Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Liz vs. Bernie -- female vs. male

By now, you all know about the report that Bernie Sanders privately told Elizabeth Warren that a woman probably could not win in 2020. Sanders has denied the report, while Warren has confirmed it.
“Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate,” Warren said in a statement. “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.”
Did Sanders actually say it? Of course he did. Don't be naive. His current disavowals are lies.

That said, I profoundly disagree with the oft-heard prog presumption that Sanders' words during that private meeting were sexist.


What we have here is another example of the ludicrous mangling of language which progs insist upon -- the kind of verbal gamesmanship and supremely-annoying sanctimoniousness that alienates the average voter and transforms otherwise-decent human beings into Trump supporters.

Look, I'm no Sanders fan. If you've ever visited this blog before, you probably know that I cannot stand that guy. Moreover, Elizabeth Warren is my favorite of the Democratic candidates. (Here's why.) So please do not presume that a pro-Bernie attitude compels me to exculpate him from the charge of sexism.

It is not sexist to opine that a woman cannot win in 2020. You may disagree with that opinion, but the opinion itself is not sexist.

Progressives should pop open a dictionary and learn the profound difference between the words "can" and "should." Any attempts to elide this difference are devious and manipulative, and can succeed only in making the average person hate progressives.

Suppose you ask a mechanic: "Can my old car make it all the way to Montana?" Suppose he answers: "No, I don't think it can." He is not telling you that you should not go to Montana, as if the state has cooties. He is simply making a realistic assessment of the vehicle's condition.

Suppose you ask a doctor: "Do you think Grandpa can live long enough to see me graduate?" Suppose the doctor answers: "I'm sorry, but I don't think he can." Obviously, the doctor is not telling you that Gramps should die. He's not telling you that he wants the old man out of the picture ASAP.

Sanders's statement offers a cynical assessment of the American public, but says nothing about women.

I'm a noted cynic myself, and part of me agrees with Bernie on this issue, although I hope he is wrong. Frankly, I fear that things are getting worse -- that the public is more sexist now than it was in 2016, and that people were more sexist in 2016 and 2008 than in previous years. Compare the level of hate directed against Geraldine Ferraro to the level of hate directed against Hillary Clinton.

On the other hand: It is inarguable that Sanders is deluding himself, or at least deluding his supporters. Every poll I've seen indicates that the bias against the word "socialist" is far more formidable than is the bias against women.

This 2015 Gallup poll shows that eight percent of the electorate would refrain from voting from an otherwise-qualified woman, based purely on sex. We must be realistic: An eight percent deficit is a serious matter -- and that number probably underestimates the problem, since poll respondents may not have been honest with the pollsters or with themselves.

So, yes, it is true that an "accident of birth" bias against Warren does exist, and I strongly suspect that the bias has worsened since 2015. It should be noted, however, that Obama won twice even though this Gallup poll indicates that voters have roughly the same degree of prejudice against a black candidate (seven percent vs. eight percent).

However, it should be noted that the most formidable bias of all is the one burdening Bernie Sanders: The dreaded S-word. Forty-seven percent of the country would consider voting for a self-identified socialist, while fifty percent say that they would never vote for such a person.

If you're the sort who loves to engage in otiose wordplay, you may now be chomping at the bit to quibble about the various definitions of socialism, and about whether the public likes socialistic ideas better than it likes the actual label. Wanna have those debates? Fine. Do so. But take it elsewhere, because I will not publish your comments -- not now. In a future post, we can talk about such things.

Right here and right now, I am focusing on the objective fact -- and it is a fact -- that there is an overwhelming prejudice against the S-word. The American public simply hates that word, and there is no pretending otherwise. This prejudice will not fade any time soon. The Bernie Bros are being disingenuous if they think that they can "educate" half the public into giving up on this deeply-ingrained view. 

Bernie, who embraces the S-word, is therefore unelectable in a national contest. Elizabeth Warren, who rejects the word, is electable. The S-word is the decisive factor. 

Here are a couple of other considerations: The same Gallup poll indicates that seven percent of the American population won't vote for a Jew, which means that the "accident of birth" bias against Bernie is pretty much the same as the "accident of birth" bias against Warren (or Obama). Moreover, forty percent won't vote for an atheist. Does anyone truly believe that Bernie believes in God? I don't.

(I also doubt that Al Franken, who should be running right now, has any deep emotional investment in the idea that God exists. However, during his first senatorial campaign, he was politician enough to mutter a few sentences offering some vaguely religious notions. You gotta do what you gotta do.)  

By any measure, the odds against Bernie Sanders are far worse than the odds against Elizabeth Warren.

Wanna see some real sexism? When Elizabeth Warren confirmed the report which started this controversy, the Twitter response included some utterly disgusting comments. Many seem to think that in any "He said, she said" controversy, she must be lying -- if only because she is, in fact, a she.
I always liked Warren overall and even though she wasn’t my preferred candidate, I believed her to be well intentioned. Now I see she’s more sinister and cynical than I could have imagined. What a massive disappointment.
I don't think she's sinister. I think her ambition overrules her decency.
She's like Hillary, minus 60 pounds and 50 corpses under her.
You can find a lot more (as in a LOT more) commentary along these lines carpeting the length and breadth of Twitter. I presume that some of this carpet was manufactured in St. Petersburg, or wherever the bots and trolls do their dirty work these days. Some of it -- but not all of it.

Obviously, the presumption that Evil Elizabeth has slandered Saint Bernie is, in and of itself, sexist. Here we encounter a paradox, since the sexism now evident on Twitter proves the validity of what Bernie Sanders said to Elizabeth Warren at that meeting: A female candidate does face a serious obstacle.

But a socialist candidate undeniably faces a worse obstacle.

Does modern feminism beget sexism? Earlier, I opined that sexism has worsened over the past decade. I don't have numbers to back that opinion; it's more of a gut reaction. But I'd wager that many of my readers have guts similar to mine. 

Why has sexism worsened? My suspicion is that sexism ticked up when feminism changed: What was once an honorable and necessary egalitarian movement has devolved into something much less attractive -- into puritanism, into the reflexive hatred of all males, into the absurd demand that all women be considered beyond question or criticism. In short, feminism has become a unceasing series of rationales for unreason.

Once again, I direct your attention to a brilliant essay titled "Why I no longer identify as a feminist," by Helen Pluckrose, one of the true geniuses of our age. For her, feminism went wrong when it became infected by the philosophical movement called postmodernism.
Very simplistically, it was an academic shift pioneered by Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard which denied that reliable knowledge could ever be attained and claimed that meaning and reality themselves had broken down. It rejected large, overarching explanations (meta-narratives) which included religion but also science, and replaced them with subjective, relative accounts (mini-narratives) of the experiences of an individual or sub-cultural group. These ideas gained great currency in the humanities and social sciences and so became both an artistic movement and a social “theory.” They rejected the values of universal liberalism, the methods of science and the use of reason and critical thinking as the way to determine truth and form ethics. Individuals could now have not only their own moral truths but their own epistemological ones. The expression “It’s true for me” encapsulates the ethos of postmodernism. To claim to know anything to be objectively true (no matter how well-evidenced) is to assert a meta-narrative and to “disrespect” the contrary views of others which is oppressive (even if those views are clearly nonsense.) The word “scientism” was created for the view that evidence and testing are the best way to establish truths.
In social theory, postmodernists “deconstructed” everything considered true and presented all as meaningless. However, having done this, there was nowhere else to go and nothing more to say. In the realm of social justice, nothing can be accomplished unless we accept that certain people in a certain place experience certain disadvantages. For this, a system of reality needs to exist, and so new theories of gender and race and sexuality began to emerge comprised of mini-narratives. These categories were held to be culturally constructed and constructed hierarchically to the detriment of women, people of color and LGBTs. Identity was paramount.

Liberal feminist aims gradually shifted from the position:

“Everyone deserves human rights and equality, and feminism focuses on achieving them for women.”


“Individuals and groups of all sexes, races, religions and sexualities have their own truths, norms and values. All truths, cultural norms and moral values are equal. Those of white, Western, heterosexual men have unfairly dominated in the past so now they and all their ideas must be set aside for marginalized groups.”

Liberal feminism had shifted from the universality of equal human rights to identity politics. No longer were ideas valued on their merit but on the identity of the speaker and this was multifaceted, incorporating sex, gender identity, race, religion, sexuality and physical ability. The value of an identity in social justice terms is dependent on its degree of marginalization, and these stack up and vie for primacy. This is where liberal feminism went so badly wrong.
I apologize for quoting at such length. Please read the rest of this essay: Pluckrose is absolutely brilliant. Before I encountered this monograph, similar views had been burbling in the back of my own brain for a number of years, although I never knew how to express those thoughts. Pluckrose found the words that I had hunted but could not capture.
Former GOP strategist Rick Wilson, who quit his party in protest of Donald Trump, had this to say:

Bernie Sanders is "the easiest person in the world to turn into the comic opera villain Republicans love to hate, the Castro sympathiser, the socialist, the Marxist, the guy who wants to put the aristos in the tumbril as they cart them off to the guillotine."
I agree that I don't think Warren can win an election - she is terrific, but Wall Street will spend millions against her, they likely already are, and I don't think she can overcome that disadvantage. She gets too wonky, too detailed, too purist, and she forgets that what people want is an elevator pitch and a 3-word vision (Yes We Can! Build A Wall! Morning in America!)- its really all people have time for.
I remember when a friend of mine who was a political reporter retired one day and started building spec houses. A few months later, he said the one thing that really amazed him was to realize how little attention the average person he worked with in his new life actually paid to politics.
The first woman who actually might be elected president is somebody fairly tame and harmless like Nikki Haley, unfortunately. Its too bad Oprah decided not to run, because she could give a very good speech and she knows how to reach people.
"I agree that I don't think Warren can win an election..." Remember, you're agreeing with Bernie on this point, not with me. I think it is possible for Warren to win IF she shocks the nation by attacking Trump from the right. I discussed that option in a previous post.

Klobuchar is more of a centrist and thus pretty much impossible to red-bait. But she doesn't have Warren's charisma.

You're right: The average person doesn't pay much attention to politics or policy. But they DO pay attention to personality. That's why charisma counts.

Personally, I'm hoping that either Warren or Klobuchar wins Iowa. Pete's a nice guy, but his time is not now. Sanders is our Jeremy Corbyn. I've always liked Biden, and I'll weep tears of joy if he wins the presidency. But one senses that he was born to run in the 1990s -- and unfortunately, he shared that decade with a certain Big Dog.

What you missed in the NYT - Warren interview is that Lizzy's mind is set to identify little problems already solved - like hearing aid costs - and getting the government involved in bumbling the mumbling. The libertarian in me screams at such dumbness.

Most of her programs have been developed to get further left than The Bern (which makes her ideas too expensive) when the word from the Dem underlings is stay in the middle. We are headed for a brokered convention that will be bought by the late-entry billionaires. Unless. Michelle. Rides. In!

She would completely discombobulate Donald as a female minority with absolutely the only name that will shut down Trump's second term attempt.

The US HAS the money for Liz or Bernie's programs, and plenty to spare. The problem is it's being wasted on a bloated military budget (over a trillion dollars the military can't even account for, for crying out loud). So the problem isn't her and Bernie's programs, the problem is the strange notion that we need to spend more than every nation on earth combined just one our military. I'm realistic enough to know that that is still a tough sell to those on the right, so in practical terms you are right that those programs will be viewed by many as too expensive. But in reality, they are not anywhere near as expensive as our current military budget.
What a coincidence that three of the first four comments to today's post are anti-Warren.

Internet comments are no way to figure out how much support Warren might actually have among voters, especially women.

I think it might be helpful to distinguish between sexism and overt sexism. I doubt that modern feminism has created any new sexism, but it may have encouraged the expression of existing sexism, brought latent sexism into the open. Warren's candidacy may be a lightning rod that attracts this kind of rot, as Hillary's was.
Stick with subjects you know. You know squat about feminism. It is pathetic, and really as a dude you have no business dictating to women what they should believe. Do you think the civil rights movement was a "cult," by the way? It is VILE to regard a movement that says women are human beings, not things for you to screw and pop kids out, as a CULT, as you did in a previous post. How different are you from an MRA? You aren't.

And you are being completely disingenuous about Sanders. Sanders, dating from the early seventies, has been a sexist. He treated Hillary Clinton like trash. Regardless, the fact remains he is a brazen liar. That is why I wouldn't support him. Warren is known for stretching the truth as well, especially regarding her teaching career, which she made up the reason for her leaving after a year. She wasn't fired or non-renewed. This is a reason I don't contribute to her campaign anymore. There is no reason to lie.

My mother thought that some feminists wouldn't be happy until men had half the babies. That's you. The idea that men don't understand feminism is absurd. Do only Blacks understand the Civil Rights movement? The real problem with extreme feminism isn't that men don't understand them, it is that they don't understand men.
47% of US citizens say they would consider voting for a candidate who calls himself a socialist? Sounds great! Sounds as if we're getting somewhere! All we need is a little momentum with the middle ground, some voter suppression among those who are so stupid as to worship the law of the jungle, and Bernie is in the White House with a majority of 50 or 100 in the electoral college!

As for feminism, today on BBC Radio 4's "Woman's Hour" there is an item which the presenter trailed by saying in a complaining tone, "Men have breasts too. So why are breasts seen very differently according to whether they belong to men or women? Professor X will discuss..." I didn't listen to the section itself. I've got better things to do than listen to an academic tell me that I and the rest of society should consider men's chests the same way we consider women's. (Should babies be taught the same?) What do we read into this rubbish? That many or most social science academics talk shit and they don't have the slightest clue about stuff, at least not when they're playing their professional roles? I add that qualification because surely hardly anybody conversing with fellow human beings in a small group, of size say five or smaller, would present this observation as a matter to complain about - except possibly if the group were composed of people trying to lower ("raise") their consciousness.
Before I say anything else, I don't think Joseph is sexist and warren is my candidate of choice.
Feminism: men can't fully understand how a woman feels about feminism the same way that Whites can not fully understand racism. Yes, intellectually and academically anyone can understand the idea of bias against a gender or race, but until one walks in the shoes of others, it is at best academic. Sexism and racism have long and deep roots culturally and are embedded in everyone who has lived within the culture a bit like "White Privilege" is used to describe a present but not acknowledged benefit. It takes time and activism and many fights to root out sexism and racism with extremist and bad wishers inevitably stepping in and muddying the waters.
On Sanders and Warren:
Sanders should have qualified his statement like, I don't think a woman can get elected president in the current political environment. This would have been an observation that could not be misunderstood.
Warren should not use this to pick a fight with sanders because this fight may hurt her more than help her politically and it's a diversion.
@b, we are seeing this forced identification of the person with their genital components invade all aspects of our lives. Drag Queens are now reading to 4 year olds in our public libraries in an apparent attempt to sell the idea that an overt public fixation on our genitals (and their use) is the normal expression of an adult identity. (This is one of my reasons I avoid the hideous series Modern Family where children are conditioned to accept their role as mere support players in the gender identity practices of their parents, parents who force their children to adopt adult emotionality beyond their years.)

No, I am not anti-gay. But I am tired of those who build their lives 24-7 around the idea that "I have a cock (or tits) and therefore I am." How far would I get if, as a male, I volunteered to read to 4 year olds wearing a prominent codpiece. I'm betting I'd be put on a sex offender register pretty smartly. The whole debate about sexual identity has been hyped and hijacked.
Rick Wilson's new book is "how to run against the devil". Suggestion on how to beat Trump.
It is due to be out shortly.
There's a point I forgot to make about the poll showing that 47% say they would consider voting for a self-declared socialist: 47% is enough to win! Trump won with 46%.

In these sad times in which we live, that as many as 47% of US citizens seem to be ready, before campaigning has even started, to consider voting for a socialist is a rare piece of good news.
And now Krugman weighs in on Bernie:

I will not vote for Sanders.
I think there is a problem with your argument.

"He is simply making a realistic assessment of the vehicle's condition."

In your example, the mechanic is talking about a specific car which he has evaluated. In the Bernie/Liz example, the statement is about women in general, not any specific woman. Bernie is saying he does not believe any woman, regardless of qualifications, experiment or ability, can win. That is sexist because it is a negative generalization about women, not a specific evaluation of any particular woman. When people believe such generalizations, women typically don't get the chance to try, regardless of their specifics.

Bernie had just had the example of a female candidate who won the popular vote by over 3 million and was only kept out of office by manipulating the election in collusion with Russia, plus an FBI announcement against policy and rules, and voter suppression in some key states. The perfect storm of all of those efforts, many of them illegal, kept her out of office. That suggests that Bernie knew that a woman could win (under normal circumstances) and yet he still said a woman could not. That sounds pretty sexist to me because it ignores the evidence in order to persist in a generalization about woman.
"Bernie is saying he does not believe any woman, regardless of qualifications, experiment or ability, can win. That is sexist because it is a negative generalization about women, not a specific evaluation of any particular woman."

No. It is a negative statement about the ELECTORATE.

If you and I had met in the year 1976, I would have told you that no black person could win a presidential election. That would have been a critique of the American public, not a critique of black political figures.

In your second statement, you argue that Hillary's near-win proves Bernie wrong. I agree; that's why I support Warren. But Bernie is wrong in his assessment of the ELECTORATE, not in his assessment of the women running for office.
Well? now what? Anything that's doesn't involve voting for Bernie. I am not voting for him. EVER.
News from Streatham, London. A man who had distributed jihadist terrorist literature was caught, prosecuted, convicted, jailed...and then released after less than two years, to be followed about by armed police carrying packs, and then all of a sudden he went into a shop, bought a knife, and started stabbing people, upon which he was shot dead by the armed police who had been following him to, er, make sure he didn't do anything like that.

Those who know about "RHIC" and "entrainment" have got to wonder what kind of technology those cops were carrying in their backpacks.
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