Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easily Offended

You have to feel sorry for executives in the securities industry.  Reuters reports

Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.

Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington but it has been raised in one-on-one conversations between representatives of some of them. However, there was no agreement on coordinating any action, and each bank is making its own decision, they said.

Charles Peters wastes no tears, commenting

My god, what a prodigious bluff. Also, my god, what towering arrogance? These guys own half the world and have enough money to buy the other half, and they're threatening the party still most likely to control the White House because they don't like the Senator Professor's tone? Her tone? Sherrod Brown's tone? These are guys who should be worried about the tone of the guard who's calling them down to breakfast at Danbury and they're concerned about the tenderness of their Savile Row'd fee-fees? Honkies, please.

The whining on Wall Street comes on top of a report from a new Institute for Policy Studies report by Sarah Anderson that finds, according to Mother Jones (chart from Institute for Policy Studies)

The average bonus for one of New York City's 167,800 employees in the securities industry came out to $172,860—on top of an average salary of nearly $200,000. On the other side of the equation were about one million people working full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25. 

There is a time to call someone's bluff, and Warren seems to understand that time is now.  In an e-mail sent to the Huffington Post, the Massachusetts senator typed

They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right.... I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus ... And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called 'too big to fail' banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.

Or as Peters recognizes

This is a fight the Democratic party must have, if it's going to be worth a damn as a political entity. If some Democratic politicians line up on the wrong side, and they go down, so be it. The rest of the country has sacrificed enough for the plague-ridden benefits of its investor class.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cinematic Foreign Policy

Desperate for a puff interview to prove his foreign policy bonafides, Scott Walker appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio program on Wednesday. and this exchange took place:

SW:.... Think about how screwed up that is. I remember the movie in the 80s, Trading Places…
HH: Right.

SW: …you know, with Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy, it’s like Iran and Israel are trading places in the sequel. In the eyes of this president, our ally is supposed to be Israel. Our adversary has been historically Iran. And yet this administration completely does it the other way around. We need to call radical Islamic terrorism for what it is, and a commander-in-chief who’s willing to act.

Joan Walsh comments "No word on which nation is Aykroyd and which is Murphy; hoping other reporters will follow up. (If Walker finds that metaphor doesn’t work, he can play around with 'Freaky Friday.')"  Charles Pierce finds "Personally, I don't think Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reminds me of Denholm Elliott but, then again, I am not the geopolitical whiz kid that the Talleyrand of Wauwatosa is." As he reduces the Middle East to a movie (photo of Akyroyd and Murphy from Trading Places, and of Scott Walker, from AP/Mark Humphrey), Walker's take on the region is ludicrously simplistic and misleading. Speaking to Rachel Maddow on Thursday, NBC's Richard Engel explained

The U.S. in Iraq -- we`ll just take Iraq. The U.S. right now is helping this mission in Tikrit, which is being backed by the militias, and as you said they are potentially going to boycott that operation, but the U.S. is backing the operation led by the militias. That`s in Iraq.

In Syria, the U.S. is fighting against Iran and is an enemy of Iran, which supports Hezbollah and supports the government of Bashar Assad. But in Syria, the U.S. is also fighting with Iran against ISIS.

So, in Iraq, we are against Iran -- sorry -- it`s even confusing for me and I`ve done this for 20 years. In Iraq, we are fighting with Iran. In Syria, we are fighting both with and against Iran. And in Yemen now, we are backing Saudi Arabia and Egypt and this other coalition, which is 
taking a strong stance against Iran.

But we say we`re not going to get deeply involved we are just going to kinds of assist with some intelligence, while at the same time huge negotiations, profoundly important negotiations are underway in Switzerland with Iran.

One only hopes Governor Walker is trying to dumb down foreign policy for primary voters and that he really understands there are more than two nation,s in the world's most turbulent region, which are involved in hostiities.  We can start out asking him about Sunnis and Shiites, Hutsis and Wahabbis. At least it would give him an opportunity once again to tell us how he can beat ISIS because he beat down the unions in Wisconsin.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Deceptive At Its Core

Amanda Marcotte informs us that in Arizona

anti-choicers, backed by one particularly vocal doctor named George Delgado, are claiming that you can "reverse" medication abortions. A woman having a medication abortion takes two pill doses, one of mifepristone and then another of misoprostol. Proponents of "abortion reversal" would like you to believe it's common for women to take the first dose and become wracked with guilt, desperate to save her pregnancy. To help these women, Delgado gives the woman progesterone shots, supposedly in an effort to reverse the effects of the mifepristone. 

The problem is it's almost certainly quackery. Mifepristone is not enough on its own to terminate a pregnancy some of the time, so you're not "reversing" the abortion so much as interrupting the process before it's complete. The progesterone shots reverse nothing—they are medically unnecessary theater, designed to portray anti-choicers as conquering heroes rescuing pregnant maidens from the clutches of abortionists. There's no evidence of much demand from women to interrupt their abortions, and in the rare circumstances that someone is seized by regret, all she needs to do is contact her regular doctor about stopping the pills. 

Forcing doctors to "inform" patients about an intervention that isn't medically useful and isn't really in demand serves no other purpose but to inject anti-choice histrionics into what is already a stressful situation for many patients. You should be able to get through an abortion without having to indulge a right-wing delusion.

Marcotte avoids the low-hanging fruti, not linking this scheme to right-wing delusions about abortion. Instead, she notes the bill, awaiting the signature of Arizona's Repub governor (Doug Ducey, below), and

its fresh interpretation of the word reverse is part of a larger trend of right-wingers attempting to restrict free speech and remold the English language in their image. In Florida, Department of Environmental Protection employees have complained about orders to excise the phrases climate change and global warming from their speeches. There's also been a movement, complete with bills in Texas and Florida, to ban doctors from discussing gun safety with patients. Some postmodern academic could have a field day with these attempts to rewrite reality to fit conservative fantasies. 

However, the left also attempts to restrict if not (and probably not) free speech, at least free expression, such as in the case of Aayan Hirsi Ali and Bill Maher.   Neither are our hands clean with regard to manipulation of the language, substituting "marriage equality" for same-sex marriage; "undocumented workers" for illegal immigrants; and "people of color" for... for whatever it's supposed to mean, which is whatever is convenient.

Abortion, though, is a separate case, one in which the "right-wing delusion" cited by Marcotte reaches full flower.  In this case, it was reversal of the procedure but  NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia some time back listed eight lies commonly told by crisis pregnancy centers.  The three most often promulgated in recent years may be that abortion causes breast cancer; abortion makes women severely depressed; and the fetus/baby can feel pain at an early stage of the pregnancy.

No, no, and very likely not until at least the 24th week of pregnancy.   Still, if the Arizona bill becomes law and such legislation spreads out among the states, enough women may be subjected to enough stress that abortion may finally induce the depression and sense of regret that anti-choice advocates claim that it does.  Mission, then, accomplished.

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