Today I wore my fuzzy winter bathrobe. How are you marking the transition?
I can’t tell you how strange the past two days have been. (In addition to the flowers, I even got four marriage proposals. I’m mulling them over. The guy with the goats, the one with the cows, or the one with health insurance?) I’ve been reading all the stuff people have written about this unrecognizable me — I even got accused of using a sock puppet (fake user name) to defend myself over at FDL.
People on the intertubes are crazy. (Not you guys, of course. We have this nice quiet little corner of the online universe, although we’ve had a lot of visitors lately.) But generally speaking, there are a lot of intensely crazy people whose every waking moment is dedicated to the proposition that “someone, somewhere on the internet is WRONG, and I must CONFRONT them!!!!”
Geeze. Get a life, willya?
But I do think I need to correct the various media interpretations of The Great Axelrod Event. Let me make clear: I wasn’t being belligerent, it’s not my nature. As I told the White House aide who put the call together, “This is just the way I talk. I’m always like this. I talk loudly, I interrupt. I’m from Southwest Philly, I didn’t go to Yale.”
And I wasn’t being any harder on Axelrod than I’ve been on any public figure. As a reporter, my attitude was always, “Enough of the blah blah blah, let’s get back to my question.” Is that so unusual that it’s worth noting? I guess so. I’m sorry to see that.
I’m also a very literal person. Axelrod was asking us for help, and my reaction was, how do you even expect us to do that when y’all are treating people badly? It wasn’t a sucker punch, it was a logical progression of thought. So no, I’m not some folk hero — unless telling the truth is so unusual now that simply stating the facts is a big deal.
And then I got the “purer than thou” people who are all, like, “Why would you want to help them, you sniveling sellout?” (I guess there’s still hope for me, because I’m not that literal.) Very few situations are completely binary.(i.e. on or off). “Is there some potential gain for my position by a temporary alliance on this particular point?” I’m a negotiator by nature. If you want something from me, here are the ground rules. Then we’ll talk.
Telling Axelrod the White House has to stop punching hippies wasn’t the goal of the negotiation, it was only a ground rule. And I certainly wasn’t buying into the idea that if Congress loses the mid-terms, it’s because the DFHs didn’t clap loud enough.
And while I understand that some of you are resentful that no one else on the call asked that question, come on. Those of you who still have jobs know the drill. Would you confront your CEO at a public event?
Then we have the armchair quarterbacks: “What she SHOULD have done was…..” followed by a long tirade about how I should have righteously listed the wrongs done by the administration. Uh huh. This was a 45-minute call with a senior White House advisor and I got the last five minutes, of course he’s going to hang on the phone and listen to me rip into their record. That would have accomplished a lot, don’t you think?
Whether you understand it or not, I did get Axelrod to think about my point.
The bottom line is, the people criticizing me weren’t the ones on the call. Some people are quite annoyed by that (“Who does SHE think she is? Why was SHE on a White House call? SHE’s a narcissistic blah blah blah….”).
For whatever reason, there I was, doing what I thought was useful. Your mileage may vary.
P.S. Oh, and let’s not even get into the cesspool of online anonymity and the ensuing lack of civility. Certain types of anonymous cowards will always feel free to say online the kinds of things they’d never have the courage to say to someone’s face.
Because it often feels like you’re not considered a full human being:
Cheerleading is often maligned as an illegitimate, unchallenging sport — but you just try to imagine having to shake your pom-poms for an athlete accused of sexually assaulting you. An appeals court has ruled that a former high school cheerleader’s refusal to root for a basketball player who she claims sexually assaulted her, and who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of simple assault, is not protected under the First Amendment as free speech.
You know, Bob Herbert is truly doing God’s work. He’s one of the rare media voices for the broken, and I’m so grateful he does it:
In recent weeks, a few homeless people with cars have been showing up at Master’s Manna. Ms. Bedore has gotten permission from the local police department for them to park behind her building and sleep in their cars overnight. “We’ve been recognized as a safe haven,” she said.
In two of the cars, she said, were families with children.
It’s not just joblessness that’s driving people to the brink, although that’s a big factor. It’s underemployment, as well. “For many of our families,” said Ms. Bedore, “the 40-hour workweek is over, a thing of the past. They may still have a job, but they’re trying to survive on reduced hours — with no benefits. Some are on forced furloughs.
“Once you start losing the income and you’ve run through your savings, then your car is up for repossession, or you’re looking at foreclosure or eviction. We’re a food pantry, but hunger is only the tip of the iceberg. Life becomes a constant juggling act when the money starts running out. Are you going to pay for your medication? Or are you going to put gas in the car so you can go to work?
“Kids are going back to school now, so they need clothes and school supplies. Where is the money for that to come from? The people we’re seeing never expected things to turn out like this — not at this stage of their lives. Not in the United States. The middle class is quickly slipping into a lower class.”
Similar stories — and worse — are unfolding throughout the country. There are more people in poverty now — 43.6 million — than at any time since the government began keeping accurate records. Nearly 15 million Americans are out of work and home foreclosures are expected to surpass one million this year. The Times had a chilling front-page article this week about the increasing fear among jobless workers over 50 that they will never be employed again.
The politicians seem unable to grasp the immensity of the problem, which is why the policy solutions are so woefully inadequate. During my conversations with Ms. Bedore, she dismissed the very thought that the recession might be over. “Whoever said that was sadly mistaken,” she said. “We haven’t even bottomed-out yet.”
This is not good news, because it seems to indicate that drowning people are still using their credit cards to try and stay afloat:
The substantial drop in credit card debt in the United States since early 2009 has been widely attributed to newly frugal consumers. But analysts say that a significant portion of the decline is actually the result of financial institutions writing off billions of dollars in credit card debt as losses.
While consumers have done their part by shying away from exceeding new credit limits and turning increasingly to debit cards, the question is to what extent are consumers voluntarily reducing their balances, and to what extent are banks making the decision for them.
Yes, this is the guy over whom Chuck Todd was clutching his pearls because he wasn’t respecting the sanctity of Congress, or something inane like that: