Thursday, August 31, 2006


Still More of Life's Little Ironies

Yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of George W. Bush's leadership to the people who appeased the Nazis. Today, George W. Bush has described his War on Terror as the successor to the war against the Nazis. The irony is that the Bush family's wealth and political influence are founded in Prescott Bush's business dealings with the Nazi government. Will some enterprising reporter ask Tony Snow whether, since George Bush deplores appeasing fascist regimes, he regrets his own family's support of Hitler's government? [Edited to add] I just remembered another reason it's ironic Rumsfeld is calling other people "appeasers".


Keith Ellison: The (Utterly Demented) Passion Of The Republicans (And Certain Democrats)

Britt Robson over at City Pages has a very good article on Keith Ellison, the man who is going to be the first practicing Muslim to be elected to Congress, and the bizarre hatred he elicits from the well-funded Republican blogger and dead-tree media community. Read Robson's piece, then surf over to my most recent post on Ellison to see a few tidbits that Robson didn't mention -- such as the fact that Ellison's most publicly prominent Jewish attacker just happens to be a big donor to local Republicans. UPDATE: Well, now we know which of the Democrats running against Ellison in the primary was the one shoveling garbage into the eager maws of the local Republican noise machine. Take a bow, Paul Ostrow! Yeah, I know: His campaign manager, Jason Amundsen, is the guy who was actually feeding GOP blogger operative Michael "Minnesota Democrats Exposed" Brodkorb that scurrilous crapola. But does anyone doubt that Amundsen didn't do this without getting Ostrow's approval first? At a minimum, Ostrow needs to fire Amundsen and apologize to Ellison. As does Brodkorb, but we know that won't happen.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Don't miss today's funniest post!

John Mark Karr to seek guilty charge as an independent, by MJS of CorrenteWire.

Bushco buys votes with cheap(er) gas

James Healey in USAToday, 8/29, accessed on AOL: Gasoline prices are falling fast and could keep dropping for months. "The only place they have to go is down," says Fred Rozell, gasoline analyst at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). "We'll be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving....The U.S. average for a gallon of regular peaked this year at $3.036 Aug. 10, according to OPIS/AAA daily surveys. " The factors he cites for gas prices falling: 1. The end of summer. Driving slows, reducing demand for gasoline [plus the end of those pesky summer clean air regulations]. 2. Sluggish demand. .. "Wholesalers are trying to get rid of product. The growth in demand for gasoline has really tapered off," he says. 3. Petroleum traders, worried that prices are too high to last, are selling their holdings. ... They also believe hurricanes won't disrupt Gulf of Mexico production... Which misses the biggie: 4. Republican incumbents in danger. Allies in oil companies willing to squander shareholder's money to retain control of Congress. The Founding Fathers were afraid that demagogues could buy votes using the public treasury. Little did they imagine that corporations would do that by buying politicians to do the looting for them.

The Mexican Mathdance

Fox's sons, the Bribiesca boys, may be off the hook. Arturo González de Aragón, chief federal auditor categorically rejected that the transactions ascribed to the Bribiescas took place. Did Fox illegally serve as president, being the son of an American father? That's the extraordinary implication of the birth certificate of Fox's older brother in which José Luis Fox Pont declares himself to be an American, published in La Jornada. Of course, another explanation is that Vicente Fox is a bastard. A bizarre explanation of how the electoral court reached its verdict, from a program called Con Elisa in Mexico City: If a recount would not change the victor in a particular precinct, the precinct was not annulled. So, if Calderon had 250 votes in a precinct and Obrador had 100 votes and it was discovered that 100 votes were fraudulent, the precinct result would stand. The law would seem to require that the precinct be annulled. Another source, Garras de Paco Garrido seems to have confirmed that this bizarre logic was used. This purports to be an actual copy of the judicial ruling for the complaint for district 03 of Querétaro SUP-JIN-21/2006, and is said to be on the electoral court's website (, but I can't get the file to download. Garras says (paraphrase): in district 03, they recounted 59 precincts and only in 9 did they rectify the results. Despite the inconsistencies, the judges only annulled two precincts. Under the standards of the TEPFJ, 38 precincts had results that didn't square, butthe court said
In these precincts, there was some difference between the figures of the basic results, but the difference was smaller than that obtained between the candidates in first and second place in that precinct.
Garras continues They annulled precincts 416-1 and 537. In 416-1, the electoral institute gave them 734 ballots, 356 were surplus, 388 citizens voted, placing 361 ballots in the ballot box, from which were obtained 372 votes. Because the PRD won the precinct 137 to 119, the difference of 18 votes is less than the total vote discrepancy (which Garras, using math beyond my means, says is 24). That means the PRD would have won, so the precinct must be annulled. If true, and I suppose it probably is, the Court deserves to be laughed out of office.

Bush Boom: Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Screwed

Both USA Today and the New York Times shocked me today (as the NYT shocked me earlier this week) by putting up front-page above-the-fold stories on how the new Census data shows what my co-blogger Charles has aptly called the hollowing out of the American middle class. (The NYT even has a helpful graphic showing that even with the slight rise in incomes -- a rise that went mostly to the very rich or to people forced to take second or third jobs just to stay afloat -- as a whole we're still behind where we were in 1999, when Clinton was in office. What's more, the excuse that some right-wing Bush backers have been touting -- that incomes have dropped because employers are being forced to spend more on health-care bennies, which they argue have got more generous lately -- has been debunked, as USA Today also this morning spotlights an article on the rise in the numbers of uninsured Americans, a rise directly attributed to the fall in the number of employers offering health-care and other benefits. And in case the front-page positioning of the NYT's version of this news wasn't enough to show its importance, check out today's lead NYT editorial:

If you’re still harboring the notion that the economy is “good,” prepare to be disabused. Even the best number from yesterday’s Census Bureau report for 2005 is bad news for most Americans. It shows that median income rose 1.1 percent last year, to $46,326, the first increase since it peaked in 1999. But the entire increase is attributable to the 23 million households headed by someone over age 65. So the gain is likely from investment income and Social Security, not wages and salaries. For the other 91 million households, the median dropped, by half a percent, or $275. Incomes for the under-65 crowd were hurt by a decline in wages and salaries among full-time working men for the second year in a row, and among full-time working women for the third straight year. In all, median income for the under-65 group was $2,000 lower in 2005 than in 2001, when the last recession bottomed out. [...] The Census findings are yet another indication that growth alone is not the answer to the economic and social ills of poverty, income inequality and lack of insurance. Economic growth was strong in 2005, and productivity growth was impressive. What have been missing are government policies that help to ensure that the benefits of growth are broadly shared — like strong support for public education, a progressive income tax, affordable health care, a higher minimum wage and other labor protections. President Bush is unlikely to push for those changes, wed as he is to tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy. But the economic agenda for the next president couldn’t be clearer.


Middle class loses ground during Bush boom

Bush hollows out the middle class: Americans' net worth falls, report says Tuesday, August 29, 2006Alison Grant Plain Dealer Reporter The net worth of many U.S. households has fallen as Americans cope with rising debt, flattening real estate values and stagnant wages, according to a report today from the Economic Policy Institute. The study says the accumulation of stocks, bonds, bank savings or other assets aside from equity in their homes has eluded many Americans. In fact, about 30 percent of households have a net worth of less than $10,000. The institute's report refutes the notion that most people have invested in the stock market through 401(k) retirement plans at work, mutual funds or other means. Less than half of households own stock in any form, and of those who own stock, just one-third have holdings in excess of $5,000. ... The study by the Washington-based liberal think tank also noted a racial divide almost unchanged from 20 years ago. The median wealth of white households was $118,300 in 2004. Black families' median wealth was one-tenth as much, $11,800. ... As the wealthiest Americans benefited from the market's recovery from its 2000-03 collapse, middle-class households treaded water. Average wealth for the middle 20 percent of households grew by just 0.8 percent annually between 2001 and 2004. This is with rapidly rising home prices. Without that, middle class net worth would, I assume, have fallen and with a 10-20% correction in the housing market, will fall. And all this during the Bush boom.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


US is in control of at least two regions infested by terrorists

Well, at least the US is in control of one region infested by terrorists. The bad news is it's Kurdish Iraq. Just across the border in Turkey...
Turkey tightened security throughout its tourist areas yesterday as the group believed responsible for four of the weekend bomb attacks threatened to turn the country into "hell". Extra police detachments have been sent to tourist centres and identity checks set up on roads around resorts following the attacks that injured 21 people, including 10 Britons, in Marmaris and killed three people in a larger explosion in the southern city of Antalya. "We vow to turn the monstrous TC [Turkish republic] into hell ... with our warriors who have pledged revenge," the Kurdish Liberation Hawks (TAK) said in a statement on its website.... Separatist sentiment, once concentrated in Turkey's south-east, has spread across the country with decades of Kurdish migration, voluntary and enforced.
We also occupy a country responsible for a great deal of American suffering and death. The US. Naomi Klein:
The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box. This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the US government's calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: businesses do disaster better. "It's all going to be private enterprise before it's over," Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for tropical storm Ernesto, said in April.... The first step was the government's abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter). We saw the results in New Orleans one year ago: Washington was frighteningly weak and inept, in part because its emergency management experts had fled to the private sector and its technology and infrastructure had become positively retro. At least by comparison, the private sector looked modern and competent. But the honeymoon doesn't last long. "Where has all the money gone?" ask desperate people from Baghdad to New Orleans, from Kabul to tsunami-struck Sri Lanka. One place a great deal of it has gone is into major capital expenditure for these private contractors.
We have caught the leaders responsible for attempting to influence governmental decisions through violence or threats of violence. That would Bush, Cheney, Powell, and Rice:
The US government has been accused of trying to undermine the Chávez government in Venezuela by funding anonymous groups via its main international aid agency. Millions of dollars have been provided in a "pro-democracy programme" that Chávez supporters claim is a covert attempt to bankroll an opposition to defeat the government. The money is being provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Office of Transition Initiatives. ... "What this indicates is that there is a great deal of money, a great deal of concern to oust or neutralise Chávez," said Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (Coha) in Washington yesterday. "The US is waging diplomatic warfare against Venezuela." He said that while the US had accused Mr Chávez of destabilising Latin American countries, the term "destabilisation" more aptly applied to what the US was trying to do to Mr Chávez. "It's trying to implement regime change," Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American lawyer who wrote The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela, told AP. "There's no doubt about it. I think the US government tries to mask it by saying it's a noble mission." She added: "It's too suspicious to have such a high level of secrecy."


Johnny Went A-Postin', He Did Post, Uh-Huh!

Check it out.


Mexican Court: Everything was nice and legalish

A number of Mexican commentators have made the point that Mexico's legal system followed legal forms, but not the law in dealing with the Mexican election. One key element of genuine legal proceedings is that they deal with specific allegations, because it is in well-defined issues that truth or falsity can best be determined. What struck me in reading and listening to media is that exactly one paper, La Jornada, covered specific allegations of what had happened. Nor, as far as I can determine, has the electoral court given any detailed explanation of how it arrived at its conclusions. The specifics that I have seen are bizarre: The judges annulled 237,736 votes...The electoral court TEPJF removed 81,080 votes from Calderón Hinojosa and 76,897 votes from López Obrador. Now, some back of the envelope calculations are in order. To give a sense of the magnitude, 237,000 votes in a 9% recount would correspond to about 2.5 million votes if extrapolated over the nation. It's huge. Or, to provide scale, roughly 6-7% of the precincts were so corrupted that the results were impossible to accept. Who among us would not call this a deeply flawed election? But when one looks more closely at these details, there is clearly something very wrong. The challenged precincts were almost all Calderon strongholds. They were NOT overcounting ballots for Lopez Obrador. So, how did the relative change in votes come out so small? Small but, even so, too large. A 5,2004,200 vote shift is uncomfortably large on a recount of roughly 3.5 million votes. Perhaps the closest parallel we have is the Washington State governor's race of 2004. Out of 2.75 million ballots cast, a change of only 1,667 was found on recounting. But the net shift was miniscule: 171 votes, or about 6 votes in 100,000. This is reasonable. A shift of 5,200 votes on 3.5 million, by contrast, is a shift of 1.5 votes more than 1 vote per thousand. That is indicative of fraud. A cartoon from Helguera and Hernandez in Proceso says it all (via SdP): "Monkey sapiens. We need to protect our national symbols and defend and strengthen our national institutions. The Congress as a tank, the Supreme Court as a club, Televisa as riot police, and a cuspidor cannon to spit on the public are among the national symbols. Speaking of Proceso, Álvaro Delgado writes in that publication (my paraphrase) No longer is anything strange: not hypocrisy, not cynicism, nor even shamelessness. Why would one blush if all the immoral acts are committed under the cloak of legality? ... When one fails to understand history, it happens as if in a cartoon. The events of 1988, where the usurper Carlos Salinos was imposed, are being repeated almost two decades later.... One must admit that Televisa has been consistent in its servile attitude, though the employees on the screen have changed. But the tenacious fan of propaganda and obfuscation will recognize its faithful defense of the institutions "which we created at great cost." Televisa has even enjoyed the luxury of sacrificing earnings to give the ultra-right prime time slots. In 1988, they did sit-in strikes led by Manuel Clouthier to promoste openness. Now they enjoy and urge on closure.... The same happened to Fox and PAN, and its acolytes. They attempted to rectify the fraud of the PRI in 1988, and now they attempt to legalize Calderon the same way: by division of the spoils (i.e., sinecures). ...The very same Fox who in effect turned the presidency of the Republic into a joke opposed Salinas's fraud in 1991 when he closed highways, headed sit-ins, blocked the airport of Silao, and sabotaged the swearing in ceremony. ...In the end, the the Electoral Tribunal (TEPFJ) fell away from the principles of liberty, and took on again the hardshell conservatism in the worst expression of the end and abdication of its historical responsibility. All that remains is one step to consummate completely impunity and imposture: formalizing the new boss of the country. For its work in exposing the murderous acts of Echeverria and cohort, Proceso has earned a unique moral stature in Mexico. This OpEd stands, like Balaam's angel, athwart the road to total corruption that Mexico's elite are traveling. El Cid has a summary of English-language viewpoints. The New York Times, as usual, has sold out its editorial viewpoint in the interests of expediency. Gumby doesn't have that much editorial flexibility. _______________________________ Johnny Wendell, speaking about the upcoming US elections, says:
Mired in miserable poll numbers with a cratering housing market and wage depression swirling about his ankles like effluence in the streets of Fallujah, a Hail Mary move right before the midterms would not only be in the works as we speak, but very bloody (pun intended) likely....People say that I have a hyperactive and paranoiac imagination and they're right as rain. But I put nothing past these animales [who] have gone to any lengths and will continue to do so, to dominate and demolish our beloved land...


Debunking Right-Wing Racist Katrina Myths

Think Progress is your one-stop source for blasting the right-wing myths about Katrina.


Not a Happy Anniversary

One year after Hurricane Katrina caused the devastating floods in New Orleans, the city still desperately needs help to recover. It won't get that help from Bush's government, that's for sure. So give what you can. Charles provided a list below of organizations that are supporting the rebuilding:

Katrina Action Common Ground, for which donations can be sent through: Community Futures Collective 221 Idora Ave Vallejo,CA 94591 People's Hurricane Fund 1418 N. Claiborne Ave. New Orleans LA 70116 ACORN ACORN Institute - Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund 1024 Elysian Fiekds Avenue New Orleans, LA 70117
To which I add Mercy Corps. By the way, whatever did happen to FEMA's "prepositioned assets"?
As the Category 4 the storm surged ashore just east of New Orleans on Monday, FEMA had medical teams, rescue squads and groups prepared to supply food and water poised in a semicircle around the city, its director, Michael Brown, said. Speaking from Baton Rouge, just upriver from New Orleans, Brown told NBC's Today show that his agency had "planned for this kind of disaster for many years because we've always known about New Orleans' situation."
After the hurricane passed through, we never heard about these supplies again. They certainly weren't brought into New Orleans, nor did we hear anything about them being diverted to other parts of the Gulf Coast. More to the point, why didn't the news media ever follow up on this story to ask what happened to these taxpayer-funded resources?

Monday, August 28, 2006


Bass Fishermen Against Bush!

This summer, the pleasant, moneyed waters of Lake Minnetonka, where Minnesota's hyper-rich live and play (and the favorite place of Republican politicians to do some fundraising while in our fair state), saw the rise of a new political movement: Bass Fishermen Against Bush! Finny, vidi, vici!


Mexico: worst possible outcome

The electoral court has dismissed all of the complaints filed in the recent election. Considering that some of those involved precincts where ballots were completely missing, precincts with massive miscounts, and a shift of roughly 0.25% of the vote just from the recount, I don't see how the PRD can view it as anything except a corrupt decision. The court will annul a few precincts, but it is chopping down a couple of trees while pretending there's no forest. I thought they would at least scold the PAN, to give some appearance of impartiality. The sorrow I feel for Mexico is difficult to express. "Too far from God and too close to the United States" is right.

Why Reid Can't Just Strip Lieberman Of His Committee Assignment

Bob Geiger explains:

The membership in Senate committees is decided at the start of every Congress with a haggled-out thing called an "organizing resolution." The entire Senate votes on it and it usually passes by unanimous consent. Organizing resolutions can also happen when party shake-ups occur in the middle of a Congress, like when Vermont's Jim Jeffords bolted from the GOP in 2001.

To give Joe his well-deserved comeuppance by taking him off committees and effectively making him the most junior member of the Senate, Reid would have to formally propose an amendment to the current organizing resolution, manage to get it to a vote and then get every Democrat and a handful of Republicans to vote for a new committee organization sans Lieberman. If Majority Leader Bill Frist decided to filibuster Reid's action, 60 votes would be required to keep it alive.

Based on that procedural construct, Harry Reid can't just unilaterally, or even by a closed vote of the Democratic caucus, strip Lieberman of his committee assignments.

In short, it ain't gonna happen. Even if Reid were to go way out on a limb like this and even if he were to get all Senate Democrats to make such a big move, I stand a better chance of getting a hot date with Salma Hayek then there is of even one Republican voting with them to boot Joe.
Yeah, I can just see the Republicans voting to strip the power from their best friend in the Senate. NOT.


ABC Running GOP's "Clinton Gave Us 9//11!" Puff Piece

Sad but true. However, we have a few weeks to get out there and counter this nonsense with some truth. While Clinton since 1996 was doing his best to focus on getting Osama, the GOP/Media Complex was doing THEIR best to impeach and remove him from office -- not over anything like, say, wrongfully invading and occupying a country and killing over 100,000 people in the process á la Bush, but over an affair with a staffer. They were hollering "WAG THE DOG!" and calling Bin Laden just a little old innocent Saudi businessman. When Sandy Berger tried to warn Condi Rice that she would be needing to pay more attention to Al-Qaeda than anything else in her new job as NSA chief, she blew him off. Clinton's efforts at vigilance in the face of constant political/media attack compares well to Bush and his constant vacationings. Bush in fact was on vacation when the August 6, 2001 warning entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" hit his desk; not only did he not read, but none of his upper-echelon people did, or thought it worth disturbing his rest.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Dear Katrina...

Money from the usual charities, notably The American Red Cross, did very little to help the people of New Orleans. Peter Rothberg of The Nation has provided some resources. He suggests starting with Katrina Action. If you don't have the time to put in to Spike Lee film parties, but you do have the change to help people, here are my suggestions: 1. Common Ground, for which donations can be sent through: Community Futures Collective 221 Idora Ave Vallejo,CA 94591 2. People's Hurricane Fund 1418 N. Claiborne Ave. New Orleans LA 70116 3. ACORN ACORN Institute - Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund 1024 Elysian Fiekds Avenue New Orleans, LA 70117 You may or may not get a tax deduction. A lot of the most effective organizations do advocacy as well as relief work, so they don't get the special IRS treatment. Remember: If every middle class American family gave $5 every week for a year, it would be enough to build a standard home for everyone displaced from New Orleans. What matters is how the money gets spent. Over this weekend, I saw a lot of talk about Katrina, but what has been conspicuously missing is effective action.

8 AM Central: Judgment Day for Mexico

From Reuters
Sunday, August 27, 2006; 12:50 PMMEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's electoral court will hold a public session Monday to give its verdict on a partial recount of votes in the July 2 presidential election...It was not clear whether the court also would give the revised vote count for the overall election... The electoral court is widely expected to reject Lopez Obrador's demand for a full recount and most analysts expect it eventually will confirm pro-business former energy minister Calderon as president-elect. Lopez Obrador, a former Indian-rights activist who wants to overhaul Mexico's political and economic systems to favor the poor, has vowed to prevent Calderon taking office on Dec. 1. He says that if Calderon is named president without a full recount, he will continue protests.
Here are the possibilities and my handicapping. Court... 1. declares massive fraud and awards election to Lopez Obrador. Probability: hahaha! 2. declares no fraud and installs Calderon without further comment. Probability: 20% 3. makes lengthy, grave, but ultimately meaningless pronunciations about the election, then installs Calderon with a sound "TskTsk!" Probability: 80%. Here are the probabilities of Mexico not suffering extended civil disorder: hahaha! The reason I predict civil disorder isn't actually the election. Polls I have seen and anecdotal evidence suggests to me that (as it was in the US in 2000) only about 10% of the population is really upset about the election. Probably another 40 or 50% have reservations, but they figure that politics doesn't matter very much. This lasts until things go wrong. Then you have 50 or 60% of the population who thinks that the guy installed in office doesn't belong there. If things get bad enough that they start thinking that politics matters, you have the potential for instant instability. In the US, the transition has happened slowly and the concrete hasn't dried. But if there's a deep recession, that sentiment will crystallize over a short time period. Odds of a recession in the US are high. Odds that it will be deep are significant, maybe 30%. Odds that even a mild recession in the US will have catastrophic effects in Mexico: very high. Odds that Calderon has the skills to deal with a severe recession: You'd have to pay me to take that bet. So, when Mexico realizes it has the wrong guy in office, it will be too late. Anger will be boiling over and even harsh repression will not be able to stop it. I hope I am wrong. I hope the Court eases the country into seeing that Calderon didn't win the election. But the word I hear is that the decision is wired.

Murder, Inc.

Nancy Davies of Narconews reports that the site OaxacaEnPaz, with the collusion of the government, is posting the pictures and addresses of striking teachers for the purpose of soliciting their murder. What is going on on Oaxaca could not be happening unless the Bush Administration had approved it. Update: Mexican government attempts to claim terrorist ties to Oaxaca violence. An Undersecretary of Goverment, Lauro López, has said that the military wing of the Partido Democratico Popular Revolucionario, the Ejercito Popular Revolucionario may be active in Oaxaca. The Attorney General's office denies this. Doubtless Bushco would regard the EPR as terrorist, since they have attacked Mexican government facilities, killing 17. But it makes no sense. The people getting kidnapped and killed in Oaxaca are teachers and their supporters, not members of the police and military. El Universal is blaming the robbery of a store by masked men of 80 telephones, a DVD copier, and videogames on the citizens's movement occupying Oaxaca. But from what is said, the assailants could just as easily have been police or mercenaries. But the claim of the involvement of a terrorist group would allow the US to send in Special Forces. Not that anything would stop Bush if he wanted to. Additional comment: JP Morgan has the risk level of Mexico at 108, just 13 points above its historic low of 95, and down 3 points from last week. By contrast, Brazil is at 229. Either JPM is dreaming, or I am.

New penalty for crossing Bushco: banishment

I'm so glad Avedon is on the case. I'd miss so much if it weren't for The Sideshow From Demian Bulwa of The San Francisco Chronicle, we learn that two US citizens from Lodi, California, a father and son, were barred from re-entering the country when they refused to agree to be interrogated by the FBI abroad without the presence of a lawyer or to take a lie detector test. The nephew of one of the father was a cherry packer convicted of terrorism not for any overt act but for having attended a training camp in Pakistan. So, basically, if you're related to someone who commits a crime, you're guilty, and if you refuse to be interrogated under conditions that are illegal in this country, you can be banished. This could pose a problem for George Bush traveling abroad, since his sister-in-law is a known smuggler, which would make him a smuggler, too, and since smugglers could be bringing in weapons of mass destruction, he is a self-evident risk to the security of the nation.

Mumbles and stammers from the vicars of Christ in Mexico; plus some humor

Thirty nine Presbyterians and priests of about 20 parishes religious leaders have called on the governor of Oaxaca to step down. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church as a whole remains comfortably ensconced with the campaign of police terror and murder chronicled on Mercury Rising. Caption: "Loooooser!" Cartoon by Hernandez in La Jornada PANista blogs are active in trashing the PRD. And they're no more inventive than our 'wingers: they label PRDists as "Indians" (the Mexican equivalent of the N-word) or "sheep. There are attacks on single mothers, a rarity in Mexico. One is portrayed as saying "Support Lopez Obrador because he promised me a real good husband." There's an obscene twist on Lopez Obrador's name, generically equivalent to calling him the "Kingf--k" instead of the "Kingfish." And then there's the Visit to Obrador-land (the sit-in occupying downtown Mexico), where they advertise the healthy outdoor living including a spa (the torrential rains). If it sounds lame, I am sure it barely conveys the half of it. The elections court, meanwhile, has been energetically avoiding the issue of whether the election was hopelessly corrupted, having chosen to focus first on determing how many fraudulent precincts they can successfully ignore. This strongly suggests that they are going to punt on the pre-election illegalities. A slide show showing, among other scenes, people who walked 1,700 miles from Tijuana to the capital to join the protests. Via La Jornada: according to the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, the US embassy in Venezuela attempted to use the diplomatic pouch to smuggle into the country over 170 pounds of uninspected chicken, clothes, furniture, and toys intended for someone outside the embassy. Diplomatic protests by the US on the violation of the sanctity of diplomatic communications were met with snickers from the Venezuelan government. Update: Here's an English language version, which adds the following worrying point:
According to [Venezuelan Minister of Justice and the Interior] Chacón, however, while shipping documents indicated that the military shipment [made prior to the arms embargo imposed by the US] included ejection seat propulsion motors for Bronco airplanes that had been ordered by Venezuela’s military, there was also other material that it did not order, such as detonators, pliers, rocket motors, and other items. “What is this material coming for? This has us worried,” said Chacón. Also, none of this material has so far been received by Venezuela’s military.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Did Calderon call for a coup?

From a cartoonist called El Fisgon at La Jornada Now, prove to me that the candidate with clean hands was harmed by the irregulaties. In the wake of the labeling of the Attorney General's office as pimp and coverup for torture and murder, Sendero del Peje asks whether Fox had human rights activist and lawyer Digna Ochoa murdered. Film is available covering this and other cases where the government of Vicente Fox may have stood to benefit: 1. 2. 3. 4. Lopez Obrador has accused Calderon of planning a coup similar to what happened in the wake of the 1988 election. He claimed that Calderon met with directors and journalists of an unspecified radio chain and, when asked how he would govern in a climate of protest and claims of fraud, he replied that he could establish his credibility with "un Quinazo." This phrase refers to the 1989 detention of the oilman Joaquín Hernández Galicia, La Quina. Calderon is also planning a Nixon-style welfare program to calm down the poor. He will also use elements of the PRI and foreign governments to create an aura of legitimacy. And, finally, he will dominate the airwaves. The Electoral Court keeps SAYING that the public can find the results of its labors here. (And so they can. There's not one detail of the recount and the last press release is 12 day old). Proceso has organized a citizen recount and also petitioned the court to upload the documents. The Court has stalled, and Proceso says they hold the public in little regard. The National Security Archive has put up a page. There's the following great picture by Proceso showing the alacrity with which the IFE received its FOIA request: That hand. Is she a mutant? More on the grenade attack against Por Esto! from NarcoNews. A criminal investigation against the head of the electoral institute (IFE), Luis Carlos Ugalde, has been initiated by the Attorney General through the "Fepade" (Fiscalia Especializada para la Atencion de Delitos Electorales or The Special Office for Election Crimes). Basically, why did he order a review of the voter rolls covering only a tenth of the names. The plaintiff, Genaro Núñez Reyes Spíndola, said that Ugalde had lied in claiming that the National University had approved the methodology. As background, there is the matter that the IFE claimed there were 71.8 million voters, while Mexican equivalent of Census showed 65 million. Did Hildebrando's have any effect on the handling of the voter rolls? The software business Identics was used in reviewing the rolls. The IFE reviewed only 11 million voters and knocked a measly 2 thousand off.

9:00AM Destroy planet, 9:20 AM War with Iran, 9:30 AM Loot victims, 10 AM Coffee

Via Carl Pope at HuffPost, PEER reports that —The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving ahead this summer to shut down libraries, end public access to research materials and box up unique collections on the assumption that Congress will not reverse President Bush’s proposed budget reductions, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At the same time, EPA’s own scientists are stepping up protests against closures on the grounds that it will make their work more difficult by impeding research, enforcement and emergency response capabilities. In an August 15, 2006 document entitled “EPA FY 2007 Library Plan,” agency management indicates that it will begin immediately implementing President Bush’s proposed budget cuts for the next fiscal year, which begins in October, without waiting for Congress to act. From Ray McGovern: Now suddenly appears a pseudo-estimate titled "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States." To wit, the challenge set before the Intelligence Community is to get religion, climb aboard, and "recognize" Iran as a strategic threat. But alas, the community has not yet been fully purged of recalcitrant intelligence analysts who reject a "faith-based" approach to intelligence and hang back from the altar call to revealed truth. Hence, the statutory intelligence agencies cannot be counted on to come to politically correct conclusions regarding the strategic threat from Iran... Hoekstra to the Rescue ... The snub by the administration has not affected Hoekstra's zeal to do its bidding, even if further embarrassment waits in the wings. He has violated all precedent in consenting to have his committee author this faux-National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, making it out to be a strategic threat. Brian Ross, ABC State Farm Insurance supervisors systematically demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports be buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to pay policyholders' claims in Mississippi, two State Farm insiders tell ABC News. Kerri and Cori Rigsby, independent adjusters who had worked for State Farm exclusively for eight years, say they have turned over thousands of internal company documents and their own detailed statement to the FBI and Mississippi state investigators. In an exclusive interview with ABC news, to be broadcast on 20/20 -- Watch 20/20 tonight at 10 --and World News, the Rigsby sisters say they saw "widespread" fraud at the State Farm offices in Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss. "Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm," says Cori Rigsby.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Friday Cat Blogging


We're No Angels

Government Secretary Carlos Abascal (left) and President Vicente Fox (right) under the PAN logo colors. Image by Jesús Villaseca from La Jornada. I am reminded of a certain infamous Time magazine cover involving Dubya, and somehow suspect this is a subtly failed knockoff, [added 8/26:]in which what were intended to be halos ended up looking like horns. [added, 8/26: Madrax in comments says that the image is of the Tourism Chamber of commerce.] Judges of the electoral court: "If we open all the ballot packets, it could produce a turnaround." ("volterete" means "somersault" or "trump.") Cartoon by Rochas of La Jornada The chairman of the Human Rights Commission says that the Attorney General's office is "the coverup and the pimp" for torture and extrajudicial killings. Mexico News, as usual, botches the story, but it's in English: The national ombudsman said Thursday that the federal Attorney General´s Office (PGR) engages in "torture and extrajudicial executions." José Luis Soberanes, who chairs the autonomous National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), also accused the PGR of resorting to threats and intimidation to obstruct his panel´s attempts to investigate alleged abuses by federal law-enforcement personnel. The CNDH held a news conference to highlight three cases involving purported torture or murder by PGR agents, allegations the panel said it probed despite a "lack of cooperation" from the PGR.PGR officials sought to prevent those cases from seeing the light, according to Soberanes aide Guillermo Ibarra, who noted that one of his office computers was stolen early this month. Um, the REASON that there was concern over the computer is that there were details of a torture case. So, like, maybe witnesses could be in danger? Maroon. _________________________________ And there are a bunch of new angels to report! Four on Daily Kos! El Cid Hugo Estrada Earthmissinglink ourobouros Please accept these wings with my compliments. [Added, 8/26: And, as thanks for Madrax's correction, 1,000 frequent flyer miles.]

Friday Grab Bag

Because I'm too lazy to make separate posts right now: -- The Beeb on why the new anti-Pluto ruling stinks to high heaven. What's even worse is that, in order to allow Neptune and not Pluto under their new cockeyed definition of a planet, they invented an exception for "classical planets" to the area-clearing rule -- and redefined the term "classical planet" to include Neptune. The whole reason the term "classical planet" exists in the first place is as a way to set apart those planets we've known about pre-telescope from those discovered post-telescope (Uranus, Neptune, et al). This is like suddenly declaring that the word "black" now represents the color white, its polar opposite. -- In other news, it's obvious to me that the Hogwarts Express was re-routed in the 1990s due to the "Voldemort problem" and now runs through Watford Junction. Disillusionment Charms are used to give the appearance of a run-down and disused junction, but two times a year it opens for pupil traffic to and from the renowned British wizarding school. And from our friends at the UK Independent: -- John Bolton and his acolytes are acting like firebugs at a dynamite factory, and dragging the GOP with them. Situation normal for them. -- Oh, and engineers warned BP two years ago of problems with the Alaskan pipeline. -- The head of the IDF admits to "logistical errors" in attacking Lebanon. Um, right.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Mexico, serenely peaceful

For two days in a row, unidentified persons violently attacked the journalists at the daily Por Esto! on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. On Tuesday, August 22, in Mérida, a Molotov cocktail thrown at a reporter’s wife as she was exiting a car engulfed her 1980 Volkswagen beetle instantly in flames. She escaped unharmed.... Among those most exposed by Por Esto!’s reports have been politicians and businessmen that are key players in the Fox administration: Yucatán Governor Patricio Patrón Laviada, Citigroup-Banamex board member Roberto Hernández Ramírez, and, most recently, Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). Since the July 2 presidential election in Mexico, Por Esto! has reported the details of election fraud, while also publishing the entire texts of protest speeches delivered in Mexico City by candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. ...The government of President Vicente Fox has attempted to close the newspaper for six years now by withholding more than three million dollars of rebates owed on taxes already paid, and has charged Menéndez and others at the daily with an unending series of spurious accusations that, each time the courts have dismissed the charges, new ones were invented. ... The Tuesday morning violence in the Yucatán capital city of Mérida was the second Molotov attack against the home of investigative reporter Jaime Vargas Chablé, who has led many journalistic investigations publishing facts about criminal activity by state and federal officials. Ten months ago, at four in the morning, the family awoke to a loud noise on their home’s roof – the impact of a Molotov explosion – and had to evacuate, with their children, from the burning house. The newspaper has reported that a narcotrafficker was behind the attacks. It certainly looks as if the Vicente Fox Administration is behind the narcotrafficker. And behind Vicente Fox would be...? Please, do take a guess. This is not a trick question. Meanwhile, in Chiapas, where there has been a serenely peaceful election, El Universal reports that the ballot box for precinct 1612-2 has serenely and peacefully disappeared from the premises of the electoral institute. The PRD's coalition happened to retain a copy of the precinct tally. Meanwhile, PRI claims there were a mere 2,400 irregularities in the 4,760 precincts. Strange anomalies of weight of the ballot box, unregistered voters, and voters without proper credentials. But, they say, they will win by 3,750 votes the election they lost. (Via SenderodelPeje) Here's a good backgrounder on the Mexican economy from the Center for Economic Policy Research. Also, a blindingly clear explanation by CEPR of why the dead-of-night, no--PRD-witnesses-present recount by the election institute was so deficient.

The GOP Photo-Op In Groton Today

As Jane Hamsher and others have reported, Joe Lieberman took part in a Republican photo-op today that benefitted two GOP congressional candidates. If the Groton photo-op is "just a non-partisan effort to save the sub base", as pro-Lieberman Kossacks like to say, then how is the following explained? 1) No mention of Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, State AG Richard Blumenthal, or any of the Democrats in Connecticut's Congressional delegation, so they must not have been invited when Lieberman, Rell and Simmons planned this shindig -- and Blumenthal in particular has close ties to the Groton submarine base. (Dodd allegedly was 'unable to attend', though what he was doing instead is unknown at this time. And no other member of Connecticut's Democratic Congressional delegation was present. Unless you count Lieberman.) 2) If the Groton base is allegedly in dire danger of being closed -- the supposed reason for this photo-op of Joe's -- then how come the Navy just started building a $600 million housing complex there last year?

Groton — The Navy and a contractor broke ground on a housing complex Wednesday that represents the first step in developing more than $600 million of new and renovated units in the Northeast that officials predicted will be popular with sailors. ... GMH will spend more than $600 million over the next six years in Navy communities stretching from Lakehurst, N.J., to Brunswick, Maine. In Groton, it will build 122 new three- and four-bedroom townhouses on the former Nautilus III North, replacing 124 three-bedroom units; 119 homes for senior enlisted people and officers in Dolphin Gardens; and 44 three- and four-bedroom townhouses on the former Cherry Circle mobile home park. All the projects are slated to be finished by next spring. In addition, 427 units in Nautilus Park, Conning Towers and Polaris Park will be renovated, with new kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, as well as new lighting, flooring, paint and carpets.
In fact, even though Groton did get on the BRAC list for possible closing last year, it easily survived the BRAC vote by a 7-1 margin. Some "danger".


And Now For Some Good News

In what can only be seen as part of the GOP's standard election-year feint to the center, Bush has allowed the FDA to finally approve Plan B for over-the-counter use.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Bush Suppresses Yet Another Report Showing That Public Schools Are As Good As (If Not Better Than) Private/Charter Schools

As I've mentioned in the past, the Bush family has a long history of burying favorable news about public education in America. It turns out that they're doing it again:

Students at charter schools performed significantly worse than students at traditional public schools, according to a study released yesterday by the Department of Education. The research was based on results from the "nation's report card" - the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. "After adjusting for student characteristics, charter school mean scores in reading and mathematics were lower, on average, than those for public noncharter schools," the study concluded. Republicans have been strong proponents of charter schools, which they made sure to promote through the ironically titled No Child Left Behind Act. Sure enough, the Bush Administration was quick to criticize its own study in a statement yesterday, in which Education Secretary Margaret Spellings continued to express her support for the now debunked theory that charter schools are better than public schools.
Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it?


Freedom of the speech belongs to those who can afford a printing press

...and, should it fall into the hands of those who can't, is taken from them by the state. Image of damage at public station Cortv, Oaxaca via SenderodelPeje A lot of the firepower of the plainclothesmen or mercenaries that fired on public station Cortv was directed at the broadcast equipment. Um, Mexico News? That would explain why the protestors then occupied other broadcast stations. Also via SdP, Palast on YouTube Law v. Law. Procurator General Lizbeth Caña Cadeza declared that a state of guerrilla war exists in Oaxaca. Four hundred agents were directed against Radio Ley (Literally, "Radio Law"). Police arrived at 12:20 AM, and fired on the guards. Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, head of the Department of Educational Spaces of the Secretariat of Public Works was wounded. Police shot at reporters Luis Alberto Cruz, Jorge Luis Plata and Patricia Domínguez. Local reporters Carlos Leyva Castellanos y Miguel Luna López were beaten by masked men, presumably police agents. And in the mother-in-law/Cadillac/cliff category, TV Azteca reporter Edgar Galicia was fired on and his crew's equipment confiscated. One wonders if TV Azteca will now, at last, describe what's going on in Oaxaca as a police riot. ____________________ ADDED. Freelance journalist, John Gibler on DemocracyNow: Between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. on August 22, groups of police riding in pickup trucks, armed with machine guns and pistols, some dressed as civilians and others in uniform, made rounds throughout Oaxaca City, firing at radio stations that had been occupied by the Oaxaca People's Assembly protesters. Police shot in the back Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, an architect, who died 45 minutes later in the hospital. The roaming police also fired on two photographers from the national newspapers, Milenio and Reforma, though no one was injured. And they threw a Molotov cocktail into the car of two teachers traveling to one of the different encampments, both of whom suffered second-degree burns. Last night, rumors ran through the city that the big raid was coming, and businesses closed several hours early in the evening, and the people from the Oaxaca’s Assembly all prepared. But then, rumors have it that after an 11:00 p.m. national television show, showing the police making rounds the night before, that the operation was canceled. The mood throughout the city throughout the night has been very tense. Bonfires kept in the street and the streets blocked off. There have been no reports of shootouts throughout the night.

How Bad Is The Economy?

Even some rich Republicans like Ohio's Joy Padgett -- the GOP pick to replace Bob "Abramoff" Ney -- are feeling the pinch:

It turns out that Joy Padgett, the Republican candidate widely endorsed to succeed Congressman Bob Ney, is more than $1 million in personal and business debt, along with her husband. And the federal government may have to pick up some of that because of a Small Business Administation loan guarantee.
Ooops. Not coincidentally, she's one of the few Republicans out there willing to admit that the economy -- at least in Ohio -- really isn't doing all that well.


Another Attack on Judge Taylor

USA Today reports that Judicial Watch (remember them?) claims Judge Anna Diggs Taylor had a conflict of interest when she presided over the warrantless wiretapping lawsuit; specifically, her "apparent membership in a local foundation that gave $45,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan in recent grants." The organization is the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan; Judge Taylor is on the the board of trustees. Since its founding in 1984, the Foundation has distributed "more than $163 million to support thousands of charitable activities". According to USA Today, the $45,000 (0.00276% of the total donations) to the Michigan ACLU was used for programs serving gay men and lesbians. Is Judge Taylor involved in deciding where the Community Foundation donates its funds? The article doesn't say. Does the board of trustees review the donations, line by line, so they should be expected to know who all the recipients are? The article doesn't say. Were any of the unknown number of people who have benefited from these programs parties to the lawsuit? The article doesn't say. Did Judge Taylor personally benefit from the donation? Probably not. Is this donation, one of thousands, a clear indication that Judge Taylor had such a close association with the Michigan ACLU that she was predisposed to favor its side in a judicial ruling? Will Judge Taylor personally benefit from her ruling, because of this association with the Michigan ACLU? Oh, please. But Judge Taylor does have this connection with the Michigan ACLU, and even that tenuous connection is (if we are to believe Judicial Watch) a Conflict Of Interest. And it is a Bad Thing for a judge to have a Conflict Of Interest. Unless, of course, the judge is Bush's Supreme Court appointee Samuel Alito, who presided over a case involving the Vanguard Group where he had large amounts of his own money invested. Or Bush's Supreme Court appointee John Roberts, who was presiding over "a terrorism case of significant importance to President Bush" while he was being interviewed by Bush officials for his Supreme Court nomination. Or Bush's Circuit Court nominee Terrence Boyle, who "ruled in multiple cases involving corporations in which he held investments." Or Bush's Circuit Court nominee James H. Payne, who owned stock in corporations involved in lawsuits brought before him." Or Clarence Thomas, whose wife was hard at work at the Heritage Foundation, sifting through resumés from potential Bush appointees while the Supreme Court was hearing Bush v. Gore. Or Antonin Scalia, whose son got a high-ranking job with the Bush Administration hard on the heels of the Bush v. Gore ruling and who socialized with Dick Cheney after the Supreme Court agreed to take up Cheney's "appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force." Or Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who as a judge in Texas "took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that had business before him and he did not recuse himself from voting on their cases." I guess the concept of "conflict of interest" only applies to people who oppose Bush's will, not to people who do his bidding.


Can't Fool All the People All of the Time

Most in US see no tie between Iraq, terror war

A majority of Americans no longer see a link between the war in Iraq and Washington's broader anti-terrorism efforts despite President George W. Bush's insistence the two are intertwined, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday. ...The findings were a considerable shift from polls taken in 2002 and early 2003, when a majority considered the two to be linked, The New York Times said. As recently as June, opinion was evenly split, with 41 percent on both sides of the divide. Now only 32 percent considered Iraq to be a major part of the fight against terrorism.
The Usual Suspects proclaimed that the arrests of alleged terrorists in Britain would give Bush a boost. Maybe those arrests had the opposite effect, however: they made people realize that "fighting them over there" doesn't mean we won't have to fight them over here. And maybe, just maybe, more people are hearing the Democrats' message that Bush's war is making us less safe because it's using up resources that might have been used to oppose terrorism.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006



Bill Quigley reports (See also Justice for New Orleans The statistics tell some of the story. The City of New Orleans says it is half its pre-Katrina size - around 225,000 people. But the US Post Office estimates that only about 170,000 people have returned to the city and 400,000 people have not returned to the metropolitan area. The local electricity company reports only about 80,000 of its previous 190,000 customers have returned. Texas also tells part of the story. It is difficult to understand the impact of Katrina without understanding the role of Texas - home to many of our displaced. Houston officials say their city is still home to about 150,000 storm evacuees - 90,000 in FEMA assisted housing. Texas recently surveyed the displaced and reported that over 250,000 displaced people live in the state and 41 percent of these households report income of less than $500 per month. ... Only half the homes in New Orleans have electricity. Power outages are common, as hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs have not been made because Entergy New Orleans is in bankruptcy. Entergy is asking for a 25 percent increase in rates to help it become solvent. Yet Entergy New Orleans' parent company, Entergy Corporation, reported earnings of $282 million last year on revenue of $2.6 billion. ... Doctors and health care workers have gone, and there is surging demand from the uninsured, who before Katrina went through now non-existent public health care. There is a shortage of nurses. Blue Cross Blue Shield officials reported, "About three-quarters of the physicians who had been practicing in New Orleans are no longer submitting claims." There is no hospital at all in the city for psychiatric patients. ... Criminal Court District Judge Arthur Hunter has declared the current criminal justice system shameful and unconstitutional, and promises to start releasing inmates awaiting trial on recognizance bonds on the one-year anniversary of Katrina. The system is nearly paralyzed by a backlog of over 6,000 cases. .... Asian tsunami relief workers who visited New Orleans over the summer were shocked at the lack of recovery. This is not merely a failure of the state, federal, and local civil authority. It is a failure of leadership by business, which has gorged at the federal trough and stinted on charitable giving. It is a failure of leadership by private charity, which only deals with crisis as long as the TV cameras are there. The American Red Cross is particularly culpable. It is a failure of leadership by journalism which, despite some good reporting, allowed the Bush Administration to escape full responsibility by blaming the victims and blurring the issues. It is a failure of compassion on the part of the American middle class. Suppose there are 75 million families who could put $10 a week toward New Orleans. Over the course of a year, they could have contributed almost $40 BILLION dollars-- enough to build a brand new house for every displaced family. Our failure to do this is an indictment of this nation. Charities to consider: I can recommend Common Ground and ACORN. Thanks to AllSpinZone, where Richard Cranium has blogged on Spike Lee's film "When the Levees Broke."

"The country is serenely peaceful" --President Vicente Fox

Updated, 4:15PM Eastern Buses burning serenely peacefully after a commando attack against Cortv(Channel 9), Oaxaca, dislodged the citizens's movement that had occupied it. Image by Ezequiel Leyva of La Jornada. At 3:30 AM, 60 men in plainclothes fired on the occupiers, wounding Sergio Vale Jiménez, a teacher, and destroying the broadcast equipment. Three teachers, known only as José Adelfo, Daniel y Eloy disappeared (and one can assume are being tortured and perhaps murdered). A similar attack occurred at 6AM at the Secretariat of State Finances. A hundred cartridges of various kinds were found around Channel 9, including .38 and 9 mm, AR-15, and shotgun 12 and 16 gauge. Amazingly, El Universal goes through the looking glass to report exactly what did not happen in Oaxaca. In their alternate reality, the protestors are attacking the stations. In reality, they occupied the stations without any injuries or deaths. They are being dislodged from their occupation under a hail of gunfire by what look like death squads. But propaganda from the English language version of El Universal, Mexico News, is nothing new. The Office of the President says it was ordered unilaterally by the Governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, which probably means it was ordered unilaterally by Fox. Interesting background on Oaxaca and The Blue Anvil is presented by Astillero. And another angel gets its wings as I discover XicanoPwer's blog, which is amazingly detailed and provides lots of historical context. A very powerful philosophical piece by Enrique Dussel explores law vs. legitimacy. To put it simply, law is a system of of rules and procedures. If people are not allowed an equal say in creating the system, it is simply a tool by which the powerful impose their will. One may justly oppose an unjust legal system. Kos Diarist El Cid gives us the Houston Chronicle's version of the Ahumada tapes. They grudgingly agree that, yeah, well, so there was a conspiracy against Lopez Obrador, but it doesn't matter 'cause he's a nut-- as proven by the fact that he thinks people are out to get him. Maroons. The Sicartsa strike in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, is over. The head of the Supreme Court, Mariano Azuela, is struggling to avoid investigating election fraud as requested by 16,806 legal filings by citizens. He has conceded that Article 97 of the Constitution permits this. If the Supreme Court refuses to get involved, the only other avenue would be the Interamerican Court of Human Rights. In Chiapas, the PRDist, Sabines remains ahead by 0.22% or 2,405 votes. But 270 poll tallies representing 63,000 votes were not counted. There are 247 "inconsistent tallies" and 23 from geographically isolated locations. That leaves plenty of room for the PRI/PAN to steal the election.

Beautiful dead girls

On Kos, via Atrios

Bush Knows It Won't Work. That's Why He's Doing It.

Hot on the heels of the news that Bush has made a de facto estate-tax repeal by gutting the IRS' ability to catch and punish wealthy tax cheats, we find out about this charming little bit of news:

If you owe back taxes to the federal government, the next call asking you to pay may come not from an Internal Revenue Service officer, but from a private debt collector. Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers — each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes — to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers. The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money.
How much better off would the IRS be if it were simply allowed to hire more staff? This much better:
The private debt collection program is expected to bring in $1.4 billion over 10 years, with the collection agencies keeping about $330 million of that, or 22 to 24 cents on the dollar. By hiring more revenue officers, the I.R.S. could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million or about three cents on the dollar to do so, Charles O. Rossotti, the computer systems entrepreneur who was commissioner from 1997 to 2002, told Congress four years ago.
In other words, privatizing the IRS -- just like privatizing state-run pension funds like Social Security -- is not only more expensive, it's not as efficient as simply giving the Federal professionals the tools and money needed to do their jobs. But of course with decades of Ayn-Randroidian conservative radio and TV commentators from Rush Limbaugh to Lou Dobbs telling us how eeeevillll all gummint is (and with Grover 'drown the government in the bathtub' Norquist serving as the RNC's policy guru), very few people in power can see past the neocon gaslighting to the grim reality. In fact, for most of these people, causing the government to fall apart is their real job.

Monday, August 21, 2006


From the sample thief

(Sample thief) The lie that will not die The lead story in this Sunday's New York Times describes the Bush administration's plans to crank up the pressure on Syria's government and, in that context, the Times twice references Syria's alleged guilt in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In the second paragraph, reporters Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger cite "Syrian officials implicated in Mr. Hariri's killing" and later mention U.S. actions taken "after Syrian officials were accused of involvement in Mr. Hariri's assassination." But an unsuspecting Times reader might not realize that, one, Syria has denied these allegations and, two, that many of the claims in a preliminary United Nations report have since collapsed.... ... “Given the many different positions occupied by Mr. Hariri, and his wide range of public and private-sector activities, the [U.N.] commission was investigating a number of different motives, including political motivations, personal vendettas, financial circumstances and extremist ideologies, or any combination of those motivations,” British Labour is about to get it's butt dropkicked into France. It seems the Iraq war is not popular there. But jiminy, the Tories were just as eager as Labour. Via SenderodelPeje, you can see footage of Ahumada implicating the PAN in Swiftboating Lopez Obrador With 94.08% of the vote, PRDista gubernatorial candidate Sabines has 48.39% (517,037 votes) versus 48.17% (514,737) for PRI-AN-ista Aguilar Bodegas. Turnout was low at 45%. PRI will demand a selective recount. Sabines is inclined to go along saying that they want to resolve matters by consensus. What will he do if the selective recount does him out of a job? Shots were fired at Channel 9 in Oaxaca, occupied by protestors.

How Modern American Journalism Works

Let's see, here: Do a scathing and factually-sound series of newspaper reports on the CIA's crack cocaine connection, and not only will every major newspaper in the country falsely condemn you for things you didn't do, but you will be hounded to suicide while those who didn't stand by you get lucrative promotions. Lie like a rug on behalf of the Bush Junta? You get away with it until such time as they decide they need someone to take the fall for Plamegate, then you get to leave your job with a hefty undisclosed financial settlement. Yup, that's modern American journalism, all right.


Mexico update

The citizens's movement that suppports the PRD has come up with a "powerful fortification of resistance." Up against the water cannons and riot police, they have in the Greek style placed a chorus of the elderly. "The Gray Kingfishes" as they call themselves sung a hymn composed of the words of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. There was a protest in front of the national cathedral against Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera for injecting himself into politics. The Mandoki "Anvil" films are available at here and here As of 5 AM Chiapas time, SenderodelPeje reports that the PRD gubernatorial candidate was ahead, but that-- just as in the presidential election-- the margin was falling. At 70% vote counted, it was a 2% margin. La Jornada delivered a very stern editorial on the elections in Chiapas, titled PAN and PRI, corrupters. Two PAN/PRI-istas were recently arrested for passing out money: Jaime Villarreal Gramajos arrested Friday in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Sunday in Tonala, Francisco de Jesús Torres Hernández, local director of Elba Esther Gordillo's teacher's union. So, is there a connection between the money talked about in the intercepted phone conversation between Espina and Islas (see Sunday's post below)? The rate of growth of manufacturing fell during the Fox Administration. Of the seven sectors, only alcohol/food/tobacco and extraction of non-metallic minerals exclusive of petroleum or coal (like, cement) have prospered. The rest have slowed their rate of growth or even contracted. The maquilas have laid off 116,000 workers, 8.7% of the number at work at the start of Fox's Administration. SenderodelPeje reports that one of the big ISPs, Megacable, is blocking access to their site. Aside: something that those who rely on the Internet need to consider. We may need to develop alternate means of communication. Horacio Duarte explained the election irregularities on TV here (the Swiftboating of Lopez Obrador), here and here

Your tax dollars at work

Avedon is on the case. Bushco has given us true corporate socialism: government is run purely for the benefit of businesses, not to actually collect taxes, incarcerate prisoners, win wars, or protect the public from terrorism.

Now Remember, This Comes From One Of The UK's Conservative Papers

And I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts this never makes the "liberal" US TV network evening news tonight:

The Briton alleged to be the ‘mastermind’ behind the airline terror plot could be innocent of any significant involvement, sources close to the investigation claim. Rashid Rauf, whose detention in Pakistan was the trigger for the arrest of 23 suspects in Britain, has been accused of taking orders from Al Qaeda’s ‘No3’ in Afghanistan and sending money back to the UK to allow the alleged bombers to buy plane tickets. But after two weeks of interrogation, an inch-by-inch search of his house and analysis of his home computer, officials are now saying that his extradition is ‘a way down the track’ if it happens at all. It comes amid wider suspicions that the plot may not have been as serious, or as far advanced, as the authorities initially claimed. Analysts suspect Pakistani authorities exaggerated Rauf’s role to appear ‘tough on terrorism’ and impress Britain and America. A spokesman for Pakistan’s Interior Ministry last night admitted that ‘extradition at this time is not under consideration’.
But since Bush and the GOP used 9/11-based terror fear to win in 2002 and 2004, and get us to agree to invading and occupying Iraq in 2003, don't expect to see stories like this -- stories that undercut BushCo's goal of keeping us all scared of icky brown people -- get much US media play. UPDATE: And here's something else that won't make tonight's US evening news: Now we find that the British intelligence people are finally putting their foot down -- nearly two weeks after they were forced by the US to spring their terror trap prematurely -- and telling the Yanks (the FBI, specifically) to quit endangering what case the Brits actually have by constantly running their mouths off about it:
Anti-terror police in Britain have made an angry request to their US counterparts asking them to stop leaking details of this month's suspected bomb plot over fears that it could jeopardise the chances of a successful prosecution and hamper the gathering of evidence. The British security services, MI5 and MI6, are understood to be dismayed that a number of sensitive details surrounding the alleged plot - including an FBI estimate that as many as 50 people were involved - were leaked to the media. FBI sources confirmed to The Observer that the bureau had been ordered to stop briefing at the request of the British authorities. 'The shutters have come down,' a bureau source said. 'We have been told not to discuss the case any more.' The request for silence by the British authorities is an early sign that those involved in the investigation have concerns at the way their evidence-gathering is proceeding. It is understood that British anti-terror police wanted to prolong their observation of the suspects for as long as possible in a bid to gather sufficient evidence. There are now fears among some Scotland Yard officers that they may have acted too hastily when deciding to arrest the 24 suspects earlier this month. Although martydom videos and the components of a bomb have been recovered in the investigation, linking such evidence to all those arrested could still prove difficult.
The J. Edgar Hoover gloryhound instinct still exists at the FBI, I see.

UPDATE #2: Richard Cranium over in the comments thread for the diary I posted at DKos on this points us to an article showing just how un-frickin'-likely it is that the "UK liquid bombers" could have pulled off a plot to create a dangerous explosive from two or more separately-harmless chemicals in a plane toilet.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


At the precipice

The PRD has produced a recording of a conversation between Manuel Espino of PAN and Victor Hugo Islas of PRI involving millions (whether dollars or pesos is unclear) to install José Antonio Aguilar Bodegas as governor of Chiapas. The PRI congressman calls the PANista "boss." AMLO played the tape for the people assembled in the Zocalo. So, who got arrested for handing out bribes? Why, the PRD, of course:
Police arrested four supporters of the leading leftist party allegedly caught trying to give away 36 tons of construction material to Hurricane Stan victims who promised to support the Chiapas state government´s candidate for governor in Sunday´s vote, authorities said.... Chiapas resident Rosendo Paniagua said he was asked to hand over his voter registration card and told to vote for Sabines, the former mayor of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, or he wouldn´t receive a box of soup, milk, cooking oil and other basic food supplies from the city. Paniagua said he and some 1,000 other senior citizens collected the foodstuffs after promising to vote for Sabines "or they wouldn´t give us anything."
For what it's worth, if the charges are proven, I hope they throw the book at them. But I also hope that the evidence of vote buying on the part of the PAN/PRI is also investigated. Because what this looks like is an attempt to shout down evidence of a massive vote buying scheme by PRI-PAN vs. petty patronage. Thirty six tons of construction supplies might sound like a lot, but if it's sand, gravel, and concrete, it might not represent a lot of money. Cement, for example, costs $16.39/94 lb bag, so 36 tons is about $12,000 or about 120,000 pesos. In Mexico, I would bet one would pay a third that price. So this vote buying scheme looks like small potatoes. Historian María del Carmen Collado Herrera says that all bridges of dialogue are broken, for which she largely blames the government. And things are rolling downhill quickly. AMLO has accused the right of offering bribes in the forms of cannonades of money and offers of public position to the electoral court. It's unclear whether he thinks they accepted. But given the amazing capacity of the PRD to intercept telephone calls, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't roll the tape. There are 3,500 cops around the Legislature. Democracies do not need water cannon and riot cops to protect the government from the people.

The Primacy Of Politics

Atrios' post on these fine people reminded me of an interesting argument I've seen advanced recently concerning electoral politics. Simply put, it asks why someone who is as interested as are Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in maximum results for expenditures -- more "bang for the buck", if you will -- would put $32 billion into a charity rather than a political party. $1 billion given to the Democratic National Committee would suffice to get enough legislators elected to provide veto-proof majorities for legislation that would meet all of the Gates-Buffett's charity's claimed goals. Think about what Howard Dean could do with one billion dollars at his disposal. He's already done a lot with a lot less.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Mexican Mafia sings, media remains rectocranially deaf

Would you buy a used president from this man? Image of Procurator General Rafael Macedo de la Concha from La Jornada Journalist Carmen Aristegui released an interview demonstrating that the effort to block Obrador from the presidency involved President Vicente Fox, which was criminal under Mexican law. Entrepreneur Carlos Ahumada Kurtz said that the campaign to block Lopez Obrador was headed by ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Government Secretary Santiago Creel, the national Procurator General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, and Senator Diego Fernández de Cevallos. "And it would be difficult for President Fox not to know." This high-minded civic effort involved 30 million dollars, the purchase of land in Leon, Guanajuato, and personal protection and was exposed because Cevallos welshed on his part of the deal. In exchange, films supposedly compromising people near to Lopez Obrador would be fed to the media. This was, in fact, how Lopez Obrador's seemingly insurmountable lead was erased. The transcript is here And most of the media refuses to cover any of this. Jaime Aviles says that a coup against democratic government appears to be underway. He says that the film is actually a diversion from the exposure of fraud. He says that the political figures involved, with the exception of Creel Miranda, are political corpses. Creel Miranda is a political enemy of Calderon. My reaction: well, yeah, but it shows PAN cooking a conspiracy, it shows the most corrupt figures of the PRI in bed with PAN, and La Jornada editorialized thatthe interview showed the advanced state of corruption of the political classes. In Oaxaca, 80,000 strikers brought things to a halt. A professor, Benito Castro Juárez, was shot by three presumed police agents, who fled in a Pointer auto, license plates Pointer, license plates DF 331-TUK, later found parked in fromt of the San Agustín Etla Police Academy. The Procurator General says they were just robbers. A teacher, Antonio Marcos Ramos Sarmiento was stabbed by an unknown assailant. In Chihuahua, there have been executions at the rate of one per day this week. Victims include a journalist, Enrique Perea and the top commander of the State Agency of Investigations, Arturo Nazar Contreras. This on top of the ongoing murders of women and the failure of the government to provide disaster relief. The VW plant in Puebla is on strike over salary issues. The plant, with about 10,000 workers, produced 1,538 vehicles a day. In Chiapas, PAN and PRI want the army to supervise elections. ___________________________________________________ Update: Via The Unapologetic Mexican, you can read about the Ahumada story in English as well as The Mex Files's translation of La Jornada's editorial.

Friday, August 18, 2006


The War in Oaxaca

From Democracy Now JOHN GIBLER: ...First off, the shootouts have all taken place in the context of either marches or meetings that the APPO have held, protest gatherings, or in one case, several people were ambushed on their way to such a meeting. That's where three people in the Triqui region, three indigenous people, were killed by armed gunmen who were not in uniform. Later, a few days later, in a march that was actually held, convoked on a day's notice to pull people into the streets to demand that people who had been either disappeared or taken prisoner and beaten be presented and be released. During that march, armed gunmen shot from two sides of the street into the crowd, wounding three people and killing one person, Jose Colmenares, who’s a mechanic and husband of one of the teachers and members of the teachers’ movement. The policy here has been systematic, that it's isolated, unarmed gunmen who appear in the crowds, shoot sometimes into the air, as with the case the week before in several protest gatherings in Oaxaca City, and is also the case with the Noticias newspaper, the critical newspaper in Oaxaca state. Armed gunmen entered with Uzis and shot into the ceiling. There, bullet fragments wounded six people. But in several cases, amazingly, the APPO members have actually detained the gunmen themselves and disarmed them and then turned them over to federal agents or detained people who were suspected of being -- they weren't seen to have shot, but were seen either running or caught, in the case of the March shooting... ...the working class society in Mexico is boiling.

Friday Cat Blogging

Lightfoot and Alex are resting up for the weekend, worn out from a busy week of ... napping.


Won't Get Fooled Again

The letters in today's Detroit Free Press could be a warning to the Republicans that running on "national security" might not work this time around.'s ironic that Debra Saunders and many of her fellow conservative commentators bemoan the fact that strict adherence to our Constitution's Bill of Rights makes this country less safe. It's the Bill of Rights that gives us those freedoms and liberties supposedly hated by Islamic terrorists. --- For the values that many Americans hold dear, the current strategies have not been successful to strengthen our security.... The Republican Party policymakers have not responded to the 9/11 Commission nor did the administration respond to Katrina. I want my country back. --- Here we are, five years after 9/11 and the current administration continues to fail on keeping us safe.... The Republicans' current political attacks are nothing less than shameful.... Should we all be afraid to express our views unless they match the current administration's views? That doesn't sound like democracy to me. --- ...I will be voting to take government out of the hands of the Republicans. Living abroad I have seen the negative effects of the Bush administration on the world's opinion of the United States.... The Bush administration has failed to keep us safe and is breeding more hatred toward the U.S. --- Why are people in other parts of the world willing to give up their lives to hurt us? I'm sure it is not 10,000 virgins that motivate them. More like 10,000 homes in ruins, and the perception that the future promises no better. It is long past time for a politics that begins with the intelligent naming of real problems that must be addressed in intelligent and compassionate ways. --- The Republicans are nothing but fear mongers and will keep us in this war as long as they can for their own purposes. They can't bring the troops home because they have to guard Halliburton. --- The terror threats that Republicans are attempting to create this past week is showing America that they are getting a little out of hand. It is interesting how whenever something does not go in their favor, they further this culture of fear that they have been building since 9/11. I encourage people not to buy into it. --- They want us to think we are safer than before 9/11. They want us to believe they have our safety as their No. 1 priority. What I want them to know is that we know their priorities: saving face, protecting their interests in oil rich countries, letting the rich get richer, widening the gap between Americans, outsourcing which hurts the average working men and women. We have had enough.

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