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Trying Times


Banks and WikiLeaks

The whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down.

[…]

The Federal Reserve, the banking regulator, allows this. Like other companies, banks can choose whom they do business with. Refusing to open an account for some undesirable entity is seen as reasonable risk management. The government even requires banks to keep an eye out for some shady businesses — like drug dealing and money laundering — and refuse to do business with those who engage in them.

But a bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.

[…]

Still, there are troubling questions. The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.

I’m no fan of banks, and I think anything that is “too big too fail” is too damn big. But this situation is problematic because WikiLeaks is threatening to leak damaging information about the banks that don’t want to do business with them.

If I wanted to run an ad criticizing the NY Times should they be forced to accept my advertising?

If we require banks to do business with everybody we’ll have to indemnify them from criminal and civil liability. There’s some real potential for abuse there too. Perhaps a better solution is to break up the big banks. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

It should be noted that the NYT is hardly a disinterested player here. They have been publishing the leaked documents and were getting them direct from WikiLeaks until they published an unfavorable profile of Julian Assange.

Here’s an example:

Cables Portray Expanded Reach of Drug Agency

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.

In far greater detail than previously seen, the cables, from the cache obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to some news organizations, offer glimpses of drug agents balancing diplomacy and law enforcement in places where it can be hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run roughshod over struggling governments.

This is also an example of what I mean when I say the information coming from WikiLeaks isn’t exactly earth-shattering. Anyone who has been paying attention to the war on drugs knows that the DEA has been engaged in some dubious activities in foreign countries.

Missionary plane shot down in Peru: collateral damage in US “drug war”

How Much Did the DEA Spend on its Africa Vacation?

What have the leaked cables told us that the NYT didn’t already know or couldn’t have easily found out on their own?

The New York Times threw away it’s credibility in the run-up to the war in Iraq and the outing of Valerie Plame. The past couple of years they have been Obamafluffers.

I hope you’ll understand if I’m somewhat less than hopeful that they have suddenly seen the light.


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My New Best Friend

I was redirected to the YouTube channel, Mompetition, from Lenore Skenazy’s excellent blog Freerangekids.  The creator of Mompetition, a cancer researcher and helicopter mom skeptic, and I seem to have a lot in common.  Check it out:

Now, I have made no secret of my dislike of SAHMs.  Some of our former frontpagers, who incidentally were NOT SAHMs, have used this as an excuse to take their dishes and go away.  But I don’t think I’ve made it clear what it is I dislike about them.  So, let me explain, because I suspect that it’s something the forces of evil will use to divide women in the upcoming elections.

First, I love my kids but I would go stark raving bat $#@^ crazy if I had to spend the majority of time with the moms depicted in mompetition’s videos.  Unfortunately, the suburbs where I live is chock full of these women.  They never let their kids outside, they organize their kids’ friends, sports events and bowel movements down to the second and they have the nerve to impose their religious views on the rest of us.

Second, I have no problem with women who choose to stay home with their kids.  If that’s what you want to do and you can afford to do it and you possess the mothering skills of Mary Poppins, go right ahead.  Don’t let us stop you.  But don’t ask for any special recognition of your “sacrifice”.  When you use that word, you reveal more about your relationship to your children than you probably intended.  They’re your *children*, not a burden that you have given up your life to raise.  More than that though is the attitude that those of us who work have somehow chosen the low road.  We might cure cancer but we will never be saints, revered by our families and churches for denying everything about ourselves in order to raise these future humanitarians.

Let’s clear that up that misconception. We working moms put in a full day and then come home and do all the parenting too.  We volunteer at school, set up science experiments at school science fairs, make smoked salmon tea sandwiches, decoratively cut into perfect crustless triangles for Victorian History Week Lunch and go on two day field trips with a bunch of eighth graders to a Y camp in early March when the temperature plunged below freezing and where (at least) one of the chaperone’s had forgotten her thermal underwear.  In other words, we do everything SAHMs do and then some.

But more than that, the pressure on women (and yes, there is all kinds of pressure on women) to give themselves up for the sake of their children, is rooted in the myth of the golden era of domesticity of post WWII when women were more or less forced back to the home and the household economics of the middle class rose. (And anyone who has watched Mad Men or read Betty Friedan knows how well that worked out for some women who were never meant to be stay at home mothers) There’s some kind of correlation-causation error related to the nostalgia of the era, my parents’ generation, that overlooks the fact that historically, the SAHM has been very, very unusual for the human species.  Most mothers work or have worked since the dawn of time.  They sometimes took their kids with them.  Children have had to grow up fast and go to work themselves.  Some bourgeoise women had wet nurses so they could spend their time at leisure.  The SAHM who was there when you came home to give you cookies and milk was a statistical blip on the historical record.  Most mothers throughout history did not spend every minute of their day obsessing about whether they were spending enough time with their kids.  There were survival things to do and everyone had to help out.

So, this notion that good women stay home with their children while less than good women stick their kids in day care and go to work is a recent construct.

One thing is for sure, people like Sarah Palin will glom onto the mommy wars like there’s no tomorrow.  Older women my mom’s age are heavily indoctrinated and are venerated by the FOX news crew for being “the good mothers”.  If women’s votes are crucial to the next election, and I believe they will be, now is not a good time to be at each other’s throats.  But I am not going to jump on the conservative mothering bandwagon and give SAHMs an extra special place in the pantheon of mothers.  If I did that, I would immediately be complicit in slapping working mothers with the label of inferior mommies.  Yes, Stay at Home Moms, that is what you are doing whether you are aware of it or not.

And I’m not going to go along with it.  Don’t ask for a special recognition award.  If you need to be recognized for giving up your career to raise your kids, then you need to sit down and have a conversation with yourself and determine whether you did that of your own free will.  If you did, fine.  Then you don’t need a medal.  You should be happy with your decision.  If you didn’t, don’t get mad at me because I don’t kiss your ass to validate your choice.  Going against the tide of conformity is hard.  It can make you unpopular with your family, community and peers.  But if you are true to yourself, it has its own rewards for yourself and your kids.  I feel sorry for women who didn’t feel they had that choice but that doesn’t mean they have the right to resent and condemn the rest of us.  How does that move women’s issues to the forefront if we’re ready to go to war over some societally imposed pressure to sacrifice ourselves?  Can it bring back our younger days?  Change the past?  Does it make it easier for our daughters and granddaughters to do what’s right for themselves as person’s in their own right?  It’s never too late to decide that you won’t subject another woman to the pressures that were imposed on you.

We all make decisions that take our lives in different directions.  But fighting over who is the best mother is something the masters of the universe take great delight in stirring up.  I won’t be part of it.  On this blog, I will make sure that no mother is held in greater esteem than any other.  Mothering is hard enough without having someone we don’t even know tell us how to do it.

Oh goodie! More Potemkin townhalls and television appearances


I don’t make this stuff up. Honestly, I don’t:

Jarrett: Obama to spend more time outside of Washington in 2011

President Obama will spend more time outside of Washington, D.C., next year engaging with he public, according to a top White House adviser and close friend of the president.

One year before Obama faces reelection, he is expected to make a greater effort to connect with potential voters after facing charges being too aloof during his first two years in the Oval Office.

The president’s “biggest regret” was that because of economic turmoil, “He had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington working on solving that crisis,” senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And what he missed sorely was engagement with the American people.

[…]

Obama was not completely fortified in D.C. during his first two years as president. He made campaign stops for Democrats in tough races around the country and held several economic events in key presidential election states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Every waking hour? This is the guy who has done less actual work than any POTUS since William Henry Harrison. He avoids press conferences and instead gives speeches and holds townhalls filled with carefully screened supporters.

He’s been on every television show except Dancing with the Stars. He spends more time shooting hoops than LeBron James and more time on the links than Tiger Woods.

Earlier this year he said his sole focus was plugging the hole. Then he went on vacation.

Who wrote this shit, Booman?