Sunday, January 31, 2016

More on my working class bonafides

One of my cousins is a genealogy buff and has created a pretty comprehensive record of my mother's side of the family. Her family is from Philadelphia since at least the early 1800s. But one of my Great-Great-Great Grandfathers was from Ireland originally. He was born in 1802 and according to the record he was "Proprietor of an oyster saloon in Philadelphia." Apparently
"By 1850, nearly every major town in North America had oyster bar, oyster cellar, oyster parlor, or oyster saloon—almost always located in the basement of the establishment (where keeping ice was easier).[9][10] Oysters and bars often went hand-in-hand in the United States, because oysters were seen as a cheap food to serve alongside beer and liquor.
So I'm guessing a nineteenth century oyster bar was pretty working class.

A branch of the family tree of Daniel McAleer, oyster bar proprietor.

^
|
Great-Great Grandmother (Philadelphia) 
^
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Great Grandmother (Philadelphia)
^
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Grandmother (Philadelphia)


The only semi-famous member of my ancestry is Iggy Wolfington. And his family was pretty well-off, one of my few somewhat upper-class ancestors.

He's my grandfather's cousin. Here's how I'm related to him.

Great Grandmother (Philadelphia)
^
|
Grandfather (Philadelphia)

 -> Great Granduncle (Philadelphia)
^
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Iggy Wolfington
The grandfather of my grandfather and Iggy was Alexander J. Wolfington, who according to this web site was born in Nova Scotia and was the son of a sea captain. Nobody apparently knows what the captain's name was or where he was from. Probably England.

So I don't know - it seems like the Wolfington branch of my family was rather more upper-class than usual - I assume a sea captain was more hoity-toity than your rank-and-file limey. Or a sea cook. But the rest of them were common as dirt.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Nancy McClernan vs. the Radical Chic Part 4

Continued from Part 3

The Radical Chic is more interested in making a statement, in posturing, than in actually making progress through the political system. Or as Gail Collins said:
That’s the bottom line of the whole contest. Vote for Bernie: Send a message. Vote for Hillary: She knows how to make things work.
As the NYTimes said in its endorsement of Clinton:
In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.
The Radical Chic is not interested in actually making things work in the real world because making things work takes work. And compromise. Superkewl revolutionaries don't compromise, superkewl revolutionaries laugh at compromise, or rant at it, in Bernie Sanders' case as Gail Collins said in a different piece:
This is one of the problems with being Bernie Sanders. His whole point is to be outside the political norm. He’s the principled maverick whose most famous moment in the Senate was his eight-and-a-half-hour speech against the compromises President Obama made in 2010 to get a tax deal. We expect him to stick to his standards, even if they’re somewhat irrational.
The Radical Chic has no problem with irrationality. That's why someone like Doug Henwood, contributing editor at The Nation can say of positive change  "...would require a wholesale overhaul of the political economy ... and the Clintons weren't about to take that on."

The wholesale overhaul of the political economy is not achievable for two politicians, even the Clintons. So as far a Radical Chic guy like Henwood is concerned, political achievements mean nothing without a complete overhaul. That explains the Radical Chic view of ACA.

In order to believe that Sanders has the ability to make all their dreams come true, the Radical Chic have to dismiss the accomplishment of ACA - as if getting it into law past a scorched-earth obstructionist Republican Congress was utterly insignificant.  And so they must believe the only reason Obama couldn't accomplish more was because he just didn't want it badly enough, and Sanders wants it bad enough and so, they apparently imagine, he will simply waltz into Congress, demand that Medicaid cover all citizens and throw out all the insurance companies.

And because dismissing anything good coming out of the existing system while making bold statements about how things should be is what being Radical Chic is all about, the ultimate hero of the Radical Chic is not Doug Henwood, although he certainly hasn't accomplished anything of value as far as I can see which might qualify him. No, the ultimate hero of the Radical Chic is Kathy Chang.

As I've mentioned on my blog in the past couple of months, Chang hung out with my ex-husband and other lefties in Philadelphia, including future Nation copy editor Sandy McCroskey. I met her myself but barely exchanged more than a few sentences with her and I don't remember what was said.

When she died the NYTimes said:
In 1978, she had a vision that she could redeem her many perceived failures with an act of utmost ambition: saving the world.

But after nearly two decades of pamphlets and protests and stripping naked in public, if that was what it took, there came the realization that no one was listening and nothing had changed. 
She also ranted in public. And her friend Anita King created a web site which displays one of her rants, which begins:
I am running on a platform of complete social transformation. The problems we are faced with today: crime, unemployment, poverty, battered women, abused children, pollution, environmental degradation, national insolvency, and budget deficits, and so on, cannot be solved within the present economic and political framework, because that framework is in itself the fundamental problem and the cause of all the other problems. The present government is so corrupt and tied up with anti-democratic procedures that it cannot reform itself. The only way to reform the system is to simply dissolve the system and start all over with a great national conference to create a new society.
A "platform of complete social transformation" is what many Bernie Sanders partisans want. And the phrase reminds me of Doug Henwood's "wholesale overhaul of the political economy" which he was angry with the Clintons for failing to provide. 

Now Chang was mentally ill and so you can't expect worthwhile analysis of the world's problems from her, and what she mostly provided was a wish list of stuff like an end to crime, unemployment, poverty, etc. etc. - in other words, she wanted an end to the many torments that have comprised the human condition since the beginning of human civilization. And Chang reckoned this could be accomplished through "a great national conference to create a new society."

As Gene Lyons said in response to Henwood's expectation of the wholesale overhaul of the political economy:
Ah, yes. Wholesale overhaul. If only Hillary had been willing to wave her magic wand, wiping away 200 years of history, abolishing the legislature and converting Arkansas into Connecticut.
This belief in virtual magic unites both Henwood and Kathy Chang.

Until very recently I had assumed that my ex and his gang were extreme in their irrational beliefs, and surely people writing for Left establishment media outlets like The Nation, people with college degrees and reputations, if not fame, could be expected to have a more earth-based and nuanced understanding of the world of politics. Especially when, like Henwood, they make a living writing about politics. But now I realize I gave them too much credit. 

Chang's final, pre-pyrotechnic statement could easily be written by any member of the Radical Chic - as quoted in Joseph Shahadi's paper:
CALL ME A FLAMING RADICAL BURNING FOR ATTENTION, BUT MY REAL INTENTION IS TO SPARK A DISCUSSION OF HOW WE CAN PEACEFULLY TRANSFORM OUR WORLD. AMERICA, I OFFER MYSELF TO YOU AS AN ALARM AGAINST ARMAGEDDON AND A TORCH FOR LIBERTY.
Shahadi then quotes Ray Cairnes, identified as Chang's companion for the last 13 years (possibly the same boyfriend that King said to me was too cheap to pay for Chang's dental care): "I do not view it as a suicide, I view it as a sacrifice to save the world."

Chang did nothing to make the world a better place by her self-immolation, let alone save it, but she did make A STATEMENT which is everything to the Radical Chic.

I suppose we should be glad that most members of the Radical Chic are content to make a statement by merely rooting for Bernie Sanders.

However, Chang's death hurt nobody else. But if Bernie Sanders gets the nomination he would be trounced by a Republican once it was clear to voters exactly how much they would be paying in taxes to support his program proposals, among other things.

And then a Republican clown would be in the position to roll back women's rights, reproductive rights, gay rights, Wall Street regulations, ACA and so many other advances which are the result of the unglamorous, non-revolutionary, statement-free slow trudge of democratic politics. 

And we must not allow the Radical Chic's desire to make a statement about the wholesale overhaul of the political economy endanger hard-won liberties for rest of us. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nancy McClernan vs. the Radical Chic Part 3

Continued from Part 2

Thanks to the Radical Chic I realized I was a liberal, not a member of the far left. And my journey away from the far left began when I was eighteen.

I married my ex-husband when I was seventeen. I was impressed by his erudition - relative to the high schoolers I hung out with and my family. My ex-husband wrote poetry then. But over the course of our brief marriage he gradually went from an artsy/hippie guy who cared mainly about vegetarian organic food to a far-left anarchist dedicated to legalizing marijuana.

I hadn't really thought too much about the distinction between liberals and the far-left at that point. Just getting away from Catholic church and the vaguely right-leaning politics of my parents was a big break for me. But as my ex began to think of himself as some kind of anarchist revolutionary I began to become disenchanted with him, and by the time I was nineteen our marriage was over.

Being an anarchist revolutionary my ex was not too interested in holding down a regular job, and drifted around Philadelphia. He did work briefly in the restaurant attached to the Friends Center (aka "Quaker Kremlin") and various other short-term and part time jobs.

Around that time I discovered he was staying on the second floor of an abandoned house in West Philadelphia (courtesy of Kathy Chang) with holes in the floor, and had allowed our two-year old daughter to stay with him there.  After that incident I didn't trust him with our daughter's welfare anymore, and decided he couldn't share custody until she was old enough to watch out for herself. So he stopped giving me child support.

While this revolutionary was refusing to support his child, his child was being supported by me, working various crap jobs and at one point by the United States government through Aid to Families with Dependent Children (aka "welfare"). And for years we got food stamps. By the time my daughter was old enough to stay with her father (usually during summer vacation) I was able to get fairly well-paying jobs and stopped needing food stamps.

I never took my ex-husband's revolutionary politics very seriously. He was in touch with the Yippies who had their headquarters at 9 Bleeker Street until they were driven out by the market, but mostly he hung out with a West Philly group that included Kathy Chang and Sandy McCrosky,  later a Nation magazine copy editor, seen here with my ex and Kathy Chang. McCrosky's Nation site bio mentions he has a by-line in Overthrow which was the new name given to the Yipster Times.

Most Nation contributors have college credentials - often from Ivy League colleges - and careers as journalists in media more mainstream than the Yipster Times but I can see the similarities in their world view with that of the ragtag group my ex-husband ran with, and it's best summed up by Gene Lyons' response to Doug Henwood's attacks on Hillary Clinton:
So let me add that almost everything he wrote about the Clintons in Arkansas reflects sheer incomprehension. Mostly, it's what Joe Conason and I call "naive cynicism," in which a reporter innocent of basic political realities presumes corruption.
For example, he accuses Bill Clinton of a cynical ploy "aimed at distancing himself from traditional liberal politics" by not calling for repeal of Arkansas's right-to-work law. Shockingly, Clinton also failed to call for abolishing Razorback football and duck hunting season.
 
Henwood alleges that Clinton "went light on environmental enforcement," covering the state in "chicken feces." Would it help to know that until Clinton wrestled the timber industry and Farm Bureau to the ground in 1985, Arkansas environmental agencies had virtually no enforcement powers? 
Elsewhere, Henwood alleges that the Clintons schemed to earn the enmity of teacher unions. In vain, alas. But he left out town hall meetings Hillary held with educators and parents in all 75 Arkansas counties back in 1983 in support of her husband's educational reforms. 
No matter. Her efforts were pointless anyway, Henwood thinks, because real advances "would require a wholesale overhaul of the political economy ... and the Clintons weren't about to take that on." 
Ah, yes. Wholesale overhaul. If only Hillary had been willing to wave her magic wand, wiping away 200 years of history, abolishing the legislature and converting Arkansas into Connecticut. 
But, you know, the witch is too selfish for that.
This is the attitude that many Hillary defenders have gotten from the fans of Bernie Sanders - this notion that if you face political realities you are corrupt. Which is why Henwood suggested that Brad DeLong was a lying patronage-seeker for saying good things about Clinton. Like my ex-husband and his gang, Henwood and his Radical Chic brigade are suspicious of anybody who is not a hard-core ideologue. And will always assume bad faith. They are all victims of naive cynicism.

And like Bernie Sanders they are happy to float big ideas about peace and anti-hierarchy and all that jazz, but not so big on the basics like where does the money come from, how does it get distributed and who gets what. Which is why James Surowieki wrote an article in the New Yorker entitled The Many Problems with Bernie Sanders' Health Care Plan which critiqued Sanders on pragmatic grounds.
...The point isn’t that a single-payer system is a bad idea, per se, nor even that it’s wholly unrealistic from a political perspective. Rather, it’s that Sanders needs to be more forthright and detailed about what his plan would entail, and specifically about the fact that it would require major and often unwelcome changes not just for businesses that many people dislike, such as insurance and drug companies, but also for doctors and hospitals, which are generally popular. And he should acknowledge that the single-payer model would, in some cases, mean big and potentially controversial changes for patients, too. Moving to a single-payer system would be a tumultuous experience, and it’s a proposal worthy of a great deal of open debate. Sanders can certainly make a case that such a transition would be beneficial, given the enormous amount of waste and inefficiency in our current system. But he needs to stop pretending that it would be easy.
And when I posted a link to Surowieki's article on Facebook an old lefty anthropologist had a shit-fit and called the New Yorker, Surowieki, Krugman and everybody else who questioned Sanders a bunch of running dogs of capitalism in so many words - and specifically said to me:
Why not just concede that a really equitable system alarms you! The way you toss around the term "far-lefties" makes me deeply suspicious of what your endgame is. Certainly not equity or you'd be less angry!
And I could easily see my ex-husband or Doug Henwood making the same kind of accusation. That's how the Radical Chic approaches criticism of their heroes. As Krugman said:

...if you’re a progressive who not only supports Sanders but is furious with anyone skeptical about his insurgency, someone who considers Mike Konczal a minion and me a corrupt crook, you might want to ask why Barack Obama is saying essentially the same things as the progressive Bernie skeptics. And you might want to think hard about why you’re not just sure that you’re right, but sure that anyone who disagrees must be evil.
But far-lefties don't like Obama either - they are bitterly disappointed in him because they thought he would be the same as they believe Sanders to be now - an idealized far-left father figure who is going to make all their political dreams come true without compromise.

More in Part 4.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nancy McClernan vs. the Radical Chic Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Verso Books publishes anti-feminist books like the work of Liza Featherstone disguised as concern for the working class. Verso reposted one of her tweets accusing Hillary Clinton of being a "lean-in feminist."



"Lean In" refers to the Great Satan of the Radical Chic, Sheryl Sandberg who wrote a book by that title encouraging women to be assertive in the workplace. There is nothing that the Radical Chic hates more than a woman who is going for power. As they see it the role of women is to fight the Workers Revolution in order to achieve the end of all hierarchies.

Who is Verso Books?

Well neither the Wiki page nor their web site says much about the people running it. But its CEO appears to be a guy around 33 years old named Jacob Stevens. So he runs a company worth 10-25 million and he's in his early 30s. I haven't been able to verify it yet, but I have a hunch that Stevens is not from the working class.

I'm sure that plenty of women working at Wal-Mart are more interested in what Sheryl Sandberg has to say about advancing their careers than in Liza Featherstone telling them they shouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she's a Lean In feminist.

It's Featherstone, Henwood, and Stevens who are the true elites. They are so elite they believe they are making the world better for the working class, when the working class not only doesn't know who they are, and couldn't care less, but if they knew how these people were claiming to help them would probably laugh in their faces.

Featherstone and company despise Paul Krugman because he forces them to get in touch with reality - something which they are generally insulated from - and since they don't have the native intelligence or erudition to actually debate him on the facts, come up with the most hypocritical un-self-aware attack possible - that Krugman's political opinions should be discounted because of his social class.

Or that he's a Hillary crony. Krugman:
And the response of some — only some — Sanders supporters is disappointing, although I guess predictable given that somewhat similar things happened during the 2008 primary. There will, I guess, always be some people who, having made an emotional commitment to a candidate, can’t accept the proposition that someone might share their values but honestly disagree with the candidate’s approach.
Right now I’m getting the kind of correspondence I usually get from Rush Limbaugh listeners, although this time it’s from the left — I’m a crook, I’m a Hillary crony, etc., etc.. OK, been there before — back in 2008 I was even the subject of tales about my son working for the Clintons, which was surprising because I don’t have a son.
But I’m used to this stuff. It’s a bit more shocking to see Mike Konczal — one of our most powerful advocates of financial reform, heroic critic of austerity, and a huge resource for progressives — attacked as one of Hillary’s minions and an ally of the financial industry.

Konczal's attacker is David Dayen who is of course a buddy of Doug Henwood.



Being a powerful advocate of financial reform would not shield Konczal from attacks from the Radical Chic because effective advocacy is not what they care about - radical posturing is what they care about. And incremental, non-revolutionary change doesn't get them excited - Bernie Sanders yelling and promising the unachievable is what gets them excited - Krugman is right to mention the emotional component of Sanders' supporters.

And that's what Radical Chic is all about: the feeling of being a passionate revolutionary. To them feminism is trashing a harmless aspirational business executive because business executives are not cool. Hillary Clinton is not cool. And like Sheryl Sandberg, she focuses on women's aspirations so these Sanders' partisans want to punish Clinton for her lean-in feminism. This is part of a long tradition, as Nicholas Kristof notes about Clinton:

For most of her career, Hillary Clinton suffered for being a feminist. Retaining her last name helped cost her husband the governorship of Arkansas in 1980 (after that, she became a Clinton). She was mocked in 1992 for saying she wouldn’t be “some little woman standing by my man,” and for asserting, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession.
(Outrage at her “bitchiness” — a standard put-down of a strong woman — was such that Clinton tried to mollify critics by participating in a bake-off sponsored by Family Circle magazine. That must have stung. But hold on: Clinton’s recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies then triumphed over Barbara Bush’s cookie recipe, upholding the honor of career moms everywhere.)
Even when Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008, there were put-downs, like the two men from a radio show heckling her, “Iron my shirt!
The Nation has endorsed Bernie Sanders. But other than Katha Pollitt I'm generally not impressed by Nation writers. Not only does the Nation publish the Radical Chic leanings of Doug Henwood and Liza Featherstone, it used to publish Christopher Hitchens even after he became a booster of the Bush administration. The only reason it stopped publishing him was because he quit.

And even before he did that, when he was a saint of the left, he was dismissive of women, as Pollitt noted shortly after Hitchens died:
So far, most of the eulogies of Christopher have come from men, and there’s a reason for that. He moved in a masculine world, and for someone who prided himself on his wide-ranging interests, he had virtually no interest in women’s writing or women’s lives or perspectives. I never got the impression from anything he wrote about women that he had bothered to do the most basic kinds of reading and thinking, let alone interviewing or reporting—the sort of workup he would do before writing about, say, G.K. Chesterton, or Scientology or Kurdistan. It all came off the top of his head, or the depths of his id. Women aren’t funny. Women shouldn’t need to/want to/get to have a job. The Dixie Chicks were “fucking fat slags” (not “sluts,” as he misremembered later). And then of course there was his 1989 column in which he attacked legal abortion and his cartoon version of feminism as “possessive individualism.” I don’t suppose I ever really forgave Christopher for that.
"Possessive individualism" is a synonym for leaning in.

I argued with lefty men about their sainted Hitchens shortly after he died, pointing out what a misogynist he was. Wow did that make them mad - and of course they denied that in spite of Pollitt's statement and his infamous Women Aren't Funny piece for Vanity Fair. And anyway, who cares, they said, he was a cool dude - or words to that effect . He had that Radical Chic posture they love even when he was a Bushie. The Radical Chic much prefers form over substance.

I had already had my fill of Radical Chic by the time I was in my early twenties, based on personal experience. Which I will discuss in Part 3.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nancy McClernan vs. the Radical Chic Part 1

When I was growing up I assumed, like most Americans, I was a member of the "middle class".  This wasn't exactly based on incisive socio-economic analysis. Most Americans figure you're either poor - and live in a ghetto or Appalachia  which makes you "lower class" - or rich and own a mansion and yacht like Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire which makes you "upper class" - everybody else is middle class. I wasn't aware of the term "working class" until at least high school, much less proletariat or bourgeoisie.

But my family was definitely working class. My great-great grandfather was a rank and file soldier in the Civil War (Union of course!), who left his family destitute thanks to his alcoholism. My maternal grandfather was a leader of the Philadelphia Teamsters, which is pretty much as working class as you could get - but my grandmother (whose grandfather was the Civil War soldier) made him quit because the socializing he did as part of his job (he hung out with Jimmy Hoffa) made him drink too much for her liking.

My paternal grandfather owned a cafe on the Philadelphia riverfront and then became, I believe, a bus driver but I'm not actually clear on that. My father worked in customer service for several industrial climate control companies, and I guess because it was white collar I didn't think of it as working class. My mother was a secretary. The father of my best friend Laura was an ironworker.

So yeah, my family was working class. And as a college drop-out (my scholarship was only for one year) and single mother I remained working class until an early adoption of desktop publishing led me to technical writing and web development. Now I'm a Vice President in corporate America and have no guilt.

So I have to laugh at people like Liza Featherstone, who said this of Paul Krugman:



When either Katha Pollitt or Paul Krugman are attacked by lesser minds - which is pretty much all other minds - it really pushes my berserk button. And I already despised Featherstone for her attacks on Hillary Clinton and other feminists.

According to Wikipedia, Featherstone:
...graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2008. Featherstone was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism at Columbia for 2007-08[1] and an adjunct professor at the City University of New York. Since 2009, she is an adjunct professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and, since 2008, an adjunct professor at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute of Labor Studies.
So in other words her entire career has been as an academic and journalist - she comes from exactly the same social class as Krugman. And then there's her husband Doug Henwood who writes Left Business Observer and appears to believe he's qualified to opine on Hillary Clinton's aspirations among other political subjects on the basis of his BA in English from Yale. And then there's Featherstone's and Henwood's employer at the Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel who is an heiress.

I don't hold it against any of them that they are not working class. I certainly don't feel their opinions should automatically be discounted as Featherstone does to Krugman. And there are plenty of right-wing capitalism-loving assholes among the working class - I doubt that Liza Featherstone has socialized much with people from the working class though, so like radical chic types generally she probably romanticizes them as variations on Bruce Springsteen or something.

It's the self-congratulatory radical-chic hypocrisy of Liza Featherstone that astounds me. Perhaps she believes that because she writes about Labor it makes her an honorary member of the working class.

It's the same radical-chic delusion that has these lefties attacking Sheryl Sandberg for daring to write a book encouraging women to be more assertive in their careers. And of course they admire Liza Featherstone for attacking feminists who are not suitably radical chic.



So who is Verso Books?  I will address that in Part 2

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I was a Bensalem Rambler

The goofy-looking redhead in the first row in case you couldn't guess.
My old friend Laura shared this photo of my softball team - "Bensalem Ramblers" is the collective name of the sports organization. Our team was the Doves.

I'm kind of goofy looking but I am not nearly as hideous as I remembered myself from those days - I guess the result of being told by the other kids in Catholic school what an ugly monster I was for several years, day in and day out. 

At first when Laura sent me the photo I wasn't sure it was me partly because I thought I was uglier. But then I recognized some of the girls in the photo with me. I don't remember names but I definitely remember the girl on the far left in the first row with the dark hair and white ribbons in her pig-tails. I remember wishing I looked like her and wishing I had her winning personality. I expect that my near-constant state of anxiety about playing softball didn't help me win any friends. I look much more relaxed and happy in this photo than I ever remember being while on the team. Plus I was not a good player, and in the hierarchy of the sports world that makes you pretty much a non-person.

I also remember the third girl from the left in the first row. She was an awesome athlete. If memory serves it was pretty much due to her skill that we won the championship both years I was on the team. Her and the girl to the right of me. They were like goddesses to me in those days, so much did I admire their skill at softball.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Women are often still held to a higher standard than men




I just love this photo of Hillary Clinton. And I really like this Kristof column about her:

Clinton, Trump and Sexism
When Republican “mad men” make sexist comments — Trump using a vulgarism about Clinton’s 2008 loss to Obama or Ted Cruz saying Clinton needed a spanking — the Clinton campaign barely conceals its delight as it sounds the trumpets.
“We are not responding to Trump,” an aide, Jennifer Palmieri, tweeted triumphantly, “but everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should.”
One way in which attitudes have changed has to do with sexual predation. Shaming women who make accusations — in short, the Bill Clinton campaign approach of 1992 — is much less tolerated today.
So today Hillary Clinton is scolded for turning on and helping to stigmatize the women who accused her husband of misconduct, which oddly means that she may pay more of a price for his misbehavior than he ever did. That irony would encapsulate the truism that whatever the progress, women are often still held to a higher standard than men.

I think this is especially true of Radical Chic men who like their women pure and untouched by the rough and tumble and compromise of politics. And they don't like women seeking power for themselves. As The Nation's Doug Henwood, the left's #1 Hillary-hater said:
As I wrote in My Turn (p. xiv): “The side of feminism I’ve studied and admired for decades has been about moving towards that ideal [of a more peaceful, more egalitarian society], and not merely placing women into high places while leaving the overall hierarchy of power largely unchanged. It’s distressing to see feminism pressed into service to promote the career of a thoroughly orthodox politician—and the charge of sexism used to deflect critiques of her.”

The Radical Chic in the best patriarchal tradition expects women to put other issues before their own personal welfare.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

UES


Seen recently on the UES - a lot of doggies

Once again I am leaning towards the Upper East Side of Manhattan for my big move. I lived there before and it's actually more affordable than Brooklyn Heights or, if you can believe it, the Jersey City neighborhoods along the waterfront. And my family doctor and my veterinarian are both still on the UES.

Although I suppose I shouldn't try for anything between Fifth Avenue and Park:
According to the Census Bureau, throughout a sweeping stretch of midtown—from Forty-ninth to Seventieth streets, between Fifth Avenue and Park—nearly one in three apartments is completely empty at least ten months a year. In a revealing 2014 New York piece, which observed that real-estate ownership in the city “can be made as untraceable as a numbered bank account,” a developer concludes, “The global elite is basically looking for a safe-deposit box.”
It should be noted the the between 5th Ave and Park it becomes the Upper East Side, not midtown at 60th street.

It should also be noted that if you don't like crowds, 5th Avenue on the UES on Sunday morning is the best place to walk - probably because it's a ghost town if the Census Bureau is to be believed.

Friday, January 22, 2016

My old friend the Jesus freak

My best friend in late grammar school/early high school is now a Jesus freak. She wasn't much of a friend really and one time when we were teenagers she and another friend of hers ditched me to go to the mall - but in any case she was the closest I had to a best friend back then, and I attended her first wedding, and a few years after that she tried to get me a gig doing graphics in public television - to no avail but I do owe her for trying.

I found out just how much of a Jesus freak she is when I saw she was trying to drum up money via Go Fund Me for a book she's been writing. Her Go Fund Me plea reads something like this:
As a child I suffered with a heart condition that continued to get worse when I grew older. I eventually experienced healing by the power of Jesus, working through the doctors at (name of hospital.) For the past 10 years I have been writing this book about how it is posible to help yourself through difficulties and to reduce stress by spending time prayerfully listening to God's words and being guided by the Holy Spirit. Compelling Biblical scripture and inspiring natural images fill the pages with restful and rejuvenating moments to enjoy.  I believe that all things are possible through the Lord for as it says in the Bible, Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

She never mentioned to me when we were kids that she had a heart condition - and in fact I seem to remember that when trying out for the girl's basketball team she made the cut and I did not. So I guess her condition wasn't all that bad at the time.  But even more so I don't remember her being an especially devout Catholic. I guess this heart condition scared her out of her wits.

This does demonstrate exactly what I was talking about here 
The main point of religion is the creation and maintenance of a system into which believers put prayers and donations, and in exchange out comes health, wealth and even eternal life in paradise. It's a pretty good deal - not just something for nothing - more like everything for almost nothing. No wonder conservatives go for it.
I don't  know if my old friend is politically conservative now but she certainly made a good deal for herself - read the Bible and in exchange Jesus will fix your heart condition. Of course you could also get your heart condition fixed with health insurance and a crack team of cardiologists - which I expect my friend also had - and skip the Bible reading.

Many of the doctors listed in the cardiac department of the hospital where she was healed appear to be Jewish and Indian. I wonder what they would think about her suggesting that she was healed by Jesus working through them.

Well that's nice that Jesus wanted her to survive her heart condition - although he should have thought not to give her one in the first place - but apparently he doesn't want her to be a published author. Since December she's only gotten a single donor giving $25.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hierarchy

What was I just saying about hierarchy? I said:
Should we listen equally to a political pundit and a cardiologist on how to handle someone having a heart attack. Very often hierarchies are incredibly useful and efficient.
And lo and behold this article in The Atlantic backs me up:
In fact, recent research seems to indicate that flattening workplace hierarchy is not only much more complicated than it seems, but that people prefer a pecking order. One Stanford study found that egalitarian work structures were disorienting. Workers found hierarchical companies were more predictable, and therefore preferable, because it was easy to figure out who did what and how compensation should be doled out. Another Stanford paper, which looked at why hierarchical structures in the workplace have such staying power, concluded perhaps the obvious: Hierarchies work. They are practical and psychologically comforting.

Exactly. And in any case you have to wonder how socialist/anarchists think they're going to do away with human hierarchies other than some kind of hard-core authoritarian enforcement mechanism.

In other news, Five Thirty Eight predicts Clinton has an 80% chance of winning Iowa.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The evil of the Koch brothers, catalogued and codified

Dark Money by Jane Mayer and reviewed here in the NYTimes looks to be the most important book of 2016 and an excellent enlargement on her immortal piece about the Koch brothers, Covert Operations.
This ideology helps to explain one of the most important Koch crusades of recent years: the fight to prevent action against climate change. The Koch-sponsored advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has been at the forefront of climate-change opposition over the past decade. When the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, Americans for Prosperity lobbied lawmakers to support a “no climate tax” pledge, and by the time Congress convened that year, 156 House and Senate members had signed on.
The Koch brothers appear to want to go down in history as the biggest villains responsible for our failure to prevent catastrophic climate change. I wonder if they're happy with what they bought with all that money and all that corruption of the US political system.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Henwood: women in high places doesn't change the hierarchy of power

In Henwood's response to Pollitt's latest response, he reveals his view of feminism, which he shares with others on the anarchist-socialist Left:
As I wrote in My Turn (p. xiv): “The side of feminism I’ve studied and admired for decades has been about moving towards that ideal [of a more peaceful, more egalitarian society], and not merely placing women into high places while leaving the overall hierarchy of power largely unchanged. It’s distressing to see feminism pressed into service to promote the career of a thoroughly orthodox politician—and the charge of sexism used to deflect critiques of her.”
In other words, women's aspirations should take a back seat to peace and egalitarianism. 

I believe Henwood has the same fundamental understanding of feminism and "women's" issues that the New Atheists like Dawkins and Harris have - women's issues are mostly of interest only to women - important thinkers may consider women in relation to peace or egalitarianism or other important areas, but only as a sub-set of those issues. The role of women themselves, in spite of making up more than half of all humanity, and an oppressed half too, is never worthy of primary consideration. That's probably why Henwood leaves attacking feminists mostly to the Radical Chic Ladies Auxiliary

One thing that always cracks me up about lefties is their idea that if only we had the right kind of political system, human hierarchies would disappear. The tiniest moment of insight would reveal that as long as humans live in family structures, with parents caring for - and controlling - their children for the first decade and a half, at least, of their lives, humans will always live in hierarchies. And there is no doubt much research indicating that humans find hierarchies perfectly comfortable. And if the hierarchy is based on skill and experience and intelligence - well what's wrong with that? Should we listen equally to a political pundit and a cardiologist in how to handle someone having a heart attack. Very often hierarchies are incredibly useful and efficient.

It's not hierarchies - it's grossly unfair hierarchies that are the problem. And the notion that women should not be in high places based purely on genitalia is exactly an example of a grossly unfair hierarchy. So by definition, allowing women into the hierarchy would be a huge win for egalitarianism. 

So yes, Hillary Clinton becoming president of the United States does, all by itself, help women. It doesn't change everything but it does help. 

And far more than a Jeb Bush presidency which is what a Bernie Sanders nomination would guarantee.

Henwood gloats about a recent Washington Post poll showing Clinton's lead down. I think this is probably a more accurate predictor of the nominations.





Monday, January 18, 2016

Pollitt vs. Henwood: Round 2

Katha Pollitt comes back swinging at Doug Henwood after he responded to her review of his latest Hillary-hating screed, in a new piece in the Nation: The Book That Turns Hillary Clinton Into a Cartoon.

The reason that Doug Henwood turns Clinton into a cartoon is because Clinton is a "bourgeois feminist" and Henwood believes that bourgeois feminists are evil monsters out to deliberately exploit third-world workers. I am not kidding. And that was my very first introduction to Henwood - although I had actually read some of his tweets during the Twitter flurry known as Jacobinghazi.  But he didn't register there.

He sure did here:











The Fawcett Society, accused of exploiting workers, said they had not been aware of this situation - but Henwood and his gang would not consider the possibility that an organization which has been fighting for women's rights for 150 might have made a mistake. No, it was apparently much more believable to them that this organization, on behalf of "bourgeois feminists" were deliberately out to hurt women.

So that's what Doug Henwood thinks of "bourgeois feminists" in general and Hillary Clinton in particular: as pure evil. Which is why he presents Clinton as a murderer on the cover of his book.

So since Henwood thinks Clinton is pretty much the personification of evil it's no surprise that he can find nothing at all good to say about her, ever. As Pollitt notes:
 But even if every word he writes is completely accurate, it’s not the whole story. If he’s going to attack her for botching healthcare reform, Doug should at least have mentioned her role in establishing the SCHIP program, which gave healthcare to millions of low-income children. If he’s going to dismiss her as a “carpetbagger” and a “mediocre” “seat warmer” in the Senate, he should have noted that her voting record made her one of the more liberal Senate Democrats—70 percent more liberal than her fellow Senate Dems in her final term. And isn’t it relevant that Republicans controlled the Senate from 2001 to 2007? What Doug gives us is so partial—he mentions every negative (even her supposed breaking of a lamp in a fight with Bill)—he turns her into a cartoon.

Pollitt also hits back over Henwood's smearing of Brad DeLong. But of course as I've demonstrated on this blog, smearing defenders of Hillary Clinton is just what Henwood does. Which tells you about the mind of Doug Henwood - a center-left woman running for president is evil personified and anybody who says different is a lying opportunist or a "Clinton towel-boy."

And Henwood and his wife Liza Featherstone are both contributors to The Nation. No wonder The Nation has gone downhill.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Amber A'Lee Frost and Liza Featherstone: Radical Chic Ladies Auxiliary attacks feminists


Welcome Tweeters. More of my thoughts on Doug Henwood, Liza Featherstone, Amber A'Lee Frost and the Radical Chic




I've mentioned Amber A'Lee Frost and Liza Featherstone before - both of them are members of what I like to think of as the Radical Chic Ladies Auxiliary. Their mission is to constantly suck up to radical chic lefty men by attacking actual feminists every chance they get.

Or as Doug Henwood (Featherstone's much-older husband and number one leftwing Hillary Clinton hater) likes to call it "bourgeois feminism." But that Marxist lingo is just a thin veneer to cover the fundamental misogyny of Henwood's position, which he shares with old lefty men generally.

You can see an example of Frost and Featherstone's hatred of actual feminists in this screen cap from Facebook, sucking up to their lefty men in this needless attack on a Ms. Magazine article.

How dare Ms. Magazine suggest, as this article does that rape is not just an ISIS problem. Bourgeois bitches!

They also hate Rebecca Solnit for daring to write an article about mansplaining.

I don't think I've seen as many attacks on feminists coming from Katie Roiphe as I do from the Ladies Auxiliary.

In other news The Nation has decided to support Sanders. I was trying to decide whether or not to re-up my Nation subscription, so now I know the answer to that.

Sady Doyle continues to fight the good fight on Twitter.



And she shares this excellent piece: Losing Bernie: My Journey from #FeelTheBern to #HillYes

The Ladies Auxiliary hates Doyle as much as they hate any other "bourgeois feminists" which is always a high recommendation in my book.



I had to laugh at Featherstone expressing disgust at Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch's engagement though.


Yeah Featherstone, what a concept! A woman marries a much older balding unattractive man who is full of himself! Shocking!*

Talk about lack of self-awareness. I guess that's what it takes to be a member of the Radical Chic Ladies Auxiliary.

I will be monitoring their activities and attacks on Hillary Clinton and feminists generally leading up to the 2016 election. So far the feminists that Henwood and his Ladies Auxiliary have attacked include: me,  Sady Doyle, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Rebecca Solnit, Michelle Goldberg, Gloria Steinem, The Fawcett Society, Ms. Magazine. I'm sure there are many more, these are just the ones I found on a quick run-through of recent commentary. For Amber A'Lee Frost, especially, there doesn't seem to be any feminist she won't find an excuse to attack. So of course she loves the smear-mongering feminist-hating bully Mikki Kendall. Because that's just who the fuck Amber A'lee Frost is.

*Although Henwood probably hates feminists more than Rupert Murdoch does.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The values of the Catholic church

This paragraph from a recent New Yorker story What Pope Benedict Knew About Abuse in the Catholic Church is a perfect encapsulation of the values of the Catholic Church and especially its hostility towards women:
During most of (Ratzinger's) tenure, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was too busy disciplining anyone who dared step out of line with Church teachings on personal sexuality and family planning to bother with the thousands of priests molesting children. In 2009, a nun named Margaret McBride sat on the ethics committee of a San Diego hospital that had to decide the case of a pregnant woman whose doctors believed that she (and her fetus) would die if they did not terminate her pregnancy. The committee voted to allow an abortion, and the woman’s life was saved. Almost immediately, McBride’s bishop informed her of her excommunication. It took multiple decades and thousands of cases of predatory behavior to begin defrocking priests, but not much more than twenty-four hours to excommunicate a nun trying to save a human life. In 2011, also under Pope Benedict, the Vatican lifted its excommunication of McBride.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Confederacy Monuments to Evil

Defacement: the next best thing to tearing down
a monument that glorifies evil.
The institution of American slavery was the equivalent in terms of human evil to the Holocaust. And yet we have hundreds of monuments erected  throughout the United States to glorify the Confederacy - the traitors who seceded from the US because they were afraid that Lincoln would not permit them to continue to spread slavery into the new American territories. They were afraid they wouldn't be able to spread their evil. And so they attacked the United States of America.

Now you may be laboring  under the delusion that these monuments are from the ancient past, and only in the South - but you would be wrong. Thanks to the controversy about taking down the monuments in New Orleans which I mentioned yesterday, I looked up the Wikipedia list of Confederate monuments and I was shocked to discover this:
We are pleased to announce that the "Delaware Grays" Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Georgetown Historical Society entered into an agreement to install our state's first and only Delaware Confederate monument at the Marvel Museum site in Georgetown, Delaware. The unveiling of the monument was held May 12th, 2007 at that site (see further detailed reference below).


That's right. You read correctly. A monument to the Confederacy was erected in Delaware in 2007!

Absolutely mind-boggling.

But wait, it gets even better:
The first Confederate monument on the Gettysburg battlefield was dedicated in 1884 to the 1st Maryland Battalion. It took years for the next to follow. Southern states were impoverished after the war, Gettysburg was a Union victory fought on Union soil, and the battlefield commission was controlled by Union veterans whose rules discouraged the meaningful placement of Confederate monuments. An effort by the War Department after 1900 to mark the locations of Confederate regiments failed due to lack of participation and even active opposition by surviving Confederate veterans.
As time went on the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg and a spirit of reconciliation combined to bring some southern monuments to this northern field...
...A small handful of unit monuments have been placed at Gettysburg, with over half erected since 1980.
That's right. Gettysburg. Over half since 1980. It's as if the French decided that in a spirit of "reconciliation" they would allow monuments to fallen German soldiers on Normandy beach.

This must end. The Confederacy represented evil in an almost ridiculously pure form. We will no longer pretend otherwise - and to refuse to pretend otherwise means that these monuments to evil must come down.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

US Army Corps of Civil Rights Engineers: a proposal

By way of the Southern Poverty Law Center in my Facebook feed comes news that Death threats prompt company hired to removed Confederate monuments to back out of job.

Many people on the thread said they'd gladly be paid to do the job.

But actually, I have a much better idea: The US Army Corps of Civil Rights Engineers, an all-volunteer brigade.

All freedom-loving Americans could join and we would travel throughout the South destroying these statues created to glorify traitors who attacked the United States of America in order to preserve the unspeakable evil of human bondage.

We could have a whole ceremony before we do it - if it's a Confederate general we could list how many slaves he owned, how many Union soldiers died fighting his troops, as well as reading how many slaves were freed when the territory he was defending fell to the North.

And then since most of these Southern states are "open-carry" we could auction off the chance to shoot at these statues until they're just a pile of rubble.  If it isn't open carry, we will auction off the right to detonate the dynamite attached to the statue.

We make money:
  •  through the auction, 
  • selling video recordings of the shoot-up/blow up and 
  • through selling pieces of the rubble to Confederacy lovers who want to cherish a relic of their "heritage."
The proceeds of course pocketed by the US government as a tiny drop in the bucket that the Confederacy cost with their treachery.

And then we make Juneteenth a national holiday right up there with the Fourth of July and we celebrate by showing videos of the destruction of these monuments glorifying evil.

I am a descendant of a Union soldier, but you don't have to be that, or black, to hate the Confederacy and all it stood for.

For too long we've allowed the South to white-wash the incredible evil that was the Confederacy. No more bowing down to them and their distorted understanding of "pride" and "heritage" - it's time to treat the Confederacy exactly as we do the Third Reich. Because in terms of human evil it is exactly the same.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Banjo

I very rarely play either my guitar or my very expensive real-piano-action keyboard - it's a terrible shame. And I can't play the banjo at all. So it's silly for me to have any regrets over giving away the banjo that I bought strictly as a prop for my HUCK FINN adaptation. But I do, a little, but I am hopeful that the banjo's new owner will put it to good use by playing it a lot.

Although the movie many people associate most with banjos is "Deliverance" - with the prominent use of the song "Dueling Banjos" - although in the movie the "duel" is actually between a banjo and a guitar, the movie I most associate with banjos is "Harold and Maude" especially the ending. Here is the ending - it's a HUGE spoiler so don't watch it unless you've seen the movie.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nazis -> Koch brothers -> Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks likes to soft-pedal conservatism so much he writes op-eds that don't even directly touch on conservative policies as in the recent NYTimes piece To Be Happier Start Thinking More About Your Death:
...Even if contemplating a corpse is a bit too much, you can still practice some of the Buddha’s wisdom resolving to live as if 2016 were your last year. Then remorselessly root out activities, small and large, that don’t pass the “last-year test.”
There are many creative ways to practice this test. For example, if you plan a summer vacation, consider what would you do for a week or two if this were your last opportunity. With whom would you reconnect and spend some time? Would you settle your soul on a silent retreat, or instead spend the time drunk in CancĂșn, Mexico?
If this year were your last, would you spend the next hour mindlessly checking your social media, or would you read something that uplifts you instead? Would you compose a snarky comment on this article, or use the time to call a friend to see how she is doing? Hey, I’m not judging here.

I gather Brooks considers himself some kind of gentleman philosopher-king. But he's wrong on many counts - I think about death all the fucking time - it doesn't make me happier. Also, composing this snarky blog post about Brooks gives me great satisfaction and I don't consider it a waste of time. Not at all.

But mostly Brooks is on the wrong side of the political divide no matter how much he wants to promote the notion that conservatives have hearts - or even apparently bigger hearts than liberals.

The NYTimes gave the job of reviewing Brooks' latest book The Conservative Heart to right-wing economist Greg Mankiw who writes:

Those on the left may be tempted to see this strategy as a cynical attempt to hide the true motives of the right. But Brooks argues that conservatives are, by nature, as generous and caring about their fellow man as liberals, if not more so. 
For evidence, he points to findings from his 2006 book “Who Really Cares”: Households headed by conservatives give, on average, 30 percent more dollars to charity than households headed by liberals, even though their incomes on average are 6 percent lower. They are also more likely to be blood donors. George W. Bush’s appeal to “compassionate conservatism” was redundant at best. 
So why do so many people view liberals as more compassionate than conservatives? The problem, in Brooks’s view, is that conservative policy arguments, while cogent if fully explained and digested, are too extended to be useful in a political dynamic dominated by first impressions based on 30-second sound bites.
This claim that conservatives are more compassionate than liberals because conservatives give more to charity is analyzed by MIT researchers, reported by the LATimes:
What the MIT researchers did find, however, was that conservatives give more to religious organizations, such as their own churches, and liberals more to secular recipients. Conservatives may give more overall, MIT says, but that's because they tend to be richer, so they have more money to give and get a larger tax benefit from giving it. (One of the things that makes social scientists skeptical of the benchmark survey Brooks used, in fact, is that it somehow concluded that liberals are richer than conservatives.)
Why do conservatives give money to their own churches? Because they are bribing God. The main point of religion is the creation and maintenance of a system into which believers put prayers and donations in exchange for health, wealth and even eternal life in paradise. It's a pretty good deal - not just something for nothing - more like everything for almost nothing. No wonder conservatives go for it.

And although Mankiw, of course, dismisses the notion that Brooks is cynical he most certainly is - either that or utterly lacking in self-awareness. As Krugman noted about Brooks and his simple-minded view of class resentment:
But even the saner-sounding (conservative) voices evidently have a hard time wrapping their minds around the notion that anyone might find 21st-century finance capitalism a bit, well, unfair.
A case in point: this article by Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks is deeply worried about changing popular attitudes toward wealth:
According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who feel that “most people who want to get ahead” can do so through hard work has dropped by 14 points since about 2000. As recently as 2007, Gallup found that 70 percent were satisfied with their opportunities to get ahead by working hard; only 29 percent were dissatisfied. Today, that gap has shrunk to 54 percent satisfied, and 45 percent dissatisfied. In just a few years, we have gone from seeing our economy as a real meritocracy to viewing it as something closer to a coin flip.
And how does he see this sea-change in attitudes? Why, it must be about growing envy of the rich, which is a terrible thing. 
But the polling data don’t say anything about envy: when people say that they have lost their belief that hard work will be rewarded, they aren’t saying that they are envious of the rich; they’re saying that they have lost their belief that hard work will be rewarded. To the extent that people have negative feelings about the one percent, the emotion involved isn’t envy — it’s anger, which isn’t at all the same thing. Envy is when you have negative feelings about rich because of what they have; anger is when you have negative feelings about the rich because of what they do.
And of course Brooks can be relied upon to oppose cleaner air when it is in his economic self-interest:
Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal companies in America, was a player in major congressional election efforts last year — but you won’t find records of their corporate donations on the Federal Election Commission website or in any public record. 
You will, however, find signs of the Virginia-based coal giant’s secret political activities buried in a creditor document filed last Thursday. The recent downturn in coal prices and high debts forced the company to seek bankruptcy protection earlier this month.
The filing lists organizations with which Alpha Natural Resources had any kind of financial transaction, including recipients of grants, creditors and contractors. The filing does not list amounts given or owed by Alpha Natural Resources. A spokesperson for the firm did not respond to a request for comment.
 
Alpha Natural Resources gave money to an array of nonprofit entities that are not required to report donor information. These groups were pivotal in helping Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives and in electing the new GOP majority in the Senate. 
The corporation helped fund the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a secretive nonprofit group that refused to disclose any donor information during the election last year. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition was the largest outside campaign entity in the Kentucky senate race, spending over $14 million on television and radio commercials to successfully reelect Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in his campaign against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. 
Alpha Natural Resources also helped finance campaign entities associated with the Koch brothers campaign network, including Americans for Prosperity, Themis Trust (a campaign data company), and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a clearinghouse used to fund a range of organizations supporting Republican election efforts. The Institute for Energy Research, an advocacy group founded by Charles Koch that lobbies in support of fossil fuel subsidies and against renewable energy policies, had a financial relationship with Alpha Natural Resources. 
The company, with operations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming, had once been viewed as a coal industry powerhouse. In 2011, Alpha Natural Resources borrowed $7.1 billion to purchase Massey Energy after 29 employees were killed in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine. 
The creditor filing reveals a number of other revelations about Alpha Natural Resource’s undisclosed political operation. For instance, the company gave money to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association that spent over $35 million during the election last year, largely to benefit GOP candidates. It also donated to Americans Allied for Jobs and Security, a group that spent a small amount supporting Republican candidates during the midterm elections. 
The company donated to a number of political groups that favor environmental deregulation on the coal industry, including the Ripon Society, a foundation to support moderate Republicans; the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank in Virginia; and the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that works with lobbyists to develop business-friendly template legislation used by state lawmakers. ALEC recently produced template legislation to block states from submitting compliance plans with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, new regulations designed to combat carbon emissions. 
The bankruptcy filing lists “Arthur C Brooks C/O AEI 1150 17th St. NW Washington DC,” which appears to be Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that has campaigned against the EPA’s new rules governing carbon emissions from coal power plants.
The American Enterprise Institute is of course funded by the Koch brothers - Arthur C. Brooks, as president of the AEI is an employee of the Koch brothers.

And just when you thought the Koch brothers couldn't be any more evil...
The father of the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler, according to a new history of the Kochs and other wealthy families. 
The book, “Dark Money,” by Jane Mayer, traces the rise of the modern conservative movement through the activism and money of a handful of rich donors: among them Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune, and Harry and Lynde Bradley, brothers who became wealthy in part from military contracts but poured millions into anti-government philanthropy.
Yeah, Arthur C. Brooks wants to give you lots of reasons to think about death, whether it's your own from lung cancer or the Holocaust.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Evan Marc Katz - still a regressive asshole

Perhaps Evan Marc Katz was stung by myself and others online suggesting he's a sexist douchebag (or hyperbolically, albeit amusingly "a shitstain on humanity") who encourages women to be passive like we're still living in the 1950s. So he's teamed up with some regressive woman - and if you don't think women can be regressive you've never heard of Phyllis Schlafly, Camille Paglia, Ann Coulter or Katie Roiphe.

Katz probably figures, well if some woman says these things it's OK and he gets a get-out-of-misogyny free card.

Nope, sorry Katz. You don't. This mealy-mouthed up-talking simulacrum of an educated professional woman named Kate Edwards says "women need to be much more pro-active" but then a minute later says "I don't think women should ask men out."

Katz then says that you can only ask out a "beta male" - in other words a loser who lacks confidence - something he's already said before.

He then waffles as usual because he's a weasel and says it's OK if you ask a guy out. But really you should wait for the man or you will most likely fail. But it's OK so don't get mad at him, Evan Marc Katz. But you know, you should listen to him so you won't die alone.

He is the king of having it both ways, much like his hero Sam Harris.

They make me want to puke, these hucksters promoting an antiquated MRA-approved mode of human interaction, helping to hold back humanity in order to make a nice buck from the insecure and the hapless and the easily-led.

More on the incredible douchebaggery of Evan Marc Katz and his various huckster friends.

Friday, January 08, 2016

In which Katha Pollitt hands Doug Henwood his ass

I'm a long-time fan of Katha Pollitt and although I have only become aware of him recently, I despise Doug Henwood. So of course I was very interested in Pollitt's review of Henwood's book about Hillary Clinton. And Henwood's response.

Henwood does not hesitate to smear his opponents, whether it's Hillary Clinton or me. And Pollitt calls him out on his blatant bias:
Still, negative rumors and remarks by unfriendly witnesses are given credence by Henwood, while positive ones are dismissed as the dutiful murmurs of flunkies.
And she shows Henwood in true unethical form:
The book has an epigraph from former undersecretary of the Treasury Brad DeLong, who worked on Hillary’s healthcare-reform initiative in the 1990s and wrote a long complaint on his blog in 2003 about her flubbing of that effort (“Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life”). Henwood writes that DeLong didn’t respond to his attempts to find out if he still felt this way, but a minute’s Googling would have revealed that DeLong retracted that view on his blog in 2008 and again in 2015. Today, he writes that Hillary “has been a successful Secretary of State, ran an almost-good-enough presidential nomination campaign, and been an effective Senator.” As a result, he enthusiastically endorses her.
And the best part is that in Henwood's response, he demonstrates exactly what Pollitt was talking about:
Although I use a highly critical 2003 quote from Brad DeLong, which includes the declaration that “Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life” as my epigraph, DeLong now endorses her. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but perhaps the reason that DeLong took down his blog from that era (thank God for the Wayback Machine!) and now disowns the statement is that he’d like a job in a Hillary Clinton administration, probably better than the one he had in Bill’s. 
So when DeLong was trashing HRC he was OK, but now that he praises her, he's a flunky.

Since Henwood is familiar with the Wayback Machine I don't doubt he's familiar with Google. And yet he somehow omits to mention DeLong changed his mind about Clinton. And you have to wonder why - clearly Henwood was ready to dismiss DeLong as a lying opportunist, albeit based on nothing more than "perhaps I'm being cynical." 

I wonder if DeLong will respond to that. I'm familiar with DeLong thanks to his being repeatedly mentioned by Krugman. Krugman has never mentioned Henwood.

Via Twitter I gave DeLong a heads-up about Henwood's low opinion of him and he responded:




What amazes me is that Pollitt refers to Henwood as a friend. Maybe this is a case of Pollitt refusing to see what she doesn't want to see. After all, as she herself admitted:
Observation is my weakness. I did not realize that my mother was a secret drinker. I did not realize that the man I lived with, my soul mate, made for me in Marxist heaven, was a dedicated philanderer, that the drab colleague he insinuated into our social life was his longstanding secret lover, or that the young art critic he mocked as silly and second-rate was being groomed as my replacement. 
Katha you are failing to observe that your friend Doug Henwood is a gigantic asshole.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Educating one idiot at a time

I was just not in the mood to put up with the usual bullshit the last day of the year. I let this dude have it. But not, you know, "it."


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

More Nomester pix

More pictures discovered while reorganizing my memorabilia.

Portrait of my daughter from my Crayola markers period. You can see the light-orange under-drawing clearly


From my pen and ink period - I really like this one of my daughter who you can clearly see is reading "Harriet the Spy"