Dot.Demarche Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c. Tue, 04 May 2010 23:27:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ending Cruel and Unusual Punishment in US Prisons Tue, 04 May 2010 23:27:24 +0000 cdoten One of the most nightmarish things that happen in the US is prison rape. Think about it: people who are are reliant on the government for their protection are routinely raped – in one prison in Texas, 1 in 6 every year.

That should not happen in the most backward of third world countries (excuse me, LDCs.) It is appalling that it happens all the time in the US.

These criminals were sentenced to time in prison, not to be raped. Pretty clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights.

We are coming up on the deadline for implementing changes under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act. AG Holder’s obviously got a lot on his plate right now, but this is a real chance to end a fundamental injustice.

Hat tip: Cliff Schecter

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In Defense of the Dollar Fri, 23 Apr 2010 00:02:45 +0000 cdoten This made me laugh out loud.

In mocking the eminently mockable Sue Lowden (formerly a serious contender for Senate in Nevada) TPM had this gem in a financial analysis of moving to chicken-funded health care:

Of course, it should be noted that chickens are only one of many commodities, and are thus only one component of a barter economy — for example, Tennessee state Rep. Mike Bell (R) has referred to Mennonites paying for health care with vegetables. There are also the options of beef, pork, turkeys, sugar, metal ore, or even finished products like iPods or gasoline. What would really help here is if there were some kind of single, universally accepted commodity, which could be used as a medium of exchange for all the others…

Plus the new Benjamins are really cool.

Hooray for the Fed.

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Best news I’ve heard out of KG Mon, 12 Apr 2010 19:34:36 +0000 cdoten He’s the anti-Rahm, but I can’t say how delighted this excerpt from a Times story made me.

Edil Baisalov, Ms. Otunbayeva’s chief of staff, dismissed any threat of a civil war in Kyrgyzstan. … Mr. Baisalov [is] a civil society activist who returned from exile in Sweden to join the new government.

Edil has spent years fighting for legitimate representative government in Kyrgyzstan as head of the NGO “For Democracy and Civil Society.” For his troubles he has been threatened and attacked.

To have him in such a high-ranking position in the interm government gives me great hope that this unfortunate little country will genuinely democratize.

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Kyrgyz Spring Riot Season Looking Ugly Wed, 07 Apr 2010 14:03:51 +0000 cdoten Uh-oh.

Emergency in Kyrgyzstan as Police Fire on Protesters –

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No Nukes is Good Nukes Tue, 06 Apr 2010 04:16:26 +0000 cdoten One of the interesting aspects of world nuclear politics is that the United States has never renounced our willingness to use Nukes as “first strike” weapons. That is, every President has the power to push the Big Red Button and end the world without first having been nuked ourselves.

Dr. Strangelove is not impressed.In his quest for a world free of nuclear weapons, President Obama has taken
another significant step on top of the successful New START treaty – he has put limits on when the US would irradiate other nations. The Grey Lady has the scoop.

For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.

If you’re a country toying with the idea of getting your hands on the Bomb – or simply a poor country trying to decide whether to sanction those who are – the glaring hypocracy of the Great Powers has to rankle.

According to the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the declared nuclear power states are supposed to negotiate towards “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” This hasn’t happened very much.

If the big boys are keeping their big nukes, it makes you feel more vulnerable.

This is of course doubly true since most of those powers with nukes have never agreed to not nuke a country that doesn’t have them. So Mutually Assured Destruction might seem to be the only sensible defensive plan from a game-theoretic point of view.

Anyway, with Obama’s declaration, those incentives shift a bit. The US will not nuke you if you attack us, even if you use chemical or biological weapons. (Wearing my other hat I have to snicker at the “crippling cyberattack” coming under the same rubric as, say, massive chemical attacks.

Unless, of course, you are outside of the framework of the NPT. Then we can bomb the living $#!+ out of you.

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Pakistan – Bright spot for democracy? Mon, 05 Apr 2010 18:50:43 +0000 cdoten Weird. Looks like Pakistan is about to make some significant constitutional changes that should advance the power of Parliament significantly.

Democracy doesn’t begin and end with elections. Changes like this that make Parliament more powerful and the President more accountable are a critical piece to provide the checks and balances to keep a government in line in between elections.

It’s awfully nice to see glimmers of progress in a corner of the world that seems to provide unrelentingly grim news.

Most impressively, the Pak President is pushing this package. Which will reduce his power. Maybe Mr. Ten Percent isn’t all bad.

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And we’re back! Thu, 01 Apr 2010 21:16:07 +0000 cdoten April Fools’ seems an appropriate place to come back online.

I’m doing most of my blogging at my new home ( so things might be a bit light here, but for things of a more political nature or unrelated to international connection policy issues I’ll try to keep ‘em going here.

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Ross Douthat: Not That Dumb Sat, 26 Dec 2009 19:38:19 +0000 cdoten The NYT’s conservative columnist continues to impress me with being, well, sane. I know the bar is a bit low, but hey, you work with what you’ve got.

Today’s piece talks about Obama as “an ideologue and a pragmatist.”  This is, I think, exactly right. Obama ran on an inspirational platform of change – but if you examined it closely (and, as a guy working for Hillary at the time, I certainly did) the actual policies were very sensible and moderate ones.

One quibble: Douthat says that the President has “governed as a conventional liberal who believes in the existing system, knows how to work it and accepts the limitations it imposes on him.” I’m certain that Obama does not “believe in” the routinization of the supermajority requirements in the Senate. Imagine a world in which Obama was negotiating a compromise between Ben Nelson and Bernie Sanders, rather than Ben Nelson and, um, Ben Nelson.

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Merry Christmas! Fri, 25 Dec 2009 19:25:29 +0000 cdoten To all my loyal readers (Hi Mom!) I wanted to wish you and your families and friends a very, very happy Christmas or solstice-time holiday of your choice. Hope you’re enjoying it with excessive amounts of consumption and surrounded by festive holiday feelings.

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Hooray for DC Wed, 16 Dec 2009 10:20:34 +0000 cdoten DC passed gay marriage today. Interestingly, they expect over the long term most participants to be couples from out of the district traveling to get married.

Now that’s a destination wedding I can get behind – traveling to a destination where it’s possible to have a, well, wedding.

Another small step; at least that’s another 63 sq. miles of justice. And maybe all the homophobic members of Congress  will become a little bit more aware of how gay couples are just like straight couples.

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