>> Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the "Mr. New Castrati" voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound. Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he's made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats. [internal links omitted]
The best reason for liberals to throw the election to Romney, as I said Friday, is to hasten the apocalypse. Just throw everything to the Republicans and let them govern, unimpeded, until the country is a scalded ruin and the image of what conservatives would do with power is so branded on the American soul that nobody ever votes for them again. That’s a strategy. Hoping to fall back into the loser’s position so that liberals behave more like Matt Stoller wants them to is not. [internal link omitted]
>> Monday, October 29, 2012
>> Sunday, October 28, 2012
>> Saturday, October 27, 2012
Dumb quote of the day--goddamn all these trees, Google Maps says there's a forest around here somewhere edition
>> Friday, October 26, 2012
However, the overriding point is that for left-leaning voters, this election choice should not be seen as easy. It should be viewed as a complex decision about policy outcomes within the context of opposition politics. And here’s the inconvenient truth: with such similar presidential candidates, a lack of liberal opposition to a reelected Obama is arguably as frightening a prospect as a Romney presidency.- David Sirota, "In defense of the undecided voter",Salon, October 26th, 2012.
Supposing you even give Romney the benefit of the doubt as to whether he's ever said anything he meant (well... at least in public), what he said about drones (one of Sirota's big problems with the President) during the third debate was:
Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it's widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.
On the issues Sirota thinks are important, Romney has indicated (where he's said anything on the subject at all) he'll either do basically the same thing as the President or he'll do worse (compared to what a liberal presumably finds desirable or acceptable). It really is that plain.
So what the question boils down to for a liberal or progressive... well, there is no question, actually. But we'll put it out there anyway. The only question for a liberal or progressive ought to be "Does my vote help Mitt Romney and the increasingly conservative GOP in any way?" It isn't even a question of endorsing Obama or endorsing everything Obama has done as President or might do if reelected. If the answer is an unconditional "no", perhaps because you live in a state like California or New York where the vote is pretty much a done deal, by all means vote for Jill Stein or whomever; but there's no reason to be "undecided" in that case, or pretend you are, just say, "Yeah, I'm going Green because I've done the math and I can't vote for Obama and assuaging my own moral ego in no way endangers any other cause I might believe in nor does it enhance any risk of something happening--a Supreme Court Justice appointment, for instance--that would appall me." But if there's any chance whatsoever that the answer could be "yes", you're an idiot for having had to ask the question, or for thinking there was any reason at all to stay on a fence. You really think Mitt Romney might be better for the country on any issue of importance to the left? Then yeah, you really are an idiot, because you really haven't been paying an ounce of attention.
Here's how simple it was for me: I went to the polls to vote early, and I voted straight-ticket Democrat in every partisan race, even where I knew with a moral certainty that I was voting for a corrupt or incompetent son-of-a-bitch. And I didn't vote for those candidates because I liked them, I voted for them because when I looked at the other side of the race, it was easy enough to say, "I'm not doing a thing to encourage those ruinous rat bastards and their reactionary, teabagging party." End-of-line. That simple. That black-and-white. I'll just go ahead and tell you: I voted for some real shits. But my "choice" was I could vote for someone whose party is hostile to nearly everything I think is worth fighting for or I could abstain and thereby do nothing to hurt that party that's hostile to nearly everything I think is worth fighting for (and maybe even help them by doing nothing meaningful against them).
If you don't get that, you need to give yourself a long look in the mirror and wonder what the hell you're thinking.
>> Thursday, October 25, 2012
In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic Union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
It would have been had the speaker been someone other than a man in whom so many invested hope. The unwillingness of those on the left now, after four years, to concede that Obama’s words were not only apologetic but wrong-headed just shows how partisan and small-minded they are.
Or I would have kind of liked this, for instance: "People of France, I really hope our being assholes over the Iraq thing won't change our BFF status with France. Sometimes buddies argue. But you guys saved our asses in the American Revolution and we saved yours in World War II, so let's sit down with beers and baguettes instead of staying pissed at each other, 'kay? We're sorry. Pals?"
The little minds of these folks are haunted by hobgoblins (riffing on Emerson). They cling to clouds of foolish inconsistency and auras of absolutism with ferocious terror, and it's ugly.
Of course they can't apologize--right or wrong, they're always right, and anything else is weakness. Not perceived weakness, actual weakness, because if they were ever wrong, it would mean they stepped from the solid stone of their beliefs and principles into an endless void of possibility where they would have no hope of balance or leverage--better to stay on their crumbling plateau than to risk falling.
Suppose we agree Barack Obama apologized for the United States and Mitt Romney promises he never will: all that tells me is one of these men is a fool.
>> Wednesday, October 24, 2012
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
-William Butler Yeats, "Leda And The Swan" (1924)
>> Tuesday, October 23, 2012
And that's for the individual investor. It isn't necessarily a bad investment for the government even if the government loses money (which seems unlikely: it looks like the public will at least break even on the loan we made); after all, there's a good case to be made that the American people have an interest in new technologies and innovations built upon existing techs that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and all the political, economic and environmental problems they create.
>> Monday, October 22, 2012
>> Sunday, October 21, 2012
>> Saturday, October 20, 2012
>> Friday, October 19, 2012
>> Thursday, October 18, 2012
>> Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Now, one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort, but number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 so I can be there for — making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 3 1/2 million women more now in poverty than four years ago.
What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a — a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that — that they would otherwise not be able to — to afford.
Romney's line was a little surreal on multiple levels. The first, of course, is the awkward phrasing that provoked the meme in the first place. But then there's also a surreal quality to the actual content of the line: as Amanda Marcotte at Slate points out, Romney's proposed "solution" to pay inequality and unequal expectations of women in the workplace is to let the market sort itself out somehow. Which is kind of a theme for the GOP these days--the market will solve everything.
How many times does this have to be pointed out: the reason we have all of these regulatory statutes in the first place is because the free market failed to take care of itself. In other words, we already tried it their way, and it didn't work very well. We don't have food inspections because it just seemed like an arbitrarily fun thing to increase the size of government, we inspect food because back in the day, we somehow kept finding rat turds in everything. We don't regulate pharmaceuticals because government just likes getting its fingers in everyone's eyes, we do it because, between the guys selling their own urine on the carney circuit and the guys who sold pregnant ladies a sedative that caused their babies to be born with flippers, the idea that maybe you just should let people vote with their dollars to never buy that again seemed remarkably closing-the-barn-doors-after-the-horse-ran-away-and-died-and-then-the-barn-burned-down. We regulate pesticides because deciding to boycott them after the last bald eagle dies seems kinda pointless (plus, anytime you want to boycott a product for any reason, the conservatives all get underwear-wedgies over unfair trade practices and censorship and stuff--funny how that works). And we try to pass laws saying women ought to get the same benefits as dudes because after all these centuries in the labor force, somehow they still keep getting shafted. Gods only know, it would be a lot cheaper and more efficient if we didn't need any regulations and laws because people could always be trusted to do the right thing, but as long as there are assholes who are willing to shit all over everyone else for even a momentary advantage (and one that will dirty their own nests in the long run, stupid motherfuckers), society has an obligation to say, "Uh, no, dude, just, no--you can't do that," and government is the mechanism through which we impose our cultural will.
I am favorably disposed toward both full employment and flexible workplace scheduling. But what Romney is saying here is that due to their family responsibilities women are burdened with an inherent disadvantage in the labor market. In conditions of full employment, firms do become desperate for workers and are willing to do things they won't do in weak labor market. High-margin businesses, for example, hand out raises to competent experienced workers. And firms of all kinds take risks on people they wouldn't otherwise go for—those who lack formal credentials, those who might have had legal problems in the past, smart people who seem to lack experience, and so forth. Romney's suggestion is that a woman—at least a woman with a family—is basically like a high school dropout with a felony conviction in his background. A marginally employable worker who'll get a job if and only if the labor market is super-tight. After all, everyone knows mom needs to be home at 5:00 to start cooking dinner.
But maybe dad should cook dinner!
Exactly! But then Yglesias goes on to talk about his own family's experience, how his mom had an inflexible job, but luckily his dad was able to pick up the slack. Which can take you all sorts of places that point up what's wrong with Romney's approach. (E.g. that Romney's preference for married couples raising children is certainly laudable and we ought to encourage two-parent households, sure, but the reality is that this doesn't always happen--there's not just out-of-wedlock children, there are also families rent by divorce, left bereft by death, two-parent families that are effectively one-parent households because a job requires travel or even deployment, etc.--and so what are you going to do where there is no second parent to help with the load?)
And that takes us away from an often-buried point, which is that fair treatment for women in the workplace is not merely a women's issue. Romney talks about flex time for women, which is wonderful and all, but we really ought to be talking about flex time for parents. And I don't see how a perpetual pool of underpaid but equally-qualified laborers doesn't depress wages and benefits for everyone.
Indeed, one way to look at the problem of female equality in the workplace is to turn it around: the problem is not merely that women are penalized in the workplace for choosing to take care of families (or having the potential to make such a choice--childless women are implicitly punished for the possibility they might choose to have a child at some point and are therefore "unreliable" employees)--the problem is also that men are punished at home and in society by the expectation they will always choose work ahead of their children, that they will stay late at the office instead of leaving to take care of familial responsibilities, etc.
Call it the "Cat's In The Cradle" problem. There was furor earlier this year over articles in The Atlantic and Newsweek by women struggling with the stress of "trying to have it all", a windmill that some feminists have been tilting at for decades. Largely absent from the discussion was the fact that men have never actually had it all: the trope--acknowledged in plays, songs, novels, short stories, memoirs, films, television shows, et al.--of the absentee father who spends all of his time at the office and misses his children's first words, school plays, baseball games, graduations, etc. predates the Harry Chapin song by almost to the Industrial Revolution; what men did do, being the dominant gender and structuring everything patriarchally and all, was successfully convince themselves (and apparently, along the way, women) that being largely absent from the domestic sphere except in some kind of figurehead capacity was winning, Great American Novels and livers-destroyed-by-after-work-highballs notwithstanding, largely burying the domestic sphere except in a sort of lip-service way. The punch line to every woman wondering how she's supposed to juggle making dinner every night with a professional career is that the emphasis on the professional career was always, at its heart, something we men have been conning ourselves into desiring for generations.
The solution isn't that women need to go back home. The solution is that we, as a society, ought to be reevaluating what, exactly, our priorities are and making the playing field as compassionately gender neutral as biology permits (it's to be taken for granted that men, lacking certain plumbing, would never have to miss work to deliver a baby, though it ought to be a given right and society ought to encourage them to be present at their children's deliveries). There shouldn't be a choice at all between career and family, they ought to be a pair of things together, with career accommodating family. It's not just that women shouldn't be punished for doing what many men want and all men ought to do, it's that neither gender should be punished, and if this is not something American corporations can get their heads around, then, yes, it's time for society--acting through government, its tool for this kind of thing--to force the issue by defining a right to have a family without having to sacrifice one's livelihood, and a right to have a career without sacrificing one's family.
I doubt Mitt Romney is capable of understanding any of this, much less agreeing with it. No doubt he feels comfortable with the choices he and Ann Romney have made regarding family and career, and that's fine insofar as the Romney family itself is concerned. I certainly am not saying that if someone wants to spend all their time at work and none of it with their children, they can't do such an awful thing as that. But I am saying that being able to do that by choice, as opposed to by necessity, is itself a position of privilege that Mitt Romney obviously takes for granted. The Romney boys probably turned out well however they were raised, and the family certainly seems pretty close. But Mitt and Ann Romney's choices were so wide open, they probably didn't know they were making them; it seems unlikely, given the kinds of things he says in public (or in semi-private donor events) that it's ever crossed Mitt Romney's mind that someone--a man, a woman--might not have any viable options at all, that it might not be a matter of working sixty hours a week because you want to get that promotion more than you want to see your kid's first marching band performance, but because that appears to be required if you don't want to be fired or, at best, stuck in a dead end rut for the next several decades; or that there isn't anyone else to pick up the kids after school, and if that means you get passed over again the next time there's a round of raises, well, gee, you can't blame your employer for giving the money to the guy who was willing to miss much of his kid's childhood.
I don't know that Mitt Romney's lack of understanding, empathy and compassion makes him a bad person in this context so much as it may make him regrettably ignorant and sheltered and unqualified to lead all Americans, even ones who never had the implicit and unspecified privileges that the wealthy are born into the way fish are born into water. (Cue Pulp's "Common People"--if Mitt Romney was ever exposed to any mundane hardship, it was only as a tourist.) I don't begrudge him those privileges, I just think he doesn't know the first fucking thing about anything, and his idea that an improved economy will just magically solve everything is merely yet another example of that. Hell, I'm not even saying that Obama can do better when it comes to fundamental problems like this (though the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was undeniably one small step in trying to fix the whole cultural, socioeconomic mess); but at least he's not oblivious to it all, which is at least half of Romney's problem, the other chunks of Romney's problem being arrogance and apathy.
>> Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Hoo, boy, I'm not looking forward to listening to this thing, and yet I feel it's my civic duty for some reason. Charles Pierce (or maybe his editor, whoever writes his headlines) is right that this is a debate where "Bullshit Is Now the Status Quo" and gives a fair summary of what we those of us listening or watching can expect to endure. He's far too sanguine, however, about the odds of anyone ambushing the candidates with a chance to be authentic--especially in light of the Memorandum Of Understanding concerning the debates that showed up on Gawker yesterday.