Saturday, July 22, 2006


Mexico update

Mexico I've held off on posting, because until today, there wasn't much new that could be stated concisely. James K. Galbraith, doing his late father proud, says the election statistics don't add up (link thanks to El Machete) But today, the electoral process took a step toward breakdown. The most interesting story is actually one suggesting that Calderon faked a Harvard degree. Cris Villarreal Navarro of Austin found that Calderon took a 12 month course called "The Mid-Career Program," but did not write a masters thesis as claimed in his autobiography. ____________________________________________________________________________
Revised, 7/22. I didn't make it clear that the Kennedy School of government gives a Master's in Public Administration, an MPA, analogous to an MBA, and that their mid-career program is essentially an Executive MPA, analogous to the Executive MBA. Just as the Exec MBA is a for-real degree, I assume the Exec MPA is a for-real degree, requiring very intensive study. In general, accelerated degrees tend to give the technical basics, but leave out the field service/internships/study projects and especially the thesis that give most Master's degrees (though not the American MBA) their depth. This seems to the case here, since as Wikipedia says: The schools major degree programs are a two-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) program, which focuses on policy analysis and design, and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, similar to an MBA. The MPA is available in two forms: a one-year "mid-career program" intended for professionals between 7 and 15 years after college graduation and a two-year MPA program intended for recent graduates. So, the rub comes in what Calderon conveyed to his Mexican audience by saying he had a "maestria" from Harvard. And I do suspect that his audience was misled, at least to some degree, because Executive degrees are just not the same as the full-rate versions. Resume inflation is a dangerous game for would-be leaders to play, because leadership is about trust. Voters generally conclude that politicians who fake a resume-- like certain presidents claiming to continue to fly in the Texas Air National Guard after having been grounded--are, morally speaking, scum.
_______________________________________________________________________ AMLO did an interview in which he said that 30,000 precinct tallies couldn't match ballots cast plus blanks with ballots received. Let's let El Machete take it from there: Yesterday, López Obrador (along with his assistants Claudia Sheinbaum and Octavio Romero Oropeza and computer wiz Esteban) returned to Carlos Loret de Mola’s radio show in W Radio (Televisa’s XEW). They brought 21 well-labeled boxes with documents — copies of “actas”. In paper about 30,000, out of the 50,000 “actas” with “arithmetic errors” that López Obrador’s team has so far been able to review. (They left a DVD with evidence of the 50,000.) Claudia Sheinbaum said there are still more “actas” that their team hasn’t been able to review yet. They showed to the camera a few cases of discrepancy between the figures in the “actas” and the figures in the IFE report. I’ll list here only those I was able to capture. (The video is here: He gave examples of errors in favor of Calderon of 600 votes. According to El Universal, The Economist is waffling, worried that AMLO might be angling to have the elections canceled. Calderon, with tin ear cocked to the orders of the White House, declared that the election is over; never mind about the niceties of letting the proper authorities decide that. He wants to "paint Mexico white," declaring that white is the color of peace, harmony and brotherhood. The PRD is less than happy about having peace and harmony imposed in disregard to law. It has denounced the counselors of the federal election institute (IFE) for their partisan behavior and announced a loss of confidence in the IFE. The PRD also accused the PAN of creating an atmosphere of fear by accusing the PRD of being violent. One of the stories of yesterday that I frankly didn't understand was the claim by the IFE that 2,873 precincts had been recounted and that despite what would seem to be massive (a roughly 3% miscount) and systematic (benefiting Calderon and Obrador while injuring the others) arithmetic errors, PAN actually gained a bit. Well, the PRD says this recount is bogus and that the IFE counselor, Rodrigo Morales is lying. A network of organizations called Ecclesiastical Observatory is accusing the church of contributing to the climate of violence by playing footsie with Calderon, the charge of playing footsie that (given the nature of PAN and the takeover of the upper reaches of the Catholic Church by the radical right) is almost certainly true. At issue is a meeting between Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera and Calderon. Meanwhile, a breakfast meeting between the rector of the National University (UNAM) Juan Ramon de la Fuente and AMLO is said (by what sort of idiot I am not sure) of having damaged the university. It's not like the rector of UNAM has the sort of power that a cardinal does, so this is probably a smoke screen. The political situation looks like this to me: the investment community (Bushco) hates this uncertainty, wants Mexico's oil (PEMEX) privatized immediately, and is pushing Calderon to grab the reins. Calderon has the support of most of the church hierarchy and control of the electronic media (which is mostly playing BS; I keep glancing at it and getting pro-wrestling and Natalie Holloway knockoffs, with no real news). On the other hand, if Calderon pushes too hard, he could find himself -- perhaps not immediately, but when he tries to privatize PEMEX-- in a very hot climate. The next big demo is this Sunday[7/23: Correction: it is on 7/30]. I'll bet the numbers are even greater.
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