a piece talking about three of the GOP potential campaign frontrunners for 2012 and how they’re fairing through this tragedy. I’ll save you the trouble, Pawlenty wins the day. That is, he comes out more moderate and unscathed. Palin of course is the target of many. And Newt seems to be playing the roll of Rush/Beck trying to drum up the base.

In an interesting op-ed at WaPo, Krauthammer (heads up, warning, winger alert) in addition to the some winger stuff (step carefully), has a few observations about language and symbols in politics:

Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he was hardly inciting violence.

Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power – military conquest. That’s why the language persists. That’s why we say without any self-consciousness such things as “battleground states” or “targeting” opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest – “campaign” – is an appropriation from warfare.

I think the best stab at the politics of this may be Jon Stewart’s clip posted in last nights post. Take a look again if you missed it.

Let’s look at a few other things going on. In news of the doublespeak delicately placed on a dungheap, it appears Obama and the Chamber of Commerce are getting cozy and mending all those faux rifts:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce signaled Tuesday that its rift with the administration is beginning to ease, just three months after bitterly sparring with the White House during midterm campaigns.

In a speech at the Chamber’s headquarters, directly across the street from the White House, Tom Donohue, the group’s president, said disagreements with the administration have “never been personal.”

He noted “a new tone” at the White House and praised President Obama’s selection of William Daley as his new chief of staff, calling him “a real pro.”

Donohue nonetheless struck a combative note as he vowed to fight for the Chamber’s policy goals this year, which include expanding trade, lowering the federal deficit and curbing regulations it thinks are excessive.

“We will not allow the business community to be intimidated, and we will use every tool at our disposal to challenge those who try to silence our voice,” said Donohue, referring to Democrats’ attempts to force the Chamber, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, to reveal its donors.

Such kabuki theater. Aren’t you so happy they’re getting along now? Yea.

Meanwhile in real leadership news, SoS Hillary Clinton is the first SoS to go to Yemen in over 20 years:

Hillary Clinton made the first trip by a U.S. Secretary of State to Yemen in 20 years on Tuesday to underline to the Sanaa government the urgency and importance of fighting al Qaeda at its grassroots.

Washington is anxious for Yemen, next door to the world’s top oil exporter, to step up its fight against an al Qaeda wing based in the Arabian peninsula state where militants have attempted ambitious attacks against U.S. and Western targets.

“It’s not enough to have military-to-military relations,” Clinton said before her plane touched down in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, where she was due for talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“We need to try to broaden the dialogue. We need to have this dialogue with the government,” she added.

This is all part of the massive new workload Hillary has had to take on to repair the damages from the leaked State Department cables. At least we have Hillary doing this work and repairing those relations. I’d hate to think how this work would happen if Joe Biden had the position as he claimed he was offered.

In Illinois news, they are eliminating the death penalty:

After more than a decade of debate over whether the state’s system of capital punishment could ever be fair, state lawmakers voted on Tuesday to end the death penalty in Illinois.

The move, which came only hours before a new group of lawmakers takes office in Springfield on Wednesday, leaves the future of capital punishment to the Democratic governor, Patrick J. Quinn, who has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation. If Mr. Quinn agrees to the ban, Illinois will join 15 other states without capital punishment.

There’s some great news at least. We could use some.

In international monetary news, China is going to open the Yuan for US trade:

State-owned Bank of China Ltd has offered yuan trading to U.S. customers, a sign that Beijing this year may increasingly promote the use of the Chinese currency in major financial centers.

The change at Bank of China announced in a posting dated Dec. 2010 means that customers can trade in yuan in the United States for the first time rather than having to do so in Hong Kong.

The New York branch of China’s fourth-largest bank said it now lets companies and individuals buy and sell the yuan via accounts with its U.S. branches, although U.S. businesses and individuals can also trade the currency through Western banks.

“The authorities are promoting the use of the yuan in international trade and this is another step in that direction and this means we should see the growth of yuan trading in other regional centers across the world,” said Robert Minikin, senior currency strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

The move is seen as another small step to redenominate trade in yuan after persuading mainland importers and exporters to reduce settling trade in the U.S. dollar and striking trade settlement agreements with Russia, Brazil and other countries.

Part of the reason behind this is China’s too high exchange reservers. Here’s more on what’s happening:

The thorniest problem in economic relations between the United States and China is getting worse, just as the world’s two biggest economies prepare for a summit next week in Washington.

At issue is the imbalance in their financial relationship. China’s central bank said Tuesday that Beijing’s holdings of foreign cash and securities amount to $2.85 trillion – a jump of 20 percent over the year before – despite Chinese promises to try to balance its trade and investment relations with the United States and other countries.

[…]

Foreign exchange holdings are a broad measure of a nation’s economic links with other countries, reflecting exports and imports, investment and the flow of speculative “hot money” into local markets. Some reserves are helpful, and Asian nations in particular, stung by their financial crises in the 1990s, seek to keep a war chest for times of trouble.

But with China’s foreign currency holdings far exceeding those of any other country, it has been urged by the United States, International Monetary Fund and others to import more, allow its exchange rate to rise in value, and use some of the reserves, for example, to boost the purchasing power of Chinese citizens. Although some recent statistics have shown a move in that direction – the country’s trade surplus has narrowed for the past two years, as China’s imports grew faster than exports – the surge in reserves is a pointed reminder of the difficult questions that still face Hu and Obama.

[…]

The renminbi, also known as the yuan, is considered by a wide range of economists to be undervalued in relation to the dollar, and China keeps tight control of the exchange rate, in part to protect its powerful export industries.

[…]

An administration official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of discussions between the countries, said that it is an ideal time for China to let its currency float more freely. The lack of progress shows that the country’s export lobby still has the upper hand, the official said.

On the one hand we want China to let the value of the Yuan to float freely and find it’s proper value. On the other hand China wants to keep tight control and wants to start using that tightly controlled money it trade with others instead of the US Dollar. But China has to worry about its US holdings at the same time. And as long as they keep such tight control, it’s less usable as a trade currency. We’re in a strange dance together. But China plays rough. Let’s hope we and other parts of the world are up to the challenge.

In sad news, David Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet fame died. In other sad news, exactly one year ago today the Haiti 7.0 earthquake hit, and they’re still not much better off. But back with a bit of good news, mentioned yesterday, Tom DeLay got sentenced with 3 years of jail time.

That’s a bit of the news. Chime in with what you’re reading.

Say it isn’t so!


Clinton to leave politics?

Hillary Rodham Clinton says her work as U.S. secretary of state will be her final public position.

She told an interviewer in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain that she does not plan to run for president. And she appeared to rule out taking any other public role, saying that instead she expects to return to private life as an advocate for women and children around the globe.

She said she had enjoyed an interesting and rewarding public career and will be ready to get back to the advocacy work she did as a young lawyer.

HuffPoop:

“I think I’ll serve as secretary of state as my last public position and then probably go back to advocacy work, particularly on behalf of women and children, and particularly around the world because if you look at what is still happening to women in many parts of the world it is tragic and terrible,” she told a reporter at a town hall in Bahrain, after rejecting a now seemingly obligatory question about her 2012 presidential aspirations.

If it’s true, can you blame her? But thankfully if there is one thing a politician says that can’t be trusted, it’s that they aren’t planning on ever running again.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.



Toe-Sucker Morris weighs in (Barf-bag warning)

This is what a Dick looks like


She fired his ass and he’s still pissed:

Hillary Is Up to Her Old Tricks

The Wikileaks documents show that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has, as Voltaire said about the Bourbon kings of France, learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Her request that American diplomats at foreign postings and the United Nations gather personal data about their foreign counterparts is eerily reminiscent of her use of private detectives to unearth negative information on those who were politically inconvenient during the husband’s campaigns for president and his White House tenure.

At the time, I called these operatives the “secret police.” Now, apparently, we call them the “diplomatic corps.”

The Wikileaks documents show that you cannot only not teach an old dog new tricks, but you can’t stop her from doing the ones she has always done.

[…]

Seems like old times. In the 1992 presidential campaign, the Clintons retained private detectives to learn negative information about the women who were accusing Bill of improper conduct so as to provide blackmail material to cow them into silence. During his White House tenure, FBI files on prominent Republicans somehow ended up on the desk of an operative who was hired pursuant to Hillary’s recommendation after a career as a bar bouncer.

Linda Tripp, whose efforts led to the denouement of the president’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, found the details of her personnel file splashed all over the newspapers. A subsequent federal lawsuit found that her file information had been released improperly, and a U.S. district court judge levied a heavy fine on the government for the violation.

The fact that this current State Department covert operation was initiated under Rice does not lessen Hillary’s guilt for having pursued it. Clinton, not Rice, has run for president and is presumed to continue to be interested in the job. Her addiction to spies, dumpster divers, sleuths and negative research operatives has always been a cause for concern.

The jury has been out on how well Hillary is performing as secretary of state. I have always been critical of her riding on her husband’s name to achieve fame and power. But when she was appointed secretary of state, clearly despite her husband rather than because of him, I felt it prudent to withhold judgment. This is, after all, the first real job she has ever gotten on her own.

If you need someone to talk trash about the Clintons Dick(head) Morris is the guy. Like Levi Johnston he’s made a career out of biting the hand that once fed him.

He *knows* all this stuff even though he wasn’t there when it allegedly happened and he took no part in any of it.

I’d call him a sleaze bag but that would be an insult to sleaze bags.



Monday Morning Palinpalooza

I am almost as sick of hearing about and seeing Sarah Palin as I am hearing about and seeing Barack Obama, but the news is awful, the weather is boo boo, and as a liberal fem I am apparently supposed to go into a screaming emotional PMS induced rant every time her name is even brought up. Why fight it?

I don’t plan on reading or buying her new book. Do any of you? I didn’t think so. But Historiann has the scoop.

Don’t miss Michelle Goldberg’s analysis of the feminist history in Sarah Palin’s new bookAmerica by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. Apparently, it gets worse after the diabetes-inducing title.  I agree with Goldberg that “[i]n some ways, it’s a good thing that Sarah Palin calls herself a feminist. It means that, even among conservatives, women’s equality has become a normative position, the starting point for debate. It means that feminism has gone from something that the right wants to destroy to something it wants to appropriate. That’s progress, of a sort.”  This is indeed a new development–Phyllis Schlafly’s days are over, for now, and it would be even too intellectually dishonest for Palin to pretend that feminism had nothing to do with shaping the possibilities of her political career.

As an optimist I am also pleased that a woman politician at least has to call herself a feminist to get anywhere, much less conservative woman. But this step forward is not to Bible Spice’s credit. A woman in politics has to call herself a feminist now because of the treatment a certain plucky Secretary of State received not just in 2008 but throughout her entire life in public service. Just sayin’. Let’s continue.

However, Palin is all wet when it comes to American history in general, and as Goldberg explains, feminist history in particular:  she claims Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a devout Christian–a woman who once said that “[y]ou may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded women,” and who wrote her own version of the Bible.  (Truly, this is more laughable than the people who try to re-claim Thomas Jefferson as a godbag.)  Palin repeats the flimsy lie that Susan B. Anthony was anti-abortion, and she repeats the distortions of Margaret Sanger’s work and career by claiming that she advocated “Nazi-style eugenics.”  (She cites the esteemed historian Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism on Sanger.)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and another fun fem, Amelia Earheart, also rejected the usefulness of remaining faithful to their husbands. Amelia even passed a petition about it around. Hillary wasn’t the first classy lady to question standing by her man. So far that’s Hillary: 2 Sarah: 0.

Sarah Palin is a huge disappointment.  She could have countered her detractors the right way and continued working for the people of her beloved Alaska, but instead she has allowed herself and her family to be turned into celebrity jokes. Marketing yourself as a pundit on Fox News and giving yourself a reality show on TLC is not the way to prove you’re Presidential material. So much for all that maverick talk about Middle America. She should have taken a leaf out of that crazy bra burning feminist Hillary Clinton’s book instead of Barack Obama’s. Now she and him are like the American Idol clones of Presidential Politics. If they are both running in 2012 we won’t even be able to take a break and watch an episode of House or Dexter without one of them guest starring. They and their brands will be EVERYWHERE. God help us all!

I still don’t believe you have to be liberal or pro choice to be a feminist, but Caribou Barbie stopped caring about standing up to the good old boys a long time ago. It was probably some time in between the grand finale of Dancing with the Stars or a deep philosophical connection with Dick Morris while he was ghostwriting her new book. At least now she is caught up to the President and has managed to write two autobiographies without actually accomplishing much of anything.

Either way, from now on she’s on her own.

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