THE CALIBER OF OUR OWN DISCOURSE: Our struggle to see what Arquette must have meant!


Part 2—Geniuses, experts, confusion:
Do women get paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for the exact same work?

As far as we know, no expert of the right or the left actually makes that claim. Despite this fact, the claim is often bruited around by our fiery new leaders on the pseudo-left.

Alas! Just as the analysts had foreseen, Katie McDonough advanced this claim in the wake of Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance address.

That didn’t make the claim any more accurate. For background, see yesterday’s report.

Women get paid 77 cents on the dollar for the exact same work! This is just one of the bogus claims we liberals frequently push these days as we emulate decades of clowning by those on the pseudo-right.

We liberals! We love to hear this inaccurate claim about the gender wage gap. At the present time, we’re also pushing some shaky statistics about the prevalence of rape on college campuses—statistics no one else really believes at this point.

Shakiness of our statistics be danged; we love our embellished facts! Within the past year, we even seem to be working on a thoroughly ludicrous claim—the claim that a majority of public school students are living below the poverty line.

That last assertion is crazily wrong. But it seems to be building up steam.

We seem to be building a tribal stockpile of phony statistics and facts! And as we push our bogus claims, we disappear many real statistics which have real implications for important progressive interests—the rise in test scores of American kids being a prime example.

We liberals! As it turns out, we aren’t especially smart and we aren’t especially honest. Almost surely, this helps explain why nobody likes us.

Beyond that, it helps explain why right-wing narratives continue to drive the national discourse in a wide range of policy areas. We tag along behind the McDonoughs, even when they’re peddling piddle which everyone secretly knows to be false. This brings us back to the various things Patricia Arquette said.

As far as we know, Patricia Arquette is a good, decent person. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she helped found, a public interest organization. To visit its web site, click here.

That said, Arquette has been a movie and TV star since 1987. She’s been breathing highly rarified air for a very long time.

Being a star isn’t always good for children and other living things. We may have detected a hint of this syndrome in the televised speech in which Arquette accepted her Oscar as the year’s best supporting actress.

To read her full statement, click here.

Let’s just put it this way—Arquette betrayed few hints of false modesty in her acceptance statement. She said her children are “the deepest people” she knows. The painter with whom she’s living is “a genius,” she said.

Her various friends “all work so hard to make this world a better place.” In our favorite formulation, she praised the volunteers and experts “who have helped me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world.”

Maybe she didn’t mean it that way! And one might say that these are the things a person says at such moments. At any rate, this brings us to the policy statement which concluded Arquette’s speech, a statement for which she was roundly criticized in the days which followed:
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
According to Arquette, “we women” have “fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” On that basis, she said “it’s our time” to have “wage equality once and for all.”

As people around the world could see, these declarations brought Meryl Streep right up out of her chair! Still and all, Arquette’s statements on this topic were strikingly murky.

What exactly did Arquette mean when she advocated “wage equality?” There was no real way to know from her statement. Later, her remarks at a backstage press conference made things no more clear.

What exactly did Arquette mean when she called for “wage equality?” At Salon, McDonough dragged out the 77 cents on the dollar claim. It’s a very familiar claim, which is also bogus.

Alas! As we pseudo-liberals have begun building our brave new discourse, we've increasingly trafficked in such claims, in much the way Rush and Sean have always done. Even Arquette, with access to experts and geniuses, didn’t seem especially skilled at explaining what she meant.

Did she mean that she supports equal pay for the exact same work? Very few people oppose that principle—and our liberal leaders spend lots of time creating factual confusion around the topic.

Was Arquette perhaps referring to a different situation—to the large income gap which obtains between men and women? In a society with many households headed by single women, this constitutes a genuine point of concern.

Is that what Arquette was referring to? We have no real idea, and no one is going to ask.

Was Arquette perhaps referring to a third situation? Was she referring to the income gap which obtains between male and female movie stars?

A bungled discussion of this topic briefly occurred in the wake of the Sony email thefts. Forgive us if we briefly wondered if that was the type of “wage equality” which brought Streep out of her chair!

Based on Arquette's backstage remarks, that doesn’t seem to be the type of inequality she had in mind. What was she talking about? Backstage, she offered these comments:
ARQUETTE (2/22/15): It is time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make. The more children—the highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households.

It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t—one of those superior court justices said, two years ago, in a law speech at a university, we don’t have equal rights for women in America, and we don’t because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women.

So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues that are at play that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women, and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for, to fight for us now.
Patricia Arquette is an actress. No one should expect her to be an expert on this subject, or on any policy matter.

That said, Arquette continued to speak, in murky ways, about the topic she had chosen to discuss. We were left with these questions:

Outside Hollywood, is it true that women earn less money as they get older, in some way which distinguishes them from men? We have no idea, and in our experience, this point is rarely discussed.

Is it true that “the highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households?” We would assume that this is true (although it too is rarely discussed). This speaks to the income gap between women and men which we already mentioned.

What does Arquette think we should do about that income gap? We pseudo-liberals rarely discuss this topic. Instead, we waste everyone’s time, and burn everyone’s brains, with pleasing claims in which women are paid 23 percent less for doing the same work as men.

Once we’ve made this bogus claim, our work for the day is done.

Alas! Thanks to our own unimpressive work, public discussion of this issue rarely advances beyond that bogus claim. Conservatives know our claim is wrong. In this way, wedges widen.

Patricia Arquette didn’t seem prepared to lead this discussion this night. Gack! The “superior court justice” to whom she referred seemed to be Antonin Scalia, who actually sits on the Supreme Court.

(The distinction is without a real difference. Unless you’ve noticed that our public discussions are often driven by people who seem to have little idea what they are talking about.)

For many years, our public discussions were driven by Rush and Sean. They promulgated bogus claims. Everyone else tagged along.

Increasingly, our own “liberal” public discourse is conducted the same darn way. We thrill the troops with bogus claims, as McDonough did the morning after. As we push these claims, we brush past important facts and important topics which affect the material well-being of those on the left and the right.

We thrill ourselves with our own bogus claims. As we do, wedges harden.

Just a guess! The plutocrats are thrilled to the bone when they see our leaders perform in these ways. Tomorrow, we’ll look at what progressive professors and journalists said about Arquette’s remarks.

In our view, Arquette wasn’t massively sharp this night. But oh, what kind of discussion is this, which goes from bad to worse?

Tomorrow: Instant division within the tribe, with complaints which were sometimes quite accurate!


  1. D-list blogger covers B-list actress who had A-list breakthrough and wasn't as cute in her speech as the former Flying Nun.*

    * the former Flying Nun is not to be confused with a Liberal even when she played one because we really liked her.

    1. And so it begins.

    2. "So it begins."

      How ironic coming from you.

  2. Somerby sez:

    "Do women get paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for the exact same work?

    As far as we know, no expert of the right or the left actually makes that claim. Despite this fact, the claim is often bruited around by our fiery new leaders on the pseudo-left."

    Reader Asks:

    Can you give some examples of fiery new leaders often so bruiting?

    1. No, he cannot, and he knows he cannot. That means he he knows that statement is false. That makes him a liar. The L-word cannot be avoided.

    2. The Census Bureau reported that in 2012, the median wage for men working full time was $48,400, while the median wage for women working full time was $37,800. Nowhere does it say that's for equal work, and nobody claims that's for equal work. Imagine all the energy and words wasted over a complete fabrication.

    3. "Do women get paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for the exact same work?"

      "Women get paid 77 cents on the dollar for the exact same work!"

      "At Salon, McDonough dragged out the 77 cents on the dollar claim. It’s a very familiar claim, which is also bogus."

      "Instead, we waste everyone’s time, and burn everyone’s brains, with pleasing claims in which women are paid 23 percent less for doing the same work as men.

      I use four quotes here from Bob Somerby.

      Notice in three he uses almost identical language "exact same work" and "same work as men."

      Notice that phrase is absent when he paraphrases the one person he
      identifies by name with the 77 % claim in this post trashing liberals?

      Does anyone else's name come to any reader's mind when thinking about this technique? I don't think Captain Queeg is who I am "suggesting."

      Hint: He was stopped for carrying pills on a trip to the same island Chris Columbus and Nick Krisotf visited at different times. He also called someone a slut over different pills, although both pills are related to acts which can lead to human reproduction.

    4. Were these pills the ones the press invented lies about which cost Al Gore the election?

    5. Ahh, Sandy Fluke, the co-ed cum lawyer who made the rhetorical argument that if she had to pay for her own birth control pills she could be rendered penniless and thus succumb to an unwanted pregnancy. To which Rush made the rhetorical argument that any unmarried woman who is driven to destitute poverty by her requirement for birth control must be a slut. Also, Rush is an old man who takes Viagra.

    6. Didn't "Sandy" Fluke also make the argument that young women take birth control for health reasons other than wanton sex and not wanton babies?

      You know. Like my daughter, who takes them to regulate and mitigate wildly irregular and debilitating menstrual cycles?

    7. Also, didn't Rush offer the "rhetorical argument" that if she is going to have sex on the taxpayer's dime, she should post sex videos on the Internet for all to watch?

      Made me wonder what Rush does in his ample free time.

    8. And also, wasn't Our Own Harvard Blogger the person who argued, in the immediate wake of Limbaugh's extremely sexist words, "Bill Maher says bad things, too"?

    9. The appropriate comparisons are whether male forms of birth control are covered where birth control pills are not, or whether female forms of restoring function are not covered where Viagra is. The comparison between birth control pills and Viagra is specious.

    10. Here's what specious. Thinking there is any such thing as a "female form of birth control." "Scuse me, fella. But it takes two to tango. I would think men who don't want a baby right now would have no objection to a woman taking a "female form of birth control." Seems to me, he's protected too.

    11. So if Limbaugh says that women take pills just to fornicate, it's "specious" to ask why he takes Viagra.

      Great logic there.

    12. I think the logic is that no one wants to pay more taxes so someone else can get laid.

    13. Crappy strawman, @ 6:00 PM.

    14. As I recall Somerby's main point was questioning how well Fluke's story would play politically, particularly with the workaday mainstream public. Her story of the hardships of Ivy League colleagues having to literally walk across the street and pay out of pocket for a package of condoms might not inspire a great deal of sympathy, especially given her elite Ivy University's huge endowment and ability to financially solve the problem without problem.

      Ms Fluke had her entrance into politics as a candidate for the California State Senate in 2014 where she lost to a fellow Democrat by over 20%

    15. Sorry, bub. That wasn't "her story" at all. That's what Limbaugh and the rest of the noise machine wanted you to believe, and both you and Somerby bought it.

      Incidentally, Georgetown Law is a very fine school, but it's not Ivy League -- not that such details as facts and truth will ever stop you in your rant.

      And what exactly does here failure as a candidate in her first attempt at elective office have to do with anything?

      Do you really hate her so much that you'll throw everything you can think of in a laughable attempt to smear her?

    16. "As I recall Somerby's main point was questioning how well Fluke's story would play politically, particularly with the workaday mainstream public."

      So how did it play out politically? As I recall, there was a big election that year, and the ACA was part of it. How did that "workaday mainstream public" vote that year?

  3. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

    1. According to the Somerby Standard of Measurement this disclaimer may be at least 77% accurate (The Somerby Standard of Measurement is one rough thumb per every 10 points of test scoring or one year of book learning. It is not an accurate indicator when pinkies or proxies are substituted.)

    2. The problem (or the solution) is that we really don't know for sure.

  4. "Outside Hollywood, is it true that women earn less money as they get older, in some way which distinguishes them from men? We have no idea, and in our experience, this point is rarely discussed."

    Saying that these points are rarely discussed must mean that they are rarely discussed outside of educated circles. They are widely discussed in economics, sociology, gender studies, and history. There are many studies about effects of divorce on children, for example, that give exact figures for how much women make compared to their ex-husbands and how much their family income changes. We know how much women make toward the end of their work lives, and how that varies depending on disruptions of education and career related to having children. Part of this complex issue is that women seem to unilaterally bear the effects of having a family, it decreases their lifetime earnings, and thus impacts their retirement savings so they are more likely to be poor later in life, something that is exacerbated by their longer lifespan. This things are all discussed a great deal in the fields of study called "social sciences." Some educated people read what is published is such fields. Others apparently do not.

    It is important for the wider public to understand what is so well-known as to be taken for granted among educated people. If this confuses Somerby, it will confuse others, especially those not predisposed to sympathy for disadvantages experienced by women in our society. Somerby is right that there is an education effort required. Those of us who were around during the 70's when these issues were being discussed in public are a fatigued at the thought of all the remedial discussion that seems necessary. We thought that battle had been already fought, but apparently not.

    I don't care whether there is an implied "for equal work" when the 77 cents is raised. I don't care whether Somerby thinks there is no discussion of these matters just because no one discusses them in Philosophy, or the world of stand-up comedy. I care that there are so few women in Congress, that we are so backward that there are few good roles for older women in the movies, that domestic abuse is "still a thing." I care that women are so out of touch with the realities of their own situation that they won't accept "feminism" as a label because it might make them appear too strident.

    Most of all, I care that we may have an election a viable female presidential candidate, for the first time ever, and all of the suppressed sexism inherent to the inequalities in our society will emerge in new forms of nastiness that are soul-destroying to women. I am not sure I have the strength to endure that kind of garbage again, after the disappointments of 2008. Part of me hopes HIllary won't run, but how else are we to achieve change if we avoid bringing the topic to the forefront. For that, Patricia Arquette deserves the thanks of women all across the country, not just Meryl Streep.

    1. I don't know what "feminism" was originally intended to mean (other than to create a weakening societal divide according to the principles of cultural marxism) but in its present form it clearly means an agenda to promote beneficial outcomes for women at the expense of opportunity for men. That is why the push for income equality is at the top of the list regardless of whether the work is "equal". Otherwise the argument would be for "equal work, equal time, equal health risks, equal test requirements" but no feminist wants that.

    2. " at the expense of opportunity for men"

      And this is always the ridiculously stupid argument. Extending rights to others is always at the expense of someone else, in particular ME.

      Yeah, and ending slavery came "at the expense of opportunity" for plantation owners.

    3. They key difference is that feminism is a fully binary cause. Group 0 wants more, so by necessity it has to come from group 1. You argue like a woman, btw.

    4. "You argue like a woman, btw."

      Your forehead is sloped funny and you drag your knuckles on the ground when you walk, btw.

  5. "But oh, what kind of discussion is this, which goes from bad to worse?"

    I kept asking Somerby why our world seemed to be collapsing and things seemed to be getting so shitty. And he'd say, "that's the way it goes, but don't forget, it goes the other way too." That's the way discourse is... Usually, that's the way it goes, but every once in awhile, it goes the other way too.

  6. Two things: 1) Urban legend, does the median income you mention refer to the same job? Be clear.
    2) Anonymous at 12:59 and 1:07: People don't read lengthy posts by comments section writers. Could you please summarize? Nobody cares about "anonymous" unless you keep it simple. Thanks.

    1. But we do cling to every word of a week's worth of 1,800 - 2,400 word posts about a 750-word column/

    2. 12:59 here. Can do.

      Bob like Rush.

      You like Snerdly.

    3. 1:07 here

      If you don't read anything you won't know anything.

    4. @ 1:23 regarding Question 1. Would it matter? Be clear.

    5. I assume you're joking, 1:23.

  7. Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: exact same work, exact same work, exact same work.

    And sometimes Somerby asks me what I would have done if he had told the truth, if that quote had been really what people said. To this, I always smile, as if I'm not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want the truth, but that the anguish and the want of truth would fade like the stars at dawn, and that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe I wouldn't have named our son Kristof.

  8. Having read Bob Someby's blog since back in the old days I can only say I am glad I am a pseudo-centrist.

  9. So I guess we can all agree, 77 cents for the same work is a bogus claim?

    1. Not if everyone makes 77 cents for the same work. Then it would be a crime.

    2. "77 cents for the same work" is a bogus claim" you say. It is not a claim anyone has made. We can agree that Bob has made many bogus claims about what people have said or implied when they talked about the 77% wage gap.

  10. How it's done:

    You first talk generally about how women don't get paid as much as men for doing the same work.

    You then immediately switch to say specifically women working full time get only 77 cents on the dollar to what men get.

    You've remained technically accurate.

    You've created a misleading impression.

    Job done.

    Collect your MSNBC paycheck.

    1. Or in Bob's case, collect another acolyte.

    2. How its done Bob style.

      In your attempt to falsely state someone has said something they did not, take one or two things they did say, put them together, add a "seems to say" an invented word or phrase of your own, then repeat one half to a baker's dozen times.

      The giveaway for Bob is when he puts it in quotation marks and adds a word or two every time nobody ever said.

      On the wage gap issue the key word is "exact." "For the exact same work." "Measure" is the tell
      when Bob is bullshitting on poverty.

  11. Ever notice how early spellcaster spam shows up when Somerby's ass is being handed to him by his commenters?

  12. You mean, like on a daily basis?

    I have noticed how Bob's loyal defenders these days seem to lean toward the more "wingnut" side of the spectrum as they rush her to preserve the honor of the nation's One True Progressive Blog.

  13. I think they are coming over to get a peek at the pictures of the naked Emperor the analysts took while Bob was yelling at him. I hear they keep the photos under the straw mats Bob gives them for beds.


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