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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 25, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Give No Heed to the Walking Dead [The Scholar’s Stage, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-19] The People’s Republic of China is wealthier than any rival America has faced. Its leaders are convinced […]
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Proudly Defying Consensus Reality Since 2008

cjsnmttLong time readers know that I started this blog in response to the ridiculous, over-the-top, pre-accomplishments hagiography of Barack Obama during the primaries in 2008. The man could do no wrong. Don’t even get me started, I’ve written War and Peace over that primary season. And what did we learn from his eight years in the White House? We learned that the media and Obama’s fan base will do almost anything to obscure his flaws. That was fatal for us because if we weren’t allowed to be critical, we couldn’t correct when he was on the wrong track or hold him accountable for poor policy making.

For that early assessment of the media and his mysterious well-heeled fanbase propping him up in 2008, many of us were labeled “racists”. I hope that the left has learned a painful lesson from the last election about throwing that word around. Yes, there are racists. Real racism exists but it isn’t all about Barack Obama, who is a class based aspirational president and not John Lewis. But there many voters who were sick to death of having their perceptions invalidated by that cynical accusation. Unfortunately, some of them did not know when they were being played. We’re still trying to figure out what separated the casual Trump supporter from the lefty voter who simply didn’t like Obama but had no problem voting for Hillary. The Nate Silvers of the world who crunch their models can point to surface causes but I think the answer is buried in how labile we are to pressures to conform and adapt to consensus reality. We may need to find new descriptors for that model.

The purpose of this blog is to defy consensus reality. Commenters here feel safe to say what they think is really going on. The way we do this is by avoiding mental short cuts and slogans and buzz words. If you have a problem with out of control capitalism, calling a politician a “corporatist” is not going to cut it here. You need to say exactly what you mean, think it through, choose your words to convey their intent clearly.

Choosing carefully where we get our news and touchpoint with actual reality will also make a difference. Here are my tips for finding reality based news. Do with them what you will:

1.) Avoid any news source that provokes an immediate emotional response, especially if that response is fear or anger. People who are provoked to anger or fear do not make good decisions. It is difficult to reason with someone who is enraged. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you tried to have a reasonable conversation with someone in a rage state.

2.) Avoid television news. This means ALL television and cable news programs. The combination of audio with visual cues is very powerful. It doesn’t matter which network you choose. Some are worse than others but they all do it. Just don’t watch it. Give it a week and you won’t miss it. Get to know your family again, take up the guitar, go for a walk. Make the TV a special thing where you binge watch Outlander and oogle Jamie Fraser in a kilt.

3.) If you need to get a quick news fix, try radio. Again, some radio is better than others. NPR used to be my go to. Now, I can hear the narratives built into the scripts. So, be careful with this. Again, if you find yourself becoming fearful or angry, stop listening.

4.) Find reliable sources in print journalism. Even this is getting increasingly difficult to do. There are some sources that are more reliable than others. I read a wide variety of sources like the NYTimes, Washington Post, ProPublica, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Conversation, The Guardian. If it seems like my choices are left leaning, that’s because truth does seem to have a strong liberal bias. That being said, the NYTimes and Washington Post have been lax with their standards in the last decade or so. I wouldn’t necessarily call either paper “left”. But occasionally, you can find articles that are less biased and better investigated. Also, read foreign news sources, like Der Spiegel for an outsider’s perspective. Google translate is amazing.

5.) Try alternate sources for news. I like podcasts. In 2016, we saw a bumper crop of good podcasts, some more analytical than others. Among my favorites, The Weeds from Vox, Five Thirty Eight from Nate Silver and his data modelers, and my current favorite, TrumpCast with Jacob Weisberg from Slate.

6.) Apply the Cindy Lu Who test. If you see a green imp in a Santa suit stealing your Christmas Tree and he tells you a story about taking it back to his workshop to fix a broken light, ask yourself why he couldn’t have come by during the day when your parents were awake. In general, the simplest explanation is the most likely. Conspiracies are rare. Most people are motivated by simple things like greed, revenge, arrogance. (I’m looking at you Rudy Giuliani) Those deadly sins can lead them to do a number of unethical things. But if your favorite news reader starts spewing an improbable scenario, and if that scenario makes you mad before you can figure out if it’s true or not, apply the Cindy Lu Who test and start asking questions.

7.) Read non-fiction. Read history, science, paleobotany, it doesn’t much matter. Find a well reviewed non-fiction book and learn from it. It’s especially good for learning to analyze and that can be applied to the here and now. Some of my favorite non-fiction include, A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, anything by Michael Lewis, In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larsen, SPQR- A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard.

Lastly, check out this diagram of where news sources fall on the left-right, reliable-unreliable spectrum. If you are confused and distrustful about what and who to believe, stick to the top layer in the middle. Even the Wall Street Journal, as crazy as its opinion pages are, has a very good news bureau and high quality reporting.

7xhauxf

We’re about to be bombarded by a high volume of issues and controversies all at once. We will be disoriented. We may have a hard time keeping track of what is going on. Many people who have studied authoritarian regimes say that citizens quickly learn to accept the unacceptable so you are encouraged to write down what your beliefs and principles are right now and check them periodically to see if you are slipping.

Hold hands, stick together, look out for one another.

SWAK!

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The Hawk Debate

Back in 2008, I took the step to ban certain words here. For example, if you used the word “racist” in a comment, your comment was auto-moderated. The reason was that whoever was operating the Obama campaign had gone on the offensive and insulted and humiliated innocent bloggers and commenters in order to shut them up. They did this by calling the dissenters racists. It didn’t matter whether we had legitimate reasons for refusing to jump on the Obama bandwagon that had nothing to do with race. An accusation of racism is extremely powerful and they knew what they were doing.

There are a few other trigger words that will get you auto-moderated. I leave discovery as an exercise for the reader. Banning the words doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the issue here. It’s just that taking specific words out of the comments section meant that no one can take the easy way out. You can’t just come here, poop in the punchbowl, and leave thinking you’ve done your job putting the old, uneducated working class Roseanne Barrs who flock here (your perception, not mine) in their place. You know, drop the late consensus reality shaping meme, use the buzzword du jour, put mean spirited peer pressure on these people and watch as they all come groveling back to your side. Nah-gah-happen. We didn’t get to 52,000+ page hits per day during the height of the nauseatingly brutal 2008 campaign season because we took the easy way out and ate our poisoned mushrooms so we would fall into line like TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and The Left Coaster and Digby’s Hullabaloo. No, we watched what was happening, were thoroughly horrified and took it without flinching. 

As time went on, and the insults and aggression piled on, I became even less likely to vote for Obama. So, there, guys (and you were almost all guys). Good job. You pointed out to me that there was almost no level of offense or character assassination that Obama would not sanction. It spoke volumes about who was supporting him and what he was prepared to overlook in the future.

So, now we come to the topic of the day. This is a debate I have been having with Monster of the Id, who I dearly love and have no intention of banning. It’s about the word “hawk” and why it is always applied to Hillary Clinton.

It has become another one of those words. I am getting ready to auto-moderate comments featuring the word. As stated before, you can argue all you want that Hillary is the biggest supporter of the military industrial complex on the planet. But you’re going to have to show your work. You will not be able to just fling that word around willy nilly because that’s what everyone is saying about her.

Let’s recognize this word for what it is. It’s a mental shortcut that bears little resemblance to actual reality. Here’s my latest comment to Monster after he tried, once again, to explain his ambivalence towards Clinton due to her perceived “hawkishness”:

You’re missing the point. You can vote for whoever you damn well please. For all we know, Arkansas will go D in 2016, or Green or Commie. You don’t know what will happen and I don’t either.

The point is, don’t make up your mind based on the consensus reality of your side. That’s what the left did in 2008 and look who got elected? Was Obama the liberal messiah the left wanted? It fell for the whisperings and mental maneuverings and dogwhistles of the Wormtongues.

Wormtongue says that Hillary is a “hawk”. Oh really? In what way is she a hawk? What does it mean to be a hawk? What are the qualities of a hawk? How many military engagements does a person have to vote for in order to get this designation? Why isn’t John Kerry also called a hawk? Is Hillary more or less of a hawk than John Kerry or John Edwards? To what degree? Is she more or less a hawk than Lindsay Graham?

I only ask.

That’s the problem. Too few people on the left ask. They just accept. Well, someone on the left must have studied the problem, some Juan Cole person must have dug up the records and figured it out. There is no doubt in their minds that Hillary is a hawk, based on some criteria, right? Some authority figure who the left trusts did the math.
But what if no one on the left actually did?

What if it’s just a clever earworm planted there by someone with less than honorable intentions? How would you know?

Consistency is key.

Don’t try to get out of the dilemma you’re in by claiming that your vote doesn’t count or making light of it. What counts is whether everyone has an honest, consistent, unobstructed, unfiltered view of the candidate without shortcuts that terminate the thought process with facile categorization.

If she ends up wanting after you have discarded the shortcuts, fine, at least you will have done your job. But don’t cop out and tell me you can’t trust yourself to make those calls on your own.

The left bungled it badly in 2008 because it didn’t bother to do its own thinking. It became as gullibly pliable as the stupid hicks on the right that it always insists are the authoritarian followers who will swallow any moronic, self-defeating message their right wing leaders throw out there. We Conflucians watched as previously smart people on the left fell for love bombing and conversion diaries, peer pressure and trigger words. They did not distinguish themselves.

Don’t let it happen again.

Like I said, you can vote for whoever fills out your dance card. Make a matrix, put the names of the candidates on the Y axis and the issues you care about on the X axis. Check off the boxes, based on what you hear directly from the candidates or have read about from the most neutral sources you can find. Then, vote for the person who gets the most checks on the grid.

One thing I will predict right now: you’re going to have to figure out what the definition of hawk really means before you check that box for Hillary.

Presidential Campaign 2016 Kickoff: Ted Cruz, Hillary/Obama redux, notes on focus groups

Ahhh, campaign season. I guess we are officially in it now that Ted Cruz is going to announce. I don’t have much more to say about Cruz except that he is typical of his clan and will probably fluff the panties of the typical conformist, senior “I-got-mine-fend-for-yourself”, moralizing, judgmental, creationist conservative Fox News viewer. If there is anyone who has a different point of view, add it to the comments section.

****************************************

Yesterday, commenter Perplexed left the kind of comment we have been dealing with for about seven years on his here blog. It was along the lines of blaming Bill Clinton for NAFTA (the deal was written by the time he took office. He tried unsuccessfully to get labor protections) and the financial catastrophe (for the record, the roll back of Glass Steagall was accomplished by an OVERWHELMING, veto proof majority in Congress. It was the Gramm-Leach bill, or something like that. Clinton couldn’t have stopped that train if he tried.). It is worth noting that Bill Clinton has said publicly that he regrets listening to some of his economic advisors. I’m guessing he particularly regrets the Summers and Geithner partnership that suppressed the warnings of Brooksley Born. I could go over other areas that I think the left protests too much in Bill Clinton’s record. He wasn’t perfect but he was the best president I have ever voted for and I don’t regret voting for him- twice.

But as for what happened in 2008 and why I think there WAS a difference between Hillary and Obama, I do have something to add. (By the way, I don’t buy the left’s facile excuses for why they preferred Obama over Clinton. These include, 1.) there was no difference between them 2.) We decided to let Obama go first and then Hillary and 3.) he ran an awesomer campaign. This is all bullshit. The real answer was Obama’s campaign donors offered the Democratic party more money for the following reasons.):

I think I understand your perplexity. Over the past 7 years, I’ve gone over this territory quite a number of times. I’m not going to go over it in detail today. But I do want to talk about something I think is the key to the whole Hillary/Obama mystery. There is genuine value in experience. A person who has spent a lot of time in government in various capacities has a lot of it. When we talk about the Clintons, we are talking about years of accumulated experience in many different areas and two major branches of government. We are talking about people who have done statewide politics and federal politics. They have foreign policy experience and legislative experience. Think of the first job you ever had. Now, think about all of the things you have learned since then. What you are today is a product of the opportunities you were presented, the risks you took, the envelopes you pushed. At one time, all these things were outside your comfort zone. But you either taught yourself on the job or you got an education or you learned from the experience of others. And with experience and accumulated knowledge and colleagues that you’ve known and worked with, comes power. For the Clintons, that power is substantial. They didn’t come into Washington knowing everything but they know quite a bit now.
Back in 2008, the financiers had a choice of two candidates to back. One had experience, a mentor, and a lot of mojo. That person would have known how to stand up for herself and which buttons to push, who to call and what to look for. She wouldn’t have been easy to control.
The other was a senator from Illinois with less than a single term to his name in Washington. He’d never worked on major legislation and all of the friends he had in Washington were bought for him.
If you were a big money entity and you saw a looming catastrophe coming at you and you wanted to make sure you controlled what happened to you, which one would you choose?

That’s it in a nutshell and something the right will ponder and roll around in its collective hive mind. That’s a pretty powerful motive to vote for someone. You could make a case that the political dwarfs that the right is planning to roll out won’t hold a candle to Hillary’s accomplishments and experience. Which brings me to my next point:

************************************************

Notes on Focus Groups

If you are a writer or commenter on a political blog, your comments and writings will be mined for information about what makes you tick, the strength of your arguments and trigger words. The right does it and the left does it. They might even float someone over to ask a particular question in order to gather information. They will use this information to shape a narrative or crush your point of view. It happens.

This is all normal. Do not let it bother you.

It goes without saying that we do not disclose your email address or any other personal information to any entity. We’re not into that. We believe in privacy.

But don’t be surprised if you find that something you followed here or on another lefty or independent blog gets warped or exploited in ways you find unexpected. This is campaign season. It is what it is.

Other than that, feel free to contradict your own side. The left got pretty good at psychological manipulation in 2008. We like to poke holes in consensus reality. You’ll be safe here.

OccupyWallStreet: Why it has to be

I’ve noticed a certain deranged Klown has a provocative and baseless post up on his blog (see myiq?  We are sending you traffic) that suggests that OccupyWallStreet and other Occupy events are part of some broader astroturf campaign.  I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion.  I mean, they aren’t infiltrating blogs, promoting candidates like Sarah Palin or her Tea Party organization.  I’ve got nothing against Sarah as a person and I don’t think she’s as dumb as the left would have you believe but I do judge her by the people she hangs out with, like Glenn Beck.  So, there’s that.

But OccupyWallStreet is not about politics.  Oh, indirectly, it is, but what it’s really about is something we at The Confluence have been challenging since 2008.  We are talking about “consensus reality”.  In this particular case, we are talking about the consensus reality that says that the bailing the financial institutions out was the most important thing that needed to be done after the crash in 2008 to the exclusion of everything else.  And the media message that exemplifies this attitude the best is this interview from 2009 between Adam Davidson of Planet Money and Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senator in MA and Harvard professor of law specializing in bankruptcy and consumer finance protection.  Here’s a partial transcript with the money quotes:

ADAM DAVIDSON: What it feels to me is what you are missing is that — I think we put aside your pet issues. We put them aside. We put them aside until this crisis is over.

ELIZABETH WARREN: The cr– What you’re saying makes no sense. Now come on. [interpolate Davidson sputtering and attempting to interrupt throughout.] It makes no sense. On an emergency basis, on one day, one week, one month, there’s no doubt in my mind we’ve got to step in, we’ve got to make sure we have a functioning banking system. I think I’ve said that like nine times now. Of course we’ve got to have a functioning banking system.

DAVIDSON: Wait a minute. I want to make you go farther. I want to make you madder before I —

ELIZABETH WARREN: No no no. [Davidson snickers] We’re now at what — we’re now seven, eight months into this. And it’s the second part of what you said. We can’t do anything about the American family until this crisis is over? This crisis will not be over until the American family begins to recover. [More Davidson sputtering.] This crisis does not exist independently —

DAVIDSON: That’s your crisis.

ELIZABETH WARREN: No it is not my crisis! That is America’s crisis! If people cannnot pay their credit card bills [Davidson tries to interrupt] if they cannot pay their mortgages —

DAVIDSON: But you are not in the mainstream of views on this issue. You are not —

ELIZABETH WARREN: What, if they can’t pay their credit card bills the banks are gonna do fine? Who are you looking at?

DAVIDSON: The [sputters]–

ELIZABETH WARREN: Who says a bank a bank is going to survive — Who is not worried about the fact that the Bank of America’s default rate has now bumped over 10%? That’s at least the latest data I saw. So the idea that we’re going to somehow fix the banks and then next year or next decade we’re going to start worrying about the American family just doesn’t [Davidson talking over] make any sense.

DAVIDSON: The American families are not — These issues of crucial, the essential need for credit intermediation are as close to accepted principles among every serious thinker on this topic. The view that the American family, that you hold very powerfully, is fully under assault and that there is — and we can get into that — that is not accepted broad wisdom. I talk to a lot a lot a lot of left, right, center, neutral economists [and] you are the only person I’ve talked to in a year of covering this crisis who has a view that we have two equally acute crises: a financial crisis and a household debt crisis that is equally acute in the same kind of way. I literally don’t know who else I can talk to support that view. I literally don’t know anyone other than you who has that view, and you are the person [snicker] who went to Congress to oversee it and you are presenting averyvery narrow view to the American people.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I’m sorry. That is not a narrow view. What you are saying is that it is the broad view to think only about trying to save the banks [Davidson sputters] and say Hey! the American economy will recover at some point and we’ll worry about the families [Davidson talking over]. I think that is the narrow view and I think I have the broad view. The broad view is that these two things are connected to each other. And the notion that you can save the banking system while the American economy goes down the tubes is just foolish.

Well, now we know that Elizabeth Warren was right and Adam Davidson and his serious people, what Paul Krugman calls the “VSPs”, were dead wrong.  And who’s point of view has Barack Obama subscribed to since 2008?  That’s right, the VSPs.  According to Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men, Christina Romer, his economic advisor, was unable to get Obama to commit to a paltry $100Bn for the creation of potentially 1,000,000 jobs in 2009.  It’s not like he thought he couldn’t get it, although that was one of the excuses he was making.  It’s that in the overall scheme of things, it just wasn’t all that important to him.  No, seriously.  If you’ve been out of work since 2009, you can partially thank Obama for not thinking your situation required all that much attention.  It was much more important to him to bail out the bankers.  He admitted as much today.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you travel the country, you also take credit for tightening regulations on Wall Street through the Dodd-Frank law, and about your efforts to combat income inequality. There’s this movement — Occupy Wall Street — which has spread from Wall Street to other cities. They clearly don’t think that you or Republicans have done enough, that you’re in fact part of the problem.

Are you following this movement, and what would you say to its — people that are attracted to it?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it on television. I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel — that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.

So, yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. Now, keep in mind I have said before and I will continue to repeat, we have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow. And I used up a lot of political capital, and I’ve got the dings and bruises to prove it, in order to make sure that we prevented a financial meltdown, and that banks stayed afloat. And that was the right thing to do, because had we seen a financial collapse then the damage to the American economy would have been even worse.

And then he goes on to give some lip service to financial reform and Dodd-Frank, which was so watered down as to be less than a tap on the wrist with an anorexic feather, blah, blah, blah.  There was a reason why he concentrated all of his efforts on saving the financial institutions.  He relied on Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke who were spooked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  They were scared to death to rein in the banks for fear of triggering another catastrophe.  But instead of feeding the roots, the homeowners and working people who could have pumped up the banks from the bottom up, Obama lavished all of his attentions on the bankers, giving them all they wanted without considering whether it was good for them or us.

In the meantime, the Very Serious People decided that we should all share the sacrifice, even those of us who did everything right and still got hammered.  The Villagers have been on a tear about deficit reduction and austerity and entitlement reform for the past 3 years.  It’s disaster capitalism with a capital D.  And this relentless message to rip the working class to smithereens to make sure the financial sector comes to no harm has been the consensus reality that has dominated media coverage for the last three years.

The problem is that consensus reality isn’t meshing with real reality for the rest of us these days.  We’ve been told to have compassion for the bankers but somehow must blame ourselves for the mountains of student loan and housing debt we’ve been forced to shoulder because the productivity gains of the past 30 years got siphoned off as profits to the shareholders.  We’ve been told that bankers’ contracts for bonuses are sacred legal documents but union contracts for wages and pensions are not.  We are told that bankers are entitled to taxpayer largess to keep them functioning even if it adds trillions of dollars to the deficit but that we the taxpayers are not entitled to the social security insurance program that we paid for in advance and which adds nothing to the deficit.  We are told that it is unfair to tax rich people because they earned their yachts and second homes and private schools but it is perfectly ok to decimate public schools and foreclose on families when they are out of jobs and can’t pay their property taxes and mortgages.

What the f%^& kind of fools do they take us for??

OccupyWallStreet was destined to happen, even without astroturf.  A nation can’t exist in two realities forever.  One of them is going to start feeling a lot more real-er than the other.  That is what is happening.  Suddenly, all across the country, millions of people are starting to ask themselves, what kind of bullshit have they been feeding us for 3 years or 30 years?  It’s insane that the Very Serious People would expect that we perform a form of ritual suicide to spare them any sense of obligation to the unity of the United States as a national entity “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”.

In that heated discussion above, Adam Davidson, his voice dripping with mocking contempt, told Elizabeth Warren that she wasn’t worth listening to and no one would take her seriously.

OccupyWallStreet is about to change all that.

Update:  I don’t know if the picture below is from The Occupation but it sounds right from someone who was there:

After the 2008 election, those of us who were heartsick with the way things turned out wanted very much to start a new movement but didn’t know how to begin.  I doubt it would have caught fire in the aftermath of the 2008 election, in spite of all that we saw that went wrong in 2008.  But how to do it?  Would it be organized?  Decentralized?  What kind of credo?  No one could agree, no leaders could be spared, some of us didn’t know the first thing about starting movements. At one point, I thought that the best example would be like the spread of Christianity in the first and second centuries.  Small groups of self lead believers, figuring it out as they went along, writing their own books, strewn like pearls along the Roman road.

The Occupation has that kind of feel to it.

“A Tragic Setback For Womens’ Rights”

Via Vastleft at Correntewire

That’s what NOW president Terry O’Neill calls the bill that the House passed last night.  Here’s more from her press release this morning:

The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation’s critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.

This burdensome, elaborate system must be eliminated. It is there because the Catholic bishops and extremist abortion rights opponents know that it will result in greatly restricting access to abortion care, currently one of the most common medical procedures for women.

….

Fact: The bill permits age-rating, the practice of imposing higher premiums on older people. This practice has a disproportionate impact on women, whose incomes and savings are lower due to a lifetime of systematic wage discrimination.

Fact: The bill also permits gender-rating, the practice of charging women higher premiums simply because they are women. Some are under the mistaken impression that gender-rating has been prohibited, but that is only true in the individual and small-group markets. Larger group plans (more than 100 employees) sold through the exchanges will be permitted to discriminate against women — having an especially harmful impact in workplaces where women predominate.

We know why those gender- and age-rating provisions are in the bill: because insurers insisted on them, as they will generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies. Such discriminatory rating must be completely eliminated.

Read the whole thing.

The propaganda catapulters have been out in force in the past couple of days, trying to shape consensus reality so that it will appear that a.) anyone who praises the bill will look intelligent, modern and sexy and b.) anyone who opposes it, especially women, will be told that they’re being selfish, self-centered, hard-hearted bitches because they would rather let 32 million uninsured people die than give up their access to a cheap and easy abortion that they should be able to pay for themselves.

But even people such as myself who were in favor of health care reform and wanted to fix, not kill the bill, will find that the impact that this bill will have on women goes beyond abortion.  It appears that it will mean higher rates for women and those higher rates may make an employer think twice about hiring and firing and promotions, as if women don’t have enough to worry about.  Our salaries are lower than mens’ but we will be forking out more  to pay for our health.  As cost sharing goes, this is a raw deal for women.  It makes us a liability and drag on our employers’ bottom line and makes our lives harder.

And by the way, you propaganda artists, we happen to be among those 32 million uninsured.

Last night, Jane Hamsher put up a poll on FDL asking who was most to blame for selling out our  abortion rights in the health care bill.  The multiple choice answers included a number of culprits and probably all of them were responsible from Nancy Pelosi caving to Bart Stupak to Planned Parenthood staying silent to Barack Obama himself.  But she left out the people who were really responsible and whose decisions two years ago were the genesis of the erosion of their rights today.  That would be women such as Jane Hamsher herself who did not forcefully advocate for fairness in the primaries and who rejected a sure thing womens’ advocate in Clinton for a cipher in a mens suit.  Barack Obama had a history of voting present on abortion legislation in Illinois.  He met with evangelicals throughout the election season.  The Democratic candidates who ran the same year scrubbed their support of reproductive rights from their websites.  The effect was to give the illusion to swing voters and religious voters that Barack Obama and the new Democrats were open to negotiation where womens’ reproductive rights were concerned.

I caught Jane on several occasions going head to head with conservative bloggers on C-Span and other programs, warning viewers that Republicans were going to take away their rights to abortion and that only Obama and the Democrats would protect them.  And a lot of women, young women of child bearing age, listened to Jane and Jessica and Ariana and others like them, rejected Hillary Clinton in the primaries due to her Iraq War Resolution vote and heaped scorn and derision on Sarah Palin because of her anti-choice stance and supposed stupidity.  But they utterly failed to look carefully at what Barack Obama was doing or had done.  They refused to look at the evidence and draw conclusions about what the evidence meant. The final insult was Ms. Magazine itself proclaiming that Barack Obama was some sort of superhero feminist on its cover after a year of the most brutal and obscene misogynism we have ever witnessed in a national campaign.

Jane is responsible for that.  We, the newly unaffiliated liberal Democrats, were not distracted and fooled.  We knew Obama by watching him.  We believed our lyin’ eyes.  And once again, we were proven right.  It makes us villains to Jane.  Instead of asking for our help, she gives us her scorn and disrespect.  Jane calls us “A certain type of woman”.  What kind of woman is that, Jane?  The kind that isn’t duped by appeals to their emotions and terrorized to vote against their best interests?  This is what happens when malicious forces act to divide us.  Women, like the rest of the impotent left, can only watch in dismay as we are now relegated to the same socio-economic status we had 40 years ago.

I don’t know if this country can be healed.  From what I know, women have very little status in truly fascist regimes.  That word, fascism, is not one to throw around lightly or it will lose its meaning.  Maybe a fascist political system that isn’t one we necessarily planned but towards which we drift, propelled by the evolving nature of our media, finance system and millenialist religious views.  But last night’s vote looks like it brought the real impact of that word a little closer to our everyday reality.  We are now locked into a law that gives our money to private entities, we are told that our individual and gender grievances must be subordinate to the glory of the bill and the status of more than half of the citizens of the country has been diminished.

I wanted health care reform.  Just not this one.