The most depressing part of the Cain story

Is how conservatives are just so happy to defend him.  It’s one thing to claim its a liberal media conspiracy (absurd– Obama should be paying Cain to have better advisers and funneling money to his campaign), but what’s really disgusting and depressing is that conservative attack on the whole concept of workplace sexual harassment.  Dahlia Lithwick lays it all out:

I have no idea what Herman Cain did with the two, or maybe three, or possibly now fourwomen who have raised allegations of improper sexual behavior about him. I don’t know whether any of them will come forward and run the risk of being labeled a slut for their efforts to do their jobs without being treated like pole-dancers. I do know that—asAmanda Marcotte so eloquently explained this week—the very same people who insist that we don’t know what actually happened all those years ago seem to know exactly what happened: nothing.

Sexual harassment is now nothing. Welcome to the era of gender harassment denialism. The harassment skeptics claim that harassment, like racism, used to exist but is now over…

Why not start with John Derbyshire, who put it this way in the National Review: “Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like ‘racial discrimination’? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up.” …

Or take the legal stylings of Kurt Schlichter, who asserts that “the only things you need to file a lawsuit are the filing fee and a printer. Facts are optional. … Where sexual-harassment law once protected women from being forced to be the playthings of crude lechers, it’s been transformed to enforcing a prim puritanism that drains the humor and humanity from the workplace.”…

Rep. Steve King doubled down on this theme, calling sexual harassment “a terrible concept,” and lamenting the tendency “to define an action by the perception of the perceived victim.”

There’s even more, but you get the disgusting point.  Are we really supposed to believe that all sexual harassment victims are either A) horribly over-sensitive and humorless; or B) just looking to make a big legal score or get a great book deal by accusing a famous person?  In the conservative worldview, the answer seems to be yes (unless Bill Clinton is the alleged harasser).

Existential Garfield

I used to love the Garfield comic strip when I was a kid.  Then I grew up.  Just discovered this awesome website that:

is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

Great stuff.

G-G the book.

I actually think it is absurd that Garfield is still going strong. Safe to say that Jim Davis ran out of original ideas by 1985 or so– especially as the strip consciously avoids any political or social commentary.  While that would seem harmless enough, in truth, there’s surely lots better comics that deserve space in one of the 2500+ papers that now have that space taken up by Garfield.

Musical Interlude

Heard this on the radio on the way into work.  I haven’t heard this song in ages.  Damn catchy:

Legalized gambling

Nope, I’m not talking about Las Vegas or an Indian reservation casino, but most of what takes place on Wall Street nowadays.  Of course, one could argue that a typical stock purchase is a form of gamble, in which you take a risk that the stock will go down in hopes for a payoff when it goes up.  True, but we can also think of this as pro-social gambling as it is a central and important elements in a successful modern economy.  Businesses need investors and buying stock in them allows for investment, economic growth, and all that good stuff.  Imagine instead, that without investing in Ford at all, you could simply gamble as to whether their profit would be above or below 3% next quarter.  How is that any different than gambling on whether the New England Patriots will cover the spread?  Short answer: it’s not.  Yet, somehow this first version is portrayed as an important Wall Street activity and the latter is illegal in most circumstances and certainly not seen as a productive part of the economy.  Basically, much of what drives Wall Street these days is little better than gambling on football games.  Stephen Pearlstein ran it down in yesterday’s Post:

Silly you.

You actually thought companies existed to make products and profits.

ou thought houses were meant to provide a place for people to live and office buildings a place for people to work.

You thought food was meant to be eaten, oil and gas to be turned into energy, and metals to be turned into cars, bridges and downspouts.

You weren’t sophisticated enough to realize that these really are just different “asset classes” meant to give investors around the world something to speculate in and to diversify their portfolios.

Even worse, you actually believed all that stuff about prices being set based on market fundamentals…

These markets have long since outgrown their original function of providing producers and consumers of these commodities with a way to hedge their risks by guaranteeing supply and locking in prices. All futures markets require a certain number of “speculators” to take the other side of the contracts from commercial users and producers. Typically, these speculators would represent 30 percent of the participants in a healthy futures market.

But today, because of a sudden desire to earn higher returns and diversify investment portfolios, there are more people wanting to invest in corn and copper and oil than there is corn and copper and natural gas produced and consumed. But no problem. The financial wizards on Wall Street have magically conjured up synthetic corn and copper and West Texas oil so that speculators can provide hedging opportunities for other speculators. Instead of 30 percent of the market, these “passive investors” typically account for 70 percent or more…

What’s clear from this tale is how little the financial services industry has really changed since the crisis of 2008. The financialization of the economy continues undeterred, creating a bubble in commodities just as it did with houses and office buildings. The industry is still engaged in clever games to circumvent regulation, increase risk and find the cracks between one regulatory agency and another. And when regulators step in to try to restore some sanity to the markets, they inevitably run into a political buzz saw created by the industry and its Republican allies.

The whole thing is just a giant joke (and Democrats definitely deserve a share of the blame as well).  Sadly, the joke is on most of us ordinary Americans.

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