Pelosi’s the Boss, But Who Are Troops?

I’ve been watching CQ Politics for election figures, because those guys don’t mess around. It looks like, to me, the Democrats are going to get close the 35 seat pick up predictions for Congress. That was on the higher end of the spectrum – at the moment, they’ve got 27 pick ups and they haven’t lost any seats, though Georgia’s 8th and 12th districts they stand a good chance of losing. As for the Senate, I predict a nasty 2000 Florida-style bloodbath in Virginia. Montana is slightly trending Democrat, but they need both to break Cheney’s tie breaker vote.

What interests me, however, is that there are a number of conservative and moderate Democrats in this new House. I haven’t done the homework, but this article in the LA Times pointed out that some of the new Dems are “pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax”, among other “values issues”. Some Republicans say its all lies, since they’re going to be voting in supposed uber-liberal Nancy Pelosi (is she really the reincarnation of Cesar Chavez as foretold in the Left Behind books?). Heath Shuler of North Carolina, Brad Ellsworth and Jim Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey has beaten Rick Santorum a Pennsylvania Senate seat, and others in New Hampshire, Florida and Nebraska, though I’m not sure who. Mind you, the news on this has focused primarily on abortions and guns. And these are freshman – but these may become wedge issues to be exploited.

On the other hand, John “Impeach Bush” Conyers is now Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Conyers is too savvy to go for impeachment – I don’t think the public will appreciate it unless there’s another Katrina type fiasco. But he will make life far more difficult for the White House. Expect similar things from the new Chairs for intelligence, budget oversight and armed services. That’s where a great deal of issues that have not been subject to one iota of congressional oversight will finally start getting attention, and that alone is worth it.

The Discussion: 34 Comments

Well, it just goes to prove that when you screw up, even if you are the President of the United States, the citizens will eventually turn on you and on your allies. After a number of years, many of the most conservative of Republicans and moderate of moderates have looked at the giant seemingly unending mess of Iraq and said enough is enough. I know Shaun Hannity kept on saying ‘do you want a Speaker Nancy Pelosi?’ – as if one more obnoxious Democrat is worse than having Ameicans die in Iraq for no good reason. Americans said well, you know, we’ll hold our noses for two years if that’s what it takes to get something done in Iraq. I’m looking forward to hearing a bit of the delusional rantings of Hannity and Rush and their spin. I’ve already heard the second in command of the Reps say that in the sixth year of every President’s two term lifespan this sort of thing happens so the denial is starting. Unfortunately. Republicans and conservatives and moderates didn’t repudiate their values, they’ve repudiated incompetence. As you’ve noticed, many of the new Dems are gun toting, god fearing moderates. In all this will be like that Chinese curse, ‘interesting times’ It’ll certainly be interesting.

November 8, 2006 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

I think a lot of voting was more purely partisan this time around and certain wedge social issues took a back seat to the battle for Congress. Look at what happened to Chaffee in RI…people were almost apologetic about voting against the guy and Lincoln was probably more ‘liberal’ than some of the new Dems…but the story this year was about control and a desire by many people for the ‘comfort and security of divided government.’

Oh yeah, and sticking it to Bush.

November 9, 2006 @ 12:04 am | Comment

Maureen’s Rummys gone.

November 9, 2006 @ 2:34 am | Comment

These new moderates are the future of the Democratic party. Either they move on away from the 2 F’s (fags and feminism) or they get booted back out in 2008.

The Democrats need to move back to social justice, which includes guns and not liking taxes. Now the problem is convincing Americans that a balanced budget is more important.

November 9, 2006 @ 2:43 am | Comment

You know what “femininsm” means, Skippy-hat?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Feminism IS social justice.

November 9, 2006 @ 2:48 am | Comment

Bravo, OtherLisa.

November 9, 2006 @ 3:59 am | Comment

Feminism isn’t social justice if – as is so common in America – it’s the feminism of women of privileged classes who treat their female working class underlings like slaves.

Anyway, if the Democratic Party “moves away from fags”, does that mean I can smoke in Manhattan bars?

November 9, 2006 @ 7:19 am | Comment

More about Pelosi and “social justice”: Pelosi’s father was a Congressman and the Mayor of Baltimore. Now she’s a multimillionaire, and you don’t get to be one on a Congresman’s salary. She’s one of the richest members of the House of Reps.

If you want REAL “social justice”, then forget about people’s genitals and nominate a REAL working class boy like Dennis Kucinich for President.

November 9, 2006 @ 9:23 am | Comment

Ivan, this is the highest position in the US government that a woman has ever obtained. I wish we lived in a society where “genitals” didn’t make a difference. But they do.

Lecture me about social justice when women hold something close to our share of the pie.

November 9, 2006 @ 9:44 am | Comment

with the rising profile of Pelosi, there’s a possibility of showdown between her and Clinton in 2008 for presidential candidate. On the Republican side, if McCain is too old, Dr. Rice can be their best shot. It looks like in America, women can hold up more than half of the sky.

November 9, 2006 @ 9:49 am | Comment

My favorite post-election quote (from HuffPost commenter “Azdak”):

“For Reid and Pelosi, Congress must look like New Orleans, 2 months after Katrina. ”

November 9, 2006 @ 10:34 am | Comment

Feminism is not about a woman earning a position. Its about quotas and more particularly having companies and more importantly the armed services being forced into taking women into positions that they are not suited for and that by their presence, create more problems than they solve.

Otherlisa, social justice is about real fair economics. Taxes and fair salaries. Not about favoring women over men.

What the Democrats learned is to stay away from these issues like guns, affirmitave action, and gay marriage. American people don’t like people who support these things.

November 9, 2006 @ 10:51 am | Comment

Lisa, the whole point is that in America, “Women” are not any kind of “group” who have less of any “pie.”

America’s main social division is economic class, not gender. Lecture ME about the plight of “women” in America after I see a working class Black (of either sex) in Pelosi’s position.

November 9, 2006 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

I am not asking for “women to be favored over men.” I am not asking for a quota. And I am not claiming that women’s issues have some kind of superior moral claim over others. I am only asking you to look at the reality of women’s situations. T

here has never been a female President or Vice President. There are very few female Senators or governors. There aren’t many women in top positions at Fortune 500 companies, for that matter. This is in spite of the fact that there are upper-class women and professional women. Women as a group do not have status equal to men in our society. Women as a group earn 70 cents on the dollar to what men earn (and this isn’t just about different choices of professions). Women as a group are much more likely to live in poverty after retirement.

I won’t even get into the status of women in countries where it really, truly sucks.

I agree that class is one of the great, undiscussed subjects in America and have said so on many occasions. I’ll be happy to rant on that topic another time.

But it’s absurd to say that women can’t be considered as a “group” when it’s so clear that women have not had and still do not have equal access to positions of power. Hell, we’ve only had the right to vote some 80-odd years.

It’s a matter of fact that Pelosi is the first woman in our nation’s history to hold the position of Speaker, the third-highest office in the US. I hold it up as an example of social justice, of social progress, and proclaim that it’s about damn time.

November 9, 2006 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

Hmm. Well now I stepped away from this for a while and I thought, “Alright, let’s assume for the sake of argument that American “Women” per se DO constitute some kind of group with common political and economic interests.

So, perhaps, for the sake of argument, I could consider how “A Woman” in high political office could represent the interests of American “Women.”

But then I wonder, How? And Why?

What does Pelosi have in common with the majority of American women? Let’s go through a checklist:

1. Born into privilege: No, that’ something she does NOT share with most women.

2. Multimillionaire (actually one of the richest members of Congress): Nope. She has nothing in common with most women there, either.

3. Vagina. Yes. But what does that have to do with how she thinks? Condoleeza Rice has one too.

And so then, this all reminded me of a passage in the novel, “The Lecturer’s Tale” by James Hynes (2001). It’s a wicked, Swiftian satire (my favourite kind) of today’s American academia and all of its fraudulent postmodernist bullshit. (Before you read further: spoiler alert.)

Well, in one scene, the protagonist, Nelson (one university teacher in the English department) is speaking with his tenured colleague – a radical lesbian “gender theorist” – about their mutual colleague, ANOTHER female “gender theorist” (and putative lesbian) who did not get tenure.
Nelson wants to know why she did not get tenure. So, his colleague the TENURED lesbian gender theorist finally confides the reason to him:

“Victorinix (the tenured lesbian theorist) said, ‘I seduced Vita (the NON-tenured lesbian theorist).
Or I tried to.”

“So?” Nelson shrugged.

“I put my hand up her skirt.”

Nelson rolled his eyes. “AND?”

“Vita is a man, Nelson.”

….”Jesus,” breathed Nelson. “So much for sisterhood, huh?”

“She has a penis, Nelson. That’s where I draw the line.”

November 9, 2006 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

“Feminism is not about a woman earning a position. Its about quotas and more particularly having companies and more importantly the armed services being forced into taking women into positions that they are not suited for and that by their presence, create more problems than they solve.”

Skippy-san, you appear to be confusing a political movement or philosophy with a set of policy positions. Two very different things.

You are right in that “social justice” does not call for favoring women over men. Rather, “social justice” – and feminism – call for treating women and men equally in any matter where gender is not relevant – a goal our society is still quite a distance from reaching.

November 9, 2006 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

Yes and upper class American women are far, far closer to equality with upper class males, than working class Americans of either gender are.

Forgive me if I don’t shed any tears for the sufferings of female trust-fund bitches, married to men of the same class, who whine and moan about how they don’t have quite as many opportunities as the males of their class, their fathers and husbands, have.

Cry me a fucking river over how Trust-Fund-Muffy didn’t make partner at her Manhattan law firm, where she treated her working class (female) secretaries as scornfully as any Hindus treat those of lower castes. (And yes I have seen this in person, all too many times. Cry me a fucking river, for those vicious trust-fund bitches who call themselves “feminists” while they shit all over women of lower classes.

November 9, 2006 @ 11:12 pm | Comment

Ivan, speaking as the product of divorce, who was raised by a single mom working at a shitty job, who was fortunate enough to attend college at a time when the University of California was inexpensive and scholarships and loans were plentiful…

Well, the next words off the keyboard aren’t going to make me look good, so I think I’ll leave it for now. But I’ve lost a tremendous amount of respect for you.

November 10, 2006 @ 1:40 am | Comment

Lisa, I STILL have a lot of respect for YOU, and so if you don’t reciprocate my respect for you, well, that’s your decision. And a wrong decision, as I think you will agree if you step back and think about it.

Well, that said, here are my responses to what you described about your own life experiences:

1. “Product of divorce.” Well, that has absolutely nothing to do with being male or female.

2. “raised by a single mom”, see above. Many, all too many American men have been raised by single mothers, at least officially.
Especially a hell of a lot of our (male) Black compatriots.
And then that leads to another question: WHY are so many American MEN raised in single parent households, raised mostly by their mothers? Is it because of “patriarchy?” Well, the all too common condition of American men being raised by their mothers, sounds more like MATRIARCHY to me.
And yes, this is very debatable. And that’s exactly my point.
You are not thinking enough, about the complexities which underlie this problem.
If America were REALLY “patriarchal”, then, Lisa, you WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RAISED by a woman.

3. “fortunate enough to attend college at a time when the University of California was inexpensive…:” Well, guess what, Lisa: This has NOTHING to do with your being female. Millions of American males have been in the same boat as you.

4. So what the hell is your point? You grew up poor? So did millions of American males. You had less opportunity than your talents deserved? Same thing goes for millions of American males.

Lisa, your gender had very little to do with your scope of opportunitites. America’s very deeply entrenched class system had everything to do with it. If you had been a female born into a very wealthy family, then you would have had no trouble at all. eg, Nancy Pelosi.

Lisa, I don’t want to get into any feud with you, but (as usual on this blog) I did not insult you personally. YOU are the one who insulted ME in a very direct and personal way. And so I had to reply to it.

Please think about this, Lisa.

And I still respect you, and call you a friend, even if you (temporarily, I hope) don’t give me the same courtesy. I hope you will change your mind about our respecting each other and being friends.

November 10, 2006 @ 2:29 am | Comment


I was speaking about CLASS in my case, not gender. Yet in spite of the fact that I can see things in terms of class, I can also see them in terms of gender. It astounds me that you can’t. Again, women as a GROUP have only had the right to vote in this country since 1919. Women as a GROUP were in the very recent past unable to obtain significant bank loans without the signature of a husband or father.

Plus it pisses me off that you keep throwing class in my face, which is why I reacted out of anger and posted that reply. I certainly am capable of understanding the role that class plays in this society and how the lack of money limits opportunity. I am pretty much a middle-class person who had a good education in public schools (partly in an upper middle class to wealthy district), but I had enough experience with what it means to slip a little down that ladder to get what that means.


Have my opportunities been somewhat limited because of my gender?


Much of this has to do with how you see yourself and what society’s expectations of you are. What image of yourself is reflected back. You have to learn to define yourself on your own terms, instead of the dominant cultures’ and the stereotypes you see all around you.

If you can’t believe that, well, I don’t know what else to say to you.

I’m not trying to throw a pity party here. I’ve done pretty well for myself. And I am sorry that I don’t have the time to phrase this more thoughtfully, but I’m at work. Besides, I’ve never taken a “women’s studies” class in my life, so I’m not terribly familiar with the language generally used to express these concepts.

November 10, 2006 @ 3:02 am | Comment

Woah, woah… my two favorite guest posters (sorry Jeremiah, Brendan, Raj) are apparently quibbling.

@Ivan: I enjoyed this article by Alessandra Stanley in the NYT. Yes, I know, the NYT that is shocked – SHOCKED – to learn Obama’s book is a best seller, and hardly first out of the gate in describing our new SecDef’s Iran/Contra links. But the fact is, this is a historic moment – having the first female speaker, while for crying out loud even frickin’ Pakistan has had a female head of state. This is moment of historical significance and it has been all but ignored.

@Lisa: on the other hand, Pelosi is a politician. I don’t know her record, but that alone tells me there must be reasons to punch her ticket. And Ivan has a point, as far as class goes, she’s no Cesar Chavez. Indeed, the moment ought to be recognized, and while a great deal of women are noting it very clearly (I can read my mom’s mind on this one though I haven’t heard her opinion yet on the election) it appears to be, by and large, only they who are noting it. And that’s a shame.

But Pelosi’s gender doesn’t make her either a savior or a leader. Only her subsequent actions will prove that, or vice versa. The symbolism is important insofar as it reflects the country – not her. Remember, the country didn’t vote directly for Pelosi as speaker. It is the indirect consequence of an anti-Bush tsunami. A real referendum on women in power would not be a speaker. It would be a president.

Actually, to ramble on, I’ll put it this way: Condi. First female secretary of state! Symbolism abound!

Total. Fucking. Disaster. Why? Because as a specific individual she drinks the kool aid and lost her mind long ago. As an encouraging historical footnote? Good. Will the voters be reluctant to have another female SoS because of her? No, because the voters aren’t paying attention to her gender. They’re focusing on her bullshit. And that’s as it should be.

November 10, 2006 @ 3:15 am | Comment

@Ivan: “Lisa, your gender had very little to do with your scope of opportunitites.”

I’m gonna disagree on that one. Yes, class matters. Perhaps more, but perhaps not. I don’t know what measuring stick you break out for that one. It doesn’t fucking matter. Both affect future opportunities, and both are unfair. Don’t dismiss the gender gap vis-a-vis a comparison to class gaps. It doesn’t carry water.

November 10, 2006 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Dave, I agree with you completely, so I won’t restate your argument.

Except that Madeline Albright was the first female Secretary of State, not Condi.

The point is, we need to get beyond all these symbolic “firsts” so people can be judged on their merits, not because they are carrying the burden of their race/gender/ethnicity/what-have-you.

November 10, 2006 @ 3:23 am | Comment

@Lisa: you’re right. Substitute “black female” for “female”, though, and it’s still the same argument about benchmarks.

Yes, symbolic first need to be gotten past. But I think a necessary step in getting past that symbol is acknowledging its power and novelty, and if we don’t bother to spend some time dwelling on the symbolic victory of Pelosi’s speakership, then we’re never going to move on. For some it might seem theatrics, tiresome or pointless, but they need to consider that their own pomp and circumstance can be just as dreadfully dull to others and suck up some mutual respect (I don’t mean you Ivan. I’m thinking of Bill Bennett on CNN).

November 10, 2006 @ 3:29 am | Comment


In the Condi case, her gender doesn’t cut any slack with me. She’s a disaster.

Pelosi got the gig on her merits from all accounts.

Being in the film industry, I had to read the story in the Hollywood Reporter today about Pelosi (she is friend to hi tech and media companies).

A couple of graphs:

“Pelosi was elected to Congress in 1987 from her adopted San Francisco home. She made history four years ago when she became the first woman to lead a party caucus in either house of Congress, piercing what she calls a “marble ceiling” in the Capitol that is even harder to break than the proverbial glass ceiling encountered by many women.

She’s one of the most liberal lawmakers who represents one of the nation’s most liberal congressional districts. She presides over a Democratic caucus in which members voted with their party 88% of the time in 2005, one of the most cohesive records in decades, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly.

Pelosi also is a prodigious fundraiser, earning $59 million for House candidates this election cycle and more than $100 million since she was elected Democratic leader.

No one has worked harder “to bring us out of the desert,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, a fellow Democrat from California and longtime friend, told the Associated Press. “This woman is a human tornado.””

It’s sad that fundraising ability is the mark of a successful party leader, but it’s also the reality. It’s more impressive that she has been able to lead such a fractious caucus as effectively as she has.

November 10, 2006 @ 3:44 am | Comment

p.s. Ivan, I am sorry for my “respect” crack. I was angry. Usually I have more time to think before I post (one of my rules), but I was late for work and responded in haste. Never a good idea.

November 10, 2006 @ 3:55 am | Comment

@Lisa: but the fundraising and ties that go with it are precisely why one should suspect she’s beholden to the system.

I’ll tell you what; the proof is in the pudding. Let’s see how much leash she give someone like Schumer – the NYT is now echoing my post on him. You’re a Californian, you teach me about Pelosi. I’m a New Yorker, so I’ll just say Schumer is grandstanding idiot. Now if Pelosi doesn’t rein him in, it doesn’t mean she’s also an idiot necessarily. But it does mean she’s playing ball. That’s what they all do, so that’s fine. If she keeps him from pushing a Lou Dobbs agenda, then I’ll concede she’s got her shit together.

Even if she’s led the party out of the desert, that means she’s a mean political in-fighter… but led what party into what, exactly? That’s the real question.

November 10, 2006 @ 4:02 am | Comment

Dave – I’ve heard similar things about Shumer (the camera crack for one).

No time to post but check out Salon’s How the World Works for a good summary of the new Democratic class and what it means.

I completely agree about the corrupting role of money in politics. I worked on Brown’s 92 presidential campaign, and that was the centerpiece of our platform – finance reform. We didn’t accept any donations over $100. Brown didn’t have a chance at the nomination (I for one knew it), but we had a lot of fun and injected a lot of ideas into the process.

Getting money out of politics is a tough one – it’s a lot like disarmament. The Dems are afraid to give up their soft money donations because then they won’t be able to compete against Republican money. One of the most exciting things about the netroots effort has been the boost it’s given to fundraising – small amounts of money from a lot of “ordinary” people. I used FDL/crooksandliars “Act Blue” quite a lot. It was great.

Shanghai Slim can probably tell you more about Pelosi, but it’s amusing that with her “far left” reputation, she isn’t considered nearly progressive enough by many in San Francisco.

November 10, 2006 @ 4:13 am | Comment

Lisa, as you and I have both demonstrated in our comments on this thread, you and I agree on basic principles.

We just have different prioritiies and different ways of analysing how to make our (mutual) dreams come true.

So, let’s carry on arguing with each other about HOW to achieve our dreams, but I think we agree about the basic principle of social justice and liberal democracy.

So, although we can argue about HOW to achieve our dreams, let us both never forget that we’re on the same side. “Keep your eyes on the prize.”

And as our (mutual) hero, Dr King said:

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

November 10, 2006 @ 4:18 am | Comment

The late Audre Lorde (a female black American poet and yes, definitely from “working class” roots) wrote in the 80s:

“By and large within the women’s movement, white women focus upon their oppression as women and ignore the differences of race, sexual preferences, class. *There is a pretense of homogeneity of experience covered by the word “sisterhood” that does not in fact exist.*”

So, in that sense, I do think Ivan brought up a very good point. Feminists (and “academic” feminists in particular) do not represent all women, and they can be hypocrites. And there still exists a strong bias within the women’s movement in favour of the white and the upper middle-class.

However, that doesn’t mean gender inequalities DON’T EXIST. That doesn’t mean that feminism (at its best) ISN’T about social justice. Even if you can’t muster up much sympathy for the trust fund babies, it’s unworthy of you to dismiss feminism and its cause entirely.

[quote=”davesgonechina]Yes, class matters. Perhaps more, but perhaps not. I don’t know what measuring stick you break out for that one. It doesn’t fucking matter. Both affect future opportunities, and both are unfair. Don’t dismiss the gender gap vis-a-vis a comparison to class gaps. It doesn’t carry water. [/quote]

Word freakin’ McWord.

November 10, 2006 @ 4:46 am | Comment

One final p.s. on this subject, and then I swear I’m done.

I’ve never taken a “women’s studies” class, I don’t belong to NOW and in general I’m not a big fan of “ism” words. But I’ll use “feminism” because I’m tired of how the term has been disparaged and mischaracterized over the years.

Slim’s definition above is, for me, as good a one as you’ll find.

November 10, 2006 @ 5:47 am | Comment

1. I agree with 99.99 percent of what Nausicaa said in her most recent comment on this thread.

2. “Bless me Father (and Mother), for I will sin….

….well I just can’t depart from any thread about so-called “feminism” without being contrary and politically incorrect and telling this very Male joke:

Q: How many orgasms can a woman have?


(ducking from rotten eggs and tomatos…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

November 10, 2006 @ 6:13 am | Comment

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I believe we’ve reached the end of the thread… ๐Ÿ™‚

November 10, 2006 @ 6:26 am | Comment

Lisa, seriously, as you indicated that you want to lock this thread, I’ll join you on that decision.

November 10, 2006 @ 7:46 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.