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    • The Role of Character and Ideology in Prosperity
      I want to take readers through some of my previous writing on ideology and character, and how they help form the societies we live in.  Taking the time to read these articles (a short book’s worth), should vastly improve your understanding of the world and the articles to come. It should be worth your time [...]
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Meta: Reflections on Race and Gender

If you haven’t read this post by Digby at Hullabaloo on the media gearing up to use the 2008 election campaign tactics as a way to crush women politicians in 2016, go read it now. I’ll wait.

In this one post, Digby comes so close to seeing the political landscape the way we did back in 2008. What she writes makes perfect sense but at the last moment, the thought-stopping conditioning springs into action and she calls anyone who draws the obvious conclusions racists.

I don’t have time to clear this up for her but I will say that we called the phenomenon that she is describing as “Penis Years” back in 2008. That is, no woman, no matter how much experience she has, regardless of her accomplishments, is as qualified as a man who simply wants the job. The presence of a penis adds eight to ten years of authority to his CV over any female that gets uppity enough to get in his way. This is hardly relegated to politics. It’s rampant in the private sector as well.

As for the racism aspect of all this, that’s in the mind of the beholder and that was the whole point of the 2008 campaign exercises. There are some Democrats who saw two potential interest group constituencies and through clever messaging, made sure that sexism was combined with the desire to finish the Civil Rights movement. It’s called marketing.

I think we can all agree after six long, painful years that Obama was not ready to be president, that his candidacy was rushed by some self-interested financial industry donors and that he has been the most conservative Democratic president of our lifetimes. He got the nomination using Penis Years reasoning and his campaign was ruthless in describing anyone who opposed him as a racist. The fact that some political scientists are making a bungling mess of pointing out this reality doesn’t make it less true. The legacy of the 2008 “Bros vs Hos” campaign is going to haunt the first woman nominee no matter who she is. We will be lead to wonder whether another inexperienced, less than competent in a time of economic crisis president is going to be shoved down our throats to satisfy some politically correct teachable moment.

You can pretend this is not true but when both Amanda Marcotte and Digby start writing posts about Penis Years in the lead up to 2016, they are actually acknowledging this fact.

I guess they are racists now.

Scary things 2014

The Republicans have a stranglehold on the House, might take over the Senate and the only thing standing between them and our social security benefits is Barack Obama.

Cue the panicked screaming.

What’s even scarier is there are Fox News watchers who are so soaked in lies and delusion that they will have absolutely no idea what hit them until it’s too late.  A lot of very bad things could happen in two years.  On the other hand, maybe the Republicans have to have free reign so people can see what they’re really all about.  Telling people not to watch Fox doesn’t seem to be working.  It just might take some very, very tough love and a heavy dose of betrayal before they get it.  Of course, this might be the last time many people have an easy time voting.  Once they’re in power, it will be more difficult to dislodge them.  All bets are off for voting in 2016, especially for women.  Because if I were the Republican party, I’d busily get behind initiatives to make it much harder for women and poor people to vote.  I mean, harder than it is now.  Much harder.

The rest of us should assume the brace position.  

Bill Black on Bill Moyers: The problem starts at the top

See this latest episode of Bill Moyers Journal.  The guest is Bill Black, frequent contributor to Naked Capitalism (they’re having a fundraiser, you know.  Our friend Lambert Strether cross blogs there. I’m dirt poor but if you have the Do-Re-Mi, send some to them).

Bill and Bill talk about Eric Holder’s resignation and, specifically, why it was that Holder did not prosecute any bankers.  That’s right, not one.

Black gets right to the point about who is to blame:

BILL MOYERS: No, the, what you’re saying is that more than one administration cooperated in maintaining a system that is based upon deference to the banks and disrespect for the public.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Right, and, but it’s also a component in the case of Obama of we’re humans and we are, everything we learn in research about humans is we’re reciprocal. And so the finance area is the reason he’s president of the United States. When he was in his hour of greatest need, when he had, was written off as a candidate against Hillary in the nomination battle the first time around, he had this miraculous survival. And that took money.

That took lots and lots of money. And who gave that money? It came overwhelmingly from finance at the critical moment when he needed it most. All of us as human beings, the people that helped us in, a friend in need is a friend indeed is the saying that we have as human beings.

THIS is what I have been saying all along.  The finance industry *knew* in advance that the crash was coming and they wanted an enabler in office, not someone who might send them to rehab.  But I’m a racist and Bill Black is not.

{{Sigh}}

 

Stupid and Irresponsible ZMapp Conspiracy Theories

I’ve written a couple of times about ZMapp, the monoclonal antibody treatment for ebola infection.  Short summary: ZMapp is a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies, in other words, human proteins, that were genetically engineered to grow in tobacco plants.  Yes, it sounds like FrankenPharma but it’s perfectly normal to do it this way.  ZMapp is produced by company in San Diego.  In it’s PR blurb from January of this year, the company producing it, known as Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, indicated that they had tested ZMapp in 7 primates, 4 of which died.  If you are assuming that all primates will die of ebola, that’s not too bad but in the current outbreak, the lethality is about 60% so this result is nothing to write home about. (note that the in the Business Insider article linked below, the company claims to have improved their success rate in primates but there’s still no proof that it works in humans.)  In other words, the public is grasping at this very early research as if it were the holy grail and it’s not.  The best thing about ZMapp is that it draws attention to the fact that our research for infectious diseases is woefully underfunded.

In any case, Mapp is all out of ZMapp.  Business Insider has some info about what’s going on, which gems nicely with what I’ve been saying:

And scientists acknowledge that despite the new efforts, they may not be able to produce more than a few hundred treatment courses by early next spring. That will be far behind the international demand and will confront officials with life-and-death challenges of rationing and priorities.

“The biology just doesn’t allow you to do it tomorrow,” Alan Magill, a programme director at the Gates Foundation which is helping to organise ZMapp development, told The New York Times .

[…]

The doses with which the US aid workers were treated were manufactured from biologically-engineered tobacco leaves grown at a facility in Kentucky, but it only has extremely limited production capacity.

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services are now in advanced talks with a Texas company that could produce the drug in millions of tobacco plants.

The New York Times also reported that the US government and two of the world’s biggest charities — the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – are in talks to arrange for production of ZMapp in animal cells. That is a more conventional production method in the biotechnology industry and could allow for greater overall production, but the initial stages of development will take longer. “We’re going with multiple manufacturers,” a federal official said,

BusinessWeek has reported on the delays in federal bureaucracy that held up research of the drug for up to four years.

“That’s why we don’t have an Ebola countermeasure,” said Robert Kadlec, a consultant and public health physician who held high-level posts in biodefence in the Bush administration. “We failed to invest enough dollars to have it mature.”

Part of that failure to invest might have something to do with Republican assholes writing Op/Eds in the NYTimes claiming that you’re washed up as a scientist after the age of 36 , which is about 4 years after you finish your last starvation diet salaried post-doc.  After that age, you don’t deserve the limited funding from NIH grants as some young whippersnapper who has just started his career (and has about 4 years to make his name in the world before it’s all over).  Funny, I started feeling my mental cheerios about two years before I was laid off.  Whatever.  Ahhh, Republicans, always expecting to get some new major breakthrough from hard working intelligent people without spending any money at all.  Typical. I’m going to address that idiotic Op/Ed at a later time, once my blood pressure has returned to normal.

Like I said yesterday, if production of ZMapp is really that crucial, the government or the Gates Foundation can hire a couple thousand currently unemployed, laid off American pharma researchers who used to do protein production.  Or they can let us just sit on our asses while Rome burns.  Their choice.

In the meantime, I’ve read a post on another blog that suggests that there is a new conspiracy theory about the availability of Zmapp.  According to this theory, the Dallas ebola patient, Thomas Duncan, is not getting Zmapp not because Mapp ran out of supply.  No, he’s not getting it because he’s black.  In fact, there’s discrimination going on and that’s why black people won’t be getting it.

uh-huh

That’s ridiculous and stupid and anyone who thinks that or spreads that rumor has not been paying attention to the logistics of producing this cocktail of human proteins in tobacco plants.

To the contrary, I would go so far as to say that the only person in the United States who probably has a stash of ZMapp for his own personal use is a black man.   In fact, the White House physicians and Surgeon General wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t corner the market on whatever was left for the president’s exclusive use.  It only makes sense.  You don’t want your president dying on you from ebola.  (This possibility is extremely remote but he does shake a lot of hands)  It’s bad optics and it’s bad for the country, assuming he can actually get ahead of this crisis and be proactive on this one thing after six years of being constantly behind the curve, too cautious and deferential to the ultra wealthy on every other crisis.

So, you know there’s that.

In general though, Americans should continue to think of ebola as a disease without a cure.  If you get it, you will have to rely on your body’s own defenses to fight it off.  So, don’t get it.  Racism has nothing to do with it.  Racism *might* have something to do with poorer people having access to insurance or health care in Texas and several other states.  But when the ZMapp is gone, you can’t make tobacco plants grow any faster, no matter who you are or how much money you’ve got.

 

Conflict unavoidable

“Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension”

The New York Times has an article today about the unavoidable conflict between Clinton and Obama.  They’re both on Martha’s Vineyard this week. For all I know, it’s manufactured by the flying monkeys in the media who seem to be salivating for a Krystle vs Alexis fight in The Pond.  But there are some encouraging utterances from the Clinton camp:

Mr. Obama is fast becoming the past, not the future, for donors, activists and Democratic strategists. Party leaders are increasingly turning toward Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as Democrats face difficult races this fall in states where the president is especially unpopular, and her aides are making plain that she has no intention of running for “Obama’s third term.”

Thank goodness for that.  I don’t think I can take another four years of careless conservatism spouting from the mouths of clueless young Ivy League males.  We have been waiting for six long years to hear what Clinton really thinks about Obama.  Yeah, it was great that she was able to swallow her pride and anger and play nice for the sake of “unity” but enough’s enough.  Even if she doesn’t run, I am looking forward to her informed critique.

I especially like the bit where Clinton says “ ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,”

Amen to that.

I am desperate to hear someone talk about their organizing principles.  No, I am not kidding.  That “put everything on the table and we’ll negotiate” crap has been an utter disaster.  And like Katiebird, I’d like the conversation to move away from foreign policy to economics.

On the other hand, this is probably not the best way to raise a lot of money from political donors who want to retain their iron grip on all the money in the universe.  Let’s hope Clinton can convince some of them that it’s in their best interests.

The Party, on the other hand, seems to think this is still 2008 before the crash:

Christine Pelosi, a longtime Democratic activist and daughter of the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said her phone and email “just exploded” after Mrs. Clinton’s remarks.

“Now is not the time to second guess the commander in chief, particularly when you’re a former member of his cabinet and national security team,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Oooo, really?  And when would the best time be, Christine?  I mean, he’s already opened up the tax payer safe to the finance industry, took a backseat to the foreclosure crisis and long term unemployment, presided over the dismantling of our research and development sector, and locked us into a two tier class system when it comes to health insurance.  When is any Democrat allowed to criticize him?  No one ever gave Bill Clinton that kind of deference.

Anyway, here’s to a little high tension.  It’s about fricking time.

Additional thoughts: We were the target of a troll attack yesterday.  It was wildly fun, by the way.  Katiebird and I are just warming up.  Bring it on.  But we did wonder what the heck triggered it.  It reminded both of us of the days in 2008 when the Obot trolls fired barrage after barrage from different IP addresses.  In fact, we both thought it was a good idea that we hadn’t gotten rid of those addresses in the banned list for the spam filter.  Now, we can go through the IPs at our leisure and figure out if there’s a common thread.

But it does make us wonder, why bother?  Obama isn’t running for another term, we don’t have nearly the readership that we had in 2008 when we peaked at something like 56000 hits/per day.  And the left has not sought to deign us with the pleasure of their revenue stream by adding us to their blog rolls.  In fact, I’d say we were true blue all the way through the last six years but hardly worth the effort and attention.

And yet, in spite of our anonymity compared to 2008, we still seem relevant enough to send a bunch of psych-out shock troops.  We can’t dismiss the possibility of a Republican attack but yesterday’s seemed so familiar.  It left that whiff of O-zone behind it.

Go figure.

Flattery gets you nowhere

tdraicer brought this post by Andrew O’Hehir at Salon to my attention.  Poor Andrew is just so disillusioned that Obama turned out to perpetuate George Bush’s policies.  It’s especially painful because the primary reason O’Hehir and his buddies voted for Obama was his position on the Iraq War.  Actually, did we even know what Obama’s position on the war was?  I mean, he said he was agin’ it but we don’t have him on the record voting for anything.  And from my recollection, there were plenty of Democrats willing to overlook John Edwards Iraq War vote but not Hillary’s.  Hmmmm, curiouser and curiouser. Well, anyway, let’s just say that I don’t believe that the vote on the Iraq War was the only reason they spat upon Hillary and hitched their wagons to Obama’s star.

Putting aside the latent sexism lurking in the Democratic party, I suspect one of the most influential factors in the primary campaign of 2008 was the degree to which the Obama campaign was willing to fluff the egos of people like Andrew O’Hehir.  Remember how they were called the “creative class”?  They shopped at Whole Foods?  They drank PBR?  They were smarter, more attractive, funnier, moraler and just better people?  I used to call them the “swimsuit models with PhDs in architecture” while we were “the stupid, uneducated, menopausal, working class, sino-peruvian lesbians”.

Well, we might have been the losers but at least we knew the devil when we looked in his eyes.

Why is this man struggling??

Correct Dope Slap administration

Jesus Christ on a Cracker, Obama is angsting over whether to sign an executive order to make sure that the LBGT community is not discriminated against in federal contracts.  The religious leaders involved, RELIGIOUS leaders who you would expect to be above petty shit like this, are demanding to be excluded from working next to people who do “unnatural” things with each other in bed.  That would include almost everyone, gay or straight, married or un, over the age of consent.  Yes, Rick Warren, married heterosexual couples engage in sodomy of one kind or another.  You might even be one of them.

Obama might not be in this predicament if he hadn’t made use of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives to give taxpayer money to churches like Warren’s in exchange for favorable sermons to the parishioners before election day.  The rest of us were very skeptical when Obama made an alliance with evangelical leaders in 2008.  Remember how women were supposed to consult with their clergy before getting an abortion?  Remember how we all were concerned with the signals that Rick Warren’s inaugural presence would send to the LGBT community?

Ok, nevermind all that now.  We’re dealing with a crisis situation.  We can’t go back and dope slap Obama and his short- sighted campaign droogs, although I did mention back in 2008 that the scorched earth policy against women was going to come back to bite us.

Here’s the correct response to these so-called “Christians”, and I do use that term very loosely.  Sign the damn order for the following reasons:

1.) It’s the right thing to do.  Treating people like dirt and unequally to make people in your tribe feel superior is the signature hallmark of narcissists.  It’s just wrong morally and ethically.  It’s very strange for an agnostic panentheist non-Christian like myself to be pointing this out but, what can I say, the country is in the grip of some weird juju right now and the people who should be upholding the rights of others, I’m looking at you Rick Warren, have lost their fricking minds.

2.) It’s for their own good.  Slight digression: Alan Turing was a code breaker extraordinaire and computational genius.  He was also gay.  Without Turing, it would have been very difficult for England to triumph over the Nazi’s.  That guy should have been a national hero until he died.  Instead, Alan Turing’s life was destroyed by some very nasty anti-gay laws.  He was barred from serving his country and his security clearance was denied.  He committed suicide.  Congratulations, Britain.  If Obama doesn’t sign the order because the Rick Warren’s among us stamp their little feets and threaten to hold their breaths, he will be denying the rest of us the talents and gifts of American gays and lesbians. It’s just not a very smart, long term move.  But then, when have we ever seen Obama and his campaign guys look to the long term?  Amaze us for once.

3.) It’s none of their G-d damned business.  Seriously, these evangelical so-called “Christians” need to learn to respect other people’s boundaries.  Or at least be consistent.  If it’s sodomy they object to, they need to find out what their married employees are doing too.  If they don’t like to contemplate what other people are doing in bed, they need to demonstrate some self-control and STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.  Get a life.  I guarantee you that the liberal side of the spectrum does not drive itself crazy thinking about all of the permutations of what body part goes into what orifice.  We drive ourselves crazy thinking about the melting point of the earth and whether we have passed the point of no return.  We stay up nights worrying about more important things we can, you know, actually do something about.  Ending gay sex forever does not rank up there among our insomnia inducing scenarios.

4.) Ignore the evangelical so-called “Christians”.  Obama doesn’t have to run again.  And the people who are really freaked out by the fact that might have to work cheek by jowl with people whose cheeks and jowls might have been touching the cheeks and jowls of a same sex person the night before are never going to vote for you anyway.  In any case, they will never respect you if you give in to them.  That’s because they have been encouraged to become narcissistic and any ground you give will just encourage them to exceed their boundaries in other areas.  Today it’s gays, tomorrow they’ll threaten not to vote for you if you don’t eliminate evolution from the school curriculum everywhere. Trust me, they don’t know there is a line.  You need to make them see that there is one or the establishment clause will become meaningless.

Like you’ll listen to me.  You’re the one who gave us the ACA and how did that turn out?  I don’t mean, “how is the propaganda spinning the ACA?”.  I mean, how did the ACA actually turn out for the little people who have to deal with it.  (Don’t even get me started.  It’s a disaster.  Someday, the brain trusts are going to correlate the falling GDP with that piece of crap legislation.  Mark my words.)

But signing this executive order to protect gays and lesbians is a no-brainer.  It’s the right thing to do.

Therefore, I predict Obama will screw it up somehow.  He’ll qualify it just enough that he will plant the seeds for further evangelical so-called “Christian” mischief down the road.

 

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