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It’s -2 Fahrenheit. Time to put the baby outside for a nap.

In Finland.

It’s tradition there to stick the kid outside in the pram for a brisk 2-3 hour nap in subzero temps. Check out this BBC Soundcloud for all the facts.

Of course, if you are in Finland, you will have received a Baby Box when your kid was born, containing snowsuit, mittens, hats, sleeping bag, etc, so you can safely leave it outside without worrying about it turning into a totcicle.

Here are the contents of a typical official Finnish Baby Box that every Finnish kid gets just for being born. Yes! Even the rich babies get them. They have no idea whether they’re going to grow up to be parasites on society.

article

Americans are cautioned not to do this. The neighbors will report you to CPS.

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Pondering Abramson’s firing- again (for the last time)

Update: Here’s a podcast from the Women’s Media Center on the subject of Jill Abramson’s firing featuring Carol Jenkins, Geneva Overholser, Gloria Steinem, and Soraya Chemaly.  They talk about some of the material I posted below.  As to how we tackle the problem of subtle but real discrimination, we need to take a lesson from Finland and open up a Gender Glasses office in the EEOC that will quantify absolutely everything in a suspect workplace.  Everything must be measured from the placement of desks to the time it takes for email to be answered to who reports to who to how many minutes women are allowed to present and how many times they are interrupted compared to a man.  Think of it like following sports.  Men respect statistics and, frankly, I think it is the only way this problem is going to get flushed out into the open.   Otherwise, it’s just our word against theirs.  If feminists are really serious about the issue, they need to lobby legislators to formally create a Gender Glasses type of bureau, fund it and publish the statistics.  You will know who your friends are when they are asked to co-sign the legislation and move it through the committees.

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

I promise this will be the last time I write about this thing because it’s speculation anyway.  But there’s a lot going on here and, in the end, this is primarily a story about how gender stereotypes were used to serve Baquet.  I realize that he’s a likable guy but in the end, Baquet was the primary beneficiary of Abramson’s firing.  I think we have to acknowledge that he had a significant role in it.

The story is complicated by a family dynasty, recent history, embarrassment, loyalty, economics and a fundamental misunderstanding about how modern women (and some modern men) think.  So, this post will be in pieces parts with the hope that it will all make sense in the end.  Some of these pieces come from personal experience that I have witnessed or was encouraged to participate in.  The pharma field has given me a wealth of material to write several satires.

Let’s start with the most obvious factor plucked from another post I read this morning about positions traditionally held by men being replaced by female appointees and the irrational resentment that engenders.

“There aren’t any WOMEN here today, are there?”

1.) The male affirmative action program.  I ran into this one early in my career when the lab I worked for hired a woman to run a medicinal chemistry group.  As far as I could see, she was the only woman running a group of that size in the company.  There were other female chemists who had a few assistants and were running project teams but this one new hire, let’s call her D, was going to have a substantial group of PhD chemists running their own projects working for her.  It was unprecedented.  On the projects I worked on with D, I found her to be very intelligent, incisive, authoritative and, this one is important, calm.  There was no drama.  She was, and still is, a natural leader.

Needless to say, to this day, the chemists at that lab (who were all laid off en masse by Pfizer in 2009, but that’s another story) complained bitterly about why D was hired.  It wasn’t just that she was a token, it was that there were so many other more qualified men that could have been hired in her stead.  I had lunch with a bunch of these guys a couple of years ago.  They are all pretty decent people, even if they are mentally disabled by their Y chromosomes.  When the subject of D was brought up, I laughed at them. They were still convinced that there were better qualified men that could have been hired.  I pointed out that before D started, all of the group leaders were men and several, and I named names, were leaders that no one could stand.  They were irrational or untalented or autocratic or weird.  No one wanted to work for them.  But D comes along and instead of saying, hey, she makes JB look like a fricking nut case, why don’t we replace HIM, we’re getting all upset that she’s not some dude we know.  I gave them case after case of lousy male group leaders and they all agreed that no one wanted to work for them.  Working for D, on the other hand, was a pleasure because it was so damned rational.  So, what was the problem, guys?  Why is the answer always the affirmative action plan for men?  That shut them up and gave them something to think about for awhile.

Sometimes, you need to point out what a warped perspective men have about how the world works.  In some respects, their lives are as disadvantaged as a person who grew up in the ghetto.  It’s all they know.  They’re so used to lousy leadership from half of the men they work for that they fail to see what the real problem is when a woman steps in to a leadership position.

This has been brought up before but the news media represents women’s points of view very poorly.  The ratio of men to women on the Op/Ed pages of the NYTimes is something like 10-2.  Just look at the Supreme Court to see how having even 3 out of 9 people judging while female has had damn little impact on the law of the land.  It only takes one Justice Kennedy or Anonin Scalia in love with his own self and sense of power to hold back modernity in this country.  But for some reason, all I ever read about is consternation over why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still serving, a question that never came up when John Paul Stevens was serving well into his 90th year.  So, it’s no wonder that our perceptions of women in leadership roles are so twisted.  It’s like the privileged group just now noticed that there are women in the crowd.

2.) The layoffs are coming!  The layoffs are coming!  Anyone working in the last 30 years knows what it’s like to be on the verge of a layoff.  The MBA crowd starts sending out fatwas about money and getting lunch served during 4 hour meetings is suddenly not happening anymore and cuts start really biting into how things are done.  When this starts happening to a group of professionals who are heavily mortgaged and have kids to raise and college to pay for, alliances start to get formed very quickly.  It becomes necessary to find the politically well connected and become their best friend.  You like what they like and hate who they hate.

When the layoff rumors started at my last lab about 2 years before the ax fell, I had a conversation with one of my colleagues who told me a story about his family dynamics.  He said that he had two brothers and in order to get what he wanted, he always sided with the stronger brother at the time.  The brother on top would periodically change and he switched his loyalties accordingly.  This conversation was in reference to why he was siding with the guy who eventually turned out to be our boss just before the layoff decisions were made and not with the woman who was my boss.  He was offering me a choice.  Switch and help drive the knife in or suffer the consequences.  I opted for  loyalty.  I liked my boss and was learning a lot from her.  She was displaced a few months later and got a new job, and almost all of her former group members were laid off pretty quickly.  I jumped to another group and hung on.

I bring this up because I’ve heard a lot of stuff about how even some of the women in the newsroom complained about Abramson.  This is at a time when the CEO of the Times had been making his presence more widely known.  When it comes time to satisfy the shareholders, it’s important that you have made the correct alliance.  It is pretty clear from the posts I have read about Baquet that Sulzberger liked him and had regretted not appointing him instead of Abramson.  So, if the Times staff was in the unenviable position of picking a brother to side with in order to save jobs, Baquet was the one to go to.  In such a situation, it is appropriate and understandable to play up his good characteristics in order to justify why Abramson was stabbed in the back.  It happens all of the time.  I didn’t say it was nice, or fair, or loyal.  It’s just human.  It’s not a reflection on either Baquet’s or Abramson’s leadership qualities.  Pinch liked Baquet and didn’t like Abramson and that’s all you needed to know in order to save your own skin.

3.) Ovaries of Steel.  In this case, I am not referring to Abramson, although that plays into it as well.  No, I’m referring to the person who Abramson was trying to bring in, Janine Gibson, newly appointed editor-in-chief of The Guardian.  Frontline recently ran a two part series on the NSA scandal that everyone should watch for a wide variety of reasons.  What Janine Gibson did was both shrewd and incredibly ballsy and she learned what NOT to do by watching what the Times did with previous national intelligence stories.

So, here’s a quick summary.  In 2004, James Risen of the NYTimes wrote a story about the Bush administration’s possible violations of the constitution through a massive surveillance of American citizens.  It turns out that Risen only knew a tiny fraction of what was going on and Edward Snowden would spell it all out 9 years later.  Risen presented Bill Keller, executive editor at the time with his story and Keller and Sulzberger contacted the White House.  The White House, deep in reelection politics, knew it had a problem on its hands so it invited Keller and Sulzberger to a meeting. It then put pressure on the Times to sit on the story for a year.  The Frontline documentary makes it sound like the White House either threatened the Times or laid a guilt trip on it about “letting the terrorists win”.  Well, you remember the crap that the Bushies were always dumping on its critics.  Same thing.

Fast forward to 2013.  Janine Gibson sends her representatives to Hong Kong to vet Edward Snowden.  They check him out and say he’s legit and the story is huge.  At that point, she also calls the White House- and gives them four hours to respond before she goes to print. She refuses a meeting. Gibson knew that if she met with the White House and they stalled for time or found a way to silence her source, the story would vanish into the ether so she gave them very little time to engage in defensive tactics.  Now, I think Edward Snowden is a hero and Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras were inspiring but when it comes right down to it, none of revelations might have happened if Janine Gibson hadn’t had the courage and intelligence to pre-empt the White House and NSA’s stalling tactics.

4.) Putting it all together.  So, here’s my best guess as to how Abramson’s firing went down.  First, we have Baquet indulging in male affirmative action behavior.  Why shouldn’t he be executive editor?  Also, Abramson’s bringing in this Gibson girl to be his equal?  What?

(I’m going to guess this is when Abramson discovered that she had been underpaid at certain points during her career at the NYTimes.  She probably had to find out what salary, benefits and level she could offer Gibson and in the process, uncovered a pattern of pay discrimination that dated back to the time when she was a deputy managing editor.  Just a guess but the timing seems right.)

Then there is the sense of unease and impending cutbacks.  Baquet makes a lot of friends.  Sulzberger likes him.  Alliances are formed around Baquet.

Then there is the possible embarrassment to the Times if Gibson comes in.  First, it highlights Keller’s and Sulzberger’s toadying to the White House and, secondly, Janine Gibson looks like a loose cannon, something Baquet was likely to highlight during the amuse-bouche.  Abramson is making a rash decision to bring in someone who may get the NYTimes into another Risen situation with all of the potential legal headaches and expenses that would entail.  Did Pinch really want another embarrassing situation on his hands??  Come to think of it, it’s kind of flattering to be on the president’s good side, isn’t it?  And besides, Pinch was one of the forces behind trying to get Caroline Kennedy to take Hillary Clinton’s senate seat.  No doubt, Sulzberger considers himself to be one of the best people.  It just wouldn’t look good to hire this upstart boat rocker.  Did Abramson really think this over before she went over both of their heads to hire Gibson?

5.) The Pilhofer Pilfer.  Women who came of age during the 70’s and 80’s, before The Backlash, grew up believing that there were no boundaries to their ambition.  Oh, sure, we had professors who spent inordinate amounts of time fluffing some pissy little male students instead of us but we could rise above that.  Then we went to work and accomplished and moved into leadership positions and took some risks.  To us, I mean to the females in this cohort, there is a lot of admiration and respect for each other’s talents and life work.  We see ourselves as persons who are women with accomplishments.  However, to the rest of the world, especially to men who for some reason aren’t interested in hearing about the Abramson firing because it is booooorrrrrring to them, a person with Hillary Clinton’s or Jill Abramson’s credentials is still like a dog playing a piano.  They are one offs.

I have also read that women get their first crack at high level leadership when an organization is in trouble.  There are a couple theories as to why this is.  One is that the organizations have run out of other options.  Another is that women are seen as smoothing the waters when there is internal turmoil, although this is really a cultural stereotype.  Women are human beings and can be tough as well if they are given permission to do so.  Look at what happened in Iceland during the financial crisis of 2008.  Johanna Sigurdardottir was put in charge when the country faced down the IMF and the world’s biggest banks.  It initially had a severe recession but has recovered better than Ireland, Spain or Greece.  The risk to women is high in these situations.  If she can’t avert the impending disaster, her leadership is blamed and taints the careers of other women of her stature.

Abramson was put in a tricky position when she took over from Keller in 2011.  The Times is going through a harsh transition due to the changing nature of the media.  From all accounts, she was doing very well.  She was instrumental in putting up the paywall to the news, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than putting a paywall around the Op/Ed pages.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been enough to save her when the shareholders started demanding more for dinner.  Even superhuman accomplishments wouldn’t have been sufficient in that scenario.  And her reputedly “brusque” behavior was not unusual for executive editors of major papers.  I think the gender related complaints were just convenient excuses that Baquet and his allies used to get her out of the way.

But Sulzberger and Baquet are still working with old male brains because Janine Gibson *is* a force to be reckoned with and the fact that she poached one of the NYTimes’ up and coming digital content specialists in the aftermath of Abramson’s firing tells us quite a bit.  It tells us that there are some men who see an advantage to working for strong, courageous women, and that’s a very good thing for the rest of us.

And a very bad thing for the NYTimes.

 

 

Late Night in Lapland

After the X level solar flare last week, I went in search of a good aurora borealis video on youtube.  I hoped to find one from the US, and there was a pretty decent one from Minnesota.  But nothing compared to the very professionally produced video from the tourist board of Finland, my new favorite country.  This aurora borealis happened in 2011 but it is spectacular.

Enjoy!

Why not put the unemployed geeks on the government payroll?

Brad DeLong says give everyone $10,000.  Just give it to them.  And Atrios says why not put us on the fed payroll?

Why not put us on the government payroll?

I’ve been making that proposal for months now, especially for laid off pharmaceutical workers.  There are thousands of us.  Pfizer alone laid off almost the entire research personnel of Wyeth Research in one fell swoop after they merged in 2008.  There are a lot of overeducated, unemployed geeks out there who need work.  And it turns out that pharmaceutical companies didn’t do themselves any favors by merging the pants off of each other.  The “patent cliff” is looming, some companies are already sliding over and the years of relentless merging, followed by restructuring has ruined their research units.  It’s not going to get better for a long time.  Couple that with the therapeutic areas that pharma thinks are too expensive and you have a medicinal catastrophe coming up with antibiotics, reproductive health and central nervous system drugs.

So, why not buy up some mothballed labs (there are a $^&*load here in New Jersey), and recruit from the local talent pool?  Get some equipment at auction, pay these people a decent salary (in NJ, you need to make more than a post doc or people will faint from hunger over their hotplates) and let it go.  See what happens.  There will have to be some precautions taken.  For example, for real discovery to take place, there has to be a firewall between research and the business office.  That doesn’t mean that there should be no accountability but it’s better if the MBAs are not allowed to meddle.  No more restructuring.

Anthony Nicholls, the founder of Openeye, a developer of computational chemisty applications, says that big business has forgotten the value of play in discovery.  In his last Ant Rant called Curing Pharma (1) Avoiding Hype Based Science, he discussed the trends that pharma talked itself into.  Ant calls them Hype, I call them get-rich-quick schemes that management’s constant thirst for ever increasing quarterly profits demanded from research heads.  Some of these schemes weren’t ready for prime time.  It’s not that they had no value.  It’s just that to really make use of the technology, you have to be able to play with it and explore it to see what it does and what it can be made to do.  Ant writes:

The only sure way to get to the other side of Hype Hill, to get to the real utility, is to play. You have to be prepared to let talented people goof around, sometimes with substantial budgets, and develop expertise. A couple of examples from outside our industry: Ray Dolby, who founded the eponymous Dolby Labs in 1976. He engendered a culture of experimentation that has had few parallels. His engineers could buy any equipment they liked, as long as it was less than a couple of hundred thousand dollars! Today Ray is worth $2.7 billion and his company has an enduring reputation for innovation as well as profits. Or consider when the British tried to interest the American armed forces in the Harrier JumpJet. After a few flights the American test pilots began in-flight manipulations of the adjustable thrusters that were only supposed to be horizontal in flight and vertical in takeoff, risking expensive structural failure but learning that the plane’s real value was maneuverability. It helps having “management” willing to buy you new toys if you break the old ones!

Play is not cheap: people playing means people not contributing to the apparent bottom line. Tati’s great Play Time, in the end, did not make money—it’s a risky business, movies and drugs. But if you want to innovate, to avoid the pitfalls of hype, you have to commit to play time—invest in constructing a climate of curiosity and experimentation. Let real science take root. And stick with it.

Such a government proposition would be very risky in this political and social environment.  But I think Ant has a good point.  It is very hard to be creative when you’re constantly under stress and where the management thinks you are a drag on the bottom line, therefore you must be miserable in your job.  Having fun at your job shouldn’t be considered a moral hazard.  The government could potentially strike gold by giving unemployed geeks some money and a lab and telling them to go play.  And just think, no marketing and advertising departments.  No executives competing for the biggest bonus.  No constant restructuring.  Down the road a few years, you get your drug candidates and the patents that now belong to everyone.  And a devastated state like New Jersey has productive overeducated geeks once again contributing to the state treasury while simultaneously redistributing our wealth to Alabama.

It’s just so crazy it might work!

One thing that probably *won’t* work is the idea that we are all going to become entrepreneurs without government intervention.  Maybe there are other industries where entrepreneurship is feasible but it’s not going to happen in the biotech field where the equipment, reagents and start-up costs are enormous and many moving parts are required to get the ball rolling.  In Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men, there was a suggestion after talking to a Swedish official about the Swedish economic meltdown that eventually, the people who were laid off would start their own businesses.  But we’re not Sweden.  Our safety net is collapsing and the money for a small garage biotech just isn’t there.  We need a big, integrated lab where people get their questions answered by popping down the hall to ask the resident expert.  So, if Obama administration officials are waiting for a thousand points of biotech light in NJ, they can stop holding their breaths.  What we need is for the government to employ us.

As for the value of play, here’s a couple of videos to mull over.  Remember the Finnish Baby Boxes?  A consortium called TUPA has designed a new type of baby box for Kela, the Finnish health ministry.  The layette (complete with condoms and lube) would come in the TUPA box instead of a cardboard box.  The first box shows what the TUPA box is good for (cradle, table, chairs, toybox, layette delivery box) and the second perfectly illustrates Ant’s point about the value of play.

Play your way to a new design:

The New Apostolic Reformation’s bat$#!^ crazies, Gender Glasses and CNN tells the (partial) truth about the 2008 primaries

Terry Gross did an interview with Peter Wagner, a leader of the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR.  NAR was one of the organizers of the prayer rally that Rick Perry attended.  This interview is jaw dropping.  I have to hand it to Gross for handling this well.  What she does is ask Wagner to talk about the emperor of Japan’s “marriage” to the Sun Goddess and he takes it from there.  It’s in the first part of the interview.  Go listen.

There’s a picture of Wagner of his wife.  They look so sweet.  He’s a rounder, more cherubic version of Colonel Sanders, she looks like one of those nice ladies you meet at a church bake sale who always makes those killer combo bars.  You would never know that they are a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.  Their earnestness disguises a disrespectful hardness towards your personal belief system.  What *they* believe is inviolable.  What YOU believe is up for negotiations.  And they will never, never stop trying to convert you or pull the country over to their way of thinking.  It never occurs to them that they sound unhinged or that their belief system concentrates everything on an afterlife and nothing on ameliorating the suffering in the current life.  It’s narrow minded, conformist and judgmental.  They determine what is moral and if you don’t get with the program, you’re a target for evangelism or social shunning.

Sure, these people are making a living but don’t think for a second that they don’t believe it.  The sun goddess of Japan is a demon and the emperor had sex with her.

Uh-huh.

It sort of reminds me of this guy:

If you’re one of them, yes, you really do sound this crazy.  No, I cannot take you seriously.  I don’t care if I’m not going to paradise with you.

By the way, there is evidence that more  Americans identify themselves as atheists, freethinkers and naturalists.  Peter Wagner has his work cut out for him.

Note:  I see that @apostolicnews is now following me on Twitter.  Please note that I am not your typical elitist snob.  I know people like you personally, know what you believe, know what programs you watch and understand the way you think.  I reject your form of christianity not because I’m a snob but because I find it arrogant and disrespectful of other people’s belief systems and incompatible with goodwill to all people.  Save your breath.  You are not going to make any converts here.

**********

On another note, The American Prospect has finally gotten around to posting something about the hidden discrimination that women face in the workplace in the post Sexism’s Low Grade Fever.  Here’s a money quote:

The unwelcoming workplace isn’t a deadly cancer; rather, it’s a steady low-grade fever that wears you down by degrees (if you’ll forgive my pun). You can diagnosis this illness through one critical measure: Women rarely stay long enough to rise up through the ranks. Or because they rarely rise, they leave. That’s a loss of momentum for women’s careers and energies—and a loss of energy and talent for the organization that derides, diminishes, and disparages their work.

For instance, I’m reminded of a major nonprofit that produced an impressive, in-depth project related to violence against women. When I congratulated the women who’d produced it, they told me that their bosses had been openly hostile to the project—and had ignored, undermined, and belittled their efforts at every turn. They’d never have been permitted to do it, but they’d wrangled a grant for it on their own. The project made an enormous splash and got critical White House attention. But within months after they’d finished the project, all but one of the women who produced it were gone; they were either pushed out or departed on their own. The women had to work on creating successful careers within different organizations—a real loss of momentum for them and talent for the organization. The men who’d rolled their eyes at the project were left to collect the awards.

Yes.  It’s always a stupid idea until the woman is out of the way and then it’s suddenly brilliant for the guy who stands to benefit when she leaves.

It’s about a week too late and sounds very familiar.  Here’s a recent Confluence post on this.  And here’s another.   Actually, I can probably go back through the last couple of years to find similar posts that I wrote.  This is a big problem that has been simmering for quite a while.  I don’t know whether guys have gotten more blatant about it lately or whether it was always there.  Or maybe the problem is that enough women have developed enough expertise in their fields that the discrimination is severely hurting their careers and they’re just discovering that the behavior they’re coached to deploy doesn’t cut it.  The problem is that men aren’t cooperating and women have had enough.

E.J. Graff, the author, says we should quantify it?  (I think I suggested that first) Ok, but quantifying it goes beyond simply measuring salaries and promotions that Graff suggested.  In fact, if you only do that, you will miss all the memorable self-esteem and career crushing “features” that working in male centric environments have to offer.  By the way, did you know that Finland (yes, them again) has a program run by the government called Gender Glasses?  It conducts investigations of workplaces where gender discrimination is alleged.  One of the tools they use to ferret out the truth is statistics.  EVERYTHING can be measured, including how much men ignore their female colleagues.  Just mine the digital data that is already archived on the company servers.

If I were an enterprising politician, I’d run with this.

***********

One more thing: Peep pointed me to this post at CNN this morning that shows what a disaster the 2008 Democratic primary has been for the Democrats.  Most of this analysis is correct, although I disagree on a few elements.  For example, Obama’s “superior” organization in the caucus states was helped by the fact that no one who complained about being screamed at, jostled, locked out and overwritten at the caucus sites who was a Hillary supporter was actually taken seriously.  If superior organization means hiring operatives and thugs and bussing people in from an adjoining state to go to caucuses to make sure you win no matter what, then, yeah, Obama did a much better job at that than Clinton.  The other thing is that the way the DNC at first withheld and then awarded the delegates in Michigan and Florida at the May 31, 2008 RBC hearing completely invalidated the votes of every other Hillary voter in all the other primary states.  And the fact that this is what the DNC was planning all along was crystal clear shortly (like within a day) of SuperTuesday in early February 2008.  The fix was in that early.  Buying the superdelegates was just icing on the cake.

So, now it looks like buyer’s remorse has set in and Obama doesn’t have coattails.  No s#@%, Sherlock.  As Harold Ickes said at the RBC meeting, it was not a good way to start down the path of party unity.  Obama didn’t have the consent of half of his own party and those of us who witnessed what the party did to its stronger candidate will never forget how we were disenfranchised so it could anoint a banker financed, shmoozing political neophyte to the presidency during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  And don’t say, “Nobody could have predicted”.  We did.

(I love this comment from the CNN article:  THOUGHT OF THE DAY:  If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you weren’t a racist, please do our great country a huge favor and vote for someone else in 2012 to prove you’re not an IDIOT.)

There is still time to replace him at the top of the ticket.  To do otherwise would be extremely irresponsible.

Oh, By the way, whatever happened to this guy who gave away the entire NJ 121 vote delegation  to the candidate who lost the state in the primary in 2008?

Tuesday: Finnish Baby Boxes

Finnish propaganda baby in state uniform

I was over at Apartmenttherapy yesterday and saw this link at their sister site Ohdeedoh.  What the heck is a Finnish Baby Box??  Is that like a BF Skinner box crossed with a cell phone?  So, I clicked on it.  It turns out that it has nothing to do with behavior modification (or *does* it?) but it is the kind of thing that would turn an ordinary Republican debate goer absolutely rabid.

A Finnish baby box is a devious device to turn parents into socialists.

Let’s say you’re about to become a first time parent.  Right about the third trimester, the post office tells you that you have to fetch a package.  You find that it’s for your precious unborn.  Up to now, the Republicans are on board.  We’re talking about innocent life here, not the bedirtied mother who might be a FORNICATOR.  So, you lug the box home.  It’s from Helsinki.  The government has sent you a box.  This should immediately arouse your suspicions because as Ronald Reagan once intimated, you should be on your guard any time the government says it’s here to help.  Without even opening the box, you should suspect a new, superlong tax form where you must account for every marrka.  Just let your imagination run wild.  You open the box…

…and find that the government has sent you a maternity package.

The contents of the Finnish Baby Box

It’s chock full of onesies and footed rompers and a snowsuit, baby sleeping bag, blankies, mattress, mattress cover, simple colorful chewing toys and a first book. (See complete contents broken down by item here)  The clothes colors and prints vary from year to year and are infinitely mixable.  Some of the items are made of recycled material.  One Finnish state welfare dad rationalizes his acceptance of the maternity package by noting that because the government buys in bulk, it saves a lot more money than if individual parents had had to buy all of those items themselves so he doesn’t even mind paying the extra taxes.  The box it all came in has handle cut outs on the side, it’s sturdy and just like those fiendishly clever Ikea design solutions from the next country over, the box converts to a basinet.  (hmmm, you could probably use the lid as a changing station.)

What kind of evil commie plot is this??  With everything the little bast, er, tot could ever need for a year in the box, what incentive will it have to start pulling its weight?  Not only does the government indoctrinate “cradle to grave socialism” before the preborn has gasped his or her first precious breath, it even provides the cradle.  Does it get more evil than that?  Yes, it does.  The box even includes 6 condoms (and a tube of lube.  How thoughtful.).  So, not only does it encourage its children to become deadbeats and parasites on the government dole, the government of Finland tells the parents that it is ok to indulge in sex for pleasure and helps them prevent God from blessing them with an additional preborn innocent life that they may selfishly consider inconvenient or untimely.  By God, you can be sure that some white male religious dude from Utah will have something to say about that!

And what do the put upon people of Finland get from the government handing over their hard earned tax dollars to these slacker parents who are both sitting it out on maternity leave?  Well, I’ll bet you won’t be surprised to find that the Finns overindulge their kids with public education too.  They consistently score at the top of the list on international tests.  Their educational system puts an emphasis on cooperation and sharing and disfavors competition while encouraging children to understand and develop their own abilities and interests.  They probably don’t even have a copy of Atlas Shrugged in the elementary school library.  And 98% of their teachers are unionized.

It’s enough to make a Perry Republican want to lethally inject some prisoner whining about his innocence.

I’m telling you, no good can come of it.  The next thing you know, those spoiled Finnish kids will grow up to do weird things with rusty old Volkswagons:

If those were American 20 somethings, they would be responsibly toiling away at some tedious job, provided they could find one, working to pay off a lifetime of student debt, not indulging in tongue-in-cheek works of creative musical humor in grassy meadows and saunas.  Clearly, Finland will be brought down by such decadence and ungodly disregard.  It goes against the laws of “dog eat dog” nature.

Pray, Conflucians.  Pray for a Finnish Baby Box.