Democracy Now!

Al Sadr warns Bush on poll interference,” Gulf Daily News, http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=101899&Sn=WORL&IssueID=27301, 15 January 2005.

Muqtada al-Sadr continues his cries for democracy in Iraq:

BAGHDAD: Radical Iraqi leader Moqtada Al Sadr yesterday urged US President George W Bush and Iraq’s neighbours not to interfere with the January 30 general elections.

“This affair is none of your business,” the young Shi’ite leader said, addressing Bush in a Friday sermon read by one of his representatives at a mosque in his Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.

“I call on all neighboring and non-neighboring countries, occupiers and non-occupiers, not to meddle in the country’s internal affairs, including the elections,” he said.

The obvious subtext is tht he wants other nations not to interfere in Iraq’s elections. Syria and Saudi oil millionaires are already interfering by supporting the terrorists. Some in Washington want to interfere by giving the Sunnis more seats than the actually win, in an attempt to buy-off the murderers. (Or more politely, “co-opt” them.)

Iraq’s future is Shia-Kurdish. A free election will reflect that. Long live the free Iraq!

Indecent

Iran Parliament to further inhibit women,” Iran Mania, http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=28664&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs, 13 January 2005.

Career Day Speaker Advises Stripping,” Associated Press, http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=2808029&nav=5D7lVBLf, 13 January 2005.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a woman who does not cover herself modestly is indecent. Might cause a scandal.

Recently the conservative-dominated Iranian Parliament has begun taking steps to make it obligatory for Iranian women to wear the chador, a black head-to-toe wrap. The move apparently comes after a rather freer atmosphere which prevailed in Iranian society as regards dress codes during President Khatami’s tenure.

In the U.S. public education, talking about a woman who does not cover herself modestly is indecent. Might cause a scandal.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — A popular speaker at a Palo Alto middle school’s annual career day might not be invited back after he advised students that stripping — yes exotic dancing — could be a lucrative potential profession.

The school’s principal plans to send some apologetic letters home with students.

Growth Deficit

US trade gap a sign of growing economy: Snow,” AFP, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1519&ncid=749&e=6&u=/afp/20050112/bs_afp/useconomytradesnow, 12 January 2005.

‘We are growing faster than our trading partners,’ Snow told reporters,” by “Career Prole,” Democratic Underground, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=1144233&mesg_id=1144283&page=, 12 January 2005.

Snow says US trade deficit reflects strong economic growth,” Xinhuanet, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-01/13/content_2452611.htm, 13 January 2005.

Democratic Underground linked to an Agence France-Presse article, which quoted Treasury Secretary Snow

NEW YORK (AFP) – US Treasury Secretary John Snow said the record US trade deficit was the result of strong economic growth and the United States outpacing the growth of other countries.

The impression left by the article? Snow is insane. The first paragraph makes as much sense as saying “Record High Credit Card Debt by Me Sign of Improved Earnings.” Predictably, terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘psycopath’ soon appeared in Democratic Underground. But out of the darkness, one bright light

Another warning to the Europeans!
Snow went on a tour of Europe telling all comers that the problem with the American dollar was that European leaders weren’t “growing their economies” fast enough and he specifically mentioned labor and pensions.

Snow intends to let the dollar fall until Europe pledges to squeeze its workers like we squeeze ours.
He is trying to spread the disease. He wants the whole world to be “China-fied
“.

The spin’s left, but the sentinment’s right. We want a richer world, and that implies Europe actually working.

Background: A strong dollar is like a credit card with a great interest rate. We can buy more than we could otherwise. Because it is so cheap to buy, we can rationally live a bit further beyond our means if we know we will keep growing. This can mean things like cheaper TVs and cheaper cars. If we can offshore some medical work (like X-ray diagnosis) we even get cheaper medicine! Great deal!

On the other side, a weak currency is like a money market with a great rate. You spend less because it makes sense to invest more. Japan, Korea, and China try to keep their currencies low because of this. They have less now, but they can grow much faster because more investment is encouraged.

There are also hidden implications. Because consumption is real, it really affects people’s lives. And the buyer chooses where and how to affect lives. This is most obvious in wars. If our dollar buys more, then everything is cheaper. Uniforms from China are cheaper. Bullets from Taiwan are cheaper. Fuel for our tanks is cheaper. Electronics for Predator unmaned aerial vehicles are cheaper.

It also makes unilateral economic embargoes more effective. We have chosen to punish Iran and Cuba by not buying stuff from them. They feel this.

But there is a cost. We can buy more, but sell less (because our goods are more expensive to both them and us). This hurts the long-term growth of the U.S., and threatens our ability to keep up the game in the future. Additionally, they eventually will want their money back, meaning we have to keep up our growth rate to pay for all the nifty gadgets & wars. And if we can’t sell to them, it’s much harder to grow.

For as much as we complained in the ’80s, Japan is a great friend. They are painfully restructuring their economy to get back to growth. As with the Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., the Liberal Democratic Party and Social Democratic Party fight it out, but all agree on the same basic plan. China, South Korea, Singapore — basically, the rest of Asia, are also on board. But as to old Europe…

The day after the DUer made his observation, Xinhua ran a longer version of the story which backs it up

“The trade gap reflects two things: that our economy is growing at a fast pace and we are growing faster than our trading partners,” Snow told reporters at the New York Stock Exchange, according to reports reaching here.

He also said that the Group of Seven industrialized countries will focus their agenda on the global economy when their finance ministers and central bankers meet in February.

“I think we’ll need more than one growth engine in the world. We need Europe to be an engine of growth. We need Japan to be an engine of growth,” he said.

Snow once again reiterated the US strong dollar policy on Wednesday.

“It’s always the same policy, our policy is the strong dollar. There’s been no change in that from the day I two years ago came into office to today,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Everything falls into place. It’s even laid out neatly on the page.

1. We have a trade deficit because you are growing to slow.
2. This means you, Europe. We want you to grow…
3. …exactly as much as we want to keep the dollar strong.

A diplomatic threat. If Europe wants to continue with slow-growth policies, fine. We’ll just stop buying from then.

And there the most powerful feature of a strong dollar of all: we can threaten to make it weak.

Demagoguery

Getting to Yes,” Matthew Yglesias, Tapped, http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/01/index.html#005235, 14 January 2005.

Social Security Fight,” by Chad M Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, http://cleancutkid.com/index.php?id=140#cmt, 14 January 2005.

A South Dakota democrat blogger and a national democrat blogger agree: the time for honesty has passed.

Instead, led by Tip O’Neill, the party waged a campaign of ruthless, partisan demagoguery that not only blocked the Reagan proposal but also drained the Reagan Revolution of most of its momentum and seemingly imperiled the entire GOP project. It was then that the White House got interested in a compromise, and it worked out a reasonable personnel roster for a bipartisan commission to study the problem. They came up with some recommendations, which were then implemented, and everyone went home and fought about other things. The point, simply put, is that you only negotiate from a position of strength

Clean Cut Kid agrees

Like I wrote earlier in this post … this will be like shooting fish in a barrel. President Bush wants to cut promised guaranteed benefits. Democrats do not.

Because increasing benefits along with prices is a “cut.” Great start on the demagoguery, Chris.

The New Israel

Abbas Ready to Meet Security Commitments,” by Mohammed Daraghmeh, Associated Press, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20050113/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_palestinians, 13 January 2005 (from Little Green Footballs).

Hamas doesn’t want to eliminate Israel. Hamas is a realistic political movement,” Yousef said, in a marked departure from the group’s previous calls for the Jewish state’s destruction.

The question isn’t whether Sheik Yousef is lying. Of course he is. Hamas wants to destroy Israel.

What matters is that reality has changed. Ultimately, reality alone determines rhetoric and action. The Bush/Sharon plan, together with Arafat’s death, have changed reality in Israel, Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. Reality now says Hamas has to talk peace. Reality now says Hamas is in more danger from real forces if it opposes Israel than it is from murderers if it keeps to the old line.

Bush and Sharon have changed reality in Israel. We are winning.

The Hallway

‘The Hallway’ on WuzzaDem,” by “John,” WuzzaDem, http://wuzzadem.typepad.com/wuz/2005/01/the_hallway_on_.html, 11 January 2005 (from The Corner).

A hilarious parody of NRO’s The Corner..

BREAKFAST [Wuzz]
Had oatmeal this morning, used milk instead of water. Makes it a little more creamy, and, I suspect, more nutritional.
Posted at 10:29 AM

RE: BREAKFAST [JFW]
Pop-Tarts for me – and don’t you mean “nutritious?”
Posted at 10:32 AM

BAD MORNING [John]
Damn! I buy brand new pair of shoes with a deep, waffle-style sole, and the first time I walk out of the house with them on my feet, I step right into a…

Read it! Read it! Read it!

No Shrum Zone

Dominant Strategist for Democrats Ends Consulting Career,” by Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/politics/13shrum.html, 13 January 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

On the heels of yesterday’s news that his firm was hired by Senator Dayton (after Dayon fired his own staff), Bob Shrum quits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 – Bob Shrum, one of the dominant Democratic political strategists and speechwriters of the last three decades, said Wednesday that he was ending his formal consulting career and moving to New York, where he would write and teach at New York University as a senior fellow.

“I wanted to reflect on what I’ve done, not just keep doing it,” Mr. Shrum, 61, said in an interview. “And I wanted to draw lessons from what I’d seen and draw implications for the future.”

He leaves Washington with a mixed record, having served as an adviser on 26 winning Senate campaigns, perhaps more than any other consultant, but also eight losing presidential campaigns, which may also stand as a record.

Maybe he wanted to teach so he’d have more time to blog?

But seriously, it is confusing news. Displace Dayton’s crew, and then bail? I don’t understand.

Minoritization

Letting Go of Roe,” by Benjamin Wittes, The Atlantic Monthly, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200501/wittes, January/February 2005 (from TKS).

The Democrats are already losing the abortion debate. There are more single-issue anti-abortion voters than single-issue pro-abortion voters. Tim Roemer, an anti-abortion politician, is a front-runner to the DNC Chair. And now the liberal Atlantic Monthly is harkening the end of Roe:

Unless the president nominates someone the Democrats deem it not in their interests to oppose, the nomination process will become an ugly spectacle in which a single narrow issue pushes to the sidelines discussion of the broad array of other important legal questions the Supreme Court handles. And that process will cast abortion-rights supporters as intolerant of those who disagree with them—or even those they fear may disagree with them.

The Democratic Party is a minority party. Every time they fight for their core issues, they fall further into a hole. So does the DNC betray its loyal supporters and further alienate America, or flip-flop and be seen as spineless?

It will be fun to watch.

Evolutionary Dogma

Ga. Evolution Stickers Ordered Removed,” by Doug Gross, Associated Press, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0,1282,-4730889,00.html, 13 January 2005.

Macro-evolution, the creation of a new species, is only fact,” by “spunky,” Democratic Underground, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=1147838&mesg_id=1147954&page=, 13 January 2005.

Another defeat for states, sciences, and common sense

ATLANTA (AP) – A federal judge on Thursday ordered the removal of stickers placed in high school biology textbooks that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying they were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in suburban Cobb County in 2002.

“Adopted by the school board, funded by the money of taxpayers, and inserted by school personnel, the sticker conveys an impermissible message of endorsement and tells some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling…

Predictably the article babbles off into gaimisms, but what was the judge saying? That presenting a point of view tells some people they are outsiders? Schools have been pushing propoganda for ages. From historical viewpoints, to social science theories, to idiotic message posters, to Goals 2000 P.R.

The real question is, what was the federal reason for stopping Georgia from placing the following message in science books:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

This is true. Facts are data points. Theories are models that explain data points. Evolution, meaning the historical change of species over time, is a theory. So is Newtonian gravity. For years we thought Newton was right, until observations shows series problems with his formulae.

Science is all about approaching material with an open mind. Buying into politically-correct evolutionary theory is not science, unless the student sees that its supported by the evidence.

I’m Catholic. The Church has, for centuries, taught that Genesis should not be taken literally. I believe the fundementalists are making a number of serious mistakes, and that their opposition to historical evoultion is one of them. But I don’t see how using public schools and federal courts to attack them with all the elegance of a chainsaw helps matters.

An atheist Master of Science in Physical Anthropology agrees

Macro-evolution, the creation of a new species, is only fact if someone has actually witnessed these fruitflies turn into a new species of fruitfly, incapable of mating with the previous species of fruitfly.

Perhaps this has been done and I am unaware of it, but I’d have to see a link to a scientific journal to believe it.

The choice for the federal courts and public schools is: should they teach free taught of dogma? By prohibiting disension of evolutionary theory, we know what they have chosen.

Evangelical Lutherans

Lutherans Release Report on Homosexuality,” by Pauline J. Chang, Christian Post, http://www.christianpost.com/article/church/1830/section/lutherans.release.report.on.homosexuality/1.htm, 13 January 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

(Insert the stereotypical “The best decision made by a Lutheran since not swallowing the diet of worms” joke)

The Studies on Sexuality Task Force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) released its long-awaited report on the contentious issue of homosexual ordinations and the blessing of homosexual unions on Thursday, January 13, 2004. The report, which took nearly four years to draft, addressed the two questions that have been causing greater rifts within the conservative and liberal factions within the 5-million member denomination: Should homosexuals be ordained and should same-sex unions be blessed in the church?

In regards to the two questions, the task force recommended the church maintain its current stance and refrain from ordaining homosexuals and blessing their unions.

Specifically, it recommended the church “continue to respect the pastoral guidance of the 1993 statement of the Conference of Bishops regarding the blessing of homosexual relationships” and “continue under the standards regarding sexual conduct for rostered leaders as set forth in “Visions and Expectations” and “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline.”

The 1993 statement of the Conference of Bishops states that clergy should not bless homosexual unions within the church since there is a “basis neither in Scripture nor tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship.” It also said it did “not approve such a ceremony as an official action of this church’s ministry.”

For those without German or Swedish relations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is not “evangelical” in the current sense of the word. It is a mainline protestant denomination which has been declining in numbers and influence for years, like the rest of the mainliners.

Upholding the 1993 statement is a victory for two reasons. First, it obviously blunts the homosexualist advance. While accept homosexual unions would help undermine ELCA’s reach, a rejection of the 1993 statement nonetheless would help to normalize them.

Second, it gives hope to those who wish to see the ELCA eventually welcomed back into a Catholic communion. The statement uses the phrase “neither in Scripture of tradition.” The sin qua non of Lutheranism has always been sola scriptura. Not only a statement, but a reaffirmation, that puts scripture on the same level as [T]radition is great news (now to get them both Capitalized…)

The tDAxp eXPerience