Ah another one from Elisabeth Drew:
Barack Obama had an unfathomable inability, beginning in his early years in office, to grasp the difference between campaigning and governing—and for that he’s been paying a fearful price in his second term.
Ah another one from Elisabeth Drew:
Barack Obama had an unfathomable inability, beginning in his early years in office, to grasp the difference between campaigning and governing—and for that he’s been paying a fearful price in his second term.
Sentence of the day from Paul Krugman:
(...) anyone counting on Obamacare to collapse is probably making a very bad bet.
Of course Krugman is right, but the point remains that Obamacare is and will remain a canard boiteux; something liberals and many Democrats will defend to their death because it is a symbol of the blind faith they placed in the One even though it will never fix the American Health care system and a policy that all others will resist because to them it epitomizes government's meddling in an area it either can't help.
Well, thank you Obama for ruining the dream of Universal healthcare for America.
From Ta-Nehisi Coates:
White people who actually spend time around black people--not black individuals whom they know from work, but black people with their families, in their communities, with their parents--will quickly notice that using "nigger" actually isn't a barometer of closeness. I'm black and I don't call even some of my best friends nigger. They, unlike me, are offended by it. Black humans, like most humans, are different from each other. But to grasp this, you must have to have relationships with black humans that go beyond your job.
Ta-Nehisi, mon pauvre frère !
In particular, given our capacity and willingness to spy on virtually everyone, you'd think that American diplomats would be entering foreign policy contests and diplomatic negotiations with an enormous advantage over their counterparts. If we're as good at extracting private information from other countries' networks, cell phones, emails, and the like, you'd think U.S. officials would usually have a good idea of our antagonists' bottom line and would be really skilled at manipulating them to our advantage. We now know that the Allies in World War II got big strategic benefits from cracking German and Japanese codes; I want to know if we're getting similar benefits today.
It is hard to believe we are, given that America's foreign policy record since the end of the Cold War is mostly one of failure. And that leads me to suspect that one of two things is true. Either 1) the NSA is good at collecting gazilla-bytes of stuff but not very good at deciding what to collect or figuring out what it means, or 2) the rest of our foreign policy establishment is not very good at taking advantage of the information the NSA has worked so hard to acquire. In other words, either the NSA is not worth the money we're paying for it, or the rest of our foreign policy establishment is less competent than we thought. To be frank, I'm not sure which possibility I prefer.
Sugary excerpt of the week from Albert Wong and Valerie Belair-Gagnon :
Consciously or not, Western journalists and media outlets may still (even more than a decade after 9/11) be wary of appearing to be “soft on terror,” much as they once were about appearing to be soft on Communism. President George W. Bush’s September 2001 admonition that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” appears to have an enduring legacy in media bias.
[...]the US hates being preached at and needs little encouragement to act as an injured innocent.
I agree with Julian Ku on this:
In other words, the problem is not that spying itself is illegal or morally wrong, but that it is illegal and morally wrong to spy on your allies and friends. Spying on other countries might very well be morally and legally justified (e.g.: North Korea, Iran, China, Russia ( ...) In any event, my prediction is that the fallout from the latest NSA scandal will be a flurry of “no-spy-on-you” promises and then a series of new “no spy agreements” for certain favored “allies”. I think Germany will talk about a universal anti-spying norm, but this initiative will eventually die largely because no large nation really wants it.
Was I just having a nightmare or didn't the One get a Nobel Peace prize just for not being George W Bush ? I'm sure it was a dream !
David Bernstein on why the rollout of Obamacare has been 'messy':
Why, it’s obviously because President Barack Obama and his top aides hate government, and therefore can’t be trusted to run a major government program. When the government is run by political forces committed to the belief that government is always the problem, never the solution, that belief tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Key priorities are neglected; key functions are privatized; and key people, the competent public servants who make government work, either leave or are driven out. What we really need is a government that works, because it’s run by people who understand that sometimes government is the solution, after all.
Doesn’t make any sense to you? It made just as little sense when Paul Krugman made the argument in 2008, imaginatively (to say the least) positing that George W. Bush and John McCain were wild-eyed libertarians, and that the former’s purported libertarianism was the cause of FEMA’s incompetence in dealing with Katrina. (...) t must come as a surprise to Krugman and his defenders that government can prove itself to be wildly, disastrously incompetent even when run by people whom even Krugman would have to admit aren’t going to be confused with libertarians any time soon (assuming, of course, that Krugman actually ever believed the nonsense he wrote).
Bernstein is been willfully disingenuous to score cheap political points for actually the failings of the Obama administration on this issue and others make Krugman. They show that Obama, as Bush, believes more in winning than in government or for that matter governing. Obamacare has no soul, c'est un machin used to gain liberal cred through a symbol that makes lovers of Harry Potter like change good.
In short, Obama is not and has never been a Krugman democrat.
People like Obamacare. They like Medicare and Social Security too, and not just because they are junkies hooked on the government yayo, but also, I suspect, out of a sense that in a country as rich as America people should not starve or freeze or die because they cannot afford to see a doctor. To roll all of this back, Republicans will have to set aside the exciting, romantic, vox clamantis thrill of noble failure, and get about the boring drudgery of actually winning elections—and not just in gerrymandered districts, but nationally. As I tell my five-year-old: destroying things is easy. Building is hard.
But building is better, and more necessary. America really does need an effective check on the Obama administration's regulatory instincts. It needs a sane, functional pro-business party—one focused on doing things like winning elections in an increasingly diverse country by actually persuading voters rather than by keeping "undesirable" voters from the polls.
From Daniel Drezner:
Thanks to the Mongolian clusterf**k that Ted Cruz, John Boehner, and some other economic know-nothings in the U.S. Congress have perpetuated, the next decade of global political economy will provide an excellent natural experiment to see whether there will be any form of economic balancing against the United States.
Oh well, chaos is good or at least flashy so there is nothing to worry about...
I agree with this :
For news-media creators, potentially catastrophic events like the shutdown are the deep source of the currency we seek: page views, forwards and links. The shutdown captivates the attention of the fickle public, tearing it momentarily away from the spectacle of a naked Miley Cyrus gripping giant construction apparatus between her legs. (That spectacle itself, of course, is a different type of calculated attention-getting "controversy" constructed by a number of self-interested media players, not least of them Ms Cyrus herself.) Journalists and bloggers swarm over the shutdown like ants on a dropped twinkie. But in an even more symbiotic relationship, we also create the controversy we feed on by swarming to it. Bloggers, tweeters, politicians and everyone else have an incentive to focus on the shutdown, to intensify the controversy, in order to drink from the resulting fount of public attention.(...) Nowadays, however, almost everyone who participates in social media understands it. A very large number of Americans are now adept at identifying potentially viral memes, and then ramping up the hype in order to both create and piggyback on them. In the general media viral memes may often be merely weird or titillating, but in politics, since politicians have not yet figured out how to use sex scandals to win (rather than lose) elections, they are almost always divisive, insulting, controversial and infused with prophecies of doom. So in politics the effect of increasingly widespread participation in this dynamic has been to exacerbate the American public's already deep attachment to apocalypticism.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Malise Ruthven:
Drones, for all their horror, are just the latest instruments by which powers based in urban centers (and not just those linked to the United States) beat into submission the peripheries—what Morocco’s rulers used to call the “Land of Insolence.”
Governing America is a lot more challenging than seducing Oprah...Thank God That's great.
It should be puzzling just how little power the present executive is actually capable of wielding. He can go to the U.N. or Kansas City and make speeches (that themselves often enough implicitly cast him as a kind of interested observer of his own presidency), but nothing much that he says in Washington seems any longer to be seriously attended to. In the foreign policy arena, he is surrounded by a secretary of defense who ducks for cover, a secretary of state who wanders the world blowing off steam, and a national security advisor and U.N. ambassador who seem like blundering neophytes and whose basic ideological stance (in favor of American -- aka “humanitarian” -- interventions globally) has been rejected in this country by almost any constituency imaginable. Unlike previous presidents, he evidently has no one -- no Brent Scowcroft, Jim Baker, or even Henry Kissinger -- capable of working the corridors of power skillfully or bringing a policy home.Domestically, who ever heard of a presidency already into its second term that, according to just about all observers, has only one significant achievement -- Obamacare (whatever you think of it) -- and clearly hasn’t a hope in hell of getting a second one?
I agree Stephen Walt on this:
If you wanted yet more evidence of how unserious the United States is in its conduct of diplomacy, I'd nominate the breathless "will they, won't they?" attention paid to whether U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani will actually meet during the U.N. General Assembly meeting. If they do meet, will they shake hands? Will it be an impromptu sidebar or a sit-down conversation? What color tie will Obama be wearing? Will they drink coffee or tea? Boxers or briefs?
For all I know, these and other truly vital questions will have been resolved by the time this gets posted. My main point is that Americans attach too much significance to these sorts of meetings -- mostly because we are too fond of not talking to countries we dislike -- and this reticence cripples our diplomacy. Refusing to talk to people or countries with whom we differ is really just a childish form of spite and one the United States indulges in mostly because we can get away with it. But it also makes it more difficult to resolve differences in ways that would advance U.S. interests. In short, it's dumb.
So boxers or briefs? I don't know but they will inhale.
Jeff Shesol sums up perfectly the American policy on Syria:
Foreign policy-making, unlike the domestic variety, is rarely compared to sausage-making, but what we have seen over the past couple of news cycles should be inspected by the U.S.D.A.
I would love to be having whatever Andrew Sullivan for Obamaland must be Eden when one is high.
To mourn the end of summer or rather celebrate my return to blogging life, sugary excerpt of my hiatus from Sandy Levinson;
:For reasons known only to himself, President Obama has decided to risk his presidency on the outcome of the congressional vote. As I see it, the best way to assure the destruction of his second term is to authorize a strike that makes almost literally no sense in terms of the public rationales that have been offered. There is literally no measure of what might count as "success," other than deterring additional use of chemical weapons. Given that there is no evidence that Assad ordered the use of those weapons in the first place, one might well imagine that he will make some efforts to make sure they are not used again. (There is something particularly indecent about the Obama Administration claiming that Commanders-in-Chief must be held responsible per se, a reversion, it appears to the Yamashita doctrine right after World War II. This, of course, is the Administration that has resolutely refused to hold anyone from the Bush Administration responsible for what is at least equally banned by international and domestic law, i.e., torture, or, for that matter, to pursue members of the Bush I Administration for their toleration of Saddam Hussein's use of poison gas against Iran and then Iraqis. )
It is ominous that Obama's chief domestic support is coming from John ("I never met a war I didn't want to get into") McCain. We all live with (and are victimized by) analogies. I keep thinking of Vietnam, in which thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lost their lives in order to vindicate American "credibility" and fight against the perception that we were a "paper tiger."
(...) Paula Deen polls way better among Georgia Republicans than the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Favorability/unfavorability: Paula Deen 73/11, Martin Luther King Jr. 59/28. And that’s just the people who are willing to say they don’t like MLK on the phone. How many of them do you think hate him more than that?
Hum, well at least Cornel West is consistent. Is that a good thing? I don't know but he is onto something.
Frank Pasquale on the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman case:
I have to say, after this case, I'm scared to go to Florida. What happens if I'm in a fender bender and the person in the other car misinterprets my reaching for my registration as reaching for a gun? What if I don't like to drive, and walk along a road, and for that very reason am seen as "suspect" and start getting followed by somebody? If I, as a white man, have these concern, I can't even imagine how the usual subjects of discrimination feel. Stand your ground seems to be not merely a law, but the first volley in an attempted cultural revolution in how individuals interact. Dueling looks civilized by comparison with what may happen as SYG becomes entrenched.
However inflected by race the old protocols were, they were at least somewhat stable. We are entering a brave new world, where one may well be ill-advised to go anywhere unfamiliar without a taser, gun, mace, or other weapons. This is how "guard labor" approaches, and will perhaps exceed, 20% of GDP, and how the producers of weapons acquire the means to make society's systems of dispute resolution (or creation) ever more dependent on their tools.
Whatever Obama was before, today he is an unsentimental practitioner of realpolitik, which has ruled in America for some time. One could be more specific: Obama's foreign policy lacks any emotional dimension. The president is led by pragmatism and interests, with limits being set, if need be, by international law. (...) Obama twists and turns and examines a foreign policy problem. After he has weighed all of the arguments, he then decides. That leads to a rational, and sometimes hesitant, but not empathetic foreign policy. (...) Paradoxically, Europeans, especially the Germans, have their problems with both presidents. They despise Bush as a supposedly dim-witted cowboy. But in the meantime, they have become leery of the coldly analytical Obama, who kills suspected terrorists with drones and lets his government monitor the Internet.
Ah the death of fine romances is always slow, painful, and crippling...
From Chris Bertram:
We line up obediently behind Miliband (or Obama, or Hollande) and, having persuaded enough of our fellow citizens to vote for a programme of progressive reform, our social-democrats then enact that very programme. That’s democracy. Except that it very rarely happens like that. What actually happens is that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of ordinary men and women demonstrate, by their acts of lawbreaking, disobedience, even violence, that there are injustices up with which they will no longer put (I’m channelling James C. Scott here). Neither the US civil rights movement of the 1960s nor the Gezi Park protestors of today are willing just to wait for the next election and hope it all turns out right: rather they want to move the window of political possibility, to make some injustices impossible and to make some concessions inevitable. (And in our “post-democratic” age, the myriad lobbyists and corporate interests aren’t waiting either. Typically they are trying to box in all elected governments to programmes of neoliberal “structural reform”.)
So here’s the worry. Just as the FBI tried to discredit Martin Luther King, so government agencies, equipped with all the latest surveillance techniques, will attempt to damage lawbreakers in pursuit of social justice. There’s nothing new about this, just the tools to do so are far more powerful.
An eloquent community organizer? Which websites did he visit? Or, failing that, which websites did his close associates and family members visit?
An environmental activist? How come she was searching for guidance on mental health issues? Did she have an abortion? Do something that can be portrayed as less than green?
So it goes.
And so we know the end of this awful movie!
I agree with Professor Bainbridge on this:
Bush was bad enough, but Obama's not much better and in some ways worse. We seem to be living in a permanent security state that is gradually morphing into something disturbingly authoritarian. (...) We're losing the moral high ground to criticize places like Russia and China, as we allow our freedoms to continually erode.
Poignant question from Sandy Levinson:
Why has "surveillance state" apparently become so widely accepted as a "neutral" term describing the present United States (and, no doubt, other countries as well, and perhaps all that have the technological capacity), while "police state," even if modified by "soft" or "pink" or, to adopt an adjective from the 18th century referring to one type of despot, "benevolent," still presumably raises all sorts of hackles and undoubtedly would generate accusations of ideological shrillness (perhaps like using "constitutional dictatorship" to refer to at least aspects of the American system, even if most of it these days is dysfunctional and incapable of any cogent action regarding many of our most crucial challenges)?
What happened? Well, my guess that something died in America when the change we could believed in ended up being nothing more than remixed Bushism.
Old, but great stuff fromm Amitava Kumar:
As an Indian, I’m raising my kids in the firm belief that sooner or later, everyone in this country [America] is going to look like Kal Penn.
That would make America the handsomest country in the world and an Abercrombie & Fitch's wet dream!
Can American Muslims really be an equal part of the American family when they’re viewed either as suspects or as informants?
Sntences of the week from Ta-nehisi Coates:
The years between 2000 and 2010 do not simply constitute a war on marijuana, but a war on black people who use marijuana.A rising wave smashes Negroes first.
From Jane McManus:
With too many tragedies to report in such a short period of time — Newtown, the Boston bombings, Hurricane Sandy, the deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant and others — there seems to be a desire to move straight from the tragic to the silver lining.
I have nothing against the woman who found her dog in the rubble, or the few horses that survived a direct hit of an F5 tornado at the Orr Family Farm.
But in an everything-happens-for-a-reason culture, where happy aphorisms greet you every time you log onto a social media site, the premature positivity feels forced. I know polls constantly tell station managers that the public wants good news, not so much bad news. But news itself doesn’t have a point of view, it just is — when reported objectively.
But once the cloud of national news outlets descend and the news cycle is all day long, you can see how the same threads get teased from the wreckage.
No wonder Camus thought that America lacked a sense of the tragic for in the US, whenever shit happens, the news story rarely focuses on the agony and the consequences to avoid being about fatality, tragedy and its meaninglessness instead of survival and triumph over adversity.
Quote of the day from Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives:
The one thing I do conservatively is count.
In truth Mr Obama’s problems extend well beyond the confines of the capital’s Beltway. The president’s headache is that his winning majority resembles the hamlet in “Brigadoon”. It exists all right, twice sending him to the White House. But, like that Highland village, it is hard to see or touch most of the time. (...) The magic at the heart of Mr Obama’s two victories was his ability to expand the electorate itself, mobilising sporadic voters who shun politics most of the time, notably the young and minorities. Now that he is no longer on the ballot, his loose coalition risks being no match for the intense ideologues who fight and oversee Washington’s partisan battles.
The best sentence I read this week from Sandy Levinson over at Balkinization:
(...) the Constitution is evermore a clear and present danger to the health of the American Republic.
Foreseeable crap from Eugene Kontorovich:
Russia only succeeded in suprresing the Chechen Islamists with extremely brutal tactics that would never find support in the U.S – essentially leveling the Chechen capital. Yet dealing with such a threat would also be impossible with a politically correct approach to counter-terror that, for example, turns away from talking frankly about the terrorists profiles and motives.
Yeah let's transform America into Russia, it won't be too difficult for Obama has at least one thing in common with Putin.
Is it possible to wait to now more facts before advocating ideological measures in the name of security?
Sugary excerpt of the day from Charles Simic on the American health care system:
Today, when the acquisition of wealth, quickly and in large amounts, is admired above any other human endeavor, every medical emergency or catastrophic illness is seen as an opportunity for some to enrich themselves beyond their wildest dreams. It’s no wonder that our healthcare is so much more expensive than that of every other developed country in the world, where the costs are not only much lower, but people also live longer than we do. Unlike us, other countries have the peculiar notion that profit has no place in any situation in which the basic decencies that human beings owe to one another ought to be the first consideration, and for that reason regulate the cost of lifesaving drugs and operations. In other words, they are less greedy than we are and far more humane.
From Vali Nasr, author of a new book on Obama's foreign policy The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat:
The White House was ever afraid that the young Democratic president would be seen as ‘soft’ (...) It did not want to try anything as audacious as diplomacy. It was an art lost on America’s top decision makers.
I disagree strongly with Professor Bainbridge on this:
Former Democratic Congressman, Clinton Administration White House Counsel and federal judge Abner Mikva once explained that: "I support the result of Roe v. Wade. … But … in retrospect, I wish the court had stayed its hand and allowed the political process to continue, because we would have legislated the effect of Roe v. Wade in most states — not all of them, but in most states — and we wouldn’t have had to pay the political price we’ve had to pay for it being a court decision. The people who are angry at that court are angry beyond measure. As far as they are concerned the whole system is rotten because they’ve lost their opportunity to slug it out."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has likewise stated that "Roe v. Wade ... halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue."
Because it is custom, tradition, and long familiar patterns that enable people to live together peaceably, social change needs to come slowly. Change and progress are necessary, of course, but sudden change disrupts social bonds, induces stress and engenders controversy as old and vested interests are upset.
Sudden change by a cabal of unelected and largely unaccountable judges is particularly likely to engender controversy.
Sometimes, and I will argue almost always, sudden change is necessary in a society as complex and entrenched as America's. The trouble of course is that change in America is more often than not symbolic (cough Obama cough) when it is sudden and spectacular and in the political process, its effects are diluted at best for many reasons, one of which is that America isn't a nation-state.
I guess my inability to find sudden change troubling explains why I can't become a conservative no matter how hard I try.
I agree with Corey Robin on this:
During the Vietnam era, liberals and leftists believed not only in social justice but also in mass protest. Whether the cause was democracy at home or liberation abroad, men and women afflicted by oppression had to organize themselves for freedom. Yes, some of yesterday’s activists were blind to coercion within these movements, and others joined elite cadres bombing their way to liberation. Still, the animating faith of the 1960s was in the democratic capacities of ordinary men and women, making it difficult for liberals and leftists to believe in conquering armies from abroad or shock troops from on high.
Many liberals, and some leftists, no longer hold these views. Their faith is guided not by the light of justice but by the darkness of evil: by the tyranny of dictators, the genocide of ethnic cleansers and the terrorism of Islamist radicals. Despite their differences—some of these liberals and leftists support the war in Iraq, others do not; some are partial to popular movements, particularly those opposing anti-American governments, while others favor constitutional regimes, particularly those supporting the United States—theirs is a liberalism, as the late Harvard scholar Judith Shklar put it in a pioneering essay in 1989, that seeks to ward off the “summum malum” (worst evil) rather than to install a “summum bonum” (highest good). Reversing Augustine’s dictum that there is no such thing as evil—evil being only the absence of good—today’s liberal believes there is only evil and progress is measured by the distance we put between ourselves and that evil.
Ah good intentions and the obsession with evil...
Pertinent stuff from Any Davidson on the Steubenville's rape trial:
There is something deeply harmful in all of the adults reinforcing the idea that the lives of teen-age boys are destroyed when a girl says what they have done. There is also something incomplete about just replying that they deserved the consequences (as much as they do). For one thing, it can mean asking a sixteen-year-old to be the one to judge the weight of her own trauma. It isn’t trivializing the seriousness of the sentence to say that teen-agers always think, when one door is closed, that everything is over, and that it’s the job of grownups to explain that it isn’t. A different life is not a worthless one. (Absent parents, not incidentally, are a theme of this story.)
The problem is that Americans are as obsessed with absolute justice as they are with absolute freedom.
I agree almost totally wth Brendon O'Neill on this:
If America’s failure to shunt Chavez aside in Venezuela spoke to its impotent international reach, then its inability to counteract the idolisation of Chavez everywhere from Hollywood to Western literary circles spoke to its failure to win over large swathes of the cultural elite to American values. It is through loving Chavez that many a modern youth and respectable commentator really communicated their fashionable hatred for America, and more importantly for the modern values it is seen to represent.
Western leftists are in mourning for Chavez, never stopping to ask why they invested so much hope in such a faraway figure in the first place. And those of a more right-wing, pro-capitalist persuasion are celebrating his death, not bothering to ask why it took 14 years and cancer to do to Chavez what their political forebears would have done to a leader they didn’t like in a matter of months.
In a way, everything about El Comandante is in his burial and his mourning, which overshadow the people and the causes he purported to defend. Hero politics as Hero balling is always flashy, but seldom wins games although it wows crowds.
Pertinent stuff from Glenn Greenwald:
It's certainly true that Americans are justifiably proud of certain nationalistic attributes: class mobility, ethnic diversity, religious freedom, large immigrant populations, life-improving technological discoveries, a commitment to some basic liberties such as free speech and press, historical progress in correcting some of its worst crimes. But all of those virtues are found in equal if not, at this point, greater quantity in numerous other countries. Add to that mix America's shameful attributes - its historic crimes of land theft, genocide, slavery and racism, its sprawling penal state, the company it keeps on certain human rights abuses, the aggressive attack on Iraq, the creation of a worldwide torture regime, its pervasive support for the world's worst tyrannies - and it becomes not just untenable, but laughable, to lavish it with that title.
Assertions of one's nation's exceptionalism are banal and create more obligations than privileges.
The word is american and America is increasingly going to have an issue with how much others have learned from its recent years.
From Peter Temin and David Vines, authors of The Leaderless Economy: Why the World Economic System Fell Apart and How to Fix It:
The United States set the example for bank bailouts during the crisis itself, but then it vanished as a world economic leader, (...) Like Britain roughly a century earlier, America has become part of the problem, not the solution.
Drone technology has made it possible to use lethal force in many situations where we could not or would not have even considered it in the past. Unlike conventional military operations, drone attacks require no “boots on the ground,” and therefore do not pose a risk to American lives. Unlike bombings, they have pinpoint accuracy; they therefore reduce the collateral costs of killing and may be easier to disavow. Because drones can effectively travel the world while being controlled remotely from home, they permit the “war” to move far beyond the battlefield. And drones have made it possible for the US government to do something that was unthinkable before, and should be unthinkable still—to kill its own citizens in secret. In short, drones radically reduce the disincentives to killing. And that may well make a nation prone to use military force before it is truly a last resort. That certainly seems to be what has happened here.
Kenneth Anderson has a interesting take on the subject.
From Elissa Strauss:
According to Gawker, [Michael] Bloomberg once told a female colleague to “kill it” when she announced her pregnancy, only after teasing her about being too ugly to be engaged. Another Bloomberg employee complained of the institutional harassment at Bloomberg LP in the late 1990s, and believed that the misogynistic workplace culture was linked to her being raped by her superior in a hotel room. Also, “in 2007 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Bloomberg LP on behalf of 78 women who claimed that Bloomberg — who at that point was not involved in the day-to-day company operations, despite being a majority shareholder — and Bloomberg LP ‘fostered, condoned and perpetuated’ a hostile work environment for female employees.”
This is pretty bad, right? Nevertheless, nobody seemed to really care when they elected him to mayor the first, second or third time. And nobody seems to really care now either.
Imagine if there was a similar history of his saying or condoning disparaging remarks against blacks or Jews. Our inboxes and Facebook feeds would be filled with celebrity-endorsed pleas to sign online petitions pressuring him to resign from office. He would feel obligated to at least mutter some public apology, even if it clearly wasn’t heartfelt. But talk down to women like this, and the outrage is barely existent. (Think I am over exaggerating? Remember what happened with serial misogynist Charlie Sheen? The actor’s career was derailed by a single anti-semitic comment, after years of reports of domestic abuse and porn addiction.)
Sure, sexism can be more difficult to define than racism or anti-semitism (because humans + sex drives = messy), but when there is a pattern of misogynistic behavior like Bloomberg’s, albeit alleged, I wonder why we are so darn tolerant.
Well, the answer to that question explains in part why Obama is president.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Kathryn Joyce:
Even among nonhysterics, John Kerry’s 2004 defeat was attributed by liberal writers in part to his outspoken wife, and the excesses of the Tea Party are denounced most vigorously by Republican moderates who ridicule the movement’s female politicians as unserious.
Even in the Democrats’ 2012 convention, lauded for women’s central role, First Lady Michelle Obama’s otherwise powerful speech discounted her entire professional life in favor of her role as “mom in chief.” Listening to that speech, I don’t hear hysteria but rather calculation, which is sadly realistic at that. Understanding why it’s still necessary means understanding what continues to drive the backlash. And it demonstrates that, if the sexual counterrevolution is ever over, the unfinished work of the original revolution is still waiting.
I agree with Sandy Livinson on this:
What I want to do now, though, is simply to vent about the patent irresponsibility of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in appointing his friend Michael Cowan to replace John Kerry as senator, apparently for no other reason than his (Gov. Patrick's) desire to have an African-American Democratic senator for at least four monts or so, and regardless of the fact that there is no reason at all to believe that Sen. Cowan, as I presume he'll become tomorrow or very shortly thereafter, has any real knowledge about national political issues that may in fact come up in the next four months. This is "expressive politics" at its absolute worst, and Gov. Patrick should be ashamed of himself. Frankly, it is the kind of self-indulgent gesture by someone with power that gives "affirmative action" (which I support) a bad name with many Americans. He has, in one instant, disserved his state, his party, and the nation (even if, as I presume, Sen. Cowan is an extremely fine and able person whom all of us would be proud to have as a friend or, if governor of Massachusetts, an aide, as he was.) Nothing in my remarks should be read as casting aspersions on Mr. Cowan's personal character (other, frankly, than that he didn't have the personal self-discipline to exercise what Madison might have described as the "civic virtue" to tell the Governor that he is highly flattered but not really qualified for the job).
All politics nowadays is expressive politics, which is almost always a potent and dangerous form of identity politics.
Deval Patrick is Obama 1.0, he hasn't yet updated his operating software to make his errors of judgment appear to be brilliant avant-gardism and awesomely historic.
From the great Stephen W. Smith:
The bigger question is not why France decided to intervene but why America has held off. Is it simply imperial overstretch and war-weariness? That seems a little thin, given the hue and cry in Washington about ‘ungoverned spaces’ and ‘terrorist safe havens’. After all, the Sahara is six times as big as Afghanistan and Pakistan combined. And why sink money into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership – more than $1 billion since 2005 – or foot the bill for Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara, if at the end of it all al-Qaida is allowed to march on Bamako? Why would Obama order more drone strikes than his predecessor against the leaders of Somalia’s al-Shabaab, a group with relatively weak links to international terrorism, but not lift a finger to stop AQIM from taking over Mali? Unless, of course, in addition to a division of labour with the French, the point is to ‘disaggregate’ the multiple terrorist threats in Africa, tackling each individually rather than addressing any common denominator, and so deny jihadism a chance to coalesce. In this regard, even if the French were drawn into the quicksand in Mali, Nigeria would most likely remain the region’s focal point for the US: with 150 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state as well as the biggest oil producer south of the Sahara, and has an active homegrown salafist-jihadist group, Boko Haram (‘Westernisation Is Sinful’). When I put these thoughts to a US military staffer involved in anti-terrorism in Africa, he replied tersely: ‘What we’re doing in Africa is a sort of Whac-A-Mole’ – a reference to an arcade game in which players force moles back into their burrows by hitting them on the head with a mallet. He went on to quote the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams: ‘America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ Well, not any longer perhaps. But France has done precisely that.
THIS can't end well!
From Garry Wills:
Tradition dies hard, hardest among those who cannot admit to the toll it has taken on them. That is why the worst aspects of the South are resurfacing under Obama’s presidency. It is the dignity. That a black should have not merely rights but prominence, authority, and even awe—that is what many Southerners cannot stomach. They would let him ride on the bus, or get into Ivy League schools. But he must be kept from the altar; he cannot perform the secular equivalent of taking the Lord in his hands. It is the dignity.
This is the thing that makes the South the distillation point for all the fugitive extremisms of our time, the heart of Say-No Republicanism, the home of lost causes and nostalgic lunacy. It is as if the whole continent were tipped upward, so that the scattered crazinesses might slide down to the bottom. The South has often been defeated. Now it is defeating itself.
It is easy, comforting, and convenient to blame American idiocy on the South, it fits perfectly in the dumb culture wars narrative.
From Kevin Jon Heller:
Fortunately — though I know this comes as a shock to the US, which likes to pretend that it is primus inter pares — the US doesn’t get to unilaterally determine whether Palestine is a state. Nor does Israel (and note that that Rice’s “direct negotiations” lament is simply designed to give Israel a veto over Palestinian statehood by continuing to avoid negotiating in good faith).
My suggestion: at all future UN meetings, [Ambassador Susan] Rice should avoid turning her head toward the seat with the State of Palestine placard. That will make it much easier for her to pretend that more than 70% of the world’s states didn’t recently vote to recognize Palestinian statehood.
Bien envoyé mais c'est plus compliqué !
The absurdity of the day from Heather Mac Donald:
Absent a showing that gender discrimination is causing the selection of inferior leaders, the sex of politicians and government officials is of no public import. And feminists’ cherished conceit that women today face a wall of overt or unconscious bias rests on deliberate blindness to the facts. No elite organization today fails to incorporate oppressive gender and race consciousness into its every hiring and promotion decision. Any woman in the public realm not acutely aware that her gender is a plus in getting selected for panels and media appearances, in all likelihood catapulting her ahead of more qualified male participants, is living in a state of denial.
Well, America is particularly in a state of denial when it comes to gender...