Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Matt Stoller talks the way forward

I didn't have anything for tonight.  I spoke to C.I. and she said she'd been meaning to note Matt Stoller's thread on the way forward.  I said I'd gladly grab it.  Let me note one thing though, there's no number five in the thread.  He must have accidentally skipped number five.

Click here for the thread.

1. I've been pretty aggressive about pointing out progressives got crushed, but I don't have a strategy going forward. That's because admitting defeat and figuring out what to do has to be a collective conversation. Here are some thoughts...

2. Admitting defeat isn't just a matter of dusting yourself off and saying well now it's time to do what we did, only more of it. More organizing! More starting at a local level! Etc. That's not admitting defeat, that's doubling down on failure.
3. Admitting defeat means admitting that progressives shouldn't do the same things they were doing. It means admitting that the ideas animating the left were unappealing and did not, in the end, provide anything useful for politics or policy.
4. It also means understanding not only why Biden crushed Bernie and Warren, but also why progressives had nothing to say when there was a massive bailout. It means reckoning with the fact that left-wing politicians do very little. What went wrong?
6. Progressives are still operating on an old, and terrible, playbook from the 1960s. This is the New Age counterculture view of politics as personal liberation, as opposed to politics as an expression of collective decision-making by citizens. It's libertarianism, left-flavored.
7. Progressives have to embrace politics, and that doesn't mean silly parsing of electoral strategies. It means really understanding policy and finance, and how that connects with a vision of a good society. If you don't have a view of the Fed, you are not doing real politics.
8. In one sense, progressives need to actually learn a language they have neglected for far too long. That is the language of finance and power. Learning languages takes time, and it means learning, being curious about how things work.
9. Progressives need to develop a relationship to commerce and production. What does it mean to build things or lend money in a progressive way? Progressives also need to develop a relationship with the military and geopolitics. What does it mean to deal with China?
10. Both of these problems are unanswerable as long as progressives remain entirely focused on victimization narratives. That's the ideological problem that makes progressives unable to hear unless someone makes claims about racism or various forms of abuse.
11. The obsession with wokeness needs to end, not because it's unpopular but because it's immoral. Wokeness isn't about racial justice or gender-based concerns, it is in-group signaling for aristocrats who have learned a complex language of fake tolerance. Stop it.
12. And America is not a nation of victims, it is a nation of tradespeople. Learn that language. Private equity and derivatives markets are a different type of arrangement than farms and factories. Handwaving 'capitalism' has to stop, not bc it's right or wrong but bc it's lazy.
13. Finally, it's time to actually be honest about what we face. The Democratic Party must be reshaped. But this is not going to happen through primaries, because the problem isn't a lack of progressives. Progressives are as much a problem as any other faction.
14. Democratic elected leaders, left and center, have no ability to independently assess reality and make political claims. Most Democratic members of Congress don't read books and largely can't think. They just want to be friends with one another. That's it.
15. Democrats simply internalize what cultural totems like the NYT, lobbyists or economists tell them. So they are easily intimidated and fooled. Most Democrats did not know what was in the bailouts they voted for. They only noticed when a billionaire went on CNBC and told them.
16. The good news is progressives don't need a majority of members to do things. They only need one or two, who are a loud pain in the ass but whose loudness is a function of interity. We don't have a single progressive troublemaker, bc the progressive movement doesn't want that.
17. Progressives by and large want either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, both of whom prioritize unity among Democrats over any sort of coherent approach to wielding power. And this is true among nonprofits and unions too. Unity!
18. Progressive failed leaders are also responding to a progressive movement that doesn't actually want them to stand up to Wall Street, except in a performative way. It's a movement that believes Obama was powerless and Trump is all powerful, though they held the same office.
19. So progressives need to find a way to develop a real vision, and to elevate leaders who share that vision and promote it above maintaining relationships with party leaders. Oh, and being a pain in the ass will work, quickly. Dems are empty and moveable.
20. But progressives also need to declare political independence, and start working with Republicans where they can. I've noted that there are conservatives rethinking their ideology. That's a natural alliance.
21. But I think the hardest part is going to be really rethinking core assumptions. And those fake assumptions are (1) business is irrelevant or bad, (2) victims are all that matter, (3) America is a global force for evil (4) wokeness is a legitimate language of justice.
22. The destination for populists is a nation where workers, artists, engineers, writers, farmers, businesspeople get to control their lives and their communities, without being dominated by the powerful. It is a nation of equal citizens.

We can get there. But...

23. ... Progressives have to face some bracing truths. It's not just that progressives were defeated, it's that progressives were afraid to stand up against Wall Street, when it mattered most. They didn't just face political defeats, they revealed a fundamental lack of integrity.
24. We have the great honor of living in a democracy. And that means both accepting the great gift of self-government, but also responsibility for what we do with it. Can we accept that?

I think those are some solid points.  I would add, "Stop worshiping politicians."  C.I. nailed that after Bernie disappointed us all.  We have got to stop acting like these are heroes.  They are public servants and we need to treat them as such.  We are the people and they serve us.  We must demand that of them.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, April 22, 2020.  Joe Biden remains silent regarding the allegations that he assaulted Tara Reade, his papers remain buried, his campaign remains stuck in the 90s, a bunch of elderly failures, burn-outs and sell-outs show up to lecture America's young people, and much more.

That's Anthony Zenkus explaining why he believes Tara Reade and why Joe Biden needs to release his official records which are at the University of Deleware -- sealed at the university.  2019 is when the files could have been unsealed.  But the University is now stating that there's a two-year-out-of-public-life clause before the records can be released.

Tara Reade worked for then-Senator Joe Biden.  She states that he assaulted her.  She states that she made a complaint about harassment.  That complaint -- and others -- could be in Joe's papers.  But, apparently, the world will never know.  Certainly not before a vote takes place in November.

Rich McHugh notes:


-- which houses the collection of Joe Biden's senatorial papers -- just confirmed to me that the papers "will remain closed to the public until two years after Mr. Biden retires from public life."

Joe won't release his records, Joe won't go on camera and addresses the charges lodged against him.  He thinks he can get away with that.  His actions are making others suffer.


The Coalition Against Fraternity Sexual Assault publicly removed Penn Democrats from their 
group on Tuesday. CAFSA said in a public statement that Penn Dems was removed because 
they endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president, a figure who has been accused 
of sexual harassment and assault.
CAFSA, an on-campus organization officially founded in September 2019 to combat rape 
culture and support historically underrepresented minorities, released their statement in a 
Google Document on Twitter. CAFSA's document highlighted allegations made against 
Biden and denounced Penn Dems’ response to the allegation that the former vice 
president had sexually assaulted Senate staffer Tara Reade in 1993. 

"We are writing this statement not only to criticize Penn Dems for endorsing a sexual 
predator for President, but also to reinforce our commitment in supporting and believing survivors," CAFSA's statement read.  

Kieron Kessler (WEBSTER UNIVERSITY JOURNAL) observes:

We, as American citizens, are left to choose between two people who were both accused of sexual assault. We are left to choose between two people who do not want universal healthcare. We are stuck between two people who both engage in racism, whether it be covert or overt, and it was the Democrats that allowed this to happen.
This is the same party that is supposed to “believe women,” yet have selective hearing when it comes to the voice of Tara Reade. Reade came out accusing Joe Biden of sexual assault while she was staffing for him in the ‘90s. Since Reade has spoken she has received little publicity and it seems that the Democrats have not noticed. Despite the party’s criticism of Trump’s history of sexual assault accusations, they have yet to apply it to their own electors.

Now, sexual assault survivors cannot exercise their right to vote without acknowledging that if they do vote, either way they would be voting for an accused abuser. The ones who say “vote for the lesser of two evils” do not realize their privilege in saying that. These women are at risk for reliving their trauma by casting a vote, and moderate Democrats have turned a blind eye.

A story is playing out and most are ignorant of that fact.  Most have no idea or care for the issues Kessler and Singh are reporting on.  That's especially true of Joe's middle-aged to elderly base.  They grew up embracing rape culture.  Let's not lie.

They embraced it, they celebrated it.  It is what they know.

And they can't accept the reality that times have changed.

The young people in America are not going to put up with this nonsesne.  They're not.  They are not going to weaponize assault, they are not going to decry it for one person and ignore it for the other.  Rankk hypocrisy belongs to Joe's core supporters.

Support for rape culture is dying -- not as quickly though as the people who were raised with it and normalized it.

They continue to try to normalize it.  The youth is not buying into it.  Equally true, survivors are not buying into that nonsense.  Hannah Madden (SIMMONS VOICE) explains:

Dr. Christina Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh came four years after I was sexually assaulted. I began to speak, for the first time, about my own experiences after listening to Dr. Ford; after the #MeToo movement gained momentum and after #BelieveSurvivors started trending. In no small part, this massive public outcry helped me to break my own silence. Watching Tara Reade come forward is a harsh reminder of why my silence felt necessary to maintain for years.
Tara Reade, a former senate aid, first accused Joe Biden of sexual misconduct one year ago. Three weeks ago, she further expanded on her allegations. The New York Times, in its “examination’” of Reade’s account, claimed that in their investigations, they could find no pattern of misconduct from Biden. The Times then noted that Reade is the 8th woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Biden, and that his other accusers believe Reade’s account.
Biden’s campaign has openly denied the allegations. Major media outlets have been slow to report– most outlets reported on it almost three weeks after Reade’s story initially broke, (if they reported at all.) Every piece seems more concerned with proving that Reade’s allegations are false than investigating Biden in any substantial way.
Elizabeth Warren is proud to say that she believes Dr. Blasey Ford. She is also proud to endorse Joe Biden for president. Democrats rallied around the #MeToo movement at a convenient time. Believing survivors became a pillar of progressive politics in 2018– when believing one survivor suddenly had massive political implications. Now, Reade represents a threat to the democratic establishment, and is being treated as such. Skepticism abounds in any article concerning her allegations. Paragraphs of comparisons to accusations mounted against Donald Trump are included to remind us that in the end, he is the greater of two electoral evils.
To be clear, this transcends partisanship. Democrats intentionally look the other way while the GOP capitalizes on an opportunity to shame and undermine opposition to Kavanaugh. Any support I once witnessed from my liberal peers, throughout the Kavanaugh hearings and beyond, feels negated now. Conversely, after the attacks on Dr. Blasey Ford from the right, now hearing their rallying cry that, “listening to every accuser is only fair and just,’’ is equally as hypocritical.

What I have learned from this is now, as a survivor weighing the costs of coming forward, first I have to figure out who will be inconvenienced by me speaking out. Once I know that, I’ll have a better idea of who will pretend to support me, and we can go from there.

The elderly rape culture doesn't give a damn about survivors.  They instead show up at THE NATION trying to lecture the youth of America.  Let's be clear, the useless who accomplished nothing are hectoring the youth of America.  Carl Davidson?

I thought he was dead.

Thought.  Hoped.  What's the diff?

But Carl will be dead soon and the world will be a better place.  There's Casey Hayden.  She's the 'feminist' that was with Tom Hayden -- the sexist pig who was kicked out of the Berkeley commune because of his rank sexism.  Casey, no one gives a damn about you.  Years ago, you pretended to care about women.  It wasn't about women.  You cared about you.  Your complaints basically were that because you yourself were a woman you weren't allowed to rise higher in the SDS.

You've done nothing since to address the issues or concerns of women.  You're just a whore.  And you know what I'm talking about Casey, be glad I'm not detailing here.

Mark Rudd?  Be glad I'm just quickly moving on.

Every one of these people is a whore -- especially Toad.  They have done nothing with their lives.  In the sixties, they were full of passion.

That's why they're lecturing the young now.  They're jealous.  They had passion when they were young and they can't stand the fact that they're old, have a foot in the grave and no passion and no energy.

The young don't need to hear from embarrassing burnouts.

Who among them has, since 2009, raised even a public concern about the never-ending Iraq War?

None of them.

They're whores.  They're elderly whores trying to ply a trade in a world they've aged out of.

If craven Tom Hayden were alive, I'm sure he would have signed the letter too.

Tom was the most accomplished of any of these losers.  Of course, his big accomplishment was marrying Jane Fonda and using the millions she earned to buy elections.  That's what he did.  A state legislature race that was more expensive that any Congressional race?  He bought his seat at the table.  When he repeatedly betrayed Jane, the marriage ended.  And without access to constant millions coming in, Tom could no longer buy races and his political career was over.

But while it was active, grasp that he didn't accomplish very much at all.

Appalled by the Democratic politicians who rush to the center and center-right?

Hey, Tom was part of that.  Even ran a TV commercial in one race distancing himself from his past to reassure every one that he was not an activist or a radical or anyone who would ever make a difference.  He rushed to the center-right.  To secure the Zionist vote, he went to Israel to watch attacks on Palestinians.  Watch?  Hell, to cheer on these attacks.

That's who these elderly freaks from SDS are.  That's who wants to lecture the youth of today.

They need to shut the hell up.  They should hang their heads in shame.  They want to be public?  Then start taking public accountability for how you betrayed the left, how you betrayed the needs of the American people and how you continue to do that by trying to tell the young in America to shut up and roll over and take it.

We all get it, that's how you've lived your lives.  Carl Davidson, you are the king of roll over.  You're the king of rape culture.

They're failures, their entire lives are a testimony to failure.  Why would anyone listen to them?

No one should.

I also question THE NATION's editorial coherence.  They slammed the Weather Underground in a lengthy article in the '00s.  I remember because we called that out.  But now they're publishing a screed by several members -- including Mark Rudd -- of the Weather Underground?

Katrina vanden Heuvel, I know your position on Palestinians, you don't give a damn, you'll take money from any lobby.  But can you at least be coherent on where your rag stands on The Weather Underground?

Katty van van is as out of touch as Joe Biden.  Alex Thompson (POLITICO) reports that the elderly on Joe's team are whining that they should hire Hawkfish, the company responsible for Michael Bloomberg's 'digital presence.'  The young on the campaign -- a small percenteage -- are saying that Hawkfish shouldn't be hired.

Who's right?

The young.

Michael Bloomberg had no online presence.  His name -- while he was trying to buy the nomination -- was known because of the TV ads that he bought around the country -- especially during the airings of JUDGE JUDY -- especially the advertisements of Judy endorsing him.

He had no digital presence.

But the elderly on Joe's campaign -- the ones still asking where the floppy drive is -- insist Hawkfish is a one-stop and can do it all.

And you wonder why Joe Biden has the worst campaign ever?

Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

Turning to Iraq, where women are attacked as well while men are protected.  We've been covering the story of Malak Hayder al-Zubiedi -- a name Leonard Pitts never wrote about.  She was the second wife to a spoiled ass whose father is a colonel in the Iraqi military.  She was prevented from seeing her own family for over eight months.  Some have said she was 19, some have said she was 20 -- she would have been 20 this year at some point, whether she'd reached that milestone or not is not established.

Per Malak's sister, her husband sent her to the hospital after he burned her alive.  He and his family immediately joined local authorities in a hush-up of the scandal -- one of those moments Leonard Pitts says where "principle may have become a luxury too costly to afford."  Remember, women's lives are nothing but 'luxuries.'  Our lives don't matter.

Outrage prompted the province's governor to get involved and a real investigation -- or what passes for one in Iraq -- began.

On Saturday, we noted the news her sister had posted on social media: Malak had died. 

Today, Human Rights Watch issued the following:

The death on April 18 of a 20-year-old woman in Najaf, possibly at the hands of her husband, should act as a wake-up call for Iraqi legislators to pass a law against domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraqi authorities should investigate and prosecute domestic violence, and ensure appropriate sentences for violence against women.
“Domestic violence has always plagued Iraq,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “We see case upon case of women and girls dying at the hands of their families, but Iraq's lawmakers have not done enough to save those lives.”
On April 12, a video surfaced on social media of the woman in a hospital with severe burn wounds. Her mother told Human Rights Watch that eight months ago her daughter married a police officer who had only allowed her to visit her parents once since then. On April 8, her mother said, the husband called to tell her that his wife had a “slight burn accident” and was in the hospital.
The mother could hear her daughter screaming. She rushed to the hospital, where the husband’s mother blocked her from seeing her daughter. Police took the young woman’s statement while her mother was blocked from the room, the mother said. On April 11, when she was able to enter the hospital room, her daughter told her that her husband had beaten her so badly on April 8 that she poured gasoline on herself and warned him that unless he stopped, she would light herself on fire.
“I still don’t know if he lit her on fire or she did it herself, but she told me she burned for three minutes while he just watched, and finally his father, also a policeman, came in and put out the fire,” the mother said. “She begged them to take her to the hospital but they waited for over an hour before doing so. Her father-in-law then pretended to the police that he was her father and said to them the fire had been an accident.”
The young woman died on April 18. Najaf’s governor, Loai al-Yasiri, told Human Rights Watch on April 15 that the authorities had established an investigation committee and arrested the husband, father-in-law, and the husband’s uncle. Al-Yasiri said that this case would likely be resolved through a mediation in which the husband’ family’s ashira (clan) would negotiate with Samira’s family’s ashira to reach a non-judicial settlement.
Domestic violence remains a serious problem in Iraq. The Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) of 2006/7 found that one in five Iraqi women are subject to physical domestic violence. A 2012 Planning Ministry study found that at least 36 percent of married women reported experiencing some form of psychological abuse from their husbands, 23 percent verbal abuse, 6 percent physical violence, and 9 percent sexual violence.
Thikra Sarsim, deputy director of Babel Tower, a Baghdad nongovernmental organization, told Human Rights Watch on the day that the young woman died: “She will not be the last one so long as the law does not protect women. My organization has documented many honor killings over the years, but the death certificates instead say ‘suicide.’”
While the Iraqi constitution expressly prohibits “all forms of violence and abuse in the family,” only the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has a law on domestic violence. Iraq’s criminal code, applicable in both Baghdad-controlled territory and the Kurdistan Region, criminalizes physical assault but lacks explicit mention of domestic violence. Instead, article 41(1) gives a husband a legal right to “punish” his wife, and parents to discipline their children “within limits prescribed by law or custom.” The penal code provides for mitigated sentences for violent acts, including murder, for “honorable motives” or for catching one’s wife or female relative in the act of adultery or sex outside of marriage.
Iraqi parliamentary efforts to pass a draft law against domestic violence stalled throughout 2019 and 2020. Wahda Jumaili, a member of the parliament’s human rights committee, told Human Rights Watch that some members blocked the law because they do not believe that the state should punish honor killings or parents’ corporal punishment of their children. Shatha Naji, head of the Women for Peace Organization, said one member of parliament told her, “Do you really want to make our society just like a Western one, where I cannot even punish my son if he comes home late?”
The 2019 version of the draft anti-domestic violence law seen by Human Rights Watch includes provisions for services for domestic violence survivors, protection (restraining) orders, penalties for their breach, and the establishment of a cross-ministerial committee to combat domestic violence. However, the bill has several gaps and provisions that would undermine its effectiveness.
One major problem is that the draft law prioritizes reconciliation over protection and justice for victims. Naji said that victims of domestic violence in Iraq rarely make criminal complaints via the police. Instead, the community police play a mediatory rather than a law enforcement role, and focus on reconciling victim and the abuser in line with community practices.
Iraq has few working shelters and domestic violence victims are often temporarily housed in female prisons. The 2019 draft law would establish government shelters in coordination with local women’s rights organizations. In October 2019, Human Rights Watch interviewed five Iraqi women living in a shelter who said they had fled their homes because of years of domestic violence, including rape and forced prostitution, by family members or their husband.
One 18-year-old woman told Human Rights Watch that her brother forced her to marry a friend of his at age 14. Her family, the police, and ultimately a local judge refused to help when she told them that her husband beat her and forced her into prostitution. She said that after she finally fled and went into hiding, her brother wanted to kill her. “[It is] normal in my family to kill someone - my grandfather killed his sister and my uncle killed his sister,” she said.
Measures to combat domestic violence are all the more urgent in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. UN Women has warned that lockdowns can lead to higher rates of violence in the home, as evidenced by spikes in domestic violence around the world, including in BrazilChinaFranceKenyaKyrgyzstanSouth Africa, and the UK.
Speaking of Iraq, Naji, of the Women for Peace Organization said, “Now you might have three families living together, 20 people, all in one small home, and we have no adequate system to be monitoring the potential escalation of domestic violence cases because they aren’t being reported.”
In 2019, Human Rights Watch interviewed two migrant domestic workers who said that their employers routinely beat them and one said her employer raped her. Migrant domestic workers face particular risks, with police rarely protecting even those who try to make a criminal complaint.
Measures around the lockdown should include ensuring that domestic violence victims are not arrested when seeking assistance or escaping abuse. The authorities should immediately communicate zero tolerance for domestic violence and ensure that hotlines and other assistance is available to survivors, their neighbors, or families to report abuse. The authorities should also set procedures to intervene, and assist survivors by ensuring refuge or protection orders to expel abusers from their homes, Human Rights Watch said.
On April 9, President Barham Salih nominated Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister-designate. Al-Kadhimi, is expected to present his cabinet to the parliament in late April. Iraq’s parliament, elected in September 2018, is still in office, though currently not meeting because of the pandemic.
When parliament resumes its sessions, it should urgently revise the draft law against domestic violence to ensure that it meets international standards and then pass it without delay, Human Rights Watch said. The government should meanwhile consult with local women’s rights organizations to open more shelters for survivors of domestic violence, and donor governments should fund private shelters for victims of domestic violence.

“It should not take a global pandemic for Iraqi legislators to address the other deadly pandemic of domestic violence, but failure to do so will cost more lives” Wille said.

The following sites updated: