Month: April 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Like America, China needs to put new faces on its currency, too (Here’s who they should be)

The United States Treasury Department announced on April 20 that President Andrew Jackson would be removed from the $20 dollar bill to be replaced by escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The choice, after a year of activism by Women on 20s.org, knocks out two birds with one stone, by relegating a slavery-supporting populist to the back of the bill in favor of a black woman who helped hundreds of slaves run away to freedom.

One of the consequences of American activists’ successful Women on 20s campaign last year, which was ultimately successful in convincing the U.S. Treasury Department to replace controversial seventh president Andrew Jackson with escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, is that it has given Americans pause to consider the meaning and purpose of the national symbols our government chooses to put on our currency.

At the most simplistic level, it has exercised reactionary conservatives like Donald Trump and Ben Carson to denounce a “politically correct” choice of replacing a white male president with a black woman. Reactionary liberals like Feminista Jones and Danielle Paquette have denounced what they see as the commodification of a black revolutionary on a symbol of capitalism. Ideological conservatives, however, have mostly celebrated Tubman as a god-believing, gun-wielding, freedom-fighting Lincoln-era Republican.

Currency is the national symbol that residents of a country have the closest connection to. They carry it with them everywhere they go, hold it in their hands, and spend most of their waking hours working to earn it. As such it has been the subject of research papers on the construction of national identity. Scholars and columnists have pointed to how the Confederate States of America featured slaves on its currency as a depiction of its national identity.

As John Majewski wrote in Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation,

Embodying the new nation’s sense of self, Confederate currency often depicted idealized visions of past heroes, contented slaves, and stately plantations. Confederate notes also featured representations of a modern slaveholding economy. The popular $100 note issued in Richmond in 1862 shows a larger-than-life locomotive that dwarfs the human figures standing beside it (Illustration 5, top). Modern, powerful, and dynamic, the locomotive aptly symbolized how Confederates imagined their economic future.

Since Americans have began thinking more and more about affording greater social prominence, not just legal rights, to minorities and historically oppressed groups, it is fitting that a president, Jackson, who is now infamous for his support for slavery and unconstitutional forced migration (the Trail of Tears) of American Indians from the Southern United States is being replaced by Tubman, an underground railroad conductor who helped lead hundreds of slaves to freedom and served as a spy for the Union army.

When the campaign to replace Jackson got started, I got thinking, too, about China and Chinese currency. It also have a depicts a controversial populist who was responsible for untold deaths on its currency—and one who, for that matter, very well might be offended at seeing his image “commodified” and used to purchase bourgesouie items of luxury from foreign companies.

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Barry crashes the Brexit party!

So, this happened.

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If you’re living under the rock (or you’re American) then you probably don’t know that UK is heading for a Brexit vote in a month, a situation, where ideologies are blurred and a civil war is raging.

In that moment, enter Barack Obama with the casual Chicago game. Now, say what you may about this guy, or his politics, but one has to admit, he is perhaps the greatest and the most gifted extempore speaker of his generation. Well, maybe Bill Clinton, at his prime, not at his diminished stage like now, was better than Barry. But anyway, he changed the game, in a way David Cameron couldn’t have imagined, and the backlash from the “out” camp was severe. Socialists were livid that an American President is dictating another country how they should vote. Rebel Conservatives and ultra-right wingers are livid as well.

Some of them do have a point. Without going into the merits of BREXIT, it is unbelievable to think any country, or even the British PM urging Americans to sign and ratify UNCLOS, or form a borderless union with Mexico and Canada, or join AIIB led by China. Not going to happen. Ever.

Also, curiously, this campaign has divided the left. I mean, by definition, if you’re a red-blooded Marxist, you should be against a free trade espousing, neoliberal, hegemonic union, which dictates economic policies of small countries, crushes left movements like Greece, and throws its military weight around, right? 

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When it rains, it pours

The greater question is…why are there such repeated security leaks?

2016 has not been a banner year for large international corporations. It would seem that increasing globalization in combination with a higher level of technological savvy (and a healthy dose of employee discontent) is causing corporate corruption schemes to unravel. Between the Unaoil bribery debacle and the Panama Papers offshore funds scandal, some of the best-known global companies and personalities have been brought under the miscroscope by investigative journalism.

In recent years, a lot of scrutiny has been given to whistleblowers and leaks, particularly as they pertain to governments (Edward Snowden and PRISM, anyone?). However, what we have seen in the first few months of 2016 is the strength of journalistic investigtion bought to bear on multinational companies and global corruption on an increasing scale. And, more and more, current or former members of staff for these companies are the source for massive amounts of information that can and have resulted in arrests, ruined careers, and spectacular losses of reputation.

And another thing; current technology and Big Data being what it is, nearly unfathomable amounts of information are being released into the wild by these whistleblowers, and with every leak that volume of information is increasing. Wikileaks accounted for approximately 1.2 million documents (so far, anyway). Snowden made off with roughly 1.7 million documents. The Panama Papers, on the other hand, have been estimated at 11.5 million documents.

Eleven point five million documents. Consider that for a moment. 

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The flaws of Track Two Diplomacy between Israel and Palestine

Review essay: Understanding the methodology and applicability of the Track Two study on Israel Palestine by Maoz, Kellen and Bekerman

(This was part of a paper I was working on, and I write about why and how the track two diplomacy exercises are essentially flawed and lacks validity and reliability.

Citation: Maitra, S. “Review essay: Understanding the methodology and applicability of the Track Two study on Israel Palestine by Maoz, Kellen and Bekerman”, University of Nottingham, 2016)


 

Israeli Palestinian conflict has been judged through the prism of classical IR and diplomatic theoretical framework. While Israel Palestinian peace research has been dealt critically, with case studies featuring the 1993-2000 Oslo peace process, and literature regarding the causes and nature of Israeli Palestinian conflict, methods to establish peace, impact of the peacemaking methods on the conflict, and the role played by outsiders; there has been huge literature devoted to methodological barriers in peace process between the two conflict groups. In this essay I particularly focus on a specific single indepth case study which deals with a recent track two diplomacy exercise in a participant observation framework.[1] It is difficult within the scope, size or ambit of this piece to deal with the details of the entire literature of Israeli Palestinian peace process, but hereinafter I would focus on the track two diplomacy paper by Maoz, Kellen, Bekerman where I would review, analyse and discuss the structural and methodological rigor and debate of track two diplomacy between Israel and Palestine and if it could be applicable to other conflict management processes across the globe.

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Here’s everything that’s wrong with Europe and Human Rights

Incase you missed.

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If you don’t know this man, or what he did, you don’t deserve to call yourself literate or educated. But that’s beyond the point.

This…symbolises everything that’s wrong with Europe. 

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Money doesn’t grow on trees: What Bernie Kids don’t understand

So, this came out.

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Highly opinionated and ideological with zero economics knowledge, laced with perceived victimhood, privileged, wasting thousands of dollars on subjects with minimal job prospect, and expecting a bailout from the taxpayers. This is what welfare queens look like these days.

Now, here’s something deeply troubling with this tweet. And that goes into the heart of the problem we are facing today, not just in US but across the World.

First of all, who in their right mind borrows $226,000 dollars to study Speech Pathology, and then expect a bailout from taxpayers? I never borrowed ten dollars to study something, which doesn’t have job prospect, just because I am bleeding in my heart to help people, unless I am smart enough to get a scholarship.

(Thankfully I always had, not because I am the smartest man in this planet, but in this volatile and fluid era, with chances of conflict between great powers increasing, which might result in massive death unless a grand strategy pattern is predicted, my research is in a field which analyses the aforementioned foreign policy patterns of great powers. Demand, meet supply.)

Look, it is simple economics, and here’s how it works. 

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Why it’s a great thing that U.S. tax revenue set a record

A week before America’s tax day, the Washington Free Beacon reported that the U.S. Treasury collected a “record-high” amount of taxes in nominal terms in the first half of fiscal year 2016. Cause to celebrate?

Not so fast. The U.S. federal government collects record taxes almost every year. That’s because the economy grows almost every year, as the population grows and innovation moves along, so the amount of taxes in nominal terms increases most years. tax rev decline and increaseIn fact, in the 73 years between 1941 and 2014, federal tax revenue increased in 60 of those years and only decreased over the previous year 13 times, according to data from the Tax Policy Center.

But there is still reason to celebrate an increase in tax revenue because increases in tax revenue are tied to increases in GDP. If the GDP rises, then tax revenue usually increases. Tax revenue cannot increase without a greater base of economy production to draw from.

Tax Rev since 1940

The few times that tax revenue decreased while GDP increased were mostly connected to tax cuts. President George W. Bush signed major tax cuts into law in 2001 and 2003, and tax revenue declined from the previous year every year from 2001 to 2003. Tax revenue in 2002 was $138 billion less than in 2001.
Tax Rev and GDP Correlation

Despite the good news, conservatives greeted this level of tax revenue growth–which includes corporate taxes, payroll taxes, income taxes, and all other federal tax revenue–with concern.

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Could #NeitherCruzNorTrump really win a contested convention? (Part III)

We come to the conclusion of Bombs and Dollars’ three-part series with Marybeth Glenn about the quandary of a Cruz vs Trump convention. In this part of the discussion we talk about whether there is actually any prospect of both of them being defeated.

Mitchell Blatt
Marybeth, you said that it would take someone who has a softer stance on immigration and who “stands antithetical to the stereotypes,” and I agree with you that such a person would not only be the right person for the presidency, but do you fear the Republican base is such that no one can win a primary nomination without going to the extremes? We’ve seen “RINOs” be demonized by much of the Tea Party for any hint of compromise and any kind of immigration reform that allows a path to citizenship labeled “amnesty”—even during the Bush administration. How can the conservative base be convinced of that, especially after each time a far-right Republican loses many of the activists blame the “establishment”?

Marybeth Glenn
I think right now is the perfect time for that. We have some amazing Republicans right now, from Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley to Tim Scott, etc., the list is long. People spent so much time worshiping conservative talk radio heads and pundits who just wanted to sell books. Right now most Republicans are upset with them for betraying the vast majority of us who disagreed with Trump. Sadly, in another four years many of those wounds will scab over, it’s best to strike now and reface the party while the wound is fresh. The darker the night, the sweeter the sunrise. We need to sell a message of hope and unity to those who currently crave it. The Tea Party, which began under noble intentions, came at a cost. Those operating under its label traded logic for anger, and I don’t know if we’ll come back from that, but we have to try one step at a time. The first step just happens to be a split from the angriest among us, a severing of ties.

That’s really my main point. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are both bad for conservatism, but like a toxic relationship, Donald Trump is the cheater, Ted Cruz is the opportunist. Many women will stay with the opportunist because even if he treats them poorly, they’ve convinced themselves he’s the best they can do, but over time he’ll slowly do more permanent damage than the cheater. When it’s the cheater, most women flee. For the sake of our party, if it’s between the two (and I sincerely hope it isn’t), we’re better off with someone who makes us unite in our urge to flee. It’s a bitter pill, I know.

Is a non-Cruz nomination actually possible?

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Why Cruz’s immigration position might be worse than Trump’s (Part II of a series)

Yesterday I posted the first of my three-part series of conversations with Marybeth Glenn, who writes politics at The Collision Blog, about the quandary of Cruz vs. Trump. Here is part II, an in depth look at Cruz’s immigration position.

Why Cruz really is that bad

Mitchell Blatt
Let’s get back to where we left off yesterday and consider the possibility that some of Cruz’s extreme positions are just for show.

Cruz has said he would eliminate the IRS. We know that can’t or won’t happen and that it is a bumper sticker phrase he created just for the election. He answered affirmatively when asked if he would deport 12 million illegal immigrants, but on his immigration issues page, he doesn’t mention deporting everyone, but rather “increase deportations.”

Where he appears to depart from Rubio is on pledging to end Obama’s executive actions, but even Rubio seemed to leave wiggle room there when he said to Jorge Ramos, “I don’t think we can immediately revoke that… I’m not calling for it to be revoked tomorrow, or this week, or right away.”

But you said that Cruz’s immigration plan would be called by Democrats “a harsher immigration stance than Donald Trump.” 1.) What aspect are you referring to that either you think is harsher or that the Democrats would be able to portray as harsher?

Marybeth Glenn

“…but I think Waldman is basically right—Cruz’s biggest differences with many of his rivals are on language and tactics. Whereas, with Trump, we have no idea what he would do on most things, since he has few consistent positions, but the ones that he does have are either anti-conservative, or, in the case of immigration, extremely radical.”

Cruz’s immigration position is even more radical. I think that’s the heartbeat of Hillary’s campaign if Cruz is on the ticket.

In this issue Waldman is very wrong: it’s not about the biggest difference or the biggest similarities, it’s about one gigantic difference. You can wear all the armor in the world, but if there’s an opening over the heart and the enemy is well aware of it, it’s the only place they need to focus.

The fact that immigration is low on the list of issues with Americans makes it even better, because the candidate who intends to hurt illegals is not doing it because it’s important, but merely because they can. Every angle of this argument can be manipulated into a weapon, and I have no doubt that Democrat strategists have already considered every point of attack. If they’re half as talented as I believe them to be, the current lead Hillary has on Cruz will grow substantially. To boot, he’s just not a likable character in the first place. Hillary isn’t likable either, but when it comes down to staunch Democrats vs. staunch Republicans, and those who will vote for party regardless, the Democrats have us beat.

“But you said that Cruz’s immigration plan would be called by Democrats “a harsher immigration stance than Donald Trump.” 1.) What aspect are you referring to that either you think is harsher or that the Democrats would be able to portray as harsher?”

He’s been enthusiastic about being stronger on immigration than Donald Trump. In particular, he has attacked Trump for saying that those who are deported should be able to apply for legal immigration upon deportation. Watch this video where he tells a voter he opposes allowing deported immigrants to come back legally.

There are countless sound clips like that

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Both #NeverTrump and #NeverCruz: A conversation with Marybeth Glenn, Part I

Marybeth Glenn is the editor of www.CollisionOfChurchAndState.com. On April 1, she published an article arguing that the Republicans would be better off with Donald Trump winning the nomination rather than Ted Cruz, even though she opposes Trump as well as Cruz. Here Glenn and Bombs and Dollars editor Mitchell Blatt discuss the pros and cons of different strategies for #NeverTrump to pursue.

Would you prefer seeing Trump win the nomination?

Mitchell Blatt
Marybeth, both of us have been strongly opposed to Donald Trump. We have also admired Marco Rubio’s forward-looking, optimistic tone. But now that the Republican race is down to two main contenders, Trump and Cruz, you have written that Trump’s nomination would be preferable over Cruz if they are the only two choices at the convention.

You wrote:

I’ve been saying – since day one – that Trump is a parasite to Conservatism, and I haven’t changed my views on this; however, conservatives are deeply wrong in regards to choosing the lesser evil and what it will do to the GOP as a whole. At this point, choosing the lesser evil between the two is like giving CPR to a corpse and expecting that after it’s all over no one is going to judge you for going full Weekend at Bernie’s with it first. The only way to salvage this election is to either pick a completely different candidate at the convention, or go third party – I’ll explain why below, with three possible scenarios.

I’m also going to tell you why Donald Trump would be better than Ted Cruz on the general ticket if, God forbid, it comes down to one of them.

Ted or Donald? What if the Quadrennial Convention Fails Us?

As a disclaimer, you wrote, “Once again I am not, in no uncertain terms, telling you to vote for Trump. I want us to get to the convention, I’m merely speaking about a fallback plan.”

So just to be clear, what you are arguing is that it would be better for Trump to win the nomination at a contested convention than for Cruz to do so because then a third-party conservative would have a chance at winning?

Marybeth Glenn
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:

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