Thursday, November 30, 2006


Dear Joe Biden

If you really want a shot at becoming President (you don't actually have a shot, but let's pretend for a moment that you did) you might want to consider flouting your, ah, patrons in the credit-card and banking industry by backing Carl Levin and Chris Dodd on their plans to get tough with those companies that use abusive practices (in other words most if not all of them). From an article in today's Congressional Quarterly (subscription required):

Senate Democrats Plan Crackdown on Credit Card Practices A leading Democrat said today he will push to curb “abusive” practices of credit card issuers when his party takes control of Congress next year. “Education . . . I’m afraid, isn’t going to be enough,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., stressing the need for new legislation and regulation in a speech at the Center for American Progress. “Without that club, without that stick, we’re not going to see reforms coming.” Levin pledged to hold hearings on the issue early next year as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said he expects Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., who will chair the Senate Banking panel, to introduce legislation, though the timing remains unclear. Levin said he hoped to cosponsor Dodd’s bill. Levin took aim at what he described as unfair and confusing practices by credit card issuers, practices he said are used to reap “extraordinary” profits. And he said these fees, interest rate and disclosure practices take advantage of low- and middle-class American families.
Go get 'em, Chris and Carl!


In Light Of Rush Limbaugh's Recent Viagra-Enhanced (and Daryn-Kagan-Free) Trip To The Dominican Republic...

...I thought I would pass on this petition designed to combat child-sex tourism in underdeveloped areas such as "the Dominican", which, as WorldVision states, is a hot spot for such activities.


For the want of ten...

Then Abraham approached Him and said, "Will You sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will You really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righetous people in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing..." -- Genesis 18. Abraham bargained God down to 10 righteous people, but even that was way optimistic: the rest is crispery. Fast forward about four thousand years and move about six thousand miles to the west to place where the leaders have renounced everything good. They tell lies, they chase after money, they have forgotten justice. Even the best of the leaders are slow in doing good, miserly in their love of justice. But there are still a few righteous people. One of them is a journalist. When the Reagan Administration was selling weapons to terrorists, conducting and illegal war, and pretending not to notice that the people flying guns to the south were returning north with drugs to ensnare the poorest of all, this man put his career on the line. He trusted that if he told the truth, his colleagues and his friends would stand by him. He has, instead, endured one of the longest and most painful lessons on how difficult it is to do what is right... but he hasn't given up, and continues to do what he can to tell the truth to the American people. I speak, of course, of Robert Parry. I'm about to write a $100 check. If just 250 people love the truth even that much, we can keep him online. Click here or address checks to
Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ Suite 102-231, 2200 Wilson Blvd. Arlington VA 22201


Spare Your Mail Carrier and Save a Tree

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Justice for Victims of Hurricane Katrina

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon has ruled that

The Bush administration unconstitutionally denied aid to tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita and must resume payments immediately, a federal judge ordered yesterday. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the Federal Emergency Management Agency created a "Kafkaesque" process that began cutting off rental aid in February to victims of the 2005 storms, did not provide clear reasons for the denials, and hindered applicants' due-process rights to fix errors or appeal government mistakes. [...] The case affects at least 11,000 families, said Robert W. Doggett, a lawyer with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. [...] Leon ordered that FEMA restore benefits to evacuees who were ruled ineligible to make the switch and provide three months' payments. The agency must offer details on why applicants were cut off and how they can fix their applications or appeal FEMA's decision.
Judge Leon was appointed in 2002, i.e., by George W. Bush. Poor Dubya. He can't trust anybody anymore to carry his water.

Annals Of Pettiness

Further proof that C=MI: The belief that silly pettiness is a viable strategy for any given situation. To wit: -- The Big And Mighty Bush Administration, apparently stung by criticism that it has been cowed by tiny little North Korea reluctant to treat North Korea (which possesses nukes but no oil) as it did Saddam's Iraq (which had gobs of oil but no nukes), has decided to Get Tough on the dirty Commies: They're cutting off North Korea's iPod supply. Oooooh, scary. -- The lame-duck GOP Congress, apparently stung by the American people's wholesale rejection of Republicanism at the ballot box earlier this month, and hoping to force the Democrats to waste time cleaning up the GOP's messes, flatly refused to pass the fiscal-year 2007 budget bills needed to keep the government running -- even though Fiscal Year 2007 started on October 1. Too bad for these lazy clods that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have decided to keep Congress open for most of January. Waaaaah! Poor widdle Republican baaaabies! They needed the holidays to hold fundraisers to pay off their campaign debts -- but instead they now have to work on the debts they ran up on America's credit cards first. Awwwwww. -- GOP operative Ed Rogers takes a schoolboy's glee in noticing that Barack Obama's middle name is (gasp!) Hussein! (Which, considering how common the name "Hussein" is where Obama's dad came from, would be kinda like attacking Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens for having the same first name as his fellow Republican, the notorious rapist and serial killer Ted Bundy.) Meanwhile, the fine people of Illinois couldn't possibly care less.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Mexico, November 29

Radion Universidad was peacefully handed back to university authorities by APPO representatives. Nancy Davies, in NarcoNews: On Monday, November 27 “Citizen” Radio, operated allegedly without a license by the PRI in support of Governor Ulises Ruiz, called on PRI supporters to invade and burn the offices of EDUCA, one of the signatory non-governmental organizations which have allied with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples’ of Oaxaca (APPO)...Also this morning, the Policia Federal Preventiva are reported to have detained 150 people, who have been shipped out of the state of Oaxaca, to the state of Nayarit.. Luis Hernández Navarro of La Jornada, in NarcoNews Simultaneously, Radio Ciudadana, popularly known as “Radio Patito,” the pirate station of state government loyalists, called upon those in Oaxaca to set fire to the homes of well-known members of the popular movement. This was not a joke. On Sunday, November 26, the offices of Flavio Sosa, one of the most well-known voices of the APPO, were burned. Of course, neither the PFP nor the state police prevented it. Meanwhile, back in the capital: In Mexico, the parliament was the site of a major scuffle Tuesday as rival lawmakers fought over a protest against this week’s inauguration of president-elect Felipe Calderon. Lawmakers threw chairs and exchanged punches... Meanwhile, Calderón is coming under intense criticism for his pick to oversee internal security. On Tuesday, Calderon announced the appointment of Francisco Ramírez Acuña as Interior Secretary. Acuna is widely blamed for the detention and mistreatment of scores of protesters two years ago in Jalisco, where he served as state governor. Many analysts say the appointment could signal the Calderon government intends to deal with the Oaxaca uprising with repression. In an interview with the Financial Times, Tamara Taraciuk of Human Rights Watch said: “This appointment sends a terrible signal both to the domestic and international communities.”

Paging Johnny Wendell! Paging Johnny Wendell!

Your life thesis -- C=MI -- has been proved in a scientific study:

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush. Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush. [...] “Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’” The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on. [...] “Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.
Heheheheheh. Heh.


Watch Lou Dobbs Turn Into Noam Chomsky

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw this on CNN under Dobbs' byline:

Victorious Democrats will, with the opening of the 110th Congress, have a historic opportunity to right the course of a country that has been hell-bent on permitting free-trade corporatists and faith-based economics to bankrupt the nation. As the New Year approaches, newly elected Democrats in the House and Senate will be battered by calls, even demands, to stay the course, rather than right it. And we can only hope they and their new leadership in both houses will have the courage and character to be rationalists and realists and overcome their partisan political debt to corporate America, and U.S. multinationals in particular. Eye-glazing stuff, international trade. But the consequences of faith-based free-trade will be eye-popping in the disaster it wreaks on our economy and working Americans. The facts are anything but dull: For 30 consecutive years the United States has run a trade deficit, and our trade deficit has surged to record highs in each of the past four years. Our monthly deficits have reached record levels in two of the past three months. Our current account deficit -- the broadest measure of international trade -- is on track to approach $1 trillion this year. And our current account deficit is almost 7 percent of our nation's gross domestic product, considerably above the threshold at which Federal Reserve studies have acknowledged our economy must make policy adjustments or face major financial crisis. We're borrowing about $3 billion a day just to pay for our imports, and our trade debt now stands at $5 trillion. We will no longer have to be patient to see the impact of these faith-based policies in free trade. Signs are already beginning to mount that a reckoning is nearing. Our trading partners in Europe are counseling "vigilance" in the currency markets, as their anxiety rises with the value of the Euro against the dollar. For the first time, the Chinese government is publicly expressing its concern about the more than $1 trillion it holds in reserves.
Go read the whole thing. It's amazing. Now if Dobbs can only ditch the racism, his transformation will be complete.


Winning The Suburbs

Kos brought this nice little USA Today piece to our attention:

Democrats made large gains in suburbia in this month's elections, pushing Republican turf to the outer edges of major population centers in a trend that could signal trouble for the GOP, an analysis shows.
Democrats carried nearly 60% of the U.S. House vote in inner suburbs in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas, up from about 53% in 2002, according to the analysis by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. They received nearly 55% of the vote in the next ring of "mature" 20- and 30-year-old suburbs, with 45% going to Republicans and third-party candidates. In 2002, the last midterm election, Democrats received 50% of the vote there. "Republicans are getting pushed to the fringes of the metropolis," said sociologist Robert Lang, director of the institute. "They simply have to be more competitive in more suburbs," he said, to win statewide and presidential races. The line between blue Democratic and red Republican territory used to be drawn at the outer boundaries of close-in "streetcar suburbs" with older housing and signs of decline, Lang said. They've become steadily more Democratic in the four elections since 2000, he said, and now are "solid blue." Well-established or "mature" suburbs increasingly are turning Democratic, Lang said. He said the trend probably is permanent because such suburbs have become denser and have drawn more foreign-born residents as Republicans have moved farther from urban cores.
Looks like all but the hardest-core white-flighters are starting to realize that we're all in this together. As the inner-ring suburbs and exurbs grow in density, people are realizing that they just can't up and run away -- they have to plant roots and work with their neighbors, no matter their color or creed.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


GOP Congressman: Dems' Ethics Plan Better Than GOP's Plan

I kid you not. From Time's Massimo Calabresi:

Reform-minded Republican Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona says the Democrats' plans, if fully implemented, would in fact be "definitive" and "preferable" to the changes the G.O.P. pushed through Congress in the wake of the Abramoff scandal.
There you go.


Housing bust not yet?

A lot of people think that the housing crash is underway. I tend to think they're a month or so ahead of things, that the ice is starting to creak but hasn't yet cracked. This interesting tidbit appeared in Peter Coy's column in Business Week: Would you believe that home values are up? According to, home values rose 4.8% in the third quarter in the 36 major metropolitan areas covered by its Zindex. That may come as a surprise if you've been reading about falling sales prices, but there's a good explanation for the discrepancy. ... Zillow's index includes updated estimates of the values of all homes in an area, not just the ones that were sold. That's important because the sales price indexes can be skewed by changes in the mix of homes sold in a period. ... This ain't just some technical debate. Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley, who argues that housing will "rust not bust," points out a big skew in the Census Bureau's widely quoted figure of a 9.7% decline in median new-home prices from September 2005 to September 2006. As Berner points out, the sales of new homes priced between $300,000 and $400,000 fell 44% over the past year, while sales of those priced under $300,000 fell only zero to 20%, depending on the price bucket. In other words, the sales mix shifted to cheaper homes, and that pulled down the median. The economic stats are very hard to read. What's not hard to read is the nervousness.

Harry Reid: Senate Will Be Open In January

Even as Nancy Pelosi's keeping the House open, Harry Reid's keeping the Senate open in January. Excellent!


Another One Bites The Dust

After all the votes were counted, Democrat Barbara McIlvaine won the Pennsylvania House seat in Chester County from the incumbent Republican, Shannon Royer. As Steve Singhiser says, this tips control of the Pennsylvania House to the Democrats for the first time in years. And makes Ed Rendell's job a little easier.


Simple Answers To Simple Questions: NRSC Edition

Q: Now that National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Elizabeth Dole has stated that the NRSC is not only flat broke, but deep into debt, will we be hearing "Liddy Dole wasted all the GOP's money!" stories from the same folk who were pushing the "Howard Dean wasted all the Democrats' money!" stories? A: Of course not. This has been another edition of Simple Answers To Simple Questions. (h/t to Atrios for the concept)


Grating, Hormonal, Ugly GOP Dudes

What would it look like if the press covered male Republicans the same way they covered female Democrats? Righteousbabe over at DKos has the answer.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Nancy Pelosi Deserves Our Support. GOP/Media Stenographers Deserve The Backs Of Our Hands.

Glenn Greenwald has it right on the "sensible" Jane Harman, who the same GOP/media clowns that got it so wrong on Iraq are now rallying around as their Fairy Princess:

Given her position as ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Harman was repeatedly used by the administration -- with her consent -- as a potent instrument to shield itself from scrutiny, by creating the "Responsible Democrat" (Harman, Lieberman) v. "Irresponsible Democrat" dichotomy and then arguing that they enjoyed bipartisan support from the Good, Sensible Democrats like Harman. That's why, just like Joe Lieberman, Harman's most vociferous defenders are the most extreme Bush followers and neoconservatives. It is their agenda whom she promotes (which is why they defend her).

In light of that history, why would anyone think that Nancy Pelosi should choose Jane Harman to be the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, a key position for exercising desperately-needed oversight over the administration's last two years of intelligence mischief and, as importantly, for investigating and exposing the administration's past misconduct? She instinctively supports, or at least acquieses to, the administration's excesses, and would be among the worst choices Pelosi could make.

Despite all of that, the mindless, petty Beltway media parrots continue to recite the adolescent-minded script that Pelosi is a vindictive, unserious and egomaniacal "girl" because she won't bestow Jane Harman with the Chair of the Intelligence Committee. To read this new column in U.S. News and World Report by Gloria Borger is like looking through a high-powered microscope at virtually every Beltway media disease. It is all there in its vapid, gory emptiness. [...] There is nothing "credible" about Harman. Yes, she is smart and knowledgeable, but she has been wrong about everything that matters, particularly in the intelligence area. But she was wrong in exactly the same way that the Beltway geniuses and The New Republic and David Broder and Fred Hiatt were wrong. For that reason, they don't want her to be repudiated and rejected because that would constitute a repudiation and rejection of them. So they build up and glorify the "credible," responsible Harman because she represents them, and they hate Pelosi in advance for rejecting Harman for being wrong about everything because they feel rejected by that choice. As a result, Pelosi and her opposition to Harman have to be belittled and removed from the substantive arena. Harman supported the most disastrous strategic decision in our nation's history and repeatedly defended the administration's worst excesses. That ought to be disqualifying on its face. But the Beltway media are guilty of the same crimes, so they want to pretend that Harman -- just like Steny Hoyer -- did nothing wrong and the only reason not to anoint her to her Rightful Place is because of petty, womanly personality disputes that have no place in the public arena. For the same reason, they decree that Pelosi must prove that she's a "responsible" and serious leader. How does she do that? By embracing the Beltway establishment types, including those -- especially those -- who have been so wrong about so many things. That's why the media has taken such an intense interest in the otherwise mundane matter of who will be House Majority Leader and House Intelligence Chair. Jane Harman, like Steny Hoyer, is the symbol of official Washington, the broken, rotted, corrupt Washington that propped up this war and enabled this administration in so many ways. Pelosi has to prove that she's one of them, or else suffer the consequences of being mauled and scorned.


Gravity Is Not Mocked, In Physics Or Finance

Aka: Bonddad explains why supply side economics is evil.


The Great Risk Shift

One of the recurring themes of both MEC and Charles has been how over the years, the Republicans and the conservative captains of industry that fund them have been shifting the tax burden from the rich onto the poor and (most especially) the middle class -- even as the middle class is increasingly endangered by these same captains of industry, who espouse policies such as "right to work" (aka "kill the unions") that are designed to destroy America's middle classes. Over at Fire Dog Lake, they had a salon yesterday with Jacob Hacker, author of the new book The Great Risk Shift, which describes the decades-long efforts of the conservative movement and their media allies to warp the playing field in their favor so as to shift the risks of our society onto us while they reap the rewards. The comments are now closed, but I think the discussion is worth reading.


I Like the Sound of This

One of the things that makes me tingle all over after the midterm elections is the thought of "Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman" (D-Pitbull). Henry Waxman with subpoena power. And he's not going to waste any time.

Waxman's biggest challenge as he mulls what to probe? "The most difficult thing will be to pick and choose."
No wonder there was a shredder truck headed to Cheney's residence before the election.

Wingnut Welfare, Bush Family Style

Much joking is being made in the reality-based portion of the blogosphere about Bush's plans for a colossal $500 million "presidential" library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "What, for one coloring book?" is a typical joke hurtling around the internet about this. Except that it's really not about the library. It's about the accompanying wingnut propagandist hatchery and sheltered workshop for the otherwise-unemployable children of the privileged who couldn't swing internships at the other fascist factories:

The half-billion target is double what Bush raised for his 2004 reelection and dwarfs the funding of other presidential libraries. But Bush partisans are determined to have a massive pile of endowment cash to spread the gospel of a presidency that for now gets poor marks from many scholars and a majority of Americans. The legacy-polishing centerpiece is an institute, which several Bush insiders called the Institute for Democracy. Patterned after Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Bush's institute will hire conservative scholars and "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the President's policies," one Bush insider said.
How Maoist of them. Will their tomes come out with red bindings? But my favorite part of the article is at the very end:
It remains to be seen whether Bush's low standing in the polls and his rejection by voters in the midterm elections will make it harder to raise funds. That was true for former President Jimmy Carter, who struggled to fund his library center after being defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980. But planners believe hometown and Texas pride will outweigh any drag from Bush's diminished political fortunes. "The money will be there," a senior Bush adviser said. "The President is very popular in Dallas and the library will be great for the city and SMU." There's another major inducement for potential donors: Their names aren't required to be made public.
Gee, you'd think they'd be proud to be associated with the Boy-King. Especially since he's so allegedly popular in Dallas and all.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Sadr Kicks It Up A Notch

Muqtada al-Sadr, who not all that long ago was dismissed as just another warlord by the same smartypants that thought invading and occupying Iraq was a brilliant idea, has just seized the Iraqi government's own TV channel and is using it to call for all-out war against the Sunnis. All the pundits punditing this morning about how we can't just abandon the Iraqi people like we abandoned the Vietnamese (Dolchstoß, Dolchstoß, über alles...) have been shown, once again, to be buffoons. And we may be pulling out of Iraq a lot sooner than pretty much everyone but Steve Gilliard anticipated. UPDATE: Even the people at Newsweek are finally admitting that Sadr is a force -- and the biggest force -- to be reckoned with in Iraq. And they even state the biggest reason why: It's because, unlike the exiles who parachuted back into Iraq with much fanfare after not having seen the place in decades, he has credibility with his fellow Shia, with whom he suffered under Saddam (and who are suffering even more under the US occupation).


Permanent Recession Or Permanent Boom: The Meathead Proposition Redux

Apparently the Republicans and the Sabbath Gasbag enablers have been pushing once again to destroy Social Security, if this post from Atrios is any indication. This is as good a time as any to post this little ditty, which is a reworked reply I made to someone way back in February of 2005 to someone who'd obviously been chugging too much right-wing-radio Kool-Aid when he made a comment in one of my threads on the subject: One of my favorite right-wing lies about the Bush/Cato/GOP privatization plan is "No money is being borrowed to set up a private account." Oh, really? Then why does Bush want all those extra trillions, bucko? That sure sounds like "borrowing" to me. And it would to any other sane human being. As for Social Security containing only IOUs -- oh, you mean Treasury Bonds? Because guess where George W. Bush has his money stashed? Yupper -- those "worthless IOUs" known as Treasury Bonds! (By the way: Even the Republicans admit that under Bush's plans, benefits would drop like a stone.) Meanwhile, privatizers, how do you explain that Bush and his Cato/Heritage/Club for Growth buddies use two wildly different economic forecasts, depending on what they're trying to argue?

Bush and his Cato/Heritage/Club for Growth privatizing buddies use two wildly different economic forecasts, depending on what they're trying to argue. When they want to diss Social Security, they use the extremely pessimistic (and usually extremely wrong) projections of the SS Trustees, who assume that the US economy will grow at 1.9 percent per year for the next 75 years. By the way: The average growth per year over the last 75 years -- years that include the Great Depression -- was 3.6 percent, almost twice what the trustees project for the next 75 years. In other words, in order for the 2042 "doomsday" number to hold, we'd have to be in a depression for the better part of the next century. Do you really think that will happen? (Well, under Bush, it could.)*

But wait! When the privatizers want to talk up private/personal accounts, they claim huge rates of return of 7 percent or more per year. (They've been claiming this for nearly a decade.) Those are rates seen only during the height of boom times, such as when the budget-balancing, not-afraid-to-tax-rich-people Bill Clinton was in office -- and they're predicting them for the next seventy-five years.

And they're predicting the Big Boom at the same time they predict the Big Depression.

So which is it, Permanent Boom or Permanent Depression? You can't have both. (Really, you can't have either, but let's humor the privatizers a bit and pretend it's possible.)

If it's a Permanent Boom, the economy grows so much that Social Security is solvent forever. (Actually, so long as we average 2.7% growth per year over the next 75 years, which is below-average growth, Social Security is solvent. In other words, there is no crisis. Period.)

If it's Permanent Depression, then who the hell wants their money in the stock market?

Oh, and this doesn't even take into account that Social Security's overhead costs are less than 1%, whereas any privatized plan, such as those of the UK and Chile, will be nearly twenty times that (the UK's and Chile's plans average around 14% for overhead costs). Even Bush officials admitted that their privatization plan, even with big cuts in benefits, will have overhead costs ten times that of Social Security as it now stands. This is why the UK has been looking longingly at adopting a plan similar to our very own Social Security!

One final note: Social Security is not the same as Medicare, though its enemies never tire of conflating the two.

* 01/06/08 update: In the comments in a recent DKos diary of mine, Roger Fox points out that the not-so-trusty Trustees don't count as part of the SS Trust fund the current interest earned by the trust fund money! See how hard they have to fudge the numbers to get the Doomsday projections they want?

Michael Kinsley gets the credit for calling this "The Meathead Proposition", by the way. He must be ticked off that this zombie idea hasn't been killed off by reality by now.


Mexico, November 26

The march in Oaxaca did start out peacefully. But then... Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Three dead, 140 injured by tear/pepper gas including 3 journalists, 100 detained, and dozens of cars and buses burned as the APPO and the police fight it out in Oaxaca. The shots are reported to have been fired by non-uniformed men (i.e., death squads). The correspondent of El Financiero, Abundio Núñez Sánchez, got an 8 inch gash from being clubbed by a federal policeman. Public buildings damaged by fire included the External Relations Secretariat, the Public Registry of Property, the Sociology Department at the university and the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels. The hotel Camino Real and two cottages were damaged by Molotov cocktails. The Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) was just firebombed, but without any damage. Give Ruiz Ortiz credit for taking a tour of the town at more or less the same time as the clashes. The APPO blames the Governor Ortiz and the PFP for the violence. They have also been blocking collection of tolls on the highways from the capital to Cuernavaca and to Puebla. Ojitos in Mexico says that "The chief of Government of the Federal District, Alejandro Encinas Rodriguez, has issued a statement declaring that there is much evidence of deliberate provocation" by agent provocateurs. Another blogger says that as soon as the APPO march reached the Zocalo " the thugs at the gov. service started shooting pellets and pebbles from rooftops." Governor Ortiz's Attorney General Lizbeth Cana Cabeza is getting tripped up in her own lies. According to the IHT, Authorities in the southern state of Oaxaca insisted that an American journalist-activist [Bradley Will] killed during violent protests last month was not shot at point-blank range as they had indicated earlier....At a news conference last week, however, Attorney General Lizbeth Cana Cabeza said state investigators had found that both of the bullets that killed Will were fired from the same gun and one of them was fired at point-blank range... Yet in a news release issued Thursday, the state Attorney General's office said that "neither the state attorney general nor any official from the department has told the news media that the shots fired against Bradley Will were fired at close range." The site claims that Telmex is blocking access.


The heat must be getting to him. Josh Marshall, whose TPM and TPM Central have been the spiritual homes online of the nail-Hastings movement (just as Marshall, back when TPM was just him and TPM Central didn't exist, spearheaded the get-Condit movement that only ended when some planes slammed into a couple of buildings on the East Coast and suddenly hounding Gary Condit didn't seem quite so important any more), wrote a post yesterday to insist that he's not really a Jane Harman booster: "But it's not about Jane Harman. It's about Alcee Hastings." Well, then if he's not really invested in boosting Harman, I suggest he start really getting behind Rush Holt or Sylvestre Reyes -- because unlike Alcee Hastings, Jane Harman is herself involved in a live, ongoing criminal investigation. Here's a TPM post that Marshall himself made made a little over a month ago:

(October 20, 2006 -- 06:06 PM EDT) Damn. Here's a story that must have about a billion volts of charge in it. Time says the FBI is now investigating Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) as part of their expanded AIPAC investigation. They are, says Time, "examining whether Rep. Jane Harman of California and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have violated the law in a scheme to get Harman reappointed as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee." -- Josh Marshall
Why would AIPAC be so eager to make sure Harman gets the top job and to have oversight -- eager enough to get her in trouble with one of the agencies she'd be overseeing? I honestly don't know. The only reason I can think of is that they might be hoping that as head of the House intelligence committee, Harman might get the FBI to call off their dogs for good on the ongoing AIPAC espionage probe, which has already sent Larry Franklin to prison. One can argue that the long-settled charges against Hastings -- in which John Conyers himself is on record criticizing Hastings' actions -- are more serious than the legal and ethical hot water kettle in which Harman currently sits. But one cannot seriously argue that Harman's ethical problems don't exist, and that the only reasons Pelosi has to oppose her are purely personal. UPDATE: I should also mention that Pelosi, like Harman, is a strong backer of Israel, so it's not as if AIPAC -- if it were truly about backing Israel as opposed to backing Likud and the neocons in the US -- should have any reason to go to war against Pelosi. Pelosi, however, has another reason not to pick Harman: Namely, Harman's backing Bush on the destruction of our civil liberties, including wiretaps. That's probably why Marty Peretz of TNR and his fellow neocon travelers are going to be digging into Pelosi hammer and tongs forever should Harman not get the intel committee chair.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


The One Percent Doctrine

If you haven't gone out and bought a copy of Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine, I suggest you do so. The short version: Dick Cheney is the paranoid, spoiled rotten, architect of the destruction, not only of Iraq, but of the America that was given to us by our Founders, and he uses his money and power both as a substitute for brains and to insulate himself from the consequences of his own mistakes. The title of the book stems from Cheney's asinine "doctrine", the ultimate rejection of Occam's Razor, and used to justify everything from invading Iraq to torture in US-run prisons worldwide to the destruction of American civil liberties: "Even if there's a one percent chance of (fill in the blank with whatever improbable scarecrow you like), we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence. It's about our response." Mind you, the book's not perfect. Its one major failing is that the PNAC connections aren't brought up -- you won't find the words "Project for the New American Century" anywhere in the book, much less in connection with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Chalabi, or any of the Iraq invasion's backers. And much of this book won't be news to those of us who've been paying attention -- real attention -- over the past few years. But there are still things to be learned from it. The first set of things to be learned starts from the fourth paragraph of the first page of the preface:

The alarming August 6, 2001 memo from the CIA to the President - "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" - has been widely noted in the past few years. But, also in August, CIA analysts flew to Crawford to personally brief the President - to intrude on his vacation with face-to-face alerts. The analytical arm of the CIA was in a kind of panic mode at this point. Other intelligence services, including those in the Arab world, were sounding an alarm. They didn't know place or time of an attack, but something was coming. The President needed to know.
Okay, so Bush not only got the August 6 PDB, he also got a visit from CIA analysts in Crawford, trying to tell him that the system was blinking red and something had to be done, NOW. What was Bush's reaction?
He looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer. "All right," he said. "You've covered your ass, now."
The whole book is filled with charming little anecdotes like that. I recommend only reading about twenty or so pages at a time, or else you'll want to start breaking things.


Mexico, November 25

The UN Committee on Torture has noticed that things aren't quite right in Mexico. They mention Atenco and the ongoing violence in Oaxaca. Comandante Marcos, the man who has emerged as a leader of indigenous resistance, thinks that things are further along than that, that this is “the beginning of the end for a political system that, since the Mexican Revolution, became deformed and began to cheat generation after generation, until this one arrived and said, ‘Enough,’” ... Calderón, he added, “will begin to fall from his first day.”He stated, “we are on the eve of either a great uprising or a civil war.” He might be right. Mexico is deeply dependent on money submitted by emigres and on the maquilas. A recession in the US will cut those sources of income, having a disproportionate effect on Mexico. There was a megamarch of thousands of people to the city square of Oaxaca, with the intent of blockading the federal preventive police (PFP) (Image from Reforma The APPO fire off bottle rockets and throw stones, the police respond with tear gas, pepper gas, and water cannons. A few people are hurt.

"Conservatism" exposed as the ideology of sheep. Not very smart sheep.

Via Avedon and Digby, a director and trustee of National Review, Austin Bramwell, repents of his association with the anarchoLeninist movement that calls itself "conservativism": As it happens, the broader conservative public supports Bush for very sensible, non-neoconservative reasons. Those reasons just happen to be poorly informed...The movement’s leaders may be better informed, but they have no clearer idea of what they actually think... But “conservatism” ... is an ideology whose contours are largely arbitrary and accidental. By ideology, I mean precisely what Orwell depicted in 1984. ...1984 reveals not the horrors of the future but the quotidian realities of ideology in mass democracy. Conservatism exemplifies them all. First, like [Orwell's mythical Orwellian Socialism] Ingsoc, conservatism has a hierarchical structure. Like Orwell’s “Inner Party,” those at the top of the movement have almost perfect freedom to decide what opinions count as official conservatism....Millions of conservative epigones believe nothing less than what the movement’s established organs tell them to believe.... Second, conservatism is concerned less with truth than with distinguishing insiders from outsiders. Conservatives identify themselves in part by repeating slogans... At the same time, to rise in the movement, one must develop a habitual obliviousness to truth, or what Orwell labeled “doublethinking.” ... Third, and closely related to doublethinking, the conservative movement engages in selective editing of history. When events have a tendency to disconfirm ideology, down the memory hole they go. ... Fourth, conservatism is entertaining. Understanding the world, though rewarding, provides nothing like the pleasures of a “Two Minute Hate,” a focused, ritualized denunciation of enemies.... The most distinguishing feature of conservatism is its misleading name. Lexically, “conservatism” denotes caution, prudence, and resistance to change. Conservatism the ideology, however, has if anything tended towards recklessness. “Nuke ‘em!” has always been a popular conservative sentiment, never more so than today with respect to the Muslim world.... Worse, no reckoning will be made: they hope in vain who expect conservatives to take responsibility for the actual consequences of their actions. Conservatives have no use for the ethic of responsibility...

Anna's Last Words: Poison, Murder, Putin

A BBC interview of Anna Politkovskaya A chilling look into the soul of Putin's Russia, where war for its own sake consumes a people. Text here

Friday, November 24, 2006


Who Brought Down The Soviet Union?

Was it Reagan, as certain neo-Nazi alcoholics like to claim? Or was it the Soviets themselves, with their stupid insistence on "staying the course" in Afghanistan (unlike the US, which finally got out of Vietnam, which is now in the process of becoming a Westernized, pleasant nation)? Osama thinks it was the latter. (Actually, considering that KGB man Putin is in charge, is the Soviet Union really dead?)


A Confederacy of Dunces

NS Archive has a valuable retrospective telling us where they are now: The [Iran Contra] scandal was almost the undoing of the Teflon President. Of all the revelations that emerged, the most galling for the American public was the president's abandonment of the long-standing policy against dealing with terrorists, which Reagan repeatedly denied doing in spite of overwhelming evidence that made it appear he was simply lying to cover up the story. ... Elliott Abrams - currently deputy assistant to President Bush and deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy... David Addington - now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff... John Bolton - the controversial U.N. ambassador whose recess appointment by President Bush is now in jeopardy was a senior Justice Department official ... Richard Cheney - now the vice president... Robert M. Gates - President Bush's nominee to succeed Donald Rumsfeld... Edwin Meese - currently a member of the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton... John Negroponte - the career diplomat who worked quietly to boost the U.S. military and intelligence presence in Central America as ambassador to Honduras...[now in charge of wiretapping Americans] John Poindexter - who found a niche deep in the U.S. government's post-9/11 security bureaucracy as head of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness ... Otto Reich - President George W. Bush's one-time assistant secretary of state for Latin America George Bush's advisors belong in the Big House, not the White House.

Testing the ice

Partly via Nouriel Roubini Reuters [In very thin trading,] The dollar plunged against major currencies on Friday, pulling the rug from under European stocks as the euro soared and sending investors scuttling into selected safe havens.European stock indexes sank more than 1 percent, raising questions about exporters' future earnings and sparking concerns about whether the steady rises in global equities and general lack of volatility across financial markets had hit the skids. Reuters The ABC News/Washington Post Consumer Comfort Index fell to 0 [i.e., perfectly neutral, neither optimistic nor pessimistic] in the week ending Nov. 19, one point below the prior week's near four-year record high on the scale of +100 to -100. Bloomberg People's Bank of China Vice-Governor Wu Xiaoling said East Asia needs to reduce its reliance on dollar inflows because of the risk of a further slump in the currency. China's foreign- exchange reserves exceed $1 trillion, the world's largest. Wu's comments were released today in an article circulated during a press conference in Beijing. ``China holds most of its reserves in the dollar and these comments may lead to speculation they will sell,'' said Tohru Sasaki, strategist in Tokyo at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a former chief currency trader at the Bank of Japan. ``Diversifying reserves always puts downward pressure on the dollar.'' It's premature to say whether this signifies a bearish breakthrough. What is inarguable is that the bill for six years of reckless economic policies and crackpot politics will have to be paid eventually.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The Poisoned Wound

Nir Rosen, who knows the Middle East quite well, has this to say about what the US should do in Iraq:

Rather than remaking the Middle East, the Iraq war has destabilized it. Sunnis throughout the region who already have so many reasons to hate the United States—Abu Ghraib, the Haditha massacre, the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl, Guantánamo—would now have one more, for the Americans would have handed Iraq over to the Shias. We are seeing the death throes, not the birth pangs, of a new Middle East.

The Bush administration persists in its assertions of progress and clings to the idea that something called victory is possible. What victory? By every measure, life is worse for the Iraqis (leaving aside the Kurds, who don’t want to be Iraqis anyway). They are dying by the dozens or the hundreds every day—nobody even knows how many, since the Anbar province and much of the south, and even much of Baghdad, are black holes, with no information coming out. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died violently since the war began, probably eclipsing the number of Saddam’s victims. [PW adds: And Saddam had thirty years to do his work. The US occupation did it in less than four.] The ministry of health was recently ordered again not to disclose the number of casualties. The United Nations’ torture expert has stated that torture in Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam. Over 1.5 million Iraqis have fled their country, to Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, and in late 2006 one European official in Syria estimated that up to 3,000 Iraqis a day were fleeing into that country.

SCIRI’s calls for a Shia superstate have grown more strident, and Sunnis have made their own demands. Already in March 2006 Harith al Dhari reminded the rest of Iraqis that Sunnis had means of their own available: just as there was oil in the south, there was water in the center and the north, and it could be held off until “the barrel of water in the south was worth a barrel of oil,” or it could flood the south and drown it. More recently, maps have been circulating on Sunni Iraqi Web sites showing an enlarged Anbar province including Baghdad, Mosul, and the so-called Sunni Triangle in a large Sunni superstate. Iraqi comedians joke about different neighborhoods of Baghdad becoming their own republics. Iraq is dying, falling apart.

America did this to Iraq. We divided Iraqis. We set them at war with each other. The least we can do is stop killing them and leave Iraq.

The US invasion of Iraq was like sticking an envenomed knife into the Middle East. We may or may not be able to clean out the poison, but we could and we must remove the knife.


We're Number Seventeen! We're Number Seventeen!

That hive of Bolshevism, The UK's Economist magazine, has come out with its latest Index of Democracy. (HTML link here, for those who dislike PDFs.) And guess what? The US is nowhere near the top:

The reports singled out the USA (17th) and Britain's (23rd) poor results, partly to blame on measures adopted to fight terrorism. "The United States and Britain are near the bottom of the full democracy category, but for somewhat different reasons. America falls down on some aspects of governance and civil liberties. Despite low election turnouts, political participation in the United States is comparatively high," the report said. "In Britain low political participation (the lowest in the developed world) is a major problem, and to a lesser extent, for now, so are eroding civil liberties," the report said.


The road not taken

From the BBC New video and photographic evidence that puts three senior CIA operatives at the scene of Robert Kennedy's assassination has been brought to light. The evidence was shown in a report by Shane O'Sullivan, broadcast on BBC Newsnight. It reveals that the operatives and four unidentified associates were at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in the moments before and after the shooting on 5 June, 1968. ... A 24-year-old Palestinian, Sirhan Sirhan, was arrested as the lone assassin and notebooks at his house seemed to incriminate him. However, even under hypnosis, he has never been able to remember the shooting and defence psychiatrists concluded he was in a trance at the time. Witnesses placed Sirhan's gun several feet in front of Kennedy but the autopsy showed the fatal shot came from one inch behind. Three of these men have been positively identified as senior officers who worked together in 1963 at JMWAVE, the CIA's Miami base for its Secret War on Castro. David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends: "I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard." Gordon Campbell was Chief of Maritime Operations and George Joannides was Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations. No one knows whether Bobby Kennedy could have won the nomination, nor whether he would have beaten Nixon, nor even whether he would have been a good president. What we know is where we have been taken by Bobby's opponents, which is into national failure and disgrace.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


California punishes hero, leaves criminal on the streets

Oakland Trib A Van Nuys actor who became a hero to electronic-voting critics and digital-rights activists pleaded guilty this week to a felony computer crime, paid $10,000 restitution to lawyers for Diebold Election Systems and tried going back to his quiet life.Stephen Heller, 44, was sentenced to probation for three years. He had to write an apology to Diebold and its attorneys at the Los Angeles office of the law firm Jones Day, saying there was "no excuse" for sending confidential Diebold legal memos to state elections officials and media.Those memos, excerpted in both print and online editions of the Oakland Tribune, showed that Diebold executives violated state election laws by fielding unapproved voting software in Alameda County and elsewhere in driving for sales in California, the nation's largest voting systems market. Despite being warned of those violations, Diebold still pushed to use hastily assembled voting hardware that, in turn, broke down in the March®MDBO¯ 2004 primary.Soon after, state elections officials decertified Diebold's touch screen voting systems statewide. (Via BradBlog)

So Much For Advancing The Conservative Agenda Locally!

Way to go, local conservative bloggers and hate-radio goons! You wanted the scalp of Chris Stewart, a guy who dared go after your beloved Aryan Tammy Lee, the 'good cop' to Alan Fine's smear-slinging 'bad cop', for being racist. And it looks like you may have succeeded in getting that scalp. Good for you! But here's the irony: As anyone who actually read American Hot Sausage or Stewart's CityPages interview knows, the guy is as conservative as they come: Anti-gay, anti-government-bureaucracy, anti-feminist, the works. All he needed to be your dreamboat was a Republican registration and a much lighter skin -- the only reason he went with the DFL was because he knew he'd never get on the school board as a Republican or even an Indie. So long as he's on the school board, y'all actually have someone who's ready, willing and able to advance the GOP agenda under a false flag on the Minneapolis school board. But when he goes, his replacement will be a typical DFL urban liberal -- or worse yet someone like Green Party candidate Doug Mann, who is even more of a lefty. You know -- just the sort of person y'all hate with a passion. Thanks, guys! (Oh, and thanks for knocking off anti-choicer Dean Johnson in the Senate, too. We replaced him with a few populists and classic DFL liberals. Nice job!)


Feral Corporatism

Belacqua Jones defines it for us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Mexico, November 22nd

The Curse of the Malinche via sdp. A corrido with slide show. I think Nezua will really like this one.

What question does "a predatory capitalist who stifles competition and delivers mediocrity" answer?

Answer here

Good News

Houston Janitor Strike Ends With Agreement

The 5,300 mostly female, mostly Latino janitors represented by the Service Employees International Union will see their wages rise from $5.30 per hour on average to $7.75 by Jan. 1, 2009. Their shifts will also lengthen to six hours, as opposed to four hours or less, over the next three years, according to the agreement. They will be offered health coverage in 2009 for $20 a month for individuals, $175 for families. The janitors ratified the agreement Monday night at the city's convention center. They are expected to return to work today. The union said janitors who walked off the job on Oct. 23 will be allowed to return to their jobs. Yesterday's announcement marked the first victory in the right-to-work South for SEIU's long-running Justice for Janitors campaign that has organized low-wage workers at cleaning companies in 29 cities, including Washington. Union and management advocates said it signals a new phase of labor organization in the South. [...] Throughout the strike, the SEIU applied more pressure to the owners of the buildings cleaned by the Houston janitors than to the cleaning contractors that employ them. Building owners ultimately have to absorb the cost of higher wages and benefits for janitors, and the union accused this oil-enriched business community of hoarding energy profits while keeping janitors in poverty.
Let's hope the union didn't have to promise not to see the Houston Police Department for false arrest and brutality as part of the agreement.

Score One for the First Amendment

Web sites not liable for posts by others

Web sites that publish inflammatory information written by other parties cannot be sued for libel, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. [...] In reversing an appellate court's decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides broad immunity from defamation lawsuits for people who publish information on the Internet that was gathered from another source. "The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications," Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote in the majority opinion. "Nevertheless ... statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended."
The reason I approve of this ruling, even though there is the real risk of defamatory material being spread far and wide, is that even more damage would be done by holding "distributors" liable for material they may not even know is defamatory. It's easy to imagine Certain People putting pressure on ISPs, web-site hosts, and sites like Blogger to shut down sites that publish material that isn't defamatory but only politically inconvenient. The people with more money to pay for lawyers would win every time. And that's not good for democracy.

What's Good For The Ellison Is Good For The Coleman

Over at The Big Question, the StarTribune's Eric Black cites a post in Chris Cillizza's "The Fix" blog at the WaPo, in which Cillizza touts the alleged electoral prowess of Norm Coleman, without noting that Coleman, like all Republicans, benefits from the Cone of Silence the GOP/Media Complex automatically throws over all Republicans no matter how blatantly crooked. Well, if it’s OK for right-wing bloggies to pressure the local respectable media, especially the StarTribune, to dish up all manner of dirt, lies and innuendo on Keith Ellison, then maybe the Strib should stop holding back on describing the details of Norm Coleman’s private life. Let’s see if Normie can stand a tenth of what Keith had to put up with this year.


"Tight-Money" Bernanke Is Actually Flooding The Economy With Money

The ever-excellent Bonddad notes that Bernanke’s flooding the economy with money even as he preaches a tight monetary policy. Reason? He’s trying to engineer a soft landing for the economy, which is tottering right now under the load of debt placed on it in the last few years. It's pretty much the only option left to him at the moment, as undoing Bush's tax giveaways is unlikely at this point.


Morris: GOP's Southwestern Strategy Didn't Help It At The Polls

The "Southwestern Strategy" is the Sunbelt variant of the Republican Party's old "Southern Strategy", except that the targets of the appeals to voters' racist fears are Hispanics, not blacks. But unlike the Southern Strategy, which still seems to have a death grip on the South, the Southwestern Strategy looks like it may be fading as a political tool in the GOP's tool kit. Rachel Morris of the Washington Monthly notes the following (emphases mine):

Washington has been chewing over election-related numbers for days now, and I'd like to highlight one particular set of data that's probably giving Karl Rove a nasty case of indigestion: the effect of the immigration debate on the midterm results. A few months ago, most House Republicans thought that border security would be, as Rep. Jeff Flake put it to me, their "magic carpet ride" to re-election. Moderate and pro-business elements within the party tried to convince them that a hard-line stance a) wouldn't actually deliver that many votes, and b) would incinerate Karl Rove's efforts to weld Latinos to a long-term Republican majority. And on both counts (as we anticipated in October) they were right. Nearly every Republican who ran primarily on an enforcement-only platform lost. Of 15 congressional or gubernatorial races where immigration was a major issue, Democrats won 12. Even worse for Republicans, the hard-won gains made by Rove, Mehlman and Bush with Hispanic voters in 2000, 2002 and 2004 were essentially obliterated. Voting in presidential-race proportions, Latinos supported Democrats over Republicans in House races by 69-30. In Western House races, Latinos comprised 16 percent of the voters (compared to 8.5 percent nationally), and voted for Democrats in even higher proportions: 72-27, according to CNN's exit poll.
What happened? Morris suspects that it's because the Democrats found a powerful tool to counter the Southwestern Strategy, something even Lou Dobbs advocates -- raising the minimum wage:
Democrats made raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of an aggressive Spanish-language advertising campaign this year, especially in Colorado and Arizona. I don't have any hard data to support this, but I wouldn't be surprised if Democratic gains among Latinos turned out to be a complex mix of dissatisfaction with the war, alienation from a GOP gone nativist, and, at least in some cases, receptiveness to a substantive Democratic policy proposal that directly affects many Hispanic families.
Makes sense to me. Don't like illegal immigration? Make sure that employers 1) pay living wages with benefits, and 2) aren't tacitly rewarded for breaking labor laws the way they are now under BushCo.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Mexico, November 21

Great democratic upwellings, especially those driven by nonviolence, are fascinating to watch. Rather than an attempt to establish a just system by killing or driving out unjust rulers, they represent an assertion of traditional, perhaps biologically innate values so deep that everyone feels them. When Gandhi walked to the sea to make salt, for example, he not only attacked the British economic system, which taxed salt, but also asserted the fundamental human right to have the necessities of life. In these democratic upwellings, human beings are able to take down the barriers that isolate each other and see themselves reflected in one another. They begin to operate as a body, protecting and nurturing one another, rejecting that which is not of the body, yet never losing their individuality. The community that gathered around Jesus represented one of the earliest and best-known examples. The Beloved Community of Martin Luther King My guess is that this is happening in Mexico. I know there are others that disagree, and they could be right. But this comment from Nancy Davies is interesting: This new collectivity, this amorphous group, is supported by three cultural aspects: the asamblea (assembly) in which the people have the power and the “leaders” are actually administrators who carry out the decisions of the community, the guelaguetza, a Zapotec word which means mutual aid and is the symbol of solidarity, and tequio, which is unpaid community work. The Asamblea began to identify itself through these ancestral practices of the indigenous population of Oaxaca, in which at least 418 municipalities of the state continue to govern by the system of usos y costumbres [Ed: i.e., common law]. One of the more important aspects of usos y costumbres, has been written into the CEAPPO regulations, which is that authorities who don’t follow the people’s will are put aside. This seems to be the case with the disappearance of Enrique Rueda Pacheco from the assembly, and many expect that Flavio Sosa of the APPO will also vanish. They have ambitious goals, says Davies. APPO has announced plans to "capture" the governor's palace, whose entrance is on the town square occupied by the federal police. In the meantime, APPO members face state-directed terror: Rene Trujillo Martínez, a thin 25-year-old lawyer and volunteer radio announcer with the Oaxaca People´s Assembly (APPO), holds the uncomfortable distinction of having survived a disappearance.Trujillo was recently abducted from his apartment by armed men in civilian clothes, brutally beaten at gunpoint, taken to a safe house and tortured. He says he was then held incommunicado for two days while being interrogated by federal authorities, and then, miraculously, released on bail....The assailants... placed nylon hoods over the three men and then took them to a warehouse - they think near the airport.At the warehouse the gunmen tortured them, sticking needles under their finger nails (the scars were visible three days later), applying electric shocks to their feet, beating them on the head, and choking them, according to the three men, who were later released....[T]he gunmen made them hold guns and then took pictures and filmed them with the guns in their hands. The three men were then taken to the federal Attorney General´s Office (PGR) complex in Oaxaca and charged with the federal crime of possession of illegal firearms. Flashpoints does an interview with journalist John Gibler describing the situation in Oaxaca. He says that the focus remains on ousting Governor Ruiz Ortiz and that there is tremendous community solidarity in that regard. There's also an interview of Gilberto Lopez Rivas, a professor and PRD member, regarding the inauguration of Lopez Obrador. Speaking of which: (Image of Lopez Obrador as the Legitimate President of Mexico on Sendero del Peje. Lopez Obrador has announced a 20 point program for national renewal, including opening up communications, addressing emigration by increasing employment, elevating corruption to a constitutional crime, equity in tax collection, making the living wage a constitutional right, universal health care as a right, and blocking privatization of oil and other national resources. A LOT of people attended. And he received some high-level religious backup from Bishop Raúl Vera López of Saltillo, who said that AMLO is guided by an instinct of social reform, not personal caprice. Maybe the cardinal of Mexico can get time enough away from covering up church pederastic scandals to comment on the issue.

Ha'aretz: Bush would "understand" if Israel attacked Iran

I swear to God I am not making this up:

The United States lacks sufficient intelligence on Iran's nuclear facilities at this time, which prevents it from initiating a military strike against them, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told European politicians and diplomats with whom she has recently met. Rice mentioned three reasons why the United States is currently unable to carry out a military operation against Iran: the wish to solve the crisis through peaceful means; concern that a military strike will be ineffective - that it would fail to completely destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities; and the lack of precise intelligence on the targets' locations.
Ah, so that means that the US has ruled out any attacks on Iran? Nope, it just means that they hope to farm them out to Israel instead to avoid political fallout at home:
U.S. President George W. Bush and President Jacques Chirac of France met several weeks ago. Bush told his French counterpart that the possibility that Israel would carry out a strike against Iran's nuclear installations should not be ruled out. Bush also said that if such an attack were to take place, he would understand it. According to European diplomats who later met with Rice, the secretary of state did not express the same willingness to show understanding for a possible Israeli strike against Iran. Nonetheless, Rice did not discount the possibility that such an operation may take place.
This may work to provide deniability for BushCo back in the US, but it sure as hell won't fly overseas. The rest of the world would know that Israel was acting as the US' surrogate, and respond accordingly. And our troops in Iraq would bear the brunt of that response. The ramping-up of the amount of belligerence being exhibited towards Iran by US interests is fascinating, and is ignored at our peril. Over at DailyKos, Greatwhitebuffalo has a diary on the LAT's recent editorial urging that Iran be bombed for the good of the universe or some suchness. Shockwave notes that the neocons over at the American Enterprise Institute are saying the same thing. And Cenk Uygur noted last Friday that some "unnamed goverment official" is saying that a preemptive strike against Iran is inevitable. And it can't just be brushed off as pre-election base-boosting, because the election was two weeks ago. (And of course, there's the latest of Sy Hersh's articles (note well: link changes after the next issue) on the subject of Bush's long-standing desire to attack Iran.) And as the final mad cherry on this barking-mad sundae, Richard Perle's Jerusalem Post is urging that somebody bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran. Sheesh. I'm guessing that none of the bomb-Iran backers have seen this Center for Nonproliferation Studies piece. It handily debunks 1) the myth that Israel's June 1981 attack on Osirak did anything substantive to halt or even hinder Saddam's nuke-weapons program (in fact, it probably spurred him on to try to get nukes so that the US would back the hell off as it's doing with North Korea today), and 2) the myth that trying a similar attack on any of Iran's nuclear plants would have a better outcome than did the Osirak bombing. It also notes that unlike Iraq in 1981, which at the time was deeply involved in the Iran-Iraq War and had no time or munitions to spare on lobbing payback at the Israelis, Iran has missiles out the wazoo that are quite capable of hitting Israel, and no amount of bombing would take them out before they could be launched.

Should that next computer be a Windows system?

The computer literati like Stormcrow will, of course, say that the last machine should have been Linux. But for most home users, the choices are pretty constricted. They don't have the suitable time/talent/money to put together a nice box. They want something to write letters, read Newsweek, and play games for the kids. That means Windows or, if they're graphically inclined/hopeless with computers/just plain contrary, a Mac. Now Microsoft is about to give users a very good reason to either develop better computer skills or buy a Mac: Windows controls the horizontal, the vertical For Windows Vista, Microsoft is rolling out a new version of its Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program, complete with a new name: the Windows Software Protection Platform. This time, they mean business. Let's call it WGA Plus, shall we? The Plus means this software, which is baked into Windows Vista, is even more aggressive about detecting and blocking what it considers software that is running with unauthorized license keys or has been tampered with....What's most distressing about the SPP announcement is Microsoft's continued insistence that its anti-piracy tools are nearly perfect and that innocent victims never suffer from errors in their code. The most chilling part of SPP is its new code to detect tampering. .... When an anti-tampering warning first appears, you have three days to reinstall or otherwise fix your copy of Windows Vista or shift into reduced functionality mode. It's going to go in new versions of Office and Browser Just as it is doing with Vista, Microsoft plans to incorporate what basically amounts to a “kill switch” into Office 2007. Office 2007 users who can’t or won’t pass activation muster within a set time period will be moved into “reduced-functionality mode...The Web browser will fully function and Internet connectivity will not be blocked. After one hour, the system will log the user out without warning. " This can happen due to false positives. And does. Last week, I reported on a mysterious outbreak of failures that were causing legitimate Windows XP users to fail validation and be tagged as pirates. In all, 42% of the problem reports I looked at were from customers running confirmed genuine copies of Windows XP.This week, the WGA Validation Problems forum is awash in reports from customers in corporations and at universities that volume license keys (VLKs) are suddenly being reported as blocked. So, some modules gets corrupted or hacked or a user installs something without your knowledge, and ::boom:: your business is down, your computing lab is inactive, the display showing enemy combatants goes dark, the screen on which you are tracing the progress of an endoscope though a patient displays a You must restart your computer message. I've run systems using Windows, UNIX, Mac, so I can make my way. But this article gives me pause. Is a kill switch too much power in too few hands? What OS should your next computer run?

Someone Tell Bush We LOST Vietnam

Larry Johnson speaks. You listen:

I had my Scooby Doo moment for the day when President Bush, speaking in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, said there were lessons to be learned from the divisive Vietnam war:

We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take awhile . . .We'll succeed unless we quit.

What in God's name is he talking about?

God only knows, Larry, because Bush sure doesn't. The best guess I can come up with is that this is yet another variation on the decades-old Dolchstoßlegende, the one the right-wingers used to blame Germany's defeat on those pesky Jewish liberal intellectuals who allegedly stabbed the war effort in the back just as the Kaiser was about to lead his troops to glorious victory. But I digress. Here's Larry again:
I realize W missed the last few months of his time with the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, but I had not realized, until now, that he completely ignored what happened in Vietnam. Mr. President. We fought in Vietnam for more than twelve years. More than two million U.S. soldiers fought there. Almost 57,000 American soldiers died and several hundred thousand were wounded. We trained hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese troops, we killed almost one million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, we dropped more explosives on Vietnam then we used during World War II, and we defolitated significant portions of Vietnam's rain forest.

And what did we achieve in the end? The United States fled the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, to escape the invading North Vietnamese Army. North Vietnam "freed" the South from yankee imperialists and set about "reeducating" the South Vietnamese. News flash George. WE LOST!

So, what lesson are we to draw from all of this? Are you arguing that if we had stuck it out in Vietnam and spilled the blood of another 50,000 Americans and one million Vietnamese that things would be better today in Vietnam? Mr. President, that is bullshit.

The lesson of Vietnam for our policy in Iraq is that we should not waste the blood or limb of one more American soldier without a clear vision and plan of what we are trying to achieve. Most of the violence we face today is from indigenous Iraqis who see us as occupiers. The insurgents may not agree among themselves what the future of Iraq should be politically, but they are united in expelling us from the country.

We shed precious blood and treasure in Vietnam and then we abandoned the South Vietnamese to the North. Politicians in that day issued dire warnings that our retreat from Vietnam would lead to the communist takeover of Southeast Asia. That never happened. Instead, Vietnam developed on its own, fought a war with China, and is now adopting capitalism rather than communism as its model for growth. So much for falling dominoes.

Well, we did one thing there: We built up some lovely state-of-the-art submarine bases at Cam Ranh Bay that the Soviets got to use for a while, once we left. So I guess it wasn't a total waste of blood and treasure.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The Glorious Anti-Communists In Colombia

These are the people BushCo cuddles up to, when they're not cuddling up to the Osama-coddlers in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or the dissident-boilers in Uzbekistan:

The government of President Álvaro Uribe is being shaken by its most serious political crisis yet, as details emerge about members of Congress who collaborated with right-wing death squads to spread terror and exert political control across Colombia's Caribbean coast. Two senators, Álvaro García and Jairo Merlano, are in custody, as is a congressman, Eric Morris, and a former congresswoman, Muriel Benito. Four local officials have been arrested, and a warrant has been issued for a former governor, Salvador Arana. All are from the state of Sucre, where the attorney general's office has been exhuming bodies from mass graves -- victims of a paramilitary campaign to erode civilian support for Marxist rebels in Colombia's long conflict. The investigation, which has revealed how lawmakers and paramilitary commanders rigged elections and planned assassinations, has shaken Colombia's Congress to its core. One powerful senator from Cesar state, Álvaro Araujo, has warned that if he is targeted in the investigation, it would taint relatives of his in the government and, ultimately, the president, whom he has strongly supported.
But they hate Commies, so it's OK!


Republican Family Values

This quote by Grover Norquist won't ever make the network evening news -- the only reason I know about it is because of the folks at Huffington Post, who in turn found it in the UK's Financial Times -- but it really deserves a wider audience:

Mr Rove may have put too much faith in historical political facts, such as that incumbents tend not to be defeated, with 97.5 per cent getting reelected since 1996, and that there were fewer open races small, with only 20 open seats, less than the Democrats faced in 1994. A week before the election he confidently predicted keeping the House and Senate, yet that may have been driven by bravado not belief. Although some glitz has come off Mr Rove, Republicans have been more eager to blame botched campaigns and individual ethics scandals. "Bob Sherwood's seat [in Pennsylvania] would have been overwhelmingly ours, if his mistress hadn't whined about being throttled," said Mr Norquist. Any lessons from the campaign? "Yes. The lesson should be, don't throttle mistresses."
Actually, the lesson should be "Don't throttle mistresses, don't throttle infrastructure, and never get involved in a land war in Asia." But that might be too much for them to memorize all at once.


States' Rights

John McCain, born-again conservative, has apparently decided that running for president requires him to take the extreme "pro-life" position.

MCCAIN: I don’t think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it’s very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support. STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’d be for that? MCCAIN: Yes, because I’m a federalist. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states. And I don’t believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade.
Hmmm. Let's apply that position to other issues.
Just as I believe that the issue of gay interracial marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade segregation return to the states. And I don’t believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade Brown v. Board of Education.
Come to think of it, Senator McCain, if you're looking to shore up your support among the Republican base, you probably should say my version, too.

So Strange

You'd think that the Republican neo-Nazi troll who was banned from posting here would have really benefitted from the Bush economic boom, to the point where he could afford a computer with an operating system that wasn't eight years old. But I guess that the big bennies from Bush's tax cuts to the rich didn't trickle down to the scut workers in the GOP's ranks.


Our So-Called Unbiased Media

The So-Called Unbiased Media just can't let the facts get in the way of their storyline. The storyline, as you will certainly recall because they've been repeating it just about hourly, is that the election of Steny Hoyer as House Majority Leader was a knockout punch to Nancy Pelosi's authority as Speaker, and she and Steny Hoyer will be mortal enemies because she expressed her support for Jack Murtha. Any evidence to the contrary must be turned inside out to support their version of reality. Consider this headline: Hoyer claims no 'bad blood' with Pelosi. It's subtle, but effective. The headline could have been "Hoyer says no 'bad blood' with Pelosi", but that would give Hoyer's statement too much credibility. Calling it a "claim" insinuates that there's doubt about its truth. Just in case the reader doesn't take the hint, the article opens by further undermining Hoyer's statement.

Rep. Steny Hoyer acknowledged Sunday he was seeking assurances from incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she would not retaliate against his supporters after he won the No. 2 House leadership post. Hoyer, D-Md., insisted there was "no bad blood" with Pelosi after she publicly supported Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania for the job of majority leader.
Saying that Hoyer was seeking assurances that Pelosi would not retaliate says, in effect, that Pelosi would retaliate and needs to be persuaded not to. "Insisted" makes it sound like Hoyer needs to plead with us to believe him.
On Sunday, Hoyer sought to play down any personal differences or ill will, noting that the two have worked together in the House Democratic leadership for many years.
"Sought to": "but didn't succeed in convincing anybody". "Play down": they really have serious differences, but he doesn't want anybody to think so. The real atrocity in this article, however, is what it does not say.
Former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich called Pelosi's decision to support Murtha a "mistake" but said Republicans should not underestimate her.
The article does not say that Newt Gingrich made the same "mistake" when he became Speaker of the House:
In 1994, in the wake of the Republicans’ landslide midterm victory, Tom Delay ran for the position of majority whip against Newt Gingrich’s hand-picked Lieutenant, Robert Walker of Pennsylvania. Gingrich, like Pelosi, did his best to convince his colleagues to vote for Walker. He ultimately failed and Delay won.
And we all know just how much this failure limited Newt's power. But of course, this precedent doesn't apply to Democrats, because... because why? Because the So-Called Unbiased Media don't want to apply it.

Mona Charen, Blithering Idiot

Eric Black over at The Big Question slices and dices the conservative Bush apologist's latest illogical emanations.



Janitors in Houston, Texas, are trying to negotiate a contract with five national cleaning firms. The janitors are paid minimum wage, have not health benefits, and are limited to 20 hours of work per week. On Thursday, the janitors staged a sit-down strike to call attention to their cause and put pressure on the employers to make them a decent offer. Mounted police trampled the protestors and then arrested them. Two of the protestors, including an 83-year-old woman, were hospitalized. Many others were injured. In jail, they were abused and harassed by the guards. Bail has been set prohibitively high. One of the more shameful aspects of the police officers' abuse of the protestors is that the Houston police are unionized themselves, but they don't hesitate to attack people for organizing. Here is the police union's email address. You Know What To Do.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Ed Meese. Bleargh.

Oh. My. God. This is obscene -- and it tells you a lot about the conservatives, if they consider this clown to be their finest legal expert. Ed Meese is NOT a legal expert on anything. As a purely brainless political hack, he has no peer in the right-wing firmament. Remember when it was discovered that the Reagan administration had been involved in illegal weapons sales to Iran stretching back to 1984? When then-AG Meese was asked about it in a press conference, he said it was OK because the proceeds were being sent to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. This explanation would have been blindly accepted, had it been made in 2006. But it was made in 1986, back when the national press corps, though far more cowed by the GOP than they had been in the early 1970s, had yet to be utterly brought under Republican control -- and some reporters actually brought up the fact that until 1985, it had been illegal under US law to fund the Contras, a fact that Meese, to judge from the poleaxed look on his face, didn't know. But in the end, it didn't matter: The fascistic neutering of Congress, the courts and the press -- the goal towards which William Simon worked the last three decades of his life -- had already progressed to the point where Iran-Contra's architects escaped scot-free.


Think Globally, Blog Locally (And Globally)

As Atrios notes, locally-oriented blogs are the next frontier and where the action is, or will be. But I still think that there's lot of unexplored or underexplored territory for bloggers to cover, especially beyond the borders of our own nations. Americans, for various reasons, tend not to think as much about other people in other countries as those people think about them. That's why I'm so glad that Charles here has a vision broad enough to include the goings-on in places like Mexico, a nation whose actions and activities are of key importance to Americans, but which -- even with the US' growing Latino population -- are all but ignored by our national corporate media and even by most blogs. When I started MR, my goal was not to be simply repeating things the big established bloggers said, but to try and focus on those things that I thought were worthy of interest, and/or were being neglected by both bloggers and the media. That will continue to be my goal -- and, much as I feel reluctant to presume to speak for Charles and MEC, I believe that's their goal, too.


Call Their Bluff

The day after the election, George W. Bush said

I intend to work with the new Congress in a bipartisan way to address issues confronting this country.... The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner, and work together to address the challenges facing our nation.
He didn't waste any time demonstrating that "bipartisan" means "both parties give me everything I want." One of the first things he did was renominate six judges who were completely unacceptable to the Democrats the first time around. So what makes him think they'll be approved now? Senate Minority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell spells it out:
McConnell ... told the conservative Federalist Society Friday not to feel bad about the Senate election results because Republicans will hold 49 seats in a body that requires 60 votes to end a filibuster and bring legislation or presidential nominees to a final vote. If the "Democrats want our cooperation, they'll give the president's judicial nominees an up-or-down vote," McConnell said.
There's only one reasonable answer to that threat. Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid should say, "Remember threatening us with the nuclear option because you didn't like us using the filibuster? We remember."

Friday, November 17, 2006


Friday Cat Blogging


Mexico, November 18th

Again, just a few fragments. Even the US-sponsored media believes the recent Mexico City bombings may have been the work of the government and discounts any connection to APPO or the PRD: While only three bombs exploded, the shadowy consortium of five splinter-thin (or imaginary) guerrilla groups that took credit for the blasts announced that eight bombs had been placed at targeted Mexico City locales: two in the offices of the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF), two in the Mexico City offices of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), three in two branches of the Canadian-owned Scotiabank, and one in a Sanborns restaurant across the street from the PRI offices. Apparently, nobody was harmed by any of the explosions. It appears that whoever planted the bombs wanted principally to instill fear in the public. They also wanted, for one reason or another, to link the causes of APPO and Section 22 of the National Teachers Union (SNTE) on the one hand, and the militant Lopezobradoristas, on the other. Oaxaca´s governing PRI has become the principal antagonist of the APPO and the Teachers Union, while the TEPJF has been the main target of López Obrador´s complaints of a stolen election. The APPO immediately denounced and distanced itself from the bombings. The group has nothing to gain from an act of terrorism and, in fact, has done a creditable job at keeping the fringes of its own acts of civil disobedience relatively non-violent. The last thing a democratic, popular movement like APPO needs is a clandestine network of bombers. ...The old-time PRI, even stripped of real state power, has not been above such tactics in the recent past. We need only remember the last shots of slain photographer Brad Will, those of gunmen hired by the local PRI confronting protestors — and reporters — in Oaxaca City. Acapulco might not be a great vacation destination either, unless you're in basic training. A grenade was tossed into a home there. More on the assassination of José Manuel Nava: He was the last top administrator and editor of the Excelsior newspaper when it was still being run as a cooperative, was found in his living room covered in blood by a cleaning lady who entered his apartment around 9 a.m. local time, the district attorney´s office said in a news release.Nava had two visible puncture wounds on his neck and thorax....The newspaper was sold in January 2006 to radio station owners Grupo Imagen.Just last week, Nava presented a book in which he blamed government officials, newspaper employees, the business community - and even President Vicente Fox´s administration - for contributing to the newspaper cooperative´s downfall. The paper was sold earlier this year.Nava´s editor, Octavio Colminares, of the publishing company Libros Para Todos, or Books For All, told The Associated Press the book ..." unmasked people that in daily life appear to be very honest and good and in reality are terrible; they are completely the opposite." Amy Goodman reports that In Mexico, leaders of the popular uprising in the state of Oaxaca are lashing out at government claims their members were responsible for the fatal shooting of American journalist Brad Will. Will was shot and killed in Oaxaca three weeks ago today. His assailants have been identified as local police officers and government officials. The Oaxacan state government is claiming Will was shot at close range by members of the Popular Assembly of Oaxacan People, or APPO. On Thursday, APPO spokesperson Florencio Lopez Martinez denied the charges and accused Oaxaca’s governor and other officials of backing the crime. Ballistics, please. From what I can tell, no one is buying the allegations by Ulises Ruiz Ortiz's AG except very loyal members of the PRI.

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