Do Not Let Me Hear Of The Wisdom Of Old Men


Donald Trump’s North Korea tweet was obvious enough that the instant responses to it included the word “dick-measuring” and the thought that he probably can’t find the button. It is becoming more and more obvious that he is indeed the WYSIWYG president. “There is no wizard behind the curtain — just an old, angry, obnoxiously ignorant man.”

The world is changing fast – away from the assumed preference for old white men. Even when their privilege was intact, within their value system they had a lot to be angry about. First, the physical decline. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to keep weight off, more difficult to maintain muscle tone. Joints begin to ache. Men’s sexual abilities decline starting at around age 20. There’s some cognitive decline; reflexes slow down.

Additionally, society keeps changing. People of color, women, people whose sexuality differs from cis-het all are being legitimated. Some are taking prominent jobs away from their rightful owners, those cis-het white men. Read more

Galloping Autocracy Report (Open Thread)

I was going to draft a post on some alarming developments that haven’t received the attention they deserve due to the furor over the “Fire and Fury” book, but this tweet pretty much sums it up:

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the would-be autocrats will succeed, just pointing out that they are trying. It is our job to stop them.

Also, Angry Black Lady is absolutely correct here:

I realize some folks are pissed off at Gillibrand for calling on Al Franken to resign. But if you read the article ABL calls out above and can’t recognize that it’s positively dripping with the exact same brand of sexism that tore Hillary Clinton down at every turn, I don’t know what to tell you.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nowhere to Go But Up

(Scott Meyers via

Note that this cartoon was originally published in 2010… although it could’ve been 1990, or 1980. Yeah, I still find it funny, because I’m old and calloused. There are so many subgroups for whom 2017 has been the year of “time to give up on sweet reason as a method of conversion”. Petula Dvorak, in the Washington Post, on “The Unexpected (and inspiring) Year of the Woman”:

… [I]t felt as though 2017 might be the year that the massive boulder women have been pushing uphill for centuries rolled back down.

But no. It turned out to be the exact opposite, and, in a way, far more powerful than any of the milestones of 2016.

The year began with what was believed to be the largest march the country has ever seen. On Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration, women and the men who support them filled the streets, plazas and squares of Washington and cities across the country, as well as around the world. It was a breathtaking mass of humanity. On the ground in the nation’s capital, it felt as though no square foot of land was empty. From the office windows and balconies of those in power, it looked as though a tide was swallowing cities whole.

It was an amazing, powerful moment full of hope. But there was no unifying message, no concrete demand, no specific goal or 10-point action plan. Now we see: There didn’t have to be.

The women’s marches ignited an energy that roiled and swelled through the rest of the year.

By the end of 2017, a seismic change in American culture began toppling dozens of sexual predators in the #MeToo movement. A surge of female candidates ran for office and won a stunning number of elections, from city mayors to the nation’s statehouses.

“Women claimed big victories” with the Nov. 7 elections “in a night that marked many firsts and could signal the start of a sea change for women in politics,” wrote Governing magazine, a publication not known for breathless declarations on culture and feminism. “The sheer volume of success for women candidates was a surprise to many, mainly because they were running against incumbents who historically win re-election 90 percent of the time. But not this year. Incumbents in Georgia, New Jersey and Virginia all lost their seats to women.”…

In one year, our nation went from a place where 46 percent of American voters didn’t mind having a commander in chief who brags about grabbing women’s genitals to a place where a celebrity chef who allegedly gropes his female employees isn’t considered fit to be in the kitchen…

And, of course, it was women of color who largely spearheaded the Women’s March and all the activism that followed. Which has led, at least sometimes, to much-needed examination of the racism that has been the root and support of far too much political power in America, in 2017 no less than in 1817.

What’s on the agenda as we prepare for the last long weekend of this too-long year?

The Party of Immiseration

The Republican Party is phenomenon that Tony Soprano would have recognized instantly:  a bust-out operation, by individuals (looking at you, Bob Corker), and collectively, as the tool by which the hyper-wealthy secure yet more at the expense of everyone else, including the merely rich.

I think this crowd of jackals understands, but it hasn’t yet fully penetrated even that part of the media that does, more or less, get what’s going on, that the tax heist is merely the most obvious of scams.  Everything the GOP does, every policy choice and hidden little adminstrative manouver is another swing of the pick in the most American of extractive industries — the one that treats most Americans as ore to be mined.

This, on the coming elder crisis, is what brought this notion to the fore for me:

Why did women’s rush into the work force stop? …

Caring for children is, to be sure, a formidable barrier to women’s work. In developed countries where parental leave is guaranteed by law and governments ensure free child care, women work at a much higher rate than in the United States.

Still, the consensus is incomplete. It misses perhaps the most significant impediment to women’s continued engagement in the labor market, one that is getting tougher with each passing year: aging. Focused laserlike on child care, we haven’t noticed that the United States is walking into an elder-care crisis.

What are the consequences of this combination of demography and a gendered burden of care?

About a quarter of women 45 to 64 years old and one in seven of those 35 to 44 are caring for an older relative, according to the American Time Use Survey.

A 2015 survey by the insurer Genworth Financial found that caregivers spend about 20 hours a week providing care — about half what a full-time worker would spend at work. Almost four in five said they had missed work, and about one in 10 lost a job. One in six reported losing around one-third of income because of caring responsibilities.

Sean Fahle of the State University of New York at Buffalo and Kathleen McGarry of the University of California, Los Angeles, tracked women in their early 50s to their early 60s for 20 years. Those who provided care, they found, were 8 percent less likely to work. Those at work cut their hours and had lower wage growth. Over time, Professor McGarry told me, caregivers risked lower incomes and a higher risk of poverty in old age.

And the kicker:

Older Americans may be healthier than ever. Still, as they age, they will inevitably develop disabilities and chronic conditions like dementia. “If you are superwealthy and can afford all sorts of things, this is not an issue,” noted Lawrence F. Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard. “But if you are middle class, this tends to end with your relatives’ losing all of their assets and relying on Medicaid or family care.”

Which is to say: the combination of improvements in what medicine can do, the lack of a basic and humane social insurance system and safety net in the United States, and persistent gender roles means that women face disproportionate costs and constraints on their lives; are more likely to be poor as they age; and face the loss of their parents’ assets and ultimately their own to the extractive industry known as elder care.

This is the nub of Republican governing philosophy.  Those of us who are not oligarchs both pay more in our lifetimes and must leave our children and grandchildren with less cash, and hence chance, to make their own lives better.

It’s a system based on the continued extraction of capital from the bottom and middle to the top. The Republican Party’s stock in trade is immiseration, and it will continue to be as long as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of a small handful of those on top for whom the rest of us resemble nothing so much as West Virginia mountain tops.

Mere election annihilation is too good for them.  I’d take it though, though.

Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life: Old Age, 1839-40.

Franken Sense (Open Thread)

So, Senator Al Franken is scheduled to make a statement on the floor of the US Senate at 11:45 ET (C-SPAN link). He’ll probably resign. And because he’s basically a good guy and a strong Democrat, he’ll likely do so in a way that reaffirms the party’s commitment to equality for women and underscores the Republicans’ hypocrisy on the issue.

If he resigns, I’ll be sorry to see Al go. I’ve always liked him — he’s funny, smart, almost always right on the issues and can draw a map of the United States freehand. I have two or three of his books on my shelves. My favorite Franken quote comes from Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. It’s about the difference in how liberals and conservatives love America:

“We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow.”

That’s true about patriotism, and it’s also true to some extent about political parties, which is why Republicans are fine with electing a man who has been credibly accused of child molestation and attempted rape (and that smirking creep from Texas who used taxpayer funds to pay off accusers) and Democrats are cleaning house — over-zealously, according to many.

Personally, I’m conflicted about Franken’s case for a whole bunch of reasons that I’ve expressed in other threads and therefore won’t bother rehashing in this post. But I do have a request, which, to paraphrase Ulysses McGill, is probably the “acme of foolishness” to make on this blog: Can we elevate the discussion a tad and try to keep it free of bad faith assumptions about fellow Democrats?

Can we entertain the possibility that people might have reasons other than rank stupidity or opportunism to believe Franken should resign? Can we stipulate that those who believe Franken should remain in the senate care deeply about addressing sexual harassment? At least until they say something that indicates otherwise? Because this issue is important. I’m willing to try if you are. Anyhoo, have at it.

More on Al

Might be a good idea to listen to your female colleagues, Senator Franken.

The Mordor Exit

I didn’t think this was real at first, but apparently it is:

Y’all be careful over there!

In other news, Time recognized “The Silence Breakers” as its “Person of the Year” today, honoring a movement comprising mostly women who’ve refused to stay silent about sexual harassment, which has sent shock waves through entertainment, media and political power circles.

So, #MeToo is having a moment, but one of the NYT’s most notorious Beltway hacks put her own spin on it via a tweet about an article in her paper on Harvey Weinstein:

That seems to miss the point rather badly, so I’ll spell it out: Hillary Clinton aspired to a powerful office in an environment that was and is shot through with misogyny. The remarkable thing about the #MeToo movement is that it is revealing the scope of the abuse across industries and organizational charts.

The lesson we should take away from that isn’t “Whoa, how ironic that Hillary was dealing with human garbage at every turn!” It’s that it’s way past time to take out the fucking trash.

Anyhoo. Open thread.