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daredtowork's Journal
daredtowork's Journal
December 21, 2015

Is the Pharma Bro a Pick Up Artist? Is this the apotheosis of the culture we deserve?

Shortly before the infamous price-gouging pharma bro, Martin Shkreli, was arrested on fraud charges, he declared from his Martin the God twitter account: "50-100 date solicitations a day for me, the world's most eligible bachelor. Sorry, but you have to be a shareholder to meet me." After he made bail, Shkreli spent the day browsing OK Cupid. He also had a profile on Tinder, and his interchanges on dating platforms are quite revealing.

Several of the recent massive shooting incidents invoked a "beta uprising". The grievance of "betas" is that they aren't successful at being "pick up artists" (PUAs). PUAs are the ultimate men's rights activists, who gauge their masculinity according to their success in manipulating and "scoring" women.

The case of Shkreli suggests that the PUA is not merely a misogynist: he's a sociopath. A few years ago there was some hand-wringing about the fact the business world seems to be structured to favor sociopaths. Contenders for the best compensated positions are often described as "rock stars", alluding to their sexual capture of a large audience of women. I'm wondering if this is the outcome of a process that started in the 1980s when Newt Gingrich's "Angry White Men" raged that the dismantling of their privilege meant there was no more "center" or top of the mountain for the king to seize. It seems like in lieu of enjoying White Supremacy, sociopathic men decided to mark their territory with Gender Supremacy instead.

Was this inevitable or did the broader consensus of American culture miss some chance at promoting equality on moral as well as social grounds?

September 26, 2015


This article about racial bias in gifted and talented programs presents the concept of "undermatching":

There’s plenty of research, he notes, showing that high-achieving, low-income students “undermatch” — they tend not to apply to more selective colleges even though they could probably get in. Often the students are not savvy about admissions or aren’t confident enough in themselves to aim higher. Their guidance counselors might lack knowledge about the right opportunities.

Card and Giuliano’s research shows that these same forces exist at the elementary school level. “This is, in a way, even more serious,” Card said. “There may be lots more kids than we realize that are talented, but we’re not getting to them in early grades. Presumably, by the time they’re getting to high school, they’re not going to be in as good a position.”

It strikes me that "undermatching" is a great way to describe inefficiencies in the job-seeking process that exacerbate income inequality. I'd like to see this concept applied more to discussions of unemployment.

August 16, 2015

My Take on Chuck Todd asking if Bernie apologized to BLM on Meet the Press

Some Bernie supporters are already in ignore mode over this, but they shouldn't be: this is already a thing on Black Twitter.

Rather, take a look at this clip, and take a strong stance on what a trap this was:


Sorry I can't figure out how to embed the video. I can already see how it's going to be twisted by all parties involved. BLM will see this as indicative of Bernie's character and/or policy. Bernie supporters will glean from their reactions further opinions on BLM. Hillary's staff is kicking back, eating popcorn.

Bernie is not apologizing because he feels he has nothing to apologize for. And he has never pursued BLM for an apology despite the fact all his supporters have been clamoring for one.

Remember that high school student that put up a fake BLM Seattle page with an apology then took it down? BLM had nothing to apologize for, right? The "staffer" quoted by Buzzfeed is the equivalent of that high school student and Chuck Todd used that to put Bernie on the spot.

Bernie immediately made it clear that he was addressing BLM's issues, including criminal justice.

Where I think he will probably get skewered is where he said he will be working with "all groups": this is Bernie's emphasis on equality - women's rights, lgbt rights, immigration issues - he sees these all as a product of white (patriarchal) supremacy. However, some BLM members are probably going to come at him with "our issues have been buried by equality". I hope people will remember that this was a trap by Chuck Todd and try to imagine how they would do if put in the same position.

That Chuck Todd is a weasel that is doing the equivalent of The National Enquirer on TV.

I can't imagine him doing the same thing to Hillary on "All Lives Matter".

August 9, 2015

Did "All Lives Matter" Lead to "White Supremacists Liberals"?

In response to the hand-wringing about Black Lives Matter protesters calling Bernie supporters "White Supremacist Liberals", Spider Jerusalem posted an article on White Fragility. Immediately someone demonstrated their white fragility by alerting that OP. I was on that jury, that happily concluded that DU should debate such matters, and coincidentally I was on another jury concerning a complaint over another DU member (Bravenak) who had been Alert swarmed and ended up being Flagged for Review over her comments conveying the source of the "White Supremacist Liberals" discourse. Personally I think Democrats - especially Bernie, who has been disrupted TWICE - needs to hear more about this.

Instead of recoiling from being called "White Supremacist Liberals", perhaps we should examine where this meme is coming from: check on whether it has some basis and respond to the accusation from a place of knowledge.

It occurred to me that the "White Supremacist Liberal" accusation may have snowballed from the "All Lives Matter" issue.

A lot of smart, otherwise good and well-meaning white progressives/liberals have been very pushy about saying "All Lives Matter". I've posted a few times that I thought both Hillary's and O'Malley's use of the therm was a deliberate signal to these very people who have been anxious to reaffirm "All Lives Matter": they think it's an important humanist idea and the basis of universal reason. For some reason they absolutely refuse to look at it's connection with White Supremacists on Twitter and many of them were alienated from the #BLM movement because of vandalism during protests last year and because of the recent disruption to Netroots Nation. When I try to educate them with what little I know, they are highly resistant and insist other people must organize in the "effective" way they always did and must seek to "get white people on their side". There is very little awareness that this is radical action because Democrats have had the black vote for a long time, and we've had a black President for 8 years, but important changes that are needed now didn't happen.

Is it possible that this pushiness about using "All Lives Matter" is causing the backlash of "White Supremacist Liberals" among some #BLM discussions?

None of the Primary candidates have come out to talk about why the neediness around pushing the phrase "All Lives Matter" might be a symptom of "white fragility". None of them have used that to open a dialogue on racism and to acknowledge and legitimize Black Lives Matter. Apparently only O'Malley has issued a Criminal Justice Reform plan.

Let's get beyond the playground grouchiness over being called a mean name and look for the sources of that accusation (whether we believe it's justified or not).

While searching for something completely different, I stumbled across this article with tweets from the 2014 Millions March for Justice about "allies" chanting "All Lives Matter". I'm unfamiliar with Twitchy - I hope this isn't an RW source. Scroll down for several tweets objecting to the chants.


The original intention of #BlackLivesMatter hashtag from Alicia Garza with comment on All Lives Matter, Allies, and White Supremacy:

This inspired me to Google "Allies" + "All Lives Matter". Here are some pertinent results:


http://theithacan.org/news/ithaca-college-students-discuss-how-to-be-a-white-ally/ (note the use of "white supremacist social structure" in the last sentence).



https://www.damemagazine.com/2015/06/14/what-white-people-really-mean-when-they-say-alllivesmatter (warning: I got a security alert on this site)

http://www.jewishheritagemonth.com/adl/official-blogs-from-the-anti-defamation-league-adl-blogs.php (read the last line of this about White Supremacists imitating the #BLM movement).

August 3, 2015

The Real Jade Helm in Berkeley

From Salon:
The real Jade Helm: Berkeley PD show citizens what police militarization looks like during manhunt for laundromat robber

I suppose this display was to show us what's being stocked up for when they have to put the uprising of jobless peasants down...

(XPosted from DU California.)

August 3, 2015

The Real Jade Helm in Berkeley

From Salon:
The real Jade Helm: Berkeley PD show citizens what police militarization looks like during manhunt for laundromat robber

I suppose this display was to show us what's being stocked up for when they have to put the uprising of jobless peasants down...

July 26, 2015

Cuts and GOP Schadenfreude Tactics

When the GOP cuts social welfare or means-tested programs, the astroturf troll war against these programs always has the tenor that somewhere someone lazy is getting money for at the hard-working taxpayer's expense. Recently I noticed how this tactic is being moved around the social scale.

I live in an area that still retains rent control, but recently, thanks to repeated incoming waves of crazy tech money such as the Facebook IPO, the rent control stock has been undermined by property speculation and Silicon Valley's libertarian crowd has found a wedge to make a strong attack on the remaining units. Since there is also a crisis in affordable housing, and due to a unique circumstance, a lack of Section 8 housing, a lot of genuinely elderly, poor, and disabled people are clinging to those rent-controlled units. And the rent control does not mean "cheap" here: the initial rent was set to market value, and rents have always been high here so no landlord is getting ripped off. Rent control means the landlord can't suddenly raise the rents to match speculation prices.

Anyway, during a recent forum debate on rent control a woman representing a young family (probably a young male libertarian pretending to be such) replied to my post on the comment of the plight of people on fixed incomes with barely contained outrage. I could almost feel "her" eyes narrowing as she complained about how much her "family" had to pay while people on rent control "got away with" paying so much less. This was a step up from complaining that taxpayers were subsidizing the affordable housing of the poor. This was pure green-eyed envy, and, considering the untenable scale of recent rents in the area, I could imagine where it was coming from. If "good middle class people" couldn't pay their rent and started losing their housing, the leadership of this sort of comment would direct their anger not toward the policymakers who had created the speculation bubble, but toward the poor people on fixed incomes, who were still "enjoying" rent controlled housing.

That post has been on my mind a lot. Though it's been the only one where I've felt such a distinct chill of schadenfreude - I have to keep wondering if people might quietly vote against rent control because they WANTED to see those "lucky" elderly and disabled people thrown out on the street. Their is a grand American tradition - shown in the outbreak of Donald Trumpism - of resisting political education and defending the worst of their biases as the "truth". And the GOP knows exactly how to play that for the benefit of the Billionaire class.

The reason I'm writing this OP is I just came across this tactic again as an attempt to turn the schadenfreude against a "narrow group" of the "upper middle class": http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/the_upper_middle_class_is_ruining_all_that_is_great_about_america.html

I apologize for this article being a few months old, but I just read it. This is a very clever article in that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to agree with. Obama should have stuck to his guns about tax reform. Doctors and lawyers do use their professional organizations and education systems to charge too much. The lower class and the lower middle class does look at those things with schadenfreude when they are pointed out to them. There's a reason there are so many lawyer jokes, and there's a reason the GOP can sell hatred of Obamacare to people who desperately need healthcare.

Here is the most shady schadenfreude of this article. Notice what happens when the author starts talking about Uber. He resents that the upper middle class enjoys the comfortable lifestyle offered by their protections while they endorse policy that forces the lower classes to compete. Uber has to stay in business because it transports the elderly, but the poor elderly suddenly disappear when it comes to questioning whether the AMA is in the larger interests of society. Well, that's a super valid point! However...

What kind of schadenfreude is it to want the upper middle class to scramble around in the gig economy, too, just because this is the havoc that's being wrought on the low middle class? Shouldn't the goal be to expand a comfortable "protected" lifestyle with amenities to more people? Shouldn't the goal be to persuade this "narrow" group of people that they aren't particularly special or deserving within the context of a democratic society, and they should be advocating for policy that extends that kind of social structure to everyone?

Be aware that when the GOP make cuts and force people to live lives of extreme scarcity, this is the context they are trying to create: they want groups to point fingers at each other and say "why should THEY have this and that when I'm being forced to struggle so hard!" However, the alternative answer is always to demand that progressive taxation, tax on windfall wealth, and tax on billionaires be used to fund public infrastructure, social "floor" programs, civic institutions, and social amenities for all. Do we want to have a great nation for all citizens or do we want to scratch each other's eyeballs out while all the money flows up to the billionaire class? As long as this is a democracy, it's our choice.

July 21, 2015

Random Thought: Failure to Invest in Higher Education = Limited Slots for Social Capital for #BLM?

In some of the comments on white privilege and social justice we've discussed how it can really be seen in the big data of who obtains a premium education, who gets high paying jobs, who joins elite social networks, etc. In the end social capital is all about forming contacts, and a lot of those contacts are formed in college. This is why the pushers of "online education" and other cost-cutting movements that cheat poorer students of the on campus college experience are so insidious: this is where young people step outside their family network and start to build their own life network.

Recently I read this article about how the University of California system - which used to be free for students in California - is increasingly covering its shortfall of State funding by accepting foreign students who pay out-of-state tuition:

This is an incredibly good deal for foreign students. University of California schools - especially U.C. Berkeley and UCLA - have world class reputations. However, even at full out-of-state tuition they are cheaper than Ivy League schools. 30% of the freshman class is out-of-state this year. The article says 15,317 foreign students were accepted across all campuses compared to 61,834 Californian students and 15,173 American out-of-state students - unfortunately those numbers are not broken down by campus, but I'd like to know the numbers for he more prestigious campuses.

The point is, if early college contacts are social capital, then every slot we give to foreign students to meet funding shortfalls is taking away potential social capital form an American student - especially at the prestigious Ivy or "world class" public schools.

UC Berkeley is particularly notorious for having a problem with a low black application/acceptance/admissions rate. Prop 209 in 1996 banned affirmative action in university admissions as well as government employment in California, and UC Berkeley's level of diversity took a hard hit from that. Black admissions initially dropped to 2%, and the University has been struggling to rework the admissions system to take into account more "holistic factors" ever since. Currently only 3% of UC Berkeley's student's are black. The dearth of black students at UC Berkeley was declared a "crisis" back in 2005: http://www.dailycal.org/2013/11/08/missing-black-students/

Currently UC Berkeley is struggling with the notion that it is an outright hostile campus for black students:

Economist Brad DeLong has called UC Berkeley a "finishing school for the superrich of Asia". This is not just a scheme cooked up by the head of the UC System Janet Napolitano or the current UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. This smells a lot more like the maneuverings of Senator Feinstein's husband, bazillionaire Richard C. Blum who has been using his position on the U.C. regents to promote the idea of turning California's flagship institutions of education into mega profit centers for years. Rip off online courseware - yep, even UC Berkeley is stooping to that under the Blum regime. He's determined to wring every dollar out whatever we have that used to be human and good.

Anyway - selling Berkeley's social capital to the highest bidder - to the global highest bidder - deprives local Americans of a chance at to acquire that social capital and obtain social mobility. Instead those pathetic locals spin their wheels in poverty industry pork programs learning to polish their resumes and write targeted cover letters for jobs they have a snowball's chance in hell of getting because people don't like to hire from "outside". The main thing the poverty industry is good for is giving people in the poverty industry jobs. What black people need for social justice is the sort of social capital that will allow them to get entry level jobs at a high level and start to secure a natural redistribution of income.

That's my random thought of the day. Enjoy!

July 19, 2015

Someone Didn't Show Up for Netroots Nation at All

I'm blatantly stealing this from a comment in the #BlackLivesMatter threads:


Hillary Clinton did not show up at Netroots Nation to even expose herself to confrontation with #BlackLivesMatter protesters. The fact that Bernie and Martin O'Malley showed up to hear what the grassroots had to say, and were thus present for the #BlackLivesMatter protest, should be a point scored in both of their favors.

By withholding herself, Hillary seems to be saying she is not ready to respond to the moment. As some commenters have mentioned, don't give her a pass as the Social Justice candidate just because she didn't show up on the day of the test.

Many people regard racism as exemplified by police violence, attempts at voter suppression, and economic injustice as the most pressing problem of this historical moment. Netroots Nation will give Bernie and Martin O'Malley a chance to show how they are ready to respond to this moment.

I look forward to finding out more about how Bernie and Martin O'Malley recognize the historic opportunity that was handed to them to engage black voters at Netroots Nation.

July 9, 2015

If This Job Expansion Program Was Initiated in 2008 Would There Have Been Ferguson?

My local NPR radio station often runs "perspectives" from local citizens about social and political issues. This morning there was a very interesting perspective from Seth Morris (hope I got the spelling right) about the need to expand the Public Defenders Office. His perspective was all about the social justice of the matter: the fact that indigent people accused of crimes aren't getting a fair hearing in the Court system because there aren't enough public defenders to help them.

In New York, the justice system system is so over-burdened that people who may not have done anything are being forced to wait in Riker's island for years for their case to move through the system. I've argued on DU before how many elements of the welfare system constitute torture on American soil that should horrify "good citizens" more than Gitmo. This is the ultimate example of it:


People who have never been dragged through this level of the poverty bureaucracy just don't get what a theater of the absurd it is. They don't get that people are ALLOWED to subject you to things that take away YEARS of your life. Even if you aren't put away in Riker's, there are other ways that delays, waitlists, and withholdings of needed help take away years from peoples lives: poor people only have one life just like rich people do. Shouldn't cutting off years of their life be considered a form of torture? Also, you can yell about the Constitution and your rights all day and night, and it doesn't mean a thing if there is no lawyer there to help vindicate those rights in a court of law: a courtroom is basically a judge's house - his house, his overly-complicated, utterly incomprehensible-to-normal people rules.

Anyway, when I heard Seth Morris's "Perspective", I wondered why no one had an "a-ha" moment during the great unemployment catastrophe of 2008. Why didn't the government "direct hire" into a lot of Public Prosecutor Offices and civil court advocacy programs? Like expanding medical clinic personnel, that sort of thing kills two poverty birds with one stone: it creates jobs and it helps poor people with something they actually need.

It's not too late. There are still a lot of unemployed people out there, and a even a "healthy" 6% unemployment rate is unacceptable if that 6% is not fluid but rather contains a lot of the older workforce that found themselves unemployable after 2008. "Healthy unemployment" is part of a market theory that benefits employers that want the cheap labor of people desperately grateful for any job and too fearful to quit even in an "at will" economy. The only situation that empowers workers and keeps people fed and housed (or at least gives them a dignified response to rightwing harpies when they aren't fed and housed) is 100% employment. A step toward that would be radical expansion of the Public Defenders Office and civil court advocates.

But where will we get the money? I can hear the collective wringing of bipartisan GOP and Third Way hands already. Well, how about we defer buying just one trillion dollar airplane? That ought to be a good kickstart. A SCUD missile costs 20k. If we can afford to drop those on Iraq every 3 minutes, it seems we can afford to hire a paralegal every 6 minutes. Also, think of the money we save by NOT putting people in the prison system: that's around 40-50k per prisoner per year. We could be sending 2 or 3 inner city and rural kids to college for each prisoner a Public Defender deals with in a timely manner. We have plenty of darned money. We just need to rip the race-baiting dog whistles out of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell's mouths, grind it under our collective heels until there's nothing left but dust, and MOVE the danged money over from the special-delivery-to-our-war-cronies budget back to a decent social programs budget.

There are very few better ways to use that money. Rebuilding the fundamental welfare safety infrastructure is important. Dealing with the housing crisis is fundamental. I would put this Public Defender Office and civil court advocate expansion project up there in the top three.

Democratic Primary candidates are you listening?

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