Lees and Orts

Let’s start with some minor news: The White House comment line (202-456-1111) has been shuttered.

Oh, you can still call, but you get a recording stating the “comments line is currently closed.” 1 Why? Simple – Our Manchurian President doesn’t want to hear from you.

The recording relates the following:

Thank you for calling the White House comment line. The comment line is currently closed, but your comment is important to the president, and we urge you to send us a comment online at www.whitehouse.gov/contact or send a message through Facebook Messenger. For government information by topic, visit www.usa.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO. Thank you for calling, we look forward to hearing from you soon. Goodbye.

If you don’t want an automated email response from the White House, or a sad moji posted to your FB IM, try calling Our Manchurian President direct here.

Brought to you by the ingenious Sanders technical team.

Lees and Orts

You know how middle-of-the-roaders are always shaking their heads in disappointment whenever you mention that anti-abortionists have a larger plan in mind? Well, tell them to suck it – you were right.

Following a considerable amount of cross-talk over services that Planned Parenthood provides with Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, host Reid pulled her panel up and said she wanted to talk about something everyone could agree on: that contraception should be legal.

Not everyone was in agreement.

“I believe certain forms can be legal, yes,” Hawkins agreed, adding, “I don’t believe abortion causing contraception should be legal.”

“What kind of contraception are you talking about?” Reid asked, with Hawkins replying, “Hormonal contraception.”

“You think IUDs should be illegal?” Reid pressed.

“I don’t think they should be legal, “Hawkins replied. “They put women at risk and they kill children.”

“What about the birth control pill?” the unrelenting Reid asked.

“I do not think it should be legal, I think that shouldn’t be legal,” Hawkins replied before trying to change the subject.

Lees and Orts

The notion that it’s easier to pass moderate policies than extreme ones takes its plausibility from the notion of the average or centrist voter. You can read about this voter in polling on policy issues. If your policy is fairly close to the views of the centrist voter, he’s likely to vote for you and you’re likely to win elections; the farther you get from this average view, the more difficulty you’ll have. An extreme candidate will turn off centrist voters for the simple reason that they disagree with him. (It is through this logic that Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum mistakenly concluded that Bernie Sanders would have lost against Donald Trump.)

The trouble with this theory is that in modern US politics it is by definition impossible for a major party to embrace policies which are ‘extreme’ in the sense of ‘far from the consensus views of the average voter.’ The average voter’s policy views, to the extent that these exist at all outside this context other than as artifacts of polling, are largely determined not by any particular factual information about the issues or ideological commitments concerning the role of government but by the policy positions of the major parties. If one of these parties embraces a particular position on any given issue, the 40% of American voters who consistently support that party will come to adopt that position wholesale, while most of the rest will come to believe (and be encouraged by the media’s carefully even-handed reporting to believe) that this position is at least reasonable and defensible if not correct. There are very few views so extreme and so indefensible that they can’t garner mass support if repeated frequently enough by a major US party – just think of ‘global warming is a hoax.’

Lees and Orts

Candidate Trump promised to take on Wall Street. As deregulator-in-chief, he will be Wall Street’s best friend. History teaches us that financial regulations die from a thousand cuts rather than a signifying event. As Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova puts it, ‘Financial reform is like a big onion. The more layers you peel off, the harder you cry.’ For example, by the time the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law removed the Glass-Steagall firewall between commercial and investment banks in 1999, that separation was already effectively wiped out – by administrative waivers granted by regulators. The 1994 Riegle-Neal Act that formally allowed banks to open branches across state lines came after a decade of states altering rules to undermine local control of finance. Deregulation of mortgage rules that led to the housing bubble rolled out over a 20-year period, spanning Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. And even then, it took the George W. Bush administration’s laissez-faire supervision to really supercharge predatory lending. So while Donald Trump, populist rhetoric notwithstanding, promised on the campaign trail and on his transition website to ‘dismantle’ Dodd-Frank financial reform, he probably won’t do it in one shot. He won’t even have to do it through Congress. Here’s the likely blueprint.”

Lees and Orts

Can’t remember the last time a general strike shut down the United States? That’s because it has never happened.

“General strikes don’t happen in the United States,” Kevin Boyle, a historian at Northwestern University who specializes in modern American social movements, told DW.

What do happen are general strikes on a local level, but even those are exceedingly rare, explained Andrew Wender Cohen, a history professor at Syracuse University.

“The last major general strike was in Oakland, California in 1946,” he said. Back then tens of thousands of workers walked off their jobs in a fight over unionization in the city.

Extraordinary idea

While regionally based general strikes like the one in Oakland – involving more than 10,000 workers and shutting down a local economy – happened earlier in the United States in places like San Francisco or Philadelphia, even those regional general strikes always were unusual.

“It is very, very uncommon in US history,” Cohen told DW, adding that for some time now there have been only 20 to 30 larger strikes per year in the entire country.

Against that backdrop, calls for a general strike by the organizer’s of the Women’s March as well as by other groups are not just noteworthy, but daring. 2

Lees and Orts

Attention needs be paid:

On March 21, The Islamic Republic of Iran will cease using the U.S. dollar in all of its financial reporting. The decision to stop using the dollar as a reference has been in the works for some time but was expedited after the Trump administration decided to include Iran as one of the seven countries banned from entering the United States.

…In fact, the United States is already preparing for potential conflict with Iran, the US has introduced H.J.Res.10 – Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution. This resolution was quietly introduced last month with absolutely no media attention in spite of the fact that it ‘authorizes the President to use the U.S. Armed forces as necessary in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.’

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et’s start with

Show 2 footnotes

  1. You know, wherein currently equals permanently.
  2. If this sounds familiar it’s because a general national strike was supposed to happen January 20th was mostly a non-event. We”’ see how this second proposal fares.

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