Monday, July 31, 2006


Reagan on Bush

Ron Reagan, that is (not his "sainted" father):

Isn’t it past time we realized that whenever Bush or his allies seem to admit an uncomfortable truth, it’s only a tactical retreat. They’re really just trying to get through the day. Then, when we’ve stopped paying attention, they’ll go back to doing what they’re good at: subverting the truth.
And isn't it past time more people spoke out just like that.

Our Fair And Balanced US Press

When Pope Benedict comes out against abortion, women priests or gay marriage, the evening TV news never fails to mention this. But it wasn't until I visited Juan Cole's site today that I found out that the Pope has called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. I won't hold my breath waiting to see this on FOX News any time soon. (Or NBC, CBS or CNN, for that matter.)


What To Focus On Today?

Well, there's Bush's pet legislation to overturn the Sixth Amendment and turn all of America into Gitmo. (Read about it here or here.) Or there's the fact that the much-abused Labour MPs and cabinet members have had quite enough of Tony Blair's toadying to Bush and may actually act on their long-simmering disgust with him. Or the fact that Bush's lies about his "tax cuts paying for themselves" have been categorically refuted. (The original CBPP links are here and here.) Aw, what the heck: You pick 'em.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Roasting ballots by an open fire

El Universal says: PRD workers from Ayutla surprised workers of the VIIIth district of the federal electoral institute burning election documents, inclluding dozens of ballots. Sebastián de la Rosa Peláez, leader of the PRD in the state of Guerrero, alleged burning of election documents at the city dump, orchestrated by José López López, secretary of Electoral Processes and the technical secretary of Council 8, Andrés Astudillo Camacho. Ballots came from the towns of Tecoanapa, Juchitán, Marquelia, Azoyú, Cuajinicuilapa, Cruz Grande, Ometepec, San Marcos and Ayutla... Rosa Peláez said that this district had burned 3,000 votes. but counting tally by tally, "We succeeded in saving more than 10,000 votes for our candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador". ... The partially burned ballots were forwarded to be shown at the meeting in the Zocalo "as a proof of fraud orchestrated from within the IFE.."

Welcome to Occupied Mexico!

[Image from La Jornada No kidding, folks. This is big news. I almost choked when I read it. AMLO said (my paraphrase): Thank you [etc.] We are reunited here again, free citizens from evey class and social condition, men and women, Mexicans of all colors, ages, races, and languages that populate our great nation. Indians, workers, farmers, entrepreneurs, middle class people, employees, professionals, artists, intellectuals, businessmen, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, university teachers. I especially want to note the presence of many of the poor, who are the foundation of our country and our movement. Their presence here is my main source of pride as a human being and leader. [Charles: Imagine ANY American politician saying this.] There are whole families, old people, kids, joined to form a single common will to defend democracy. We are united, proving by our deeds that we seek a just nation, free, democratic, tolerant, and diverse. We are here because we want a new economy, a new way of doing politics, a new social compact, more humane and egalitarian. We are here because we want a new nation. [This is a historic moment.] Let us recall that at another historical moment of democratic transition, Francisco I. Madero told an American newspaperman: "When I rise to power, I will incarnate two principles: first, as ordered by the Constitution, not to seek re-election. The other is the right to vote. For the latter, electoral law reform, motivated by the public, is needed. I will be the primary guardian of that popular right and will consider my primary debt to be to facilitate the expression of the common will. I will be the main friend and defender of the people's liberties. I regard everything else is secondary." Vicente Fox never understood that lesson. Instead of serving as the guardian of a meaningful vote, he betrayed democracy. For this reason, democracy is again the central issue of out nation. We must see that democracy is not just the best system of human governance, it is the must effective means to guarantee social harmony. It creates equilibrium and counterbalances, favors dignity, and prevents any group from acting as a dictator. But more, in a country like Mexico, with its extremes of privilege and want, democracy acquires a fundamental social dimension. It makes it a matter of survival. Democracy is the only option for millions of the poor, for most people to improve the conditions of work and life. If the democratic gates are closed, there is nothing except repression or violence. Let us never forget that so many Mexicans have sacrificed so much for this cause, losing even their lives. We are here to reject electoral fraud which attempts to falsify the result of the expression of the citizens's will as expressed on the second of July at the ballot box. [Charles: Imagine Al Gore of John Kerry saying any of this]. [General description of the allegations of fraud] It is not much to ask, that they count each ballot, precinct by precinct. [Charles: except in corrupt electoral systems, where maintaining power depends on making sure the fraud is never exposed.] Mexico does not deserve to be governed by a fake president, without legitimacy, without moral or political authority [Charles: unlike the US, which deserves exactl that.] We hope that the electoral court may clean up and make transparent out election, ordering the votes to be counted. We know the members of the court are subjected to intense pressure from the powerful, who believe they are the lords of Mexico. It is not we who lack respect for our institutions. Our nation, sadly, lacks a tradition to assure that those who run the institutions act justly. Historically, the Constitution and the laws have been obeyed only in form, and have been violated in substance. So, while we can't discount the possibility that the court will behave like free men and women, we can't sit with arms folded hoping for that result. Let us remember that liberty, justice, and democracy have never been won except by organization and struggle. [Hidalgo and Morelos kicking out the Spaniards. Then Villa, Zapata, and many nameless heros.] Democracy is not handed down from above. One does not beseech it to come, one obtains it by conquest. Let's await the result of the court in a state of mobilation, attentive, and filled with pride. To our opponents, I apologize for the annoyance that our movement may cause you. I hope that some day, you will understand that this struggle is necessary, not just for us, but so that Mexico can be a respectable and respected nation, living democratically and in harmony. Let's wait until the court rules, in a permanent assembly, night and day, until they count the votes. [Charles: Holy smokes! They are occupying the city indefinitely!]

The Mexican Crackup

Translation by Google, with minor human embellishment. By way of El Machete Ignacio Ramone, The Mexican Crackup, Diplomatic World, August 2006 A massive fraud. And indisputable. Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission admitted it. The twenty-five Foreign Ministers of the European Union expressed their “serious concern”. “It is important that we transmit in the clearest possible way the concern of the European Union and that of all the Member States on the result of the presidential election”, declared the Minister Dutch for the Affairs Foreign. Reporters without Borders recalls that “this election intervenes after four years of a continuous degradation and without precedent of the press in the country”. In Washington, personalities like Mssrs. Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski affirmed that the United States could not accept the official results. The National Democratic Institute (NDI), chaired by Mrs. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State; Freedom House, directed by Mr. James Woolsey, former head of the CIA; American Enterprise Institute, impelled by the Gerald Ford former president; the Open Society Institute, controlled by Mr. George Soros--all denounced “massive manipulation” and called for “economic sanctions”. Senator Richard Lugar, president of the commission of the Foreign Affairs of the Senate and envoy of president George W. Bush, did not hesitate to speak openly, him also, of “frauds”: “It is clear that there was a program vast and concerted frauds the day of the election, either under the direction of the authorities, or with their complicity. ” You rub the eyes? You ask yourselves how such declarations in connection with the recent presidential election Mexico could escape to you? You cannot imagine how this could be so. None the personalities or institutions quoted above denounced what has just occurred to Mexico. All the reported comments - authentic -, relate to the presidential election of November 23, 2004… in Ukraine (1). The “international community” and the usual “organizations of defense of freedoms”, that one knew to be so active in Serbia, in Georgia, in Ukraine and still recently in Byelorussia remain, so to speak, stuck dumb in front of the “electoral coup d'etat” which is made under our eyes in Mexico (2). The planetary outcry is imagined if, on the other hand, this same election had proceeded, for example, in Venezuela and if the winner - by a difference thus from hardly 0,56% of the votes - had been… president Hugo Chávez. The Mexican poll of July 2 presented in opposition two principal candidates: Mr. Felipe Calderón, of the Party of National Action (PAN, the right-wing Catholic party, with the incumbency), declared victorious (provisional) of the poll by the electoral federal Institute (IFE), and Mr. Manuel Andrés López Obrador, of the Party of the democratic revolution (PRD, moderate left). Well before the beginning of the campaign, it was clear for president Vicente Fox (PAN) and the authorities of the incumbency that Mr. López Obrador with his campaign against poverty was the candidate to be defeated. By all the means. Since 2004, an operation, containing clandestine videotapes obligingly distributed by the chains Televisa and TV Azteca, tried to discredit Mr. López Obrador. Vainly. The following year, under the eccentric pretext of non-observance of the legal standards regarding construction of an access road to a hospital, Obrador was condemned, and deprived of the right to run for election. Massive demonstrations of support ended up forcing the authorities to restore Obrador's rights. Since then, the destructive enterprise continued, reaching delirium during the election campaign (3). More especially because a wind of panic blows on Latin-American oligarchies (and on the administration of the United States) since the left carries it everywhere (almost): in Venezuela, in Brazil, in Uruguay, in Argentina, in Chile, in Bolivia… these new alliances do not exclude Cuba any more (4). In such a context, the victory of Mr. López Obrador (the electoral court will decide on September 6) would have too important geopolitical consequences. Which neither employers nor the great Mexican media want. Nor Washington. At any price. Even if it means the sacrifice ofdemocracy. But Mr. López Obrador and the Mexican people will have the last word.

Mexican Demo update

Could the march go as high as TWO million this time? The Solictor General, Bernardo Batiz thinks so. (Update: The police say 2.4 million) He also denied the (not particularly credible) suggestion from the press that governmental employees are being forced to pay kickbacks to support the march. As he said, make a formal charge before a court. If it's true, it would be incredibly easy to prove. The marchers are smiling, armed only with whistles, rattles, and drums. It is, , says José Gil Olmos, President Fox, ultra-right wing civil organizations (especially church-affiliated ones), private enterprise, and certain media organizations are the ones urging violence. Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, they are creating an atmosphere ripe for violence by repressing a genuine popular yearning for real and free elections. President Vicente Fox's involvement in the election will become a matter in front of the elections court. Personally, I think that there's no question he abused his office. If the allegations against his wife and sons are sustained, it will be Katy, bar the door.

Welcome to the DEM(exic)O!

Most people in the north may feel that there was something crooked, but what can one do? ask primary school teachers Braulio Luna and Rogelio Nájera. They drove 22 hours to get away from the lying media that saturates northern Mexico and hear it straight from AMLO. Calderon supporters, eat your hearts: The judge in charge of the electoral court has accepted the possibility of recounting all the votes. In other words, all this ..grr.. stuff about a full recount being "illegal" is now "inoperative." PAN may of course lodge specific objections which will be heard, but the judge limited the causes for not recounting to One of the many explosive charges being explored is the role of churches in corrupting the election. Illegal use of the voter registry is another charge to watch. As I understand it from other sources, PAN got the list of all the disabled people utterly dependent on the government for their daily bread and told them which way to vote. Even in Mexico, with its long history of manipulation, this would not go down well. Reminiscent of the former snake, er... Senator from Georgia, Esther "(z)Ell"-ba Gordillo denies that she was involved in fraud. Of course, she didn't provide any evidence to refute the charges: that in over 4,000 precincts there were statistically-impossible levels of voter registration or that in 485 precincts where there was not representative from the PRD to supervise the vote, FeCal got 64% of the vote while AMLO got 30%. Victor Toledo opines that no one could imagine the possibility of computer fraud were it not for the shocking example presented by Mexico's northern neighbor. And no, he's not talking about Canada. Seems they read Rolling Stone and Bradblog too. Julio Hernandez Lopez calls it, to paraphrase, the Calderon Crime Family (literally, the group of organized delinquents). Lady Fox's statement that that federal deputy Jesus Gonzalez Schmal's authority had limits, whose limits excluded investigation of corruption by the Fox family, did not go down well. He calls Ugalde "¡Uh: Fraude!" whose translation should be evident. Dagnabit: why do we Americans have to have the Mexicans show us how democracy is done? Calderon has the effrontery to compare himself to Madero. More as possible.

Another Step Closer

George W. Bush has said that he would "like to close" the detention camp at Guantanamo. Surprise, surprise: he lied.

The controversy over the US-run detention centre at Guantanamo Bay is to erupt anew with confirmation by the Pentagon that a new, permanent prison will open in the Cuban enclave in the next few weeks. Camp 6, a state-of-the-art maximum-security jail built by a Halliburton subsidiary, will be able to hold 200 prisoners. Commander Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said the $30m, two-storey block was due to open at the end of September. He added: "Camp 6 is designed to improve the quality of life for the detainees and provide greater protection for the people working in the facility."
Since Bush is lying about wanting to close Guantanamo, should we believe that the permanent camp will hold only 200 prisoners? They may have plans for a much larger detainee population:
U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill. [...] According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute." Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.
Consider how broadly the concept of "terrosist" has been applied for purposes of including people on the "no-fly" list, consider the groups that the FBI has been monitoring as "suspected terrorists", and you see how dangerous this legislation is. Is this permanent detention camp likelier to be populated by the likes of Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin than by members of al Qaeda? Or by you and me, if we say the wrong thing in the wrong place? It isn't paranoia if they really are out to get us. "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." George W. Bush, December 19, 2000

Conservative Megachurch Pastor Preaches Leaving Caesar's Things To Caesar. And Loses A Good Chunk Of His Parishioners.

In which a conservative pastor chooses to actually live according to Christ's teachings instead of making his church yet another Republican Party precinct headquarters:

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes. The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary? After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns. “When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.” Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members. But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share. “Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”
Of course, the people who left Boyd's church were probably also unhappy about this move of his, too, which happened a year before his famous sermons:
In the end, those who left tended to be white, middle-class suburbanites, church staff members said. In their place, the church has added more members who live in the surrounding community — African-Americans, Hispanics and Hmong immigrants from Laos. This suits Mr. Boyd. His vision for his church is an ethnically and economically diverse congregation that exemplifies Jesus’ teachings by its members’ actions. He, his wife and three other families from the church moved from the suburbs three years ago to a predominantly black neighborhood in St. Paul.
No, he didn't up and move the church itself to that neighborhood (which I'm guessing is near either Rice Street and/or University Avenue). But he obviously has been preaching a gospel of tolerance -- of skin tone, anyway -- that probably set the teeth of his white, middle-class suburbanite flock on edge. Thing is, the public schools in the Twin Cities are very good. The excuse usually given for living in the 'burbs -- The Schools -- really isn't operative here. People live in the 'burbs because they want to avoid seeing black people, who they see as criminals and Drains On The Taxpayer. (Of course, it would be far less of a drain on the average taxpayer if rich people were made to pay their fair share, but it's not politically correct among these folks to say that.) For this pastor to actually engage blacks and Hmong and Vietnamese persons, and to encourage them to join his church no matter their financial status, is every bit as shocking to his conservative white parishioners as his "The Cross and The Sword" sermon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Ummm...looks like nuclear power may not be the solution for global warming

Spanish, French, German reactors have to be cut back or shut down The European heatwave has forced nuclear power plants to reduce or halt production. The weather, blamed for deaths and disruption across much of the continent, has caused dramatic rises in the temperature of rivers used to cool the reactors, raising fears of mass deaths for fish and other wildlife.

Mercury rising south of the border

Narconews reports fighting in Oaxaca, including paramilitary activity. Probably not a good vacation destination. Sunday is the big demo. PAN managed to get a a grand total of 50 supporters to cleanse the statue of Maquío (Manuel J. Clouthier, a politician whose memorial serves as a pigeon commode and PAN shrine) PRDistas had defiled the shrine by demanding that the votes be counted. Of course, since Maquío died (PANistas murmur "murdered") after losing the 1988 election-- which was widely believed to have been stolen-- a more fitting memorial would seem to be... counting the votes. The electoral court agreed that the federal election commission did not need to open the ballot boxes. They weren't happy about the way it was done-- dead of night, no PRD representatives, etc. The PRD accused Gordillo of orchestrating the election fraud, acting as the go-between to governors of states controlled by PRI and PAN. (Image by Helguera from La Jornada. The snakes are labeled IFE, FOX, PAN, PANAL, SNTE) Lame duck President Fox's wife has been accused of "irregularities" by Jesús González Schmal, a national deputy. Trust El Universal to tell you about all the mouthy back and forth without explaining what the irregularities are. It appears her sons, the brothers Bribiesco Sahagun (Fox) are accused of being involved in a web of self-dealing business transactions and that Mrs. Fox is enmeshed in the scandal. I would bet this isn't going to go away. Espionage is the charge leveled by PRD representative Leonel Cota Montaño. The contractor was PANista and paid for by the Government Secretary. A document anonymously delivered to AMLO suggests that a spy apparatus was established, though no examples are known by which anyone was followed. And for silly season news: Sunday is the big demo. PAN managed to get a a grand total of 50 supporters to cleanse the statue of Maquío (Manuel J. Clouthier, a politician whose memorial serves as a pigeon commode and PAN shrine) PRDistas had defiled the shrine by demanding that the votes be counted. Of course, since Maquío died (PANistas murmur "murdered") after losing the 1988 election-- which was widely believed to have been stolen-- a more fitting memorial would seem to be... counting the votes. Image by José Carlo González and published at La Jornada. The PRD adorns the statue of PAN's Saint Maquío with a yellow flower, yellow being the PRD color. As Rayuela of La Jornada says, the PAN is lauding PRDista Cuahtemoc Cardenas, the PRD is lauding PANista Clouthier, and it's not even April Fool's Day!


I don't know what's funnier: The fact that the Lieberman campaign staff was passing out non-union-made campaign buttons, or that they tried to pretend they had nothing to do with the buttons once somebody pointed the absence of the union bug.

Friday, July 28, 2006


The "Hiding Among Civilians" Myth

Ehud Olmert and the IDF are justifying the wholesale bombing of Lebanon, especially of Beirut (which in the course of two weeks has now been reduced to the same pitiful condition it was in during the horrendous civil war of the 1970s and 1980s), by saying that the Hezbollah soldiers who are their targets are hiding among the civilian population. Except that they're not, as Mitch Prothero points out:

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection. But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been. For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes. But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. Lighthouses, grain elevators, milk factories, bridges in the north used by refugees, apartment buildings partially occupied by members of Hezbollah's political wing -- all have been reduced to rubble. In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah. Does mere support for Hezbollah, or even participation in Hezbollah activities, mean your house and family are fair game? Do you need to fire rockets from your front yard? Or is it enough to be a political activist? The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.
What's more, by deliberately targeting Lebanese civilians, the Israelis are blowing up any goodwill the Lebanese people, whatever their persuasion, may have held for either them or for America:
As we drive south toward Tyre, we soon pass a new series of scars on the highway: shrapnel, hubcaps and broken glass. A car that had been maybe five minutes ahead of us was hit by an Israeli shell. Three of its passengers were wounded, and it was heading north to the Hammound hospital at Sidon. We turned around because of the attack and followed the car to Sidon. Those unhurt staked out the parking lot of the hospital, looking for the Western journalists they were convinced had called in the strike. Luckily my Iraqi fixer smelled trouble and we got out of there. Probably nothing would have happened -- mostly they were just freaked-out country people who didn't like the coincidence of an Israeli attack and a car full of journalists driving past. So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah "hiding within the civilian population" clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don't know what they're talking about. Hezbollah doesn't trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well -- with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion. And the civilians? They see themselves as targeted regardless of their affiliation. They are enraged at Israel and at the United States, the only two countries on earth not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Lebanese of all persuasions think the United States and Israel believe that Lebanese lives are cheaper than Israeli ones. And many are now saying that they want to fight.


Friday Cat Blogging



The Occult and the Afterlife: A Biblical Perspective

We don't talk much theology here, despite the fact that ideas on religion permeate politics worldwide. I've just done a long and detailed analysis of 1 Samuel 28, which involved looking at Judeo-Christian theology of the occult (remember the Witch of Endor?) and the afterlife (the catechism and The Apostles's Creed). In short, the scriptures do not have a blanket prohibition against methods of telling the future. They object to mechanical methods and to the use of creatures (as opposed to the Creator) for doing so. The foundational idea is of a Living Spirit flowing through all Creation, that nothing is fixed or determined until the end of time itself.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Mexico roundup

Both AMLO and FeCal insist that they are president. PRD supporters picketed the Bolsa, the Mexican stock exchange, but did not block entry or exit. Constitutional jurist Clemente Valdes has warned that a misstep by the electoral court could plunge Mexico into chaos. He did not rule out that the election could be annulled and sent to the Mexican Congress, but said that that would be a disaster. Former electoral counselor Jaime Cardenas has said that the electoral court must examine the ballots. He said that the media and private enterprise had assumed the powers of the state to block AMLO's bid for a recount. The elections institute (IFE) has been badly weakened and is in need of reform. He says they need to do a full recount. Elba Esther Gordillo of the PRI continues to dig herself deeper, calling Calderon the president elect. But her party, as represented by Senate leader Manio Fabio Beltrones, says the ballots should be counted. He also expresses strong opposition to privatization. In the rumor category, El Sendero Fecal has some interesting stuff. One is a claim that La, Miss Gordillo... got 900 million pesos from Fox as an economic stimulus to labor. They continue to try to run down Calderon's thesis, using a database accessed at Arizona State. They have narrowed the possibilities to four: 1) Mr. Calderon wrote his thesis prior to 1861, when the thesis database begins, 2) He obtained a thesis, but not by a recognized institution, 3) he received a thesis from the JFK School as claimed in his biography, but the pro-Obrador marches have crashed the ASU computer system, or 4) he didn't do a thesis or a master's at Harvard. Unfortunately, they missed one possibility: that he obtained a master's that didn't require writing a thesis. This seems to be the case. This is a good example of why blogs, like newspapers, can make some real boners... but haven't yet gotten the nation mired in a senseless war or tangled up the presidency in answering baseless charges. Something weird but true: Álvaro Uribe Vélez, the right-winger running the US drug farm in South America, is a Harvard grad, as is Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia. That's a lot of conservatives from such a supposedly liberal establishment.

It's Just Not Dubya's Day

His supposed friend Vladimir Putin has sold aircraft to Hugo Chavez, and is backing Venezuela for a seat on the UN Security Council. As if that news weren't bad enough, his definite nonfriend Cindy Sheehan has bought a ranch in Crawford. Doesn't that just make your day?


Dick DeVos

Help us Google Bomb Dick DeVos, won't you? Seems that when people find out that Dick DeVos is deeply involved in Amway, they don't like him very much. Gee, I wonder why?


This Made Me Happy

Chicago to Wal-Mart: Start paying something resembling a living wage and benefits by 2010, or you can forget about expanding here. Of course, Wal-Mart is hinting that this will mean that they won't be gracing Chicagoland with any more Wal-Marts and may close the ones that they have. To which the Chicago city council says "Tough. Costco already meets our wage and benefit requirements. Why can't you?"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Like Son, Like Father

The father of our junior Senator seems to be a bit of an exhibitionist:

Police cited the father of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, Norm Coleman Sr., on Tuesday for lewd and disorderly conduct for allegedly engaging in a sex act in a car outside a pizzeria. According to a police report, the elder Coleman, 81, was having sex with 38-year-old Patrizia Marie Schrag, who was also cited for lewd and disorderly conduct. The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported the citation. A police spokesman didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.
The pizzeria in question is the Savoy, in a part of town that is borderline slum -- well away from City Hall, and the sort of place where wealthy men go to find hookers and be reasonably confident that their wives don't find out. Speaking of wives, this might finally cause the timid StarTribune to stop sitting on the various stories about Norm "Family Values" Coleman and his wife (and their alleged "open marriage") that have for years been a prominent part of local political gossip.


Exploding Yet Another Right-Wing Myth About Canadian Health Care

If you've lived in the US for any length of time during the past three decades, you've heard somebody repeat, at least once, the idea that "Canadians have to wait much longer than Americans to get health care!" Um, no. In fact, they generally have less of a wait than Americans do.


College Graduates' Wages Drop 5.2% Since 2000

Some Bush "boom", eh?


Condi Speaks in Code

In a press briefing before her trip to the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice said (emphasis mine),

What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East not going back to the old one.
Birth pangs? Odd way to describe all those deaths. Or maybe not....
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: All this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:7-13, Revised Standard Version)
We have to get those End Timers out of power before they get us all killed trying to make their fantasies a reality. [Hat-tip to Tinsel Wing, by way of Jo in Salon's Table Talk.]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


No shrimp, Sherlock

NOAA, via Truthout: A team of scientists from the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University is forecasting that the "Dead Zone" off the coast of Louisiana and Texas this summer will be larger than the average size since 1990. ... The "Dead Zone" is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. It is caused by a seasonal change where algal growth, stimulated by input of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, settles and decays in the bottom waters. The decaying algae consume oxygen faster than it can be replenished from the surface, leading to decreased levels of dissolved oxygen. ... Research indicates that nearly tripling the nitrogen load into the Gulf over the past 50 years has led to the heightened Gulf of Mexico hypoxia problem. The scientists say their research will improve assessments of hypoxic effects under various Gulf Coast oceanographic conditions. And where would those nitrates be coming from? Factory hog farms, fertilizer poured on crops in non-sustainable farming, untreated human waste. Things that any sane modern nation would deal with through the logical operations of government. And who would be responsible for making sure that our government fails to do sensible regulation? The people who say that government is the problem and prove it by their personal example.

Anthrax, Coulter, and the NAACP


Threatening letters, at least two containing a white powdery substance, were sent to NAACP offices in three states, a spokesperson for the organization said Monday. The civil-rights group's offices in Baltimore and New York City received letters with the powder, said spokesperson Richard McIntire. The branch in Norfolk, Va., also received a letter, the FBI said, although it was not immediately determined whether the letter contained powder. Marvin Cheatham, who heads the Baltimore office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he opened the letter Friday and the substance later was identified as boric acid.
I saw that piece even as the news of Ann Coulter's boasting about her own fake-anthrax mailing was still recent enough to be reverberating in my brain. I think I'll check in with David Neiwert over at Orcinus. He keeps track of racist and eliminationist movements, and I seem to recall that anthrax, real or fake, is a favored weapon of white supremacists.


Understanding Bob Somerby

Some people (the most recent one being a commenter over at the Tapped blog) have noted with some surprise that Bob Somerby seems to be uncharacteristically eager to defend Joe Lieberman. But if you've been following Somerby's online career over the past decade, it's not that surprising. The irony is that Somerby's latest Lieberman defense winds up proving the very point he wants to discredit: Namely, that Lieberman's 1988 action was a monumental betrayal that really did cause great harm to Clinton and, by extension, to America -- by making it politically possible for the Republicans to proceed with impeachment. Somerby says that Lieberman wasn't the only Democrat to go after Clinton. But Somerby is honest enough to admit that they didn't start attacking Clinton until Lieberman started attacking him. And that, ladies and germs, is what created the "bipartisanness" the Republicans needed to impeach Bill Clinton. (But not, luckily, to remove him.) You gotta understand the dynamic at work with Bob Somerby. Here are the rules he operates by:

The Prime Directive
(not numbered because it is above the numbers, that's how important it is) Al Gore is always right and never makes mistakes (except when he endorsed Howard Dean, who Somerby hates with a white-hot passion). Gore and Somerby were buddies from college onward and thus Somerby has always (with the sole exception being their divide over Dean) backed everything Gore does, up to and including picking Lieberman as his running mate in 2000. The rest of the rules are as follows: 1) Bob Somerby is always right. Goes without saying. He almost never even admits to being criticized, much less to actually being wrong on something important. When he does acknowledge criticism, he cherry-picks the critics and/or the criticisms he thinks are the most easily-debunked and mocks them, or tries to. 2) Bill Clinton is always right, except when stating this reflects badly on Al Gore. (Somerby will defend to the death Gore's apparent decision to distance himself from the most popular president of the past sixty years. This means that he will pretend that Lieberman really didn't hurt Clinton all that much with his 1998 backstabbing.) 3) Any information that violates any of these rules is to be ignored. Goes without saying. Granted, we all have our blind spots. The problem is that you could hide the Grand Canyon in some of Somerby's.


NPR Shills for the DLC

Today's Morning Edition featured back-to-back reports about Joe Lieberman and the DLC. Fair and balanced reporting? Neither, thanks. David Welna's report on Lieberman was all about "the unexpected rise of Ned Lamont and the sudden danger Lieberman found himself in of losing his job." Welna tells us "This has caused a sense of indignation among Lieberman's supporters." Indignation is the response to offensive behavior. If Welna has accurately characterized the supporters' feelings, they obviously feel that giving the voters a real choice about whether Lieberman remains their Senator is Just Not Right. Jim Amann, speaker of the Connecticut House, clearly is indignant, even downright outraged: "Shame on all of us if we allow a shrieking minority in our party to hijack this primary." Shrieking minority. Nice way to talk about the voters. I hope lots of Connecticut voters heard that description and tell their friends. Mara Liasson's report on the DLC was longer, and even more dismissive of the Democrats who dare to reject the DLC:

"In the blogosphere, the DLC is attacked as centrist sellouts and shills for big corporations, but the fight really boils down to one issue: the war in Iraq."
No, the fight boils down to the DLC being centrist sellouts to the Bush agenda and shills for big corporations. The DLC wants the fight to be about the war in Iraq so it doesn't have to answer for its collaboration with the protofascists who are destroying our democracy. To present what passes for the blogosphere's side of the story, Liasson interviews quotations from Elaine Kaymarck — a DLC operative who provides us with this insight:
"The blogosphere also has been really pushing the notion that Democrats have to have firm and decisive stands on issues, and that we cannot afford any more flip-flopping candidates a la John Kerry."
Why is a Democrat repeating the GOP smear against Kerry? How many times did the netroots debunk the canard that Kerry flip-flopped on the issues? I'm sure Liasson didn't realize it, but this quotation is a prime example of the real reason the "netroots" criticize the DLC so fiercely: It's often impossible to tell them apart from the GOP. The blogosphere repeatedly debunked the smear that Kerry flip-flopped on the issues, but Ms. Kaymarck calls him a flip-flopper without a qualm. The money quote, however, comes from Gov. Tom Vilsack:
"We're not a grassroots organization."
And he says it like it's a good thing. Vilsack goes on to say that the DLC can serve to "unify" the party, but somehow I don't see that happening, because, according to Liasson, what the Democrats have to do is
"...get the passion of the netroots and the policy ideas of the DLC working in harness so they elect Democrats rather than tearing them apart."
In other words, the DLC calls the shots and the netroots activists shut up and obey. This report supports the observation by Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, and others that the defining characteristic of Lieberman and his DLC allies is a sense of entitlement: that Senate seat belongs to Lieberman, the Democratic Party belongs to the DLC. Why is that so? Because they say so. They've got the power and that means they're entitled to keep it. The DLC is different from the GOP exactly how?

Is The National Electricity Grid Falling Apart?

And if so, is it being deliberately starved to death per the recommendations of Grover Norquist?

Monday, July 24, 2006


Cronyism, falling standards, neglect of the poor, lawlessness: threads from the same corrupt cloth

Avedon Carol's Sideshow (see also Allspinzone) brings to our attention one of the most important stories of this era: The Bush Administration is filling the government with partisan operatives specifically to undermine the laws they are sworn to enforce. The specific story she refers us to is one by Charlie Savage in the Boston Globe regarding changes in hiring practices in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department: The documents show that only 42 percent of the lawyers hired since 2003, after the administration changed the rules to give political appointees more influence in the hiring process, have civil rights experience. In the two years before the change [i.e., under Republican rule but before the political loyalty oaths were required], 77 percent of those who were hired had civil rights backgrounds. In an acknowledgment of the department's special need to be politically neutral, hiring for career jobs in the Civil Rights Division under all recent administrations, Democratic and Republican, had been handled by civil servants -- not political appointees. But in the fall of 2002, then-attorney general John Ashcroft changed the procedures. The Civil Rights Division disbanded the hiring committees made up of veteran career lawyers.... Meanwhile, conservative credentials have risen sharply. Since 2003 the three sections have hired 11 lawyers who said they were members of the conservative Federalist Society. Seven hires in the three sections are listed as members of the Republican National Lawyers Association, including two who volunteered for Bush-Cheney campaigns.... At the same time, the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... The academic credentials of the lawyers hired into the division also underwent a shift at this time, the documents show. Attorneys hired by the career hiring committees largely came from Eastern law schools with elite reputations, while a greater proportion of the political appointees' hires instead attended Southern and Midwestern law schools with conservative reputations.The average US News & World Report ranking for the law school attended by successful applicants hired in 2001 and 2002 was 34, while the average law school rank dropped to 44 for those hired after 2003. Political cronyism. A decline in standards. A failure to defend the less powerful. A failure to obey the law. They are all woven from the same cloth of moral corruption. This is being done all through government. The courts are being filled with reliable partisans who place loyalty to party over their oaths of office. Scientists are being muzzled, or even displaced by industry advocates. IRS auditors who know how to find fraud in the returns of the wealthy are being removed. The Pentagon is being filled with faux-evangelicals on a mission from Hell; they've already turned Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon into their understanding of democratic paradises. What this means in a practical sense is that reformers can win election after election and not a lot will change. The bureaucrats, judges, military officers and so on-- all in lifetime positions-- will refuse to enforce the law. Under normal procedures, it could take 30 or 40 years to flush this toilet. Indeed, this is a graver form of the situation that FDR faced. With a third of the nation unemployed, and a third of the businesses shuttered-- the entire nation turned into a giant East St. Louis-- the Republican courts refused to admit that the federal FDR at least faced bureaucracies that had been formed by considerations of merit. Nor were the Republicans as a whole under the cult-like thrall of perverted Christianity: they were just greedy, hard-hearted, small-minded little b------ds. This is why I predict that we will eventually decide to dissolve the American Republic and, through a Constitutional Convention, re-form ourselves as the Second Republic. The dangers we face from global warming, economic decline, not to mention a billion p--sed off Muslims are so serious that we may not have a lot of time to resolve our differences. It's not that anyone wants to admit that our traditional form of government has failed, nor endure the uncertainty and loss that such a major transition would involve. But it may be the only way to save our nation from permanent eclipse, after an eternity of being led by bad shepherds.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Scratch A Conservative, Find A Racist

While Atrios was busy looking up one thing, he found another. And while that thing was indeed interesting, I found the epistle two posts down to be even more interesting:

David Brock wrote a letter to Creators Syndicate asking them about their decision to syndicate Samuel Francis's column. Here's their answer:
"Did I disagree with the column? Yes," responded Anthony Zurcher, a Creators editor who saw the Francis piece before it was syndicated. "Did I feel it was so reprehensible that it shouldn't have been sent out? No." In his Nov. 26 column, Francis decried the MNF spot not only for its implied nudity and implied sex, but for racial reasons. (Sheridan is white and Owens is black.) Francis wrote, among other things: "Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction because it means the dissolution of the cultural boundaries that define breeding and the family and, ultimately, the transmission and survival of the culture itself." The column prompted yesterday's letter from David Brock, president and CEO of Media Matters for America, an organization dedicated to "monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." Brock, a former conservative, wrote Creators President Rick Newcombe to say "Creators' willingness to distribute such abhorrent views calls into question the syndicate's ethical and editorial standards. ... [W]e are looking forward to hearing your explanation as to why your syndicate judges Sam Francis to be an appropriate columnist for your roster." Zurcher said Creators distributes columnists from across the political spectrum, and "we don't tell them what to say." He noted that other Creators columnists, including Roland Martin, have discussed the MNF spot from a different perspective than Francis took. The syndicate editor acknowledged that Francis addressed "a very sensitive topic." But, "he's entitled to his opinion and David Brock is entitled to his opinion," said Zurcher. "I have a lot of respect for David Brock and what he does, and for media watchdog groups on both sides. They have an important role to play."
Yes, Francis is entitled to his opinion that "Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction." Creators is entitled to syndicate it. Newspapers are entitled to publish. But, expressing concerns about breaking "down the sexual barriers between the races" is not a broaching a "senstive topic," it's f---ing racism.
And yes, when Francis died not long afterward (barely three months after penning this piece for the openly racist VDARE website), nearly the whole of the "respectable" side (and much of the blatantly non-respectable, openly racist side) of the right-wing noise machine did not merely ignore the death of an embarrassing man, but stepped forth to send him off with the tenderest eulogies , eulogies that outdid even those they gave arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond. Here's Joseph Sobran:
Along the way Sam wrote a few books, including a small study of his intellectual hero James Burnham. I don’t think Sam actually met Burnham, but I worked with Jim at National Review during his last years there and shared Sam’s admiration for him. The key to Sam’s thinking was Burnham’s book The Machiavellians, a study of power I also regard as seminal. Long before it became fashionable to mock the “politically correct,” Sam was attracted by Burnham’s pessimistic logic and total scorn for liberal optimism, especially in matters of race and ethnicity. Like Burnham, he had no desire to be accepted by liberals and stoically endured their ostracism. He was devoid of self-pity. It never crossed his mind to complain about the neglect he received, though it was a sort of organized neglect; his enemies were well aware of him, and they feared his pen. Sam was a familiar figure at conservative gatherings. He was an uncompromising Southern paleoconservative, with an abiding contempt for Lincoln and the liberal tradition. ...
"Southern conservative" = racist as hell, of course. Oh, and here's another good friend of Francis', just for grins. Just in case it hasn't been made utterly clear how bigoted the man was, do note that in 1995, he actually managed to get fired from the Washington Times -- not exactly a bastion of liberal or anti-bigoted thought -- for a column that attacked the Southern Baptist Convention for finally getting around to condemning slavery, 150 years after splitting from the main Baptist Convention rather than renounce slavery. Check this out:
Not until the Enlightenment of the 18th century did a bastardized version of Christian ethics condemn slavery. Today we know that version under the label of 'liberalism,' or its more extreme cousin communism.
Remember, this wasn't some obscure low-hit-count blogger or college professor. This was a darling of the movement.


Calderon: I want peace, but not the crap that getting it requires.

Image is PANista Carlos Gelista from La Jornada, at link The photo is by Jose Carlo Gonzalez. OK, my stupid: Demo is not this Sunday. It's a good thing they didn't put me in charge of the Refreshment Committee. Meanwhile, the PRD (more precisely, the For the Good of All Coalition, which includes other minor parties) delivered the next round of documents, having to do with irregularities in the July 2nd count. Tomorrow they file the complaint on illegally opening ballot packets. They have already delivered a tape of ex-PRI union boss magisterial, Elba Esther Gordillo with the PRIist Governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernández, in which they discuss selling out to PAN. (The tape is online at the PRD site. I haven't listened to it). Another bit of evidence is the refusal of the electoral delinquency cops, the Fiscalía Especializada para la Atención de Delitos Electorales (Fepade), denying to the PRD coalition copies of previous verification checks which included issues of the Calderon's cousin and software impresario Hildebrando. There's more, but I got a "monthly bandwidth exceeded" message from the translation center of my brain. Another gripe is illegal coordination between organizations and companies and the PAN campaign to the tune of about $15-20M for electronic blitz ads. By the way, the link to which that goes is the Senderodelpeje blog, roughly translated as The Kingfish Way, a phrase with humorous resonances of Huey Long and the Sendero Luz guerrillas. I'd read it more often if they'd get an editor, but they do have great cartoons. La Jornada also had a wonderful glimpse of the "MiniFox Cabinet." This one, showing Esther Elba Gordillo reading from her ethics handbook as the head of Education is the teaser for the full nine yards here. An interesting sidelight from Flashpoints, Friday with Gustavo Iruegas, former Mexican Ambassador of Foreign Relations to Latin America and the Caribbean. He says there are so many Lebanese in Mexico, they could force Mexico to accept refugees.

Housing Bubble's Slow Deflation Getting Faster

Fewer buyers, more foreclosures. What was that again about the "Bush boom"? For whom?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Berlusconi the Bushbarian

A beautiful book review, by Business Week's Gail Edmondson: For millions of voters disgusted by rampant political sleaze, Berlusconi's carefully honed image as an earnest, hard-working, financially capable chief executive answered a deep national longing. The real Berlusconi is less the talented CEO than a savvy, unscrupulous salesman, argues investigative journalist Alexander Stille in his blistering account, The Sack of Rome. Despite his nose for the market, Berlusconi stumbles repeatedly in business, skirting financial crises by appealing to rich and powerful allies. ... The engrossing tale describes Berlusconi as someone who seduced secretaries to make high-level contacts, ruthlessly deployed cronyism for maximum financial gain, bought off critics and tax inspectors, changed laws to derail criminal lawsuits against himself, and kept men on his payroll who bribed judges and colluded with the Mafia. ...No question, Berlusconi's reign was disastrous for the economy: Italy's global competitiveness ranking slipped from 28th to 41st, lower than that of Namibia, according to the Institute for International Management in Lausanne. But the broader lesson of the mogul's political career is even more depressing: Western democracies remain dangerously vulnerable to media manipulation. Somewhere, imagining hundreds of thousands of FOX viewers's skulls simultaneously exploding, Phoenix Woman is smiling.

A Good Sign

From the New York Times:

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (July 22) -- The request seemed simple enough to the Rev. Hershael W. York, then the president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He asked Georgetown College, a small Baptist liberal arts institution here, to consider hiring for its religion department someone who would teach a literal interpretation of the Bible. But to William H. Crouch Jr., the president of Georgetown, it was among the last straws in a struggle that had involved issues like who could be on the board of trustees and whether the college encouraged enough freedom of inquiry to qualify for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Crouch and his trustees decided it was time to end the college’s 63-year affiliation with the religious denomination. “From my point of view, it was about academic freedom,’’ Dr. Crouch said. “I sat for 25 years and watched my denomination become much more narrow and, in terms of education, much more interested in indoctrination.’’ Georgetown is among a half-dozen colleges and universities whose ties with state Baptist conventions have been severed in the last four years, part of a broad realignment in which more than a dozen Southern Baptist universities, including Wake Forest and Furman, have ended affiliations over the last two decades. Georgetown’s parting was ultimately amicable. But many have been tense, even bitter.
Think about it: They turned down taking any more money from the SBC rather than turn themselves into fundie madrassas like Bob Jones University. Then again, the SBC was coughing up less and less dough even as it imposed more and more restrictions:
In 1987, college officials negotiated an agreement with state Baptist leaders that allowed either side to end the affiliation, with four years’ notice. Both sides said that they had wanted to continue the relationship, but that the strains had recently become acute. Georgetown asked the Kentucky Baptist Convention two years ago to allow 25 percent of the college’s trustees to be non-Baptist, but the proposal was rejected. Only about half of Georgetown’s students are Baptist, and less than half of the alumni are Baptist, Dr. Crouch, the college’s president, said. “I realized that our fund-raising depended on getting non-Baptists on our board,’’ Dr. Crouch said. Then, a year ago, the Kentucky convention turned down a nominee for Georgetown’s board for the first time. Around the same time, Dr. York asked the college to look for a religion professor who would teach theologically conservative positions. “You ought to have some professor on your faculty who believes Adam and Eve were the first humans, that they actually existed,’’ Dr. York said. Dr. Crouch and Georgetown’s trustees decided it was time to exercise their escape clause.
Freed from the sheltering, encircling, constricting arms of the SBC, Georgetown now is able to do things that will lead to its being taken seriously as an institute of higher learning:
Georgetown continues to pursue serious academic ambitions, like pursuing a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the college honor society. Only 270 colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and there are rigorous standards for new ones. Among the most important requirements are freedom of inquiry and expression on campus, along with respect for religious, ethnic and racial diversity. A Georgetown requirement that tenured professors be Christian could pose problems with the honor society. The college must also improve on a number of specific standards, including increasing the number of books in its library and reducing professors’ course loads. Phi Beta Kappa considers applications over a three-year cycle, and Dr. Crouch hopes Georgetown will be ready to reapply in 2009. “Phi Beta Kappa is the gold standard,’’ said Rosemary Allen, the Georgetown provost.
This passage sums it all up:
“The convention itself in its national and state organizations has moved so far to the right that previous diversity on the faculty and among the trustees is no longer possible,’’ said Bill Leonard, dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest. “More theological control of the curriculum and the faculty has been the result.’’ David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it more starkly. “The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist form is incompatible with higher education,’’ Professor Key said. “In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you’re searching for truths.’’
Even as well-funded agents of Satan like Howard Ahmanson are trying to drag the Episcopalian/Anglican churches back into the Dark Ages, the Baptist colleges are making a stand for education over indoctrination.


PAN'S calculus

Thanks to El Machete, I learened the specific allegations of fraud are coming online here or here. These show the district by district results, and one can then look at individual precincts by selecting a district. They have uploaded some images of precinct tallies, and many more are to come. So, for example, look at Aguascalientes, district 1, precinct 339B by clicking on the Analisis detallado tab. They got 640 ballots and had 345 left over. There were no null votes. One expects 295 votes. But only 283 voters were recorded. So there are 12 phantom ballots. Of the ballots, PAN got 165. The remaining categories (APM PBT NA ASDC and unregistered candidated) aren't defined clearly, but they are the other parties Alianza por Mexico (APM in Spanish), Coalicion por el Bien de Todos (PBT in Spanish), Partido Alternativa Socialdemocrata y Campesina (PASC in Spanish), Nueva Alianza (NA in Spanish), Proceso Electoral Federal (PEF in Spanish) These votes add up to 118: Total votes - PAN's votes. Then there are precincts where, like the loaves and the fishes, there are more completed ballots plus unused ballots than there are registered voters. Aguascalientes 362 C01, with 628 registered voters, got 940 ballots, reported that 303 were cast and 637 were not used. Mexican law clearly provides for a recount of precincts where the numbers don't add up. And AMLO has already listed something like 70,000 such precincts. Would you believe the election was clean if there were that many arithmetic errors?

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.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Friday Cat Blogging

Lady Lightfoot enjoys Cat TV. Alex decides it's a rerun.


Big bucks bees

So much attention is focused on global warming that we miss the other, interconnected dangers that humankind faces as a consequence of our poor stewardship of Earth, problems like ozone thinning, decline in agricultural/marine productivity, and decline in species diversity. The greater the rate of global warming, the greater the rate of ozone thinning. The greater the rate of global warming and ozone thinning, the less productive our farms, forests, and fisheries become. Species diversity is a critical element of how bad it all gets. The great joys of life come from diversity. Diversity, both biological and cultural, is why we have choices in what we eat and places we vacation. Many of our medicines come from nature, so as we lose species, we lose potential medicines. One cannot be pro-life and be indifferent to the wonders of nature and human culture. In that regard, a BBC article on the decline in diversity among bees and flowers (or the original article in Science) is worth reading: Scientists from [Britain and the Netherlands] examined records kept by enthusiasts dating back more than a century. They write in the journal Science that habitat alterations, climate change and modern industrial farming are possible factors in the linked decline. There is a chance, they say, that the decline in pollinating bees could have detrimental effects on food production. "The economic value of pollination worldwide is thought to be between £20bn and £50bn ($37bn and $91bn) each year," said Simon Potts from the University of Reading, UK, one of the scientists involved.... "The ultimate drivers [of species decline] are changes in our landscapes; intensive agriculture, extensive use of pesticides, drainage, nitrogen deposition. Too bad bees aren't listed on the Dow. With a $50B annual after tax net, they're up there with Exxon Mobil ($36.7B in 2005). If the people destroying the earth had a clue that bees were valuable, they might treat them more respectfully.

"Sir? A small PR problem. You're on fire, but if we can keep it out of the newspapers, it shouldn't be a problem."

Via talk show phenom Johnny Wendell: Sources: Negroponte Blocks CIA Analysis of Iraq “Civil War” (Ken Silverstein, Harper's, 7/21/06) I reported in May that despite the deteriorating situation in Iraq, no National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been produced on that country since the summer of 2004. The last NIE...was rejected by the Bush Administration being too negative, though its grim assessment subsequently proved to be highly accurate. The situation has gotten even darker since my initial story ... and I've learned from two sources that some senior figures at the CIA, along with a number of Iraq analysts, have been pushing to produce a new NIE. They've been stonewalled, however, by John Negroponte, the administration's Director of National Intelligence, who knows that any honest take on the situation would produce an NIE even more pessimistic than the 2004 version. That could create problems on the Hill and, if it is leaked as the last one was, with the public as well.

Toward A Homeopathic Theory Explaining The Actions Of The Bush Junta

In order to try and understand the Bush/PNAC mentality responsible for things such as this and this, religious mania is often invoked. But while Bush is always more than happy to throw red meat to the evangelicals, I suspect that his actual religiosity is a mile wide and an inch deep. You gotta understand, the PNAC mindset is aligned with the mindset of buccaneering COOs everywhere. This mindset states, in accordance with homeopathic principles, that the cure for stupidity is EVEN MORE stupidity. Company in debt and can't turn a profit? Leverage even MORE debt so you can take over another company -- that'll fix things! Country bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan while the economy goes in the toilet due to war debt and tax giveaways for the rich? Invade ANOTHER country -- that'll fix things! Until someone finds a better explanation, this is the one I'm running with.


Too Bad It Happened In Saint Petersburg (Russia, That Is) ...

...or we could have busted Bush for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On further review, it looks like US citizens are bound by Title VII even when overseas, so Merkel could file a complaint against Bush if she liked.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


David Broder is not the stupidest man alive

David Broder will never be regarded as the stupidest man alive. At least as long as Donald Luskin walks the earth, anyway. Atrios has covered this issue in brief, but how many people clicked through to read the Barney Frank speech that Broder references in a recent article? Barney Frank, always the satirist, said that the US was not a dictatorship, it was a banana republic run by a strongman who had won one of his two elections. Broder, in his densely sententious way, figures that that's acceptable for America. Here are two key excerpts from Broder: Frank began by separating himself from the strident voices on the left -- frequent in the world of blogging -- that accuse Bush of subverting American democracy.... A Congress that challenges a president when it thinks he is wrong is not infringing on the rights of the "decider." It is reminding him that the Constitution and American history decree a division of power, with a set of checks and balances that make this a different form of democracy from that of parliamentary systems -- or disguised dictatorships such as those run by Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and Hosni Mubarak. That is why Frank's speech is important. (emphasis added). As a strident left blogger, let me say that Egypt's dictatorship isn't especially well-disguised, except perhaps from the American people. Our own State Department calls it "progress" when in 2005 token opponents to the Mubarak regime are allowed to conduct campaigns. Most observers think that Mubarak's 88% margin was decided in advance of the election. At the other extreme, Chavez has disguised his dictatorship exceptionally well by being elected and reconfirmed in free and fair elections, defeating opponents who controlled the media. But Broder was greatly cheered because liberal Barney Frank compared Bush to Hugo Chavez. Bashing Chavez fits the propaganda script of Pravda on the Potomac, as Lambert calls it and so the rhetorical hook slides right past Broder's jaw. Does Barney Frank really think Hugo Chavez is a threat to democracy in Venezuela? Probably not. He supported him against the Bush coup, criticized him for imperfections in the voting process... and, according to Frank's website, hasn't mentioned him in the last three years. So the Chavez mention is a rhetorical tactic analogous to "hugging the beltbuckle," as Viet vets experienced the Viet Cong military tactic of getting in so close that it's impossible to deliver suppressing fire. Frank is pretending to adopt the worldview of Republicans to insult them by comparing their leader to one of their hate objects. A classic Barney Frank rhetorical prank. And David Broder, slackjawed and snoring, swallowed it. Here is some of what Barney Frank had to say: What we have is a President who won the election in 2004, was declared the winner of the election in 2000, much more dubiously. ... If you assume that Florida was counted 100 percent accurately, a very hard assumption to make, George Bush still fell half a million votes behind Al Gore... But from then on, he took the position that as President, he was, as he later articulated it, the ``decider.'' That is not a word that you find often in American history. ... So we have had a very different kind of American Government. We have had an American Government in which the President gets elected and exercises an extraordinary amount of power. It is democracy, but it is closer to plebiscitary democracy than it is to the traditional democracy of America. Plebiscitary democracy, political scientists use to describe those systems wherein a leader is elected, but once elected has almost all of the power.... We had a debate here a month ago on the floor of this House on the right of the President to ignore legislation passed 30 years ago, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act... What Congress had decided with Presidential approval became irrelevant. ... You know, it is one thing if the President says, well, there is no law here, I have got to do what I need to do. That is dubious and we can get to it. But where the law has been set out in a prescribed constitutional manner as to how you do something, and the President says I am not going to do it that way, I will do it my way, then you are into plebiscitary democracy. Then you are into the democracy that says no checks and balances. No, Congress, I will do what I think necessary. ... . Now some have argued, well, the President can do anything unless he is explicitly told he cannot. Not in this administration. They believe the President can do anything he wants, even if he is told he can't. ... Shutting out the Congress means that you think you are perfect, that you think you can do these things, that you can exercise these extraordinary powers and you don't need anybody to say, wait a minute, maybe you should do it this way or that way. ... One of the things this administration has used more than every other administration in history is the right, when signing a bill, a right that they claim to sign a bill, the Constitution says Congress passes a bill, the President can either veto it or sign it. And they say, okay, here is the deal, we will sign it, but when we sign it, we will say that we are really signing these parts and not the other parts, because we consider some of it unconstitutional, so we will ignore it. That is a wholly unconstitutional approach. The President has a right to say, this is unconstitutional, I don't like it. His job then is to veto the bill. But what he does is he picks and chooses; he thinks the legislation is a supermarket. He walks in, he takes some from here, some from there, he discards what he doesn't like. That is not appropriate. ... What we have again is the assertion that a President gets elected and essentially is the decider in ways that really go contrary to the notion of participation by other segments. Yes, it is true you win an election and you gain some power. This is a very big, very complex country. It really is not a good idea for one individual, even one who was legitimately elected in an election in which there was no contest, and we certainly didn't have that in 2000, to be the decider, to diminish input from others. Now, again, I have to reiterate that this could not have happened without the collaboration of a supine Congress. Never in American history has Congress been so willing to give away its constitutional function. I know people have said, well, what do you expect, it is a Republican President and a Republican Congress. That is what happens. No, the history of the United States is that even when the same party controlled the Presidency and the Congress, Congress did oversight.... So we have seen no oversight. That has played into the hands of the plebiscitary Presidency, into the hands of a President who is allowed more power than is healthy for a society. And I reiterate, I am not charging authoritarianism. It still is a free country, and I encourage people to use that freedom and to be critical and to organize. But we are still talking about a very, very different mode of governance, the mode of governance in which, instead of the checks and balances and the collaboration and the input of a lot of people, you get one man making the decisions.... Now, I understand that democracy can be messy and it is not always neat, but we have not before this had an executive branch that considered it to be more of a nuisance than anything else. ... I acknowledge now that when I told friends over these past couple of years that we should just go policy issue by policy issue and not talk about the overall framework of governance, I was wrong. It is now clear to me there is a pattern to this administration's actions, and it is one that rejects not democracy, but the democracy of checks and balances and participation and cooperation and collaboration that we have long known; and it substitutes the democracy of the plebiscite, the democracy of the strong man who gets elected and is then allowed to go forward without interference. Does anyone have any doubt that Frank was using the term "plebiscitary democracy" as a sarcastic synonym for "banana republic"? Does anyone have any doubt that "plebiscitary democracy" is one man's whim away from dictatorship? Does doubt remain that no trace of conscience or intellect remains in David Broder, that he is merely a mass of grudges and prejudices animated by the habits of a lifetime of being a servant of power?

Bonddad On The Bush Economy

Bonddad discusses the Bush Economy -- and, among other things, the worst job-creation rate in forty years and the fact that working people haven't had a raise in five years.


And This Is How He Treats His Friends, Mind You

After all the hard work the American conservatives and the Bush Junta did to get Angela Merkel elected, Bush apparently decided to remind her that he owns her lock, stock and barrel and can do whatever he wants with her. Tony, too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The Disconnect Between The Washington Post's Newsroom And Editorial Page... almost as bad as the one over at the Wall Street Journal. While the WaPo's editorial page and A-list pundit consiglieres such as Kurtz continue to verbally fellate Bush and Company in particular and Republicans in general, actual WP reporters like Walter Pincus and Dan Froomkin keep doing their best to inject a little reality into the proceedings (emphases mine):

Amid all the other news yesterday, the attorney general's startling revelation that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation into the administration's controversial secret domestic spying programs hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.

Bush's move -- denying the requisite security clearances to attorneys from the department's ethics office -- is unprecedented in that office's history. It also comes in stark contrast to the enthusiastic way in which security clearances were dished out to a different group of attorneys: Those charged with finding out who leaked information about the program to the press. It is not common for a president to personally intervene to stop an investigation of his own administration. The most notorious case, of course, was the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, during which President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate the Watergate scandal. Among the many major differences, however: In that case, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned rather than follow Nixon's order.

Bush's action is also another example of what I have previously noted is a consistent White House modus operandi: That time and time again, Bush and his aides have selectively leaked or declassified secret intelligence findings that served their political agenda -- while aggressively asserting the need to keep secret the information that would tend to discredit them.


John Thune Is Running Away from George Bush

That's ingratitude for you.

In 2004, the White House political operation recruited Thune to challenge Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. He dealt the Democratic Party a major blow, edging Daschle in South Dakota as Bush captured a second term. Thune, a conservative who rarely breaks with the GOP or Bush, said Wednesday that if he were up for re-election this year, he'd adopt a different strategy. "If I were running in the state this year, you obviously don't embrace the president and his agenda," Thune told reporters at the National Press Club. He said the Iraq war is Bush's biggest problem. [...] "Clearly we are facing a headwind if you look at the national political environment," Thune said. "The president's numbers in most places aren't good ... these are going to be tough races to win."
So Thune thinks he needs to distance himself from Bush to win re-election. Will someone please ask him if he's also going to distance himself from Rovian campaign tactics, such as making secret payments to bloggers to distort the media coverage of the election ?

More Evidence That The Economic Gaslighting Isn't Working Any More

More and more American workers are starting to ask the question "If the economy's been in such wonderful shape for the past few years, then where the hell's my pay raise?"


Scratch A Wingnut, Find A Plagiarist?

First, Ben Domenech. Next, Ann Coulter. Now, Ralph "Damien Thorn" Reed -- who just lost his bid to be the GOP candidate for Georgia's lieutenant governor -- has been revealed to be a less-than-original thinker:

On April 14, 1983, Reed wrote a column for The Red & Black student newspaper attacking the late Mohandas K. Gandhi. Entitled "Gandhi: Ninny of the 20th Century," it denounced the motion picture Gandhi for its favorable treatment of the life of the pacifist leader of the Indian independence movement. A graduate student complained to the editor of The Red & Black that Reed had plagiarized a Commentary article by film reviewer Richard Grenier. After an investigation, Reed was fired from the paper. Reed wrote a final column acknowledging his failure to cite sources but accusing the graduate student who complained of "the most shocking, profane form of personal attack I can imagine." (Nina J. Easton, Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade, page 130-31)
Over in one of the Eschaton comments threads, we find this bit of personal testimony:
By the way the graduate student mentioned in Ralph's plagiariam incident was me. The "investigation" into the incident consisted of a phone call from the editor of The Red and Black to Ralph who admitted the plagiarism and was fired on the spot. I hand delivered a letter outlining the plagiarism and including a copy of the Commentary article to the Red and Black offices. Less than 2 hours later I received a call from the R&B telling me they had discussed the matter with Ralph, he had admitted the plagiarism, and was fired on the spot.

My letter to the R&B only discussed the plagiarism issue and was incredibly judicious. Ralph's politics (and mine) were not mentioned or implied in any way. I remember Ralph attacked me personally in his response. This pretty much sums up the entire right wing approach. Attack people who reasonably point out your shortcomings in the most vicious terms possible with no regard for the truth.

Ralph has been a disgrace for a long time. It didn't just happen overnight.
Charming, eh? That's Our Ralph.

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