S&P 500 Investors Keep Focus Fixed on 2022-Q2 Awaiting the Fed’s Next Signals

The third week of May 2022 came and went with Federal Reserve officials signaling their willingness to hike interest rates higher than they've previously suggested. S&P 500 (Index: SPX) investors locked their forward-looking focus on the current quarter of 2022-Q2 in response, held there by the uncertainty of what will come from the decisions the Fed will make before its end.

That's what we read in the latest update to the alternative futures chart, which reveals the index is tracking remarkably closely to the alternative trajectory associated with investors focusing their attention on the current quarter according to the dividend futures-based model.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q2 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 20 May 2022

It's unusual for the actual trajectory of stock prices to track so closely along with a particular projection for investors focusing on a given quarter. We normally see more noise in day-to-day trading than we've had during the past week. That said, the clock is ticking down for how long investors can continue to fix their focus on 2022-Q2, which points to a potential investing opportunity that will exist until their forward-looking attention does shift to another point of time in the future in what will be the stock market's next Lévy flight event.

This assumes we don't see significant erosion in the expectations for dividends expected in the upcoming quarters to which investors might next shift their attention. Fortunately, that prospect is so far a low risk consideration for the near term.

Here are the market-moving news headlines that helped shape investor expectations in the week that was.

Monday, 16 May 2022
Tuesday, 17 May 2022
Wednesday, 18 May 2022
Thursday, 19 May 2022
Friday, 20 May 2022

The CME Group's FedWatch Tool continues to project the Fed will hike rates by a half-point in June (2022-Q2), followed by a two more half-point hikes in July and September (2022-Q3). After which, the tool projects the Fed will slow down, hiking rates by just a quarter point each in November and December 2022 (2022-Q4) to close out the year.

The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tool projects real GDP growth of 2.4% in 2022-Q2, up from last week's projection of 1.8%.

Australian Politics 2022-05-23 07:48:00

Uncategorized


Some refreshing realism from Jim Chalmers

He has in fact inherited a poison chalice. Unwinding inflation is always painful. Unless he is very lucky he will fail so badly that it will detonate the already shaky support (32.8 per cent of the primary vote) for the ALP government and return the conservatives to power after just one term

Australia’s next Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he felt a sense of responsibility with the nation facing “dire economic challenges”.

“This will be the trickiest conditions an incoming treasury has inherited since World War II,” Mr Chalmers said from his Logan home.

“Inflation is skyrocketing, real wages are falling and there’s substantial pressure on the budget with $1 trillion in debt.

“We intend to implement our commitments, we intend to start with these challenges straight away, but we’re realistic about how long it will take to turn these challenges around.”

Mr Chalmers, Labor’s most senior federal MP in Queensland, said he would bring a perspective to the Cabinet table and Treasury from outside the Sydney-Melbourne-Canberra triangle.

“I’m a Queenslander born and bred, but I want to be a Treasurer for the whole country,” he said.

“Being from the suburbs in general and being from Logan particularly means that I have an understanding of the realities of life in communities like ours.

“For me personally, there’s a real sense of responsibility for the hard task ahead.”

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Labor can't ignore low primary vote: Shorten

Incoming NDIS Minister Bill Shorten says while the Morrison government had “run out of puff, Labor can’t “walk away” from their historically low primary vote.

After losing the “unloseable” 2019 federal election, Mr Shorten said the qualitative difference between the two polls was that Scott Morrison’s promise to “just be a daggy dad who wouldn’t cause much harm” had proven to be a lie.

“But more importantly, it feels like a national sigh of relief. The Morison government had run out of puff arguably like this to happen three years ago,” he told Sky News on Monday.

With less than one in three Australians voting for Labor as their first preference, Mr Shorten said he wasn’t going to “walk away” from the challenge of improving Labor’s primary vote, but rejected the narrative Labor's low primary meant the party had not “won the election”.

“When you look at where people put their second preferences, more Australians wanted Labor to be in charge than Liberal. But I don't walk away from the challenge of wanting to improve Labor’s primary vote,” he said.

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Coal, gas sticking point in Senate: Bandt

Bandt is a nasty old Trotskyite but seems to have conned the Greens into thinking he is one of them

Greens leader Adam Bandt says Labor’s support for new coal and gas mines will be a sticking point between the parties in the Senate, saying it will be a “very critical question” in the next parliament.

Riding high behind the Greens' shock victories in the Brisbane seats of the Labor-held Griffith and Liberal-held Ryan, Mr Bandt asserted the party could end up with six seats in the lower house if voting in Macnamara and Richmond broke their way.

But with Labor likely to gain a majority in the lower house, attention has turned to the Senate, where Anthony Albanese will need to negotiate with the crossbench to ensure his legislative agenda can be passed.

“But on the question of climate, the big issue is coal and gas. And we were clear about that during the course of the election and we said to tackle the climate crisis, we can't open up more coal and gas mines now,” Mr Bandt told Radio National on Monday morning.

“And Labor went to the election saying they back the Liberals in opening more coal and gas mines. That is going to be something we were going to need to talk about in this Parliament. We can't put the fire out while we're pouring petrol on it.”

The Greens' demands for their support could put a raft of energy projects in jeopardy, including the Northern Territory's Beetaloo gas basin and mega-mines mooted for Queensland's Galilee Basin.

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Australia set to sign Geneva’s Global Pandemic Treaty

The ‘New Normal’ of medical fascism is coming regardless of how Australians vote at the federal election.

Having acquired a taste for globalised control during the Covid pandemic, the World Health Organisation has teamed up with vaccine manufacturers, philanthropic billionaires, and power-crazed world leaders to create a ‘Global Pandemic Treaty’ in Geneva.

It is set to form part of the ‘one health’ approach proposed by the WHO and has been pitched by its creators as a way to overcome the inconvenient battle between – as they put it – globalism and statism.

According to International Affairs who were reviewing the treaty, the globalist approach ‘shares many overlapping values with that of a transnational cosmopolitan, medical humanitarianism or moral egalitarian world-view, rooted in the Kantian logic of universal community’ while the statist approach is a nationalist one that might ‘undermine’ global efforts.

In June of 2021, Scott Morrison commented on the proposed treaty, saying:

‘It’s essential that we strengthen global (disease) surveillance and provide the World Health Organisation with the authority and the capacity to do this important job for all the peoples of the world. If we are to deliver on this ambitious reform agenda, then we must work together and put other issues aside.’

Yes, the same Prime Minister who attempted to escape criticism by saying ‘there’s no such thing as vaccine mandates’ is champing at the bit to grant the WHO absolute control over the health choices of Australian citizens. It amounts to extending similar emergency powers to the WHO that Daniel Andrews gifted himself in Victoria – except Australians can’t vote the WHO out of power. As for Labor, they have laid down at the feet of the WHO, tummies up and paws in the air like dogs waiting for a rub.

The advertised pretext for a global health treaty is that countries were wrongly allowed to take bespoke approaches to Covid – in particular, their vaccine roll-outs. According to the WHO, this endangered the health of the whole planet.

A more accurate reading of the situation comes from discussions had at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations launched at the World Economic Forum in 2017, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and a consortium of nations that include Australia. The Liberal government pledged a further $100 million to CEPI in March, 2022 to add to the $1.5 billion it has raised from other governments.

As explained in a previous Spectator Australia article, CEPI’s mission is to create ‘equitable access to vaccines’ because they do not like the volatility (and competition) of the free market. This is the same organisation that poured a fortune into RNA and mRNA vaccines for the WHO’s DiseaseX scenario which – less than a year later – was put into emergency production to combat Covid as a ‘proof of concept’ exercise. Their stated objective from the beginning, long before Covid, has been to find a way to force Western governments to purchase vaccines in bulk for the Third World under the banner of ‘equity’.

The handling of the Covid pandemic is being used as an excuse to justify what was already designed and publicised. In this light, the proposed Global Pandemic Treaty is – first and foremost – a trillion-dollar business deal.

Being discussed is a $10 billion per year ‘preparedness fund’ along with an additional $100 billion emergency fund – that you pay for. Who knows what else is coming…

The World Health Organisation often complains about free will when it comes to national pandemic responses. We now know that nations like Sweden were able to provide real-world data that contradicted much of the ‘approved’ health advice issued by the WHO. We also know that the WHO ‘leaned on’ European nations that tried to go their own way with health directives.

If anything, one of the great weaknesses of the Covid pandemic response was the uniform approach enacted by world leaders that copied Communist China in their locking down of nations, unethical medical coercion of citizens, and widespread police brutality. How much worse would the behaviour of state premiers, prime ministers, and presidents have been if their actions were ‘legalised’ by an international treaty with no possible recourse for citizens? There is certainly no confirmation that the WHO took the correct approach, considering some of the countries who deviated from the norm did better than the average of obedient nations.

Worse, the nation that caused the pandemic – China – is one of the notable absences from the treaty. What is the point of enacting the treaty if Patient Zero refuses to come to the table? It’s a bit like the United Nations’ Climate Change promises that don’t include the world’s largest polluter.

Further difficulty is being created by the reputation of the WHO. Historically, the WHO has hardly been a reliable or independent body worthy of wielding absolute power over the global health decisions. Its leader, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was controversially backed by Xi Jinping’s government in a nasty election process. Tedros, in turn, was criticised for shielding China from investigation over the outbreak of Covid that (almost certainly) escaped from a Level 4 Viral Lab in Wuhan. On repeated occasions, advice issued by the WHO was found to be inconsistent or simply wrong, while they issued eye-brow raising changes to long-held dictionary definitions of fundamental concepts like ‘herd immunity’ and ‘vaccines’, let alone the near comical back-flipping on mask advice.

It is not the sort of behaviour that instils confidence. This is before addressing the recorded failures and subsequent investigations into WHO practices in the Third World. If anything, what the world desperately needs is independent thought in pandemic responses – a free market of ideas where merit, not compliance, is given the opportunity to advance health.

If Anthony Albanese signs this treaty, it represents a seismic shift in everything we thought we knew about democracy.

It is likely the treaty will make it possible for a foreign bureaucracy with unacceptably close ties to China to call the shots – literally – on global public health. Universal healthcare was meant to be a voluntary safety net – not a stepping stone to international socialism or the dissolution of body autonomy. That said, the wheels are already falling off, with questions being raised about whether it will be a ‘treaty’ in the legal sense after parts of the WHO Constitution were re-worded.

The vote for this dangerous Pandemic Treaty will be held in Geneva on May 22-28. The Prime Minister of Australia will be there will bells on, ready to sign and absolve himself of the ‘bother’ of responsibility. It is a dream come true for weak leaders who would love nothing better than to let the blame for the next pandemic and the accompanying citizen outrage rest safely offshore.

Among the horrors facing Australia if the treaty were to proceed are the advertised promises of global tracking (most likely through the World Economic Forum’s Digital Identity policy linked to health passes), mandatory vaccination of all citizens, and the ability for the WHO to declare and sustain a pandemic along with its emergency powers.

Lately, international treaties have been used to undemocratically circumnavigate the sovereign will of nations. A treaty is a powerful legal document that leaders use to defy public opinion. While the United Nations cannot force a country to honour its ink-mark (as we saw with China’s shredding of the Sino-British Joint Declaration), Western leaders frequently brandish these treaties as security blankets to justify unpopular policy.

‘The ongoing chaos of this pandemic only underlines why the world needs an ironclad global agreement to set the rule of the game for pandemic preparedness and response,’ said WHO Director General, Dr Tedros.

Or – stay with me on this one – the WHO could do its actual job and properly investigate China and its medical partners for dangerous and experimental gain of function research in dodgy labs.

Will Australia vote for freedom?

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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As Monday dawns on a new era

Uncategorized

Anthony Albanese will be sworn in as prime minister today, pledging to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full and take tougher action on climate change as Labor takes power for the first time in nine years.

Mr Albanese, who will fly to Tokyo with Penny Wong today for the Quad leaders’ summit with US, Indian and Japanese leaders, promised to “get down to business’’ on Labor’s policy agenda when he returned on Wednesday. Labor was on Sunday confident of forming majority government despite the ALP primary vote plunging to 32.8 per cent and the shock losses of frontbenchers Kristina Keneally and Terri ­Butler.

Simon Benson writes: This is a watershed moment for Australian politics. The depth of disillusionment in the two-party system is unmistakeable and the tipping point that people have talked about for years has finally arrived. The size of the crossbench will more than double, with up to 15 independents and minor party MPs. Such an outcome is without precedent for the Australian parliament.

Peter Dutton is the frontrunner to replace Scott Morrison un­opposed as Liberal leader following the election bloodbath and loss of rising stars in the partyroom. The loss of up to 10 moderate Liberal MPs is expected to hand Mr Dutton and the conservative faction greater power in deciding the leadership line-up at the next partyroom meeting. Keep up with the latest in our live blog, PoliticsNow.

The Liberal Party has been cleaved in two and faces ­divisions in how to respond to the election defeat, including which direction to take in the next parliamentary term, after its moderate faction was “eviscerated”.

According to Jamie Walker, the Liberals’ centre of gravity has collapsed into the outer suburbs and regions, far removed from the leafy inner-city heartland seats that turned teal or Green to pose an existential threat to the party of Menzies and Howard.

The Coalition has been weakened by Anthony Albanese’s election victory, with senior Liberal and Nationals frontbenchers acknowledging growing differences between urban and regional communities as well as ongoing conflicts over climate change.

While the Liberals were on track to lose 19 seats on Sunday, with a further three in danger, the Nationals were holding all of their 16 lower house seats. Barnaby Joyce says his future as leader of the Nationals will be a “decision for the party room”.  Mr Joyce said: “With three retiring members, the Nats held every seat and picked up another senator. I am proud that, with our team, I have never gone to an election as leader or deputy and not held all the seats as well as winning one, and that is with the tide coming in or against us.”

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/anthony-albanese-vows-to-get-down-to-business/news-story/2fdfa5058bb48f938cc0a5abeb95810f



Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 22, 2022

Uncategorized

 Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 22, 2022

by Tony Wikrent

Buffalo mass shooting

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2022]

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Real Scarcity Informed Buffalo Shooter’s Racist Conspiracy 

[Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 5-18-2022]

Addressing this violence, though, also requires considering the role of scarcity — not a conspiracy theory, but a very real system of extreme inequality and ecological destruction. It is a system in which the most wealthy and powerful continue to see their wealth and power grow — at the expense of the masses. Faced with actual strained resources and environmental calamity, some of these forsaken people are turning to dark fantasies like the “great replacement theory” to make sense of it all.


It’s Time To Talk About Capitalism — The shooting in Buffalo spotlights the taboo topic we must discuss: the link between hypercapitalism and racism.

Matthew Cunningham-Cook, May 16, 2022 [The Lever]

Particularly in the U.S. — where the socialist branch of the labor movement that brought us the eight-hour workday, the weekend, and Social Security was crushed in the McCarthy era and never recovered — we must start explaining the virtues of worker control over production and worker power in politics, and how it addresses the problem we face: The rich make every economic decision in society, while treating workers as subhuman.

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children,” King said.

The one percent — like Rupert Murdoch, the misanthropic owner of Fox News, and TV host Tucker Carlson — uses racism to get a portion of the white 99 percent to act against their own economic interests.


Strategic Political Economy

Who is leading the United States to war? 

[Monthly Review, via Mike Norman Economics 5-20-2022]

This article comes to three conclusions: first, in the Biden administration, two foreign policy elite groups that used to compete against each other, liberal hawks and neoconservatives, have merged strategically, forming the most important foreign policy consensus within the elite echelon since 1948 and bringing the country’s war policy to a new level; second, in consideration of long-term interests, the big bourgeoisie in the United States has reached a consensus that China is a strategic rival, and has established solid support for its foreign policy; and third, due to the design of the U.S. Constitution, the expansion of the far-right forces, and the sheer monetization of elections, the so-called democratic institutions of checks and balances are completely incapable of restraining the belligerent policy from spreading..

The Merging of Belligerent Foreign Policy Elites

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the rise of U.S. unilateralism, the neoconservatives entered the mainstream in U.S. foreign policy with their thought leader, Paul Wolfowitz, who was once an aide to Henry Jackson. In 1992, just a few months after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, then Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Wolfowitz introduced his Defense Policy Guidance, which explicitly advocated a permanent unipolar position for the United States to be created through the expansion of U.S. military power into the sphere of influence of the former Soviet Union and along all its perimeters, with the object of preventing the reemergence of Russia as a great power. The unipolar U.S.-led “grand strategy”, through the projection of military force, served to guide the foreign policies of George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, along with Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. The first Gulf War was made possible, in large part, due to the Soviet weakness. This was followed by the U.S./NATO military dismemberment of Yugoslavia. After 911, the Bush Jr. administration’s foreign policy was completely dominated by the neoconservatives, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

While they both advocated foreign military interventions, there are two historic differences between liberal hawks and neoconservatives. First, liberal hawks believed that the United States should influence the UN and other international institutions to carry out military intervention, while neoconservatives intended to ignore multilateral institutions. Second, liberal hawks sought military intervention alongside U.S.-led Western allies, while neoconservatives were not afraid to conduct unilateral military operations and violate anything resembling international laws. 


The Return of a Criminal Neocon: Why does the foreign-policy and journalistic establishment still welcome Elliott Abrams?

Eric Alterman, May 20, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Post-Afghanistan and Ukraine, neocons have attempted to seize an opportunity to return themselves to the center of foreign-policy debate, now that (maybe) people don’t remember Iraq so well. Abrams, who literally has never met a potential U.S. (or Israeli) military action for which he did not cheerlead (and simultaneously accuse its opponents of lily-livered cowardice), showed up to argue that the nearly 40 percent of world military spending we account for is far too little….

Some neocons have shown a willingness to reconsider their previous errors in light of their politics having led to Trump. Max Boot gets most of the honors in this category. (William Kristol is in a sort of purgatory for acting like he now knows he was wrong about pretty much everything, but would just as soon move on. I wrote a sort of scorecard on this point back in 2009.) But Abrams, perhaps the man who needed to do more than anyone else alive to repudiate his past views, is sticking to his rhetorical (and metaphorical) guns. This would almost be funny in the way that Lindsey Graham or Ted Cruz’s constant brownnosing of Trump is almost funny. Abrams, however, is particularly problematic because he continues to be taken seriously by most of the members of the mainstream media and what remains of the foreign-policy establishment. (He is after all a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, among his other appointments.) Yet not only has he been demonstrably wrong about virtually every major issue since he was a “child prodigy,” but he was also convicted of lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal while holding the very position that Nordlinger thinks ought to recommend him….

Well, it’s been said, not by me, that “where there is no vision, the people perish,” and vision on the left as far as foreign policy has been in decidedly short supply. Fortunately, we now have two prescient pieces in Foreign Affairs by Bernie Sanders’s foreign-policy guru (and Altercation good friend and long-ago American Prospect intern) Matt Duss. Following up on his 2020 piece, “U.S. Foreign Policy Never Recovered From the War on Terror,” Duss’s new contribution lays the groundwork for a policy that is both hard-headed and soft-hearted; providing a framework for the rest of us to think about individual places and issues that elude simple slogans. In the article entitled “The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy,” Duss recognizes that Russia’s war against Ukraine requires a “paradigm shift” in our approach to the world, and credits the Biden administration with handling the crisis well so far. But taking us well beyond just holding NATO together (or further expanding it), he seeks to locate how it might be possible to actually apply the principles to which our politicians so frequently pay tribute in rhetoric while ignoring them in practice. I cannot do justice to all, or really any, of Duss’s proposals in this space except to say that if you read these two articles, you will come away with the single best discussion of what’s wrong with U.S. foreign policy and how it might possibly be repaired. 


The complicity of the CEOs 

[The Ink, via The Big Picture 5-15-2022]

A conversation with journalist David de Jong about the secret Nazi pasts of many of modern Germany’s great fortunes — and his warning for American business leaders….

We had four years of Trumpism, but it's not gone. There's a real question about it coming back in 2024. I imagine some, if not all, of the big CEOs and billionaires are privately wrestling with it and wondering, Is there some moral limit? We haven't really seen one for most of them yet.

Based on this very extreme experience in Germany, what warning would you give to American business leaders and billionaires about how to think about the problem of fascism on the rise in America and the eternal pragmatism of the businessperson?

Don't let short-term profits guide your political decisions.

It's an extremely naive warning, but they should be mindful of history. I'm not only talking about the four years of Trump. Throughout American and German history, we've seen the complicity between business and politics and the horrific effects it can have on a global level. Be mindful of history. Let history guide your decisions.


What’s Happening to America? A Theocratic-Fascist Revolution

umair haque [Eudaimonia, via The Big Picture 5-15-2022]

It’s been a decade or so since I began to predict — and warn — America was collapsing. And over the years, I’ve been called everything from hyperbolic to an “alarmist” and beyond, insulted in the New York Times, attacked by the Atlantic, the list goes on. I have a question for you. Do you believe me yet?

Here America is. People are in shock and disbelief, though they shouldn’t be, because, well, like I said, plenty of people have been warning….

The future of America looks incredibly bleak. It is bleaker than Americans can yet imagine. They haven’t lived through the horrors of totalitarianism and theocracy. I have. They haven’t studied them really. I have. We have, rather, because there are plenty like me. But the average person is still out there — remember when I said this all those years ago? — underestimating American collapse.

What do I mean by that? For the last decade, American collapse has been relatively slow, punctuated by a spectacular event every now and then. Trump plodded his way through an early variant of fascism, incompetently, and all that ended in a bloody coup attempt — and that was only last year….

But now American collapse is happening at light speed. So fast you get whiplash just watching it every day. Who can keep up anymore?

Here’s a random smattering of events from just the last week. Kentucky’s fanatics want to ban contraception — LOL, even Pakistan doesn’t do that. Mississippi’s governor refused to rule out banning contraception. Missouri’s lunatics wants to stop women leaving the state. Louisiana advanced a bill that would criminalise abortion — both the provider and the patient. That same bill would also class IUDs and Plan B as murder. Tennessee’s governor signed a bill restricting access to abortion pills. Mitch McConnell said it was “possible” that a GOP controlled Senate would attempt a federal ban on abortion.


Alito Outs and Splits the Republicans

Robert Kuttner, May 16, 2022 [The American Prospect]

In Texas, doctors are reporting that the state’s recent law is making it much more difficult to treat women after a miscarriage. The doctor is made responsible for assuring that the miscarriage wasn’t actually a deliberate abortion, and becomes an agent of a police state rather than a caregiver to women.

In Louisiana, legislation was fast-tracked to define a woman who had an abortion as a murderer, vulnerable to prosecution for homicide. Republicans and their allies in the anti-abortion movement, enraged about the possibility of sanctuary states helping women from jurisdictions that prohibit abortion, have been planning national legislation to prohibit abortion everywhere.


The Death of the Democratic Party 

W. J. Astore, Lieutenant Colonel (USAF ret.) [Bracing Views, via Mike Norman Economics 5-20-2022]

Not a single Democrat is against spending more than $50 billion that will serve to feed a war rather than putting a stop to it?

$54 billion represents roughly 80% of what Russia spends on its military for an entire year. How much is the U.S. government prepared to spend if the war drags on for the next few months? Another $54 billion? More?

The Democratic Party can’t get all its members to vote for a $15 federal minimum wage, or for student debt relief, or more affordable health care and lower prescription drug prices, and similar promises made by Joe Biden as he ran for president in 2020. But weapons for Ukraine brings instant and total accord and rapid action.


Your Money and Your Life: Private Equity Blasts Ethical Boundaries of American Medicine

Lynn Parramore [Institute for New Economic Thinking, via Naked Capitalism 5-19-2022]

...PE seeks to invest or acquire equity ownership in companies and flip them fast for a higher price. They’ll get that higher price by any means necessary – chopping staff, cutting corners, and loading the company with debt along the way. The idea is to buy, squeeze, dump, repeat. Private equity is now a major player in the health care sector, with investments accelerated in recent years at a mind-blowing pace ($100 billion in capital invested in 2018 alone).

So how do these motives and operations line up with health care? Let’s see … how would you like to send your loved one to a rehab facility where successful treatment would be considered a failure because they want the patient to come back?

As Olson documents, that’s how perverse things get. She notes that in order to gin up business, PE firms taking over rehab centers will resort to a tactic known as “body brokering” – having companies pay intermediaries to lure patients in by trolling on social media, hanging out at 12-step meetings, and spinning fancy marketing campaigns. If the (often unscientific) treatments don’t work, score one for private equity! Owners aren’t liable for ineffective treatments, Olson points out, “so when patients relapse they can charge them another round.” Meanwhile, they abuse eligibility for federal payments, soaking up taxpayer funds meant to fight human tragedies like the opioid scourge….

The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) has focused on the alarming trend of private equity buying health care providers and taking them private through research by Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt, and detailed the encroachment of private equity into emergency rooms in a series of articles over the pandemic. INET’s Thomas Ferguson and colleagues Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen have also focused attention on private equity’s political contributions. Now, Laura Katz Olson shares her perspective with INET on how we got to this dangerous place and what we can do to get out of it….

Laura Katz Olson: Private equity firms used to take huge conglomerates and tear them apart to sell off the parts because the parts were worth far more than the whole. Today what they do is the opposite – they take a small piece that’s well-functioning, like a flourishing dental practice, and they add more and more dental practices to it — consolidating. They’re especially interested in niches that are not consolidated. After they consolidate for three or four years, they sell it in a secondary LBO [leveraged buyout], and after that, they’re selling it to a third, on and on…. They put all this debt on the company and then squeeze it. When you’re talking about services like home care or hospice care, it’s the front-line staff that will get squeezed. They cut the workforce, so you have fewer workers per patient. You lower the qualifications for the staff so you can get cheaper labor. You have fewer physicians because they’re expensive. You have less training and supervision. You overbook – you get a kind of production line going. For products, you use cheaper materials. You skimp on medical supplies, etc…..

...you have to worry about getting lured into procedures you don’t need. I’ve heard of dental offices where children were put in straight jackets and teeth were pulled that didn’t need to be pulled. Elderly people have been given unnecessary dental work. I’m particularly offended by what goes on in hospice care. You have people dying and Medicare is paying for them to have a dignified, quiet death. Instead, they are neglected as these PE firms are profiteering. Children with autism are being harmed, too. Autism is an easy target for profiteering because there’s a shortage of practitioners and you’re free to do whatever treatment you want and call it standard treatment. There’s so much that goes wrong. These are just a few examples.


Private Equity Gloats Over A Doctor Glut

Maureen Tkacik, May 20, 2022 [The Lever] 

A private-equity-owned emergency room staffing firm co-founded by a wealthy Republican congressman has been openly hailing a coming “oversupply” of doctors, promising prospective investors that a surplus of emergency physicians — soon projected to reach nearly 10,000 — will drive doctors’ wages low enough to offset the haircut that health care reforms have imposed upon its profit margins….

Like most of its competitors, APP has watched its profit margins and credit ratings sink since various laws banning surprise billing were enacted last year. While APP claims it never sent surprise bills to patients, it has also told its doctors in email exchanges reviewed by The Lever that various laws banning the practice had resulted in a 50 percent drop in the company’s revenues from certain large insurers.

But in its November 2021 pitch deck to investors, APP tells a different story, promising the company will more than make up for the expected $5.8 million to $11.6 million hit to its $122 million in annual gross earnings, by slashing some $19.6 million from its payroll costs. APP can do this in the midst of a once-in-a-generation health care labor shortage, according to the presentation, thanks to a coming glut of ER doctors.


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

First on CNN: Record-high gas prices slash US spending by $9 billion a month 

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2022]


How Trump Caused Inflation

[TYT, via The Lever 5-15-2022]

“Wall Street created the loophole almost a decade ago, to escape U.S. regulation of complex financial trades related to commodities like oil and wheat. Then the Trump administration fortified the loophole.”


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2022]

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TW: The obvious answer is that “many economists” are not interested in truth, because they are merely shills and propagandists for a predatory economic system owned and run by criminals and sociopaths. 


The pandemic

How Australia Saved Thousands of Lives While Covid Killed a Million Americans 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2022]

….Australia offers perhaps the sharpest comparisons with the American experience. Both countries are English-speaking democracies with similar demographic profiles. In Australia and in the United States, the median age is 38. Roughly 86 percent of Australians live in urban areas, compared with 83 percent of Americans.

Yet Australia’s Covid death rate sits at one-tenth of America’s, putting the nation of 25 million people (with around 7,500 deaths) near the top of global rankings in the protection of life….

In global surveys, Australians were more likely than Americans to agree that “most people can be trusted” — a major factor, researchers found, in getting people to change their behavior for the common good to combat Covid, by reducing their movements, wearing masks and getting vaccinated. Partly because of that compliance, which kept the virus more in check, Australia’s economy has grown faster than America’s through the pandemic.

But of greater import, interpersonal trust — a belief that others would do what was right not just for the individual but for the community — saved lives. Trust mattered more than smoking prevalence, health spending or form of government, a study of 177 countries in The Lancet recently found. And in Australia, the process of turning trust into action began early.


How Public Health Failed America 

[The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism 5-19-2022]


Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoes GOP bill aimed at banning all future mask mandates 

[Kansas City Star, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2022]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2022]

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Information age dystopia

Pfizer CEO Discusses His Next Breakthrough Technology – CPU Pill That Makes Sure You’re Compliant 

[BitChute, via Naked Capitalism 5-21-2022]


They're not capitalists - they're a criminal predatory class

CEO Pay Packages Rose to Median $14.7 Million in 2021, a New High 

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2022]


Is the Typical CEO Really Worth $15 Million? 

[New Republic, via Naked Capitalism 5-18-2022]


The Union-Busting Crime Wave at Starbucks and Amazon Is Getting Worse 

[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2022]


Chicken Prices and Chicken Shit — Defense lawyers go after Antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2022]

Defense lawyers go after Antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter for citing the 'Chickenshit Club.' It is a 'crass double-entendre,' they say, and an ethics violation for Kanter to talk like a normal human.


BABY FORMULA INDUSTRY SUCCESSFULLY LOBBIED TO WEAKEN BACTERIA SAFETY TESTING STANDARDS 

[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2022]

TW: Killing babies. Babies. The lobbyists and executives involved at the very least should suffer the long term disruption of defending themselves against murder charges. That’s how you deter this generation of selfish, money-driven, sociopathic professionals. 


The Age of Rationing: From pandemic supply chain snarls to baby formula shortages, we forgot that physical production isn’t magic, and we need to engineer it for stability.

David Dayen, May 16, 2022 [The American Prospect]

What led to our current predicament of rising prices, missing goods, and rationing was obvious if you knew where to look. Weeks before COVID lockdowns in the U.S., the American Economic Liberties Project’s Matt Stoller wrote the most perceptive and also the simplest prediction we’ve seen over the past several years. It boils down to this: Our system of production, logistics, and regulatory oversight was not engineered to handle any stress.


Why Your Utility Company Sucks

Kate Aronoff, May 19, 2022 [The New Republic]

The United States will be asking a lot of its electric grid over the coming decades. Everything from home heating to transportation will need to move to the grid, as a system built to distribute electrons out from a central source transforms to accept them back from millions of rooftop solar arrays—all as it swiftly excises coal and gas and weathers the climate crisis those fuel sources have already created... Right now, the vast majority of the U.S. grid is managed by companies that have had regulatory capture and rampant corruption baked into their business model.

This week, 235 organizations—including nonprofits Solar United Neighbors, the Energy and Policy Institute, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Open Markets Institute, as well as a variety of consumer and anti-monopoly advocates, environmental groups, and rooftop solar companies—submitted a petition asking the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation into investor-owned utilities’ anti-competitive practices and violations of consumer protections. Specifically, they’re asking the agency to explore “unfair competitive actions that harm clean energy competitors, including consumers generating their own renewable electricity” and “unfair and deceptive acts, including corrupt dealings and voting interference, that enrich utilities and ultimately drive up consumer electricity rates and decrease consumer choice.”


Grid monitor warns of U.S. blackouts in ‘sobering report’ 

[EnergyWire, via Naked Capitalism 5-21-2022]


The Global Fertilizer Crisis 

American Conservative, via Naked Capitalism 5-18-2022] 


U.S. Consumer Spending On Gasoline Has Doubled In 12 Months 

[OilPrice, via Naked Capitalism 5-21-2022]


Predatory Finance

How the Options Tail Has Come to Wag the Market Dog: A Simple English Language Explanation of How Structural Changes in the Stock Markets Contribute to Whipsaw Movements in Prices

May 18, 2022 [Naked Capitalism]


Fed Chair Powell Says “Markets Are Orderly” and “Functioning.” They’re Not.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, May 19, 2022 [Wall Street on Parade]

Crypto assets, which have been widely called a pyramid scheme based on the Greater Fool theory but were nonetheless allowed to spread throughout U.S. markets, had climbed to a market value of $2.9 trillion last November. That’s now a $1.4 trillion market cap with $1.5 trillion of investors’ money going poof in six months. That’s certainly not an orderly market.

Last week we reported that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto told Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a hearing that the crypto market “is now larger than the subprime mortgage market which triggered the global financial crisis.”


“HSBC AM global head of responsible investing: ‘Who cares if Miami is six metres under water in 100 years?'”

[Investment Week, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-20-2022]

HSBC Asset Management global head of responsible investing Stuart Kirk: “‘At a big bank like ours, what do people think the average loan length is?’ he asked. ‘It is six years. What happens to the planet in year seven is actually irrelevant to our loan book. For coal, what happens in year seven is actually irrelevant. Let’s get back to making money out of the transition.” More: “Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that is a really nice place. We will cope with it.


Climate and environmental crises

Insurers Are Suffering Major Losses Due To Climate Change

[Oiprice, via Mike Norman Economics 5-18-2022]

Insurers are now suffering 3.6 times more losses from natural catastrophes than they were three decades ago, according to new research, which suggests insurance companies are being hit by the impacts of climate change.

Natural catastrophe events are costing insurers around the world 250 percent more than they were 30 years ago, due to an increase in events such as flooding, storms, and wildfires.

In 2021 alone, storms in the US cost insurers $60bn, while floods in Germany cost $9bn and wildfires in Australia cost insurance firms another $63bn.

The costs associated with climate change events are also set to rise in coming decades, as current policies are set to see 2.4°C of warming by 2100, the report from French consulting firm Capgemini and the European Financial Management Association (EFMA) says.  

However, the report says climate change also poses an opportunity for insurers, as it claims climate risks are set to account for around 30-40 percent of the $2.5trn increase in global insurance premiums over the next two decades.


Restoring balance to the economy

Here’s why the arguments against canceling student debt make no sense 

Michael Hiltzik [Los Angeles Times, via Naked Capitalism 5-19-2022]


Several States Are Taking the Lead on Restoring Overtime Pay 

[The American Prospect, May 19, 2022]

But during decades in which lawmakers and lobbyists cut away at overtime access, states like Washington and California actually strengthened it. They increased the amount that a worker could earn while remaining eligible for overtime, and expanded overtime to previously exempt professions such as farmwork.

“In recent years, states have been leading the way for bolder action to restore and strengthen overtime protections,” says Paul Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project.

By tapping into their progressive traditions to fill the federal void, such states suggest a pathway for others interested in bolstering such rights, regardless of what the White House does.


Politics and the Price Level 

[Phenomenal World, via Naked Capitalism 5-20-2022]

Control of prices has also been a key feature of American law since the nineteenth century. In the early Republic, state governments employed licensing laws to fix minimum charges for such occupations as porters, carters, wagoners, draymen, and wood sawyers. After the Civil War, the political economy in the United States was largely redefined by competition over real income among three classes: farmers; large corporations in manufacturing, processing, and distribution; and industrial workers. Responding to the challenge, state governments in the 1870s fixed the prices charged by grain elevators and railroad corporations. Statute by statute, they enlarged the remit of public rate regulation over the next five decades to include fuel, meat, insurance, housing, and human labor. Under theories of “natural monopoly” elaborated by the founders of the American Economics Association (AEA) the states established public utility commissions. Congress established the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887, the Federal Reserve Board in 1913, and the Federal Trade Commission in 1914.

Following World War I, the US Department of Agriculture undertook a decades-long exploratory program on the problem of declining farm prices and the resulting redistribution of resources from country to town, rural to urban communities. Wealthy organized farmers lobbied repeatedly for the McNary-Haugen acts of 1926–1927, which proposed a government export corporation to purchase surplus commodities at guaranteed high prices for dumping in foreign markets. With the coming of the New Deal, the general suspension of antitrust laws under the National Recovery Administration, and the Supreme Court’s eventual expansive reading of the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, the taboo against price policy was openly challenged. During World War II, an unprecedented government-financed mobilization program under comprehensive control of prices brought production to capacity, with inflation almost entirely suppressed.


Tom Nelson says he knows how to fight for workers

[The Cap Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2022]

“When he heard that members of United Auto Workers Local 180 were on strike against CNH, the multinational corporation that makes Case agricultural equipment in Racine County, Tom Nelson raced to join their picket line…. Nelson had heard this story before. He’s something of an expert on labor relations, having written a book, “One Day Stronger: How One Union Local Saved a Mill and Changed an Industry — and What It Means for American Manufacturing,” on the fight to prevent the shuttering of the Appleton Coated plant in the Fox River Valley.”


Disrupting mainstream economics

Advancing the Monetary Policy Toolkit through Outright Transfers

[International Monetary Fund, via Mike Norman Economics 5-17-2022]

This paper argues that in reserve currency issuing economies at the effective lower bound, outright transfers from the central bank to households are both more equitable and more effective in achieving monetary policy objectives than asset purchases or negative interest rates. It shows that concerns pertaining to central banks’ policy solvency and equity position can be addressed through a careful assessment of a central bank's loss absorbing capacity and, if need be, tiered reserve remuneration policies. It also spells out key differences to a debt or money financed fiscal stimulus, which are particularly pronounced in a currency union without a central fiscal capacity. The paper concludes by discussing broader institutional, political, and legal considerations.


Disrupting mainstream politics

The Surprising Benefits of Voting for Change — A look at the impact of voting incumbents out of office

[VoxEU, via Naked Capitalism 5-17-2022]

We show that electoral turnovers improve the performance of countries along several dimensions. For example, an electoral defeat of the national incumbent candidate or party results in an improvement of 0.34 standard deviations in economic performance on average during the following four years. This is mainly driven by a relative decline in inflation and unemployment after the close election of a challenger. These effects are large in magnitude and materialise gradually over time: the boost in economic performance is largest three years after the close election of a challenger candidate or party.


Dem Voters Want Dem Pols Who Do Things: ​​​​​​​The Joe Manchin wing of the party lost big on Tuesday.

Alexander Sammon, May 18, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Tuesday’s primary elections were defined by historic super PAC spending attempting to quash a number of progressive candidates and an attempted hostile takeover of the Democratic primary process like we’ve never seen. At last count, just a handful of super PACs had dumped $18 million to influence the outcome in favor of moderates.

The expectation in politics is that the person with the most money wins. And that played out in several races Tuesday night. In numerous races, massive super PAC money backed moderate candidates with institutional endorsements and little enthusiasm. But surprisingly, progressives largely won the argument that voters want to see their representatives fighting for an agenda rather than fighting to stop it. The candidates most tied to trying to slam the brakes on progress were defeated. The candidates who organized their communities in favor of getting things done for the people were successful. And in one incredible instance, voters saw through the hollowness of millions of outside dollars.

The night’s early returns were headlined by the triumph of Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman over moderate House Rep. Conor Lamb for the state’s Democratic Senate nomination. Fetterman was expected to win, but did so resoundingly, winning every single county while holed up in a hospital bed recovering from pacemaker surgery….

In House races in Pennsylvania, progressives also won out. In a low-profile race that brought zero outside spending, former Bernie Sanders delegate Chris Deluzio won easily over moderate Sean Meloy in Pennsylvania’s 17th District. That seat is currently held by Lamb, who has long claimed that his political canniness in voting against Democratic legislative priorities made him the only Democrat who could win in that district. Now, Lamb could be replaced by a progressive….

Pennsylvania’s 12th, meanwhile, was anything but a low-profile contest. Thirty-four-year-old progressive Summer Lee eked out the narrowest of victories over Steve Irwin, a corporate lawyer whose firm engaged in union-busting campaigns. Just a handful of weeks ago, the race looked like a laugher, with Lee up 25 points. Then, AIPAC began blanketing the airwaves with at least $2.7 million in attack ads, while DMFI PAC chipped in another $400,000, bringing the margin of victory to near-zero. Because of Lee’s exceptional organization and ground game, and experience running against the Pennsylvania machine in a race just four years ago, she was able to pull it out….

In Oregon, massive super PAC spending on behalf of Democratic obstructionists was also unsuccessful. The race in the Fifth District has yet to be called, but Jamie McLeod-Skinner looks to have defeated incumbent Kurt Schrader, the Democratic representative best known for voting down President Biden’s extremely popular drug pricing reform legislation (or for calling the impeachment of Donald Trump after January 6, 2021, a “lynching”). McLeod-Skinner consistently called Schrader “the Joe Manchin of the House,” and was fond of saying that running to Schrader’s left just made her a normal Democrat…

In the Sixth District next door, Protect Our Future PAC, a super PAC associated with crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, put up more than $11 million for Carrick Flynn, a relative no-namer in an open seat. Crypto PACs are a new entrant into Democratic electioneering, and this race marked the PAC’s biggest investment. It was matched by $1 million in spending from the party’s own House Majority PAC, a move that enraged local Democrats and confused national ones.

Yet Flynn lost to Medicare for All supporter Andrea Salinas, and it wasn’t close. If anything, the massive amount of spending backfired on the neophyte candidate, turning off voters.


Dem Voters Flip Off Party Leaders And Their Big Donors

David Sirota, Matthew Cunningham-Cook & Andrew Perez, May 18, 2022 [The Lever]

Pennsylvania and Oregon election results show voters rejecting the demands of oligarchs and Democratic elites….

If projected election results hold, underdog progressive candidates will end up winning most of the big primary contests of the night, despite being vilified by oligarch-bankrolled super PACs linked to the Democratic Party machine.

Notably, in at least two of the races, the progressive candidates framed their primary contest as a referendum on the politics of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

The progressive candidates’ success comes as new polling data show Democratic voters are frustrated with their party’s leadership’s incrementalism.


Democrats’ political suicide

“The Democratic Party’s Leadership Is Trying to Destroy Progressives”

David Sirota [Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-18-2022]

“In all, more than a dozen consulting firms that have worked directly for either Democratic Party committees or President Joe Biden’s political apparatus have been paid more than $12 million by the allegedly independent super PACs now buying primary elections for corporate candidates, according to federal disclosures reviewed by us…. aken together, the endorsements, the donor overlap, and the party ties of the allegedly independent committees show there is no real separation between the Democratic leadership and the “outside” spending. This is one large party-sanctioned operation aimed at the Left, even when corporatists are undermining the party’s agenda and its own president. Indeed, rather than amping up potential progressive primary pressure on Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Biden’s political machine actually ran ads touting her as she was killing his signature economic legislation and driving down his approval ratings. This lack of pretense, where the leadership isn’t even pretending to be impartial or progressive, represents a significant break from the past. Once upon a time (read: up to the mid 2000s), Democratic leaders typically stayed officially neutral in intraparty battles. These weren’t exactly halcyon days — the power brokers still quietly encouraged donor support for preferred candidates. However, that kind of rigging was hidden in the shadows, so as to not publicly violate the once-sacrosanct idea that Democratic voters should be trusted to choose nominees and — by extension — the party’s ideological complexion. That tradition began to change in 2006 after Rahm Emanuel bought a Chicago-area congressional seat and began handpicking House Democratic nominees through the party’s campaign apparatus. Later, the party’s political machine went all in against Sanders’s 2020 presidential primary campaign and then went in even stronger for corporate candidates in contested Senate primaries in Iowa, Maine, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Colorado — and in the latter case, even progressives like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) participated in the scale-thumbing. All of this escalated to the DCCC literally blacklisting political consultants who worked for unapproved Democratic candidates.”


They Are Not Even Pretending Anymore: Democratic leaders are joining with oligarchs to try to permanently destroy the progressive movement.

David Sirota, May 17, 2022 [The Lever]


“Kurt Schrader Blasted Nancy Pelosi as “Truly a Terrible Person” While Killing Biden’s Build Back Better”

[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2022]

“[Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore] was a leader of an effort by centrist Democrats to disrupt Pelosi and President Joe Biden’s plan to pair a bipartisan infrastructure package with a reconciliation bill that included Biden’s social policy agenda as well as an ambitious attempt to tackle the climate crisis. In June, Schrader had joined with Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and seven other Democrats demanding that the bipartisan bill be split apart from the broader agenda.” Fast forward to today: “On May 12, House Majority PAC, Pelosi’s super PAC, gave the maximum $5,000 to Schrader’s campaign. A Pelosi spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to respond to Schrader’s claim that the House speaker is truly a terrible person.”


“Republican Money Is Gushing Into Democratic Primaries To Nominate Conservative Dems”

[Down with Tyranny, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2022]

“Massive amounts of Republican money is being laundered into Democratic primaries via AIPAC’s sleazy United Democracy Project and Mark Mellman’s even sleazier Democratic Majority for Israel. The two crooked right-wing organizations are attacking– usually with out-right lies– Erica Smith and Nida Allam in North Carolina, Summer Lee in Pennsylvania, Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon, Jessica Cisneros in Texas.”


“Democrats’ Major Campaign Tech Firm Shifts Under New Private Equity Owner”

[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-16-2022]

“In August 2021, when the parent company of NGP VAN, a privately owned database that hosts Democrats’ most sensitive data, was sold to Apax Partners, a British private equity firm, a major vulnerability in the party infrastructure was exposed. NGP VAN, which is part of the fundraising management software company EveryAction, is one of two major organizations that run the coveted organizing, voter file, and compliance tools that the Democratic Party relies on to build power…. Progressive operatives have long been critical of NGP VAN’s effective duopoly over software for Democratic campaigns. Action Network, built to protect voter data from being used outside an organizing purpose, is its major nonprofit competitor. ActBlue, a major Democratic fundraising firm, integrated its services with NGP in 2018.” More: “The next week, the firm introduced its new corporate name: Bonterra. An umbrella that covers what were once four companies — EveryAction; another fundraising software for nonprofits called Network for Good; and two nonprofit and philanthropic tech companies that Apax combined with EveryAction in the August merger, Social Solutions and CyberGrants — Bonterra’s stated goal is to connect nonprofits to donors. While the four companies adopted the Bonterra name, NGP VAN, though functionally in the same position, remained a stand-alone brand.” “Bonterra.” Get it? More: “Apax partner Jason Wright, who is a director on Bonterra’s board, gave near-maximum contributions to Republican Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in November 2020, several weeks after they both lost their elections. That month, he also gave $5,600 to WinRed, the GOP fundraising platform. Wright previously contributed to committees for Democratic and Republican presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. In a statement after the 2021 merger, Wright and Apax principal Adam Garson, another Bonterra director, said that the “resulting scale and connectivity between donors and non-profits will help reshape philanthropic giving.” A spokesperson for Apax, who declined to comment on the record, said Wright’s role at Bonterra was in oversight and that he had no operating control.”


The Disastrous Legacy of the New Democrats: Clintonites taught their party how to talk about helping people without actually doing it.

Alex Pareene, May 16, 2022 [The New Republic]

The crew that would come to take over the Democratic Party organized themselves, in the 1980s, around the idea that the party had become discredited among the public because it was in thrall to its more liberal elements. These “New Democrats” gravitated toward Gary Hart, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic Party nomination in 1984, positioned as the candidate of “new ideas” against Walter Mondale, ostensibly the embodiment of stale Great Society liberalism. Hart, along with allies like Representative Tim Wirth, articulated what Geismer calls “larger generational skepticism with large institutions and bureaucracy.” In practice, “large institutions” tended to mean unions and government agencies. The New Democrats were similarly allergic to “transactional politics” and “special interest groups,” which Geismer helpfully defines as “African Americans, women, white farmers, and, especially, organized labor.”

….But what the New Democrats truly wanted, and truly believed their policy agenda would win, was the white suburban vote. In the wake of Ronald Reagan’s reelection, in 1985, the political strategist Al From founded the Democratic Leadership Council, with an inaugural membership of 41 people, including 14 senators and 17 representatives. Of that group, two members were nonwhite, and none were women. The philosophy of the DLC, shaped by early members like From, the political consultant David Osborne, and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, was to go after the “aspiring middle” electorate in suburbia rather than the working class and dispossessed, and to appeal to it with an agenda that stressed economic dynamism, free trade, embrace of the tech industry, and—vitally—the destruction of the welfare state.


Swiss Billionaire’s Mega-Influence On U.S. Politics 

Real Clear Politics, via Naked Capitalism 5-18-2022]


Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

“The Plotters Against America”

John Ganz, Unpopular Front].

“[W]hen you begin to tally up the California think tank’s tanks accomplishments, things start to appear a little eerie: just about every illiberal, anti-democratic, and demagogic project attempted by the Right in the past few years is connected to Claremont in some way…. With all this activity, you might expect Claremont Institute’s ideological underpinnings to derive from neo-Confederatism or European fascism, but the intellectual sources of its revolt against American democracy are somewhat surprising. The Claremont Institute was founded by students of Harry V. Jaffa (1918-2015), himself a student of Leo Strauss and the American Right’s premier interpreter and defender of Abraham Lincoln.


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 5-18-2022]

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HOW POLITICS POISONED THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH

Tim Alberta [The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 5-15-2022]

...Pastors report losing an occasional liberal member because of their refusal to speak on Sunday mornings about bigotry or poverty or social injustice. But these same pastors report having lost—in the past few years alone—a significant portion of their congregation because of complaints that they and their staff did not advance right-wing political doctrines. Hard data are difficult to come by; churches are not required to disclose attendance figures. But a year’s worth of conversations with pastors, denominational leaders, evangelical scholars, and everyday Christians tells a clear story: Substantial numbers of evangelicals are fleeing their churches, and most of them are moving to ones further to the right….

...More than a few times, I’ve heard casual talk of civil war inside places that purport to worship the Prince of Peace. And, far from feeling misplaced, these conversations draw legitimacy from a sense of divine justice.

The Church is not a victim of America’s civic strife. Instead, it is one of the principal catalysts….

“And then,” Brown said, “came Barack Obama.”

It felt silly at first—jokes about Obama’s birth certificate, comments about his faith. But over time, the discourse inside the church became more worrisome. One day, a longtime member told Brown something that at the time sounded shocking: The president wore a secret Islamic ring. Brown demanded to know the woman’s source. “And she sent me this fake, Photoshopped thing. It didn’t take long to debunk,” Brown told me. “So I wrote her back and said, ‘Hey, here’s the deal: If you have forwarded this to anyone, you have an obligation to go back to them and correct it. Because Christians cannot foment falsehood. We are people of truth.’ ”

….Even as Brown became more vocal, he knew he was being drowned out. Fear, the pastor says, was taking root inside Community Bible. Some of it was explainable: The cultural climate was getting chilly for evangelicals; the Great Recession was squeezing his blue-collar congregation. But much of the anxiety felt amorphous, cryptic—and manufactured. However effective Brown might be at soothing his congregants for 45 minutes on a Sunday morning, “Rush [Limbaugh] had them for three hours a day, five days a week, and Fox News had them every single night.” Brown kept reminding his people that scripture’s most cited command is “Fear not.” But he couldn’t break through. Looking back, he understands why.

[Alberta then goes to a “more conservative” church]:

While covering presidential campaigns, I had attended political rallies at churches across Iowa, South Carolina, Texas, and elsewhere. But I’d never seen anything quite like this. The parking lot swarmed with vehicles covered in partisan slogans. The narthex was jammed with people scribbling on clipboards. (I thought they were doing preemptive COVID contact tracing; they were actually enlisting volunteers for political activities.) Inside the sanctuary, attendees wore MAGA caps and Second Amendment–related shirts. I didn’t see a single person carrying a Bible.


The 2024 Presidential Election Is on the Ballot This Year

Ryan Cooper, May 20, 2022 [The American Prospect]

If Mastriano wins, there will not be a presidential election in Pennsylvania in 2024. No matter what the votes say, he will exercise the powers of the governor’s office to declare that the Republican candidate won.

It’s a virtual certainty that enough Republicans are going to be nominated for key election administration posts in swing states that if they win, what holds in Pennsylvania will hold for the United States. In sum, if Republicans sweep the midterm elections this year, there will not be a presidential election two years later.

The Pennsylvania governor appoints the secretary of state, who oversees the electoral process, and certifies the results after a presidential election. Up until today, that has been a perfunctory process, but potentially no longer. Not only is Mastriano a deranged maniac who has banned the press from his campaign rallies and regularly appears with QAnon cultists, he has also promised to somehow “decertify” the 2020 results (though there is no legal procedure for doing so)….

Reuters recently investigated 15 Republican candidates for secretaries of state in all the swing states but Pennsylvania (Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and Nevada), and found that ten of them “have either declared that the 2020 election was stolen or called for their state’s results to be invalidated or further investigated.”


Senate Republicans Want Your Cleaning Lady to Pay Income Tax, but Not FedEx 

Timothy Noah, May 19, 2022 [The New Republic]

Dwindling revenues from corporate taxes are beggaring the Treasury, and the GOP doesn’t care.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to Poland this week to urge support for a 15 percent global minimum tax on corporate income. These negotiations are slow going, but the Poles will be pushovers compared to the United States Senate. The same Senate Republicans who wish to impose a minimum income tax on people refuse to impose one on corporations.

“All Americans should pay some income tax,” says Senator Rick Scott of Florida, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in his Rescue America plan. In practice, that means someone making, for example, $30,000 annually should pay the IRS more than $1,000 in income tax. A thousand bucks is an awful lot of money to someone living on $30,000 a year. But it’s necessary for this person to pay something, Scott insists, so that he or she will “have skin in the game.”

….Should all American corporations pay income tax, Senator Scott? They don’t right now. A report by the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that is cited a lot by President Joe Biden identified 55 large corporations, more than 10 percent of the S&P 500, that paid no income tax in 2020. These included FedEx, Nike, and Archer Daniels Midland. A report by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation that sampled tax returns from 50 large corporations covering the years 2014 to 2018 found the percentage that paid no income tax was more like 20 percent.

Applying Scott’s logic, and that of the Journal’s editorial page, FedEx, Nike, and Archer Daniels Midland don’t have skin in the game. Ten to 20 percent of the biggest corporations in America have become “that much more detached from recognizing the costs of government.” Instead, they think of government merely as an automated teller machine that spits out accelerated depreciation schedules and opportunity zone tax credits.


“Madison Cawthorn’s cardinal sin against the GOP had nothing to do with misconduct”

[MSNBC, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 5-20-2022]

“But the reality is that Cawthorn was not ousted from the party purely for affiliation with scandals, which Republican voters have shown they have a very high tolerance for. Rather, he was plagued by association with the wrong kind of scandals. More important than his acts of deception or alleged mistreatment of women or extreme political positions was the fact that he embarrassed and rankled politicians in his own party by implicating them in his allegations that Washington is the site of ‘sexual perversion.’ The whole episode illustrates how the bright red line for the GOP is not authoritarianism or other potentially criminal acts, but undermining the power of the party.”


The (Anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

Another Sweeping Far-Right Court Ruling

Robert Kuttner, May 20, 2022 [The American Prospect]

On Wednesday, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling that, if upheld by the Supreme Court, could literally shut down the regulatory authority of large parts of the federal government. In Jarkesy v. SEC, the Fifth Circuit overturned a penalty ordered by an SEC administrative law judge on the grounds that the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial. The Court, ignoring decades of Supreme Court precedent, held that Congress's delegation of such authority to the SEC is unconstitutional.

Jarkesy operated two hedge funds. After an extensive investigation by the SEC, the administrative law judge found that the hedge funds had misrepresented facts and risks in order to deceive investors, and ordered a fine of $300,000, a disgorgement of $685,000 in ill-gotten gains, and barred Jarkesy from a variety of securities activities. But the court reversed the orders as unconstitutional.

The federal government uses administrative law judges in some 30 different agencies. There are about 2,000 such judges, who are civil servants, about twice the number of federal district court judges. They do everything from adjudicating benefits disputes at the Social Security Administration to issuing findings and penalties at other regulatory agencies.

If all these questions must go before a jury, much of what the far right disparages as the “administrative state” is out of business. This is of course the Fifth Circuit's broader agenda, and it chimes with anti-regulation views of Chief Justice Roberts. The SEC can appeal to the Supreme Court, but good luck to that.


Aesthetics and uplifting a population

In the 1930s, Slovenia’s Jože Plečnik created a unique architecture utterly different from the prevailing style of the time – and changed the way we think about cities. 

[BBC, via Naked Capitalism 5-16-2022]

After Slovenia's capital city of Ljubljana was devastated by an earthquake in 1895, an innovative architect reimagined the city in a way that not only improved it but set a standard for other European cities.

Slovene architect Jože Plečnik had already worked with notable designers of the era in Vienna and Prague before returning home to rebuild the capital in the 1930s. His plan was inspired by ancient Athens – he even called it "The Slovenian Acropolis". Art historian Peter Krečičv explained that Plečnik's design had direct analogies to ancient Athens: the Ljubljana Castle was the acropolis; the Žale cemetery was the necropolis; Congress Square was the agora, or gathering place; and Ljubljana's market incorporated the stoa (a covered portico).

But Plečnik didn't stop there; though Modernism and Functionalism were popular at the time, he wanted something different. "Both styles satisfied basic functions or needs but did not have the spiritual component Plečnik was looking for," said Ana Porok, director of the Plečnik House Museum. So, inspired by ancient cultures, and by Baroque and Renaissance art, Plečnik created a unique architecture utterly different from the prevailing style of the time.

"Plečnik rearranged classical elements, such as columns, arches and wreaths. These were practically banned under Modernist orthodoxy," said Krečičv. "Nevertheless, Plečnik uses them as the basis of his modern visual language."

Plečnik also made the progressive decision to close the city centre to motorised traffic – something other European cities would not do for decades. 


Thorstein Veblen - The Instinct of Workmanship and the Irksomeness of Labor  

[American Journal of Sociology, Volume 4 (1898-99)]

It is one of the commonplaces of the received economic theory that work is irksome. Many a discussion proceeds on this axiom that, so far as regards economic matters, men desire above all things to get the goods produced by labor and to avoid the labor by which the goods are produced....

A consistent aversion to whatever activity goes to maintain the life of the species is assuredly found in no other species of animal. Under the selective process through which species are held to have emerged and gained their stability there is no chance for the survival of a species gifted with such an aversion to the furtherance of its own life process....

Man's great advantage over other species in the struggle for survival has been his superior facility in turning the forces of the environment to account. It is to his proclivity for turning the material means of life to account that he owes his position as lord of creation. It is not a proclivity to effort, but to achievement- to the compassing of an end. His primacy is in the last resort an industrial or economic primacy. In his economic life man is an agent, not an absorbent; he is an agent seeking in every act the accomplishment of some concrete, objective, impersonal end. As this pervading norm of action guides the life of men in all the use they make of material things, so it must also serve as the point of departure and afford the guiding principle for any science that aims to be a theory of the economic life process. Within the purview of economic theory, the last analysis of any given phenomenon must run back to this ubiquitous human impulse to do the next thing.

All this seems to contradict what has just been said of the conventional aversion to labor. But the contradiction is not so sheer in fact as it appears to be at first sight. Its solution lies in the fact that the aversion to labor is in great part a conventional aversion only. In the intervals of sober reflection, when not harassed with the strain of overwork, men's common sense speaks unequivocally under the guidance of the instinct of workmanship. They like to see others spend their life to some purpose, and they like to reflect that their own life is of some use. All men have this quasi-aesthetic sense of economic or industrial merit, and to this sense of economic merit futility and inefficiency are distasteful. In its positive expression it is an impulse or instinct of workmanship; negatively it expresses itself in a deprecation of waste. This sense of merit and demerit with respect to the material furtherance or hindrance of life approves, the economically effective act and deprecates economic futility. It is needless to point out in detail the close relation between this norm of economic merit and the ethical norm of conduct, on the one hand, and the aesthetic norm of taste, on the other.


The Birth of the Egghead Paperback — How one very young man changed the course of publishing and intellectual life in America

[American Scholar, via Naked Capitalism 5-15-2022]

“I had been working at Doubleday as a trainee,” Epstein, who died in February, wrote to me in an email in 2018, “when it occurred to me that my classmates at Columbia on the G.I. Bill and others like them who could not afford hard-covered editions would welcome inexpensive paperbacks of their required texts. I mentioned this opportunity to our chief editor, himself a veteran, and he said go ahead. So I did.”

Launched in April 1953 with a list of 12 titles in attractive covers and boosted by clever marketing, Anchor Books, the result of the plan, quickly found an avid readership. It also had a profound effect on book publishing, higher education, and the world of ideas in America and beyond. Its positive repercussions are still being felt today….

One day in the early 1950s, an editorial assistant at Doubleday was walking across Central Park with his boss when he asked whether the company couldn’t publish quality paperbacks to sell in bookstores. The young man, named Jason Epstein, had an idea for a new line of sturdy, affordable editions of “books of permanent value” in literature, history, religion, philosophy, and the arts, and he was confident that bookstore patrons would go for them.

“Wouldn’t it make more sense,” Epstein asked, “to sell twenty copies of The Sound and the Fury at a dollar than one hardcover copy at ten dollars?” His boss liked the idea...

Epstein wanted authoritative editions on topics of perennial interest to students—the book to read if you’re interested in theater, say, or sociology, or Zen Buddhism—and accessible enough for college course adoptions year after year. Then Anchor would give booksellers a 40 percent trade discount, twice the cut that newsstands were offered for pulp paperbacks. At the time, most pocket books, as mass-market paperbacks were also known, were sold in drugstores and on newsstands and handled by magazine distributors. Epstein’s focus on selling through bookstores was a significant turning point: go to where your most appreciative audience is, with high-quality editions they can afford.

As Epstein recounts in his memoir, Book Business, after graduating from Columbia College in the class of   ’49 and earning an MA the following year, almost every day after work he would visit the Eighth Street Bookstore near his apartment in Greenwich Village. The store, he wrote, was “a bibliographer’s paradise and an informal school for many fledgling publishers.” He spent hours among the shelves richly stocked with hardcover editions of Dostoyevsky, Melville, Yeats, and other classics. In those days you could easily buy a Mickey Spillane or Agatha Christie novel for a quarter at the corner drugstore, but try finding Proust or Woolf or Faulkner in paperback anywhere. It occurred to Epstein, and he suggested to the store’s owners, Eli and Ted Wilentz, that if offered in affordable paperback editions, such classic works would be popular with hungry young readers like himself. The Wilentz brothers agreed.

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Australian Politics 2022-05-22 05:59:00

Uncategorized



In Good Leftist style Albo starts with a promise he cannot deliver

He promises contitutional change in favour of Aborigines but constitutional change can only be delivered by way of a referendum. And Australia has a long history of referenda. And what has emerged is that referenda only get up if there is no significant opposition to them. And both the the National Party and the One Nation party are highly likely to oppose this one. I think I can already hear the articulate David Flint on the matter.

And referenda have to deliver in the States as well as nationally. And there are known high levels of anti-Aborigine sentiment in both Queensland and Western Australia.


Australia's next Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to serve Australia after Labor won the election and Scott Morrison stood down as the Liberal leader after conceding defeat.

It follows huge surges to the teal independents and Greens that claimed the scalp of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

But Labor's result was far from a landslide with star candidate - former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally - somehow losing the safe seat of Fowler.

Addressing an excitable crowd, Mr Albanese promised to establish a First Nations voice to Parliament, enshrined in the constitution.

After walking onto the stage with his partner Jodie Haydon at the Hurlstone Park RSL to the Australian classic GANGgajang's Sounds Of Then, the Labor leader was greeted by cheers of "Albo, Albo, Albo".

"On behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full," Mr Albanese told the crowd.

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The Leftist response to troubled children is to mutilate them

On this page last election eve I wrote, ‘Mums and dads across the country look set to elect a Labor party that has vowed to impose the kooky notion of gender fluidity on all of our children, even those seeking refuge in religious schools.’ We were spared in 2019, but after a term of flaccid failure by the Liberals to fight this culture battle, it looks like the party that introduced the breast-binding, penis-tucking ‘Safe Schools’ programme will now be given a free hand with your kids.

Governments and schools must not mess with the minds of children. That means they must not mess with archetypal realities like male and female as if they were cultural fads instead of facts of nature. For those who have forgotten these facts – like Australia’s former chief medical officer who couldn’t say what a woman was – just remember that a woman is an adult human female, where ‘female’ is defined by a reproductive system organised for gestation. Therefore, a transwoman is not a woman but a male who feels a deep need to present in feminine stereotypes.

But perhaps it’s niceness, not facts, that matters to you? Niceness compels you to affirm a confused boy who says he’s a girl and affirm a male athlete who says he’s a woman? Yes, that’s nice, but it’s untrue, and collaborating with confusion has un-nice consequences.

Keira Bell was a confused child of fifteen who thought she was a boy. The Tavistock Clinic in London affirmed her confusion and set her on the path of hormones that sterilised her and surgery that removed her breasts. Keira was not a boy; she was a troubled girl who has now sued Tavistock for failing to address the source of her confusion and leaving her sterile and scarred.

Tammika Brents was a mixed-martial arts athlete whose skull was smashed by a burly transwoman. Aspiring female swimmers have been metaphorically smashed by transwoman Lia Thomas. Transwomen preserve the male advantage in muscle bulk, limb-length, heart and lung capacity, so allowing biological males to compete in women’s sport not only breaks records and bones but denies a fair go to females. In this timid and trivial election campaign we have watched one brave woman, Katherine Deves, founder of Save Women’s Sports and Liberal candidate for Warringah, get hammered for telling this truth. Because everyone from blind Freddy to the drover’s dog agrees with Deves’ central argument – that women’s sport should be for women – the nice woke Left dredged social media for something smellier to hang around her neck. They found a picture of a young woman with surgical scars where her breasts had been removed. This woman now identified as a man and tweeted satisfaction with the surgery. Deves put the opposing view: that young people are being ‘surgically mutilated and sterilised’. That language fails the niceness test, even if said out of compassion for young people like Keira, but the language is arguably correct.

The term ‘mutilating surgery’ does not imply any lack of good will or skill; it simply describes the radical nature of a procedure. In the days when radical mastectomy was the recommended treatment for breast cancer, no doctor disputed that this was mutilating surgery; the only dispute was whether it was necessary – over time, we realised it was not. In Testing Treatments, the medical authors write, ‘The surgical excesses were eventually challenged, both by surgeons who were unwilling to continue in the face of questionable benefits for their patients, and by outspoken women who were unwilling to undergo mutilating operations.’

Deves is an outspoken woman. She objects to mutilating operations with questionable benefit being performed on young women. The youngest known gender-confused girls to have bilateral mastectomy in Australia were aged 15. The question is not whether the removal of a girl’s healthy breasts is mutilating surgery – arguably it is – but whether it is necessary. The question is not whether cross-sex hormone treatment sterilises the young patient – typically it does – but whether it is justified. Some doctors conclude, in good faith, that it is justified. Others disagree – indeed, hundreds of us (including nine child psychiatrists) wrote to federal health minister Greg Hunt in 2019 (see genderinquiry.org) asking for a parliamentary inquiry into ‘the rapid rise of childhood gender dysphoria in Australia and the lack of scientific basis for current medical treatment.’

Why should we usher children down a path of radical hormonal and surgical treatment when we know about 80 per cent of these children would get over their gender confusion around puberty? A supportive, watchful approach seems wiser. Former cutting-edge countries like Sweden and Finland have now reviewed the evidence and halted hormonal and surgical treatment for gender-dysphoric youth, prioritising psychological treatment. Here in Australia, however, hormonal transition remains the dominant paradigm while Labor’s evil laws in Queensland and Victoria prosecute GPs who dare suggest that treatment should address the child’s troubled mind, not her body.

Deves spoke as truthfully as she could on youth sterilisation and mutilating surgery, on British data that found half their transgender prisoners were sex offenders, on the high incidence of autism and mental health disorders among gender-confused children, and on how unsafe and unfair it is to let transwomen compete with real women. But it’s niceness that matters, not truth. So Deves’ opponent in Warringah, Climate 200’s Zali Steggall, took the nice approach of slurring mothers as ‘transphobic’ if they worry about their daughters playing sport against biological males. That is a safe insult: Steggall will not have to get police protection, but Deves has had to, saying, ‘We are in a time when it is dangerous to speak your mind.’

We are in a time when it is dangerous to leave our kids in school, their minds subject to cult-like indoctrination by gender whisperers on the one hand and peddlers of climate doom on the other. At what point does the imposition of such psychological confusion and superstitious terror become notifiable abuse? Educational mutilation? Parents, maintain the rage.

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Erasing mothers is not ‘progress’

In the name of inclusion and diversity:

* Barnardos has cancelled its ‘Mother of the Year’ award

* Volunteers from the Australian Breastfeeding Association have been investigated for their use of the word ‘mother’ on social media

* The Labor Party has removed the word ‘mother’ from its policy documents

The reasoning goes: some families don’t have a mother and some mothers identify as ‘fathers’, so we should stop using sexed language for parents altogether. In the modern family, ‘mother’ and ‘father’ have been replaced by Parent 1 and (if you’re lucky) Parent 2.

Sadly, mothers are also being erased, not just from our speech, but from children’s lives. There have been some recent high-profile cases of men ‘creating’ children through surrogacy, with the intention of raising them without a mother. Depending on the arrangement, a baby can have – and lose – up to three different ‘mothers’: a genetic mother, a birth mother, and a social mother. And we are supposed to applaud.

I understand how normalising ‘diverse’ families can help the children of those families to feel less stigmatised, but deliberately removing mothers cannot possibly be called progress. This forced political correctness – telling children that mothers are optional and interchangeable – is a denial of biological reality and human need.

It diminishes a mother’s unique role

Every child has a mother: the woman who was ‘home’ for nine months, delivered them into this world, and (in most cases) fed them from her own body. A mother and her baby share an intimate and irreplaceable bond – even before the child is born.

Beyond birth and breastfeeding, mothers continue to relate to their children in a unique way. Compared to fathers, mothers have higher levels and more receptors of the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for human bonding. As a result:

‘Fathers tend to play with, and mothers tend to care for, children … Fathers encourage competition; mothers encourage equity. One style encourages independence, while the other encourages security.’ (Glenn Stanton, Why children need a male and female parent).

Katy Faust and Stacy Manning summarise the science of motherhood like this:

‘Mum tends to focus on feelings, regardless of the facts. She’s wired to nurture and connect, an especially important ability when an infant is completely dependent on her to survive. Mothers set the emotional tone at home and intuitively respond to the physical and emotional needs of her family. In her uniquely feminine way, Mum embodies “the home” to her children.’

(Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement, Post Hill Press, 2021 Chapter 3, Part 4, Loc 1546)

A man cannot simply decide to call himself a mother; a woman cannot call herself a genderless ‘parent’ or a ‘father’. The word ‘mother’ has a biological referent in the real world and so we must insist on using it.

It diminishes children’s needs

When we delete mothers from our vocabulary and from children’s lives, we are sending the message that there’s nothing special about mothers – any adult will do. But the reality is that every human being needs and longs not just for a generic parent, but for their genetic mother. Babies spend nine months preparing to meet the mother they already know and share a relationship with. After birth, mother-infant bonding is of the utmost importance for a child’s healthy development.

All of this was deemed to be common sense until reproductive technologies began opening up new possibilities. Now, a man’s desire to be a father can override a child’s right to have a mother.

Earlier this year, a Victorian man made headlines by becoming the first single man to become a father through surrogacy in that state. Predictably, this was celebrated as a win for equality. But having children is not a ‘right’ that can be asserted regardless of biology or the best interests of the child. It’s often asserted that ‘love makes a family’, but children need more than love: they have a deep need to know, and ideally be raised by, both their biological mother and father.

The advocacy organisation Them Before Us exists to give children a voice in the debate over family structure. They have collected hundreds of stories from people who were born through donor conception and surrogacy. Those people commonly experience genealogical bewilderment, a sense of commodification and trauma from the loss of a biological mother or father.

A donor-conceived woman describes her struggle:

‘I cannot put into words the pain of not knowing who my biological mother is and not being able to have/have had a relationship with her. I really do think about this at least once a day, and it is deeply mentally, emotionally, and psychologically troubling.’ (Them Before Us, Chapter 7, Loc 3015)

One young woman conceived through commercial surrogacy (in America – only altruistic surrogacy is legal in Australia) explains:

‘To be loved by the two who created you and not from the strangers who bought you, is natural and beautiful. But I was denied this primal family structure to support a business and [an unfamiliar] infertile couple.’ (Them Before Us, Chapter 8, Loc 3627)

Of course, in an imperfect world, children do lose mothers through death, divorce, abuse, or abandonment. Those children deserve all the love and support we can give them. We applaud the single fathers who raise their children alone. We applaud the selfless women who step in to mother children they didn’t give birth to: grandmothers, step-mothers, foster and adoptive mothers.

But the ‘modern family’, where mothers (or fathers) are treated as optional, is a deliberate denial of what children need and naturally long for. Motherlessness is always something to be mourned, not celebrated.

The primal word

It’s telling that ‘mama’ is, universally, the first word that babies say. It’s a sound that’s easy to make and mimics the movement of the baby’s lips as they feed. For better or worse, it’s still the first word that my younger children call out in the middle of the night.

That’s why we cannot allow ‘mother’ to become a dirty word. It symbolises the deep and irreplaceable bond between a woman and her children. Banning this primal word will cause a primal wound that will take generations to heal.

Mothers matter. Our wombs, breasts, and hormones make us unique and indispensable. Every baby looks for ‘Mama’ from the moment of its birth. We are not parents! We are mothers – and no good will come from erasing us.

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Asylum vessel intercepted on way to Australia

I am a bit sympathetic to these people. Sri Lanka is an economic disaster area at the moment and these people are much more likely to be Sinhalese than Tamil Tiger sympathizers. And Non-Muslim South Asians generally make good citizens

A vessel carrying Asylum seekers has been intercepted off Australia's coast.

The Prime Minister used his final media conference of the campaign to announce the boat had been intercepted on Saturday morning after making its way from Sri Lanka.

It is understood about 15 people were on board the vessel that was stopped by Australian authorities off the west coast of Christmas Island after almost making it to the mainland.

Those people were on Saturday afternoon on board an Operation Sovereign Borders vessel having their credentials verified.

As reported in The Weekend Australian today, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the Sri Lankan navy had intercepted a fishing vessel and two dinghies carrying dozens of people on Wednesday before Saturday’s development.

“This is not scaremongering, this is a reality and it has been demonstrated by the two attempts that we are aware of,” she told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.

“We don’t know if there are any other attempts that have been made over the last few days and we don’t know if there have been any deaths at sea.

“I’ve said very clearly on my watch that I wanted no people to be attempting to travel to Australia illegally by boat and I didn’t want any deaths at sea.

She said that the Labor government posed a risk to Australia’s borders because of its opposition to temporary protection visas, which are aimed at denying permanent resettlement.

Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Kristina Keneally said Labor supported Operation Sovereign Borders, calling people smuggling a “vile trade”.

“Labor supports Operation Sovereign Borders – offshore processing, regional resettlement, and boat turn-backs where safe to do so,” she said on Saturday.

“Labor thanks the Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Task Force for their continued work at keeping our borders secure.”

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People dying of COVID while life-saving drugs go unused, doctors say

Top doctors have warned that vulnerable patients who test positive to COVID-19 are missing out on potentially life-saving antiviral treatments, with just a fraction of those at risk of serious disease having accessed the new drugs.

Figures from the federal health department show 1379 patients received antiviral medication Paxlovid through their GP in the first weeks in May, after the drug was listed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

“We are still getting quite a number of deaths – and making sure people know antivirals are available is one way of trying to address this,” infectious disease physician Professor Allen Cheng said. “We don’t have many levers left to pull [to protect those at risk of severe illness]. It is easy for people to fall through the cracks”.

With tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases recorded each week, experts say a major awareness campaign is needed to make sure at-risk people know that highly effective treatments can help prevent severe disease if they are taken within five days of symptom onset.

There were more than 680,000 coronavirus cases recorded nationally in the first two weeks in May and 563 deaths.

Fourth ‘winter’ COVID vaccine recommended for people over 65

“Clearly not everyone eligible or those that would benefit are getting access to the treatments,” Cheng said. A major push is needed to make sure older patients with other risk factors, those with co-morbidities, people who are immunosuppressed and unvaccinated are aware treatments are available, he said.

Evidence from trials show that for every 10 to 20 patients treated with Paxlovid one person will be prevented from being hospitalised, Cheng said.

Paxlovid, a combination of the drugs nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, was listed on the PBS last month. Eligible adults who test positive to COVID-19 through a PCR or rapid antigen test can access the treatment from their local pharmacy with a GP prescription.

Paxlovid is available to people aged 65 or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease, or one factor for those aged 75 and over. It is subsidised for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander patients aged 50 or over with two other risk factors and patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Another antiviral drug, Lagevrio – the trade name for molnupiravir – was also listed on the PBS in March and has since been used to treat more than 15,000 patients, including about 7000 in NSW.

“Clearly not everyone eligible or those that would benefit are getting access to the treatments.”

President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Karen Price said doctors need to tell “eligible patients proactively that if they contract COVID-19 they should contact their GP”.

“A lot of people are sitting at home with a positive rapid test. We must make sure they know about the medication they can access which could stop them ending up in hospital.”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said an awareness campaign was needed for vulnerable people, especially because treatments were previously only available from hospital.

“If you get a positive test, and you’re at risk, a telehealth appointment is all that is needed to be assessed for treatment”.

“Paxlovid has many drug interactions, so it does take time for GPs to have a good grasp of who should be having antivirals. There are definitely barriers in accessing medication”.

Last month Health Minister Greg Hunt said the antiviral PBS listings would support the national plan to transition Australia’s COVID-19 response, which outlines steps to remove all remaining coronavirus restrictions in the community.

“This medicine will help reduce the need for hospital admission,” Mr Hunt said.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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