This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, March 9, 2006

The Real Deal

"DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity,"
-H. Edward Bilkey, Dubai World Port's top executive

Sounds like a win, doesn't it? I beg you all to remember the "win" that forced Harriet Miers to remove her name from nomination for the Supreme Court and gave us globalist-loving, corporately-owned Samuel Alito instead.

That was a "win"?

A few days ago, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) came up with he "idea" to allow the purchase of our strategic American ports to the Dubai-owned DPW as long as they use an "American company", even one of their own, to perform the sensitive work. Rep. King said he was just "floating the idea" to the president and his people.

"The devil is in the details,"
-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

The devil live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Senator Reid.

"It does provide a way forward and resolve the matter,"
-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan

Now, am I the only one scared enough to think something else is up? Here are a couple of Bushie scenarios. You tell me:
Scenario 1: The Bushies agree and decide to take the credit for forcing the Dubai government to back put of the deal. Meanwhile, they set up a "beard" corporation in America with American executives.
Scenario 2: The Bushies simply wait until after the 2006 election and force through the deal then.

"It would have to be an American company with no links to DP World, and that would be a tremendous victory and very gratifying,"
-Rep. King

Now I'm really scared. You see, Rep. King was the first Republican I saw who was out front-and-center saying he wouldn't support this deal. He was defiant. He was brave. He was actually looking out for his New York City area (Long Island) constituents' best interests. (After all, we New York area residents are on the front lines.) Too bad Mr. King's now punking out.

"This should make the issue go away,"
-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)

Yep, the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party COB's (Cronies of Bush) are getting ready to double-cross us. They're all lining up for the game show "Be the Next Bush", although I'm certain that Jeb has that one covered. One wonders what promises were made to help the GOP'ers win in November, and what promises they made?

"DP World will not suffer economic loss."

Well, since Dubai World Ports is not going to "suffer economic loss" and "breaking even" is probably not an option either, how does Dubi World Ports intend on performing the other option...winning?

See Scenarios 1 and 2 above.

Think about it.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to a post in a newsgroup I belong to, Victoria Brownworth wrote the following:

Civil rights are never a slippery slope. They are basic human rights. There were those who asserted that integration was a slippery slope as well.

Somehow, I think that it is impossible for same-sex couples committed to each other could damage marriage more than the three-time married Republicans crying for anti-gay legislation.

Bigotry is never okay.

Pentagon’s Deputy Counterterrorism Director: We’re Losing

President Bush continues to claim we are winning the war on terrorism. From a February 9 speech:

Despite the violence and the suffering the terrorists are wreaking, we’re winning the war on terror.

Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the Pentagon’s deputy director for the war on terrorism, disagrees. From yesterday’s Washington Times:

Thirty new terrorist organizations have emerged since the September 11, 2001, attacks, outpacing U.S. efforts to crush the threat, said Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the Pentagon’s deputy director for the war on terrorism.

“We are not killing them faster than they are being created,” Caslen told a gathering at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday, warning that the war could take decades to resolve.

Apparently Bush only listens to the experts when they tell him what he wants to hear.

-Forwarded and commented by Victoria Brownworth


Bush Crony Number One
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)

March 7th, the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) voted to block an investigation into the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying program and made a deal with the White House to produce legislation allowing “wiretapping without warrants for up to 45 days.” Ranking Member Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) called the move “proof that the White House controls the Intelligence Committee.”

This isn’t the first time Pat Roberts has covered up for the Bush administration. Far from it.

Pat Roberts has been instrumental in the cover-up of virtually every national security scandal of George W. Bush’s presidency. ThinkProgress has produced a comprehensive report showing how Roberts and his Senate Cover-up Committee have obstructed investigations into everything from false Iraq intelligence to detainee torture to the CIA leak scandal.

-Reported by Victoria Brownworth with thanks to Think Progress for info,

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright 2006 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

It's Women's History Month, time to celebrate all the achievements of women over the centuries.

I'm all for this kind of celebration. I want every little girl to grow up knowing that she can do anything that boys can do.

Except she can't.

This is no anti-feminist nor even post-feminist statement. This is fact.

In 2006, there is a clear erosion of rights of women fought for so hard in America by Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others at the Seneca Falls meeting for the emancipation of women's rights in 1848. Betty Friedan, co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and author of the groundbreaking feminist book "The Feminine Mystique," died last month. Many believe that the aspirations of the women's movement may have died along her.

In 2006, there are actually fewer women in positions of governmental and corporate power than there were a decade ago. Currently, 13 women (ten Democrats and three Republicans) serve in the U.S. Senate, while 61 women (43 Democrats and 18 Republicans) hold seats in the House of Representatives. Four of these Senators and seven Representatives are serving their first terms in Congress. There is one woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. There are three women in the Cabinet of George Bush
Thirteen out of 100 senators; 61 out of 435 House members; one out of nine justices; three out of 15 Cabinet positions. Only seven of the nation's governors are women.
In the corporate world things are even worse: there are only seven women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies–fewer than two percent.

All these numbers, except for the Senate, are down from five years ago. Women comprise 53.2 percent of the U.S. population, according to the last census. Yet women do not even come close to being represented demographically in either the U.S. government or in the corporate wold.

It's equally bad in medicine and law. Although more than 50 percent of students in medical and law schools in 2005 were female–a percentage that as been the same for the past decade–positions for women in hospitals and law firms have become fewer each year for the past ten years. Only one in ten women is likely to find a position at either a hospital or law firm after finishing their medical or legal training.

The position of women in higher education is equally bleak. There are fewer female college presidents than there were a decade ago and currently more than two-thirds of all non-tenured professorships in the nation's colleges are held by women.

The gender pay gap–the difference between what women make for comparable work as men–has widened in the past decade, according to recently released census data conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

Women make only 75.5 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Between 2003 and 2004, median annual earnings for full-time year-round women workers shrank by one percent, to $30,724, while men's earnings remained unchanged, at $40,668. The two percent decrease in the gender wage ratio is the worst regression in 12 years. The 2004 Census data also show the first decline in women's earnings since 1995.

Far more women than men live in poverty in the U.S. where census figures place one in five women below the poverty level and another 20 percent at the poverty level. Women are also most likely to be uninsured. And women are 30 times more likely to be single parents than men, which means their poverty extends to their children as well. Currently more than 35 percent of American children are living at or below the poverty level. Girls who grow up in poverty are the least likely to finish school or to be able to break the cycle of poverty as adults.

Yet as bad as things are for women in the U.S., the global conditions for women and girls are far worse.

According to the United Nation's Report on Women, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Doctors Without Borders, the majority of the world's poor are women and girls. Girls are less likely to be able to attend school or be allowed to stay in school than boys. Girls are more likely to be malnourished than boys. The rate of infant mortality for girls is more than five times that of boys worldwide. Infanticide of girl children–common in China and Southeast Asia–is so extensive that the gender demographic is changing in those countries. Sex-selection abortion in which female fetuses are aborted, is common practice throughout Asia and Africa. And throughout the Middle East and Africa, genital mutilation of girls–the tearing out of the clitoris with knives, sharpened rocks or pieces of glass (a practice which often results in death from either hemorrhage or infection) and the sewing up of the vaginal opening, is pandemic. (The barbaric practice is thought to control female sexuality and make girls more marriageable. It has been outlawed in Europe and banned in most states in the U.S.)
In China in the past decade, the ratio of men to women has tripled: it is currently five to one, but in rural areas is even greater–eight to one. Female babies are often killed at birth–drowned or simply left by the side of the road to die. Chinese orphanages are filled with abandoned girls.

Girls who survive infancy have little to look forward to. Girls are openly sold into sexual and domestic slavery in more than 80 countries worldwide; girls are also most likely to be forced into literal slavery–like quarry workers in India and rug-workers in India, Pakistan and Turkey. The majority of domestic workers in Southeast Asia are girls under ten who are working more than 15 hour days with no pay and no access to education.

The sexual trafficking of women often begins with girls and is most prevalent in Southeast Asia and in the former Soviet bloc nations of Eastern Europe. India and Thailand are prime offenders in the sexual trafficking of girls: from Bombay to Bangkok girls as young as five are sold into brothels and sex clubs by their poverty-stricken families where they are forced to service as many as 20 adult men per day. These girls inevitably become infected with HIV/AIDS and are also regularly forced to have abortions when they become pregnant. Organizations that help rescue these girls state that almost 100 percent of these girls has had one or more abortions and is also infected with AIDS. Yet child sex tourism has become a huge business in the U.S. and Europe, where American and European businessmen pay hefty fees to travel to Southeast Asia to have sex with underage girls between the ages of five and 14.

Sexual trafficking of young women from the Balkans and Eastern Europe has become equally pervasive. Women are lured to other countries with the promise of employment but once there–penniless and unable to speak the language–they are sold into brothels.

Girls and women are also trafficked in the U.S. were an estimated half million are being kept against their will in houses of prostitution throughout the U.S. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been working with other international agencies to end this sexual trafficking in the U.S. and elsewhere.

But sexual trafficking isn't the only problem for girls in the U.S. Girls under 16 who should be in school are being used as agricultural workers–exempt from standard child labor laws in the U.S., despite consistent efforts by Sen. Tom Harkin and others to get the laws changed so that these children are not forced to work–generally for pennies to the pound of produce they pick in unsanitary conditions (toilet facilities and running water are *not* mandatory for agricultural workers). The highest rate of injury among girls ages six to 15 in the U.S. is due to accidents sustained doing agricultural work.

More than 90 percent of sweatshop labor in the U.S. and abroad is performed by women and girls in unsafe conditions.

In the past decade the rate of poverty for women has nearly tripled worldwide. Groups like the British Anti-Slavery International and the ICRC have worked to raise awareness of the extent of such poverty, the extent of actual slavery in the world today (eight in ten slaves worldwide are women and according to these agencies, hundreds of thousands of women have been sold into slavery in numerous countries, mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia). These organizations also promote fair trade practices to help women get out of poverty.

Women also suffer from tremendous oppression throughout the world. In most Muslim nations there are severe restrictions on women regarding education and full citizenship. Women and girls are frequently the victims of honor killings, for example: they are murdered by a male relative for allegedly shaming the family by refusing to marry the man the family has chosen, by being seen with a man who is not a relative outside the home, by being a lesbian or by being raped.

In addition to honor killings–for which there is usually no punishment for the murderer–there is the practice of bride-burning in India and Pakistan. Although outlawed by both nations in the 1990s, the practice continues to be common in rural areas. If a husband's family believes the bride's dowry is too small, they will set her on fire, thus making way for a new bride and a new dowry.

In the U.S. domestic violence is the most common violent crime, according to the FBI and Department of Justice statistics. Rape is the second most common violent crime. One in three women will be abused in her lifetime and one in four will be raped. Elsewhere, like currently in the Congo and Sudan, rape is a tool being used by the marauding gangs to terrorize whole villages.

These horrifying statistics indicate just how little has actually been done to improve the status of women and girls both in the U.S. and globally. In almost every nation in the world, little girls do not grow up to see their dreams fulfilled. Instead a life of abject misery awaits them–and an early death. The life expectancy for women in developing nations remains static at 32.
There are things that we can do during Women's History Month and every other month to ease the second-class status of women in America and elsewhere. Poverty is the biggest impediment to women and girls improving their lives. Supporting fair trade practices is one easy step everyone can take. Do not, for example, buy coffee that does not have a fair trade label on it; young girls are the ones picking coffee beans, suffering burns and lung problems from the pesticides and being paid next to nothing for their extreme labor unless they work in fair trade farms. If the label isn't there, ask the shopkeeper or store manager if they sell fair trade coffee and if not, why not.

Don't buy clothing made in nations that use sweatshop labor, like China, Indonesia and Guatemala. All products are labeled with a place of origin.

Contribute to organizations working to improve the lives of women and girls. The Heifer Project International is right at Germantown Avenue and Lincoln Drive and it works diligently to improve the lives of women worldwide with small business and agribusiness loans that allow women to become self-sufficient. (Heifer International can also be contacted via the internet.) Just $40 can give a woman in Africa or South America a small group of goats or fowl that she can turn into a business for herself and her family.

Contact your state and federal representatives about your concerns that the U.S. government is employing fewer women in positions of power and you feel that you, your children, your sisters and your mothers are not adequately represented.

There are many important things that women have achieved in this nation and globally–from winning the Nobel Prize for Literature (Toni Morrison) to founding social work (Jane Addams) to discovering uranium (Marie Curie). But for more girls and women to have the opportunity to achieve, they must have access to education, health care and safety. But until the world values women as much as it values men, that goal cannot be achieved.

That's something for all of us to think about during Women's History Month—and beyond.

That Bulge In My Pants? It's Just My Wallet

Somebody needs to get a hold of the people who book Meet the Press and throttle them.

When their normal Republicans-only schedule is occasionally peppered with Democrats it's either the henpecked James Carville who won't say a thing against the Vice President (and as Digby has noted this sure didn't hold true for Mary Matalin during the Clinton years), Joes Klein or Lieberman who spews GOP talking points so Tim won't have to, token "liberals" like Doris Kearns Goodwin who tell knee-slappers about the Van Buren administration while John Meecham's grenades against Howard Dean go unanswered, or people like Joe Biden and John Edwards who are so busy running for president they won't utter anything even slighly contentious about the administration.

But they should at least do some due diligence about the people they invite on to discuss a particular topic. Jack Kemp was in full-throated support of the Dubai Ports World deal yesterday. But as Arianna notes, there's quite a bit he left out:

"It's the right thing to do," he said, calling the UAE a "valued ally" and reiterating the claim that canceling the deal would, as he put it in his column, "weaken our own national security and our chances for peace and liberation throughout the Middle East and Africa" (Shades of Andrea Mitchell, another die-hard member of the establishment, who suggested on Hardball that killing the ports deal could lead to rioting in the Muslim world).

What Kemp didn't say is that the UAE has invested millions in Free Market Global, an energy-trading company that he chairs.

You think all those zeroes might have had some influence on his opinion? Maybe not. But I'm pretty sure that a disclosure of his financial connection to those he was so fulsomely praising would have had some influence on the opinions of those watching.

Especially if viewers learned that Gen. Tommy Franks, whom Kemp used as his debating trump card -- quoting both in print and on Meet the Press the General extolling the Emirates -- is on the advisory board of Free Market Global, and stands to profit from maintaining good relations with the oil-rich emirs.

I called Kemp to ask him why he hadn't mentioned this intersection of interests, but I haven't heard back, even though I said why I was calling. Or perhaps because I did.

If Meet the Press was anything more than the New Pravda, they'd open the next show by saying "last week, we invited Jack Kemp on to speak on the UAE ports deal, and he did not disclose his close financial ties to the owner of Dubai Ports World. We apologize."

Don't worry, I know it's not going to happen. But it should.

-Posted by Jane Hamsher and commented on by Victoria Brownworth

Today's Quote
Q & A

From "Ask the White House" with Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand


JAMES (from New York,): Hi Rachel, Just a question - why is it called the 'Patriot' Act? Is 'Patriot' an acronym, or is it just called the 'Patriot' Act to honour those patriots who seek to protect the United States from terrorists?

Thanks - the President is in my prayers

RACHEL BRAND: Good question, James. The full name of the act passed in 2001 is the
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 — or USA PATRIOT Act.

What a fortunate coincidence! Imagine if "G"lobal "W"arming Bush, Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney, Karl "The Traitor" Rove and the rest of the White Ho\ouse band of Cronies actually spent as much time fixing this nation rather than coming up with "acronyms" for ways to destroy it.


What's next? The Securing Citizens & Really Empowering Workers in the USA Act? (Put it together yourselves.)

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg