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Friday Morning News and Views: Friday the 13th Edition


Looming Nor'easter in New England

Good Morning Conflucians! It’s a gloomy Friday the 13th here in the Boston area. I guess we’ll be getting hit with the tail end of Hurricane Ida over the next couple of days. I’m feeling a bit lethargic this morning, but I’ll try to locate a few interesting news links nonetheless. Please add your own in the comments!

Did you know this is the third Friday the 13th in 2009? Maybe that’s why this year has been such a disaster. Anyway, its supposed to make today “extra freaky.”


Paul Krugman is finally back to criticizing administration policy–without mentioning the President. But it’s a step in the right direction. Will Krugman be summoned to the White House for another Koolaid injection? He explains why Germany isn’t suffering from massive unemployment as the U.S. is.

Here in America, the philosophy behind jobs policy can be summarized as “if you grow it, they will come.” That is, we don’t really have a jobs policy: we have a G.D.P. policy. The theory is that by stimulating overall spending we can make G.D.P. grow faster, and this will induce companies to stop firing and resume hiring.

The alternative would be policies that address the job issue more directly. We could, for example, have New-Deal-style employment programs. Perhaps such a thing is politically impossible now — Glenn Beck would describe anything like the Works Progress Administration as a plan to recruit pro-Obama brownshirts — but we should note, for the record, that at their peak, the W.P.A. and the Civilian Conservation Corps employed millions of Americans, at relatively low cost to the budget.

Alternatively, or in addition, we could have policies that support private-sector employment. Such policies could range from labor rules that discourage firing to financial incentives for companies that either add workers or reduce hours to avoid layoffs.

And that’s what the Germans have done. Germany came into the Great Recession with strong employment protection legislation. This has been supplemented with a “short-time work scheme,” which provides subsidies to employers who reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off. These measures didn’t prevent a nasty recession, but Germany got through the recession with remarkably few job losses.

I’m really starting to wish I could move to a European country–preferably one with universal, affordable health care like Italy or France. On the other hand, I love the wide open spaces here in the USA and I would prefer to stay here if I could. Sometimes I even fantasize about moving to Western North Dakota near Theodore Roosevelt National Park or maybe way up near Canada where I can live really cheaply and relatively free from government interference. Not that I’d join a militia or anything, lol, just that I’d be less noticeable to the authorities and maybe I could survive the authoritarian crackdown that I think is coming when the economy really collapses.

I have made fun of Chris Bowers and Open left over the past couple of years because of their slavish adoration of Obama, but I am starting to read them again. They are really standing up to their former “precious” of late. I’ve always like Paul Rosenberg’s work, and Natasha Chart has been on fire. Here’s her latest:

DNC, OFA Abandon Women In Healthcare Action Alert

Nancy Keenan, head of the national NARAL group (and most obedient of the obedient losers) was apparently personally promised before the health care battle by the Obama administration that they would look after the organization’s constituency interests in the health care bill and preserve the status quo. In return, NARAL was asked to stand down its activism.
They did. So with all their colleagues, they got caught with their pants down when a floor vote on the Stupak amendment was imminent.

Today, I got a press release from the DNC, and their Organizing For America project, on their plan to drum up more support for the health care reform bill: targeting Republicans.

It says nothing about women’s healthcare. Nothing. Like it isn’t even at issue. OFA is still watching NARAL’s back, women’s backs, as well as they always have.

OFA is crowing about the 500,000 phone calls they’ve prompted on the health care issue. Were any of them centered around preserving reproductive health care when it mattered? Ha! As Femlaw says at the link, “The idea is to build organizational capacity, so when really critical moments in the campaign happened, OFA could deliver huge numbers.”

Targeting Republicans is critical. Encouraging Democrats to stand together for women’s health and rights, not critical.

Even The Huffington Post has begun to rag on Obama’s policies. Here’s the big headlined post this morning:

Goldman To Private Insurers: No Health Care Reform At All Is Best by Sam Stein

A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.

A study put together by Goldman in mid-October looks at the estimated stock performance of the private insurance industry under four variations of reform legislation. The study focused on the five biggest insurers whose shares are traded on Wall Street: Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, CIGNA and Humana.

That must be why the Goldman Sachs administration Obama administration is doing it’s darndest to kill health care reform by excluding women’s health coverage.


This news is just breaking around the world: ‘NY trial’ for key 9/11 suspects

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be sent from Guantanamo Bay to New York for trial in a civilian court, reports say.

Citing unnamed government officials, the reports said he would be transferred from the US prison camp in Cuba with four other suspects.

US Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the decision later, the officials say.

Mr Mohammed has admitted planning the 9/11 attacks, the US military says.

That seems like a step in the right direction. Maybe we will see Guantanamo closed after all. I’d sure like to see that happen.

Politico: After spending binge, White House says it will focus on deficits

Home-Purchase Index in US Plunges to Lowest Level Since 2000

NYT: Among Obama Aides, Debate Intensifies on Troop Levels

The Nation: Whose Team Is It, Anyway? by Katha Pollitt

The Hill: Tensions brim between GOP and CEOs over healthcare reform

The Latest Lecture from Charles Krauthammer: Medicalizing mass murder (he does have a few good points)


What’s Friday the thirteenth without the release of a big horror/disaster movie?

‘2012’ Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

It’s 2009 and a couple scientists discover the sun is freaking out and heating up the Earth’s core. Good news for anyone who likes a nice subterranean sauna. Bad news for anyone who wants the Earth not to fall to pieces in the few years.

Disaster kingpin Roland Emmerich’s “2012” then cuts to the year 2012, which looks pretty much like 2009, except the governments of the world are scrambling to come up with a secret survival plan for humanity. Which they are going to need — stat! — because it’s not too long before a few Los Angeles tremors make way for mega-quakes, lava-gushing volcanoes and tsunamis that no amount of human fortitude can combat.

Into this apocalyptic mess comes John Cusack’s struggling novelist Jackson Curtis, who has to rescue his ex-wife and kids while trying not to pee himself.

This one, on the other hand, looks really worthwhile, even if you need to bring a box of Kleenex with you.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

It’s hard to believe that a movie that traffics so operatically in images of brutality and squalor can be so fleet, assured and lyrical. But such breathtaking contradictions abound in “Precious,” which in the course of introducing the viewers to unspeakable despair, manages to imbue them with an exhilarating sense of hope — if not in a bright and cheery future for the film’s beleaguered protagonist, then at least in the possibilities of cinema as a bold, fluent and adamantly expressive art form.

That beleaguered protagonist is Claireece “Precious” Jones (played in an astonishing debut by Gabourey Sidibe), a 16-year-old girl who, as the movie opens, is still attending junior high school in 1980s Harlem. Morbidly obese, functionally illiterate, pregnant with her second child after being raped by her father, Precious lives with her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), in a squalid apartment where she endures the latter’s near-constant verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Precious’s only escape from this lurid tableau is rich, glittery fantasy life, in which she has a “light-skinned boyfriend” and “good hair,” dresses in ball gowns and carries a little terrier.


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Obama And The Bloggers: A Play in One Historic Act.

A Glimpse of the Future?

A Glimpse of the Future?

THE SCENE: It is 2108. The world is clean, lawful, peaceful, prosperous and well-informed. The struggles of the 21st Century are far behind us.

We find ourselves looking in on the Museum of United States History, in the “Hall of Presidents Past.” A group of students is being led by a tour guide, and they are stopped in front of a holographic display entitled, “The Blogosphere and The Election of President Barack Obama.” Showing on the transparent wall are three life-sized representations of bloggers. There is a man in his late 30’s, white, with dark hair, wearing a button-down shirt and khakis; the label under him reads “Male Obama Blogger.” There is a woman, in her late 30’s, dressed in black and wearing chic glasses; the label under her reads “Female Obama Blogger.” Finally, there is a woman in her 40’s, dressed in business attire; the label under her reads “PUMA Blogger.”

TOUR GUIDE: And now, here is our exhibit on our first – but not the last – African-American President, Barack Hussein Obama. He was President from 2008 – 2012.

Here at the Museum of United States History, we assume that you already know the most basic facts about every President. Our goal is to focus on little-known but important aspects of each President’s history. That is why we have chosen to represent the way so many in the so-called “progressive” blogosphere helped elect President Obama.

STUDENT #1 (raising hand): The “blogosphere”? What’s that?

STUDENT #2 (to #1): Don’t you remember? There used to be something called the Internet where people would talk about politics and other topics of interest.

STUDENT #1 (with dawning comprehension): Ohhhh! That was the baby version of the Worldwide Peoples’ Network!

TOUR GUIDE: Exactly right – the Internet became the WPN. (smiling) Now, if I may continue?

STUDENT #1 (embarrassed): Sorry, ma’am.

TOUR GUIDE: Thank you. Now, many people are not aware that President Obama’s campaign was fiercely championed by the “progressives” in the blogosphere.

STUDENT #2 (raising her hand): Uh, ma’am? Sorry, but what’s a progressive?

TOUR GUIDE: At one point, people who considered themselves on the liberal side of politics adopted the label of “progressive.” This label, for some time, hid the fact that they hated women and the Presidency of Bill Clinton, and allowed them to take over the blogosphere from people who really were liberals.

STUDENT #1: Wow! Progressives sound like complete idiots!

TOUR GUIDE (smiling): You have no idea! Where was I? Oh yes. Progressives’ advocacy for President Obama was so inflexible that many on the left broke away and formed their own blogosphere. These bloggers called themselves “PUMAs,” representing either “Party Unity My Ass” or “People United Means Action.” Later in the 21st Century, these PUMAs formed their own UnParty, with which you are all familiar by now.

(THE STUDENTS NOD AND SMILE. STUDENT #3 holds up a pawprint badge that had been magnetically stuck to his jumpsuit.)


TOUR GUIDE (holding up her own badge): PUMA POWER! (resuming the tour) Well, now we’re coming to the interactive part of the display. You’re going to love it, I promise! I need a volunteer to read a short sentence out loud.

(ALL THE STUDENTS raise their hands. The TOUR GUIDE picks STUDENT #3 out of the group.)

TOUR GUIDE: All right, John. Come to the display and read the sentence shown on the wall. Then, watch the reactions of all three bloggers to what you say.

JOHN (reading): “Today, Senator Barack Obama voted to give telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their illegal wiretapping activities performed at the behest of the Bush Administration.”

(ALL the holograms come to life.)

MALE OBAMA BLOGGER: Well, I know Senator Obama promised to filibuster this immunity, but that doesn’t matter. He’s just doing what he needs to do to get elected.

FEMALE OBAMA BLOGGER: Yeah! What you said!

PUMA BLOGGER: This sucks! And Obama broke his promise to vote against immunity, but Hillary didn’t. Why aren’t you supporting her instead?

(ALL holograms stop speaking.)

TOUR GUIDE: Did you see what happened there, John?

JOHN: I think so. Barack Obama broke a very important promise, and the PUMA blogger was the only one who said anything.

STUDENT #1: You mean – President Obama essentially gave the telecom companies permission to spy on Americans without repercussions?

TOUR GUIDE: Yes, Virginia. Bet you didn’t know that about him!

Continue reading

Are you telling me I’ve turned into a damned, dirty ape? *

We talked about the descent of Chris Bower last night in our open thread but, it’s a trend that goes beyond poor Chris (Donna Brazile kicked us all to the curb on election night on national TV). The Bower’s post defies parody — in fact to assure yourself that it isn’t self-parody — you might find yourself reading the whole thing. Excerpt follows:

So, unless Obama somewhat surprisingly does not become the next President of the United States, the Democratic Party will experience its first changing of the guard since the late 1980’s. What differences will be in store? Here are the three major changes I expect:

Cultural Shift: Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives: There should be a major cultural shift in the party, where the southern Dems and Liebercrat elite will be largely replaced by rising creative class types. Obama has all the markers of a creative class background, from his community organizing, to his Unitarianism [sic], to being an academic, to living in Hyde Park to shopping at Whole Foods and drinking PBR. These will be the type of people running the Democratic Party now, and it will be a big cultural shift from the white working class focus of earlier decades. Given the demographics of the blogosphere, in all likelihood, this is a socioeconomic and cultural demographic into which you fit. Culturally, the Democratic Party will feel pretty normal to netroots types. It will consistently send out cultural signals designed to appeal primarily to the creative class instead of rich donors and the white working class.

I dreamt about this damn post all night; stewing and steaming and muttering. I want to be a lady but, I find myself thinking in streams of expletives. Thankfully Anglachel came to the rescue. Her post, Revolution of the Saints, puts The Movement into historical perspective. Then it moves on to compare the two candidates and their vision of the role of the Democratic Party:

Hillary, in stark contrast, is ministerial in her approach. This is a job, it is the most demanding job in the world, and here are her credentials and body of work to demonstrate that she is the most competent and capable to fulfill the needs of the position. Minister in this sense would be both political and religious – someone who tends to the needs and concerns of the beloved community. It’s hands on, sleeves rolled up, get dirty helping raise the barn or negotiate that treaty. Power is present and necessary, wielded for the sake of others, which requires her to explain in as much detail as you want to hear exactly how she will use the authority granted to her. It is straight up attention to material interests.

What I see rising from the other side is clearly of two kinds. Half of Obama’s support is simply racial identity voting. The other half is from the faction of the party that is significantly insulated from the stark world of need and want. There is a love of the other-worldly where the beauty of the idea and the ideal matters more than the base. The political “base” is seen as base – low, uncouth, adulterated, impure, unworthy. They are not among the saved and the saints. I honestly cannot remember a previous time when so many people in the party were reviled for doing nothing except vote for a conventional candidate. These are not Naderites or Wallace supporters. They are middle-of-the-road solid Democrats who voted Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter, Carter, and so on down the line. The contempt of the saints for the fallen has always been there, but is emerging without a filter or much in the way of self-consciousness this time. The code we learned to speak in our liberal arts colleges falls to the wayside, and I read claims of being rid of the old evil “white working class” (What of us who are not that thing? What of those of us who are?) in a final conflict to end all conflicts and there will be a purified party to which will flock millions of new, young, untainted followers, ready to be led into the land of Goshen.

Chris Bowers and Donna Brazile have made it clear: A vote for Obama is a vote against the poor. A vote for Obama is a vote against workers. A vote for Obama is a vote against good government. A vote for Obama is a vote against the future of the Democratic Party.
* Title stolen from a comment by Lori at Anglachel’s Journal

The Pensieve

pensieveThese silvery threads form some sort of pattern:

  • DailyKos is now asking non-Obamaphiles to pre-admit their guilt (for supporting someone other than Obama) and check a box agreeing that their previous post was Muslim-baiting or racist or some other damn thing, before they are allowed to continue posting. I swear to God, when I went to YearlyKos06, none of this $%#^ was in evidence. It was like one big family reunion. That started to change at YearlyKos07 when Edwards started rolling out the big guns against Clinton. I understand why he did it. It was nothing personal. Just politics. He got caught unprepared when the Obama juggernaut started up ao he went after the base with hard hitting and not always fair anti-Hillary screed. She was the biggest corportaist, triangulating, establishment loving, lobbyist ass-kissing senator that ever lived. That’s when he thought Clinton was his biggest threat. If he had more clearly seen the threat from his right, all of these accusations would have been hurled at Obama, with slight variations, and it would have been a lot more accurate. But nevermind, his supporters were genuine, maybe a little too pure but their hearts were in the right place. Many Edwardians are still struggling and that’s OK. Give them a little breathing room. But Obamaphiles are a completely different breed altogether. So, Kos isn’t even pretending there is anything approaching objectivity with the frontpagers. I think we can be pretty certain that KagroX is the grand poo-bah of Obamamania. (Yeah, I never liked you either, KX) DailyKos is in the grip of something transforming. And not in a good way. At one point, it was taken seriously, presidential candidates spoke to it, Kos was featured on PBS Frontline specials, we gave David Brooks fits. Not anymore. Now it has become the parody that Brooks once claimed it was. It is full of rabid lambs- feckless foaming at the mouth fanatics. How the mighty have fallen. Kos may think we will come back after the primaries but that would be like hanging out with people who now run with a different crowd. One that does some pretty hard #$%^ and drive recklessly and don’t do their homework anymore and are in danger of dropping out of school to work as itinerant gas station attendants. There but for the grace of God go I.
  • The same weirdly annoying thing is happening to Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo. Today, he has a piece up about John Lewis retracting his support of Hillary as if this is an earth shattering event instead of further evidence of Barack Obama’s solidification as an African-American candidate. He has now successfully cornered that 15% of the population. His campaign strategy is to try to win large urban areas of the remaining states. Jeez, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what’s going on here. If anything, Lewis’s defection is more evidence of Clinton’s strength as a candidate. Then, there is the title of another piece, “Top Hillary Advisors Repeatedly *Griped* about MSNBC’s Matthews” but if you click on the original post at The Horse’s Mouth, Greg Sargent uses the word “complained”, not “griped”. Complain is something we as consumers do when we want to report a problem. Gripe is what we do around friends and family and sounds a lot like “bellyachin'”. Surely Josh knows these words connote two different things, one more legitimate than the other. Now, I ask you, is this the way a mature, soon to be father of two should behave? As if the news is somehow malleable and can be molded to shape you preconceptions? I thought that was what the mainstream media was all about. Who can you trust anymore if you can’t trust TPM?
  • Oddly enough, DailyKos is not in FireDogLake’s blogroll anymore. Yep, and neither is TPM. I can’t hardly say I blame Jane, Christy et al. They got dissed by the big boys even though their coverage of the Libby trial puts them in a class by themselves. They’ve also taken great pains to be objective journalists. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been passionate or that they haven’t made mistakes. But in their coverage of the primaries, they appear to be holding the candisates to higher standards and are avoiding the hagiographic tributes to one over the other. Classy!

One other thing: In the month that The Confluence has been in existence after my tragic exile from Dailykos (Narf!), we have had over 10,000 hits. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I’d have so many people reading anything I’ve written. If I’d known this would happen, I would have taken more writing classes and paid more attention to sentence structure and editing. But you guys put up with my mismatched subjects and verbs and I thank you for that. I hope that in the NEXT month, a few of you readers will take me up on my offer to collaborate. RonK is a fantastic writer and his posts are very informative so I hope he finishes his touch-ups on the ones he has planned. But there is always more to do. There is a void that needs to be filled and I can’t do it all by myself. So, let me know if you think you would be a good fit here, where politics meets, philosophopsychofeminadatamixology.