Begin with human rights concerns:
In 2002, for example, Reverend Fernando Alconga was arrested in Dubai for the crime of handing out Christian Bibles. After nine months in prison, he was deported back to his native Phillippines and told not to return. We know it's a Muslim country. But also apparently a religiously intolerant one.
Our government also has some objections though: According to a report issued last year by the Congressional Research Service,
Political reform has been minimal, but its relatively open economy and borders, particularly in the Emirate of Dubai, have caused problems in proliferation, terrorism and human trafficking.
Later on we find,
As stated in repeated U.S. reports on human rights practices worldwide, the UAE has "no democratically elected institutions" and citizens "do not have the right to form political parties."...Freedom of assembly is forbidden by law.
Although Dubai is noted as having made some progress on women's rights, there is still much to be made. The report goes on:
The State Department's report on human rights practices for 2004 cites numerous human rights restrictions such as restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and worker's rights...
Another social problem might be the result of the relatively open economy of the UAE, particularly the Dubai Emirate. The State Department human rights report for 2004 notes that "Trafficking in women and girls used as prostitutes and domestic laborers continues to be a problem." The report also identifies trafficking in young boys used as camel jockeys... The latest State Department report on human trafficking, released in June 2004, moves UAE from Tier 1, the best rating, down to Tier 2, saying the UAE demonstrated "lack of appreciable progress in addressing trafficking for sexual exploitation."
Later, while the report expresses a positive view of UAE's efforts against terrorism, we find:
The UAE record in assisting the United States' efforts against proliferation may be of somewhat greater concern. In connection with recent revelations of illicit sales of nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea by Pakistan's nuclear scientist, A. Q. Khan, Dubai was named as a key transfer point for shipments of nuclear components sold by Khan. Two Dubai-based companies were apparently involved in trans-shipping such components: SMB Computers and Gulf Technical Industries.
There is a lot that needs to be 'reviewed,' and I believe that this deal should be rejected.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Democrats.org has a post called ""The Weakest Adminstration on Defense We Have Seen in Many, Many Years"" that's worth checking out...
(From a speech given by Governor Dean earlier today at the the Annual Conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.)
"Karl Rove says that the Republicans are going to win on the issue of defense. I submitto you that if the issue is defense, the Republicans will lose because this is the weakest Administration on defense that we've seen in many, many years. What I mean is this. For five years this President has been in the White House. For five years North Korea continues to possess nuclear weapons. For five years this Administration has been in the White House, Iran moves closer every day to producing nuclear weapons. For four years, Osama Bin Laden has been on the loose and remains so. And today we see the specter, as reported in the Jerusalem post- of a company that is about to take over American ports, which actively continues today to boycott Israel." [more]
"There is some evidence that when eaten in small quantities, dark chocolate might have some beneficial effects on blood vessels and lowering blood pressure...”
Monday, February 27, 2006
"The government exploited my feelings of patriotism, of a deep desire for revenge for what happened to my son. But I was so insane with wanting to get even, I was willing to believe anything."
Dissent is Patriotic
Sunday, February 26, 2006
A Brief Story of Money
This is the second in a four-part series about money. In Part 1, money was defined in terms of what can be used for the purpose of exchange and how various types of money can be distinguished in terms of intrinsic characteristics and how easily each can be converted to something else of value in exchange.
In this article, the so-called "equation of exchange" is introduced and used to explain inflation in an example. As with the first installment, bloggers are pressed into service as the actors in this drama. Their performances are herewith noted: BlondeSense Liz of BlondeSense and Misty of expostulation are thanked for their performances as castaways on a deserted island, and Peter of Lone Tree, also of BlondeSense, is graciously thanked for a cameo appearance.
Among the definitions of inflation are some that don't explain a whole lot. One such nice but somewhat uninformative definition is this: Inflation is a rise in the aggregate price level. Well, yes, but that doesn't really do much to explain why the "aggregate price level" rises.
Perhaps a better, working definition of inflation might go something like this: Inflation is the erosion of purchasing power per unit of the currency. Not much better, huh? Read on and see how this one fits into the story told below, a story about two women trapped on a deserted island where they must engage in trade with one another, exchanging clams for pineapples.
Several years ago, an ugly storm came out of nowhere during a cruise—a three-hour cruise—on which were two hearty women, BlondeSense Liz and Misty. The storm capsized their boat; and of the five passengers who had set sail that day with the crew of two, only Misty and Liz had survived, each of them floating away from the doomed ship on the drowned remains of one of their more corpulent fellow shipmates.
After several days at sea, they beached on a tiny, deserted island paradise in the South Pacific. Shortly after they came ashore, there was something of an ugly scene about whether to eat their corpse/life rafts uncooked or to do so after roasting them on a spit for several hours, and the two stranded castaways finally decided that it would be best if each went her own way and followed her own culinary preferences.
They did stay in touch. Although they didn't speak to each other, they did send smoke signals on special occasions like birthdays and Halloween. They also traded.
Liz lived on the south side of the island, where pineapples and man-eating plants grew. Fortunately for Liz, the man-eating plants didn't eat women, but she stayed clear of them anyway, putting her daily efforts into cultivating the pineapple trees. She could eat or trade them with Misty, whose side of the island had no pineapples at all but did have the occasional really big clam wander onto the beach to get a tan or answer nature's call, at which time Misty would nail the sucker either to eat or to trade for a pineapple from Liz.
After much wrangling on the matter—negotiations made particularly tricky because of the lack of oral communication—Liz and Misty had worked out an exchange rate of one clam for one pineapple, and this equivalence relationship had remained stable for all of the three long years the two of them had been stranded on that beautiful if somewhat harsh little plot of land in the Pacific.
One day, Misty had a brilliant idea. She noticed that there were a whole lot of empty clam shells on the beach, so she decide to take a real clam she had just beaten senseless, open it up, split the meat in two, and put half of the clam meat into one of the empty shells.
She went as usual to make her trade with Liz; but instead of the usual deal, Misty handed her two clams, each of course containing only half the meat of an original, single clam. Liz suspected nothing and wouldn't have been able to verify the clam's worth, anyway, since she had no immediate access to a clam shell prying tool. Liz did look a little surprised at the escalation of the economic activity Misty was proposing but acknowledged that Misty would get two pineapples that day. Obviously, Liz had to work harder thereafter because of what appeared to her as real, extra currency flowing her way. In economics terms, Liz's real output increased, and it did so because the clam-based money supply increased.
Over time, however, once Liz had eaten some of these clams, she realized that it was taking twice as many to fill her up. Without a full stomach, Liz just didn't have the energy she needed to keep up the pace of her work on the pineapple groves.
Exhausted one day, Liz met Misty for their daily trade. As had become usual, Misty produced her two clams, and Liz handed her one pineapple. Liz had worn herself out producing twice as much for what was really the meat of only one real clam. She never did quite come to know that there was only half as much meat in each clam she was getting, but that didn't matter at all: it was purely a matter of capacity to produce under the circumstances of the standing terms of trade.
In terms of economics, this story is about the equation of exchange. Specifically, it is about three different equilibrium states of that equation as it went from its initial configuration to a short-term re-alignment and then to a long-term stability.
The equation of exchange looks like this:
Money Supply × Velocity of Money = Aggregate Price Level × Aggregate Output Level.
Now, you're probably saying, "Ah, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking when I read that tragic story about Liz and Misty." Of course, what you're probably thinking is something like, "Dude! That's some g-o-o-o-d stuff you're smokin' if you think that equation has anything to do with anything."
Okay, fine. Let's step through the equation piece by piece. On the left side, M is the supply of money: the amount of it in circulation.
V is the velocity of each unit of the currency: how many times each unit is used in a given period. We usually assume the velocity of money doesn't change during the periods we analyze, which means the number of times a unit of the currency is used doesn't increase or decrease during our scenarios.
So the left side of the equation is M×V: the amount of money in circulation multiplied by the number of times each unit of it gets used per period. M×V is just the total expenditures of an economy in a given period of time. For example, if there are ten one dollar bills in circulation, and on average each of them gets used twice in a year, then the total expenditures in the economy would be $10 × 2 times per year = $20 per year in total expenditures.
The right side of the equation is just the total nominal value of the goods and services of an economy. The word "nominal" means price-denominated, as opposed to "real," which means the actual counting of the units of the goods, themselves, without putting prices on them.
On that right side, P is the aggregate price level, or just the price of the average good (in a simplified way). Q is the aggregate real output of the economy (and notice that the Q by itself is "real" since it's a count of actual, physical things instead of a dollar value of them). As an example for the right side, let's say the economy produces a single good, which has an initial price level of $5 per unit, and the economy creates four of those per year. That means the total nominal (price-denominated) output of the economy is $5 per unit × 4 units per year, or $20 per year.
The equation of exchange simply states that the total expenditures, M×V, must be the same as the total nominal product, P×Q, of the economy in a given period of time.
In the situation on the island, the clams had originally been circulating at the rate of one per period, which would mean that the velocity of clams was exactly one, so we have V=1.
The money supply was one clam in each period of trading, so we have M=1.
On the other side when our story began, the real output of pineapples was one per period, so Q=1.
The agreed-upon equilibrium price for a pineapple was one clam, so P=1.
Hence, the equation of exchange captures this situation by stating that
or without the units to obscure the numbers,
But look what happened when the clams got watered down. For a while, something very cool was going on. The velocity of each clam stayed the same: each one of the clams was still being traded only once per period, so V stayed at a value of one. However, there were now two of the clams in circulation in each trading period, so the left side of the equation, M×V, which describes expenditures, became
so the M×V side became
Now for the right side of the equation. The price per pineapple was still one clam, but Liz selling the pineapples had to come up with two of them to meet Misty's clam-driven demand. The price stayed firm, but real output rose. In other words, P×Q became
hence P×Q became
Thus, we have a new equilibrium of the equation of exchange:
Notice that the equation of exchange is not in some sense "forcing" the situation; instead, it's merely explaining how the parts of an economy fit together.
What we've just seen was the short-run effect of an increase in the supply of clams that was not matched by any actual change in the fundamental dynamics of production of pineapples. Liz on the pineapple side of the island really didn't have any greater "capacity" to create pineapples, and she didn't have some new technology or anything like that. All she was doing was responding to what she saw as an increase in money she could make for bringing pineapples to market.
Now comes the long run. Liz was harvesting pineapples at a rate higher than she normally could, given the rate at which pineapples grew to harvestable size and given her own ability to gather pineapples in any period of time. Ultimately, the fact that she wasn't getting any more real meat in those two clams than she originally had in the one clam simply forced her to return to a real output of one pineapple. She simply could not produce two, actual pineapples per day, not in the long-run, anyway. But the only way she could then accommodate two clams being handed to her is if she were to revert to what it actually takes in terms of clam meat to deliver a pineapple. Those two clams have the meat of one of the original clams, and that was how much meat it really took for Liz to be able to harvest a single pineapple. Hence, she's going to have to charge Misty two of her watered-down clams for each actual, honest-to-goodness pineapple.
So here's what happened in the long run to the equation of exchange. The left side, M×V had already moved to its new configuration: that happened in the short run when the clam supply went up to two (while the velocity stayed at one). Thus, the left side of the equation hangs at
which means the left side of the equation will be 2×1, or 2.
The right side of the equation for the long-run scenario has changed. The price for each pineapple has risen to two clams, and the real output of pineapples has reverted back to one per period. Hence, the right side of the equation of exchange, P×Q, is in the long run going to be
which means the right side of the equation is now 2×1, or 2.
The long-run equilibrium configuration of the equation of exchange is this:
works out its equilibrium (the equation is in balance) as
Well, look at that. It really is still in equilibrium: the left side equals the right side, just as it did at the very beginning and just as it did in the short run. Not only that, look closely at the three states of equilibrium:
Ah. An increase in the money supply in the short run causes an increase in real output; but in the long run, the only effect is that real output reverts to what it was originally while the price of the output goes up.
In short-hand notation, it might look like this:
Notice something about that island economy. If Liz had actually been able to really produce more pineapples, she couldn't have sold them to the Misty unless Misty had more real (undiluted) clams. As an example, there was an brief incident where the hapless Peter of Lone Tree came ashore on the island, and Liz forced him to serve as her slave labor. With his help, Liz was able to produce two pineapples per period, but she couldn't sell both of them to Misty because she didn't have two real, undiluted clams. In other words, real growth rate of an economy requires a matching growth rate of the money supply. Frustrated by the lack of real money to reflect the real growth in output, Liz was planning to cast Peter back out to sea, where he would eventually be picked up by the floating Republican fund-raising cruise liner Washington HO! and made to serve as bartender under the tutelage of the earstwhile Tom Delay. As fate would have it, though, Peter was eaten by one of those man-eating plants that lived on Liz's side of the island.
Anyway, the point of that last paragraph was that it's not that a central bank should never increase the money supply; in fact, it must, but it should do so only at the rate at which the real output of the economy needs that extra money.
That makes the job of a central bank really hard. Think about it: if the central bank prints money too fast, real output would go up in the short run. That would give the central bank the impression that this real growth required even more money to be printed. But the first round of extra money would eventually be causing inflation and real output would be tending to revert back to its original level. But the central bank would have been printing even more money because it saw the real output of the economy growing from its first excess punch of money, and this would lead to a scenario something like a horse watching its wagon go by in front of it and thinking that it had to run faster to catch up with its cart, not realizing that it was actually pushing the cart to go faster and faster. That could be the beginning of a run-away horse and buggy as well as run-away inflation. The central bank erroneously thinks the economy is really growing well, but it's the central bank that's causing it to happen, and the way it's happening won't last.
And that's why a central bank should never, ever contemplate being in the business of helping (or hurting) an economy: short-run versus long-run effects of accommodative or punitive monetary policy simply cannot be foreseen with the clarity to distinguish between fundamental economic growth and mere reaction to the money supply manipulation.
In conclusion, returning to the story of the women on the island, the lesson should be clear and obvious. In summary, it is stated as such:
Inflation has one cause: too many clams chasing too few pineapples.
The Dark Wraith has thus delivered the tropical goods.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
of this series.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
When the proposed abortion ban in South Dakota was announced earlier in the week, individuals were being encouraged to call the Department of Tourism, other South Dakota state offices, the headquarters of some of the businesses located in South Dakota (like Citibank, Gateway computer, and Iams). The point is to announce that you will be boycotting visiting South Dakota, or boycotting purchasing from South Dakota businesses, until that state shows that it has a commitment to equal civil rights for women!
An article in today's Rapid City Journal shows that this approach is working, but that the numbers are very small.
More info and ideas
I guess it all depends on perspective. But maybe instead of always being on the inside looking out, our media needs to also consider the view from the outside looking in.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Turns out that Majority Leader Frist isn't the only top Senate Republican to figure out that this is a good way to pay his friends and supporters. His top assistant, Majority Leader Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, also has a charity, and in a report out today it turns out that his charity not only spends less than half of what it takes in on anything that might be considered 'charitable,' but pays its top employees-- you guessed it, members of Santorum's inner political circle-- tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
_Maria Diesel, who has been paid fundraising fees by the campaign, is listed as the charity's finance director. Filings show she has received $192,958 in professional fundraising fees from Operation Good Neighbor.
_Robert Bickhart, who has also been involved in raising campaign funds for Santorum, is listed as the charity's executive director. Filings show he has earned $75,000 in salary from the charity since 2001 and that his business, Capitol Resource Group, rents the office space to the charity. The charity has paid $20,437 in occupancy fees, filings show.
Gee, sounds like if I really want to rake in the big bucks, I should go to work for Rick Santorum.
Santorum's charity spent $501,000 out of $1.25 million it raised last year on actual charitable projects. Most reputable charities (i.e. United Way, the Salvation Army) spend more than 90% of what they bring in in donations on projects, with small amounts for overhead.
What is disturbing about the Republicans in Washington is how they keep electing people like these to be their leaders. At best, it shows a profound lack of judgement. At worst, it shows they have developed a tolerance for corruption.
This does make it clear though why so many Republicans support private charities over government programs though. With all the auditors in Government, it is much harder for them to steer the money to their pals than if they funnel it through a charity.
An Atrios thread begins with some good news...
Democrats in Congress are outpolling President Bush on national security. By a margin of 43 to 41 percent, Americans say they trust Congressional Democrats more than Bush when it comes to protecting our national security. And by a margin of 64-17 percent, they oppose the sale of the ports to Dubai.It is always a pleasure to read the comments there...I would like to share a comment with you and then the excellent comebacks.
Chris Matthews just said that Bush looks like "the wise man, almost like Atticus Finch."In case you don't remember Atticus Finch was this guy.
And here are some of the comments regarding Tweety's statement:
- I just exploded in my head a little.
- It was especially jarring since his guests had just been talking about what a fuck up chimpy is.
- First he was Reagan, then he was a Pilot, then he was Lincoln and now he's Atticus Finch.And next...MANIMAL!
- jeebus. i've got wolf on and by comparison, he seems like a reasonable journalist.
- Does Tweety mean Bush looks like Gregory Peck? 'Cause I don't see the resemblance.
- Gregory Peckory
- More like Gregory Peck in "The Boys From Brazil."
- I think Harper Lee needs to be handed an umbrella so she can beat Matthews upside the haid for that one.
- tweety's out of his fucking mind. a week ago he was comparing idiot son to fredo.
- It doesn't sound so bad if you know that Tweety claimed Bush exudes a sunny nobility.
Thank you Atrios Contributors!
Commentary by Frank Pitz
Who will speak for the generations to come? Who shall act for those yet to be born? All I hear is silence. All I see is nothingness. No, let me rephrase that, I do see something; I do hear something.
What I hear are the rantings of a maniacal egotist, mouthing the regurgitated words of his Nazi masters. What I see are the jackboots of repression marching swiftly over the land, led by corporate fascists with a sword in one hand and the power of the press in the other.
Will they speak or act for the future generations? How can they when they care not one damn bit for the future? For the fascist, there is no future -- only the present. For the totalitarian, there is no future, there is only now, fueled by the aphrodisiac of unrestrained power.
The oppressor-to-be always speaks to the future (in terms of establishing thousand year Reichs), but the dictator never sees beyond the here, and now. If the corporate fascist does give thought to the future it is solely in the short term, i.e., ensuring there are enough young men and women to serve as cannon fodder for the endless war machine.
Look around you, Amerika, tell me what you see? Do you see a future bright with promise, or rather an imminent disaster? [...]
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
River at Baghdad Burning has an excellent article regarding the Mosque attacked by insurgents posing as police.
We woke up this morning to news that men wearing Iraqi security uniforms walked in and detonated explosives, damaging the mosque almost beyond repair. It’s heart-breaking and terrifying. There has been gunfire all over Baghdad since morning. The streets near our neighborhood were eerily empty and calm but there was a tension that had us all sitting on edge. We heard about problems in areas like Baladiyat where there was some rioting and vandalism, etc. and several mosques in Baghdad were attacked. I think what has everyone most disturbed is the fact that the reaction was so swift, like it was just waiting to happen.
All morning we’ve been hearing/watching both Shia and Sunni religious figures speak out against the explosions and emphasise that this is what is wanted by the enemies of Iraq- this is what they would like to achieve- divide and conquer. Extreme Shia are blaming extreme Sunnis and Iraq seems to be falling apart at the seams under foreign occupiers and local fanatics. [more]
The Cartography of Hegemons
Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
In Sufferance of the Permanence of Hell
Earlier this week, I published an article reproducing the text of a proposed amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Should such a proposed repeal amendment be ratified in the due form and course of such matters, a President of the United States would no longer be limited to two terms. In particular and as a cautionary example, George W. Bush, who is now serving his second term as President, would not be constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term.
It has been pointed out to me by several readers that attempts to repeal the 22nd Amendment have been made in the recent and not-so-recent past, and all have failed. I shall not be faint in my warning about the here and now. Below is the synthesis of responses I have and will set forth to the earnest suggestions that history mitigates the present.
That previous attempts have been made to repeal the 22nd Amendment is not in dispute. This is precisely the point.
The Democrats of the 109th Congress seem to believe that all things are as they have been in times past, in Congresses of yesteryear, and in manner of progress to a more open society. They hold to old lines of authentic rhetoric, mechanistic proceduralism, and statesmanly patience, all of which might in their day have worked to great and noble ends. The Democrats sail confidently yet perilously close to shallow waters, awaiting the returning tide to lift them from the jagged meanness of their Republican colleagues.
And in this route, they have come to wreckage.
More importantly, the Republic in its growth as a liberal democracy has not been temporarily slowed; it has, instead, been ended. The Republicans set forth action in proposed laws, move forward in aggression, and leave nothing behind for the Democrats to negotiate. Worse, the nation will not, as it has in other eras of excessive conservatism, recover—certainly not for decades, anyway, and perhaps not ever.
The Republicans maneuver outrage into law with the finesse in foreplay of Don Juan followed by the copulatory sensitivity of a Roman Legion battering ram. The Democrats cry as violated victims incapable of vengeance because they want not to lower themselves to the beasts who have taken their dignity.
The Democrats stand flat-footed, as if it is the duty of some ill-define "The People" to avenge their honor; and so they suffer the irresistible and false hope that the pounding of their stolen heart is the hoofbeats of a rescuing knight.
John Conyers is relegated to the outdoors to hold a phony "hearing," Harry Reid pulls a Senate closed-session desperation play, and Howard Dean energizes the masses of the disaffected with hot language that repairs nothing.
The descent into the abyss continues.
Abortions will become practically impossible to obtain within a decade, military siege will be the instrument of America's belated and amateurish engagement of a world it cannot perfectly control, evangelical Christianity will speak through both law and regulation, and political thought will run through a filter of wariness and fear of consequences from both private and public thugs.
Yes, it is different this time: Medievalism in the Age of Enlightenment is no longer Medievalism; it is, instead, neo-conservatism; and it wields an iron fist.
Until the Democrats understand this, they will grasp not how to respond in the beginnings of battles; and until they know how to strike at the subtle whispers in the preambles, they will have no hope of saving this Republic...
...if this Republic is worth saving, that is.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Repeal of the 22nd Amendment
This is yet another in the continuing series of online polls conducted by the Polling Center of The Dark Wraith Forums.
The poll offered is this post might seem to have an obvious answer, one requiring no second thought or qualification. Before making your decision on a response, open the poll and read the question.
Repeal of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Scientists at a large annual gathering rallied in support of evolution, speaking out against what they call an assault on science from religious conservatives.
A group at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest US gathering of scientists yesterday announced the formation of an alliance to defend evolution.
Many at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation's largest gathering of scientists, spoke out over the weekend against what they called religious pressure in public schools. And they enlisted the help of about 300 teachers from across the Midwest who attended the conference to discuss the national debate over evolution.
"We are not rolling over on this," Alan Leshner, chief executive of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's too important to the nation and to the nation's children."
While they feel they have won the latest round against efforts to bring God into the classroom, the scientists say they have little doubt their opponents are merely regrouping.
"It's time to recognize that science and religion should never be pitted against one another," American Association for the Advancement of Science President Gilbert Omenn told a news conference on Sunday. The AAAS has held several sessions on the evolution issue at its annual meeting in St. Louis.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Hell Made Permanent
The following Proposal for Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has been submitted and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution. (Introduced in House)
HJ 24 IH
February 17, 2005
Mr. HOYER (for himself, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. SABO, and Mr. PALLONE) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
- Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
- 'The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.'
Note carefully the date of submission as published.
With thanks to contributor Kaiyn at BlondeSense.
The Dark Wraith offers his condolences to the family of the departed democratic and free republic.
of John Hall
Join Rock n Roll Hall of Fame member John Sebastian with Jimmy Vivino and John Hall
Date: March 16th, 2006 @ 8 pm
Location: Town Crier Cafe, 130 Route 22, Pawling, New York
Tickets $75 per person (show only)
Dinner available by reservation at the Towne Crier Café
John Hall for Congress
Congressional District 19 - New York
To RSVP please contact
Lisa@Johnhallforcongress.com or (518) 678 9928
Oh, Tim, could you bring your boss too.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
He is really not making it up over at Blogenlust.
But Blue Girl really wants to know who is raising dicks like cheney.
RoryShock talks about someone bu**sh**ing, but Dell has another idea.
I don't know anyone who comes up with better captions then this girl.
Buddha has been under the weather, but he still managed to laugh over at his place.
And if I could I stop laughing, I would tell you that someone was directed to Jen's Donkey O.D. by google, but you will have to read why...it is truly funny.
Finally, PSoTD is nakedly sleepwalking.
If you have come across something funny or just outrageous, could you please share it with me.
all your wrinkles will be in the right places.
Friday, February 17, 2006
The Bush administration helped derail a Senate bid to investigate a warrantless eavesdropping program yesterday after signaling it would reject Congress's request to have former attorney general John D. Ashcroft and other officials testify about the program's legality. The actions underscored a dramatic and possibly permanent drop in momentum for a congressional inquiry, which had seemed likely two months ago.
In December, two Republicans on the committee -- Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) -- called for a congressional investigation of the NSA program. Yesterday, they supported the move that adjourned the meeting without voting on Rockefeller's motion.
Folks it’s official. Democracy is dead.
Heretik offers a poem titled 11:59
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports Accord in House to Hold Inquiry on Surveillance whereas, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas conveys the White House had agreed in principle to negotiate on legislation that would give Congress authority to oversee the eavesdropping.
Sen. Rockefeller, the Senior Democrat on the panel emerged from a closed-door committee meeting fuming and accused Republicans of caving to White House pressure. "Mr. Roberts used the deal to push off a vote on a plan by Democrats to conduct a full-scale investigation of the program."
But it gets better...el Presidente busho believes it is a really good idea to give control over our ports to Muslim countries…are you asking yourself why don’t we have Saudi Arabia run Homeland Security? The company based in Dubai will have a major role in operating ports in and around New York City. Did you know that Dubai Ports World is owned by the United Arab Emerites (UAE)?
UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and it has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia. [more at Think Progress]And lastly...
Digby has a good assessment on what we've learned from this business of the vice president getting drunk and shooting an old man in the face.
For instance, the next time somebody accidentally runs over a pedestrian and refuses to talk to police about it until the next day, we should remember that he was traumatized. [more]
Thursday, February 16, 2006
There is a growing sense of restlessness on Capitol Hill and it is not the majority that has this sense. With Democrats potentially on the cusp of making a significant dent in the Republican majority, tensions that have been well below the surface are starting to spill out and may soon boil over into a Democrat civil war.
Various people on Capitol Hill tell me that the Democrats are struggling to keep their internal disputes from boiling over. They all lay the blame at Howard Dean and the Democrat leadership on Capitol Hill failing to get along. Right now, individuals loyal to Howard Dean are compiling dossiers on embattled Senate minority leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Couple these potential trouble spots with the pending William Jefferson plea bargain, Democrat netroots leader Kos' perceived selling out to the establishment through his failure to engage the DLC and failure to back Hackett in Ohio, and the failure of the minority to rally around one set of talking points and you have the a higher chance of a Democrat civil war than an Iraqi civil war.
Cross posted from KA's in Exile (cause it's a great article)
I have also blogged quite a bit about the sharp turn to the left that is going on to our south, especially throughout Latin America.
And nowhere has the test of American commitment to Democratic priniciples, or lack thereof, been more stark than in Haiti.
Now, Haiti is not strictly speaking a Latin American country. It was a French colony, and almost all of the people there are descendants of African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean. My father spent some time in Haiti when he was a young man, and told me quite a bit about it. The language is Creole, a mixture of French, African dialects and with more than a hint of Spanish and seventeenth and eighteenth century English. The religion is as distinct as the language. While there are a number of different churches there and probably more people are Catholic than any other religion, Haiti is also the traditional home of the Voodoo religion, and many, many Haitians are practitioners of Voodoo (including some who may also go to other churches.)
One distinction that Haiti has is that it is without a doubt the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The lush green tropical forests that covered the hills and mountains for centuries have disappeared, as virtually every inch of land that can be used to grow crops or house people is in use for those purposes. In times of famine, people have even dug down to find the roots from the trees which are only a memory anymore, and eaten the roots as food.
For decades, Haiti was ruled by a family of dictators, the Duvalier family. The Duvalier family was backed by the United States, and as long as they backed the US in the Cold War (meaning in particular not having any relations with Cuba, one of their near island neighbors), America supported them and turned a blind eye to the corruption and brutality of the Duvaliers, and their feared police force, the 'Ton Ton Makout.' Haiti was also a place where a number of American companies set up sweatshops, finding the labor costs there to be even lower than they were in other Caribbean or Latin American countries. The people though finally had had enough and overthrew the Duvalier regime. Later, they elected Jean Bertrande Aristide, a flambouyant leftist who promised to share what wealth there was (remember, this is Haiti) among the people. And he made good on many of his reforms, beginning the long and arduous task of raising the living standards of poor people in Haiti up to well-- something. Then, when some die-hards in the military who wanted the old dictatorship back staged a coup and put Aristide under house arrest, Bill Clinton intervened to restore the democratically elected President to power.
Enter the Bush administration. Whether they encouraged an uprising by a small but violent minority (many former backers of the Duvaliers) is subject to question, but they certainly did not do anything to discourage it, finally helping Aristide find a way out of the country and into exile two years ago. Aristide claims he was forcibly removed from the country by U.S. marines; Our government denies it, saying that he agreed to let us fly him to Africa.
And the thugs who took over the government thought to stay there. But they made one mistake. With Aristide gone, they called a free election.
Rene Preval, an ally of Aristide, has wide support among the poor and masses of people in Haiti. And it showed. The current regime tried to drag things out as far as possible, trying to prevent Preval from getting the 50% of the votes that would allow him to avoid a runoff. More and more evidence kept coming forward showing fraud, as the Provisional Electoral Council kept reporting Preval's total as 49.something %. Finally, after growing international criticism, they threw in the towel yesterday and announced Preval the winner.
Preval, who once before was elected President, will continue to push for support for those who need it most. He is much more low key and less charismatic than Aristide, but will probably get at least as many results.
But most importantly, he is the person that the people wanted. We will see if our administration accepts that decision.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
On February 13, the Center for Union Facts ran full-page advertisements in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and staged some political theater, on a grand scale, outside of AFL-CIO headquarters to kick off the center's multimillion dollar "public education" campaign.
They erected a huge triceratops and arranged for picketers to march in a circle and educate the public with signs proclaiming "AFL-CIO: Colossal Fossil," "Smart Union Leaders: Extinct?" and "Labor Leaders: Dis-organized?"
The Center for Media and Democracy has done some research into the origins and activities of these stalwart defenders of truth, justice and the American way and have discovered that they are nothing more than Rick Berman's Newest Fiction. Berman is a lobbyist specializing in smear, personal attacks, and misinformation (if not outright lies). His clients include biotech, fast food franchises, and tobacco companies from which he has raised millions of dollars.
This is of course a campaign to shape public opinion. Berman doesn't outright diss rank and file union members. He limits his direct attacks to the labor leaders who helped bankrupt steel, auto, and airline companies because Berman knows there is still significant sympathy in the country for organized labor. Never-the-less he indirectly disparages every union member in the process - and the labor movement itself - by intent.
Once again, millions are spent to divide workers into good guys and bad guys. And once again, organized labor takes a hit for workers everywhere.
An article at MSNBC's Website was edited to remove references to alcohol, that may have been available at a picnic, which preceded the accidental shooting of a 78-year-old lawyer by Vice President Cheney last Saturday, RAW STORY has learned.
The change to the article was quickly noticed by a number of liberal bloggers, and their readers, many of whom have been following this much discussed story very closely for the last few days.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Whittington just had a minor heart attack and has birdshot lodged in his heart.
Shot lodged in his heart?
CNN is still reporting that it was Whittington's fault and that the shot "migrated." Which means the penetration of shot was much more serious than being "peppered."
Weren't we told that the wounds were to "face, neck, head, and rib cage" and that they were flesh wounds.?
Sorry, I won't link cnn...you will have to find it yourself.
Let Dark Chocolate Be Your Valentine
Arthur Agatston, the Miami cardiologist who created the popular low-carb South Beach Diet, is no stranger to chocolate. [...]
According to the diet doc, studies show that high concentrations of cocoa found in dark chocolate -- at least 70 percent -- help improve vascular function by relaxing blood vessels, keeping cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels and reducing the risk of blood clots.
Others agreed. Jeffrey Blumberg, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition, in Boston, said dark chocolate contains flavanols, plant-based antioxidants that may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular function. These benefits might extend to improving heart function and lowering blood pressure, he said.
"Dark chocolate, green tea and red wine have these flavanols in concentrated forms, which increases their potency per serving," Blumberg added.
"Flavanol compounds are only present in dark chocolate," he stressed. [...]
Monday, February 13, 2006
It is simple...it is for the People, for their rights, liberties, and justices. It is because we have pledged our allegiance to the republic for which it stands.
When there is a constitutional crisis facing the United States it becomes necessary that every American learn about it.
When the world watches as the folks in New Orleans drown and the President strums his guitar there needs to be questions.
When FEMA says it will stop payment for hotel rooms across the country for 12,000 families made homeless by last year's storms, everyone needs to know.
When an UN inquiry says the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which at times amounts to torture, violates international law it is necessary to inform folks.
When the whopping budget deficits that the Bush Administration has ballooned via the tax cuts for the wealthy demand draconian cuts in 141 domestic programs, led by a $36 billion cut in Medicare spending for the elderly over the next five years, people need to know about it.
When Cheney orders Libby or others to leak classified information pertaining to the War in Iraq to reporters in an effort to bolster the Administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction, the people need to know.
It is for humanity, pure and simple.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
A Walk-Down Primer on the U.S. Trade Deficit with China
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Friday, February 10, 2006
and person of human decency
It is important to remember that the Bush administration stated they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.
"Helluva Job" Brownie states "First and foremost I find it a little disingenuous that DHS would claim that they were not getting that information because FEMA held continuous video telephone conferences-- So for them to now claim that we didn't have awareness of it I think is just baloney...
White House officials have confirmed to Congressional investigators that the report of the levee break arrived there at midnight, and Trent Duffy, the White House spokesman, acknowledged as much in an interview this week, though he said it was surrounded with conflicting reports.
Not so conflicting is the fact that Bush said the day after Katrina hit, that New Orleans "dodged the bullet." And who continued on with his vacation, clearing brush, riding his bike, getting a new guitar...all the while, New Orleans was drowning...for days before the President seemed to get the message.
The World watched in horror as the truth became evident about what had occurred in New Orleans. Remember the words of MR. AARON BROUSSARD:
We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.Recounting those terrible days in late August and early September when the Good People of New Orleans were LEFT to DIE by the Bush Administration makes me more angry. Just take a moment to read the timeline both at Think Progress and Daily Kos.
Of all the failures by President Bush and the present Administration, and gawd knows they are numerous, Jen at Donkey O.D. put it together best in this post.
Digby points out:
Brown blamed the White House for the failure in Katrina rather than his own ineptitude; given the amount of trouble he's in, he had no choice. Even so - this is incredible! - he re-emphasized, without contradiction or explanation, THE single most important Republican talking point: [Read it here]
Thursday, February 09, 2006
"None of this talk is even in the realm of conspiracy theories anymore. It's practically a play-by-play account of exactly what the Bush Administration is doing."
Wake up and smell the fascism:
In "Fascism Anyone?," Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies 14 characteristics common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 identifying characteristics of fascism:
- Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
- Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
- Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
- Supremacy of the Military
- Rampant Sexism
- Controlled Mass Media
- Obsession with National Security
- Religion and Government are Intertwined
- Corporate Power is Protected
- Labor Power is Suppressed
- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
- Obsession with Crime and Punishment
- Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
- Fraudulent Elections
The Sound Bite and the Fury
At a meeting today in New Hampshire of the Business and Industry Association, President Bush spoke about the 2007 federal budget. Striking a humane tone, he said, "I look behind the numbers and see the quality-of-life issues... Those of us who put [the budget] together really did see the human dimension." Allaying fears of gratuitous or harmful spending cuts, he pointedly emphasized that programs eliminated or whose budgets were reduced were those that hadn't produce results.
The White House Office of Management and Budget has even published a Website called ExpectMore.gov, which details what the Administration considers productive and unproductive agencies.
The record $2.8 trillion budget proposed for 2007 includes a nearly five percent increase in Pentagon spending to $439.3 billion and another five percent increase in spending on Homeland Security.
Only hours after the speech, Mr. Bush signed into law the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005—including as it does $39 billion in spending to cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidy programs, and student loans—thereby making good on his promise that only unproductive programs would face the budget cutting axe under his Administration.
The Dark Wraith is always grateful when the news, itself, renders scathing commentary anticlimactic.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
You could be next.
n : an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico wants the government to apologize to a nurse for seizing her computer and investigating her for "sedition" after she criticized the Bush administration.
The ACLU said Wednesday the Department of Veterans Affairs found no evidence Laura Berg used her office computer to write the critical letter.
VA human resources chief Mel Hooker said in a Nov. 9 letter that his agency was obligated to investigate "any act which potentially represents sedition," the ACLU said.
A VA spokesman in Washington could not say Wednesday whether the agency had received the ACLU's request. It seeks an apology from Hooker "to remedy the unconstitutional chilling effect on the speech of VA employees that has resulted from these intimidating tactics. "Even if Berg had used an office computer, neither that nor her criticism approached "unlawful insurrection," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU."
Is the government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of sedition?" he said
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
7th st. SW betw. Madison Dr. & Jefferson Dr.
In response to the Swift-Boat attack on Rep. Murtha, Band of Brothers 2006, along with VETPAC, has organized an event to take place on February 8, 2006. This will be the largest event of its kind in recent history. Not since 1946 have so many veterans come together as candidates for one political party. We already have commitments from over half of our candidates to come to Washington D.C., rally around Rep. Murtha, and lay the groundwork for a populist reform movement that will oust the integrity-challenged GOP leadership in our Congress. We will release more details about the upcoming event in the days to come and hope that many of you will be able to attend.Band of Brothers is a new political organization formed to assist Democratic veterans running for elected office. We’ve already identified more than 50 fighting men and women who need our help to challenge the current administration on its failed policies at home and abroad.
Let's hope the MSM honors the men and women who served for our country and are now running to correct the failed policies of Bush and his cronies.
A hat tip to: DavidNYC from Swing State Project for posting this very important day.
• "Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won - you earn it and win it in every generation."
• "I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation."
• "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."
• "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."
• "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members ... a heart of grace and a soul generated by love."
• "There is a spirit and a need and a man at the beginning of every great human advance. Every one of these must be right for that particular moment of history, or nothing happens."
• "If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children."
• "Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul."
Please go read the nice post Eli has about Coretta Scott King over at Deep Thought.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Hillary Clinton for President
Several days ago, Night Bird's Fountain featured its first survey conducted by The Dark Wraith Forums Polling Center. That poll was relatively successful, having garnered at the time of this article 25 responses.
Typically, only a fraction of visitors to a Website will participate in a poll. Reasons are diverse: some prefer as a matter of personal preference not to reveal opinions in certain forums; others find no response reasonably reflective of personal opinion on the matter at hand; still others simply cannot make the poll function.
With respect to poll design, it is important to note that different types of polls and surveys can be conducted. Aside from the forum itself, the character of a poll is governed by the question posed, as well as by the response choices offered. One broad category might be called the "conditional poll," wherein prior conditions of terminology, political philosophy, perspective, and/or other factors are reflected in the question asked or the responses available. To one extent or another, all polls and surveys are conditional, but some are much more centrally (if not transparently) so.
One important, if much maligned, type of survey is the so-called "push poll," made famous by political operatives for George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential campaign. This is a political weapon that many put in the "dirty tricks" category. A push-poll has the specific and hidden intent of causing people to form an opinion based upon what appears at first pass to be helpful information provided in the title, the question, and/or the responses offered.
The poll being offered in this post is a push-poll. In fact, this post itself is part of the push: look at the title, and think about your receptiveness to taking the poll even before you see it. This is an operating example of political hardball. Whether it constitutes a political "dirty trick" should be the subject of comments for this article.
Without further ado, the second poll is herewith deployed as an exclusive to readers of this fine blog.
Hillary Clinton for President
So first ol' smiley Abu decides he does not want to testify under oath and he gets a sweet nod from his followers. Democrats sought — and failed, once again — to have Gonzales sworn in. Then Abu was asked before the Senate panel whether he could promise that no one besides suspected terrorists were being eavesdropped upon under the Bush Administration's domestic wiretap program, Smiley Abu today remarked that he could not promise that agents were not listening in on non-suspects' calls.
Then Sen. Baseball cap, um, sorry I mean Biden asks:
“Can you assure us, General, you are fully, totally informed and confident that you know the absolute detail with which this program is being conducted? Can you assure us you personally can assure us no one is being eavesdropped upon in the United States other than -- other than someone who has a communication that is emanating from foreign soil by a suspected terrorist, al Qaeda, or otherwise?”
But the American people still did not get an answer to 1)Why was it necessary to avoid the FISA court? 2)Who were they spying on that the FISA court wouldn't have given warrants for?To which Abu replies: “Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance.”
I sure hope Digby is correct, but he definitely got it right about "being dumbstruck by the totality of the Republicans' abdication of their duty." [more]
And thanks to C&L we are able to watch Glenn Greenwald, a man who shows there just might be some hope in getting this country back on track.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Betty Friedan and Sexual Politics
The Dark Wraith Forums offers occasional polls on timely issues via The Dark Wraith Forums Polling Center, a custom, proprietary service that offers its users an opportunity to express views and see what others think.
On February 4, 2006, feminist author Betty Friedan passed away at the age of 85. Her 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, was seminal in its frontal assault on the modern woman as defined exclusively by her husband and family; the book offered women what was at the time the radical notion that women could and should have identities apart from that of wife and mother. Within several years, she had co-founded the National Organization for Women and later served as its president.
She came, however, to be a critic of what she described as "sexual politics": she came to use the word "distorted" to describe its effect on the women's movement. To some, she was a moderating voice in this regard; to others, she was unable to understand that the women's movement was at least in part defined by that sexual politics.
Whatever judgment should be rendered upon her ultimate contribution to the women's movement, she was unarguably profound in her influence, both on women and on the society in which they live.
The poll offered here seeks your view on Betty Friedan's critique of sexual politics and its effect on the women's movement. The scope of responses is narrow in order to define four relatively broad categories of sentiment regarding the question posed.
Night Bird's Fountain
Betty Friedan and the Consequence of Sexual Politics