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Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM PST

The toll of war

by RLF

My great-great-grandparents, August and Marie Wanderer, celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary on May 15, 1918. August, a retired policeman and former bugler, was 74 while Marie was 77. Although no one looks terribly happy (my working hypothesis is that smiling hadn't been invented yet - judging from old photographs) it seems like a nice portrait of an older couple enjoying their golden years in the embrace of their family. But the picture also tells another, less pleasant story, which it tells by omission.

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Jack Warner, Minister of Works and Infrastructure [of Trinidad and Tobago], quipped in response to questions about adding HIV, sexual orientation and age to the Equal Opportunities Bill: “if Obama could do it then who are we?” (Trinidad Guardian)
President Obama's statement on marriage equality has mostly been discussed in the context of domestic politics, but it's important to recognise its ramifications internationally. The ties between the English-speaking Caribbean and the US go far beyond the geopolitical - the West Indian diaspora maintains close connections (Colin Powell, Eric Holder, Louis Farrakhan and Biggie Smalls are all children of West Indian immigrants). The cultural links between Brooklyn and Port of Spain are closer than those between Brooklyn and Oklahoma City. And Obama's personal popularity in the region is immense.
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Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 01:28 PM PDT

Laws for us and not for them?

by RLF

Assuming there may be a question, and we don’t think there is, the bigger question is: Does the MEK belong on the list?” he said. “It’s kind of curious that those who don’t like our advocacy are suggesting that we might be doing something wrong." - Tom Ridge, quoted in the Washington Times
Ed Rendell is apparently being investigated because of speaking fees he collected for a talk he gave to MEK, a group that's classified as a terrorist organisation by the US (and Canada, Iraq and Iran, apparently).  TPM is reporting that a whole host of Washington bigwigs have spoken to MEK in the past. But, apparently, it's a crime to "performed [advocacy] in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization".
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Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:11 AM PST

DeMint on collective bargaining

by RLF

An article published this morning on The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" quotes Jim DeMint as saying that "I really don't think that collective bargaining has any place in representative government". These types of arguments have become standard rightwing talking points, of course, and should never be taken seriously, but I found myself pondering this on my walk to work this morning.

Putting aside the obvious political motivations of the argument (which, to his credit, DeMint actually spelled out), what about the logical implications of this. What is wrong with "collective bargaining"? The obvious argument is that, as politically organised voters, unions are able to exert undue influence on the government, and thus unjustly feast on taxpayer money. So, if Republicans were not hypocrites, what would their arguments really mean?

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Fri Nov 28, 2008 at 01:36 PM PST

Terrorism is not a one-dimensional entity

by RLF

I've been watching CNN for the past few days.  Although I usually watch MSNBC, when it comes to something like this CNN is a much better source.  CNN International, that is.  Today they're back to CNN domestic.  It's the same correspondents, and some of the anchors are great.  But then Wolf Blitzer comes on in The Situation Room...and it's probably time to turn away from CNN.

While a lot of people were saying al Qaeda early on, by today it's pretty clear that the experts believe that talking about an al Qaeda link isn't terribly useful.  On comes Wolf Blitzer and his first question is "link to al Qaeda?"  Each correspondent he speaks to says "probably not, this appears to be linked more to Pakistan and Kashmir".  And Blitzer then asks the next one "al Qaeda?"  And they answer "probably not".  (Actually they give an intelligent, nuanced answer.)

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Tue Oct 07, 2008 at 11:23 PM PDT

Managerial experience

by RLF

In the second debate, John McCain reiterated his call for a freeze on non-military spending.  Barack Obama's response - calling it taking a hatchet to the budget, when what was needed was a scalpel - was rhetorically powerful.  But hiding beneath that is another important revelation - McCain's total lack of experience managing a budget.

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Wed Feb 06, 2008 at 07:38 AM PST

Oklahoma results

by RLF

Oklahoma's results are interesting because they seem to be so far outside of the overall pattern.  Obama only did this badly in one other state - Arkansas (69-27).  And this was the only state where Edwards picked up significant support.  Democrats out-polled Republicans 401,000 to 330,000

Clinton won the state overwhelmingly, with 55% of the votes cast.  Obama picked up 31%, and John Edwards got 10% of the vote.  Considering that Edwards was polling ahead of Obama when he dropped out of the race, the residual support for Edwards, although high, probably isn't as surprising as it looks.

As usual, Oklahoma primary voting can be misleading.  Despite being solidly Republican at the national level, there are about twice as many registered Democrats in Oklahoma as Republicans.  In general, Oklahoma Democrats are on the conservative end of the spectrum.

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Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:38 AM PDT

Anniversary of the Coup

by RLF

On Friday July 27, 1990, the Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago.  A six-day siege ensured, with the Jamaat leadership holed up in the Red House (where they held the Prime Minister and most of Parliament hostage) and in the headquarters of TTT (then the only television station in the country) and Radio Trinidad (one of two radio networks, located next to TTT).

This year the anniversary falls on a Friday.  In the seventeen years that have passed, there has been no inquiry into the events.  The guilty parties are free and have never been called upon to account for their actions.  The two major political parties, the PNM and the UNC appear to wish that the events would just go away, but there are still open wounds in society.  Carson Charles, leader of the NAR, which was the governing party during the coup attempt, has called for a probe into the events, but the government is uninterested.

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