2008: The Unbroken Glass Ceiling

hillary_and_sarah1

by Diego Del Campo

Women in positions of power in the public sphere is still a relatively new, if slowly progressing sight. It’s become now conventional wisdom that 2008 was a year when women broke barriers in politics. Hillary Clinton was a serious contender to win her party’s nomination, and Sarah Palin became the first woman to be nominated as vice presidential candidate by the Republican Party. Yet, despite this progress, and the fact that Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007, the percentage of female representation in Washington D.C continues to grow at a glacial pace—increasing just 1 percent over 2006, to a total of 17 percent. Washington isn’t the only place where equal representation is at a stalemate.

By the end of 2008, 12 women will have worked as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. In Hollywood in 2007, women made up only 6 percent of directors and together “comprised 15 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films” (Lauzen 1). Taking all this into consideration it is important to analyze the role the media plays in reinforcing prevalent prejudices against women, important to ask why women is find it difficult to break through to top spots in government and elsewhere, and to what extent do our biases, acquired by us by our socialization (like watching or reading the news), contribute to the problem.  In June 2008, after Hillary Clinton lost the nomination, Katie Couric of CBS News made the following statement at the end of one of her shows:

“But like her or not, one of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media. Many women have made the point that if Senator Obama had to confront the racist equivalent of an ‘Iron my shirt’ poster at campaign rallies or a Hillary nutcracker sold at airports or mainstream pundits saying they instinctively cross their legs at the mention of her name, the outrage would not be a footnote, it would be front page news. It isn’t just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season; it’s all the people who cross the line and all the women and men who let them get away with it.”

Soon after the general election ended, and Barack Obama was elected president, an article published in New York magazine argued that the past election had actually reinforced prevalent gender stereotypes: the proverbial dichotomy of the “bitch” and the “ditz”–a dichotomy arguably codified in the media’s coverage of these two women, is prime example of what Couric described as “acceptable” sexism in the media.

Note and disclosure

There are numerous caveats to my analysis. One, it would be impossible to separate Hillary Clinton’s gender from the fact that she’s one-half of the Clintons, a political family that’s been on the media’s radar for nearly two decades. Similarly, separating Sarah Palin’s gender from the fact that she’s a conservative Republican would be problematic and somewhat of a distortion. Rather, I will try to focus more on the media’s coverage of these two women candidates and how the way they were covered contributes to the problem. Nonetheless, I neither make no insinuation that the media is solely responsible for each woman’s failure to win their respective elections, or that ALL of their media coverage was sexist—but rather a contributing factor. The “media” is a collective term for cable-new channels who generate 24-hour news cycles, to respected newspapers and blogs that bounce narratives off each other. The fact that I only focus on Sarah Palin in the general election isn’t an implication that Barack Obama or John McCain didn’t encounter discrimination because of race or age respectively.
Finally, in the Democratic primaries, I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Part one: Hillary Clinton

“That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.” – Shirley Chisholm, first black woman elected to Congress in 1968

From the moment Hillary Clinton announced on her website that she was forming a committee to run for president, her prominent status among the other presidential contenders meant that in the media, she had a target painted on her back. Out of all the candidates that would eventually announce their respective campaigns, among them John Edwards who had been the vice presidential nominee the previous presidential election, Hillary was the one “dubbed” a front-runner based on the national polling the media conducted. The coverage Hillary Clinton received as “front-runner” in the year between making her candidacy official in January 2007 and the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008 and the one she received once the primaries actually started was different outwardly in tone but nevertheless had the same effect of being dismissive at best, and seriously offensive at worst. In fact, by March 2007, barely two months into the campaign and with the first primary election still some nine months away, the bias in the media had reached a point where the National Organization for Women released an article detailing some of the instances they found offensive. Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who would become a repeat offender to the point of issuing an on-air apology, was a large part of the article:

“Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s talk show Hardball, has become notorious for his sexist remarks about Clinton. On Dec. 19, 2006, he charged that she was being coy about her political ambitions, comparing her to ‘a stripteaser saying she’s flattered by the attention,’ and on two separate occasions—Jan. 25 and 26, 2007, he referred to her as an ‘uppity woman.’ In the aftermath of the Congressional election on Nov. 8, 2006, he discussed her delivery of a ‘campaign barn burner speech,’ which, he suggested was ‘harder to give for a woman,’ because it can ‘grate on some men when they listen to it, [like] fingers on a blackboard.’ Not content to level his sexist criticism on Clinton alone, he continued his rant, wondering how newly elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi could ‘do the good fight against the president…without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?’ “

Other media narratives that stand out was coverage of Hillary’s appearance—namely a column by the Washington Post that reported on her showing cleavage in a speech she made in the Senate floor. Attention was also paid to Hillary’s laugh, or “cackle” as some of her detractors put it. But it was in the immediate run-up to and aftermath of the Iowa caucus (but before the New Hampshire primary), where Hillary finished in third place that some of the language became more nakedly biased to the point where it became a media frenzy when seemingly teared up when answering a New Hampshire voter’s question. Rebecca Traister of Salon opined “For many of these pundits, especially those who pander to a mostly white male audience, a nearly pornographic investment in Clinton’s demise is nothing new.”

By the time Hillary delivered her concession speech on June 7, 2008, some of the media’s coverage had turned from silly and sexist to borderline violent and misogynistic. Some cartoonists took to drawing Hillary as a slain beast or other variations. Worse, various commentators like NPR’s political editor Ken Rudin and even elected officials like Tennessee congressman Rep. Steve Cohen (D) likened her to the psychotic villain of the film Fatal Attraction. Though both men later issued apologies, the comparison was an especially stinging one since Fatal Attraction is considered by many feminists to be an explicitly anti-feminist film. The media’s tone had been so noxious that the Gloria Steinem-founded Women’s Media Center created a video (above) called “Sexism sells—but we’re not buying it” which compiled some of the highlights of sexism in the media coverage of Hillary Clinton. Steinem also appeared on CNN and echoed what she had said about women candidates at the beginning of the primary in a New York Times op-ed saying, “This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers.”

On CNN she pointed out:

“Clearly part of the problem is the misogyny in the culture at large and especially in the media. I mean, you know, no candidate in history has been asked to step down by the media. She was. The average time that it takes for a loser to endorse a winner in this situation is four months. Four months. She did it in four days, and look how she was criticized, you know, for not doing it the very same night. It’s outrageous.”

Steinem was referencing articles like Jonathan Alter’s of Newsweek, who in late February wrote a column arguing that it would be best for Hillary if she stepped out of the race then. (Hillary went on to win nine out of the next 16 contests.) Steinem also seemed to be referencing the uproar in the media when Hillary didn’t endorse Obama on June 3, the night most media organizations reported that Obama had amassed the amount of delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Part two: Sarah Palin

I say this with all due respect to Hillary Clinton…but when I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or you know maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think you know that doesn’t do us any good—women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. -Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) in March 2008

Seemingly out of nowhere, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential nominee. Sarah Palin bursting onto the political scene was arguably a chance for the media to report fairly and accurately on virtually unknown candidate turned vice presidential nominee. Instead, like Steinem argued, sexist narratives seemed to spread virally from within the media. Within days of her announcement, liberal talk show host Ed Schutlz commented to his listeners that Palin had set off a “bimbo alert” and blogs like Daily Kos circulated rumors that Palin’s newborn son Trig, born with Down syndrome, was allegedly her daughter Bristol’s son, while blogs like the Huffington Post took to publicizing images of Palin (under the headline “Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?”) in a swim suit that alluded to her background as a participant in beauty pageants to make the suggestion that she wasn’t qualified to be vice president—a variation of Ed Schultz’s “bimbo alert” crack. Even people who were outwardly supportive of Palin, like CNBC’s Donny Deutsch, were so obssesive over her looks, that they came across as sexist, ignorant, and patronizing all at the same time:

Complicating matters, women organizations who had stood up for Hillary Clinton during the primaries, including Gloria Steinem herself, now for the most part disavowed Palin. The National Organization for Women (NOW) put out a statement that read in part, “Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, but she is not the right woman. Sadly, she is a woman who opposes women’s rights, just like John McCain.” WomenCount was seemingly the only organization to defend Palin against the sexist media treatment Palin was receiving. WomenCount, a politcal organization formed by Hillary Clinton supporters in the waning days primaries to at first to advocate for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and later to promote and support Democratic women candidates across the country, sent an email to supporters that questioned the media’s immediate criticism of Palin’s nomination, among them John Roberts of CNN who said, “Palin would not be able to focus on her job given her family distractions,” and columnist Sally Quinn of the Washington Post who wrote, “Of course, women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I’ve done both. Other women in public office have children…but…a mother’s role is different from a father’s,” which implies that unlike fathers, mothers ought to have more of a responsibility as a parent and by accepting the vice presidential nomination, Palin was being an irresponsible mother by placing her career ahead of her child.
WomenCount’s email statement read in part:

“The question came not just from members of the media but also from voters around the country who wrote in to news organizations and on blogs. The obvious retort is whether anyone would ask the same question of the father of a four-month-old with Down Syndrome and a pregnant teenager. We think not.”

Unlike Gloria Steinem, who would by and large sidestep the issue of the biased media coverage against Palin in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, WomenCount addressed the seeming paradox of progressive feminists standing up for Palin:

“Throughout the weekend, we have been asked about WomenCount’s views on Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee. It is important to distinguish between the broader issue of sexism and the ideology of an individual. WomenCount was born of the passion its founders had for Hillary Clinton’s clear view of social issues and progressive values. We cannot pretend that Governor Palin meets any standard of progressive politics or social values.
But regardless of the candidates’ ideology, we will work to stamp out sexism when we see it on the campaign trail. To paraphrase the words of one blogger who said it best over the weekend: We will defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we like her or support her, but because that’s how feminism works.”

Needless to say, even though Palin slammed the media in her acceptance speech at the GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, her subsequent stumbles in the media may have had the effect of silencing any or all allies she may have had across the aisle. Ironically, it was Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, who earlier in the year had criticized sexism in the media, that may have been the most damaging to Palin and her public image. Maybe because of the fact that she had spoken out against sexism in the media, Couric was the right person with the right sensibilities to interview Palin: Couric strayed from the superficial questions that plagued Hillary, like questions about her image or “likability,” instead Couric asked sensible questions like, “When it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?“ or “What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?”—Arguably easy questions that utterly stumped Palin as shown by her cringe-worthy responses and showed her to be, perhaps not the candidate best suited to be the next vice president. Unfortunately, like New York magazine’s Amanda Fortini said, Palin’s apparent lack of intellectual curiosity reinforced a stereotype as women as a “ditz.” Even in our own class, Palin was dismissed with terms such as “VPILF,” which reduced and belittled Palin to her looks.

The “Palin is a ditz” media narrative continued, unfortunately, all the way from shortly before the election, when news broke that the Republican National Committee had spent $150,000 on Palin’s make-up and wardrobe to after the election was over, when anonymous McCain staffers told the media that in her debate prep against Joe Biden, Palin had allegedly claimed to not know that Africa was a continent and not a country, and also that she reportedly didn’t know the signing members of NAFTA. Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to be nominated for vice president in 1984, appeared on Fox News shortly before the election to talk about the similarities (and differences) between how she was treated and how Palin was being treated by the media:

Said and Done

In the end, I don’t think, like I said before, that the media was the only reason Hillary and Sarah lost in their elections. But, as some of the clips show, there is an accepted and pervasive bias against women that slows the progress of women everywhere. Even today, I’m still not sure why Sarah Palin’s preparedness was questioned from day one on the basis that she had barely served two years in her term as governor, in way that Barack Obama’s preparedness arguably wasn’t questioned when he announced his candidacy, since at that time he had also barely served two years in his term as senator. As it turned out, there was a mountain of difference between Obama and Palin’s preparedness, as shown by their respective bodies of knowledge, but still, I would have liked for the media to have made more of an issue of Obama’s experience, if indeed experience was a litmus test of sorts against which Palin did not measure up.


I would also hope that in the future, women candidates are respected more and held to the same standard that every other candidate is—a woman shouldn’t have to sound tougher just because she’s a woman. Additionally, we shouldn’t be too dismissive of women who point out the problems the media sometimes has in reporting about women. As the clip above shows, an observation Katie Couric made both in her CBS newscast and in her acceptance of an award at a journalist’s association, earned her the top spot on Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Persons in the World.” It troubles me that even within the ideological circles we sometimes wrap ourselves in, there’s still an outward prejudice against women—Olbermann’s show is praised by liberal blogs like Daily Kos, where he is a contributor, and Huffington Post. Even with all the progress Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have made toward the acceptance in the public sphere of a woman running for the top positions in government, that “highest and hardest glass ceiling” remainsl unbroken. As we continue to progress, hopefully we’ll have learned lessons from what each woman’s campaign and not allow sexism to control–in any way–media coverage of other women candidates.

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Filed under American Electorate, Democratic Party, Media, Palin, Republican, Vice-President, Women Voters

Fitting end to semester

Hey all This is Nathan. I was the guy who sat by the door and was late to class way to often and also joined the conversation maybe more than my fair share. I am letting every one know that I convinced my boss to do an end of semester special for this class and their friends who are students. MUST BE 21!!! Sorry but the state of Colorado is real strict.

So bring your student I.D. and if you have anyone you want to come with you bring them also. I will be bartending and anyone with their ID will get buy one get one free from 9pm – 1am on Saturday the 13th of December.

The  bar is the REX Lounge. Below is a map and the X is us. If you need more directions or info call me at 720-225-7323

Tony, even though you don’t have a student I.D. you and your friends count also.

Hope to see you all there!

map-51

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Conflicting Signals?

By Matthew Wolf

President-elect Obama’s cabinet appointments have drawn fire from the left, arguably the core of the electoral base that elected him to the highest office in the land last month.

The more recent “Security Team” appointments, Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State, Robert Gates retained as Secretary of Defense, and General James L. Jones as National Security Advisor, is touted as a Lincoln-like “Team of Rivals”. Although few are giving Doris Kearns Goodwin credit for the title of her book about Abraham Lincoln of the same name, on the same subject, most Liberals are fairly understanding of the reasons for these appointments.

Gates has been an improvement over his predecessor (whose name my hands refuse to type) in magnitude that might be measured in light years. He has taken up the cause of making military spending of our tax dollars more responsible, relevant, and effective. And, as will be discussed more below, reigning in the national budget is a topic near and dear to Mr. Obama’s heart. At the end of the day, it seems to be widely considered prudent to retain continuity in this office while we are at war.

Ms. Clinton was likely backed in the primaries and caucuses by nearly half of the liberals in question. She has obvious organizational skills, international networks, and is somewhere up the learning curve having served on the Senate Committee on Armed Services. The argument that Obama would put her in this office in order to silence her, as Nixon did to William Rogers, seems quite preposterous. Comparing Obama to Nixon is a very long reach, but the real bottom line is that, regardless of the differences that their primary battle may have emphasized, she and the President-elect likely have much common ground philosophically on foreign affairs, she was not entirely happy with her continuing junior role as a US Senator, and should make an outstanding representative in this post.

Jones is a very level headed and capable man, with combat experience in the field as a marine platoon and company commander with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines which fought in the Battle of Khe Sanh in Vietnam, among other engagements. He served in Bosnia also, and has earned the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with V for valor.

General James L. Jones

General James L. Jones

The biggest critique the left has of Jones is that he was not outspoken in the press about his reservations, or outright dissent, about the Iraq War. Yet taking it to the press is not his style; he apparently let Rumsfeld and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace know his views behind the scenes.

Don’t forget that high ranking military officers who break ranks to take their arguments to the press are sometimes (maybe often) characters like General Wesley Clark, who thought he could bluff Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo, predicting a “neat, tidy, and bloodless outcome” (Bacevich 2008, p.150). The subsequent continuation of NATO bombing killed 500 civilians while Milosevic’s stepped up ethnic cleansing campaign, his way of calling Clark’s bluff, murdered untold ethnic Albanians and created a huge refugee problem. Soon after, Wesley was ushered into early retirement and subsequently hit the talk show circuit promoting Kosovo as a great victory, claiming that the methods applied there “provided the template for future operations” (Bacevich 2008, p.142).

As General George Patton rides by in a Jeep in the hills of Sicily:

Soldier 1: “There goes old blood and guts.”

Soldier 2: “Yeah…our blood…his guts…”

– From the movie Patton.

Soldiers like James L. Jones, who have been in combat, are much less likely to buy off on grandiose ideas of American military exceptionalism, such as Iraq, which was to take three months and will never be over. As sincere as George Bush’s condolences to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq appear on television, his actions tell otherwise. And he didn’t even have the guts to serve his country in the rear echelon.

The real controversy surrounds Obama’s choice of financial advisers. While strongly promoting a sizable Keynesian response to the present economic recession, the President-elect has nominated Tim Geithner to be his treasury secretary, Larry Summers as director of his National Economic Council, Peter Orszag as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Christina Romer as director of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Paul Volker to chair the new Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Geithner and Summers are protégés of Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton’s second Treasury Secretary, who has been a senior executive at troubled Citicorp.

As much as these nominations have reassured Wall Street and many conservatives, The Economist notes that “Mr. Obama’s backers, in fact, can with some justification feel betrayed by the presence of so many figures from the Clinton regime…” Here’s what Noam Chomsky thinks:

Paul Krugman and others think there is a noticeable absence of Keynesian economists on the financial team. James Galbraith, Larry Mishel, Dean Baker, and Jared Bernstein are among those that progressives would like to see in the new administration. While I am not one who generally favors pandering Wall Street, the circumstances presently faced by our new leader seem to justify the hiring of highly qualified individuals who won’t rock the boat like appointment of the Keynesians noted above might. Even Krugman says:

there have been some complaints from movement progressives about the centrism/orthodoxy of Obama’s economics appointments. To some extent this was unavoidable, I think: someone like the Treasury secretary has to be an experienced hand who can deal with Wall Street, and I haven’t heard anyone proposing particular individuals with clearer progressive credentials to hold that position.

Geithner’s only real drawback, it seems, is his relationship to his mentor, Lawrence Summers, who made controversial statements regarding women, affirmative action, and Cornel West, while president of Harvard University. He also protected Andrei Shleifer from receiving a more just punishment for his actions in Russia, ultimately resulting in his resignation at Harvard. I wonder if, in fact, the controversy about Obama finance team appointments doesn’t stem more from Summer’s ill conceived and unwarranted statements and actions as Harvard president than from an objective assessment of the skills of this team. Had he brought in someone other than Summers, Obama may have spared himself much of the disenchantment voiced by his core supporters. Charles Ogletree, a law professor at Harvard gets it right in the December 6, 2008 NY Times:

Barack thinks with his mind open … Larry thinks with his mouth open.

While many wish to focus on Paul Volker’s history of bloodbath fiscal policy, listen to what he said last winter when he publicly backed Obama (from the NY Times);

“After 30 years in government, serving under five Presidents of both parties and chairing two non-partisan commissions on the Public Service, I have been reluctant to engage in political campaigns. The time has come to overcome that reluctance,” Volcker, a Democrat, said in a statement today. “However, it is not the current turmoil in markets or the economic uncertainties that have impelled my decision. Rather, it is the breadth and depth of challenges that face our nation at home and abroad. Those challenges demand a new leadership and a fresh approach.”

He concluded: “It is only Barack Obama, in his person, in his ideas, in his ability to understand and to articulate both our needs and our hopes that provide the potential for strong and fresh leadership. That leadership must begin here in America but it can also restore needed confidence in our vision, our strength, and our purposes right around the world.”

At the end of the day, Obama has put together a strong group of advisors who should be expecting to execute his ambitious economic stimulus plan, assuming Congress cooperates. The talent assembled is in stark contrast to the economic and financial advisors involved in the present administration, which might be described as economics by Braille (or cronyism).

nominated by President-elect, Obama as Director of the OMB

Peter Orszag: nominated by President-elect, Obama as Director of the OMB

In fact, one of the greatest contrasts with the Bush administration promises to be the direction of the OMB under Peter Orszag. From an unknown source:

As director of the Congressional office since January 2007, Mr. Orszag has an up-to-the-minute familiarity with current budget issues. He has focused particularly on health policy, since cost increases for Medicare, Medicaid and other programs are projected to contribute to unsustainable budget deficits in coming years. Such expertise could help Mr. Obama, who has promised to expand health-care insurance to more Americans while containing costs.

Mr. Orszag served as an economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, and before that to Mr. Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. After leaving the White House, he formed an economic consulting company, and then became a senior fellow for economic studies at the Brookings Institution, a center-left research organization in Washington. There, he directed the Hamilton Project, which enlists scholars to propose solutions for problems with big fiscal and societal costs, and the Retirement Security Project, which promotes public and private incentives to help improve retirees’ income prospects.

Mr. Obama intends to fund some of his programs out of budget savings and notes that Mr. Orszag “doesn’t need a map to tell him where the bodies are buried in the federal budget.” The direction of OMB under the new administration promises to be one of the most positive changes. Along with Obama’s long standing attitude (and accomplishment) of fiscal efficiency and effectiveness, his choice of director, one with a solid background in the field and intimate knowledge of the federal budget, offers a glaring contrast to the four directors appointed during the Bush administration. The Economist notes that all four were trained as lawyers; “one was a pharmaceuticals executive, one did government relations for an investment bank, and two were congressmen.”

This, of course, is an area with a long history of strong rhetoric on the campaign trail followed by little administrative progress. But, for the many reasons noted above, I think Obama and his team will have a significant impact in tightening the budget. All taxpayers stand to benefit if Obama, who said, “We can’t sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups” and his team can make an impact in this area. Getting more bang for our taxpayer buck could not begin at a better time than now.

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Filed under Consultants and Strategists, Obama

Stop piling up on Obama

By Leonid Balaban

I made a comment yesterday in class and I wanted to reiterate this point in the blog: Lay off Obama – HE IS NOT THE PRESIDENT YET!!!

Only a month ago, Obama was elected to be the next President of the U.S. and there are still more than two months before he gets officially gets sworn in. Yet, there are pundits and ideologues from the Left and the Right who are already complaining about Obama, in terms of his government appointees and overall handling of the transition.

Here’s an article on the Huffington Post, in which the editorial writer wonders whether Obama has already broken his first campaign promise.

The Obama team’s decision to drop the idea of forcing oil and natural gas companies to pay a tax on their windfall profits has caused a firestorm among liberals and small business coalitions.

As first reported in the Houston Chronicle, Obama’s reference to a windfall profits tax, which he articulated during the campaign at a time of skyrocketing gas prices, had been removed from the transition team’s Website, change.gov

Jim Kuhnhen, an AP staff reporter, writes how some some Democrats are growing inpatient with Obama and his transition approach:

Democrats are growing impatient with President-elect Barack Obama’s refusal to inject himself in the major economic crises confronting the country. Obama has sidestepped some policy questions by saying there is only one president at a time. But the dodge is wearing thin. “He’s going to have to be more assertive than he’s been,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told consumer advocates Thursday.

Kuhnhen continues that two Democratic senators who are desperately trying to salvage the domestic auto companies have said Obama could help move the process along and should become more engaged.

“The Obama team has to step up,” Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and one of the lead negotiators, said Nov. 21 in Hartford, Conn. “In the minds of the people, this is the Obama administration. I don’t think we can wait until January 20.”

David Sirota, a columnist for the Denver Post and other progressive/liberal sites, also complained about this apparent campaign broken promise

Between this move and the move to wait to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, it seems like the Obama team is buying into the right-wing frame that raising any taxes – even those on the richest citizens and wealthiest corporations – is bad for the economy. Of course, that frame is debunked by history. And while sure, it’s OK to rack up deficits so as to spend our way out of the economic crisis, it’s sorta silly to ignore the tax moves that could be implemented to limit those deficits where possible.

Matthew Rothschild, of Progressive.com, asks when is Obama going to appoint people who reflects progressive ideas and progressive base that overwhelmingly voted for him?

He won the crucial Iowa caucuses on the strength of his anti-Iraq War stance, and many progressive peace and justice activists worked hard for him against John McCain.

So why in the world is he choosing Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State when she was one of the loudest hawks on Iraq and threatened to obliterate 75 million Iranians?

And it’s not just Hillary.

Obama’s OMB pick, Peter Orzag, is a Clintonite disciple of Robert Rubin.

Obama’s AG pick, Eric Holder, is a Clintonite who represented Chiquita Bananas.

And Larry Summers’s name is still being bandied about for Treasury, even though Summers, while Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, forced the deregulation of our financial markets and imposed disaster capitalism on Russia.

I think the Left is going way overboard on this. Obama, in one of his press conferences, said that the change will come from him, he is the man in charge.

So before everybody jumps on his picks, I believe people should give him time to fail. And if he does, than there’s nothing wrong with criticizing him and asking for his head. But, jumping the gun and attacking the person who is not even on the job yet, is utterly unfair.

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Filed under Media, Obama, Uncategorized

Its not about the Jets

By: Brian Bohnert

After double checking to make sure the cameras were turned on and the hearing was being broadcast to a nationwide audience, the members of the House financial services committee proceeded to engage in a timeless congressional tradition: grandstanding.  “How many of you took private jets here?” one asked, “how many of you are thinking about putting them on Ebay?” quipped another, “couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class or jet pooled or something to get here?” smirked a third.  As other members gleefully piled on, the CEOs of the three major automakers sat sullen, like petulant children who had gotten caught being naughty.  Relive your childhood “I’m really disappointed in you, son” lecture here:

Like the obnoxious guy at the party that tells the same stupid joke because he knows it always gets a good laugh, each and every member had some comment about the private jets throughout the hearing.  Predictably, the evening news and late night talk shows picked up the easy sound bites and the “cooler talk” the next day centered around the general douchebaggery of the rich CEOs and then moved on to the more pressing news that Brittany Spears was making a comeback appearance at the AMAs.  While Congress certainly did a good job in pointing out the symbolic mistake, they missed a golden oppotunity to address the real problem with American automakers: their cars.  

While some have blamed the unions and others have blamed the fiancial meltdown, analysts need to look no further than the 8 mile/gallon mobile overcompensation machine known as the Hummer.  While the rest of the world was making the shift to more fuel efficient cars, American manufacturers stubbornly continued to stamp out the gas guzzlers that would lead to their eventual demise.  After visiting Germany in the summer of 2006, I was struck at how small the cars on the streets were and how few SUVs clogged the highways.  Even the trucks that were used for delivery or construction were much smaller then Ford’s Excursion or Chevy’s enormous pickups.  The tiny Smart Car was a regular occurrence and people did not endure the juvenile ridicule of poltical rivals if they drove a hybrid.  

When I came back state side, I was keenly aware of how large the vehicles around me were – and how many of these vehicles carried around one person at a time.  When I turned on the TV, Jeep was advertising the new Cherokee SR8, the least fuel efficient jeep ever produced (but hey it had a Hemi and makes alot of noise guys…SWEET!), while Toyota was rolling the Prius off the assembly line.  GM’s solution to the highest gas prices in a decade?  “We’ll buy your gas for a year!!!”  American consumers were never asked to change their behavior and the automakers fought congressional efforts to make fuel standards stricter.  

Furthermore,  the old men at Ford continue to scratch their balding heads and wonder why young people don’t buy their cars.  Market research makes it pretty clear that young people are more image conscience than most yet Ford has the same logo that they had WHEN THE MODEL T CAME OUT!!!  Toyota?  they invent an entirely new brand (Scion) to market exclussivly to the young, hip, loud music set with great success.  While a logo does not make or break a car, its a symbol of the lack of innovative thought that American companies need to stay compettive.  Couple that with the fact that American cars are less reliable and have more recalls than foreign cars and you get 3 CEOs begging for cash to bail them out.

So what now?  When he is not pandering for votes in Michigan, Mitt Romney tells Detroit to take a hike while other Republicans refuse to support a detroit bail out.  The results of this would be catastrophic according to some analysts who predict the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs by the time you factor in part suppliers and retailers.  Obama is a bit more pragmatic at this point and has sent a message to Detroit that they need to make changes that should have been made years ago.  So this week, the CEOs stocked up on beef jerkey, made a sweet mix tape and roadtripped back to DC – this time trading in the private jets and rolling into town driving Hybrids.

While there is still hope for American autos (at least according to this guy)  there needs to be fundamental changes in the way we look at driving and the type of fuel standards that we demand from the cars we buy.  American car companies need to ditch the SUV or make them more fuel efficient.  They need to innovate and stay current with style trends to attract new buyers.  They need to hire the best and the brightest to live in a green economy and yes, they may even have to get rid of the private jets and lavish salaries for their CEOs.  That being said, I’m still going to buy a Subaru.

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Check Those Graphics Man!

pong

By: Steven Dell

As video games have progressed so too have the graphics. If you look back at some of the different systems they almost seem laughable. But at the time they were a source of enjoyment for those that wanted to play them. As the time and technology progressed so did the amount of information that able to be put on those video games. It is to a point now that it is starting to get more and more difficult to tell a video game from a real life situation. (not really but you get my point)

Where this gets more interesting is when you throw this into the 24hour news cycle. I like to think of news as not entertainment. The content can be very entertaining, but I’m not looking to sit down with popcorn and a beer to watch the NBC nightly news. I want the broadcast to give me the information they have for the day. Clear, direct, and to the point NEWS that tells it how it is. People died in some war torn nation, scientific breakthrough in new field of plant research, or maybe 5th grader spells word most people can’t pronounce. I want simple and effective journalism. Throw a picture on the screen, or put a correspondent in Somalia to drive the point home.

So now the news networks (pick your poison) are giving me something else. It used to be that the anchor gave a story and moved on; seriously that is how they did it. Now we seem to be A.D.D. or something or at least that is how they think of us. If the news anchors don’t have some big board with lights and graphics and Vana White turning letters it must not be news, I’ll change the channel and watch the more entertaining guy give me the low down.

peter-jennings

This progresses to an almost ridiculous point. First it was the running ticker on the bottom of the screen, then the side bar on the coming attractions. Now laser light pens and touch screen boards the size of a wall in my house. Also on election night CNN unveiled their secret weapon in the ratings war “Holograms”. This honestly did not seem too great of a thing, but I’m sure it cost too much money and maybe people enjoyed seeing Will I. Am in the room with Wolf Blitzer when he actually was not in the room with him. I remember seeing Princess Leah doing it and that was pretty cool. I guess I won’t change the channel.

Where do I go from here? My choices a severely limited as to how I get my information. My first Idea is to go to the news paper, now that is the last bastion of true journalism. Short articles with the main information right away more detailed information after that. This is tried and true news gathering. But how do they compete with Monday night Football style graphics? They have got to do something to keep their name in the ranks and to keep the next few generations captivated.

So it is a lost medium anymore, print that is. People have become lazy and don’t seem to want to actually think about what the information is that is given to them. So they let the broadcast companies tell them their opinion. This is a pretty harsh statement but I think that if it wasn’t true people like Kieth Olberman and Bill Oreiley wouldn’t have a job.

On a side note could you imagine if Walter Cronkite had all of the crazy graphics they have today when he announced the assignation of JFK? Very bleak indeed.

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More Prop 8… in theatrical form!

by Shawn Scanlon

Prop 8 continues to be a hot issue, well after the election, with a recent poll showing that religion and class played a larger role than race did in how voters decided on Prop 8.  Food for thought, anyway.

Also, I found this to be an entertaining video, and I’m hoping that you do as well!

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Filed under Media, Religion, Uncategorized, Voter Demographics