Is it me, or has the pace of the disintegration of this country been ratcheted up a notch? Even if we aren't hurtling toward destruction at Mach speed, there's enough regression in the air to unequivocally prove that we are at least sliding backward. Even former President Jimmy Carter recently acknowledged that we no longer live in a functioning democracy.
Take the latest Washington soap opera, in which the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve has now been elevated (or sunk) to the level of palace intrigue, circa 1787. Obama -- he who so righteously scoffed at Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" remarks, even as his hypersecurity forces were literally binding a couple of Green Party female political opponents to metal folding chairs lest they interrupt his bullshit -- is now openly embracing perhaps the worst caricature of misogyny and greed ever dreamed up by a Dickensian brain. That, of course, would be Larry Summers. Larry, one of the chief architects of the 2008 collapse, has been rightly lambasted throughout the blogosphere after word leaked out (official, cowardly, and unprosecuted) that Obama wants to appoint him to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve over the much more qualified and populist-leaning Janet Yellen. Barry became so incensed at the blowback to his wishes that he quickly morphed from simply whispering his desires to "full-throatedly" endorsing his pal behind closed doors to some Congressional Democrats, while lambasting the "liberal media". So much for that much-vaunted transparency and phony populism. I think the best we can hope for is translucency, filtered through a fog of propaganda, lies and doubletalk.
In his pro-Janet Yellen column today, Paul Krugman managed to skewer the White House whisperers without even once mentioning Obama by name: a true achievement by any journalistic measure. According to Krugman, there are two factions at work: the subtle VSP ("New Democrat"/ Wall Street/Gravitas) whisperers, and the more blatant and unhinged GOP misogynist whisperers who are equating a possible Yellen appointment with the feminization of the dollar... whatever that might be:
The point is that while the gravitas types like to think of themselves as serious men (and I do mean men) who are willing to do what needs to be done, recent history suggests that they’re actually men who are eager to prove their seriousness by doing what doesn’t need to be done, at the public’s expense.
Also, there was a time not along ago when almost everyone in the gravitas crowd, if asked who possessed that mystical quality in its purest form, would surely have answered “Alan Greenspan.” How well did that turn out?
So is Janet Yellen the only possible candidate to be the next leader of the Fed? Of course not. But the case for someone else should be made on the merits — and, so far, that hasn’t been what’s happening.Since Krugman did not mention He Who Must Not Be Named by name, I did the honors in my Times comment:
Sexism has been festering in the White House ever since Barack Obama took office.
His problem with women, combined with his groveling to rich and powerful Wall Streeters like Summers, is well-documented. As told in Ron Suskind's appropriately titled "Confidence Men," chief White House economist Christina Romer was quickly forced out. Elizabeth Warren, along with her consumer protection bureau, was duly marginalized by Timothy Geithner. Janet Yellen already belongs to a very special sisterhood.
According to Ezra Klein, the White House remains paranoid about the possibility of another economic collapse. Should that occur, the Fed Chair would become the go-to savior. The alpha males deferring to a woman? The very thought must be making the testosterone drain right out of their bodies. They're reduced to anonymously whispering their angst to obliging media stenographers.
Still, the president had no problem loudly touting infrastructure investment in Florida, where a tiny percentage of the privatized profits could magically trickle down from contractors to "that waitress wanting to buy an iPod." (I wish I were kidding. He really did say that.)
Then, it was on to an Amazon "fulfillment center" where struggling Americans with "grit and resilience" can order protein powder from middle-class careerists earning a whole 12 bucks an hour.
Reaganomics, sexism, and obscene wealth disparity posing as prosperity. A trifecta for the One Percent, and a triple-whammy for the rest of us.Another commenter (male) took issue with my view of Obama as sexist, saying it could not possibly be so because he likes and respects the women closest to him:
Obama fought for and got Susan Rice and Samantha Power. His closest adviser has always been Valerie Jarrett. His first Secretary of State was Hillary. He is close and respectful to a very strong wife. His is entirely wrapped around the fingers of his girls.
I just do not see sexism in him. Nor do I see him permitting it around him.
Now his economic policy does not at all please me, and the bums he has chosen to listen to are all men. But I don't think that is sexism. That is something else.My response:
Obama's is the "benevolent" brand of sexism. Of course it's not even close the misogyny-as-policy openly embraced by Republicans. But it's there, and it rankles. Examples:
"As the father of two daughters" he ordered his female HHS secretary to ban the Plan B contraceptive for teenage girls, who he predicted would be bopping into drugstores buying up birth control like it was gum. Sexist much?
He made public remarks about Kamala Harris being the best looking attorney general in the country. Many women found this demeaning, as "well-intentioned" as it may have been.
We should begin comparing what John Kerry is doing as Sec of State to what Hillary did. Obama seems to be giving him much freer rein in the Middle East peace talks. We'll see how this develops. Hillary, you may remember, was deemed "likeable enough" by Obama during the primary debates. Benevolently dismissive and criticized as sexist by many women.
According to the female White House staffers interviewed by Ron Suskind for his book, the hostile workplace atmosphere was such that in the private sector, it would have amounted to grounds for a sexual harassment suit. A lot of this had to do with Larry Summers. Larry Summers is definitely a misogynist. So if the president loves Larry, what does that make him?
I guess you have to be a woman to "get" this. A few isolated gaffes are one thing. But then a pattern emerges. Combined with the economic policy, it just adds to the toxicity. And the annoyance.To which more hilarity ensued, including the usual redundant cut-and-paste jobs from the dregs of the Obama Truth Squad: accusations of "hatchet job" and "Obama can never do right by Ms. Karen!". Good to know there are still a few die-hards left out there.
Meanwhile, if 1787 all over again is getting you down (nostalgia just ain't what it used to be) then fast forward to 1984 this weekend for an anti-surveillance celebration in a city near you. Big Brother has seen enough, and we've had enough. Marchons.