Opening the Day: Countrywide's Favors to Senators

by: Matt Stoller

Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:01

Here's what I'm reading.

  • Paul Krugman discusses sexism and Hillary Clinton.  I am very disillusioned by the progressive movement at this point.

  • Countrywide has been loaning "hundreds of millions of dollars per year through its V.I.P. program to politicians, government officials, business executives, entertainment celebrities and other customers singled out for special treatment."

    Included in the group are Banking Chair Senator Dodd and Budget Committee Chair Senator Conrad, though it does not look like they knew they were getting special deals.  HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson, Donna Shalala, and Richard Holbrooke also benefited.

    Go free market!

  • The LA Times fell prey to a somewhat lurid and inaccurate tale about a Judge found with pornographic material on his server.  It's intriguing that the story reveals a split between the tech and political blogospheres.  TPMMuckraker's Andrew Tilghman posted about the judge, Alex Kozinski, asking the question right off the bat "Does liking porn disqualify a judge from hearing a porn case?"

    On BoingBoing and for Larry Lessig, the story is quite different.  An angry litigant hacked into the server of the Judge Kozinski and used standard issue forwarded viral emails and videos to smear the judge, relying on the ignorance of the press to report the story.  Larry Lessig has some useful commentary.  Here's the nub of the case.

    Judge Alex Kozinski is a friend of free speech. Now bloggers have discovered his secret online porn stash -- and forgiven him for it. Yes, there's naked women painted like cows, a man fellating himself, and two women hiking their skirts under a "Bush for President" sign...

    But the L.A. Times' "neutral" editorial language made it all sound much more sinister than it really is. Looking at the photos, they're clearly standard-issue viral emails. (Apparently his music directory even included two Weird Al Yankovic mp3s and Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song.")

    The judge says he didn't know the directory was world-readable, and that many of the images belonged to his college-age son.

    The treatment within the two different blogospheres is fascinating.

  • The NRCC can't get loans.  That's actually a very big problem, since the group is the backstop for Republican House candidates defending themselves against a cash-flush and flexible DCCC.

  • Colin Powell may vote for Obama.

  • Guantanamo is now a mess after the Supreme Court ruled that detainees have rights.  No one could have predicted that stripping civil rights from detainees would have bad consequences.

  • Oil and food prices are up and up and up.  All major airlines might go bankrupt.

  • Ron Paul is launching a new group, The Campaign for Liberty.  It will have a massive rally at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

  • John McCain's vetter for his Vice Presidential candidate is having lobbyist troubles.

    Democrats on Thursday pounced on the lobbying background of Arthur B. Culvahouse, the former presidential counsel currently leading a quiet search for Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) running mate, and its similarity to that of Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) top VP vetter who resigned Wednesday.

    Culvahouse and his firm, O'Melveny & Myers, have lobbied for troubled mortgage firm Fannie Mae, defense giant Lockheed Martin, and Occidental Petroleum, the U.S.'s fourth-largest oil and gas firm.

Matt Stoller :: Opening the Day: Countrywide's Favors to Senators

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i think the colin powell link is wrong (0.00 / 0)
and i want to read it!

hello 1968 (4.00 / 1)
Ron Paul is launching a new group, The Campaign for Liberty.  It will have a massive rally at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

a particularly appropriate quote ... (4.00 / 2)
"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

[ Parent ]
Whats up with Texans and lost cause independant movements anyway? (0.00 / 0)
Disclaimer: I voted for Perot btw - twice :)

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
i'm still waiting for staten island to secede from nyc (0.00 / 0)
i'll be at the front of the parade wishing them farewell.

[ Parent ]
Re Krugman, sexism, disillusionment, etc (4.00 / 1)
Krugman's idea that the "innocence" of the progressive movement is gone is one of the most ridiculous things I've read in a while.

If there's one thing we know - know beyond a shadow of a doubt - it's that the progressive movement in this country, however one reasonably defines it, constitutes a small minority of people.

Of all people, Matt, you should understand this. You're the one correctly pointing out regularly that Democrats aren't always, or even usually, progressive. Remember my politics fifteen years ago?

This is a long-term project which might fail. Nevertheless, our numbers are growing. Carry onward. Please. We need you.    

Being a small minority doesn't get progressives off the hook (0.00 / 0)
... especially the unexamined sexism (and racism, and privilege, and ...) of many progressives is one of the things that keeps the movement small.  

[ Parent ]
Did you read Krugman's post? ... (4.00 / 3)
He links to a NYT article.  The offenders listed in the article are all TradMed people.  How are Progressives supposed to control that.  Are Progressives responsible for Mike Barnicle and Tweety?

[ Parent ]
Krugman is just sore that his pick lost (4.00 / 1)
He's been blaming Obama and "Obama supporters" -- as if the later were a homogeneous group -- for a long time for all the ills of the primary. And he willfully ignores the cheep racist pandering Hillary was so vocal over. He got up with Fonzie on those skis months ago and shows no signs of coming down, he might even try to jump the space shuttle. Its boring, hopefully soon he'll stop his whining and get back to something he's impartially good at - economics.

BTW - this is not a denial of sexism in America, the Democratic party, or even some progressives, its that Krugman is overly broad and general in his blame, and at the same time ignores his own candidate's short comings. He's the classic candidate partisan.  

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
I didn't say it gets "progressives off the hook" (0.00 / 0)
Please don't put words in my mouth. It's important to examine all the things you mention. What I said was that it's ridiculously naive to think that the sexism against Hillary Clinton (which was real, substantial, and important) should affect our view of the progressive movement's place in this country. This country has tons of stupid thinking based on sexism, racism and privilege, with or without Hillary Clinton's candidacy. It is the progressive movement's job, inter alia, to fight against such thinking.  

[ Parent ]
yeah (0.00 / 0)
If there's one thing we know - know beyond a shadow of a doubt - it's that the progressive movement in this country, however one reasonably defines it, constitutes a small minority of people.

Of all people, Matt, you should understand this. You're the one correctly pointing out regularly that Democrats aren't always, or even usually, progressive. Remember my politics fifteen years ago?

I know.  It just feels really pointless.

[ Parent ]
It is hard for me to understand... (4.00 / 1)
where you are coming from here; it would help me to understand what was at stake in this conversation if you would lay out your feelings a little bit more extensively.... Barring that, I'm not sure whether this conversation is going to do much other than stir the pot, once again.  Which may be what people want; who am I to say....

But, from my perspective, this piece by Krugman was not the best one to cite if you wanted your readers to confront the sexism in the progressive movement (which all feminists I know were pretty clear-eyed about before this primary).  For one thing, he doesn't lay the case out by citing examples of actions taken by people with whom your readers might identify.  We aren't mainstream journalists or political cartoonists.  If he had talked about sexism at Daily Kos, his commentary would have been more directly relevant to your readers.  Second, he explicitly downplays and dismisses concerns about the Clinton campaign's use of racially polarizing tactics, even going so far as to implicitly cast blame on those who have accused them of such tactics.  I don't have anything nice to say about this argument, so I won't say anything more at all.  


[ Parent ]
not esp. difficult (4.00 / 1)
Accuse people in the blogosphere of sexism, and examples are rife, and dude, are you ever shrill. The whole 'not us, not us' dynamic was a hell of a thing to behold.

Anyone who needs a map drawn probably wouldn't read it.

[ Parent ]
again, i'm confused... (0.00 / 0)
first of all, i'm not a dude.  

secondly, shrill?  really?

finally: my underlying point had to do with the question of the identity of the progressive movement.  i'm NOT saying that there is not sexism in the progressive movement.  i think that should be clear from my post.  i'm also not saying that this sexism didn't have a negative effect on clinton's campaign, that it didn't create new wounds and exacerbate old ones on the left, etc.  

i'm saying that the krugman piece was poorly chosen by matt, because he's not talking about grassroots progressive types.  

i'm also saying that matt is not putting his cards on the table here as much as he could, which is unfortunate because it is hard to move forward and address concerns when those concerns and feelings are being held close to one's chest.    

[ Parent ]
I know. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be at times. (4.00 / 1)
But consult the great political heroes. Not Lincoln, but Phillips. Not Roosevelt, but Debs. Not LBJ, but MLK Jr. Few of them ever win. But they mattered. You're fighting the good fight like they did. Hang in there.  

[ Parent ]
Krugman (4.00 / 4)
I am very disillusioned with Paul Krugman at this point.

I'm not. (0.00 / 0)
He's one of the good guys. He's not right on everything, just like all of us, but he's one of the good guys.

[ Parent ]
Or "good women". Jeez, on a thread about sexism... (n/t) (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
poor, dopey me (4.00 / 6)
Krugman: the inability of many alleged progressives to see that the news media created the narrative of Hillary Clinton as race-baiter

I was unable to see how Tim Russert and Maureen Dowd tricked Hillary Clinton into harping on Louis Farrakhan and talking about "hard-working, white Americans". And when Bob Johnson talked about what Obama was doing "down in the 'hood", he really was talking about "community organizing", just as the Clintons insisted he was for three days. Bob Kerrey talking about Obama going to a "madrassa"? No code word there. And Geraldine Ferraro really is the progressive hero and lifelong champion of human rights that Clintonites in the 'sphere told me she was (as soon as we all remembered who she was), not a bitter, has-been FoxNews Democrat whose last political achievement was running fourth in a statewide Senate primary.

Mike Barnicle, Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, the "iron my shirt" fratboys, the nutcrackers... all products of and spokesmen for the progressive movements.

Sexism (4.00 / 2)
Really the sexism elephant has been out there for a long time. I first really became aware of this when I started thinking about how a lot of my allies respond to Ann Coulter.

Clearly she's out there to bait a response -- it's a kind of political performance art -- but the kind of reaction you get from her even in progressive/liberal quarters is creepy if you look at it in abstract.

The reality is that a lot of men (and a lot of progressive men) retain an us/them attitude about women; that's the jumping off point for everything. The "new left" back in the day were largely a bunch of semi-chauvinist dudes (and political women called them out for it). We're a bit better, but far from perfect.

Likewise, lot of women (and even some progressive women) retain internalized double-standards about roles and power. I remember a conversation w/my step-mother (no progressive, but very smart and self-possessed in a lot of ways) when Hillary was running for Senate: "Oh she just wants more power." Sure, I said, but ss opposed to all the other people (w/penises) running for senate?

None of us are immune from this, really. It starts on the playground, after all. Divisions and differences along gender lines are inevitable -- in some sense "natural" or at least biological -- but entrenched prejudice, powere-differentials and double-standards aren't. Still, I think it's going to be several generations more until we really get past this.

Having Obama in the general is going to draw out the same kind of racial toxicity, which I think progressives are much better about, really. But it's going to be very interesting to see the reaction from a lot of other people, and a lot of work to bring people around. I think it's 100% doable, and worth doing too: a cathartic event for the national psyche.

The same thing will happen w/women too, at the presidential level and as more women take more executive power throughout society. But in many ways the specific history of sexual power dynamics will make this a more hard-fought process.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

"raw ambition" (4.00 / 3)
Thought-provoking comments. Some of the lookism that comes out in political discourse (Coulter, K-Lo, "the Doughy Pantload", Laura Bush as The Joker) comes from the same place, and we'd never tolerate it from the other side.

As to your step-mother:
"Oh she just wants more power." Sure, I said, but ss opposed to all the other people (w/penises) running for senate?

The phrase that always made me laugh was "raw ambition", as opposed to say Rudy Giuliani's, which was pan-seared and served medium rare, with a tarragon-wild mushroom cream sauce. This, however, is where I think the distinction between sexism and anti-Clintonism comes in. I never saw Shuster's "pimping" remark, which is frequently held up as a prime example of media misogyny, was a sexist remark as much as an anti-Clinton comment. Having adult children campaign, at least for photo-ops, has been common as far back as l can remember. But if the Clintons did it, there must be some nefarious, secret meaning to it. Schuster would have said the same thing about Chelsea campaigning for Bill, never about the Romney boys or Meghan McCain.

The line was often blurred, but as Candy Crowley points out in the article Krugman somewhat self-defeatingly links to, it's hard to say which negative coverage came from misogyny, which from the typical harsher scrutiny given non-McCain front-runners, and which from a fifteen year old bias against the Clintons in the Beltway.

But the most important point, to me, is that Hillary Clinton didn't lose this nomination because of sexism, in the media or in the progressive movement. If anything, the ham-fisted sexism, and her subsequent appeals to victimology, got her more votes than it cost her.

[ Parent ]
Thumbs up, thumbs down (0.00 / 0)
The first three paragraphs in your post are enormously perceptive. The point re Coulter, Goldberg, etc is an important insight that isn't seen a whole lot. But I don't think you have any strong evidence to back up your last paragraph. And if you do, (1) I profoundly apologize (2) I'd like to see it.  

[ Parent ]
I'm reading that Washington doesn't have a clue how markets work (0.00 / 0)

typical scape goating for a govt with no sound energy plan and that completely failed to anticipate the rise of China and India. so more pandering crap, lets kill hedge funds and commodities brokers, eliminate the gas tax, ban mergers, prohibit layoffs, freeze mortage rates, freeze foreclosures. yeah, good luck with that. plenty of blame to go round to both parties here.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

I find it interesting... (4.00 / 1)
that Krugman is willing to accept that there is sexism in the media, but he's utterly dismissive of the possibility that some blacks could be offended by the Clintons' racebaiting.

I believe that MSM is an enabler of sexist punditry, and it's going to take hiring more smart women like Rachel Maddow (and firing morons like E.D. Hill and Chris Matthews) to deal with this.  I also believe that Sen. Clinton was unfairly treated--not only because of sexism, but because MSM has the habit of beating up the frontrunner, and as soon as Obama was perceived to be the frontrunner, they set their sights on him.

But this idea that racism isn't prevalent in MSM because it's not acceptable is downright silly.  When Chris Matthews says Obama can't connect with "regular" Americans, what the hell are blacks, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans supposed to think.  Racism and sexism need to be addressed not only by MSM but in schools and work.  It should not be okay to judge a female by her appearance or her voice, or her confidence.

Thanks, Matt (0.00 / 0)
The Krugman link is appreciated.

And I know how you feel about the disillusionment. Burnout approacheth with a vengeance. Have you considered pulling back some for a while? That's my plan for the summer. I suspect that plenty of stuff will still suck then, loads to do ... but maybe later.  

Sexism versus Racism (4.00 / 2)
One could easily write a PhD dissertation on racism and sexism in the 2008 Democratic primary.  Me?  I'll just throw out some random observations.

I think it is clear we have a far lower tolerance towards racism than we do sexism.  On the other hand, sexism is far more subtle and harder to detect (or easier to falsely see) than racism.  For one, sexism, or at least genderism, is built into our language.  If I say "he caught the ball" you have no idea what the race of the catcher is, but you certainly know the gender.  I'd have to bend over backwards to not tell you the gender.

Ironically, John Edwards was also a victim of sexism.  Think of how many times he was feminised by the media, which has a built in assumption that women are weaker.  I could easily imagine the comic Krugan posted being about Edwards if he ever teared up on camera.  There were attempts to feminise Obama as well, though they didn't stick.

Your typical racist doesn't associate with the race he or she hates.  That is rarely ever true with sexism.  Even the worst misogynist has women in his life he believes to love.  And where racism has no basis in fact (race doesn't even exist outside of social norms), sexism will probably exist in some form for as long as women still give birth and breast feed and men still have penises.  There is some difference and how that plays out in society will constantly be in debate and flux, I suspect.

Not even (0.00 / 0)
While I agree that our inherent characteristics will make sexism more difficult to detect, the idea that we have a lower tolerance for racism than sexism as a country or as a movement is nonsense to me. I am reminded of how many people SUPPORTED Hillary Clinton when she and her campaign race baited Sen. Obama. I am reminded of how many blogs were devoted to excoriating Obama, the MSM, and progressives for the sexism in the race but racism apparently warranted little to no mention. I am reminded of TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and Gerry Ferraro and Bill Clinton and how much more work it takes to get progressives to admit to having said something offensive to a black man for his blackness than it is to have nearly ANYONE admit to having said they said something similarly offensive to a white woman for her womanhood. I just don't see where the "lower tolerance" for racism is, considering how many of us progressives would say Sen. Clinton, whose campaign race-baited from December 07 to now, was the stronger "progressive" over Sen. Obama. It's mind boggling.

[ Parent ]
Causation (0.00 / 0)
Also, can we please encourage ourselves to have a more mature and developed view towards causation in politics?

Say, hypothetically, that sexism cost Hillary Clinton's candidacy 300 delegates. Say that her position on Iraq cost her 400 delegates. Say that her decision not to sufficiently contest caucus states cost her 300 delegates. I am pulling these numbers out of my sphincter, of course; they don't matter.

Under this hypothetical any of those three causes could be argued to have "caused" her to lose... so, perversely, NONE of the three "caused" her to lose, because she could have won without changing the particular cause on which one focuses.

Neither "sexism cost her the nomination" NOR "sexism didn't cost her the nomination" are accurate statements under that hypothetical.  


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