the aromatic feminine


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Yearning for the scent of the feminine,

Her arched feet and delicate angelic toes,

Breaths and high pitched melodies of moans,

The scent of cleanly natural manly musk & colon and sweat,

Semen of the sensual,

Fulfilling your spirit, bringing your heart nearer,

To that which Created you,

and loves you as I wish to.

as I dine on you from behind, and inhale.

 

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Danny K,
The Armenian
Nizar Qabbani
on the
Sacred Eroticism,
Elegant Delicacy,
Intellectual & Aromatic,
Feminine.

Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring


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Why did the Arab Spring affect states differently? What accounts for these differences in outcome? This article seeks to address that very question.

Globally, no state is a “perfect democracy” but some are obviously closer and more exemplary than others. Democracy is multi-dimensional meaning that there are components therein, all of which are necessary for its sustenance.

Regionally, this is also true – that some states are more or less democratic than others. Of all the MENA states only Tunisia is considered a “successful” democracy. Both Tunisia & Egypt enjoy more developed institutions than Libya & Syria, for example. One might attribute development to geography & history, given Egypt has been more autonomous than other Arab counterparts, but this doesn’t apply across the board, given Tunisia was part of the Ottoman Empire while Egypt was not.

Why did revolution fail to break-out in Saudi Arabia?

Libya is also an oil-rich state, but it was left ravaged. Oil was not a stabilizing force in Libya.

Saudi Arabia has a notoriously strong security apparatus, one that is tied directly to the ruling family, the House of Saud. The same is true in Syria, where an Alawite-dominated military has direct links with the ruling Assad “clan”. However the major difference is that Saudi Arabia is supported by America, unlike Syria.

States which experienced military invasions endured the worst outcome of the Arab Spring, versus countries that maintained autonomy. Compare the violence in Yemen, Syria & Libya to Saudi, Egypt & Tunisia, and the claim carries weight.

This can be extended to Iraq & Afghanistan, invaded by the US.

But why then has America stood by Saudi Arabia & flip-flopped on Syria?

The US switched from mildly opposing the Syrian regime under Obama to supporting it tacitly under Trump. This underscores that US policy is not monolithic, and there are two forces contending, with one seeking further democratization & the other benefitting from authoritarian neoliberal (neocolonial) constructs such as the Saudi or Syrian state.

Perhaps the extent of political development and institutionalization in Arab states like Egypt prevented foreign countries from being able to influence the trajectory of the demonstrations, whereas thoroughly guarded states like Saudi Arabia & Syria with almost no degree of democratic institution were able to suppress without much attention. Not only does Egypt have a sizable minority, it has institutional provisions & a political infrastructure which make it less vulnerable to chaos. Clearly Egypt is no democracy, and has in fact continued as an authoritarian state, but it also experienced peaceful revolutions, ousted two leaders. A mere change in the face of executive leadership is reassuring to the people about at least some sense of accountability and connect. This is arguably the result of the political infrastructure of the state which has democratic features such as separation of powers & independent judiciary.

Ultimately then it can be argued that while culturally Saudi Arabia and Syria are different, they are politically underdeveloped to a comparable degree, with few to no provisions in place meant to separate powers of the state or establish a mild sense of accountability among officials.

Thus the failure of the Arab Spring to overwhelm Saudi Arabia can be traced to the US decision to stand by the government, despite its authoritarian character.

If the neoliberal face of the Middle East is to be defeated, it must also be defeated in the US, meaning Trump must be replaced with a Democrat who is not at all inclined towards authoritarian governments.

Perhaps this why there was such a coordinated effort by various authoritarian governments across the world to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump, who is more or less sympathetic to authoritarianism than his Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton. Autocrats have no consistent agenda but self-preservation at any expense, so coordinating on this delicate issue even with “enemies” occurred.

Globalization has rendered the world inextricably linked no matter how much anti globalist nationalists tout otherwise. Since America is the world’s most powerful state, it is only sensible that changes in its domestic politics would have ripple effects, especially in the Middle East where it has been involved so long & the politics are so volatile.

Is it safe to conclude then that the chapter of revolution has not yet ended in the region?

Perhaps it will be easier to tell in 2020, unless of course Trump doesn’t make it that far.

Update: Lavash Music Video & full album release dates!


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Dear Compatriots,

It is finally time to unveil the music video, or short film, for Lavash, the single off my upcoming album. The release date for the video is officially March 20th. It will be viewable here, as a YouTube clip via the “FILM” navigation tab atop the homepage.

The complete album, The World to Come LP, is scheduled for release this coming, mid-April. It will be available for sale via iTunes & streamable via Apple Music, Spotify & TIDAL.

This will mark my debut, self-produced record.

It includes both pop, rock & hip-hop elements and incorporates eastern instrumentation. The theme draws on questions of Armenian and Arab identity within American society, but also beyond the social issues, lie the more personal struggles with love, pride, envy, competition & familial justice. This makes for the variant juxtaposition of somber & comical, uplifting tones throughout the album.

Tune in for more updates, including show dates & new merchandise. The plan is to have Lavash shirts available for sale via the website & at live shows.

I am also working on upgrading the overall website look – this will include the domain name http://www.mynameisdannyk.com. The current one will still work. Both will direct to this website.

Look-out for the video March 20th!

Danny K

 

How Arab Unity Became An Oxymoron – Another Tale of Orientalism


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A more liberal strand of Islam might argue that cultural identity is tied to Islamic heritage. Furthermore, it encompasses all philosophy and knowledge into Islam, as opposed to radical Islam which excludes philosophies from the Enlightenment, Renaissance, and the mystical indigenous religions of various regions in the world, like Central Asia and Latin America.

What if identity, whether it is Chinese, or Syrian, is also tied to an Islamic consciousness?

Let us say for example that Confucius was a Muslim. But only in the philosophical sense.

Let us say that Islam, is a philosophy too, a form of consciousness that becomes intertwined with language and custom.

If that is the case, instead of isolating extremism in Islam – what if we look at national struggles for national representation as well as national struggles for independence through the lens of a struggle for a higher level of consciousness?

In communist China, Islam is systemically suppressed. In the West, Islam is discriminated against. In the Middle East, from where it originates, it is disenfranchised from the political process. Palestine, the crux of Islamic scripture, remains occupied. Mecca, resides in a politically corrupt nation-state. The vast majority of Muslims, shiite or sunni, are living in poverty due both to foreign occupation and arbitrary authoritarian government. Russia is united with many forces, some its enemies, like the US in the fight against radicalism, of course, without looking at the initial cause.

In today’s world we see North Korea and Russia and Iran and China as US arch-rivals. But how can we be so sure? It appears premature to assume that enemies on the media aren’t cooperating behind closed doors. Does the US not benefit from the existence of a constant menace? Fanatical ideology or religion, whether it is coming from ISIS or North Korea, isn’t the concern of the great powers.

The world powers are still playing their great game, and they are doing their utmost to prevent the emergence of an autonomous Middle East (or Latin America, Central Asia, Southeast Asia) that can balance their power, out of arrogance as well as out of the desire to exploit resources and prevent any fair competition in the Middle East.

And fanaticism is working in their favor too, because it does nothing to promote national sovereignty – in fact, it is almost carrying out the neoconservative deed under the guise of a Salafi strain of Islam.

A united, moderate and tolerant Middle East would counter all of these forces – but the greatest obstacle to this includes all the puppet regimes in the Middle East which have resisted challenging Israel militarily – the crucible of Middle Eastern conflict and instability. Once the leadership in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt is overthrown, the Arab front against imperialism can actually hold its ground.

The so-called Arab Spring was a delusional, western manufactured initiative distracting everyone from the real cause of conflict in the Middle East – Occupation.

Democracy is a concept meant for parts of the world where religious sensitivity and culture does not overwhelm the philosophical expectations of the individual. Ideologies like neoconservatism and communism all have threatened the peace and sovereignty of the Middle East. The Arab Spring was a farce attempt in this regard, as much as communism was to liberate Afghanistan, America to liberate Afghanistan afterwards, or Iraq, Libya, Yemen and so forth.

Whether political immorality is exercised by the Chinese, Russians or the Americans, does not matter – the point is that a brainwashing game is being played on the media to blur the lines between good and bad.

But all you need to do to understand who the bad guy is have a basic understanding of boundaries – and that when boundaries are crossed, war ensues.

That boundary has been, since 1948, Palestine.

Until sovereignty is respected, the brainwash will continue, and so too shall conflict.

Democracy will save nothing – unity will.

The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Middle East


 

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There are numbers floating around regarding the relatively low amount of terrorist incidents committed by Islamic radicals.

Still, two points can be brought up.

Instability is uniquely inherent to the Middle East; and anti-Americanism is common in the Islamic World.

Perhaps these two characteristics of the Islamic World coupled with the increase in radicalized Islamic terrorist incidents (after 2003) could be explained as the products of humiliation .

Fanaticism is denounced by most Muslims.

But even ordinary Muslims, like for example in Iran, feel a sense of betrayal from the US with regards to sovereignty that is seen as the cause of extremism in the first place.

Since Islamic terrorism didn’t surge until after the War in Iraq, their claims seem to exhibit some validity .

The implication here is that, more respect for sovereignty might reduce the impetus for radicalization, and thus terror.

The World to Come


A young immigrant child in Orlando,
I came to the Far West from the Persian Gulf,,
To the Gulf from the Levant,
and to the Levant from the highlands of Armenia.
Now, here I am,
In the strong hold of modern imperium, America,
Seeking my own freedom,
from the dual extremes of ignorance,
and the societal pressure against solitude.
Music, art and philosophy are my realms of expression,
and sustenance.
I offer excellence to you,
and pray for justice.

Does Foreign Aid Perpetuate Terrorism?


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The purpose of this article is to analyze the strengths, weaknesses as well as the overall implications of five separate research studies on the subject of foreign aid and its relationship to politics development. The general tendency based on the research suggests that foreign aid has a negative relationship with development, that is, the more foreign aid a country receives, the less likely they are to enact the reforms conducive to development. While there are some exceptions. It is argued that countries with effective financial management that receive large sums foreign aid are likely to exhibit stability and at least some levels of development and redistribution.

The body of this paper will be separated into five sections in which I summarize the main points of each article as well as the potential weaknesses of the research. After this segment, I follow up with a section about the theoretical and policy implications of these findings, and what this could mean for the world today, as well as in the future.

In Moss, Peterson and Walle’s article, the hypothesis is that large sustained aid flows fundamentally alter the relationship between citizenry and the government. The financial flow alters the incentive of the recipient government, and may undercut the very principles the aid seeks to promote: ownership, accountability and participation. States that raise a substantial amount of revenue from the international community are less inclined to usher reform or to cultivate public institutions, having a harmful effect on institutional development. The focus of this research is specifically on Sub-Saharan Africa. As the author’s cross-sectional time series indicates, countries that receive higher levels of foreign aid exhibit lower tax shares as percent of their GDP, meaning there is less incentive to invest in and cultivate public institutions when a significant percentage of the GNI is received in foreign aid. In sum, the literature and research suggest a negative relationship between foreign aid and political development. Perhaps the greatest weakness of this research is that it covers only a period of 17 years, making it more difficult to make far-reaching conclusions regarding the data. Furthermore, the authors could control for natural resource endowment as well as cultural relativity by considering the same measurements for non-African states with lower incomes. It would also be interesting to measure the the effect of foreign aid on countries with high levels of income per capita, which could help further contextualize the data on lower income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Svenssons’s research in “Foreign Aid and Rent-Seeking” is rather interesting as it makes strong claims. Among other findings, Svensson argues that donors countries do not discriminate based on corruption levels, which means that foreign aid is given despite how corrupt the recipient may be. Svensson also finds that only in cases where a binding policy commitment is enacted can there be expected to be an increase in public spending. However, the data indicates that in most cases foreign aid perpetuates rent-seeking and reduces public spending. Furthermore, the data suggests that countries with competing social groups are likely to exhibit fluctuations in foreign aid. The research method was rather reliable, in that intervening variables such as infant mortality rate and arms imports so as to isolate the effects of foreign aid from the health and military dynamics of the subject states. Svens son’s control for ethnicity exposed the relative weakness of the coefficients of other variables, such as trade restrictions and protection from the international community. Of the four assumptions listed by the author, two particularly stood out. First, the assumption that that the larger the budget, the more likely a government is going to be corrupt. Perhaps stretching the boundaries of this study outside of Africa might provide a clearer indication of this assumption. What about countries with vast natural resource endowments? Are they less more or less likely to exhibit corruption? The second assumption that stood out was that donors at least partly care about the recipient’s welfare. The author suggests that much of the literature on this subject confirms the statement, however, I find it hard to believe that global hegemonies are more concerned with well-being of their recipients of foreign aid than perhaps the preservation of their own economic assets. Is it not surprising that countries which receive high levels of aid invest less in public institutions? Would this not be at the detriment of the recipient? That countries with tensions between social groups are likely to receive large swaths of foreign aid confirms this notion, in that global hegemonies are likely to provide aid if it secures their interests and prevents the threat of competing forces. How could this be regarded as “caring about the recipient’s welfare?” This leads directly into the next article.

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In their article “Aid, Policies & Growth”, the Burns & Dollar suggest foreign aid is often wielded as a tool for global hegemonies pursuing their own strategic interests. In other words, governments may receive aid — but not necessarily their people. Since the vast majority of countries that receive aid are underdeveloped or engulfed in conflict between competing social groups, the authors’ findings and assertions come as no surprise. How could it be assumed that donors care about their recipient’s well-being if the recipient state constantly receiving foreign aid is essentially in the hands of a small, political elite?  The research method is rather reliable as it includes a large sample size of 56 developing countries as well as wide-ranging time series covering two decades between 1970-1993. In terms of policy, the authors find that foreign aid has no effect in ensuring policy change, usually due to the donor’s lack of interest in policy-change. Rather, the donor is focused on its strategic interests. The positive outcome of foreign aid has been in the realm of income growth. How is it possible that state policy remains unaffected while incomes rise? Perhaps a common thread among the recipient states is a lack of natural resource endowment, making them more dependent on foreign aid. What could be said about the universality of democratic political development given that incomes rise despite a lack of institutional reform? That the budget for foreign aid is shrinking while policies tend to improve in poor countries, there is reason to believe there is a negative correlation between foreign aid and institutional development.

In their article, Easterly, Revise and Roodman seek to debunk some of the claims made by the previous article. The authors argue that the idea that foreign aid results in positive growth in countries with good financial management presumes that foreign aid causes growth and that countries with good policies should be the target of foreign aid donors. Their belief is that such conclusions were reached due to limited data availability.

The most crucial element of the data is in the time-series. By extending the period of analysis to from 1993 to 1997, the authors reduced confidence in the assertion that foreign aid causes growth. This is a significant finding as it parallels my concerns regarding the contexts of the research method. Furthermore, this study illuminates the dangers of presumptuous research methods in that minor alterations to the study produced completely different results, challenging previous literature.

In his article on the influence of non-tax revenue on political development and regime security, author Kevin Morrison illustrates that revenue accrued by governments from non-taxable revenues like from oil or foreign aid essentially secure regimes and their grasp on power. This in turn reduces the incentive for reform and public investment. The reliability of the data is quite strong, given that the time series stretches from 1973-1999. I wonder still, given that in the previous study where only three years were added therein altering the findings, if perhaps adding a few more years to this study would have the same effect. That 80 countries were tested, a relatively large sample size, is another indication of the strength of this research method. While the authors generally tend to control for the more common variable of ethnicity and natural resource endowment, perhaps controlling for other variables might affect the outcome of the study, variables such as religious homogeneity, security threats, cultural relativity and historical evolution. How do we know that the religious dynamic, or the threat of religious militants, or perhaps the mere cultural differences of a region are not responsible for the level of redistribution and political development within a respective country?

The common thread among these articles is that there is a negative relationship between foreign aid and political development. That is, the more foreign aid a government receives, the less likely it is to implement the changes that foreign aid was intended to induce. For the most part the research methods were rather reliable, however contextualizing the data by measuring it against non-African states, as well as broadening the time-series spectrum, could provided more accurate indications of the relationship between foreign aid and development. While there are some cases of incomes rising as a result of foreign aid, generally, as indicated in “Aid, Policies and Growth”, as the global budget for foreign aid shrinks, better policies continue to blossom in poor countries where foreign aid may have once paralyzed institutional development and public investment. Further studies indicate that rises in growth via income are poor indicators of the positive impact of foreign aid on political development, especially when the research covers a more broad time-series. Perhaps future studies could focus on trying to gather data that covers a wider time range. Furthermore, researchers could create ways to control for the aforementioned variables of religious homogeneity, stability (via the stability index), terrorist threats and cultural relativity.

The implications of these findings are far-reaching. They suggest that the motives of foreign aid donors have been rather inconsistent with their principles, and that they have in fact perpetuated corruption. It is not surprising that global hegemonies seek their own strategic interests. What is more surprising is the threats to international security this dynamic could cause. As donors funnel foreign aid to authoritarian regimes, especially those that govern countries with tensions between social groups, it forces analysts to wonder whether there is a correlation between these provisions, which prop up and support oppressive and divisive regimes, and the rise of insurgent military movements in the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries.

Perhaps looking at countries on a case by case could show other country specific qualities such as resource endowment, geography, economics, culture, and history. These are more qualitative in nature, underscoring my emphasis on the presence of prejudgments in the scholarly tradition.

A 3:2 ratio that long prevailed in the overall levels of U.S. aid to Israel and Egypt was applied to the reduction in economic aid ($60 million reduction for Israel and $40 million reduction for Egypt), but Egypt did not receive an increase in military assistance. Thus, Congress reduced ESF aid to Egypt from $815 million in FY1998 to $411 million in FY2008 (Sharp 2015).

New America


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Its been more than 150 years since we were blessed with the gifted authorship of American transcendental author Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Emerson, Thoreau and their school of transcendentalists represented the first school of America spiritual individualism without attachments to any organized religion. Furthermore, their emphasis on the Overlord, or rather, the existence of a spiritual supreme being, or God, resonated with the American tradition of monotheism, evidenced by the constitution. It furtehrmore resonated with the secular community in that it placed less emphasis on superstitions and dogmatic narratives.

The point of this is to emphasize the individualist foundation of America.

My greatest infatuation with America as a first generation immigrant was with Thomas Jefferson. His theories which echoed social libearlism, secularism, education and rational deism, appealed immsenly to me.

I also came upon other theories of individualism like Ayn Rand, which are much more extreme. Ayn Rand, like other philosophers, unfortunately confuses her brand of individualism. It is in fact a theory of racist privilege. Rand was a zionist who depended largely on welfare and aid from the israeli government.

Ideas like socialism and fascism are both becoming popular in america. definitions for these terms are changing day by day because of lower educational levels among constituents. Youtube video comments are becoming the hotbed of american education.

Since the assassination of JFK, we have witnessed America fall into a trap of populism. You are either a neoconservative or a neoconservative; democrat or republican, you support foreign invasions. Both parties are populist. Both parties seek to appeal to the ideological fanaticism of constituents, which is the product of ignorance (passive) and arrogance (active). the republicans appeal to the mass-minded religious nuts; the democrats appeal to the animal loving, overly environmentally paranoid, Wall Street hipsters.

Both social groups, the democratic left wing and the republican right wing constituencies share one thing – economic insecurity. This makes them vulnerable to the forces of collective-group-think and propaganda.

Americans are pawns of a grand puppet scheme strung together by a coalition of religious fanatics who can’t let go a historical grudge and bitter past, ideological fanatics who can’t separate their delusions from their imagination, corporate-cults that can’t survive without income exploitation, and politicians who are the business on this grand stage, selling us their “business models” — though poorly designed. But if the constituency is too dumb to notice, why not?

Economic insecurity has been exacerbated in America, though it always existed. The struggle between America’s colonial past and its desire to form a national identity is evident in the early conflict between those who wished to extend the tradition of capitalist exploitation, and those who wished to balance open markets with a strong state capable of regulating abuses by political and economic elites. This conflict was waged between the federalists and the anti-federalists. Slavery would come into question very late in this conversation of power-sharing and power-limits, to the misfortune of the African-American population, whose grievances remain largely unaddressed even today, 40 years after the civil rights era, and the deaths of both Malcolm and Martin. Today’s Jim Crow is police brutality.

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Back to the subject. Economic insecurity. Why? The colonialists won. America was founded on colonialism, so it is only right that capitalism, that is, the benefits of exploitation, took precedence over the need to form a national identity and cater to the welfare of the general American public, in the list of priorities of the American elite.

Today, this struggle continues. But the conflict is more ambiguous, because the manipulative tactics have become more devious and difficult to detect. The masses are in a trance. The individual is dead.

Is this the fate of democracy? The struggle between democracy and republicanism ensues.

The American constituency has grown less patient than ever, and has become more vulnerable to mass-media, propaganda and ideological inconsistency than ever before. Perhaps this is a reflection of America’s desperate attempt to colonize and control other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, Latin America, Central and Southeast Asia. The government has utilized all mechanisms available to manufacture consent for war and arbitrary conflict to secure the elites grasp of power, and to preserve the current political system in place, in the words of Noam Chomsky.

What is that political system?

The majoritarian system of democracy divided us and portrays ideologies as competing against one another. Instead there needs to be a recognition that majoritarianism can often trump the rights of individuals, political, social or economic. What is more important, that majority rules, or that individual rights are preserved? The extent of individual rights are hotly debated, but this is often a tactic too. It should be simple. But politicians want to justify poverty and institutional disenfranchisement so they encourage tensions, racism, and xenophobia. They strip us of our rights to tax funds, and to self-investment. A poor constituency cannot have power. Perhaps that is what the elite desires.

Is majoritarianism the problem? No, the problem is our cultural values have begun to diminish. If they didn’t then the majority would rule in favor of righteous policies, not ones that encourage war and unrest, domestically and abroad.

America is learning to heal from its past, but the scars run deep. The individual still exists, but he is striving perhaps more than ever, to secure his place in the world.

What we are demanding, is a New America.

 

Nothing New – American hypocrisy at GOP Debates


Pretty sure more democrats have lived pay-check to pay-check than Republicans.

On immigration, Rubio cannot backpedal. His family came here illegally. His father worked illegally.

Speaking in vague nationalistic sensationalist terminology is a strategy, not a victory.

Pointing out realities without solutions is worthless.

What does Marco Rubio know about American complicity in propping up non-democratic leaders in the world? What does Marco Rubio know about the association between illegal immigration to America and America’s tacit support for the tyrannical regimes that have pushed their citizenry to abandon their homeland?

Rubio sounds like he’s been programmed by the “privileged white mentality” which is beyond paranoid about losing their “exceptional” status in the world, instead of having to actually work for it and compete fairly. The irony. America touts freedom, but it depends largely on the subjugation of the freedom of other nations.

GOP is just a bunch of meatheads trying to prove who is more popular and who sounds tougher. Who can lie to the American people better? Who can convince the American people to abandon their selfhood for the sake of blind nationalism? For the sake of what, security?