California Democrats install “fearless girl”-inspired statue on roof

“Persist,” modeled after Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl,” atop party HQ in Sacramento

Last year, public opinion was split over a symbol of feminism that turned out to be a symbol of corporate power. Of course I am referring to Hillary Clinton. But the Democratic candidate for president found a robust analog in Fearless Girl, a statue of a five year-old defying Wall Street’s iconic charging bull. That statue was nice, right? It encouraged young women to be strong, and perhaps it inspired adult women working in the financial district to carry a little of that defiance into their traditionally male-dominated workplaces. It seemed like art was finally improving people’s lives, but then we found out that it was a marketing stunt by State Street Global Advisors. Here’s State Street Executive VP Lynn Blake:

“We placed the Fearless Girl there to be a partner to the bull, to represent the power of women. We certainly never expected her to be a challenge…It was not really about the social or political issue, it was absolutely about the investment issue and the benefits of having women in the corporate world.”

Ah yes—the power of women not to challenge the corporate world, but to partner with it. Along with their expressed opinion that “the image of the girl would be more relatable than one of an adult woman,” comments like these suggest that State Street’s commitment to feminism might be problematic. Even if you regard Fearless Girl as a net good, its complications leave a bad taste in the mouth. But one mouth remains as ready to partner with the bull as ever: the California Democratic Party’s. On Friday, CADEM unveiled its own variation of Fearless Girl called She Persisted, which now stands atop its San Francisco headquarters.

Continue reading

Friday links! Donald Trump’s lawyer edition

Michael Cohen does work.

If Donald Trump lied any more often, he’d have to guard a door in a logic puzzle. He does not always lie. He’s not at the dry cleaners like, “I’m Marie of Roumania, and I’m here to pick up my dog.” But although he periodically speaks truth, he is so much more likely to disregard it that his defenders urge us not to take him literally—that is, as though his words had fixed meaning. Trump is a bullshitter. He might be the chief bullshitter of our bullshit age. So can you imagine being his lawyer? One pities such people. How much bullshit must Michael Cohen, Sheri Dillon, and the rest of Trump’s team of paid advocates wade through to convert his raw, jazz-style bullshit into something finished enough to bullshit a court of law? Today is Friday, and even the president needs fixers. Won’t you make this all go away with me?

Continue reading

Quist is a deadbeat. Gianforte is rich. You love the rich guy, right?

From an ad by friends of in-touch tech multimillionaire Greg Gianforte

Montana’s special election is one week away, and the Rob Quist campaign is starting to look like a series of unforced errors. Let us begin with his nomination. Quist was handpicked by the Democratic Party, not by the usual primary system. Somehow, no one in that august political body thought to run a credit check. Pretty much the first story that came out was about the liens filed against their candidate for unpaid property taxes in 2011 and the bill for which he stiffed a contractor in 2001. I can see such problems haunting a popular favorite, but the Democrats chose Quist for his electability. Surely there was some other Democrat in the state who lacked not just political experience but also a debt trail.

Fortunately, the Quist campaign is staffed by experienced operatives from the state party. These old hands know the voters of Montana well enough to find sure ways to distinguish Quist from his opponent—for example, by running the exact same campaign ads. That’s how you win as a Democrat: by acting like a Republican. This principle explains why Quist downplayed his support for single-payer health care and emphasized his support for guns. It also explains why Hillary Clinton is president now. It does not explain why campaign manager Les Braswell accidentally tweeted  as The Montana Cowgirl from the Quist campaign account, but we can’t explain everything. He probably got hacked.

Anyway, the Democratic Party is incompetent, even in the last best place. Facing an opponent who just lost a statewide election for governor in which he underperformed the top of his ticket by 20 points, they appear to be headed for defeat. Now is the time to reflect on deep questions. My deepest: In the present economic climate, how is being rich not the biggest obstacle a candidate can face?

American inequality is the worst it’s been in 100 years. Montana has the second-lowest per capita income of any state in the Union, and a politically inexperienced billionaire is on the verge of impeachment in Washington. Yet Quist has said nothing meaningful about inequality. Republicans, convinced we love millionaires as much as they do, are using his personal debts as a cudgel. Call me a pinko, but I wonder if voters might identify more with the guy whose $20,000 debt is wrecking his life than the guy who sold his company to Oracle for $1.5 billion. You can read all about this strange discrepancy in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. It’s a particularly exciting issue, containing not just my inchoate palaver but also the story of a growing schism in the Montana Libertarian Party and your girl Michael Siebert’s feature-length essay on why the left should embrace gun ownership. Check ’em out. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

This is bullshit

The view form the north

I am snowed under around here, figuratively and damn near literally. While Combat! blog slept off an inordinate quantity of work last night, Missoula got a couple inches of snow. It was 85 this time last week. For the second year in a row, my lilac bush has taken a brutal beating, and dazzling mountain springtime has lapsed back into drear. Every year, I learn the same hard lesson—don’t trust spring—and every year I forget. Speaking of lessons repeatedly unlearned, President Trump put out another scandal yesterday. Perhaps you heard that he tried to get James Comey to call off the investigation of Michael Flynn. That’s obstruction, right? This one has to be the one that brings him down. Yet part of me thinks it won’t matter. Maybe it’s just the pervasive sense of unreality that the Trump presidency has generated, but I have become scandal fatigued. I have a hard time believing that anything can derail the Trump train before it pulls us all over the edge of a cliff. Either way, though, we’re watching history. This is either the unfolding of a Watergate-style meltdown or the beginning of the era when literally nothing that happens matters to American democracy. We live in interesting times.

Okay, will this do it?

Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Yesterday, President Trump divulged classified US intelligence during a meeting with Russian diplomats Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Lavrov. According to the Washington Post, the disclosure pertained to a plot by ISIS to smuggle bombs onto planes in laptops. Of less concern than the material itself is the possibility that its divulgence could compromise intelligence sources and methods, since “a Middle Eastern ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information.” There’s also the aspect of this situation where Trump actually does on purpose exactly what he attacked Hillary Clinton for potentially doing by accident with her emails. So this is the scandal that finally undoes the Trump administration, right? Right? [crickets][racist crickets]

Continue reading