Thursday, February 25, 2016

With friends like them

Doug Henwood and Liza Featherstone, writers for The Nation and Jacobin, and Henwood's blog, are nasty people, as I have demonstrated several times on this blog. Henwood is particularly thin-skinned and apparently decided to retaliate against Katha Pollitt for handing him his ass last month by trying to embarrass her on his blog - I missed it until just recently.

Last time I checked Pollitt considered Henwood her friend - but if a friend of mine went after me like that in public I wouldn't feel too friendly towards them. I just can't compartmentalize my feelings that well. Of course they're also work colleagues at The Nation, so maybe it's just a work friendship.

Bernie Sanders isn't projected to do nearly as well in upcoming state caucuses and primaries as he had been for the past month, and desperation doesn't tend to make nasty people any nicer. Naturally Henwood has to attack Krugman, who, as far as I know doesn't consider Henwood a friend:
The Sanders campaign has certainly sharpened the contradictions, hasn’t it? It’s been very clarifying to see Hillary Clinton and her surrogates running against single-payer and free college, with intellectual cover coming from Paul Krugman and Vox.
Doug Henwood is trying to present Krugman as being against single-payer and free college, because he's dishonest like that. But as Krugman noted:
What I and most of my wonk friends would like to see is what the late Robert Heilbroner used to call Slightly Imaginary Sweden — or these days, maybe Diversified Denmark. That is, a strong social safety net that protects everyone against avoidable misery, workers with substantial bargaining power, strong environmental policy; not an equalized society, not a Utopia, but someplace where basic decency is a fundamental principle. 
But nothing like that is going to happen in America any time soon. If we’re going to have any kind of radical change in the next few years and probably the next couple of decades, it will come from the right, not the left.

As Matt O’Brien rightly said recently, even the incremental changes Hillary Clinton is proposing are very unlikely to get through Congress; the radical changes Bernie Sanders is proposing wouldn’t happen even if Democrats retook the House. O’Brien says that the Democratic primary is “like arguing what’s more real: a magical unicorn or a regular unicorn. In either case, you’re still running on a unicorn platform.” This is, alas, probably true: the platforms of the candidates are better seen as aspirational than as programs at all likely to happen.
But in that case, why not go for the magical unicorn? A couple of reasons.
One is that there are degrees of realism: a program that could be implemented in part if Democrats retake the House might turn out to be a useful guide relatively soon, while a program that requires a political revolution won’t.

Another is that, perhaps inevitably, the Sanders insistence on the need for magical unicorns has led to invocations of economic as well as political magic. I warned a while back that even Sanders wasn’t willing to level with voters about what his ideals would require — that, in particular, he was assuming unrealistic savings in order to gloss over the reality that quite a few middle-class Americans would be net losers from a transition to single payer. I’m not alone in raising such concerns, and not just about the health plan.
Naturally Doug Henwood refuses to admit the possibility that Krugman is speaking for himself - instead Henwood characterizes him as providing "intellectual cover" for Clinton.

What I can't figure out about Henwood and his wife Featherstone is who exactly they think they are and who they think they're speaking for. They like to use terms like "bourgeois" and "elites" when describing their political enemies. Here's Featherstone:
FEATHERSTONE: Well, faux feminism is a bit of hyperbole, because of course--of course all kinds of revolting ideologies are part of feminism. I can't say only my feminism is the real feminism. I'm kind of kidding about that, a little. But what I do think is that that sort of feminism is not actually serious about improving the vast majority of women's lives, that what Hillary represents--what I mean by faux feminism is that it's elite feminism, so it is only going to serve a few. So you know, elite women who may cheer, you know, the symbolic lifting of the glass ceiling that Hillary represents. But on the other hand what her record represents is, as I say in the piece, a contempt for the kind of social democratic policies that most women need.
Featherstone's kind of feminism is I'm sure the same as her husband's "feminism" - one that isn't about women so much as about peace and egalitarianism. Also Featherstone thinks the bitches at Ms. Magazine are idiots for talking about the universality of rape - apparently Featherstone doesn't think that rape is rape - by her way of thinking you shouldn't compare the rape of elite women to the rape of the non-elite. Elite in this case being women who attend Ivy League colleges.

But I don't see how either of them could be any more elite if they tried. I mean, not only did they both attend Ivy League schools - Featherstone went to Columbia, Henwood went to Yale - they both seem to make a living exclusively from opining in Academia and far-left periodicals - or in Featherstone's case, AM New York, and they can afford to live in a condo in Brooklyn, which, according to Zillow is worth $2 million.

It's amazing how much information you can learn based on real estate and other sites these days: Spokeo will tell you who lives/lived in buildings, whether there is a sex offender in the neighborhood, crime rate etc.; and Homemetry will even tell you what the owner/tenant occupation and education level is, or even their nationality or ethnicity. They aren't always accurate though - an ex-boyfriend of mine is listed as "English" but he's Korean.

According to online records Henwood bought his place three years ago for under a million, so if the property is worth $2M now that's quite an impressive gain. If these records are accurate then I have to admit, for somebody who hates capitalism so much Henwood does pretty well by it.