How Men Can Support Women Who Are Being Harassed

As the latest revelations of the extent to which GamerGate-related harassment and intimidation of women online were coordinated at the highest levels of right wing and even mainstream media organizations reverberate throughout social media, many men who like to think of themselves as allies, and who are not themselves overflowing with misogyny, are left to wonder how they can be useful to their female friends who find themselves the subject of harassment that has become all too ubiquitous. Below are some useful tips and reminders for male allies.

1. Believe Women: Don’t Fall Into Gaslighting.

If a woman in your life who you know and respect tells you that she is being harassed, believe her. Many men, intentionally or not, have developed habits to question everything, which in many contexts are rewarded. However, in the context of supporting a friend or loved one who is experiencing misogynistic harassment, intensive questioning or interrogation can be perceived by the victim as questioning their lived experience, or gaslighting behavior.

As an ally, your primary responsibility should be to offer support to the victim of harassment or abuse. It is not your job to diagnose the cause of the harassment, or what the victim could have done to avoid the harassment. Your job as an ally is to offer support, which in many cases is as simple as just listening to the victim tell her story in her own words.

2. Remember That Women Are Better At Detecting Misogyny Than Men.

While you’re listening to the victim’s experience, some men may wonder whether the harassers’ motivations are truly rooted in misogyny. However; it is important to remember that we, as men, don’t have to deal with the subtle ways our culture reinforces misogyny on consistent basis. As a general rule, men should trust that, no matter how enlightened we think we may be, our male privilege erects blinders to our ability to perceive the subtle and even not-so-subtle ways misogyny presents itself.

Thus, when a woman says that she is the target of misogynistic abuse or harassment, more often than not, questioning whether misogyny is actually present is gaslighting.

3. Avoid Engaging in Misogynistic Abuse Online (And In Person, For That Matter).

If you consider yourself an ally to feminists, the easiest way to ruin your credibility as an ally is to engage in misogynistic abuse against a woman you disagree with. That is not to say that you should not voice disagreement with people just because they are women. However; using gendered slurs or other forms of misogynistic abuse (such as slut shaming, body shaming or objectifying, etc.) against a woman, even a woman who holds objectively abhorrent views, is not something committed allies should do.

In fact, it might be a good idea to review your social media accounts for any use of gendered slurs and reflect on why you decided to use such problematic rhetoric. It is all too common for men, particularly when we get emotional or agitated, to blurt out a nasty insult to get our rhetorical opponents to back off. Gendered slurs, slut shaming, body shaming and other forms of misogynistic abuse are ubiquitous because many of us have not seriously grappled with exactly why these rhetorical devices are at the top of our consciousness when speaking with women we disagree with or who have irked us in some way.

Consider that when you call a conservative woman you are arguing with about the merits of Cheeto’s Muslim ban a “b*tch,” you are providing cover for the next Bernie Bro or MAGA troll to use that same slur to your friend or loved one.

If you’ve done this in the past, own up to it. No ally is perfect. We all have done and said things that we wished we hadn’t (like, for example, that time I referred to Susan Sarandon as a “b*tch,” which I apologized for in Season 2, Episode 4: Mistakes Made). Being defensive or explaining why what you said was different is not going to come across well. Speaking from experience, the best way to deal with being confronted with a past transgression is to accept responsibility, reflect on why you did it, and pledge to be more careful with your words and actions int he future.

4. Call Out Misogyny And Harassment When You See It.

There is a remarkable disparity between how men and women view online harassment. According to a recent Pew poll, seven-in-ten women (70%) say they see online harassment as a major problem, compared with 54% of men. If online harassment is going to be taken seriously, we need to work on closing that gap.

In my opinion, a big reason for the gap is that some men just don’t see harassment of women for what it is, so we have to show them.

5. If You Choose To Get Involved, Do So With A Purpose.

If you do choose to white knight, this article is a good resource for tips and strategies.

National Organization for Men Against Sexism (“NOMAS”) spokesman Ben Atherton-Zeman wrote this article from Ms. magazine:

Clearly there’s no one “right” way to intervene, but I’ve already heard several suggestions. Men, we can’t remain silent any longer. Let us:

1. Listen to women’s experience of online abuse and threats by men. Let us read articles about it – the ones linked here are a good place to start. Instead of suggesting solutions, we can take in how hurtful the comments are.

2. Reach out to the target of the abuse. Ask her what she’d like to you do, if anything.

3. Write, “I think you’re right,” in Comments sections of articles, Facebook postings etc. of feminist women.  Whether or not they’ve been harassed or attacked, agree with them and do so publicly.

4. When men harass women online, speak up. We can say something like, “As a man, your harassing comment offends me,” in the Comments sections.  Say how it hurts you rather than speaking on behalf of the target.

5. Name the specific silencing tactic being used: name-calling, focusing on a woman’s appearance instead of her argument, etc.

6. Use humor. We can post something like, “Dude, put down your club–your caveman is showing!” Search online for feminist comedians of all genders who have done entire routines on this.

7. Watch for “professional trolls” from the “Men’s Rights” or “Father’s Rights” groups. They will often use terms such as “misandry” and refer to the feminist movement as anti-male or the domestic violence movement as an “industry.”

8. Send supportive emails, letters, candygrams, etc. to feminist women. Thank them for the good work they are doing–not just when they are targets of online harassment, but all the time. “If you see someone doing good work, you can be sure they’re being told they’re fat and ugly,” says Emily May. “Nice emails counterbalance the noise.”

9. Flag Facebook posts (or pages) when they’re abusive. If it’s a comment, click on the X to hide the post.  You then have the option to flag it as abusive.

10.  If the perpetrator isn’t an individual but a company, boycott the company. Write negative reviews of it on “Yelp” or other review sites, or  suggest policy or legislative changes.  (See the Ecological Model for Social Change for the philosophy behind this.)

 

The Abusive Press

To what seems to be a few years ago but turns out is about 13 years, I was going through an All Things Molly Ivins phase.  This was shortly before she passed away from breast cancer, that continuing scourge of women in the United States. She had released multiple books with collections of her essays and one essay was titled “Sex, Death and Media Ethics” which discussed the behavior of the press.  The media published multiple stories about a man named Michael Dorris who ended his life rather than have what happened after his death happen.

She notes two rules: 1) “is there any good reason to print this story?” and 2) is there any good reason not to print this story?

Most of the time the answer to the first question is easy and most of the time the answer to the second is not so easy.  The media has a lot of power in this country.  What is reported can instantly cause total destruction of people’s lives.  The wrong story told at the wrong time can cause people untold misery while at the same time the right story at the right time can spur action and make lives better.

I start this essay about that because I am going to talk about the abusive press and Hillary Clinton.  In her recent book she talks a lot about how bewildered she was over the press’s treatment of her emails, her statements about literally anything that could be twisted and her unhappiness at never being able to break through the wall of hate they had for her.

Clear Cut Examples

There are hundreds to choose from but one recently got treatment in Vox which is one of the few media outlets that treated her fairly during the 2016 election.  At least after Ezra Klein sat down and went “holy shit, this woman I have been bashing my entire career actually fucking means she wants to make life better.”  They are also the only mainstream media entity that laid out the Clinton Rules. (By the way, even Vox isn’t perfect since the guy who wrote the Clinton Rules also is the jackass behind Shattered: How the Media Still Doesn’t Admit They Fucked Up 2016.)

In the example Clinton’s attempt to talk to people in West Virginia about how she doesn’t want to forget about helping them since they are going to have their livelihoods destroyed when coal entirely goes away.  But she didn’t say the right thing at the right time and the media pounced.  First it was the right wing media and eventually it was the rest of the media.  But it took her trying to say the truth and twisted it into something to hurt her about.

Another clear example was the reaction of the press to Clinton’s fainting spell on 09/11/2016.  She was powering through like all candidates do at the tail end of a campaign and got dehydrated and fell ill.  But the way the press reacted was as if she had been hiding a diagnosis of cancer crossed with TB and ebola.  All of which we would have noticed by that time yet the press was in hysterics.   They reacted like the only way to avoid being treated like she was literally being carried to the grave was to shove a camera in her face as she drank some water, rested and took some medicine.

This Isn’t Reporting, This is Harassment

It goes back to two those first two questions Molly Ivins brought up-the news did need to report on both her less than perfect delivery of her statement to the coal miners and her illness.  What the news didn’t need to do was act as if she had committed a major crime in not being whatever it was that they wanted from her.  Time and again they would do this. Even those sympathetic to her. There would be something that was a mild hiccup and the media would go insane over it with endless stories about every aspect.  Then, once that was thoroughly dissected, they immediately would jump into if she reacted the right way. “What, you mean she DID try to make amends to the coal miners?  She can’t do that.  We already decided she was forever guilty of somehow hating the coal miners!”  “wait, she didn’t apologize for getting sick?!  How dare she?!  Did she apologize for not letting us shove cameras in her face while she recovered?  No?  THAT BITCH.”

That’s how the media acted again and again.

Everything she did was wrong. If she didn’t hold a press conference it was bad.  They even created timers.  If she did hold a press conference, she didn’t answer anyone’s questions the way they wanted.  She literally could not do a thing right to them.  And they wouldn’t let up on her for an instant.  Instead of saying “wow, it sucks that she was sick” it was “wow, how dare she not tell us in triplicate that she was ill?”

Walking On Eggshells

There are a few signs someone is abusive:

  • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses
  • Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing
  • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
  • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
  • Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone)

Many of these things have nothing to do with Clinton (I left out the sex stuff for instance) but the media told Clinton she could never do anything right, they insulted her, dictated how she could dress, demanded all access at all times to watch what she does and in one thing left off that list-always changed the rules so she could never comply while not enforcing anything like rules for others.

So Clinton tried to thread the needle thin walkway they shoved her on while also not showing the obvious frustration one feels at being treated this way.  Along the way, her speech suffered because she was naturally worried about another coal miner treatment.  She tried to not say anything remotely controversial.  She tried to not be too ecstatic that this was the first time women were going to take on the role of President (after all, that meant the media would assume women were only voting for her because she had a vagina.)  She tried to accommodate their insane demands for access.  She tried so hard to do exactly what they wanted so the abuse would stop.

But it never did.

If being president means you must take unwarranted abuse, she showed that she was capable of it with the way they treated her and continue to treat her.  The difference is as I noted on Twitter recently, she doesn’t have to care anymore what they say about her.

She’s free.

What Happened The Contest

So @ahumorlessfem made a boo boo in ordering her eleven hundred million copies of Hillary Clinton’s awesome new book What Happened.  She got one too many copies so that means YOU the eager listener/reader/foot massager get to put in to win the extra copy!

The Contest Should You Chose To Accept It

Write up your most awesome Hillary memory and then your chosen candidate to help get elected in 2018.  It can be anyone-state house, school board, coroner, etc. But it has to be a seat that you are working to flip from red to blue.   Write a blurb why you are supporting them and what you plan to do to help them.

Send your little essay to humorlessrants@gmail.com

Time of Contest

This will go for one week and at the end the best essay will be splashed all over the media world as in it will be posted here for us and probably tweeted about a few times.  Okay, once.  With FEELINGS. Okay probably a few times but still, ONCE will have FEELINGS.

 

Why I Don’t Like Bernie Sanders

A while back someone asked me to explain why I don’t like Bernie Sanders. So here is my best attempt to explain why I dislike him.

First Findings About Sanders

The first thing I remember hearing about Bernie Sanders was his appearance at Netroots Nation’s conference in Phoenix during the summer of 2015. Friends of mine who went said they were unimpressed with how he handled it.  I was willing to give a bit of a pass because I hadn’t been there but it was a preview to what was to come.  Sanders does not like being challenged by anyone. Ever.

I had other friends who thought he was the bee’s knees. But they didn’t really seem to have a lot of information about him outside a few pat phrases.  For instance, when asked what he has done, I was told he was the Amendment King.  Essentially, he didn’t introduce a lot of legislation but he did get a lot of amendments added to other bills. And it is judged true by Politifact. That does not however tell me what these amendments were or how much they helped other people. That’s not helpful if you are trying to persuade people to vote for your guy.

Back when I was a big Deanaic, I could and still can rattle off a list of his accomplishments: he got nearly universal health care in Vermont by expanding Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, he instituted a nurse’s visit to new mothers to help them recover from birth (very important in light of our worsening maternal death rate), he signed the civil unions bill being one of the first governors in the US to expand marriage equality while at 35% in the polls and went on to win the next election, he had started his career as a man who wanted a bike path and became governor when his predecessor died while fixing a pool.  That’s what I expected from the Bernie people and to this day, never get.

However they assured me Bernie was better than Clinton because he hadn’t voted for the Iraq war and was anti-bank.  Also she gave speeches to a few Wall Street banks and he hadn’t despite the fact that it wasn’t legal for him to do so anyway as a member of Congress.  That made him better. Also he got lots of small donations so that made him a lot better.

I was not convinced.  After all, Howard Dean rode a wave of people power/small donations and failed to place in Iowa high enough and eventually dropped out of the Democratic primary.  I honestly thought this was simply the same thing.  A guy from Vermont who is fresh and new and everyone jumps on board only to leave later on.  No harm no foul.

The Harassment Campaign

But then I started seen some disquieting things.  Ta Nehisi Coates did an article on Sanders and caught living hell until he finally said he was going to vote for the man.  Many other writers or media figures did the same thing after a wave of harassment.  To me that isn’t persuasion, that’s bullying. That’s making someone do something not because they want to but because they have to in order to stop someone’s treatment of them.

Other people started getting bullied for supporting Clinton: Representative Jim McDermott was harassed multiple times over this leading to two arrests.  One Sanders supporter put together a hit list.  There was a literal gauntlet for Clinton supporters to have to walk through in Los Angeles. The infamous threats that the Nevada Democratic State Party Chair endured after the last caucus meeting.  On and on and on.  But hey, those Bernie Bros don’t exist right?  Even though many people pointed out they do by their own personal experience.  And the Bros themselves announced they believed they had the right to treat people this way because they are “discomforting the establishment Democrats.”  I witnessed it first hand.  First with my friends who had to ultimately unfollow or unfriend on Facebook because their hatred for Clinton was so out of control they were blaming her stuff she literally had nothing to do with. Then with people on Twitter and other online spaces.

That didn’t make me want to support Sanders.  That made me want to avoid anything to do with him.

Data Breach

I am going to briefly go over what I thought at the time was a tempest in a teapot but turned into something much darker by the Sanders campaign.  I am talking about the data stealing that Sanders allowed to happen on his watch.

The Sanders campaign was suspended from using the website that most of the campaigns in the Democratic Party use because of the fact that they went into the Voter Access Network (VAN) and stole data from the Clinton campaign.  It wasn’t a long suspension and it was well before the start of the actual voting yet the reaction by Sanders and his team was eye-opening to say the least.

First they did the right thing-they fired the person responsible and supposedly held other people accountable.  And that was sufficient for the DNC to restore access.  It was apparently not good enough for Sanders and his team since they immediately filed a lawsuit for access. The lawsuit dragged on until April of 2016 when they finally withdrew the lawsuit long after access was restored and any possible damage was gone.

His campaign screwed up and he should have taken responsibility and left it at that.  Instead he let a lawsuit drag on for months for no reason.  That isn’t the actions of someone I want anywhere near my party.

The Behavior of Sanders Himself

That might have been the end of it.  After all, I was pretty nasty myself by the midpoint of the campaign towards people.  Clinton wasn’t that responsible for my behavior and Sanders wasn’t that responsible for his online hordes following him.  Especially since there was plenty of Russian troll armies doing things to whip it up.  He was responsible for his own behavior however.  And that behavior started out great. Then he started losing and lashing out.  This is a common trait with him by the way.  When he is running against a woman and loses he acts like the way he did with Clinton.  He immediately claims he is better than the person running on their top issue. That is why he claims he was better for civil rights than Clinton (despite voting for the crime bill, he got a pass from much of the media and his supporters while Clinton was held fully responsible for the bill while having neither written or signed it.) and his lack of actual effort over the past forty years for civil rights.  But did you know he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Then when he lost or didn’t get endorsements, he started insulting the organizations that didn’t endorse him.  When Planned Parenthood stood with the woman who had always stood by them, he called them establishment which by then he had defined to mean anyone who isn’t me.  There was push back of course but the damage was done.  Then he didn’t bother to pay any attention to an article written up with a pretty bad headline. Clinton never said she thought he wasn’t qualified, she said she thought he hadn’t shown he was ready.  But clickbait has to clickbait and Sanders immediately claimed she wasn’t qualified despite her clear record being qualified based solely on the headline and doubled down until the wave of outrage pushed him back slightly.

He started making claims that the party was being unfair to him.  He even wrote a letter to Debbie Wasserman Schultz making that claim and threatened a floor fight at the convention if he didn’t get his way.  This started setting up a certain general election candidate to say similar things against Clinton.  There were countless examples of these petty, mean-spirited things he did.

And he never reigned in his surrogates until absolutely forced to.  As an example, when Dr. Paul Song called Democrats corporate whores Sanders didn’t have his team yank him off stage and it took more than a day to get Sanders to say anything disavowing this. Meanwhile his supporters started throwing dollar bills at Clinton at a fundraiser and he never disavowed that.

The New York Daily News Editorial Board Meeting

Now we come to one of the most horrible interviews with an editorial board meeting since I was in one for an endorsement from the AZ Republic.  The NYDN meeting with Sanders was horrifying.  He knew nothing.  He remembered nothing.  There were times I was cringing while reading it because I couldn’t believe someone running for President could give these answers.  Hell *I* could answer them better and I don’t know a damn thing about running a country.

They asked him questions directly in his wheelhouse too.  For instance:

Daily News: And then, you further said that you expect to break them up within the first year of your administration. What authority do you have to do that? And how would that work? How would you break up JPMorgan Chase?

Sanders: Well, by the way, the idea of breaking up these banks is not an original idea. It’s an idea that some conservatives have also agreed to.

You’ve got head of, I think it’s, the Kansas City Fed, some pretty conservative guys, who understands. Let’s talk about the merit of the issue, and then talk about how we get there.

Right now, what you have are two factors. We bailed out Wall Street because the banks are too big to fail, correct? It turns out, that three out of the four largest banks are bigger today than they were when we bailed them out, when they were too-big-to-fail. That’s number one.

Number two, if you look at the six largest financial institutions of this country, their assets somewhere around $10 trillion. That is equivalent to 58% of the GDP of America. They issue two-thirds of the credit cards in this country, and about one-third of the mortgages. That is a lot of power.

And I think that if somebody, like if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, he would look at that. Forgetting even the risk element, the bailout element, and just look at the kind of financial power that these guys have, would say that is too much power.

(Clinton’s interview was a lot more detailed but then, this is Hillary Clinton, the woman does her fucking homework which is what I should be doing.)

This is a terrible answer.  He doesn’t talk about where the authority is (which is mostly under Dodd-Frank more details here) He doesn’t talk about the repercussions to the markets, to the local and global banking economy, he doesn’t mention what happens to those people no longer working at JP Morgan Chase.  He doesn’t answer the questions at all because he doesn’t know.

When I brought this up with the one of the few remaining Bernie supporters I could stand, he said was absolutely okay to give these non-answers that showed Sanders has no idea what he is talking about because that’s what staff is for.

I was appalled.  You should know something of what the law can do so you can effectively review what the staff brings you as ideas. You can’t just let them do everything because how do you know that person is giving you useful information or feasible policies?  We see it now with the Trump Administration since none of them know what they are doing besides Elaine Chao and Nikki Haley. (Interesting the only two who are competent are the women.)

The DNC Convention

We come to the end of the race and Sanders refuses to drop out.  Why did he refuse to drop out after he had lost so decisively?   After all he lost it by 12 points, 977 delegates, by open primaries, closed primaries, caucuses and whatever you call Nevada.  But he didn’t drop out until July 12th.   Which is odd since the last primary was June 14th.  He kept going and even kind of promised a floor fight unless he got his way on the platform and other things he wanted.

Yet despite all of the pleading for unity, he didn’t do squat until after a certain press conference that was bizarre in of itself.   A week after that, he endorsed Hillary Clinton tepidly in New Hampshire.   He immediately then went on to work on his book Our Revolution and skipped campaigning for her until the end of August.

To his credit he did a lot of campaigning in places like Wisconsin and Michigan.  But during the DNC convention, he addressed his supporters a single time on their behavior and ignored their repeated efforts to drown out the speakers on every night of the convention.  His facial expressions said it all.  He was miserable to be there and angry he didn’t win.

Sanders v Clinton

After the Election

Since the election, which he immediately blamed on Democrats not paying attention to the white working class despite there being next to no evidence of that being why Clinton lost (racism and sexism explain it and was pretty obvious right from the start), Sanders has returned to being an independent.  As Clinton pointed out in her new book, this isn’t a smear, it is what he says.  He has taken that perch to spend as much time bashing the Democratic Party as he can.  Here, here, here and on and on.

This despite the legislative victories the Dems keep racking up. They stopped the health care bill in the Senate (although zombie like it keeps coming back), they completely won on the most recent budget deal, which isn’t the first time and continue to do as much as they can to stop the Republicans in their tracks for all of the Republican priorities.

As we enter the 2018 election which starts around 01/30/2018, the Democrats are already starting to pick up seats in the state legislatures (these two and then these two) and have been running about 10 points in their favor for most elections.

But Sanders can’t help himself I guess.  When you get lots of love from the media, that’s what you stick to.  His endorsement is the kiss of death (none of the winners were endorsed by him) and his PAC that he started Our Revolution is more focused on scoring cheap political points than winning elections (they have won one seat, the NY seat which while listed on the candidate’s website, she barely mentioned when campaigning.)

Am I being petty? Somewhat but I am deeply angry.  2016 was a terrible year for me in a lot of ways and one of the key ones was the fact that an old man from Vermont did everything he could to make it miserable for those of us ecstatic to finally have our turn as women at the head of the table because he didn’t win.  So I don’t like Sanders.  He had some ideas I agree with (most of which were thought up by Democrats previously-single payer system, college, doubling the minimum wage which was Truman again as well as increasing taxes.)  But his behavior has made me pretty much hate him.  He can go back to being the backbencher he has always been.  I am tired of his shtick.  Tired of the insults, the petty sniping at people trying to stop the Trump Administration and the lack of respect for others.

So that’s why I don’t like Bernie Sanders.  You’re welcome.

 

 

No Pardon for Old Men

Sheriff Joe ArpaioAs the second season of Humorless Rants, Elizabeth and Kevin bring you a lively discussion of the week’s events.

They start with a discussion of the DNC lawsuit that recently ended after a year in court. Federal Judge William Zloch dismissed the complaint by Jared and Elizabeth Beck claiming that the DNC had plotted to make Hillary Clinton its presidential nominee. Humorless Rants has been covering this issue since it began. So our intrepid duo have a few thoughts on whether the DNC was really in “cahoots” with the Clinton campaign, and whether Florida judges in red robes should only cry in their chambers.

Joe Arpaio Pardon

Next up, the Ranters take on the pardon of Joe Arpaio. Elizabeth has a long history with the racist, power-abusing sheriff and she gives him a good introduction to his many misdeeds that led to his conviction. But even with the pardon, it isn’t all bad news. Sheriff Paul Penzone, who succeeded Arpaio is cleaning up Arpaio’s mess, including shutting down Tent City.

Both Elizabeth and Kevin also discuss the status of the pardon. You might be surprised to hear that it is not a done deal. But you will have to tune in to find out about it.

Transgender Ban

Although it is on hold for up to a year during which the military will study the issue, Trump is pushing forward with his ban on transgender troops. Elizabeth and Kevin get into the broader issues with regard to this. Many would like to see the military refuse this order at the same time that they realize how dangerous that would be for civilian control of the military. Tune in to hear the discussion.

Season Two, Episode Two: No Pardon for Old Men

Next Week

Be sure to tune in next week for a review of the week’s news. We’ll update this when we know what the Ranters will be talking about.

Image cropped and distorted from Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a rally for Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Season Two, Episode Two: No Pardon For Old Men

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qbcrb-71c11a

It’s time for Kevin and Elizabeth to not stop blathering about legal crap from the dismissal of the DNC lawsuit to the defiance of the military to Cheeto.  They also meander their way through the pardoning of ex-Sheriff now convicted criminal Joe Arpaio.

Books that they mention at the end:

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

 

 

Neoliberal Shills and the Documents That Bind Them

Over on the Twitterverse, there was a bit of a kerfuffle when Professional Troll(TM) Nomiki Konst decided to bring up this chestnut from the long ago days of 1983 when the Democrats were facing their biggest crisis in years as they had lost a lot of elections and were feeling kind of bruised. (Sound familiar?)

She, of course, misrepresented it.

evidence 64

I went ahead and read the manifesto because unlike Konst, I like to know what I am talking about when it comes to critiquing 34 year old policy papers.

Blaming Unions

She first states that he blamed Unions.  Well no. He didn’t.  He did point out a small problem.  Unions weren’t very good about changing to the economic times that changed around them.  On one hand, most of the time the reason that the various different businesses were (or are) having difficulties was because management was pretty freaking stupid.

But on the other hand, sometimes there needs to be some give from the workers so new workers can share in the prosperity and unions don’t always understand this because they are protecting their current workers.  In the article, Charles Peters points this out and offered a solution that is definitely neo-liberal as I understand the term.  Paul Tsongas, a Senator from Massachusetts, came up with a compromise for the Chrysler auto bailout in the 1970s when the workers asked for a pay raise during the negotiations for the bailout.  He disagreed with the notion that they should have an increase when the company was being rescued but he also believed that they shouldn’t suffer if the bailout worked.  So he proposed what became the Lugar-Tsongas bill that gave the workers stock instead of money.  Peters approved of this and recommended it for other situations.

I don’t know if I agree with that.  I get the compromise and why it occurred but stock instead of money?  Seems like deferring the problem down the road while at the same time ignoring the real problem of workers getting the shaft when business leadership fucks up.

Means Testing Social Security

She claims he says that Social Security is wasteful.  That isn’t what he says.  What he does say is that not means testing Social Security is wasteful since people who don’t need the money get money when those who need more (like say my mother) have to make do with less.  Further we could use the extra money elsewhere to help more people.  It is a terrible idea.

While the article I link to gives a lot of discussion of the nuts and bolts as to why it is a terrible idea, my reason to oppose it is simple: it turns a well loved program into a welfare program that opens the door to what happened with Aid to Families With Dependent Children (ADFC/welfare) or what is now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF or Fuck the Poor.)  TANF is a block program that has the same level of funding as it did in 1997: $16.5 Billion dollars.  Which is why most states have been able to boast their welfare rolls have dropped.  Because there literally is no money for more people to receive assistance. Arizona, for instance, has 10,215 families receiving assistance that they only can get for a year.

I don’t want that to happen to Social Security.  Yes it does seem to be wasteful but if the idea that giving workers an ownership in the company makes it more likely they will work harder for the company…why isn’t the converse true for those who receive funding through Social Security?

Over-reliance on Credentials

I am not sure where she gets the idea that he was declaring a war on public schools.  He does recommend being better able to remove incompetent teachers from schools while broadening the scope of people who can teach from those who have degrees.  Which Arizona recently did. I understand some of what he is saying as a way of getting those who do have the ability and experience in the classroom to teach young miscreants I mean children things that are of value but at the same time, especially now, we don’t need people who have no idea what they are doing with kids to try to handle 40 of them at once to get them ready to navigate a complex shifting sand world.

The Really Offensive Stuff

Weirdly she doesn’t mention his offensive suggestion we return to patronage to handle civil service. We already are seeing what a disaster it is when the person picking people is doing so solely for the fact that they did a favor to him. Without the apolitical civil service corps enduring the incompetence from the top, we would be in a much worse situation with the current disasters all over the country (Harvey, the wildfires, Irma, Trump.)

That is a terrible idea that thankfully has hit the dustbin of history.  I do like his idea to increase public service and have always liked Bill Clinton’s solution of Americorps, it isn’t the same thing.  And even then there were problems like with any program with the Americorps.

There Are Very Few Neoliberals These Days In the Democratic Party

Based on this article, if this is what a neoliberal is, there aren’t many in the Democratic Party.  Most members, and especially elected members, are in favor of the things outlined in the Democratic Party Platform of 2016. Most of the bills being introduced don’t talk about using the free market to the extent this does.  In fact the electeds are going in the opposite direction towards more government control of economic units through heavier regulation and expanded government programs like Medicare Buy In.

That won’t stop the Rose Brigade from accusing their opponents of being neoliberals because those opponents are understanding that getting to something like the Medicare Buy In takes time and winning elections in bulk. It does however give us a reason to point and laugh at them.  Well besides the usual reasons.