Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Now there’s nothing wrong with an ambitious or powerful woman. But..."

Sometimes one doesn't know where to start. Recently, Spot wrote about a conservative blogger who didn't quite understand the implications of socialism and oil spills. I will leave to Spot the selective socialism analysis, because on Thursday, Ms. Katie Kieffer, conservative blogger and Mitch Berg radio show guest, gave us her insight into how she views women who strive to do things of consequence in the world.

And it isn't pretty.

In the post on her blog, Ms. Kieffer blesses us with her thoughts on the three women who recently appeared on the cover of Time as the New Sheriffs of Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren, Mary Schapiro, and Sheila Bair. A take that starts with "Girls Gone Wild" references, complete with cutsie "stripping" jokes. Believe it or not, it goes downhill from there, and does so with the goal of enforcing two main - and highly insulting - propositions. First, Ms. Kieffer uses the piece to remind us that women are too daft to handle money, and look out baby when they do. Second, she postulates that the only reason these women are doing their jobs is to prove some man-hating point known only to Katie. Running the powerful federal agencies they head is mere window dressing to bring about some emasculating goal that only Ms. Kieffer can discern.

So let's take a look at what these women do and then let's examine Ms. Kieffer's insights into the matter.

Sheila Bair was appointed to her current position as Chair of the FDIC by President George W. Bush in 2006. Her other accomplishments?
Prior to her appointment at the FDIC, Bair was the Dean's Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a post she had held since 2002. She also served as Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury (2001 to 2002), Senior Vice President for Government Relations of the New York Stock Exchange (1995 to 2000), a Commissioner and Acting Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (1991 to 1995), and Research Director, Deputy Counsel and Counsel to Kansas Republican Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (1981 to 1988). While an academic, Bair also served on the FDIC's Advisory Committee on Banking Policy.
In her post as the head of an agency that was created to protect the savings of bank customers, she recently supported the efforts of Republican Senator Susan Collins to increase capitalization requirements for certain large banks, a position that the FDIC has held for years. Senator Collins has described the reasoning for the increase:
“It does not make sense that under current law, the nation’s largest banks and bank holding companies are not required to meet the same capital standards imposed on smaller depository banks, when the failure of larger institutions is much more likely to have a broad economic impact.”
What is Ms Kieffer's beef with Blair, who has taken a policy stance while serving as the head of an agency with a 75 year track record of no insured depositor ever losing a penny? After parroting the talking points from the banking industry, Ms. Kieffer tells us what's really going on here:
Sounds like a case of “She’s a woman and I’m a woman so I’m going to stand by her and show you the power of sisterhood – regardless of the potentially devastating economic implications of her ideas.”

Remember, the idea is one proposed by a Republican Senator, supported by a Republican appointee, and pushed by an agency under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Mary Schapiro, another attorney, was appointed to the SEC by President Reagan in 1988 and was reappointed by Goerge HW Bush in 1989. She was then appointed Acting Chair by Clinton, and later appointed to head the Commodities Future Trading Commission. She held positions at NASD, and was appointed by GW Bush to the council of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Having sat as a director on the Boards of Kraft Foods and Duke Energy, she's not a person even the most extreme would call a radical leftist. Ms.Kieffer's take on Schapiro?

"[M]y assessment is that Schapiro is out to prove she’s a woman who can acquire as much or more power as any man."
Then there is Elizabeth Warren, a law professor who has been on the short list for a Supreme Court nomination several times. From her biography at Harvard Law School:
Professor Warren is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University. She has written eight books and more than a hundred scholarly articles dealing with credit and economic stress. Her latest two books, The Two-Income Trap and All Your Worth, were both on national best seller lists. She has been principal investigator on empirical studies funded by the National Science Foundation and more than a dozen private foundations. Warren was the Chief Adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, and she was appointed as the first academic member of the Federal Judicial Education Committee. She currently serves as a member of the Commission on Economic Inclusion established by the FDIC. The National Law Journal has repeatedly named Professor Warren as one of the Fifty Most Influential Women Attorneys in America, and she has been recognized for her work by SmartMoney Magazine and Law Dragon.
The link above has a link to Warren's full CV; I'd suggest one take a look at it as we examine what Ms. Kieffer has to say about her. In looking over the hundreds of articles, books, publications, Congressional testimony, honors, awards, endowed lectures, competitive grants, and Supreme Court briefs Professor Warren has in her career, you wouldn't guess that it's all - once again - simply a cover for what only Ms. Kieffer can see, an irrational need to get past one man who told her she couldn't do it:
Now there’s nothing wrong with an ambitious or powerful woman. But, there is a problem if a woman’s (or man’s) motivation for power stems from a desire to “disprove” those who said they “couldn’t” and their decisions reflect raw ambition and an irrational disregard for the good of society.
That Ms. Kieffer's analysis is stupid and callow and sexist goes without saying. She's young and writing for a particular audience she thinks wants to hear this tripe. But it's the underlying resentment toward successful and powerful women and her willingness to so shallowly trash them is puzzling. I don't know why she felt so obliged to write this puerile hogwash. But I do know that catty remarks about some of the most successful women in our country reveal more about Ms. Kieffer than they do about those women.

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