The Free Associator

The Philadelphia Syndicate is a collection of writers, businesses, artists, musicians, and activists based in Philadelphia, with connections to associates around the world via the internet. This publication is produced by members of the Syndicate's private online discussion forum for the purpose of giving exposure to the organization's thinkers to the public.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Philadelphia Syndicate


The authors of this web site have decided to use a publishing tool with different features and have bought a domain name. If you get a chance, drop by and see new content posted continuously at

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

China Set to Revalue Currency?


By keep their currency pegged to the dollar, and not allowing it to float freely, while inviting massive external investments and building up infrastructure in the most extreme, China has overtaken the US and many other countries in labor-intensive manufacturing concerns, such as textiles. Additionally, by constantly improving their technical and physical infrastructure, China's workers are exponentially more productive than they were 30 years ago. All the while, their currency is forced by their government to be undervalued -- so as to make investments in their country
much more attractive. Its quite a game -- if you can get away with it.

The problem lies now with the fact that US (and European) manufacturers are getting hammered when it comes to wage competition, versus the low-paid Chinese worker. As a result, the Chinese have grown their exports by leaps and bounds over the past decade, to the point that various trade restrictions, brought forward to limit international competition to the advantage of American manufacturers and to the detriment of American consumers, have
been imposed or are being pondered in American and European capitals

International pressure is beginning to mount on the Chinese government to revalue its currency to reflect the increased value of it. No doubt, currency traders would like to see the currency freely float, and be determined by subject market analysis, but for now, a slight... manual adjustment... might have to do, otherwise, there could be problems in the offing:

In its semi-annual currency report, the U.S. treasury warned China that it has six months, until the next currency report is due, to move to a more flexible exchange rate or be designated as a currency manipulating country.

Such a finding would trigger bilateral negotiations on the exchange rate and possible retaliatory action.

Ironically enough:

China has pegged the yuan at a fixed rate to the dollar since 1994, when it was beginning to emerge as a force in global trade. Left to free-market forces, specialists say that the value of the yuan would have climbed substantially against the dollar. But China and other Asian nations have kept the value constant by buying hundreds of billions of dollars in Treasury securities.

So let's get this straight.

China pegs their currency artifically low against the dollar in order to keep their prices competitive. US and European manufacturers have a great difficulty competing due to this. The undervalued currency leads to China's central bank accumulating large sums of American dollars in the form of US Treasury Bonds -- which we are using to finance a global war and a massive domestic welfare state.

Given that the US is pressuring China to revalue its currency, I can only assume that our leaders are not planning on borrowing significantly more money. Is this play on China's currency an indication by the Bush Administration that our free-spending ways may be coming to an end?

If we do not reign in our current deficit, and need to continue selling large mounts of debt to finance our government's adventures, is the Administration signaling higher interest rates down the road, as there will be less available capital in Asia to finance us?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

An Ideology of Death


Someone is targeting women. Ostensibly, they are Muslim extremists. And I really have no reason to believe, nor evidence to support, anything to the contrary. It is truly revolting.

You will no doubt recall the fate of Margaret Hassan, of CARE International, long time resident of Baghdad, at the hands of, well... someone.

This week there is another kidnapping of a CARE worker, this time in Afghanistan. This story seems to be getting considerably less press.

But consider a few other recent horrific events in Afghanistan:

Three Afghan women raped and murdered

KABUL: Authorities found the bodies of three Afghan women, one of whom worked for an aid group, who were raped, strangled and dumped with a warning for women not to work for such groups, an official said on Monday.

A group calling itself “Afghan Youths Convention” claimed responsibility for the killing, according to a telephone caller.

This is not easy reading. But contemplating the situation of women in Afghanistan, after the "liberation" at the hands of men and women from MY country, is not a simple task.

Obviously, it would appear, this is the work of the Taliban, the enemy from the very beginning. But my cynicism runs deep now, and I see "coincidences" everywhere.

And there is more.

In an apparently separate incident from the 3 above, a 24-year old woman working for a "controversial Afghan television music show" was found dead, shot in the head. The suspects being sought are her brothers.

This kind of news makes jingoism here inevitable. A bellicose nationalism would almost be preferable. FOX news is no doubt having a field day.

The world should mourn the loss of these women, but is their sacrifice registering? And if so, what does it mean? Was it their idealism that killed them?

The United States of America is at war. It is at war with the world, and soon, if not already, itself. Perhaps the stories of these women show the turmoil of modern day Islam, as it grapples with Occupation in the form of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps it shows it's fundamental lack of Mercy and Compassion. It surely shows individual, irrational acts of cruelty difficult for most Westerners to understand. I have no answers.

The ideology that led to the murders and kidnappings of Margaret Hassan, Clementina Cantoni, Shaima Rezayee, and the three unnamed women near Kabul is disgusting, whatever its source or excuse. I don't know what else to say.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yet another Wall


The Walling of America has begun. What will you do when they ask for your DNA? You have about 18 months to think about it. Thats my guess.

The Border Patrol's plan calls for creation of an
impregnable no-man's land of three fences, two access
roads for official use and an array of floodlights and
sophisticated surveillance equipment. Nine miles have
already been completed, but the initiative was
suspended in February 2004 by a ruling from the
California Coastal Commission, which found that, as
designed, the western portion would cause avoidable
damage to the environment.

Proponents of the triple fence have fought back by way
of a provision in the "Real ID Act," a bill from
Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner that would
effectively ban undocumented immigrants from obtaining
drivers licenses, which was approved in February by
the House of Representatives.

Who are some of these proponents?

Immigration split

At a gathering on Capitol Hill this week, dozens of
people wearing "Real ID" buttons cheered as several
Republican congressmen criticized the president's
plan, which they say would amount to rewarding
lawbreakers. "It's amnesty lite," Rep. J.D. Hayworth,
R-Ariz., said.

Among the speakers at the event were leaders of the
Minutemen, an Arizona citizens group that has been
conducting armed patrols to stop illegal immigration
at the state's border with Mexico.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., demanded that Bush
apologize for calling the group's members

You do realize these lunatics are SUPPORTING the REAL ID act, yes? When will even the most truculent Republicans understand the vain nature of their quest: You cannot stem the flow of people. They are ANIMALS. They will go where they want. Conservatives are always worse in thier hypocrisy than the opposition. Their need for ultimate authoritative central power is ENDLESS. That's just how it is. And still they will build their wall. Oh, it just gets better, friends...

In addition to tightening restrictions on acquiring
driver's licenses, Real ID also would create more
obstacles for immigrants seeking asylum and give
Department of Homeland Security Secretary
Michael Chertoff unprecedented authority to
supersede environmental laws in completing a
three-mile stretch of fence at the Mexican border
with San Diego. Critics of the measure say Chertoff
may be able to exert that new authority at other
border spots as well.


The Senate approved the measure Tuesday evening
on a 100-0 vote. The House of Representatives
approved the measure last week.

They are so in the doghouse in my book. For what it's worth. I could be meaner. No one wants to read that. Organize.

If you want to read the crap for yourself start with a search for HR 418. I dont know if it is the same version on GWB's desk right now or not. But whatever is on his desk, we need to realize one thing - we have just been sold down the river. And there is a hurricane a-coming.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Open Letter To Howard Dead from Dennis Kucinich


Speaking before an ACLU crowd last week in Minnesota, the home state of Paul Wellstone, you were quoted as saying, "Now that we're there [in Iraq], we're there and we can't get out.... I hope the President is incredibly successful with his policy now." Did these words really come from the same man who claimed to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, and who had recently campaigned on the antiwar theme? What's changed?

Perhaps you now believe that an electoral victory for Democrats in 2006 and beyond requires sweeping this war under the rug. If so, you are only the latest in a long line of recent Democratic leaders who chose a strategy of letting "no light show" between Democrats and the President on the war. Emphasize the economy, instead, they advised, in 2002 and again in 2004.

Following this advice has kept us in the minority. During the 2002 election cycle, when Democrats felt they had historical precedent on their side (the President's party always loses seats in the midterm election), the Democratic leadership in Congress cut a deal with the President to bring the war resolution to a vote, and appeared with him in a Rose Garden ceremony. The "no light" strategy yielded a historic result: For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt, a President increased his majorities in both houses of Congress during a recession.

The President went into the 2004 election with tremendous vulnerability on the war, which the Democratic Party again sacrificed: by avoiding the issue of withdrawal from Iraq in the party platform, omitting it from campaign speeches and deleting it from the national convention.

Why does failure surely follow from sweeping the war and occupation under the rug? Because the war is one of the most potent political scandals of all time, and it has energized grassroots activity like few others.

President Bush led the country into war based on false information, falsified threats and a fictitious estimate of the consequences. His war and the continuing occupation transformed Iraq into a training ground for jihadists who want to hunt Americans, and a cause célèbre for stoking resentment in the Muslim world. His war and occupation squandered the abundant good will felt by the world for America after our losses of September 11. He enriched his cronies at Halliburton and other private interests through the occupation. And he diverted our attention and abilities away from apprehending the masterminds of the September 11 attack; instead, we are mired in occupation. The President's war and occupation in Iraq has already cost $125 billion, nearly 1,600 American lives, more than 11,000 American casualties and the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis. The occupation has been more costly in this regard than the war.

There is no end in sight for the occupation of Iraq. The President says we will stay until we're finished. A recent report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that the United States is probably building permanent military bases in Iraq. The President refuses to consider an exit strategy. The Republican Congress gives the President whatever he asks for.

We can draw no clearer distinction with the President than over this war. He cannot right a wrong (unjustified war) by perpetuating a military occupation. Military victory there is not possible. General Tommy Franks concedes that. The war will end when we say it's over. The Democratic leadership should be pressing for quick withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.

That's what most Democrats want, too. Your performance in the early stages of the primary, and your recent chairmanship of the party, were made possible by many, many progressive and liberal Democrats. It was their hope and expectation that you would prevent the party from repeating its past drift to the Republican-lite center. They hoped that this time the party would not abandon them or its core beliefs again.

Yet you say that you hope the President succeeds. With no pressure exerted from the leadership of the Democratic Party, the past threatens to repeat itself in 2006. We may not leave Iraq or our minority status in Washington for a long time to come.

Dennis J. Kucinich

History and the Ignorant


Ironically enough, a few months back on the listserv we had a rather large discussion about Roosevelt, including discussion about his court packign scheme and the negative effects on his second administraton.

And here we are, a few months into Bush's second administration and his approval ratings are dropping -- his collision course with the judiciary can't be helping him in the eyes of the american public. In the spirit of history never repeating itself, but always rhyming, it is interesting to note that people such as he throughout time are often undone by their own ignorance of history.

I noted during the time of the discussion that Roosevelt's court packing scheme was an assault on the constitution and the separation of powers between the executive branch and the judiciary. Instead of trying to strong arm keepers of the law in order to remake society into a vision of early 20th century socialism and liberalism (a la roosevelt), we now have a person in power trying to strong arm the judiciary into remaking society in a vision of early 21st century christian dominionism and neo-conservatism.

And like Roosevelt, Bush is arrogant and ignorant of history. We may now be witnessing the high water mark of Bush's power and influence over the federal government. The present assault on the judiciary and an over-extended majority, threatened by a nationalist "close the borders" wing of the Republican party that could split the party, may very well be the undoing of neo-conservatism.

Hope for a contentious Republican primary in 2007, or maybe a third party run by a member of the paleo-right, and maybe you'll all get a fiscially conservative Democrat in the White House in 2008.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Chalabi? Say WHAT?


In news from the twilight zone, I mean Iraq:

Chalabi to head Oil Ministry in Iraq's new government

Come again?

Yes, that Ahmed Chalabi. The "darling" and then "scapegoat" of the Bush administration.

I thought the guy was in prison. Turns out he was in Crawford.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Gall of Freepers


This and this makes me ill.

All I have to say has already been said by Justin Raimondo at Anti-War.

May the Freepers someday see the error of their ways.
Their patent absurdity is wearing thin. They are a disgusting reminder of the fools inhabiting this country. They are your neighbors. Don't say you haven't been warned of the enemy within.