Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I’ve been a little absent the last few days.  There’s a conference in town and I’m presenting a paper this afternoon and trying to hunt up a tenure track position.  (So far Kuwait and Cleveland are on the plate.) The best thing is that nearly all the folks I went to graduate school with for some time are in town from all over so it’s fun to catch up with everyone.  All this making nice is tiring however!

Anyway, BB helped me find links so I owe a lot to her this morning .  This one has my name written all over it since I’ve railed about the Southern Strategy and the GOP fixation on transporting us all back to the 19th century.  It’s from Alternet.

Between the near record number of state anti-choice bills, the growing Personhood movement, those stupid billboards branding abortion as Black genocide and recent skirmishes over Obama’s co-pay free contraceptive policy, 2012 is looking more and more like 1873, when Congress outlawed the interstate sale and mailing of birth control via the Comstock Law.

For decades conventional wisdom has been that reproductive healthcare is a white feminist issue, that it’s a dangerous distraction from the “real” struggles of people of color. I believe that kind of thinking has been quite comforting for folks of all races who traffic in made-up nostalgia for a time when so-called traditional values were the bedrock of American society. When I hear black stylecasters revering Old Hollywood glamour as if we weren’t “The Help” and “Strange Fruit” during that period; when I watch country groups like Lady Antebellum and The Civil Wars get love at the Grammys; when girls on the Internet joke that Chris Brown can beat them anytime, it’s clear that many of us either don’t know or care about how strong the backlash has been against the ever-intertwined struggles of racial and gender justice.

It’s a pipe dream, I know. But I sincerely hope that the surge of sometime GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum will clear up a few things about how race and gender justice aren’t two different issues.

I really hope we move forward with this move to push us backward.  I’d love to see a united nations full of women of all colours realize it’s time we work together as women for our common interests and our children’s future.

I was having a conversation yesterday about some of the aspects of Shari’ah banking and finance that I find highly appealing with a friend who teaches finance in Kuwait. First, dispersed ownership–or people that invest money in a business but don’t share in its responsibilities and pitfalls–is considered highly immoral.  Gambling is also prohibited so much of what really tanked our economy in 2007 and right before The Great Depression is not allowed in Islamic banks or equities markets.  It’s considered usurious and not doing right by your community to just lend money and collect interest.  Part of your responsibility as a shareholder and lender is to provide guidance and take responsibility for all the businesses’ actions.  You’re also supposed to give some of those profits to windows and orphans.  Satyajit Das has a guest post at Naked Capitalism denouncing financial innovations which served as extreme gambling for many. Das accomplishes this by taking on a near propaganda article in The Economist. Financial innovations has become the tag for any unusual investment vehicle that’s usually hard to price and for which standardized markets usually do not exist.

The Economist sees financial innovation as positive; regarding it in the same sense as charity and goodwill to one’s fellow creatures. The reader is told that: “Finance has a very good record of solving big problems, from enabling people to realise the value of future income through products like mortgages to protecting borrowers from the risk of interest-rate fluctuations.” The definition of the “big problems” of our time is obviously subjective.

The Report lacks doubt: “The evidence of this special report suggests that the market does a brilliant job of nurturing and refining instruments that people want.” A closer review of the evidence suggests that the authors of the Report have followed Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate for president in the 1952 and 1956 elections: “Here is the conclusion on which I base my facts.”

The approach is puzzling as the Report repeatedly admits the difficult of actually measuring the benefits of financial innovation: “… quantifying the benefits of innovation is almost impossible” and “To sift through the arguments on both sides is to confront a basic problem with any financial innovation: the difficulty of measuring its benefits.”

The Economist quotes a 2011 NBER paper by Josh Lerner and Peter Tufano which argues the impossibility of quantifying the impact of a financial innovation because finance involves many (often unintended) externalities. Instead the paper proposes a “thought experiment”, imagining what the world would look like without a particular innovation. The Report undertakes this thought experiment, without the requisite imagination and with a pre-disposition to the self evident benefits of finance.

In David Hare’s play The Power of Yes, Adair Turner, head of the English FSA, is asked whether the fact that nobody understood what was going on was an issue. Turner responds that no, it wasn’t a problem as, for people like Alan Greenspan, it was just a matter of faith. The Economist follows their mentor’s modus operandi.

I’ve talked a lot about externalities here in terms of passed on social costs.  Pollution from fossil fuels, addicts and their behaviors from consumption of alcohol and drugs, and  having to bail out extreme gamblers (e.g. some investment banks) because of risk decisions are all part and parcel of some businesses/households doing their business that can pass costs to the rest of us.  I’ve noticed libertarians who don’t have standard economic theory never recognize all the work done on social costs.  It seems odd given that the aforementioned Shari’ah concepts are straight from Old Testament ideas so having society constrain the causes of these costs is hardly a new idea.

There’s a movement afoot in NJ to put Gay Marriage up to a vote since Chris Christie refused to sign a law that would do that.

New Jersey voters support gay marriage and back a proposal by the state’s Republican Governor Chris Christie to put the issue to a vote in a November referendum, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The Quinnipiac poll of 1,396 Garden State voters showed that 57 percent supported gay marriage while 37 percent oppose it.

The poll found that women in the state support gay marriage 61 percent to 32 percent while men support it 51 percent to 44 percent.

Catholics also support it 52 percent to 43 percent, though white Protestants were opposed 50 percent to 42 percent.

The poll found that an overwhelming majority — 67 percent — supported the governor’s decision to let voters decide the issue in the fall. Twenty-eight percent were opposed to a referendum.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s governor signed a same-sex marriage law.

Amid cheers and camera flashes from a crush of onlookers, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law Thursday his bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland — legislation that raises his national profile and, advocates say, gives momentum to those pushing similar measures in three states.

“The way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights of all,” said O’Malley, giving brief remarks before signing the legislation. “If there is a thread that unites all of our work here together, it is the thread of human dignity. … Let’s sign the bill.”

Okay, one more link and then I have to go refresh myself on cointegration analysis and my results on so I can handle questions.

Ah, those crazy hackers!  It seems that some one got a laptop with some NASA codes and got into the Jet Propulsion Lab.  Some one may have control of the international space station even.

Hackers seized control of networks at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory last November, gaining the ability to install malware, delete or steal sensitive data, and hijack the accounts of users in order to gain their privileged access, according to a report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s inspector general.

The breach, originating from Chinese-based IP addresses, allowed the intruders to compromise the accounts “of the most privileged JPL users,” giving them “full access to key JPL systems,” according to Inspector General Paul K. Martin in a report to Congress (.pdf).

The investigation of the breach is ongoing, but Martin says the intruders had the ability to modify sensitive files; modify or delete user accounts for mission-critical JPL systems; and alter system logs to conceal their actions.

“In other words, the attackers had full functional control over these networks,” Martin writes.

But this wasn’t the only breach NASA experienced. In 2010 and 2011, the agency had 5,408 computer security incidents that resulted in the installation of malicious software and the theft of export-controlled and otherwise sensitive data, with an estimated cost to NASA of more than $7 million. Some of the breaches “may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” Martin writes.

Christie asserts that marriage equality is not about ‘gay rights’.  Interesting.

CHRISTIE: I did veto a bill on gay marriage, not on gay rights. And gay rights are protected and protected aggressively in New Jersey. But listen, this is something I feel strongly about. I think marriage is between one man and one woman, but I also know that people have very different opinions about that in our state. So what I’ve said to folks after vetoing the bill, let’s put it on the ballot. If a majority of people in New Jersey want to have same-sex marriage, then vote for it and I’ll be governed by it. But I don’t think that’s a decision that should be made by 121 people in Trenton alone. It’s a major change in the way we’ve governed our society.

A group of Democratic legislators are asking Boehner to repudiate Limbaugh’s “slut” slamming.

The Democrats signed a letter to the speaker over comments Limbaugh made on his show on Wednesday calling a Georgetown University law student and women’s health advocate a “prostitute” and a “slut” after her testimony before a mock Congressional hearing on birth control coverage.

Using the airwaves to launch a “direct attack on a private citizen is unacceptable,” New York Rep. Louise Slaughter wrote to Speaker Boehner. “Mr. Limbaugh repeatedly used sexually charged, patently offensive, and obscene language to malign the character of this courageous young woman who has chosen to be the voice for many of her peers,” the letter said.

Boehner’s spokesperson declined to comment on on the letter.

Fluke’s testimony barely mentioned sex. She said a year’s worth of contraception costs up to $3,000 over the course of law school, and for many women, birth control is used to treat medical issues, including polycystic ovary syndrome.

Okay, that’s for it for me this morning!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


37 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Kat, good luck on the job front. It is good to hear that a couple possibilities are opening up…I know how heavy this has been weighing on your mind.

    That Alternet article is so damn interesting. I know that Peggy wrote a post about Comstock a couple weeks ago. The more I read about the war on women the more “resolute” I become…I also keep waiting for the other shoe to drop…I know the GOP has more anti women legislation up their conservative ass.

    And the news about the space station. That is so embarrassing.

    Go get em’ Kat, and knock their socks off!

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    Just saw this come through: Red Cross aid convoy reaches Homs, massacre feared | Reuters

    A Red Cross aid convoy prepared to enter the shattered Baba Amro district of Homs on Friday after a Syrian official declared the area “cleansed” and the opposition spoke of a massacre by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Good wishes going your way from here kat!

    I’m still roiling over Rush Limbaugh and the fact that his comments have not caused more of an uproar than what we have seen so far.

    This man is one sick puppy who is allowed to say and do anything on air that goes against any form of decency.

    Week after week he rails against gays, minorities,and women, spreading his filth all over the nation.

    If they can see fit to get rid of the likes of Michael Savage and Glenn Beck then I see no reason to continue permitting this lunatic to go unscathed.

  4. ralphb says:

    Rep Jackie Speir has called for people to boycott the fat POS sponsors. Maybe that will work after all?

    Advertiser Abandons Rush After ‘Slut’ Comment

    Rush Limbaugh is down one advertiser as the controversy over his claim that Sandra Fluke is a “slut” continues. Politico reports that Sleep Train Mattress Centers is pulling its ads from Limbaugh’s radio show in the wake of criticism on Twitter:

  5. dakinikat says:

    Will Wall Street Ever Face Justice?

    Four years after the disintegration of the financial system, Americans have, rightfully, a gnawing feeling that justice has not been served. Claims of financial fraud against companies like Citigroup and Bank of America have been settled for pennies on the dollar, with no admission of wrongdoing. Executives who ran companies that made, packaged and sold trillions of dollars in toxic mortgages and mortgage-backed securities remain largely unscathed.

    Meager resources have been applied to investigate the financial assault on our country, which wiped away trillions of dollars in household wealth and has resulted in 24 million people jobless or underemployed. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which Congress created to examine the full scope of the crisis, was given a budget of $9.8 million — roughly one-seventh of the budget of Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations did its work on the financial crisis with only a dozen or so Congressional staff members.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/opinion/will-wall-street-ever-face-justice.html?_r=2&src=recg

    By PHIL ANGELIDES

    • ralphb says:

      DOJ casts wide net with mortgage subpoenas

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Justice Department inquiry into the packaging and sale of home loans by the biggest U.S. banks casts a wide net and appears to significantly overlap with other enforcement efforts, according to people who have viewed subpoenas sent to the firms.

      The civil subpoenas that were sent in January ask for documents related to every offering between 2006 and 2008, including bonds backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, three people familiar with the matter said.
      [...]
      The Justice Department announced in January that it had sent civil subpoenas to 11 financial institutions about the market for residential mortgage-backed securities.

      The probe is part of a new inter-agency task force that President Barack Obama unveiled in his State of the Union speech. It is designed to add firepower to investigations into the sale of repackaged mortgages that helped fuel the housing bubble and spread around exposure to toxic loans.

      The breadth of the new subpoenas, which also overlap with previous requests from the Justice Department, are leaving some lawyers who are representing banks in the requests befuddled about just want the government is after.

      Citigroup disclosed last week that it had received one of the Justice Department subpoenas, and sources familiar with the inquiry said it is aimed at the largest U.S. banks.

      “This is a difficult environment to figure out where this is headed; there are a lot of overlapping cooks in the kitchen,” said one source, who declined to be named.

  6. ralphb says:

    Oklahoma state senator’s sign: ‘If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d f*ck a senator’

    At a recent rally against a so-called “personhood” bill currently favored by Oklahoma lawmakers, state senator Judy McIntyre (D) was photographed holding a sign that read: “IF I WANTED THE GOVERNMENT IN MY WOMB, I’D FUCK A SENATOR.”

  7. dakinikat says:

    Min Zhu (IMF economist) http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2012/030112.htm

    Macroprudential Policies to Achieve Financial Stability

    In the United States, downside risks dominate.Our key messages are that monetary policy should remain supportive; a fiscal plan attuned to the cycle should be agreed on; and further policy measures should be introduced to heal the labor and housing markets.

    These downside risks are both in the short- and medium term. The recent broad-based strengthening in job creation presents some upward potential for household income and growth. However, there are also key downside domestic risks, stemming from housing markets and fiscal policy. House prices could fall again, hurting household balance sheets and consumption, and a large fiscal withdrawal could occur amidst political gridlock. At the same time, the absence of a credible and comprehensive fiscal consolidation plan remains a major medium-term risk. The credit rating agencies have already stated that, in the absence of such a plan, they would likely downgrade the U.S. sovereign rating. A sudden rise in longer-term interest rates thus remains a possibility.

  8. ralphb says:

    From Craig Crawford’s excellent Trail Mix political blog.

    Rush Doubles Down on “Slut” Speech

    You almost have to wonder whether the Republican Party has forgotten women have the right to vote.

    As Senate GOPers tried in vain to let employers deny insurance coverage for contraceptives (and just about anything else they don’t like), party icon Rush Limbaugh kept up his attack on Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student he called a “slut” for defending birth control.

    In another sign of Limbaugh’s hold on Republicans, their silence is deafening in the face of his latest madness.

    Even by Limbaugh’s wretched standards, this time maybe he has gone too far for his own good.

    There is a list of Limbaugh’s sponsors there with contact information!

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Susie has an interesting post on the Jeb scenario–quoting Russ Baker, who wrote a very good book on the Bush family, Family of Secrets.

    http://susiemadrak.com/2012/03/02/the-jeb-scenario-playing-out/

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Obama just called Sandra Fluke to thank her and tell her her parents should be proud of her. She’s on Andrea Mitchell right now.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    NYT op-ed by a woman who was named as plaintiff in one of the first suits to overturn the birth control laws in Connecticut. Well worth reading!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/opinion/contraception-war-goes-on.html?_r=2

  12. ralphb says:

    Second advertiser pulls out from Limbaugh. Keep the boot on his neck and don’t let that bastard up …

    Sleep Number, an advertiser on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, announced on Twitter moments ago that they are pulling out. “Recent comments by Rush Limbaugh do not align w/our values, so we made decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program,” the tweet reads. Earlier today, mattress retailer Sleep Train announced that they would be pulling all of its advertisements from the program after being besieged on Twitter by angry customers.

    http://thinkprogress.org/media/2012/03/02/436723/second-advertiser-pulls-out-from-limbaugh/

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s three sponsors who have dropped Limbaugh now. Quicken loans is the latest one. ProFlowers is responding to all the tweets to them, claiming they are reevaluating their market strategy. They may be next.

  13. ralphb says:

    Someone must have reminded old Orange that women have the vote.

    TRENDING: First on CNN: Boehner hits Limbaugh’s comments as ‘inappropriate’

    Carly Fiorina has also hit Limbaugh for being “insulting”. Duh!

  14. joanelle says:

    We shouldn’t let NJ’s Senate and Assembly off the hook – they knew that Christie would veto any affirmative action on their part for same sex marriage – so they had nothing to lose by looking so gung ho for it. At first I was surprised by some of the names I saw voting for it and then I realized they must have figured they could look good in voters eyes yet still be “safe”