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      This is the best single book I’ve ever read on morality: on how we should treat each other, especially at social level.  It’s not a good book because Sandel, himself, has much that’s worth saying (though he tries at the end), it is a great book because Sandel is a great teacher of other people’s […]
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Invalidation or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

John Oliver’s recent take on the primary process was on the mark, especially the part about how Clinton can’t do anything right:

Yes, the process definitely needs to change. For one thing, we need to cut down on the incredibly undemocratic caucuses that cut out anyone who can’t stick around for hours to listen to speeches, vote, revote, line up, line up outside, etc, etc. Katiebird shared her caucus experiences with me from 2008 and 2016. 2008 sounded like a nightmare. 2016, when she voted for Bernie was much easier. But it was still very time consuming. The elderly, working people and mothers with kids ain’t got time for that.

ahem, those would be the Clinton voters.

Then there are open primaries where anyone who has a grudge against one of your party’s candidates can game them. Independents say that if open primaries didn’t exist, they wouldn’t be able to vote in a primary.

Yes. and?

I’m not saying I’m unsympathetic to independents. I was one after 2008 for 5 years. I was extremely angry with what happened in 2008. But as we all know, the parties are private entities (that use public tax dollars for their primaries and caucuses) and they aren’t beholden to us. They hardly listen to their own voters. Why should pay any attention to independents?

But the thing that drives me nuts about Oliver’s piece and Greg Sargent asking if the primary process needs to be reformed yadayadayada, is why now? Why now, guys? This process was exponentially worse in 2008. We saw it on C-Span during the rules committee hearing when reapportionment of one candidate’s pledged delegates gave the other candidate the win.

You know, no one heard a peep from these same belligerent assholes about how unfair the system was in 2008. It’s only this year when their “more deserving male” candidate is losing by a wider margin because of closed primaries that we’re all supposed to have conscioussness raising sessions to talk about the primary system clustrfuck. When WE pointed out how the assholes were definitely, undeniably and in full daylight rigging the system against Clinton in 2008, we were called “bitter knitters”.  Now, we have to be careful not to upset the fee-fees of the same bad actors.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Atrios says nobody remembers 2008, that we are being silly, {{rolling his eyes}}.

You know, we don’t see it that way. And we’re really tired of having our votes and experiences of both of the horrible primary seasons for the Clinton voters invalidated.

Do not tell us that our experiences were unimportant.

Some of us are living with the consequences of that nasty 2008 primary season where Clinton still managed to get more of the popular vote and managed to lose the primary by the slimmest of margins. She had every right to take the fight all the way to the convention. She wasn’t harshing his mellow. HE was harshing HERS.

Do not invalidate her actions in 2008 when she tried with all her might to be recognized as being the first female candidate who had a legitimate right to the nomination and a real roll call vote.

Elections have consequences. We got the “liberal messiah” who wasn’t a liberal. And we got an very weak economic recovery and not one banker went to jail. And Clinton is stuck with an ACA that she can’t get rid of and can only tweak around the edges. Imagine how thrilled she is to take that on. And let’s not forget that there was no guarantee he was going to win in 2008. He wasn’t that far ahead in the polls, until the financial catastrophe in Sept 2008. He didn’t win the presidency in a landslide.

If there are people in the Clinton camp who are unsympathetic to the plaintive wails of the most persistent and aggressive Bernie supporters, it’s because they’ve been there before. These guys have no respect for Clinton or her voters. A Clintonista is a non-person. His or her votes are unimportant. They can be swept into the trash bin with impunity. The objections of a Clintonista doesn’t merit their attention. They are silly. The 2008 primary was so five minutes ago.

You know, that’s bullshit. We’re not having it this year. You might have come to Clinton begrudgingly this year but we aren’t going to forget any time soon. We see the sexism lurking beneath the surface of the “no one remembers 2008” crap.

Face up to it. There is still bitterness in the party over it because those guys who gamed the system in 2008 think they can still do it in 2016 and they think they can get away with it because the Clintonistas don’t count. The fact that they are wrong this year doesn’t mitigate the damage they are doing to the legitimacy of Clinton voters or the respect for the nominee that the party needs to project going into the fall.

Is that really the message we want to send to the country in the general election? Stop it.

The Bernie Operatives protest too much, Methinks

Suddenly, there’s a bunch of posts and articles all over the intertoobz about why it isn’t right for Hillary people to tell Bernie people that it’s time to get out.

It feels a lot like, what’s that defense mechanism called again? You know, the one where you accuse someone of doing the very thing you would have done? Oh, yeah. Projection.

Then there’s this crap from David Axelrod via Greg Sargent:

“He’s pushed her on a lot of issues in a positive way, and I think that his young supporters will be bitterly resentful if anyone tries to shove him out of the race.”

Yes, they probably would be resentful. But it’s not like 2008 when the party will deliberately withhold delegates from his win column from two large states, gift uncommitted delegates to his opponent, re-engineer the rules so that he gets those delegates back but only at half strength until the Sunday before the convention so it looks like he’s always behind, and then doesn’t get a full first ballot roll call vote at the convention so that nobody knows how close the earned delegate count actually is so that it won’t provoke a justified floor fight.

If all that happened to Bernie, his young supporters would have a very good reason to be bitterly resentful.

Funny how David Axelrod was totally onboard with all of that when it happened to Hillary in 2008. He wasn’t overtly worried about her supporters being bitterly resentful. It probably had something to do with her being a woman and assuming she was ok with being shoved aside and not complaining about it. I’m not sure he gave a damn about her supporters’ feelings in the least tiny bit. That’s why some of them left to join the Tea Party. That went well. So, you know, David can piss off for all I care.

But I can’t see Hillary’s people treating other candidates’ voters like s^&*. It’s not what decent people do. It does not result in party unity. And if Hillary approved of that kind of thing that David Axelrod encouraged in 2008, I would very much question her motives. Is she so determined to win that she’ll risk destroying any sense of fairness? Would she be willing to completely discount the votes and sentiments and will of millions of voters (like her voters in 2008, made up over half of all the Democratic voters in all of the primary states including CA, MA, NY, NJ, PA, TX, FL, MI, etc, etc)? Because if she would do that, then what else might she ignore during her presidency? Long term unemployed people? Desperate homeowners? Working people in general?

I only ask.

Fortunately, there’s no reason for any of us to have to contemplate scenarios where Hillary and her people would scream at Bernie’s people to “GET OUT, YOU STUPID <fill in the stereotypical offensive epithet here>, YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING!!!”. (We have pictures, Greg)

The primaries are going well. Everything looks on the up and up and Bernie will have his say at the convention and a honest to goodness first ballot roll call vote.

In the meantime, it is very important that Bernie doesn’t sink to the level of a Republican and damage Clinton and the party just so he can stay in the good graces of his supporters who may or may not be some of the same obnoxious Obots who had to have their way in 2008, got it, and got burned because they weren’t paying any damn attention to the fact that their candidate’s favorite presidents were all Republicans.

They are allowed to be disappointed. I have been disappointed many times in Democratic primaries. I always got over it and voted for the nominee. But I drew the line in 2008 because of all of the nasty crap that happened with the full consent of the party, Obama, the media and DAVID AXELROD.

WE were cheated, bullied and disrespected. Bernie’s voters are simply losing. BIG difference.

This part was particularly offensive:

It’s not yet clear whether the Clinton camp thinks it will have to make any meaningful concessions to Sanders in order to unite the party and bring in his supporters. But during her victory speech yesterday, Clinton struck the right preliminary tone for navigating what’s ahead. She stopped short of declaring the nomination locked up, while suggesting that “more voices” across the country still deserve to “be heard,” and thus that the contest should continue for the foreseeable future. Her surrogates may be tempted to heap disdain on Sanders and his supporters for wanting him to keep going, particularly if her pledged delegate lead expands. The Clinton campaign should discourage that.

We don’t need a lecture from Greg Sargent. We had enough of that crap in 2008, along with the Convention media narrative, “Why is Hillary not releasing her delegates? Doesn’t she know she’s harshing Obama’s melloooooow??” (I was in Denver, Greg. I talked to “journalists”. They all parroted the same damn thing)

No one has to tell Clinton or her far more sensitive supporters how to behave towards our friends who are still feeling the Bern, especially not some tut-tutting male blogger at the Washington Post.

I have full faith in Hillary Clinton to do the right thing for the party, to which she has been far more loyal than it has been to her, and for all of the voters, both hers and Bernie’s.

When she wants your input, I’m sure she’ll ask for it.

Update: Why are Clinton people so cranky? Why don’t you put up with 20+ years of lies and innuendo from the nutcase right and then find that the guy you thought wasn’t going to hurt you is using the same personal attacks that could have been written by some back office flunky at Fox News.

And add to that the media is determined to never say anything nice about you. Even the surrogates of the most determined, successful, accomplished, over qualified candidate in the last 20 years would start to get a bit peevish.

Especially after having gone through it once before in 2008. It’s generally true that women have to work much harder to get to the same position as a man. But this is like asking her to run this gauntlet twice without any help whatsoever. It makes what Obama had to go through look like a cake walk.

The better question is, why is Bernie doing it? What can he possibly hope to gain by it?

 

 

Marty Baron: Investigate the media

Hi Marty. I just finished watching Spotlight. I’d read that you moved on from the Boston Globe to The Washington Post. To be honest, I took WaPo out of my twitter feed. Over the years, I’ve become sensitized to artfully crafted turns of phrase, carefully selected words with specific connotations, and media narratives. I can tell when the media is trying to shape what I think and, since I prefer to draw my own conclusions, I don’t read as much of your paper anymore.

You probably don’t know who I am. I’m just a blogger, sitting out here in the Oort belt of the blogosphere. I’ve been posting semi-regularly and editing infrequently since 2008. There are a lot of adjectives in my posts.

Another reason you may not have heard of me may be attributed to the fact that female bloggers do not usually make the cut in Greg Sargent’s Plum Line. I’m not complaining for myself. I’ve never wanted to be famous or widely read. If I had any ambitions in that regard, I would have spent more time trying to toe the party line, jazzing up my CSS and editing. I might have chosen a more gender neutral pen name as well. Digby has done that. She had to.

Greg Sargent works for you, doesn’t he? At one point a few years ago, I was trying to find a way to represent how underrepresented women were in getting their opinions mentioned in the traditional media, and considered using the Plum Line’s evening round-up as an index. But then real life intervened and I was laid off for an extended period of time. Long term unemployment didn’t get a lot of attention in the major newspapers in the past five or six years. Maybe journalists found it boring or they were “whistling past the graveyard”. But I did find an interesting pattern with respect to the NYTimes coverage of the long term unemployed back in about 2010. It bore no resemblance to any reality I knew and looked like gratuitous kicking of people when they were down. Not only that but it was bound to have an effect on HR hiring managers and talent acquisition specialists. You may want to have a look at that post and tell me what you think. What were the NYTimes journalists up to?

You may be wondering why I am writing what seems to be a long, rambling, “stream of consciousness” blog post to someone who doesn’t have time to read long, rambling “stream of consciousness” blog posts from a virtual nobody who doesn’t read your paper. Recent events have compelled me to write this, specifically the collective freak out over Donald Trump. I am not a Donald Trump supporter. No, I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter for about 23 years since I was just a young suburban mom and scientist in New Jersey. I also haven’t been a Barack Obama supporter. In fact, I didn’t vote for him twice. There are many reasons for this, racism not being one of them. I’ve blogged about what I saw happening in my party, the media, my industry, and my own series of unfortunate events, since January 2008, if you’re interested in my perspective.

I’m writing to you because the media may be overlooking its own culpability in the strength of Donald Trump’s presidential run. Maybe that is intentional. After all, it’s a story, in a presidential election year, and it features a candidate who must be making David Broder roll over in his grave. These kinds of stories almost write themselves. It must be difficult for reporters to check their enthusiasm.

My opinion, for what it’s worth (see above for Plum Line index commentary) is that the public is reacting to the media’s obsession with 1.) covering Donald Trump and 2.) getting Hillary Clinton by any means necessary. It has succeeded beyond its wildest expectations where Hillary is concerned. Nobody trusts her. That could be a problem because even Hillary’s staunchest critics have to admit that she is the most qualified of the current crop of candidates and the one least likely to make a rookie mistake. That’s not a plug for my candidate. It’s just happens to be the truth. But she’s got an uphill climb to convince many Americans that she can be trusted.

Let’s take a news article about Hillary on today’s front page of The Washington Post. Here’s the headline and the blurb:

Clinton used private server to write 104 emails later deemed classified

The finding is the first accounting of her personal role in placing information now considered sensitive into insecure messages during her State Department tenure.

Do I need to read any further? I am assuming that the truth is in the headline. The emails were later deemed classified. That means, at the time they were written, they weren’t classified. I don’t know why they were classified later or what the subjects of the emails were. I have to ask myself, if she wrote emails on her gmail account and not her private server, and those emails were later classified, would we consider this a legitmate news story?

There were 104 emails. I’m sure that if there was something earth shatteringly critical and dangerous for the enemy to know, you would have put that in the headline. But this article looks like just another hit on Clinton. Now, I have to ask myself whose water you are carrying? Are those persons using The Washington Post because they know you are compliant? Is that compliancy the result of genuine study or previous bias?  You may consider this an unfair characterization of the Hillary pieces you run routinely. I might agree with you but I don’t find this kind of coverage for any other candidate. At this point, it’s just boring but it still serves the purpose of undermining her credibility. I don’t trust your motives. What’s in it for me, an average American, if you take down the one person I can safely rely on to not blow up the world while you let other lesser candidates bogart your main headlines?

This is one of the reasons why I don’t read your paper. It’s dishonest even when it’s reporting the truth. And if you’re dishonest about Hillary, who or what else are you not being honest about?

Donald Trump, on the other hand, can do no wrong. By that I mean, short of molesting a kid on live TV, the more that gets thrown at him, the more support he seems to attract. Even live TV child molestation might not work. He might say, “That’s not my short, stubby penis, I don’t know who that penis belongs to. I’ve never even met that kid and if I did, I don’t remember it.” And the journalists will try try again and people will ignore them and cheer and go vote for Trump anyway. To me, that’s a sign that the media narratives may only have limited traction these days. I used to think that was a good thing. Now, I’m not so sure.

So, if Trump really is as dangerous, unscrupulous and unpresidential as we are told, maybe you might want to investigate why it is that no one cares anymore.

Could it be that the major media has not been sufficiently critical of itself? Has it become a player instead of an objective analyst, with or without adjectives? Does the telecast of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner suggest a certain vanity?

Have you asked yourself whether Thomas Friedman’s chat with various cab drivers conveys sufficient understanding of the plight of the average American? Are you comfortable with the accusation of racism that the administration and its surrogates casually throw out when it is criticized? Could it be possible that not challenging this accusation has lead many people to feel powerless to get their concerns heard? Is it possible that not all of Donald Trump’s supporters are racists but are frustrated at having their issues ignored?

Has your paper been fair in reporting what it is that concerns Americans? Has it dug deep into the problem of long term unemployment and underemployment? Does it know what it’s like to live on Social Security in retirement without a pension? Has it done any investigative reporting on the 401K problem? I have to give credit to the NYTimes for its series on the cost of healthcare. Have you done any reporting on how the ACA was developed and who the major players were? What were their goals? How much skin in the game did they decide would cripple the act?

Has your paper examined why it has such hatred of the Clintons? At this point, after years of investigations that went nowhere and several searches of the Clintons’ underwear drawer, it’s starting to look like this is personal. I’m not singling out the Washington Post on this but the media does seem a little bit incestuous. There are only so many major newspapers in the country and it seems like most of the reporters have jumped from one to the other, and back again. Does it feel too clubby? Do you all hate the right people?

Major papers do not change their columnists frequently either. Do you think the shortage of female opinion columnists has anything to do with the treatment of Hillary Clinton or lack of interest in issues important to women in general?  How many female columnists would it take to balance this inequity? Studies have previously suggested that when women represent 30% of country’s government, this can have a substantial positive impact on the overall quality of life in that country. Are you prepared to increase the number of women on your editorial page to improve its quality?

Do you find there is a problem with credentialism in your newsroom? Do you only hire from certain schools? Does it help to be a legacy? Is it better to hire someone with contacts in government who are friends and acquaintances?

I ask these questions because the quality of journalism can also have a systemic effect on the news. If your newsrooms are cluttered with journalists who are captured by their social group, academic credentials or gender, that is going to be reflected in what hits the front pages and gets covered by cable news. If your reporters and columnists do not accurately report the news, or care to understand what it is like to live as a middle class to low middle class American, or how the powers that be have affected that American’s life and future, does your paper remain relevant? Should you be surprised when Donald Trump starts winning primaries?

Maybe someone is trying to tell you something.

 

Bernie Sanders’ Good Points

Here’s an interview from Greg Sargent at WaPo’s Plum Line with Bernie. He makes some good points. Noted are his comments about Hillary’s ties to Wall Street firms. Very true. But if her ties were that strong and she was so willing to do what they wanted, why did they put their money behind Obama in 2008? He couldn’t have gotten the nomination without their help. So, if Hillary was so pliable and beholden to them, why didn’t they back her to the hilt instead of trying so hard to defeat her in the primaries? I’ve asked this question repeatedly since 2008 and the left has not given me a satisfactory answer. It’s like they’ve got their hands over their ears singling “La-la-la! I can’t HEAR you!”

(It’s called denial)

But point taken, Bernie. I would just ask everyone to read his answers very, very carefully because he’s not ruling out taking money from Wall Street either. He’s very good at avoiding the question but realistically, he can’t completely rule Wall Street money out. One of those firms might just wake up in time to see it’s in its best interests to, you know, not be so insanely, obscenely greedy because it’s a short term strategy that can’t last.

It could happen.

That being said, there’s a lot of good stuff in this interview that I like. Take this exchange:

PLUM LINE: Should the Democratic nominee offer a platform that goes considerably farther than what the president has done?

SANDERS: Yes.

PLUM LINE: What would that look like?

SANDERS: It would look like a tax on carbon; a massive investment in solar, wind, geothermal; it would be making sure that every home and building in this country is properly winterized; it would be putting substantial money into rail, both passenger and cargo, so we can move towards breaking our dependency on automobiles. And it would be leading other countries around the world.

PLUM LINE: You think the Democratic nominee should campaign on a platform like that?

SANDERS: Yes.

I couldn’t agree more. I would love to see more mass transit and broadband. I would include nuclear as well because I’m realistic. So, let’s hear a lot more about that from all the candidates.

Ok, I’m going out to cut the grass.

Later, taters.

Yeah, why *did* we do that?

Johanna Sigardardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland

There is some convergence about why we slit our own throats to protect the bankers that is starting to gel in some thought provoking ways.

First up, if you haven’t read it yet today, is Krugman’s Friday column in the NYTimes from Iceland.  By the way, to get a better idea of what happened in Iceland and how it managed to get out from under its debts, check out Michael Lewis’s book, Boomerang, based on his tour of disaster capitalism around the world.  In short, the former Vikings got bored with fishing, jumped into the currency market, got WAAAAY over their heads in debt and when the crash came and the banks said paid up, basically said, “f^&* this s^*#, we’re not killing our country just because you won’t take a haircut.”  And they didn’t.  They devalued their currency and made the banks eat it while they salvaged their social safety net.

Krugman today asks why more countries didn’t take this kind of approach:

But it’s worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine — a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.

The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.

This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs. The idea was that spending cuts would make consumers and businesses more confident. And this confidence would supposedly stimulate private spending, more than offsetting the depressing effects of government cutbacks.

[…]

But a funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.

So how’s it going? Iceland hasn’t avoided major economic damage or a significant drop in living standards. But it has managed to limit both the rise in unemployment and the suffering of the most vulnerable; the social safety net has survived intact, as has the basic decency of its society. “Things could have been a lot worse” may not be the most stirring of slogans, but when everyone expected utter disaster, it amounts to a policy triumph.

And there’s a lesson here for the rest of us: The suffering that so many of our citizens are facing is unnecessary. If this is a time of incredible pain and a much harsher society, that was a choice. It didn’t and doesn’t have to be this way.

It was a choice.  It was the same choice that Adam Davidson and Elizabeth Warren battled about in 2009.  In fact, that interview may be more revealing than it seems on the surface.  Michael Lewis suggests in his book that the Icelandic male is still a badass Viking who got a taste for marauding the modern way through speculation.  But it was Icelandic women who pulled their asses out of the fire.  In a similar way, when the recession started to affect the job market, Angela Merkel’s government decided to supplement the salaries of many workers who might otherwise have been laid off.  Other workers cut back to part time work, the advantage being that part time workers do not lose their skills due to extended periods of unemployment.  Merkel’s Minister of Labor is a woman.  As a result, the German economy has held up pretty well since the crash.  And just a few days ago, Christina Kirchner of Argentina won re-election for Presidentafter she vowed to continue her anti poverty programs while pissing off investors.

From L-R, Germany's Family, Labor and Justice ministers

I hate to start attributing remarkable virtue to women because there’s just not enough data on how women would behave if they weren’t punished for behaving outside social norms, that is taking risks, being agressive, looking out for one’s self.  Women who are ambitious are considered “political” and “calculating”. See this TedTalk from Sheryl Sandberg to understand this better.

But it is hard to ignore the data that we have that suggests that when the bankers get out of control, the countries that seem to be faring the best are the ones who have women as their stewards at the time of the crash.  Here’s another one: Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister is steering her country through economic turmoil solidly while her opposition, another Julie (think Michelle Bachmann) is hammering her over deficit spending.  But so far, so good for Australia who hasn’t yet succombed to conservative demogoguery in spite of its notoriety of being Rupert Murdoch’s birthplace.

Christina de Fernandez Kirchner, President of Argentina

Could we ever have a woman in charge in the United States?  We will have missed our opportunity to try out the experiment that would show whether a woman in the White House would do things differently than a man.  But maybe we should look on the 2008 election with fresh eyes.  I’ve always been troubled by the primary voting irregularities and the DNC’s massaging of the rules to favor one candidate over another.  And while the misogyny was awful, maybe there is something to the reaction to Hillary Clinton running for president that exposes a fault in our culture and government.

Women are underrepresented in Congress and many elected government positions.  That’s not news.  But what is it about our country that will not let it evolve?  Has it been the reintroduction of religion into the public sphere?  Has the return to conservatism been aided by the 40 year reaction to Roe v Wade that has been capitalised by Republicans?  I think this is something we need to get a handle on.  One of the things that bothered me most about the Adam Davidson interview of Elizabeth Warren is not that he rejected her argument.  It was *why* he rejected her argument.  He didn’t consider her a “serious person”.  And I think that is the heart of what is wrong with our culture.  Women are not taken seriously.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia

Think of how many times we have heard of women with their hands on the reins of power who have been prevented from exercising that power by men who think of themselves as more serious people.  Brooksley Born wanted to regulate derivatives. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers put a stop to that.  They called her “hard to get along with” and “not a team player”.  One of her assistants said that couldn’t be true because she was never issued a uniform, suggesting that Rubin and Summers were pre-disposed to not cooperate with her.  Then there was Sheila Bair of the FDIC.  She wanted to shutter some of the big banks.  But when Obama directed Tim Geithner to draw up a plan to close Citibank, Geithner sat on the project.  One of the reasons he gave was that he didn’t want to have to tell and work with Sheila Bair.  Christina Romer, Obama’s senior economic advisor told him that the stimulus package was too small by about $600 billion dollars and later that about $100 billion could be used to create a million jobs.  Obama mocked her and preferred Geithner’s plan to hers.

And then there was Hillary.  In 2008, just as the market was crashing, she made numerous appearances on morning talk shows advocating for a new HOLC type of program that would aid homeowners directly in order for them to keep their homes and continue to pay their mortgages.  By the time the crisis was upon us, the bankers had already nominated their man.

If we can see any trend at all in these examples of women as heads of state and women who were denied power it appears that they are calculating several moves ahead.  They look at their present set of circumstances and extrapolate.  They also tend to be more concerned with the soundness of society as a whole.  They focus on saving their safety nets, their labor markets and the wealth of the many as opposed to the demands of a few.  They are concerned with heading off future crises with new rules.  If we could generalize these trends we might say that these women (but not necessarily all women) value stabilization over risk taking.  A prosperous citizenry is one that is not subject to social or economic instability.  These women appear to prioritize and value societal stability.

That does not mean that men are incapable of this kind of leadership.  In fact, we have held up as examples male leaders who also behaved this way.  Leaders who immediately come to mind are Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.  Those people who check lawlessness and economic injustice that lead to instability are our role models.  We appreciate and recognize the leadership qualities in men but in women, we do not see them as attributes but as unserious.

Maybe this period of our country’s life will promote reflection of what we value and who is most capable of seeing our way through to a more stable future.  I think that Elizabeth Warren is finally benefitting from such reflection and re-evaluation.  The more examples we see of women leading their countries through economic crisis, the more we may be inspired to follow their lead and elect more women to powerful positions here. But I worry that the impetus to empower women in this country is very fragile.  And one of the things that troubles me the most is that we still have so few female pundits and voices of authority who are considered “serious people”.

Hillary Clinton, *not* president of the United States

A good example of this can be found at Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line blog at the Washington Post.  Sargent’s blog is pretty good for collecting the voices on the left who are considered up and coming and serious.  But almost all of his citations go to men on other blogs and prestigious online media outlets.  He frequently cites Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum, Steve Benen, Dave Weigel, etc.  There are very few citations from women.  Sargent might reasonably argue that those men have the most access to the people in charge.  But then we must ask ourselves how it is that they got to be in those positions of power.  How did such young men, without families, maturity or even much work experience, get access?  It wasn’t too long ago that many of them were just bloggers themselves.  Meanwhile, a blogger with the writing and analysis skills of Digby is posting on Al Jazeera.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a sweet deal and well deserved, but cases like Digby are very rare.  We can think of a handful of others like Ariana Huffington, Joan Walsh and Rachel Maddow.  But how many of us consider them “serious people”?  Each one of them gets a label.  Ariana is one of the 1%.  Joan is a hopelessly compromised Democratic party loyalist.  Rachel Maddow is starting to be upstaged by Chris Hughes and is the token lesbian.  We see them as women first and not individual voices of persons who have unique thoughts and views.  Somehow, their personas are flawed.

In the future, Ezra, Matt and Kevin will grace the opinion pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post taking the place of the David’s, Brooks and Broder.  Joan will be making occasional appearances on Hardball, Rachel may move into anchoring the evening news somewhere and Ariana will be jetting off to interview some sultan in the desert but their opinions will not have the same heft.

When it comes time to make decisions about which road we will take and who will get saved and who will be tossed overboard to be eaten by sharks, it is the voices we have blessed with the title “serious” that we listen to.  And in our society, in the 21st century, in a country that started with so much promise and has evolved so quickly in most other respects, those voices are not women.  We are passing on the women who see the political and economic landscape from a perspective that favors stability.

It is not the only reason why we’re in this mess but it is one that is increasingly and embarrassingly hard to ignore.

Too late! You’ve been framed.

Greg Sargent reports on Democrat’s latest efforts to turn the Titanic around for next year’s election by accusing the Republicans of wanting the economy to get worse:

In recent weeks, there’s been some question as to how far Dems are willing to go in making the explosive charge that Republicans are deliberately trying to sabotage the economy in order to improve their chances of defeating President Obama in 2012.

On a conference call just now with reporters, Senator Chuck Schumer made the most aggressive case we’ve heard yet along these lines, leaving little doubt that Dems are locking in behind this message as the deficit talks hit crunch time and as the 2012 campaign looms.

“Do they simply want the economy to go down the drain to further their political gain?” Schumer asked. “They seem to be against anything that may create jobs, because they view a weak economy as key to their political chances in 2012.”

“It’s an uncomfortable question, to be sure,” Schumer continued. “Are they trying to undermine the economy on purpose, for political gain? Harry Truman had a do-nothing Congress. The Republicans seem to be trying to make this a do-nothing-on-the-economy Congress.”

[…]

The key point here is that Dem messaging chief Schumer is signaling that each example like this will now be pressed into service to build the larger case that Republicans have decided that a worse economy for the country is better politically for them, so any measure that risks creating jobs must be opposed at all costs. It seems like a clear effort to bait the GOP into responding to the charges, so the country can hear an argument over the GOP’s true motives. This line of attack also seems designed to persuade voters — and commentators who are reluctant to accept this sort of thing — that No, both sides are notequally to blame for our current travails.

No duh.

That was the whole point.  I believe we were discussing this back in 2007-8 at DailyKos.  Or was it lambert at Corrente who asked if Republicans were going to make Democrats hold the bag?  In any case, there is nothing surprising about the Republicans’ tactics.  It’s really a win-win for them.  If they make everyone miserable enough in the short term, they’ll extract a lot of concessions on Social Security and Medicare in the long term.  Your unemployment benefits, severance pay and savings only go so far.  When they’re gone, and reality sets in, and your house is underwater, postponing pain into the future makes more sense than losing everything in the present.

Republicans don’t even have to win next year.  It’s unlikely that the American public will get the whole picture in time to reduce their numbers to a minority so small they can’t do any further harm.  So, as long as they have even one member who exceeds the number required to oppose everything the presiding majority wants to do, they will continue to obstruct.  We really should have let the South secede.  It seems determined to wait everyone out until we give them back slavery and let them go.

But if they win next year by making Obama and the Democrats look really, really bad, then they will have carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want.  I’m going to take a guess that the thing they are going to do first with that opportunity is make damn sure their voting strength in Congress is never so diluted that their votes can be discounted.  That way, no matter what happens after 2016, there will be no turning back the clock to a more New Dealish/Great Society moment again.  That’s what *I* would do if I were fiendishly disposed to hold onto power.  Look for the Supreme Court to somehow roll back voting rights in such a way that poor and middle class voters are somehow not as equal as they used to be.

It’s too bad that Obama and the Democrats didn’t see this coming.  Oh, please, of course they saw this coming.  They either didn’t want to do anything about it or were in denial.  Let this be a lesson to Democratic base voters.  The next time you want someone to forcefully push back against your enemies, vote for the hairy, unibrowed Atilla-the-Hun type candidate and not the student body president type.

It’s too late for Democrats to dig their way out of this one by placing the blame on the Republicans.  Yes, it is the Republicans’ fault.  They are that bad.  But the Democrats squandered their opportunity to change this narrative back in 2008 just after Obama was elected.  They should have come out of the gate swinging, attempted to control the media, reinstituted the fairness doctrine, reappointed the board to CPB, carefully metered Obama’s appearances to make the most of his impact and screamed bloody murder in the most hyperbolic manner possible.  That’s what the Republicans would have done.  Allowing themselves to be bullied into cooperating with the Republicans was the dumbest thing they ever did.

Well, that and passing on Hillary the IronClad for Obama the Tofu.  By the end of the primaries in 2008, the media had spent itself on Hillary and she was still winning primary states.  Their barbs were bouncing off of her with little effect.  Obama, on the other hand, had to be lifted and gently carried over the finish line to “win” the nomination.  He never really had to prove himself against the right wing noise leviathan.  And then Fox News got to work destroying the Democrats with their assistance.  The President *is* a Democrat (nominally) and the Senate *is* in Democratic hands.  What, *exactly*, is the problem here?  Yes, yes, we know all about the numbers but the problem is that Democrats did not use their power to scare the Republicans during the short period of time when they could have made a difference.  And they had Steny Hoyer digging up salacious stories on Liberal Democrats that he didn’t like.  That didn’t help.

So, Chuck Shumer is pissing in the wind.  The problem is intrinsic to the Democrats and no amount of directing the blame where it belongs is going to work until the party gets its act together.  You aren’t going to get Americans to turn on Republicans until they see the Democrats are going to go out of their way to try to help them.  They don’t see any evidence of that.  Partly, that’s a result of Democrats selling out to the monied class, part of it has to do with the fact that Democrats hobbled themselves with the Party Unity shtick at the convention that didn’t include the “old coalition”, that is, the elderly, working class (meaning all of us who don’t live off our investments), poor and women.

The Republicans have framed the Democrats as cowardly, craven milquetoasts.  Yep, that’s about the way I see it.  If the frame fits…

Hey, remember this hit from 2008?  Funny how not everyone in that crowd looked like partying…

Thursday News: Downwind

That's right, lower that gas mask

We didn’t start the fire but we wouldn’t mind being downwind of one of the biggest marijuana bonfires the world has ever known.  134 tons of confiscated weed were set ablaze in Mexico yesterday.  We’re a little puzzled over the draconian steps to eradicate the pot before it makes its way across the border.  What this country needs right now is some tasty weed or a batch of brownies.  What a waste.

New Jersey Cablevision customers are downwind of a nasty dispute between their cable provider and News Corp, the company that shoves Fox down our throats.  For the last 5 days, Cablevision customers have been without Fox programming including Glee, House, and some major league baseball and football games.  I can’t find any evidence that Fox News was pulled, however, which is a shame.  News Corp is doubling the subscription fees for retransmission of Fox programming for Cablevision.  That’s $150,000,000 for Cablevision alone.  It looks like Cablevision customers who just get the broadband service were also affected.  They were unable to download programming from Hulu for a period of time but that seems to be restored.

News Corp is going up against Dish at the end of the month.  As a Dish customer, I’d like to encourage management to take a hard line with News Corp.  Take it all off the Dish lineup, including Fox News.  It’s extortion but maybe this latest move is a good thing. The more we can contain the Fox News contagion, the better.  I’ll download Glee from iTunes.  But more than that, this is just another example of a corporation thinking that the average Joe has unlimited disposable income.  We don’t.  The fees for every damn little thing are skyrocketing.  Enough already.  Try to make due with the billions you already have.

On the mortgages/foreclosure fiasco, the rule of law appears to be downwind of some very sketchy bank tactics for seizing what might not be theirs and throwing families out of their houses.  Atrios has been doing a really good job finding more and more evidence of bankster fraud.  In the latest article on the mess, Battle Lines Forming in Clash over Foreclosures, the New York Times reports:

Now those missing and possibly fraudulent documents are at the center of a potentially seismic legal clash that pits big lenders against homeowners and their advocates concerned that the lenders’ rush to foreclose flouts private property rights.

That clash — expected to be played out in courtrooms across the country and scrutinized by law enforcement officials investigating possible wrongdoing by big lenders — leaped to the forefront of the mortgage crisis this week as big lenders began lifting their freezes on foreclosures and insisted the worst was behind them.

Federal officials meeting in Washington on Wednesday indicated that a government review of the problems would not be complete until the end of the year.

“The misbehavior is clear: they lied to the courts,” she said. “The fact that they are saying no one was harmed, they are missing the point. They did actual harm to the court system, to the rule of law. We don’t say, ‘You can perjure yourself on the stand because the jury will come to the right verdict anyway.’ That’s what they are saying.”

Robert Willens, a tax expert, said that documentation issues had created potentially severe tax problems for investors in mortgage securities and that “there is enough of a question here that the courts might well have to resolve the issue.”

Ah, yes, the poor investor will have to sort through all of the tax issues.  So sad.  It’s so much worse for investors than the families that lose everything including the roof over their heads just because the documentation is screwed up.  I guess it never occurred to anyone that lowering the principle on some of the loans would allow some homeowners to stay in their houses and pay their mortgages.  At least the investors would get *something* for their investments.  Or investors could take it up with the banks who always seem to be in the middle of all these messes.  But banks seem to make money off of of foreclosures.  Hmmm, if I had been a congressman, I might have made foreclosure a lot less attractive for banks and avoided much of this mess.  Oh, well!  Not my problem.

It does appear to be a problem for those congresspersons, however, who appear to be downwind of voter anger over Congress’s complacency with the economy.  In A National Election, Like it or Not, E.J. Dionne reports on the experience of Democratic Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy from Ohio, who mistakenly keeps trying to tell her voters about the “accomplishments” of the last two years.  For some stupid reason, the voters aren’t paying any attention to the half assed Lily Ledbetter law or Health Care Reform or the financial bailout:

Kilroy recalls encountering a voter who told her: “I’ve voted for you throughout your career, but I’m not voting for you this year because I don’t have a job.”

She spoke to her constituent about what Congress had accomplished, and also about how the tied-up-in-knots U.S. Senate had blocked other House initiatives.

To which the voter replied: “Do you think I care they’re stuck in the Senate? I don’t have a job.”

Stivers, who lost to Kilroy in 2008 by just 2,312 votes, has had much happier doorstep experiences. “People were mad at George Bush two years ago and they were going to take it out on anyone with an ‘R’ after their name,” he said. This time, they’re eager to talk about — you guessed it — “the debt and jobs.”

Yep, it’s a mystery.

As Greg Sargent reports in The Enthusiasm Gap Remains just Awful for Dems:

But still, the enthusiasm deficit remains enormous, even though Dems have tried everything to turn this around: They’ve chanted Bush’s name in unison for months. They’ve raised the specter of foreign money rigging our elections. They’ve floated the possibility of GOP investigations that will make the 1990s look like a latter-day Era of Good Feelings. And they’ve relentlessly elevated the craziest of Tea Party crazies to iconic status. Yet Dems still aren’t goosed up about this election in anywhere near the numbers they need to be — mainly because the GOP enthusiasm levels are essentially steroidal at this point.

It’s like that Far Side cartoon where Einstein can’t figure out the famous relativity equation until his cleaning lady starts straightening up his desk.  “All squared away” The Democrats have tried everything but the stuff that actually works.  Denigrating the stupid hicks who join the Tea Party doesn’t work, Greg.  And I know a lot of Democrats don’t want to hear this but if the closest you’re going to get to having a liberal in the White House is Hillary Clinton, then you might just want to elect Hillary Clinton.  There’s no way in God’s green earth that Kucinich is ever going to get there.  Get squared away already.

Here’s a hint, Mary Jo and all you Democratic Congresspeople:  Congress didn’t do enough for the working class.  The best you can do is say, “I’m sorry.  I get it now. I’ll put pressure on Obama to kill the Catfood Commission.  Please don’t vote for Republicans.  They’ll only make it worse, er, faster than we will.”

Ed Potosnak can balance an equation and gets my vote.

And that goes for all the rest of you Democrats sending stupid emails to me, assuming I’m some low information, irrationally angry voter who doesn’t know what the heck is going on.  The destruction that ongoing layoffs have had on my friends and family is devastating.  I really don’t want to hear about some half assed health care reform bill or some lame Ledbetter bill that doesn’t guarantee me equal pay- now, this very moment without any legal hassles.  I want to hear about how you’re going to save my retirement and my job.  I guess it’s just irrational to want to be able to maintain my base caloric and shelter requirements.  As it happens, I have a Democrat , Ed Potasnak, to vote for this November but I’m not supporting a party that seems incapable of getting its act together when it had every possible advantage in the past two years.

And finally, Juan Williams is downwind of someone at NPR who has some scruples. Last night, NPR fired him.  After years of being the not-so-secret conservative mole at NPR, Juan finally took things too far on his other gig at Fox:

NPR has terminated its contract with Juan Williams, one of its senior news analysts, after he made comments about Muslims on the Fox News Channel.

NPR said in a statement that it gave Mr. Williams notice of his termination on Wednesday night.

The move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

I’ve been disappointed with NPR since the Bush administration when it went from National Public Radio to Nice Polite Republicans.  The consensus reality/perception bending by Williams, Mara Liason and Steve Inskeep got to be too much for me to take in the mornings.  It was nauseating to hear it on the program I had listened to faithfully since I was in college.  I’m glad that Williams got the boot because his remarks were designed to mislead viewers like my mother into believing that Muslims are going to go all jihad on helpless Americans.  The purpose of those remarks are to terrify people who will short circuit their risk assessment thought processes.  And studies have shown (damn, where is that reference?) that voters who are fearful of their own mortality will vote for conservative politicians who promise to protect them.  Those viewers of Juan Williams on Fox will not think about how most Muslim Americans have families and jobs and don’t have time to do terrorist activities.  They’ve got PTA meetings and shopping to do.  Besides, they’re so small in number, how the heck are they going to get away?  It’s a big country. Don’t get me started.  I have to deprogram my mom of this stuff every time I see her.

Yeah, Juan Williams is one of the bad guys and he’s been sitting on NPR like some big ugly insect that the NPR listeners are just supposed to ignore.  We’re supposed to believe that Williams was an unbiased journalist who just coincidentally has this other job on Fox News where he’s allowed to spew nonsense and deceive people.  But none of that could ever possibly spill over into Morning Edition.  Riiiiight.

Now, get rid of Liason and Inskeep and I’ll come back.  Maybe I’ll even write a check.