Friday Reads

Good Morning!

So, you should be able to tell that I’m knee deep in research and preparing to teach an MBA course because I’ve been writing so many finance and econ posts recently.  This morning is going to continue that trend. Plus, the War on Women is still on!  Some mornings it just doesn’t pay to read the news, I swear!

Feeling poorer?  There’s good reason!  According to statistics analyzed by Investor’s Business Daily “10-Year Real Wage Gains Worse Than During Depression”. That’s why no one has any money to spend.  This is especially true when you couple that with sagging wealth from your incredible shrinking home equity.

The past decade of wage growth has been one for the record books — but not one to celebrate.

The increase in total private-sector wages, adjusted for inflation, from the start of 2001 has fallen far short of any 10-year period since World War II, according to Commerce Department data. In fact, if the data are to be believed, economywide wage gains have even lagged those in the decade of the Great Depression (adjusted for deflation).

Two years into the recovery, and 10 years after the nation fell into a post-dot-com bubble recession, this legacy of near-stagnant wages has helped ground the economy despite unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus — and even an impressive bull market.

Over the past decade, real private-sector wage growth has scraped bottom at 4%, just below the 5% increase from 1929 to 1939, government data show.

Oh, and Moody’s is preparing for a US Government purposeful default on its sovereign debt.  Feel like you’re in Hooverville yet?  Just wait until Republicans looking to tank Obama’s reelection chances wind up tanking the US economy.

Moody’s Investors Service said today that if there is no progress on increasing the statutory debt limit in coming weeks, it expects to place the US government’s rating under review for possible downgrade, due to the very small but rising risk of a short-lived default. If the debt limit is raised and default avoided, the Aaa rating will be maintained. However, the rating outlook will depend on the outcome of negotiations on deficit reduction. A credible agreement on substantial deficit reduction would support a continued stable outlook; lack of such an agreement could prompt Moody’s to change its outlook to negative on the Aaa rating.

Although Moody’s fully expected political wrangling prior to an increase in the statutory debt limit, the degree of entrenchment into conflicting positions has exceeded expectations. The heightened polarization over the debt limit has increased the odds of a short-lived default. If this situation remains unchanged in coming weeks, Moody’s will place the rating under review.

Moody’s had previously indicated that its stable outlook on the Aaa rating was based on the assumption that meaningful progress would be made within the next eighteen months in adopting measures to reverse the country’s upward debt trajectory. The debt limit negotiations represent a real near-term opportunity for agreement on a plan for fiscal consolidation. If this current opportunity passes, Moody’s believes that the likelihood of anything significant being accomplished before the next presidential election is reduced, in part because the two parties each hopes to capture both a congressional majority and the presidency in the 2012 election, after which the winning party could achieve its own agenda. Therefore, failure to reach an agreement as part of the current negotiations would increase the likelihood of a negative outlook in the near term, because the upward debt trajectory would still be in place. At present, this appears the most likely outcome, in Moody’s opinion.

The Nation reports that the Banking Lobby joins the Republican party in attacking Elizabeth Warren. The fight continues to stop implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) and to stop Warren from head it up.  The bureau’s main mission is to stop bad lending practices that were rampant and damaging during the subprime mortgage crisis.

During last year’s financial reform debate, Congressional Republicans, along with some bank-friendly Democrats, launched a furious campaign to defeat the bureau. The US Chamber of Commerce led a $2 million industrywide ad campaign opposing the CFPB, using a butcher as its unlikely public face. “Virtually every business that extends credit to American consumers would be affected—even the local butcher,” one ad claimed. “I don’t know how many of your butchers are offering financial services,” quipped President Obama after meeting victims of lending abuses. The financial services firms that will fall under CFPB purview—big and small banks, payday lenders, mortgage brokers—did all they could to weaken it and create special exemptions for their industries, yet the consumer bureau improbably became “one of the central aspects of financial reform,” according to Obama, and the most tangible victory for consumers. Under pressure from consumer advocates, the administration named Warren a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, her onetime foe, and the bureau’s interim director. Now Congressional Republicans and their industry backers are mounting a last-ditch effort to constrain the CFPB before its launch. Warren, according to associates, views this as an attempt to “pull the arms and legs off of the agency.”

Okay, so I’ll change the topic to how religionists are attempting to outlaw birth control and in vitro fertilizationThey’re doing it by attempting to redefine personhood again.

“The definition of personhood ranges if you’re talking about property law, or inheritance, or how the census is taken,” says Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

All those differences are exactly what Keith Mason wants to change. He’s president of Personhood USA, a group that’s trying to rewrite the laws and constitutions of every state — and some countries — to recognize someone as a person “exactly at creation,” he says. “It’s fertilization; it’s when the sperm meets the egg.”

Mason says the basic problem is that science has advanced faster than policymaking.

“We know, without a shadow of a doubt, when human life begins,” he says. “But our laws have not caught up to what we know.”

And according to his organization, those laws should recognize every fertilized egg as an individual and complete human being.

This movement is basically trying to push a definition that contradicts medical definitions.  A redefinition law is currently being considered in Colorado, Mississippi. and Alabama.

Medical experts say pregnancy begins when the egg implants in the uterus, not at fertilization. It is at this point that a woman’s hormone levels change and pregnancy can be detected through a urine test. Dan Grossman, an ob-gyn at the University of California-San Francisco who works with Ibis Reproductive Health, noted that about half of fertilized eggs implant and result in pregnancy.

Considering a fertilized egg a person with full rights also could outlaw popular forms of contraception, Grossman said. “This redefinition really could end up reclassifying all of these effective and safe birth control methods as abortifacients, or agents that induce abortions,” because some contraceptives can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, he explained. Grossman added that the idea that birth control methods that can block implantation are the equivalent of abortion is “certainly not a view that’s held by the medical profession or that’s based on medical evidence, and it’s certainly not consistent with what American women and couples want and use to plan their families.”

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney with ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said personhood proponents’ intent is to ban abortion and birth control. She said that giving rights to a fertilized egg could have far-reaching and dangerous consequences by legally separating a woman from her pregnancy. For example, in cases of potentially lethal ectopic pregnancies, personhood would give “all fertilized eggs legal rights under the law [and] calls into question what kind of methods a doctor can actually use to save a woman’s life,” she said.

Amanda Marcotte–writing for Slate–describes the laws as even “weirder than imaged”.  Basically, you can sum it up this way:  women are receptacles and fertilized eggs are people.  This seems unbelievable but it’s unfortunately real and represents just the  latest threat to our autonomy.

Even some anti-abortion groups oppose personhood bills, not because they disagree with the aims of the proponents—who want to ban all abortion, IVF treatment, stem cell research, and many forms of contraception—but because it’s bad and confusing law.  And part of the reason for this is that it creates a lot of confusion over the gap between belief and fact.  For instance, it’s clear that many supporters of personhood laws hope the laws can be used to ban hormonal birth control and IUDs, which they argue work by killing fertilized eggs.  However, attempts to use the law in this way are complicated by the fact that this is not how these contraception methods work; hormonal methods work by suppressing ovulation and IUDs work by making the uterus a hostile environment for sperm (which isn’t going to do much to quell the emasculation concerns of anti-choicers). Realistically speaking, if you believe fertilized eggs are “people” and losing one is equivalent to losing a child, then women who use the pill to prevent ovulation are actually the least murderous amongst us, since they are losing the fewest number of fertilized eggs.  Using these laws to stop the distribution of these kinds of contraception would likely depend on a number of factors, including judges’ willingness to treat made-up beliefs as equal to scientific information.

There’s way more at stake than even abortion and contraception, in fact.  The haziness of these bills could create all sorts of nightmarish scenarios. For one thing, they would absolutely make IVF illegal, but it would also call into question how you handle all the embryos that have already been created in labs.  With IVF being banned, it’s pointless to keep them around anymore, but disposing of them is killing “people.”  Are we prepared to throw people in jail for this?  There’s also a concern about how miscarriages are handled once you’ve determined that a “child” has been lost every time a woman miscarries, no matter how early in her pregnancy. These laws open the possibility of every woman miscarrying being detained for a legal investigation to determine if she has criminal liability for miscarriage. If you think I’m being ridiculous about this, consider that women are already being thrown in jail for giving birth to babies that don’t survive. Personhood laws could roll back the clock on your criminal liability to before you were even pregnant. Unfortunately, there are zealots in law enforcement that are willing to throw a woman who miscarries at eight weeks in jail because someone saw her drinking in a bar six weeks ago, before she probably even knew she was pregnant.

So, want some even more disheartening news?   Melissa at Shakesville finds yet another article tailored for young women that basically says you can avoid most rapes if you just don’t drink alcohol.  No kidding!

The Frisky‘s “Girl Talk: Why Being Drunk Is a Feminist Issue,” by Kate Torgovnick, who totes isn’t a victim-blamer, she swears! It’s just that we don’t live in an ideal world, so because women “do not have control over what men, drunk or sober, will do when presented with our drunkeness,” women should take control over “our side of the equation—how much we drink.”

There is a lot wrong with that article (not least of which is the author’s confusion about what actually constitutes rape), but I’m not going to waste my time fisking garbage. I’ll merely note that the entire premise is fundamentally flawed in the same ways that every other piece in this despicable genre is, in addition to the evident issue that victim-blaming, even if cynically rebranded as “taking control,” inexorably shifts responsibility from rapist to victim

Where have all the consciousness raising groups gone?

So, I really don’t want to talk about Wienergate or who is in New Hampshire or why Chris Christie thinks it’s okay to take state helicopters on personal jaunts.   So, maybe you’ve got something else to offer up?  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

28 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    “We know, without a shadow of a doubt, when human life begins,” he says. “But our laws have not caught up to what we know.”

    And according to his organization, those laws should recognize every fertilized egg as an individual and complete human being.

    So are we going to have murder/manslaughter trials for the huge number of spontaneous abortions that take place naturally after the ovum is fertilized? Will every miscarriage be investigated and perhaps prosecuted? The Handmaid’s Tale on steroids!

    • bostonboomer says:

      These people are insane!

    • paper doll says:

      Moody’s Investors Service said today that if there is no progress on increasing the statutory debt limit in coming weeks, it expects to place the US government’s rating under review for possible downgrade, due to the very small but rising risk of a short-lived default

      This is just what they are doing in Greece and Ireland….using their cooked ratings to excuse huge cuts in social spending which they are just too broke to continue!

      Gee 800 billion in tax cuts to the super rich caused a budget problem!?


      There is always borrowed cash for war however ….except the war on the middle class

      • dakinikat says:

        These are the same folks that said extending the Dubya tax cuts weren’t going to matter and were responsible for the triple A ratings for toxic derivatives. I don’t really believe anything they say.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      “And according to his organization, those laws should recognize every fertilized egg as an individual and complete human being.”

      It’s really difficult to read this and realize we’re living in the 21st century. Our laws haven’t kept up “to what we know?”

      What I know is these people would push us back to the Dark Ages if they had their druthers. But they keep the nonsense up as if repeating the fantasy will make it so.

      A fertilized egg is a complete human being??? They should be laughed out of town.

      When I first read Margaret Atwood’s novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ I thought it was–out there, off the mark. I’m beginning to reconsider that position. There doesn’t seem to be anything that people won’t buy into, accept on blind faith as long as it supports their ideology. This yahoo’s above statement is a perfect example.

      If a miscarriage is ever seen as ‘suspicious,’ worthy of investigation then the real crime is being a woman. Burning at the stake is only a few baby-steps away.

      These people are not only insane, they’re dangerous.

    • Sima says:

      It’s scary how many people hate women, how prevalent the idea still is, even in our ‘advanced’ society, that women are less than human, less than anything. Our worth is simply as baby incubators, cleaning women, low-paid workers and sexual relief outlets.

      It’s like there are two worlds. One where women are thought of as humans with rights, and one where they are not. And I’m starting to wonder which one is the ‘real’ world.

  2. Branjor says:

    This playing around with “personhood” definitions is literally driving me crazy. According to them, a fertilized egg is a person but a woman isn’t. The men behind it are so sure they’re immune to the effects of it. But the thought “if men didn’t have personhood, none of this would be happening!” just popped into my head.

  3. Delphyne says:

    I just read that Jack Kevorkian died this morning.

  4. Beata says:

    V.S. Naipaul claims he can “Always Spot Female Writers By How Much They Suck”. There is a link in this post to a fun quiz from The Guardian ( I LOVE quizes! ) so you can test your “skill” at identifying the difference between male and female writers. I scored a whopping 3 out of 10, which is “Awful. What are you, a girl or something?” /s

    • Branjor says:

      Reminds me of Norman Mailer, who famously said he “writes with his balls.” I forget exactly which quick witted feminist it was who replied “And what color ink do you dip your balls in?” LOLOL!

      • Peggy Sue says:

        Mailer also said that women’s writing was no better than the droppings a Mama bear spreads across the wall of her cave. I heard him say that during an interview years ago and thought: you sexist pig!

        I think Mailer loved being provocatively belligerent, sparring with people and getting as big a rise out of an audience as possible. For a time, he became one of those TV celebrity writers. Guess the producers knew he could be counted on to say something outrageous.

        They used Truman Capote in the same way [although ovbiously these men enjoyed the attention]. But with Capote there was something sad in it all–the little man in his white suit and squeaky voice. He always looked drunk or stoned. I read there’d been a break between Capote and Harper Lee once Lee’s book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was heralded as a literary success. Capote didn’t like sharing the spotlight.

        Big mouths, small egos.

      • paper doll says:

        Peggy Sue, drinking was a big part of their picture…Gore Vidal said he left the US because an American writer became a drunkard if they stayed…at least in his generation! OMG, does anyone remember Mailer running for mayor of NYC? with the columnist, Jimmy Breslin as his vice mayor! It was killing Capote that his book had to wait years and years until all the appeals were done and the the family’s killers hanged…waiting those years made him the drunk we mostly remember today …at least Lee’s role in his book is known today…if only it was going with him to Kansas it would be vital…but it was much more

    • Sima says:

      I guessed on every one, and got 6 out of 10. “Sloppy thinking”, apparently, according to the results.

      • okasha says:

        i got 5 out of 10; also “sloppy thinking.”

        But I did assign Naipaul’s own sample to a man simply on the grounds that it was so bad.

  5. Beata says:

    That should be “quizzes”. I can always spot my own a.m. writing by my spelling mistakes. LOL.

  6. The Rock says:

    I don’t want to say great post Dak because the news in it is so terrible (though the post and the analysis is,, as always, spot on). It’s almost as though the religionists don’t like (or aren’t that good at) sex and want to make the entire world pay for it. And places like South Korea will advance past us in the areas of genetic biology and chronic disease research.


    On the economic front, DOUBLE DIP RECESSION!! Time for a party or at least some time on the golf course! WooHooo!!!!


    Then, as Dak pointed out, our economy is in better shape than ever….NOT!!!


    I need a Hillary moment…..

    TGIF: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Public Appointments for June 3rd 2011


    9:20 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with participants in the Middle East Partnership Initiative’s Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) Program, at the Department of State.

    9:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, at the Department of State.

    10:25 a.m. Secretary Clinton participates in the Business Forum Promoting Commercial Opportunities in Iraq, at the Department of State.

    11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton attends a meeting at the White House.

    2:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, at the Department of State.

    3:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with the staff who worked on the 2011 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, at the Department of State.


    (that’s better…)

    Have a great day all! 🙂

    Hillary 2012

    • The Rock says:

      Sorry. I meant to ask if anyone saw this? Pretty scary stuff (of course identified by foreign press)…

      Hillary 2012

      • WomanVoter says:

        Yup, being discussed yesterday and also the Cyber War policy. Say did you see MSNBC’s Cyber Code Wars?

      • The Rock says:

        No, I didn’t catch it. I’m not ashamed to say that my only favorite show on MSNBC is ‘To Catch a Predator.’ I know this administration trotted out new talking points on retaliation against cyber terrorism, but I tend to tune them out when they talk. Can’t really take all that lying….

        Hillary 2012

    • paper doll says:

      Rock, thank you for the Hill moment…ah…I needed to here that midwest twang voice on the job…and my lord she looks great! I don’t know how she does it

  7. WomanVoter says:

    I am a gonner if this virulent (It is funny that experts call it a bacteria yet say virulent.) strain of germs that are attacking mainly women’s kidneys get here.
    Deadly E.coli strain could cause future infections

    • paper doll says:

      WV, once I accpeted my ass is grass for any one of the 1,00000000000000 reasons it could be , I have enjoyed life more! I stopped worrying about it. It doesn’t mean one stops washing their hands however 🙂

      • Sima says:

        That’s sort of my philosophy. And once I got over being hyper about it all, and let myself get dirty once in a while, didn’t freak about gardening dirt, manure, etc, anyways, once I did that I stopped getting so many colds and flus. Weird, but not entirely unexpected. I also started drinking the raw milk my goats produce, and eating the cheese I made from it. I think that made a huge difference.

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    I’ve got a new post up…hope you all enjoy it. I think we all need some kind of laugh today!