Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Christmas Appeal: Do Not Forget Harvard's Neediest!

By Larry Lowell
The College Correspondent

The normally authoritative New York Times today enjoins its readers not to forget the Neediest, so in that spirit, let's consider the plight of Harvard Yard's neediest, the graduate students of the School of Arts of Sciences (or, as we call it, Harvard).

Since early December, they have been on strike, having tried to negotiate something resembling fair compensation for their services with the University and gotten nowhere.  So at this holiday season, they're subsisting on, to use the technical term employed by the Department of Economics, bupkis.

University Provost Alan Garber '76 calls
the negotiations complex and challenging
What's going on?  First, a little background for the preterite who didn't attend The College.  Starry-eyed freshman  arriving in the Yard soon learn that for $64 large a year, they aren't actually taught by the glorious Harvard faculty, which was recruited in large part with the promise that they would not have go anywhere nearer a grubby undergraduate than weekly performances to a 700-strong grinder peanut gallery bent over their laptops in Science Center B.

The miserable business of teaching these obnoxious young over-achievers falls to the graduate students in exchange for tuition, room and board (assuming they are actually willing to dine with the bright young collegians), and a modest stipend.

How modest?  If you are among the best and brightest meaning, oh, let's say the top 5% of aspiring young academics, you can earn the princely sum of up to $45,000 a year, according to The Boston Globe.   In Cambridge this income would easily pay for a nice apartment, if your idea of a nice apartment is a cardboard box conveniently located over a steam vent in Holyoke Center.

Some of the grad students were brilliant and kind, others were brilliant and mean, still others weren't brilliant at all but showed a talent for sucking up to senior faculty that served them well in their later careers as war criminals, but at least they were there and they would try to explain wtf Hegel was talking about.

The University is sitting on an endowment that, although its managers have underperformed a three basis point index fund for years, aggregates over $40,900,000,000, so you'd think the powers that be at Harvard might be able to throw a few more pennies in the direction of the poor souls who do the actual work (which work includes providing invaluable “assistance” to the research projects and thus the glory of the tenured faculty).

Although the grad students' union and the University have been negotiating for over a year, Harvard is considering asking for federal mediation because, according to University Provost Alan Garber "76, the issues are  “complex” and “challenging.”

Who is Alan Garber '76 and why does he find a straightforward labor dispute so difficult?  Let's check out his Harvard bio to see if we can find any clues:

Provost Alan M. Garber serves as Harvard University’s chief academic officer.  He is also the Mallinckrodt Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, a Professor of Economics in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Public Policy in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  An economist and physician, he studies methods for improving health care productivity and health care financing.. . .

Dr. Garber is an Elected Member of the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is also an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Garber received a PhD in Economics from Harvard and an MD with research honors from Stanford. 

It's amazing this guy can negotiate a glazed cruller and large regular extra sugar at Dunkin' Donuts under the Square, much less a labor agreement.  No wonder he's begging for a federal mediator.  Perhaps the problem is that he, like the rest of the FAS faculty, is lost without their grad student helpers.

Indeed, the Globe's summary of the economic issues will demonstrate their staggering complexity:
Harvard has proposed an 8.2 percent pay increase over three years for a majority of the graduate students in the union. But union members said that would end up being less than the 3 percent annual raise many of them have received in recent years.
The union has countered with a proposal for a 5 percent raise in the first year of the contract and a 3.5 percent increase in subsequent years, according to union representatives.
Now, we didn't,  to understate matters considerably, graduate summa in Economics, but the University's contract offer of 8.2% spread over three years, or an annual increase of um, give us a second, 2.7% was in fact less than the 3% increase Harvard had been willing to offer in the absence of union representation.  Although we too are baffled by complexity,  we interpret the University's offer of salary increases below what they were willing to pay in the absence of a union as simply an effort to demonstrate to the grad students the futility of seeking to improve their lot by unionizing.

But that's not all that's flummoxing the Mallinkrodt Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and Economics in the Harvard School of Arts and Sciences.  There's also the issue of addressing issues of sexual harassment, which seems to be on the minds of some graduate students.

Again, you don't have to possess a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard and an M.D. from Stanford to wonder why the grad students are so concerned about this.  We remember grad students and junior faculty worrying about this revolting practice as far back as 1975.  If the University has failed to resolve this problem despite being aware of it for over 40 years, it must be complex and challenging indeed.

Grad students are always whining about money
The grad students seek third-party arbitration of sexual harassment complaints.  Such arbitration is common in union contracts.  If you don't believe me, ask former Harvard President Derek Bok, or just read Part V of his Labor Law casebook.

So why is this so complex and challenging?  Again according to the Globe:  “But Harvard officials have said that would circumvent the federal Title IX sexual harassment complaint process, creating an inequitable system for students who are in the bargaining unit and those outside of it.”

We seem to recall that, notwithstanding the no doubt compelling complexities and challenges of the university context, every anti-union employer in the world has stonewalled union demands on the same ground: giving union workers a better deal than their non-union counterparts would be unfair to the unorganized rabble.  Actually, we can make this simple:  giving unionized workers a better deal would demonstrate the advantages of union representation, which might in turn entice others to organize.

To make the matter simpler still, it's just union-busting.

Speaking of matters that are challenging but not complex, who's paying the price for the endless impasse, besides the starving grad students?  If you said the tenured professoriat, then brother (and sister) you didn't go to Harvard:
Some end-of-semester study sessions for undergraduate students have been canceled, and in certain cases professors have cut back on the length of final papers or have opted to give multiple-choice exams, to reduce their grading workload while their graduate assistants are on strike.
You don't have to be the Provost of Harvard University to understand that the tenured faculty, rather than picking up the slack, is simply offering even less to the undergraduates than before.

If you guessed it's the undergrads that are getting screwed, then you're Ivy League material!  In addition to the loss of sections and class time, the undergrads get to confront the many unpleasantnesses of crossing picket lines just to get the education their parents paid for.  And grad students perform many other services, such as recommendations, post-grad career guidance, and making sure the little darlings don't throw themselves off the bridge because they got a C+ on a problem set.

Maybe the problem is that Harvard's negotiators are too brilliant for their own good.  We remember that the bright young things who graduated summa tended to make everything more complex than they were in real life.  The reason that girl from Fieldston ignored Alan and instead hooked up with the Egyptian waiter at the Café Algiers wasn't really that complicated: he was gorgeous and you were not.

And labor disputes are resolved every day by people who don't hold endowed chairs at Harvard.  Just offer them 4.5% and everyone at Harvard can get back to what they do best: self-promotion.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Spy Review of Unreadable Books, Just in Time for Christmas

Editors' Note:  Not what you were expecting?  The explanation is simple: we don't have anything to say about impeachment that Adam Schiff hasn't already said better than we could, so why not change the subject and in the best tradition of the Spy's commitment to service journalism, solve your most pressing holiday shopping query: what do you get for the person you hate but have to give a present to?  You know, your boss, your client, your neighbor whose lawnmower you keep borrowing, your landlord, and so many others.  It has to be something that no one would enjoy, value, or use but not so obviously contemptuous as to get you into hot water.  Here are two perfect solutions: books so terrible that you don't have to open their cover to figure out the drivel within (that's what “unreadable” means), each supposedly written by a loathsome plutocrat with pretensions to the kind of fawning respectability that only a white man's billions can buy.

What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence
by Stephen Schwarzman (at left)
Avid/Simon & Schuster
$30, marked down to $17.99

Here's one of America's leading shameless finagling plutocrats who now feels compelled to share the secret of his entirely unmerited success with you, the wage slaves who made it all possible, thanks to your utter inattention to the subversion of America's tax and regulatory structure while you were staring at your f***in' phones.

He made billions running his private equity, real estate and god knows what else empire without in fact making a single contribution to the overall economy or the welfare of anyone other than himself and his circle of fellow rapacious raiders.

We assume he won't be telling us the thrilling tale of how he made and trousered a pantload on the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and the ensuing human misery.  Nor do we expect to hear much on the clever tax strategems that enabled his firm to avoid paying corporate income tax for years until the Republican Congress he bought and paid for made it financially advantageous to do otherwise.

Look for a number of tedious anecdotes about business deals that demonstrate his genius not to mention plenty of fawning from the politicians and do-gooders he has shtupped with a few pennies from his bulging pockets.  Each will come packaged with a moral that will explain to those who toil for miserable wages by taking care of the old or teaching the young why they should be grateful that for example this tone-deaf tycoon was willing to drop a wad of cash on his old high school – on the condition that the town rename the school for him.

PS The School Board had the nerve to tell him to stick his moneybags where the moon don't shine, whereupon he gave them the dough in exchange for naming a classroom after him.

It's a perfect gift for the rich person you hate because it reminds them they don't have nearly the pelf this predator has, which is why he's got a book with his name on it and they don't.


The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians  
by David M. Rubenstein (at right) and Carla Hayden
Simon & Schuster (again) [Purely a coincidence that S&S is in turn controlled by brain-dead plutocrat Sumner Redstone? – Book Review Ed.]
$30, already marked down to $24.85

This year, Santa's bag groans with not one unreadable tome “authored” by a shameless billionaire finagler, but two. Those not entranced by Schwarzman's stories of the wonders of me can instead delve into another private equity tycoon's literary, uh, effort.  In Rubinstein's case this involves basking in the reflected glory of real historians, proving once again that every academic has their price and to a titan of wealth like Rubinstein, that price is pocket change.

In other words (namely Roger Debris's), it's David Rubinstein presents . . . history!

The cover will tell you what kind of history matters to self-important billionaires like Rubinstein, who, like Schwarzman, has contributed exactly nothing to economic growth or the general welfare.  The essays by names like Robert Caro and Doris Kearns Goodwin are mostly about, wait for it, great white men.  (To be fair, there's one about Martin Luther King, Jr.)

This used to be called the “great man” theory of history, which attributes primary significance to the decisions and whims of powerful white men, like Rubinstein.  There are of course a few defects in this theory of history, all of which we see reflected in the current crisis of Western Civilization.

You won't find any real focus on racism and misogyny as bits of history that might be worth considering.  In particular, you won't see much effort to discern the bright red line of anti-black bigotry that dates at least to 1619 and continues to the most recent rally of President Pussy Ass Bitch.  How can you understand America without coming to terms with its racist past?

That's easy: you can't.  But you can sit down for chummy seminars and dinners with reputable historians and hope than by association some of their credibility rubs off on you and your ill-gotten gains.  Also, wear sincere glasses.  That will really help.

This is the perfect gift for your frenemies with intellectual pretensions who will have to pretend to like this book.  It's worth it just so you can ask them in February what they thought of David McCullough's no-doubt-worthy take on John Adams.  Bonus points to you if they say they enjoyed the part about how he was both a revolutionary and a master brewer.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Two elections, one lesson, guv'nor?

By Isabel Archer
London Correspondent 
with A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

You may have heard that on December 12, the United Kingdom held an election and the Conservative Party won. It didn't get a majority of the votes, but there as here the election system contrives to give the party that got less than half the vote a working majority of the government.

In the Queen's English, this is a “mandate.” (Source: BBC)
It seems tolerably clear that the election was decided on two issues peculiar to the UK: (1) the continuing battle over whether to remain a member of the European Union, a powerful transnational authority with no analogue in the United States and (2) the personal unpopularity of the Labour candidate, who propounded clear old-fashioned Socialist solutions for every issue, with the exception of the one that mattered (Brexit), where he offered a straddle whilst holding a pail of mush.

In the end, pro-Brexit parties got 45.6% of the popular vote; anti-Brexit parties got 50.2%.  Given the first-past-the-post system used to fill 650 small district seats, the result was a thumping majority for the Conservatives and the UK will finally leave the European Union.

The ambiguity of these results as you might imagine hasn't stopped the usual gang of white male gasbags on the New York Times Op-Ed page and elsewhere from declaring that this outcome boded ill for, you guessed it, the Democrats.  (This represents a break from the Democrats-in-Disarray trope, which will resume next week.)

Here's one Roger Cohen, who having spent as much time in London as I have, purports to be an authority on all matters Anglo-American:
The clear rejection of Labour’s big-government socialism also looks ominous for Democrats who believe the party can lurch left and win. The British working class did not buy nationalized railways, electricity distribution and water utilities when they could stick it to some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels and — in that phrase as immortal as it is meaningless — take back their country.
If the British wouldn't buy nationalized water utilities why would anyone think American voters would?  By the way, when you turn on the taps in the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue, who supplies the water?  Amazon?  Last we looked it was the City of New York Board of Water Supply, and the City of New York had not yet been sold off to the highest bidder, possibly because Michael Bloomberg has decided to blow his fortune elsewhere.

I suppose it would be rubbing it in to ask who owns and operates the railways that take the legions of scribblers at the Times back home to their palatial estates in Tarrytown (Metro-North), Wantagh (LIRR), and Short Hills (NJ Transit).  Mr. Cohen might also enjoy reading each issue of Britain's wicked Private Eye to learn just how well the complex British public/private railway system is working (short version: it sucks).

And just on the facing page who should crawl out but Bretbug, gloating about the “ominous portent” for Democrats?  We don't consume his entirely predictable porridge any more but today, let's guess what's on his mind: rubbishing the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which according to the Bugmeister is indistinguishable from the disgraced Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:
His [Corbyn's] campaign promised free college, dramatic increases in health spending, a hike in the minimum wage, massive infrastructure spending, new taxes on the rich, and a “new green deal.”
Sound familiar? It’s the Warren-Sanders manifesto, only with £ rather than $ signs attached.
(They use a different currency in the UK which you, poor slob that you are, were unaware of until Bret reminded you.) 

Democrats should not seek to spend more money on health care because Corbyn supported it?  We sent our intern Louise to find out more about health care spending in the UK and the US and she came back almost 0.005 seconds later with the following: 

Spending on health care as % of GDP 2019

US              16.9%
UK               9.8%

Source: OECD.

So if Jeremy Corbyn proposed increasing UK health care spending by 50%, he'd still be proposing to spend less than the US?  Wow pretty radical. 

Also can you tell us where Bretbug learned that Warren and Sanders said they proposed to increase health care spending as a percentage of GDP?  They have proposed to finance health care from taxes rather than premiums and holding heart-rending online charity fundraisers, but they claim that total spending would fall.  And why wouldn't it if you take all the profiting grifters out of the system?

Speaking of health care, Bretbug seemed to think there were miles of blue water or black ink or pink gin between the Warren/Sanders approach to health care and the UK Conservative Party's.  

Were there?

Again, after milliseconds of digging, Louise found the Conservative Party Manifesto, and here's what it had to say about their plans for the NHS, the single-payer single-provider health care system in the UK:

More money for a single-payer tax-funded system?  So the difference between the winning Conservative health care platform and the Warren/Sanders approach is what, Bret?  We'll take our answer offline. 

In fact, touching the NHS has been regarded as the one third rail of British politics (maybe one of two, if you include the British breakfast or three if you add the right to puke in the streets after closing time), because all these new and old Tory voters know that single-payer health care works.

Oh and what about Bretbug's sneer at fighting climate change?  Surely the Tories up with that will not put.  From the same f***in' Conservative Manifesto:

Now we hold no brief for the Tories, who are a loathsome lot of condescending sex offenders using racism and white privilege to hide their pro-rich policies.  In that they can be compared to the Trumpublicans.

But to conclude that the UK election spells doom for progressive efforts to fight climate change and provide health care for all don't seem to accord with those pesky facts, which means that facile comparisons will continue to be emitted by every white male gasbag on every newspaper and television news gabfest.

To be fair to Roger Cohen, he didn't pull his entire column out of his blowhole.  He sought the counsel of thoughtful seasoned political commentators with vast experience in the differing political worlds of the US and the UK.

Nahhh, we're just sh***** you:
“Brexit and Trump were inextricably linked in 2016, and they are inextricably linked today,” Steve Bannon told me. “Johnson foreshadows a big Trump win.” 
When you're reduced to quoting a homeless crack-ravaged hatemonger who will speak for pancakes, you're really down to the dregs of the Scotch bottle.  As far as we can tell the only inextricable linkage that the Democrats have to contend with in 2020 is the one between middle-aged white male columnists and absolute twaddle.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Republican Party and civil rights: any update since 1924?

By Scott V. Sandford 
Justice Editor with 
Ethan Mendelowitz-Bradford, Social Media Aggregator Intern or whatever 

Those of you who enjoy wasting time on Twistagram or Snapbook have undoubtedly come across a species of reactionary agitprop the point of which is the Republican Party is the real friend of black Americans because – wait for it – the Democratic Party was in the past the party most associated with Southern racism and resistance to civil rights.

Thus there are endless bits about how most pre-Civil War slaveholders were Democrats, how Lincoln (a Republican!) freed the slaves (who knew?), and how past Democratic conventions were known as “Klanbakes.” We will admit that Abraham Lincoln was in fact a Republican and he did free the slaves, albeit in phases.

As for the rest of it, while we may not be the sharpest blade in the social media drawer, even we know that providing examples of this nonsense only gives it wider currency. It also provides free advertising for thirsty wingnuts, graduates of Dartmouth, and other dubious sorts, but here's one example of their debunking at the hands of real historians like Kevin Kruse and journalists like Jennifer Mendelsohn:

In any event, the racist past of the Democratic Party at least prior to 1960 is well known and as with so much else in American history, something to be ashamed of. And we would be the last person to deny the importance of understanding and learning from history. But the history of civil rights in America didn’t end in 1924. It goes on right up to and including last week.

What happened last week? We’ll get to that in 400 words or so, but to understand the significance of last week’s developments, we need to examine a little – history. [You’re starting to sound like Rachel Maddow here – Ed.].

From about 1876 until 1965, Southern states, admittedly run by Democrats, instituted a vast array of laws and other measures designed to deny the freed black slaves the voting rights that had been granted to them by the 15th Amendment and enforced by several divisions of the U.S. Army.

When the 1876 election was awarded to Rutherford B. Hayes – a Republican by the way – by Congress (the quid), he withdrew federal troops from the South (the quo). Jim Crow laws and terror followed, and soon from Virginia to Texas almost no people of color were able to vote, at least if they wanted to survive the walk home from the polling station.

By the sixties, black America had had enough and, despite calls for “unity” and “civility,” demanded their civil rights. They were met with bullets, police dogs, and truncheons, wielded in the name of law and order.  But, after Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in 1964 against a Republican opponent who opposed civil rights legislation, the Democratic-dominated Congress passed the Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The latter statute contained a number of effective and enforced provisions to prohibit state and local laws that made it more difficult for black people to vote or even to dilute their influence, by for example, changing district to at-large elections. The VRA included a provision requiring certain jurisdictions which suffered from low minority voting rates to seek pre-clearance from the Justice Department for changes to voting laws to ensure that Jim Crow would not rise again.

The Republican Supreme Court Justice who gutted
the Voting Rights Act, shown here with the
Leverett House Pre-Law Club, 1975
From 1965 to 2013, it worked pretty much as intended and was routinely re-authorized by huge bipartisan majorities. In 2013, in a decision written by Chief Justice John “the Bongmaster” Roberts ‘76, that pre-clearance provision was held somehow unconstitutional:

 [T]he Supreme Court ruled that the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act — which determines which jurisdictions are covered by Section 5 — is unconstitutional because it is based on an old formula. As a practical matter this means that Section 5 is inoperable until Congress enacts a new coverage formula, which the decision invited Congress to do. 

Since that time, Republicans (remember,the party of civil rights, according to their trolls) have blocked any effort to revise the coverage formula and revive the Voting Rights Act.

Which brings us to last week.  [Finally – Ed.]   Last Friday, the House of Representatives voted to fix and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. According to The New York Times,

The House voted on Friday to reinstate federal oversight of state election law, moving to bolster protections against racial discrimination enshrined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights statute whose central provision was struck down by the Supreme Court. 

54 years later, John Lewis was wielding the hammer
Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, who was beaten in 1965 while demonstrating for voting rights in Alabama, banged the gavel to herald approval of the measure, to applause from his colleagues on the House floor. It passed by a vote of 228 to 187 nearly along party lines, with all but one Republican opposed. The bill has little chance of becoming law given opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate and by President Trump, whose aides issued a veto threat against it this week. 

All but one Republican opposed?

It turns out that if you stop learning history past the year 1924 you miss quite a bit in terms of where the two parties stand when it comes to advancing civil rights and equal opportunity.

We would go so far as to say that if 99% of House Republicans oppose the Voting Rights Act, if the Republican Senate won’t even bring up the bill for a vote, and if the Republican Pussy-Ass Grifter of a President would veto it, it seems reasonably clear that it is the Republican Party that opposes civil rights today.  This strikes us as a more compelling matter for voters of color (and wypipo too) to consider before voting in 2020 than the admittedly disgraceful history of white racist Southern Democrats before they embraced the Republican Party in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Indeed, the suspicious among us might think that the whole social media trolling about Democratic slaveholders in 1856 and Klansmen in 1922 might just be an effort to distract us from recognizing that the Republican Party since 1964 has transformed itself into the party of white racism and privilege.

You might respond that the Republican social media trolls don’t sound like they have the wit to contemplate such a massive disinformation campaign, but we would note that the leader of these trolls went to Dartmouth, so you’d certainly have to regard him as, at the very least, a half-wit.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The best and the brightest war criminals

By Robert Jackson
International Law Correspondent

The President is a corrupt Russian stooge who glorifies war crimes.

The Secretary of State devotes himself not to advancing the national interest, but to said corrupt Russian stooge's personal political gain.

Immigration policy is in the hands of a deranged white supremacist.

U Bum's nominee had a tough
confirmation hearing
So why exactly should we be surprised when the U Bum Administration nominates a war criminal to head the State Department's human rights operation?

Answer: we're not.

The only surprising bit is that President PAB is having an unusual amount of difficulty getting his Republican enablers in the Senate to rubber-stamp the appointment of one Marshall Billingslea, according to The Washington Post. 

Marshall Billingslea, come on down:

From 2002 to 2003, Billingslea served as the Pentagon’s point man on military detainees housed at Guantanamo Bay under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In that position, according to a 2008 Senate report, he played a role in promoting interrogation techniques that Congress later banned as torture — including the use of hoods or blindfolds, sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, the shaving of beards, the removal of clothing and the use of military dogs to intimidate detainees.

According to a report prepared by that well-known terrorist front organization, the United States Senate Armed Services Committee:

On March 28, 2003, the Secretary of Defense met with a number of senior advisors
including Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes, and Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard Myers, to discuss the interrogation techniques being
considered by the Working Group. 1003 After that meeting, the Secretary decided to expressly
authorize 24 interrogation techniques, including five that were not listed in the Army Field
Manual (one of these five was classified as an "exceptional" technique). 1004

Technique #22: The pig pile
And which worthies were on this committee that approved torture, uh, excuse me, “exceptional” techniques?  Let's look up footnote 1003 and find out:

1003."According to the Secretary's daily schedule, the advisors at the meeting included Mr. Haynes, Gen Myers,the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Marshall Billingslea, and CAPT Dalton." Church Report at 136. By the time the Secretary met with his advisors, the Working Group had removed waterboarding from consideration. Ibid. at 135-6.

Well, maybe he voted against pouring water over the faces of fettered detainees to induce an unendurable sensation, if not the reality, of drowning.  That's something.

On the other hand, when General Richard Meyers, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, only approved 24 torture techniques, Mr. Billingslea dissented:

On April 5, 2003, Gen Myers forwarded a memo proposing that the Secretary of Defense 24 of the interrogation techniques reviewed during the Working Group process.  In response, Marshall Billingslea, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/ Low-Intensity Conflict sent a memo to the Secretary of Defense raising concerns about the omission of certain techniques and recommending that the Secretary approve all 35 techniques "endorsed by the Working Group.

But torturers never sleep.  A couple of months later:

On July 24, 2003, Marshall Billingslea, . . . forwarded a memo notifying the Secretary of Defense that JTF-GTMO intended to isolate Slahi and recommending that he approve the use of "sleep deprivation" and "sound modulation at decibel levels not harmful to hearing.  A handwritten note on the memo stated that "OGC concurs that this is legal. We don't see any policy issues with these interrogation techniques. Recommend you authorize. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz approved the memo on July 28,2003 and forwarded it to Secretary Rumsfeld, who added his approval on August 13, 2003.

Technique #17: Execution cosplay
Victims of sleep deprivation at the hands of the Nazis and the Communist secret police in East Germany and other places will be happy to tell you that it's unendurable torture.  Too bad Billingslea didn't get the memo.

What's the problem with putting a war criminal in charge of this country's advocacy of human rights?  Human Rights Watch sums it up with admirable clarity:

Should Billingslea be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as undersecretary of state for civilian security, human rights and democracy, he would be tasked with upholding the same international laws that he disregarded when advocating for the use of torture under Bush. 

It would be his job to ensure that U.S. foreign policy aligns with international human rights law, and to encourage U.S. partners and foes to abide by human rights standards. But how could he carry out these duties effectively if he can’t, or won’t, see the severity of the human rights violations that he himself advocated? 

A fuller list of organizations who oppose the nomination of a war criminal to the human rights post can be found here.

The point of nominating a war criminal to the position of America's leading advocate of human rights is not just to give an otherwise unemployable hack a job (he has one at Treasury); it is to subvert the entire enterprise of trying to promote a freer and more just world. 

But every war criminal deserves a robust defense, and sure enough Billingslea has no shortage of defenders, including himself.  He told the Senate Committee reviewing his nomination that “he was merely a bureaucratic functionary relaying decisions up the chain of command . . . .”

Why does that defense sound so familiar?   We're not going to tell you, but if you're curious, try typing into your favorite search engine “banality of evil.”

Whether or not this morality-free functionary is confirmed, it's only the continuation of a trend that began even before Billingslea and his buddies were sitting around a conference table at the Pentagon munching on doughnuts and deciding which illegal forms of torment and brutality would be included in the options paper for Rummie.  At the same time, the CIA had its own process for approving torture, which led them to beatings and anal rape with turkey basters.

Technique #39: The Memory Hole
We remember learning that our country was using tortures formerly applied only by Nazis, Reds, and grotesque Third Wold tyrants.  It felt like we had been hit with a blackjack.  We also remember how few of our fellow Americans were bothered by the news, and how many hailed torture as a manly and necessary response to the war crimes inflicted upon us.

If you want to know who loved it, just check out today's Republicans With a Conscience © (Billy, Toronto Dave, Homewrecker Dave, Ana, Ricky, Steve, Nicolle, etc. etc.).  Now they say we are better than President U Bum.  But in 2003 they weren't better than anal rape and simulated drowning.

And if we still don't know how to choose between on the one hand a corrupt bigot who pardons war criminals that targeted innocent civilians for pleasure and nominates other war criminals to high office and on the other a Democrat who might raise taxes on the insanely wealthy, we're not better now.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

But is it a cult?

By Emma Goldman
Religion Editor with Nellie Bly,
Spy Washington Bureau

After just two weeks of live testimony, it is clear to even the meanest intelligence that the President of the United States extorted a foreign state to manufacture dirt on a political rival for the political gain of said President and contrary to the national security interests of the United States.  Therefore, Congress has reached an inescapable bipartisan conclusion that the President must be impeached and removed from office because he committed the trifecta:  1) treason, 2) bribery and 3) high crimes and misdemeanors.

Just kidding, folks (about the bipartisan consensus bit, that is).

The elected representatives of one political party have ignored the tower of unrebutted evidence pointing to the guilt of President PAB and to a man and woman and one black man have refused to consider any punishment for his multiple impeachable offenses.

The intrepid and the curious are bound to ask why.

One answer that has been proffered by well-meaning critics of the sorry spectacle of Republicans conspiring to destroy the rule of law and our Constitutional order: that President U Bum and the Republicans are involved in some sort of a “cult.”

Here's a recent example from The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who appears to sworn off Conventional Wisdom in favor of real reporting, proving that there's always hope:
Alternatively, you could view that as cult-like behavior. 
Once he declared his support for impeachment proceedings this summer, Amash was essentially banished from the party. Also cult-like: Republicans’ claims not only that Trump did nothing impeachable but also that he did nothing wrong when he withheld an ally’s military aid for a promise to investigate a political opponent.
At their post-vote news conference, Republicans were asked: “Will you all go on the record and say the president did nothing inappropriate?”
“Yes,” chorused the 50 men and three women onstage.
“A very clear yes,” said McCarthy.

The Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief has as usual stated the quiet part out loud, boasting that he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers wouldn't mind.

Fact check: true.

But the cult trope used to explain this otherwise inexplicable behavior doesn't seem like a fully satisfactory explanation.  It does explain why U Bum Kissers choose to follow their Dear Leader rather than what's in front of their lying eyes.  We think though that a true cult involves a blind adherence to a charismatic leader that endures regardless of whatever babble comes out of his mouth.

That's the origin of the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” – the followers of Jim Jones were so in Jim's thrall that they believed whatever he said even when it went against their most basic interests, like staying alive.

Does anyone believe that the followers of the Bigot-in-Chief would follow him anywhere?  Sure, they're jiggy with any crimes he commits because that just shows how super awesome he is: unlike his toothless couch potato followers, who can't even use one racial epithet without being fired from their wiping gig at the car wash, their idol can smear, slime, attack, and seek to ruin women like courageous Foreign Service officer Amb. Marie Yovanovitch or men of integrity like Rep. Adam Schiff with impunity.

We know they would follow him into the dressing room where the underage contestants in the Miss Teen Universe contest are changing.  But would they really follow him anywhere?

Consider the case of Shabbatai Zvi, a false prophet who enjoyed a vogue among 17th Century Jews even though, or perhaps because, he abolished most of Jewish ritual and replaced it by a millenarian belief in him as the Messiah:

The adherents of Shabbethai, probably with his consent, even planned to abolish to a great extent the ritualistic observances, because, according to a tradition, in the Messianic time most of them were to lose their obligatory character. The first step toward the disintegration of traditional Judaism was the changing of the fast of the Tenth of Ṭebet to a day of feasting and rejoicing. . . .

This message produced wild excitement and dissension in the communities, as many of the pious orthodox rabbis, who had hitherto regarded the movement sympathetically, were shocked at these radical innovations. Solomon Algazi, a prominent Talmudist of Smyrna, and other members of the rabbinate, who opposed the abolition of the fast, narrowly escaped with their lives.

(Source: The Jewish Encyclopedia).

So far, so good.  But when he converted to Islam, that tore it.  His followers abandoned him because he offended their core beliefs.

Let's do a similar thought experiment with U Bum.  Let's say he called into Fox and Friends one morning and instead of a deranged rant about falsified Ukranian conspiracy theories and nasty women who wouldn't hang his picture in the US Embassy in Kyev (also a lie), he told the Three Stooges and the folks at home that he had some new insights to share.

Let's say he said that (1) immigrants were an important part of American life, (2) while he disagreed with many of President Barack Obama's policies, he recognized his integrity and honesty, and (3) there was something profoundly wrong with a system that continues to place unfair burdens on people of color and women.

Does anyone think Fox Nation would follow?

Of course they wouldn't.

Funny how the cult of U Bum
preceded him
It's not President PAB they admire; it's his repulsive ideas.  They'd follow a meatball sub if it echoed their anger over attacks on their unmerited white privilege, their bigotry, and their fear and hatred of women who have the temerity to insist on their agency and equality.  It's not a cult, implying blind loyalty to an individual no matter how evil, like Jim Jones or Charles Manson.

No, it's a clear-eyed and knowing embrace of anger, hatred, and bigotry in all its forms.  Fluff that, like President U Bum, and they're yours.  Turn away from the glorification of white nationalism and they'll drop you like a kale salad.  Just ask John McCain.

This is why we aren't as optimistic as Dana Milbank is about the Cult of U Bum, whether or not he beats the impeachment rap, when he asks: “Doesn’t he know that cults always end badly?”
Do they?

The cult of white racism begin not later than 1619, with the arrival of the first ship bearing enslaved Africans to America.  It ran without serious interference for over 200 years, until the effusion of 400,000 lives brought about national emancipation in 1865.  After the stolen election of 1876, white racism in the guise of the Redemption continued without much successful pushback until 1954. 

While the struggle continues today, does anyone think that the reign of white privilege is over in this country?  Maybe we could ask Trayvon Martin.

That's why Republicans oppose impeachment: it's not an attack on U Bum, it's an attack on the hatred and bigotry for which he stands.   That's why fake Christian demagogues like Franklin Graham are praying so hard for Bigot-in-Chief.

And that's why their Republican acolytes always say 'Amen.'

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Spy's peerless pundit, David Bloviator, explains the impeachment inquiry

Editors' Note: Every Presidential election since Nixon/Humphrey has been explained to you, the ignorant reader, by the Spy's peerless political prognosticator and pundit, David Bloviator.  We are fortunate that again this year we are able to bring you the insights of this long-time DC fixture.  Today, as part of his quadrennial “get-to-know-white-voters” outreach, he has abandoned his usual listening post at the National Press Club bar for a booth at the leading diner in Whitesburg, Ohio, the International House of Hot Takes.

David Bloviator, now in the heartland
of white America
TMS:  Good morning Mr. Bloviator.  What have you learned by talking to the common folk of middle America, who are so often ignored by coastal elites?

DB:  Well, with Cillizza on one side and Dan Balz on the other, it's hard to find a local yokel to talk to.  And this place doesn't even have a liquor license.

TMS:  Yet it's an ideal place to find out how the impeachment proceedings are playing out here in America's heartland.

DB:  In this quaint hard-working Ohio town the residents are much too busy to spend all day watching some hearings in far-off Washington, D.C.

TMS:  What are they busy doing?

DB:  Burning meth, apparently.  I've been offered drugs at least twenty times since I got here.

TMS:  Well, what's your take on the impeachment proceedings so far?

DB:  They lack pizzazz.  They need something juicy.  Who cares about a bunch of devoted civil servants loyally serving their nation despite being undercut by the President and his lackeys?  B-o-r-i-n-g!

TMS: Don't you think that Ambassadors Taylor and Yovanovitch have made a compelling case that American interests are being undercut by the President's effort to extort campaign favors from a besieged ally?

DB:  But it's not a real ally like Turkey or North Korea.  It's some faraway place no one has ever heard of.  I mean, could you even find Ukraine on a map?

TMS:  It's pretty hard to miss.  It's about as big as Texas.

DB:  But JR doesn't live there, so who cares?

TMS:  Who's JR?

DB:  Look it up you millennial whippersnapper.

TMS:  How is it playing here in the heartland?

In heartland diners, voters don't care
about Ambassadors
DB:  Not well.  The patrons of this diner are dismissing the testimony as hearsay.

TMS:  Hearsay?  I didn't realize the law of evidence loomed so large in Whitesburg.

DB:  Oh, don't be selling the heartland short, you insufferable elitist.  Half the folks in this diner don't leave their house without their copies of Wigmore on Evidence.  And their AR-15's.

TMS:  I find that hard to believe.

DB:  I've heard more discussion here on the scope of the admissions and excited utterance exceptions to the hearsay rule than I ever heard back in Washington.

TMS:  But those rules apply to civil and criminal trials, not to Congressional investigations or pre-indictment proceedings like grand juries.

DB:  You're missing the point.

TMS:  Which is?

DB:  Impeachment will fail unless it is backed by both Democrats and Republicans.

TMS:  But that position essentially give Republicans a veto over impeachment and they have already dismissed the entire investigation without considering the credible evidence.

DB:  See I told you it was failing.  It's just a reflection of the sad state of American politics.  It's become so tribal.

TMS:  You mean between those who believe in facts and the rule of law and those who place blind faith in a corrupt Russian-dominated clueless sex criminal?

DB:  See that kind of tribal thinking won't get us anywhere.

TMS:  Well, what will?

DB:  There is a hunger in the land.

TMS:  A hunger?  For what?

DB:  For unity.  For someone who can bring us together.

TMS:  How do you accomplish that?

DB:  By nominating someone who can represent all of us.

TMS:  Like whom?

DB:  Like Bloomberg.

TMS:  How can he bring us together?

DB:  Well, he can unite the progressive base of the party with the billionaires who want to vote Democratic but think Elizabeth Warren is too extreme.

TMS:  Why is she too extreme?

Can lovable Mike Bloomberg
unite the country?
DB:  My God man have you read her program?  She wants to raise taxes on rich people.

TMS:  Isn't that a broadly popular position?

DB:  Not among rich people, you jackanape.  The rich would love to vote against the President but not if they have to pay for it.

TMS:  After fifty years of pro-rich tax policies, why shouldn't the top 1% who received all the gains in wealth share a little of it so that all can have health care?

DB:  You raise taxes on the rich and poof you've got Venezuela.

TMS:  You do?

DB:  Raising taxes on the rich would destroy jobs.  You're not trying to destroy jobs are you, Che Guevara?

TMS:  Who told you that Warren's tax increases on the rich would cost jobs?

DB:  That guy over there with the little plastic bags of gray crystals and the wad of hundreds.

TMS:  In other words, a reliable source.

DB:  He's a white man who lives in Ohio.  You tell me.

TMS:  Thank you Mr. Bloviator.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

More constructive criticism from the NY Times Public Editor

Editors' Note: The last public editor of the New York Times went out for a latte in 2017 and was never heard from again. While the Times may be of the view that there is no need for any critique of their work, we at the Spy (and then the Columbia Journalism Review) have a different view and accordingly have taken on the thankless task of serving as Public Editor for the Paper of Record.  Someone has to do it.  Once again, we offer a few we hope helpful comments on aspects of the paper's output and provide you with the considered responses of the Times editors to our views.

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-content Generator and Public Editor
The Massachusetts Spy

The case of the context that didn't bark

On October 31, 2019, the Times published two front-page stories about the House of Representatives' adoption of proposed impeachment rules.  The rules set forth the detailed procedures governing the investigation of President PAB and gave the Republicans various rights, including the right to examine witnesses and to suggest relevant witnesses of their own.  As might be imagined given their extremely partisan attitude on – well, every f**kin' thing, the Republicans rubbished the proposed rules.  The Times provided extensive coverage of each and every whine.

For example, it reported the harsh attacks of Rep. Gym Jordan, who similarly dismissed well-founded efforts to investigate sexual abuse on the college wrestling team he helped coach, and Rep. Devon Nunes, whose commitment to truth is shown by his effort to sue into silence a parody Twitter account in the name of his cow, in fulsome detail:
One by one, they came to the floor on Thursday to denounce an inquiry that they view as secretive and unfair, and to accuse Democrats of shredding important precedents in their zeal to oust a duly elected president.

“Trying to put a ribbon on a sham process doesn’t make it any less of a sham,” said Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, while Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said the panel had turned into “a cult.”
The Times also reported scathing critiques by the White House “press secretary” (who has yet to hold a press briefing) and U Bum himself, e.g. witch hunt, scam, coup, and the like.

What the Times in its news story didn't do is tell its readers anything about the rules themselves.  And the analysis piece by long-timer Carl Hulse was no better.  It was the usual both-sides she-says he-says back and forth.  One nugget will suffice:
Republicans derided the Democratic push for impeachment as a sham, a disgrace, a charade, a Soviet-style mock trial and an effort to overturn the 2016 election and impede the 2020 campaign.
So the careful reader of the New York Times wouldn't have a clue about what procedures the House adopted.  Were they a grotesque partisan sham or fair procedures consistent with precedent?  How could we possibly find out?  Well, we could read The Washington Post:
The resolution allows the president and his counsel to request and query witnesses and participate in impeachment proceedings once they reach the Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with writing any articles of impeachment that will be voted on by the House. It also authorizes the House Intelligence Committee to release transcripts of its closed-door depositions to the public, and it directs the committee to write and then release a report on that investigation in the same fashion.
The resolution gives the Republican minority on both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees a chance to subpoena documents and testimony — provided that either the Democratic chairman or a majority of the committee agrees. And it establishes special procedures under which the chairman and top Republican on the panel can take up to 90 minutes to make their cases or defer to a staff lawyer to do so.

We asked Times Washington Bureau Chief Elizabeth Bumiller for her response to the lack of substantive discussion of the content and the fairness vel non of the impeachment resolution in her newspaper.  She said: “You ignorant f**ks are too f**king stupid to appreciate our brilliant coverage and if you don't like how we cover the story you can go take a s**t in the Potomac.”  We appreciate Ms. Bumiller's response to our question but continue to believe that our critique is well-founded.

The case of the missing biography

On November 5, 2009, the Times published on its Op-Ed Page a column critical of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plans to fund social programs, including Medicare for all, by increasing taxes on the wealthy, including a tax on wealth itself at rates up to 6% (on assets in excess of $1,000,000,000).  The columns was written by one Steven Rattner, who was identified by the Times as follows:

This was as might be expected from the Newspaper of Record true.  The brief biography might give the reader the sense that the views of a former high level economic official in a Democratic Administration should be taken seriously.

In fact they should not.  It was a stale collection of apocalyptic whines offered without so much as a shred of documentation.  One example will suffice.  According to Mr. Rattner, Sen. Warren's proposals to fix private equity are bad because “Private equity, which plays a useful role in driving business efficiency, would be effectively eliminated.” 

The column was free of ideas or argument, but the Public Editor recognizes the absolute right of the Times to publish drivel as long as it is written, or at least signed, by rich white men.  The question is whether there were other aspects of Mr. Rattner's biography that might be relevant to a consideration of his critique of Sen. Warren.

For example, had it done a deep dive into publicly available information on Mr. Rattner (thank you Wikipedia! )the Times might have noted that

1.  He's made a pile out of a private equity partnership: 
In March 2000, Rattner and three Lazard partners,  . . left the firm and founded the Quadrangle Group. They initially focused on investing a $1 billion media-focused private equity fund. Early investors in Quadrangle included Sulzberger, Mort Zuckerman, and Merrill Lynch. . . . . Quadrangle grew to manage more than $6 billion across several business lines, including private equity, distressed securities, and hedge funds. The firm also hosted an annual gathering for media executives called Foursquare, where speakers included Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. In 2008, the firm's asset management division announced it had been selected to invest the personal assets of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a billionaire and Rattner's close friend.
Might his voracious lapping at the private equity river and sucking up to even richer and more rapacious titans of capitalism affect his perspective on the value of private equity to the public good? It might.

2.  He was dinged by federal and New York State regulators in a pay to play scandal.

Speaking of his private equity years, 
In 2009, Quadrangle and a dozen other investment firms, . . were investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their hiring of Morris. The SEC viewed the payments as "kickbacks" in order to receive investments from the CRF since Morris was also a consultant to Hevesi.  Quadrangle paid $7 million in April 2010 to settle the SEC investigation, and Rattner personally settled in November for $6.2 million without admitting or denying any wrongdoing.
The Times did not believe that Steve Rattner's
financial affairs were relevant
Hevesi and Morris?  What happened to them?  Let's ask The New York Times:
Alan G. Hevesi, the sole trustee of the pension fund, pleaded guilty in October to a felony related to his role in the scheme and admitted knowing that Hank Morris, his longtime top political aide, had been paid millions of dollars by investment firms to help win business from the fund. Mr. Hevesi, Mr. Morris and six others pleaded guilty to crimes in the case. 
No wonder he's dubious about value of government regulation of financial markets – between the SEC and the New York State settlements, he and his fellow buccaneers paid out over $23 million.

3.  He spends every waking moment surrounded by his fellow plutocrats.

The need to raise taxes on the rich to fund critically-needed programs to help the bottom 99.9% of his fellow Americans might be lost on the estimable Mr. Rattner given the world he swans around in:
[He and his wife] have four grown children, live in a Manhattan apartment, spend summers on Martha's Vineyard, and own a horse farm in North Salem, New York. Rattner has served as a board member or trustee of a number of civic and philanthropic organizations, including the Educational Broadcasting Corporation as chairman, Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City as chairman, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brown University, Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation. Rattner is also member of the Council on Foreign Relations.. . . . Rattner also supports various educational and cultural institutions through the Rattner Family Foundation, including the Sesame Workshop, Harvard Law School, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and others.
The Tenement Museum?  How positively quaint!

Wouldn't you have a different view of his critique of Elizabeth Warren's programs if you knew these tidbits about the Times's guest Op-Ed Columnist?

We put this question to Op-Ed Page Editor James Bennet, who responded with the following voicemail: “You f**king carping bastards aren't fit to clean the bidets in Steve Rattner's second guest house on the Vineyard and I know because I was there!  You and your fellow illiterate vermin should be grateful for the insight Steven is willing to share with you and if you don't like it you can go eat s*** and die.”

We take Mr. Bennet's thoughtful response to heart but wish he had more directly addressed our concerns about the missing pieces of Mr. Rattner's biography. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The most frightening woman in the world


By Maria Boroaroma
Wall Street Bureau

What's scaring you this Halloween?  Is it traditional holiday ghouls like witches, ghosts, skeletons, and the Trump Family?  Or is it bigger and realer threats, like coastal cities obliterated by rising sea levels, the collapse of our Republic, or the realization that Mark Zuckerberg knows what you did last night and he's selling that information every millisecond?

What terrifies America's plutocrats?
If you're a Wall Street finagler, none of those things scare you.  What does? 

The answer: the terrifying specter of President Elizabeth Warren.  Some of the most predatory plutocrats are now warning that if she becomes President, markets will collapse, cows will fall barren, crops will be devoured by locusts, day will become night, and they may have to pay up to 3% of their wealth each year in partial recompense of their colossal and colossally unearned good fortune.

Self-proclaimed Master of the Universe and long-time Wall Street finagler Paul Tudor Jones claims that a Warren victory could send stocks down by 25% “mostly because of concern over her proposed wealth tax.”

And what's the connection between a 2% tax on that portion of your pelf that exceeds $50,000,000 and a market decline (and 3% over $1 billion)?  Jones doesn't need to provide one.  He's rich and when you're rich you're surrounded by people who tell you're brilliant (this is known as “managing up”).   For those of us not named Andrew Ross Sorkin and thus not accustomed to lapping up whatever these self-righteous clowns spew out, we might ponder Jones's analysis for a second.

Why would a modest wealth tax cause prices to plummet 10 times more than the tax itself?  Would rich people stop investing if they could only keep say 80% (or 70%) of their winnings (assuming a normal equity market return of 10%)?  Why?  What would they do with their dough instead?  Put it up their nose?

Of course they wouldn't.  The rich, and institutional investors who wouldn't be affected by the tax, like mutual funds, ETF's and pension plans, will continue to invest.  Others will dart in and out of the stock market based on their judgment about the overall economy (likely to benefit quite handsomely from health care for all and a $2 trillion infrastructure stimulus) and the relative attractiveness of returns available in other asset classes (cash and bonds, not so hot; real estate, maybe better; commodities, wtf knows?)

By contrast, legendary Wall Street genius and man who was barred from money management for his failure to oversee compliance with securities laws at his former firm Steve Cohen thinks the drop will be only 15%.

In support of Jones's prediction though, Billionaire Leon Cooperman told CNBC earlier this month that the market would drop 25% if Warren or Bernie Sanders win.”  Leon Cooperman?  The name rang a distant golden bell.  We sent our interns into the library to find out who this guy was and this is what they came back with 23 milliseconds later (Thanks, Wikipedia!):

You're way off.
On September 21, 2016, Cooperman was charged with insider trading by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  He denied the charges.  Cooperman faced criminal charges in a related parallel proceeding and has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before a SEC hearing. In May 2017 Cooperman's firm agreed to a $4.9 million settlement with the SEC. As part of the agreement, Omega Advisers admitted no wrongdoing. Following the settlement, Cooperman commented: "The process in my opinion was totally abusive. It's a problem that the government should address," and "My lawyers told me that the probability of my winning would be overwhelmingly high, that if I didn’t win it had nothing to do with the merits of the case,” he said. SEC officials declined to comment.

Sounds totally legit to us.

A more plausible argument heard on Wall Street is that Sen. Warren's ideas will be bad for the stock price of certain businesses, like private health insurance companies and other health-care parasites who take 15% or more of revenues to feather their own nests, while Medicare performs the same administrative work better for about 1.7%.  Shares of coal miners, oil drillers, gun makers, heavily leveraged banks, and other sterling corporate citizens might indeed head south if their business models, premised as they are on imposing whopping costs and externalities on the rest of us, run into something that looks like rational regulation.

Not even close.
But protecting the stock prices of drug and tobacco traffickers, fossil fuel generators, grifting loansharks (excuse us, payday lenders) and other malefactors of great wealth is not all that great a reason to leave us unprotected from their ills.  Dropping anvils on the heads of small children might do wonders for the market value of Consolidated Anvil but otherwise has little to recommend it. 

What scares the private equity finaglers especially is the knowledge that Elizabeth Warren is on to their con and might shut down the whole game.  Forcing these corporate bloodsuckers to limit their asset-stripping and factory-closing activities wouldn't harm the market; it would just cut down on the undeserved loot trousered by these heartless raiders, like the current junior Senator of the great state of, let's see where is he living now, Utah, Wilfred M. “Profiles in Courage” Romney.

Warren's proposals to, for example, make private equity raiders responsible for the pensions of the companies they buy and loot could well reduce their sacred Internal Rate of Return on investment by a  few percent.  Writ large, her focus on private equity might reduce the massive inequalities arising when viable businesses are bought, stripped, looted, and dumped and their jobs shipped overseas, all to enrich a tiny gang of grifters and their investors.

What Jones, Cohen, Cooperman, and the rest of the gang are worried about is not a 25% decline in the stock market, but a 25% decline in their own ill-gotten gains.  For years they have paid hundreds of millions to buy the United States Government and operate it as a wholly-owned subsidiary.  The Internal Rate of Return on their lucrative investment in Congress and the Republican Party has been massive.  Losing that trade would hurt these plutocrats a lot more than a 3% wealth tax.