Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Slow Your Roll, Dude…


Republicans should be holding themselves to an especially high standard on this, and not only because they have nominated and elected a president who has had serious accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault leveled at him. Politicians of both parties have, over time, been guilty of terrible crimes. But Republicans have a particular obligation here because their public-policy positions have put them on the side of those who oppose equality and full citizenship for women, and because they nominate far fewer women for elected office. To be sure: Many Republicans (including many Republican women) strongly dispute that they are in any sense anti-woman. This, then, is an excellent time for them to demonstrate that they really do consider crimes against women to be major offenses…

“The country?” Meaning, you & your rich white male friends?…

Friday Morning Open Thread: Where Did She Come From?

Molly Ball is a good writer, even if Time is a less-than-worthy venue:

Nancy Pelosi stopped caring about what people think of her a long time ago, so she has no qualms about eating ice cream for breakfast with a stranger. Dark chocolate, two scoops, waffle cone. It’s a freezing January morning in Baltimore’s Little Italy, where Pelosi grew up in the 1950s. “You know what’s good about ice cream in this weather?” she says. “It doesn’t melt down your arm while you’re eating it.”

We are sitting in an Italian café on Albemarle Street, alone save for the staff and Pelosi’s security detail, to whom she has offered coffee. The Trump era has many Democrats in a panic, but Pelosi inhabits a more cheerful reality. She is convinced that America has hit bottom, has seen the error of its ways and is ready to put her back in charge.

The 78-year-old former House Speaker knows what her critics say about her: that she’s too old, too “toxic,” too polarizing; that after three decades in Congress and 15 years leading her party’s caucus, she has had her turn and needs to get out of the way. But there’s a reason she sticks around. Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, she says, “we’d have a woman at the head of the table.” When that didn’t happen, Pelosi realized that without her, there might not be a woman in the room at all.

Pelosi is one of the most consequential political figures of her generation. It was her creativity, stamina and willpower that drove the defining Democratic accomplishments of the past decade, from universal access to health coverage to saving the U.S. economy from collapse, from reforming Wall Street to allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Her Republican successors’ ineptitude has thrown her skills into sharp relief. It’s not a stretch to say Pelosi is one of very few legislators in Washington who actually know what they’re doing.

But few people talk about her in those terms. Instead, Pelosi is regarded as a political liability…

The attacks on Pelosi are particularly ironic in this political moment. Since Donald Trump’s election, American women have poured into the streets, signed up to run for office in record numbers and surged to the polls. Many of them look a lot like Pelosi once did. They are brainy, liberal and comfortably situated moms who have looked at the political system with the exasperation of a person who has seen her husband get the laundry wrong and realized that she’s going to have to do it herself. If Democrats regain congressional power in November, as most experts expect, it will be by riding a tidal wave of female rage. But rather than tout their female leader–the first woman Speaker in history, and the odds-on favorite to reclaim the title–many Democratic politicians, both male and female, are running in the opposite direction. In this season of female political empowerment, Pelosi’s power still rankles.

It seems to enrage people that Pelosi feels entitled to things: money, power, respect. Of course it does–a woman is always held responsible for her reputation. Clinton, in her years running for President, was asked over and over again some version of the question, Why do you think people don’t like you? (Despite not being on any ballot, Clinton, too, figures prominently in the Republicans’ fall campaign strategy.) A powerful woman is always defined less by what she has done than by how she makes people feel.

Pelosi isn’t humble. Many women, she thinks, are afraid to show pride and need to see an example of confidence. Besides, making sure you get your due isn’t something you can delegate. One former Pelosi aide told me everything she does is rooted in this combination of obligation and entitlement: the sense that someone ought to do something, and she is the only one who can do it. Pelosi seems to feel no need to apologize for her status in the way women are expected to and men rarely are. Perhaps the assertion of ego by a woman is the most radical act there is: the refusal to submit or be subordinate.

It is not in Pelosi’s nature to cower or grovel. She will be who she is–liberal, privileged, unpopular–and let the chips fall where they may. To some Democrats, Pelosi’s is an attitude of unconscionable selfishness: she’s willing to damage her party to hold on to the position she believes she deserves. The story of Nancy Pelosi is, inevitably, the story of what people think of her. The way she is recognized and remembered, the way she is held to account. And so Pelosi doesn’t have the luxury of not caring about what people think of her: it’s the question on which her future, and the future of American politics, depends…

When things get really, really ugly, the Media Villagers and their donors will ‘graciously’, temporarily, allow a woman to leave her proper place and come clean the place up. Or, sometimes, a Black man, as a less-emasculating alternative. Hey, speaking of the cleanup squad:

Open Thread: Another Worthy Battle Entered…

Supplementary, from the ever-excellent Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

Labor Day is a good time to think about the courts because it was in the courts that organized labor was most effectively crushed in this country, and it was in the courts that the way was cleared for it to flourish, and, it appears that the courts are being set up to crush it again.

From 1897 until approximately 1937—the end date is a matter of some dispute—the court’s relation to labor was defined by the horrendous decision in Lochner v. New York. Citing “freedom of contract” as a constitutional right, the decision was used through the decade to strike down all manner of regulations touching on business large and small. (Lochner itself was about working conditions in bakeries.) Unions, of course, came along with the deal. In Adair v. United States, the Court struck down a law that would have made it illegal for a company to fire employees for trying to organize.

Make no mistake. There is a strong strain of modern conservatism that is openly nostalgic for the Lochner Era; Rand Paul made the case a part of his campaign for president in 2016…

In the history of this country, there has not been an expansion of the middle-class without a strong, vibrant union presence. That doesn’t change just because factories move to Mexico, or because of robots. There simply is no other way for wages to rise generally other than having the people receiving those wages bargain collectively for them. That Labor Day is still a holiday at all, I guess, is something for which we can give thanks. The attack on labor itself begins again on Tuesday.

Long Read: “Ethnicity not a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s rise in law”

Despite what you might think about the “liberal” newspaper here in the People’s Republic, the Boston Globe has not always been sympathetic to Elizabeth Warren. But even if she hasn’t decided whether to run for higher office in 2020, the Globe has apparently decided she will, or should. Reporter Annie Linskey — again, not necessarily a friend to liberals, or to other women — did the in-depth reporting on the slur that will follow Warren like birtherism followed another Democrat:

The 60-plus Harvard Law School professors who filed into an auditorium-style room on the first floor of Pound Hall on that February 1993 afternoon had a significant question to answer: Should they offer a job to Elizabeth Warren?

The atmosphere was a little fraught. Outside the hall, students held a silent vigil to demand the law school add more minorities and women to a faculty dominated by white men.

The discussion among Harvard professors inside that room is supposed to remain a secret, but it’s still being dissected a quarter of a century later because the resulting vote set Warren on her way to becoming a national figure and a favored target for conservative critics, among them, notably and caustically, President Trump.

Was Warren on the agenda because, as her critics say, she had decided to self-identify as a Native American woman and Harvard saw a chance to diversify the law faculty? Did she have an unearned edge in a hugely competitive process? Or did she get there based on her own skill, hard work, and sacrifice?

The question, which has hung over Warren’s public life, has an answer.

In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.

The Globe examined hundreds of documents, many of them never before available, and reached out to all 52 of the law professors who are still living and were eligible to be in that Pound Hall room at Harvard Law School. Some are Warren’s allies. Others are not. Thirty-one agreed to talk to the Globe — including the law professor who was, at the time, in charge of recruiting minority faculty. Most said they were unaware of her claims to Native American heritage and all but one of the 31 said those claims were not discussed as part of her hire. One professor told the Globe he is unsure whether her heritage came up, but is certain that, if it did, it had no bearing on his vote on Warren’s appointment…

Warren, in a lengthy interview that started in the sparsely decorated Penn Quarter condo where she stays in Washington and ended in her hideaway office in the US Capitol, opened up for the first time about her claims to Native American heritage. She explained that it was passed on to her as a fact of family lore and that a generation of women in her family were aging, and dying, in the late 1980s. As they faced mortality, Warren said, they focused more on the family’s American Indian ancestry, and the impression stuck with her.

Her grandmother, who shared many stories about ties to the Cherokee and Delaware tribes, died in 1969. Her daughters — Warren’s aunts — then took on the central place in the family. “As the sisters became the matriarchs, they began to talk more about their background and about their mother’s background,” Warren explained…

But this year, as she campaigns for reelection to the Senate and considers a 2020 presidential bid, she has taken a major step: releasing the contents of her university personnel files to the Globe after six years of rebuffing requests for them.

“You have what I have,” Warren said, pledging that she had turned over every record in her possession about her years as a teacher at five different law schools and a stint visiting at another. “My family is my family, but my background played no role in my getting hired anywhere.”…


.. Warren said she had always identified closely with her mother’s side of the family: a sprawling and rowdy group with scant resources who looked after one another, and who, according to family lore, have Cherokee and Delaware blood.

When her grandmother died in 1969, Warren’s mother and three aunts led the family and further impressed on her their proud Cherokee connection.

Then in the late 1980s, around the time that Warren began identifying professionally as Native American, she began losing them, too. Her aunt Mae Reed Masterson died in October 1989. Her aunt Alice Ann Reed Carnes died in August 1990. That left her mother and her aunt Bess Veneck, (aka Aunt Bee), who lived with Warren and helped her raise her children.

The two women in my life who have always been my guides through the world began to focus even more on the past,” Warren explained.

This is also when Warren was leaving the West behind, for good. And she wasn’t sure she wanted to try and fit in to the new East Coast culture.

“When I get to Penn and Harvard, I look around and think this is not a club that I’m likely to be able to join,” said Warren, who noted she was a woman, a mother, and from a humble background and from Oklahoma. “I had different heritage than most of the people there. . . . You can try to keep your head down or say: This is who I am. Different from the rest of you, but this is who I am.”
Read more

Good Government Open Thread: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Still A Model for Us All

Per CNN:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a series of new planks Tuesday in her wider plan to stem corporate influence on government and root out corruption in Washington…

Warren’s plan, which would impose a lifetime ban on appointed officials from taking lobbying jobs, is dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Congress. But it is likely to influence the talking points of other Democrats and, should she run for higher office in 2020, be a staple of her campaign pitch.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Warren called for Congress to “end lobbying as we know it” and not allow “the rich and powerful buy their way into congressional offices.”

“Our national crisis of faith in government boils down to this simple fact: People don’t trust their government to do the right thing because they think government works for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected and not for the American people,” Warren said. “And here’s the kicker: They’re right.”…

Among the more specific new rules Warren is proposing in her Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act are a prohibition on elected and senior agency officials owning or trading stock while in office; the livestreaming of audio from federal appellate court proceedings; a requirement to make public a record of all meetings between lobbyists and public officials; and perhaps most dramatically, the creating of a new independent agency to enforce new and existing ethics laws.
Read more