As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Traveling Sideshow Podcast Now Up

Go to Traveling Sideshow and sign up for the podcast. My commentary starts at around 22:00.

Waste five minutes of your life. Please.


My Letter to the LA Times

I read with interest your commentary about how liberal activists are unfairly challenging incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman because of his foreign policy views (Purging antiwar Democrats). That's not the only reason he's being targeted, but you're entitled to your opinion. I do look forward to seeing your similar articles about how far-right candidate Stephan Laffey is challenging incumbent moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, and how DLC moderate candidate Ed Case is challenging the more progressive incumbent Senator Daniel Akaka in Hawaii. It should be interesting to see how you similarly deride the DLC for daring to challenge a progressive incumbent, to "purge the party" of non-DLC candidates, and how you deride the Club for Growth for daring to challenge and "purge the party" of a moderate Republican.

After all, I'm sure you are concerned about your editorial page's consistency.

David Dayen (liberal blogger,


Federal Even-yeared Anti-terror Response (FEAR) Unit: Back In Action!

2004 was a banner year for the secretive group known as FEAR: the Federal Even-yeared Anti-terror Response Unit. They spent all of 2003 napping and catching up on reading, as their vital services to the nation weren't needed in an off-election year. But as soon as the clock struck midnight and the ball dropped in Times Square, suddenly FEAR had to be ready. Whenever possible, they had to announce terror alerts and threats, be they based on years-old information or entirely in reaction to damaging news events. These brave men and women of the FEAR Unit, under the direction of Corporal Tom Ridge (the guy that doesn't do politics at the Department of Homeland Security, but does meet with Republican pollsters during the campaign as the head of the FEAR Unit), had one solitary mission: to protect the President's poll numbers, no matter what the cost in lives or personal credibility.

After a year hiatus, they're back again.

And this time, they have a new leader. Major General Chertoff spent 2005 preparing for what looked to be a daunting 2006 campaign for the FEAR Unit. So diligent was Maj. Gen. Chertoff with his studies of how to properly release terror alerts, how to hype nonexistent threats, how to make things sound more dangerous than they actually are, that he had to neglect his other duties. It was a tough price to pay, but it increased his FEAR Unit readiness for the difficult election season ahead. And he'd have a lot of help this time, particularly from Field Lieutenant Gonzales.

The first salvo by FEAR Unit this year concerned breaking up an Al Qaeda terror cell in Miami. Well, an Al Qaeda terror cell that weren't all Muslim, that in fact preached an obscure religion of their own creation called the Seas of David, that had no money for any weapons or explosives or even ammonium nitrate (that's fertilizer) and indeed were caught when they met with an FBI agent, asking for money for supplies, including terror boots and terror uniforms, since they had no cash of their own but wanted to start a "full ground war" against the US with their 7 members.

The residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men, who appeared to be in their teens or 20s, had lived in the area about a year.

The men slept in the warehouse, said Tashawn Rose, 29. "They would come out late at night and exercise. It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."

She talked to one of the men about a month ago: "They seemed brainwashed. They said they had given their lives to Allah."

Rose said the men tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class. "It was weird," she said.

This was a bold first step by FEAR Unit, one which certainly got the attention of citizens from the battleground state of Florida, and the residents of the largest city in the Midwest. However, many were suspicious. It appears that the FEAR member (also known as an FBI informant) was not only agreeing to supply the Seas of David, he was egging them on:

The Feds conceded that the group had no weapons and no detailed plan to carry out an attack. There is no evidence that the men were in contact with actual members of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

In other recent cases, the Feds have used informants to penetrate homegrown cells, and have usually won convictions. Last week some civil-liberties activists complained that the informant's prodding may have helped create a plot that otherwise wouldn't have existed. But prosecutors say they weren't about to wait around to find out. "They certainly had the will," said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. "They were searching for the way."

Clearly FEAR had to be vigilant. And they had to think bigger. It was time to roll out the big guns. That's right. The Big Apple.

The FBI has uncovered what officials consider a serious plot by jihadists to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to deluge lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned.

The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels.

This was a jewel. You had New York, the Holland Tunnel, floods, a real catastrophe. You even had a pledge of support from the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Except there's no evidence that he provided any support, financially or tactically.

Oh, and the Holland Tunnel wasn't involved either.

Mr. Mershon said today that the Holland Tunnel was not, in fact, the plot's target. He described it as plot involving "martyrdom, explosives and certain of the tubes connecting New Jersey and Lower Manhattan."

Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, said in Boston this afternoon that a "threat stream" had come to light several months ago, but he declined to give any details on what the plot's target was.

Mr. Chertoff acknowledged that the plot did not pose an imminent threat. But he said the London railway bombings, which took place a year ago today, showed the importance of quick action in the face of threats, even those in their early stages. "The distance between planning and actual operations is a very short distance," he said.

"Sometimes, that causes skeptics to say the threats are not really serious," he said. "But mixing a bomb in a bathtub does not require rocket science."

Now that's the kind of quick thinking Maj. Gen. Chertoff must have learned in FEAR's odd-numbered off-year!

Did I mention that none of the suspects were within 6,000 miles of their intended target?

No one involved in the plot had set foot in the United States, Mr. Mershon said. Mr. Kelly said no bomb materials had been acquired and no reconnaissance had been conducted by the plotters.

Also the conspirators looked to be rank amateurs:

There were conflicting assessments among U.S. counterterrorism officials about the significance of the alleged plot.

Two U.S. counterterrorism officials, speaking on the condition that their names and agencies not be identified because the FBI is the government's lead agency, discounted the ability of the conspirators to carry out an attack.

One said the alleged plot was "not as far along" as described and was "more aspirational in nature." The other described the threat as "jihadi bravado," adding "somebody talks about tunnels, it lights people up," but that there was little activity to back up the talk.

But look at the headlines! Plastered on the front pages of newspapers across America! FEAR Unit was getting the word out. They weren't just stopping terror attacks, they were PUBLICIZING that they were stopping events that had a small chance of being terror attacks!

This is the essence of FEAR Unit's mission. To make the Capitol and the White House safe for Republicans, to make sure the citizenry is paralyzed with anxiety, and to make sure the Democrats are demagogued into a bloody pulp. I know FEAR Unit has the talent and skill to complete their mission in the coming months. Lord knows they won't stop until the first Tuesday in November.

(for more information on FEAR Unit, visit Keith Olbermann's seminal study of them.)


Friday, July 07, 2006

Nice Guys...

finish last. Yes, it's true.

However, if you want to solve the problem of gerrymandering, changing states which would flip one or two seats isn't going to do the trick. Texas was significant because they were able to flip six seats with their gerrymandering plan. Illinois is not in that league. That's probably why Democratic lawmakers didn't see the need. That, and the fact that most district maps are an incumbency protection racket anyway.

The only way to solve redistricting once and for all is through statewide initiatives which use exactly the same format of nonpartisan geography. There should be no opportunity meddling, Democratic or Republican. In fact, legislatures should have nothing to do with the redistricting process, which allows them to pick their voters rather than allowing the voters to pick them. California's redistricting initiative failed last year because it had too many opportunities for mischief, and its constant voting and re-voting on districts meant there would be no continuity.

Using PLAN (the Progressive Legislative Action Network) to push nonpartisan redistricting reform bills, which look the same, which cut out the legislature from the process, in every single state, is the only way to do it. Those measures would enjoy probably 70% support in the electorate. Nobody likes gerrymandering. Fighting fire with fire is dumb, especially if your fire is 1/6 of their fire.


Managing The News In Iraq

Tim Grieve at Salon's "War Room," which has been redesigned from when I last visited and is now great, has a post up about how well the Bush Administration has stopped the flow of information coming out of Iraq:

In an interview with Foreign Policy, Rod Nordland, the magazine's chief foreign correspondent and former Baghdad bureau chief, says that conditions in Iraq are "much worse" than they're described in the U.S. press.

The reason? The Bush administration does a "great job of managing the news," and the military has begun to crack down on embedded reporters who might otherwise offer a clear assessment of facts on the ground. "Before a journalist is allowed to go on an embed now, [the military] check[s] the work you have done previously," Nordland says. "They want to know your slant on a story -- they use the word 'slant' -- what you intend to write, and what you have written from embed trips before. If they don't like what you have done before, they refuse to take you. There are cases where individual reporters have been blacklisted because the military wasn't happy with the work they had done on embed."

The correspondent quoted in the piece, Rob Nordland, does say that some of the news does trickle out, because it's simply impossible to put a band-aid on the Liberty Bell without anyone noticing the big crack.

"It is certainly hard to hide the fact that in the third year of this war, Iraqis are only getting electricity for about 5 to 10 percent of the day," Nordland says. "Living conditions have gotten so much worse, violence is at an even higher tempo, and the country is on the verge of civil war. The administration has been successful to the extent that most Americans are not aware of just how dire it is and how little progress has been made. They keep talking about how the Iraqi army is doing much better and taking over responsibilities, but for the most part that's not true."

I mean, statistics are statistics, they're out there and the reporters covering this occupation can find them. For example, there's this startling story about the rise in bodies at the Baghdad morgue:

The central morgue said Tuesday that it received 1,595 bodies last month, 16 percent more than in May, in a tally that showed the pace of killing here has increased since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq.

Baghdad, home to one-fourth of Iraq's population, has slowly descended into a low-grade civil war in some neighborhoods, with Sunni and Shiite militias carrying out systematic sectarian killings that clear whole city blocks.

To a large extent, control of the capital means control of the country, and Baghdad is at the center of efforts by American military officials and the new Iraqi government to stem the tide of violence.

After Mr. Zarqawi was killed on June 7 in an American airstrike, a security plan was put into effect, with thousands of troops operating new checkpoints throughout the city, but it has had little effect.

The truth is that lots of civilians are dying, as are troops and policemen and security personnel. The country's infrastructure output is still negligible. Mosques are being bombed as US troops are making a major incursion into Sadr City. These latest scandals about rape and murder by US forces are so severe that the Prime Minister had to ask for better training of OUR "reckless" troops (Maybe letting neo-Nazis in the force might have something to do with that).

The President, for a couple days in a row now, has acknowledged that Iraq is tough sledding. Why won't he allow America to see it?


Just Don't Send Them Into Germany

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this seems fucking dumb:

Under pressure to meet wartime manpower goals, the U.S. military has relaxed standards designed to weed out racist extremists. Large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the armed forces.

Department of Defense investigators estimate thousands of soldiers in the Army alone are involved in extremist or gang activity. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," said one investigator. "That's a problem."

Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen urged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding racist extremism among members of the U.S. military.

"Because hate group membership and extremist activity are antithetical to the values and mission of our armed forces, we urge you to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to white supremacy in the military and to take all necessary steps to ensure that the policy is rigorously enforced," Cohen wrote in a letter to Rumsfeld.

This is especially discouraging because the military is so often a true melting pot, with a lot of diversity at the infantry level. The last thing we need is racial tension within our own armed forces. Furthermore, white supremacist groups are obviously happy about having their members learn to fight with top-quality training and top-quality weapons, so they can take those killing-machine skills back home to the streets of America. Tim McVeigh was ex-military, right? Apparently hate groups are bragging about their infiltration into the military.

When you see an uptick in incidents of rape and murder of innocent civilians in Iraq, and you read a story like this, you can't help but put two and two together. And this is all happening because the Pentagon is freaked out by actually having to ask all of America to sacrifice for their misadventures abroad that they lower recruitment standards.

There's much more on this story by clammyc.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Question

Larry King hyped all day long that he'd be asking the President about the death of his friend Ken Lay. He finally got around to it late in the interview, and here was the response:

President Bush said Thursday he hopes Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay's "heart was right with the Lord" when he died before he could be sentenced on fraud and conspiracy charges.

Bush called Lay, who was a friend of the Bush family and a large donor to the president's campaign, "a good guy." He said he was shocked to hear both about the Enron scandal and Lay's death this week from a heart attack at age 64.

"I was really surprised," Bush said on CNN's "Larry King Live." "You know, my hope is that his heart was right with the Lord and I feel real sorry for his wife. She's had a rough go and she's now here on earth to bear the burdens of losing her husband, a man she loved."

The president said he planned to write Linda Lay a letter expressing his condolences.

He actually didn't say that until after Laura was asked about it, and if you watch the video (as I did) it was pretty much an afterthought.

I agree with this commenter that there was almost no good answer to this question for Bush. He has been ducking the relationship with Lay for four years, and anything he said now would be somewhat insincere. Still, he did about as good as he could do with it. He sort of straddled the line, expressing sympathy for the wife but keeping a safe distance from Lay's wrongdoing, saying something like "I'm disappointed that he swindled all those shareholders." So, Bush did OK. It was a tough spot. It was a tough spot because he didn't come out in 2002 and acknowledge the friendship instead of parsing and equivocating and ducking. He had to get cornered by Larry King the day after the death to open up a bit.

What I really think is that Tony Snow grossly underserved his President with his flip, combative and dismissive comments the day before. I wonder if he'll be asked about this at the press briefing tomorrow.

There, I've done all I can do with "Lay-Gate." Moving on.


Quick Lieberman-Lamont Debate Thoughts

I do think the progressive blogosphere is getting sucked into a distracting four-week odyssey where it will be all Lieberman, all the time. And there's so much work to be done to retain a Democratic majority.


Holy Joe is such a self-absorbed prick.

And it's July, anyway.

So, my thoughts are that Lamont was capable, at times sounding almost Kennedy-esque. Lieberman was on the attack, and those blows would probably have landed were he the CHALLENGER. But after 18 years in the spotlight, I don't know that Connecticut primary voters are going to be fooled. He clearly misstated his positions on lots of issues (Stoller has more). To the extent that he helped define an unknown quantity in Lamont, he probably did a decent "divide and distract" job, like any good Republican. OK, he's not a Republican, just a proud "petitioning Democrat." And that's where I feel Lamont dropped the ball the most. He used his "you can't have it both ways" talking point, but he could have been much more forceful, demanding that Lieberman answer why anyone in the state should vote for him in August if he's just going to be on the ballot in November either way?

I don't know if this debate will change any minds. Lamont pretty much went toe-to-toe with Joementum (his "This isn't Fox News" quip in response to the constant interrupting was awesome), and in so doing probably established a little credibility.


You Have A Pre-January 20 Mindset

This is the problem with you libs. You don't understand that the world changed on January 20, 2001. That was a terrible, terrible day in our nation's history. And after the tragic events of that day, nothing could remain the same.

We could have just sat back, and not responded to the immediate threat we now faced. Other Presidents took that attitude. But after what happened on January 20, we understood that oceans couldn't protect us. Walls couldn't protect us.

We had to protect ourselves.

That's why the President had to start monitoring Americans phone calls in response to that dastardly Inauguration Day.

The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

"The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. "This undermines that assertion.''

And that's why the President had to draw up plans to attack Iraq immediately after January 20, to respond to the events of that day.

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

Well, of course, Mr. O'Neill! If you want to just sit there and operate with a pre-January 20th mindset, then go right ahead. But the President and his allies understand that we couldn't go back to how things were before January 20. Back then we had Presidents who engaged with the community of nations and respected civil liberties and used diplomatic means to solve foreign policy problems. That led us down the path to January 20. Do you want THAT to happen again?

See, this is why the USA PATRIOT Act had to be written as a response to that day:

Whether the Administration could have anticipated 9/11 or not, the proponents of the USA PATRIOT Act were waiting to go long before that day. Similar antiterrorism legislation was enacted in the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, which however did little to prevent the events of 9/11, and many provisions had either been declared unconstitutional or were about to be repealed when 9/11 occurred.

James X. Dempsey and David Cole state in their book, "Terrorism & the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security," that the most troubling provisions of the pre-USAPA anti-terrorism laws, enacted in 1996 and expanded now by the USAPA, "were developed long before the bombings that triggered their final enactment."

So you can all keep sticking your heads in the sand and thinking we have nothing to worry about, that the events of January 20 could never happen again. But thank goodness our President doesn't think that way. He'll never stop using January 20, 2001 as the lens through which he views his Presidency.

See, that was the day a few terrorists almost got within 200 feet of the Presidential motorcade:

And if you think our President is ever going to let that happen again, you're sorely mistaken, mister.


Politicizing Soccer

Now here's a guy looking for liberal bias at every turn. But this time, Michael Ledeen reveals an inadvertent truth:

Makes You Wonder [Michael Ledeen]

In today's "reportage" of the World Cup semifinal between Italy and Germany, the (lefty) Washington Post reported that the game-winning goal was scored on a left-footed kick, while the (righty) Washington Times reported it was scored on a right-footed kick. The Post account was correct, but don't you find it mysteriously symbolic of something or other?

I'd say symbolic of the fact that righty newspapers don't care about getting the facts straight, but if you have something else I'd be happy to hear it.

Also, for those, like Dr. Kissinger, who insist on seeing national character reflected in the style of play by national soccer teams, I am reminded that Italy always beats Germany in the World Cup, and they do it by demonstrating those qualities that are invariably (and mistakenly, I think) ascribed to Germans: discipline, patience, courage, tenacity, stamina.

And, lest we forget—and we always do—the Italians have fought bravely, tenaciously and patiently in Iraq, taking many losses and pressing forward nonetheless. I frankly haven't noticed brave Germans out there, but no doubt it's an oversight on my part.

Italy will be facing France in the World Cup final. The cheese-eating surrender monkeys themselves.

The US scored 1 goal the whole tournament and lost to Ghana.

Do you really want to keep this metaphor going?


Lady Liberty the Vampire Slayer

This is from a predominantly black megchurch in Tennessee. It's 72 feet tall.

Who's going to tell the pastor that the State of Liberty was a gift from France?

"Hmm... love America... hate France... love the Cross... hate croissants..."

Actually, even more interesting is this pre-unveiled picture of the statue, where Lady Liberty is shrouded with what appears to be a burqa, as befitting her gender and rights, in many a religious community:

What happened to that commandment about "Thou shalt not build graven images," anyway?

You know, we're really coming to a point where America and Gaza aren't all that different. There are some sets of people whose beliefs just don't mix. At all. It's one thing to be divided among believers and nonbelievers, and to live in mutual respect and tolerance. It's quite another to declare America a Christian nation, and to declare those who disagree as enemies who must be eradicated.

Related thoughts here. Satire is, indeed, dead.


Speaking of Disrespecting Primaries...

...enter Tom DeLay.

The indicted Congressman won his primary back in March for another term in the House. He then abruptly resigned the seat, and tried to get off the ballot by claiming he had moved to another state. It was pretty clear that he was only running in the primary to raise money that he could then shift to his legal defense fund, ripping off his supporters in the process. This he promptly did.

Well, Texas Democrats sued, saying that the winner of the Republican primary can't just dump out of the race in the way that DeLay proposed. And today they won:

Federal District Court Judge Sam Sparks just ruled in favor of Texas Democrats who sought an injunction to prevent Republicans in Texas Congressional District 22 from replacing Tom DeLay on the congressional ballot.

Texas Democrats argued that the U.S. Constitution, not State law, defines eligibility to serve in the U.S. Congress. Judge Sparks agreed.

This is kind of hilarious. TX-22 does not have a Republican candidate at the moment. DeLay could come back, but of course, he's DeLay, which doesn't bode well for his chances in a general election. The Democrats have a former US Congressman named Nick Lampson running in this district. He's come up with some really great, fresh TV ads. But at this point, he might not need them if he's running unopposed. Or against a guy who's already resigned the seat and moved out of the state.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Annie Get Your Quote

It's not notable when Ann Coulter says something inflammatory. It is notable, apparently, when she says something that she actually wrote:

Conservative scribe Ann Coulter cribbed liberally in her latest book, "Godless," according to a plagiarism expert.

John Barrie, the creator of a leading plagiarism-recognition system, claimed he found at least three instances of what he calls "textbook plagiarism" in the leggy blond pundit's "Godless: the Church of Liberalism" after he ran the book's text through the company's digital iThenticate program.

He also says he discovered verbatim lifts in Coulter's weekly column, which is syndicated to more than 100 newspapers, including the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Sun-Sentinel and Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.

Barrie, CEO of iParadigms, told The Post that one 25-word passage from the "Godless" chapter titled "The Holiest Sacrament: Abortion" appears to have been lifted nearly word for word from Planned Parenthood literature published at least 18 months before Coulter's 281-page book was released.

A separate, 24-word string from the chapter "The Creation Myth" appeared about a year earlier in the San Francisco Chronicle with just one word change - "stacked" was changed to "piled."

Another 33-word passage that appears five pages into "Godless" allegedly comes from a 1999 article in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Maybe Coulter is seen as such a liability now that even Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Post, is trying to cast her out of their little club. Interestingly, all it took was a little pressure for Universal Press Syndicate, Coulter's column publisher, to agree to an investigation.

At any rate, this should be a fun one to track. Coulter has already voted at the wrong precinct in Florida this year - which is actually a felony. Now plagiarism, which normally ends a writer's career. Will there be any accountability?

Or, the real question may be, who are these bad writers she's stealing from, and should they maybe get fired? It's a "starve the beast" option.

UPDATE: Coulter claims that the Post "has been reduced to tabloid status." Reduced? The Post INVENTED tabloid status! She needs to find whoever wrote that for her and chew them out.


Joe Lieberman and the Primary Process

I don't see any way that Joe Lieberman can win his primary race in Connecticut now. He's admitted that he won't be bound by its results. He's decided to characterize the most active, loyal, and model Democrats in the nation, the ones that vote in primaries, as insignificant losers: his announcement, Senator Lieberman described the primary as an incomplete reflection of voter will, hinting that he feared a strong turnout from the impassioned supporters of Mr. Lamont.

"If 30 percent of the Democrats come out and vote, that's about 210,000 people," Mr. Lieberman said. "That means 105,000 plus one will win the primary. There's 2 million voters, registered voters, in the state of Connecticut. That would mean that 5 percent of the registered voters would have the opportunity to decide whether I continue to be Connecticut's senator or not."

The Democrats have so much to do to take back Congress this year that they really don't need this kind of an intra-party battle. But nobody should allow an out-of-touch incumbent to disrespect the primary process. As Stirling Newberry notes, the very existence of primaries was hard-fought, achieved by incremental gains of the people over party bosses. Supreme Court cases and convention-floor fights sealed the deal. Slowly but surely over the last several cycles, Establishment Democrats have come to hate primaries, to see them as an opportunity for the rabble to upset their grand design over how to win back the Congress (and what a good job they've done of that!). The DSCC and DCCC have meddled in numerous primaries in this cycle alone, from Paul Hackett to Christine Cegelis and others. Reportedly Chuck Schumer even begged Ned Lamont to get out of the race.

The era before primaries consisted of smoke-filled rooms and back-door deals, where the rank-and-file had no say in who the party nominee was. That's exactly the model for what the Establishment Dems want. It's completely antithetical to democracy, and Sen. Lieberman's move is the logical outcome of that: basically, that there's "too much democracy" going on in these primaries, and therefore he shouldn't be bound by them.

If that's the case, then I find it crucial that we beat back this attempt to subvert the democratic election process, and prove once and for all that you cannot disrespect the will of the voters and get away with it. I'm happy to see that Hillary Clinton has pledged to support the winner of the primary:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a longtime supporter of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, said Tuesday she will not back the Connecticut Democrat's bid for re-election if he loses their party's primary.

"I've known Joe Lieberman for more than thirty years. I have been pleased to support him in his campaign for re-election, and hope that he is our party's nominee," the former first lady said in a statement issued by aides.

"But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary," the New York Democrat added. "I believe in the Democratic Party, and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters."

Other Democrats are headed to Connecticut to stump for Joementum, including my own Senator Boxer. They have every right to support the incumbent in the primary. Once that's settled, and should Lamont win (and honestly, who in their right mind would vote for Lieberman in the primary if he's going to be on the general election ballot anyway?), they must fall in line with Ms. Clinton and respect the process.

There's a debate tomorrow, which will be carried live by C-SPAN, and if I were Lamont, I'd only say one thing the entire debate: Why, Senator Lieberman, do you have contempt for the voters of this state? If you think too few will turn out in August, redouble your efforts to get your supporters to turn out! It's called a ground game. Surely you've heard of it. If you don't believe in primaries anymore, why do you think voters should elect you in one?


Welcome to Palm Beach County

The Mexican election is shaping up to be Hanging Chads II: The Re-Chaddening. This one appears to include blatant vote-hiding:

The margin between the two leading candidates for president narrowed suddenly Tuesday after election authorities revealed that about 2.5 million votes had been missing from earlier counts. The announcement meant the race between leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and conservative Felipe Calderon was still too close to call.

An initial count of the ballots gave a slim but apparently insurmountable lead to Calderon. On Monday evening, Calderon was leading Lopez Obrador by 402,708 votes, with 98.45% of polling stations "processed," according to official reports.

But election authorities acknowledged Tuesday that the preliminary count did not include vote totals from more than 11,000 stations where "irregularities" were noted in official paperwork. Those stations were listed as "processed" in the official reports, but their votes were not included in the tally.

Late Tuesday, election officials added the 2.5 million votes to the public count. Lopez Obrador outpolled Calderon on these ballots by more than 145,000 votes, narrowing Calderon's lead to slightly more than 257,000 ballots, or 0.6 percentage point.

Election authorities said that as many as 900,000 votes remained to be added to the official tally because polling station results had not yet arrived at regional election headquarters. An undetermined number are from the remotest rural areas of southern Mexico, which lean toward Lopez Obrador.

And today, preliminary vote counts show Lopez Obrador in the lead by a couple percentage points. These are not recounts forced by one candidate or the other (though Lopez Obrador has asked for one), but federally mandated recounts administered by the election commission.

I remember the conservosphere all over stories about election fraud in places like Ukraine and Georgia and other former Soviet states. That was evidence of the flourishing of democracy. Now here's a story where 2.5 million votes went missing on Election Day, and a recount is showing that the purported first-place candidate may not have won. In fact, most states where Calderon emerged victorious posted more votes for President than for the Senate, but in the States that went for AMLO, more votes were cast for Senate than for President. Last year, Lopez Obrador was arrested by Vicente Fox's government (same party as Calderon) and an attempt was made to bar him from running for President. Now, it looks more and more likely that the powers that be are trying to steal the election to bar him from being President.

Not a peep from the conservosphere. Because, see, Lopez Obrador is a LEFTIST. Booga-booga!

But Mexican bloggers are all over this story:

The fast-moving electoral controversy appears to be driven as much by Lopez Obrador's grassroots supporters as by the candidate himself, and it has illustrated the emerging power of Mexico's bloggers.

On Monday morning, Lopez Obrador had stated meekly in public that he would accept defeat if announced by the Federal Electoral Institute. That appearance, in which his haggard face seemed depressed and defeated, detonated a whirlwind of Internet organizing. Within hours, his supporters had deluged the headquarters of Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, with e-mails alleging inconsistencies in the vote counting and reporting process.

PRD bloggers furiously gathered allegations about fraud and distributed instructions on how to report problems to the PRD campaign and how to contact the media. By Monday night, Lopez Obrador had emerged again and announced that his party's lawyers would lodge legal appeals with the electoral institute's independent tribunal. He cited several photos of apparently contrasting poll booth count documents that had been sent to him, and he repeatedly asked his followers to keep up the e-mail barrage.

"In the meantime, we are going to ask, or keep asking, the citizens to keep helping us find many inconsistencies," said Lopez Obrador.

This is slowly becoming a full-fledged scandal. It's anybody's guess how it will end.


The Bastards

I had hoped that the President would come out and acknowledge his sorrow over the death of his good friend Ken Lay.  There is a relationship there that goes back decades.  Apparently that won't happen.  There's no transcript up yet, but according to this commenter Tony Snow just corrected a reporter looking for a comment from Bush about the death of his friend.  "I believe the President has called Ken Lay an acquaintance," said Snow, or something to that effect.

In truth, it's disgusting enough that the President has to be asked a question, through surrogates, about this.  They were good friends, but now, because he's tainted by a conviction, he won't even acknowledge him or offer condolences on his dying day.

Enron was the single largest contributor to the 2000 election campaign of George W. Bush.  But the relationship goes back much longer than that, all the way to the first President Bush.  Lay was the chair of the host committee for the 1992 Republican Convention in Houston, where George H.W. Bush was nominated for a second term.

At that time, Investor's Daily reported that "recently, Lay has turned Enron into a corporate bastion for the GOP." After the elder Bush's defeat, the Bush family switched its political ambitions to George W.'s prospects for governor, and Lay came up with the first of many contributions to that effort.

Lay's loyal support of the Bushes may have been gratitude for the decisive role that the first Bush Administration played in Enron's meteoric rise. Building on the Republican-engineered deregulation of the electricity industry that began in the 1980s, Enron got a huge boost during the first Bush Administration with passage of the 1992 Energy Act, which forced utility companies to carry Enron's electricity on their wires.

In fact, Lay publicly thanked Bush with a column in the Dallas Morning News a week before the 1992 election. Calling Bush "the energy president," Lay wrote that "just six months after George Bush became president, he directed Energy Secretary James Watkins to lead the development of a new energy strategy." That resulted in the legislation making Enron's exponential growth possible.

If there's one thing the Bushies do, it's helping their friends.  But once those friends get in hot water, they get dropped.  And nothing can change that, apparently.  Not even dropping dead of a heart attack.

The guy who was called "an acquaintance" on the day of his death was also known as "Kenny Boy," and corresponded with the President on numerous occasions while he was in the governor's office in Texas.  They wished each other well on birthdays.  They offered sympathy during each other's medical issue (like Bush's knee surgery in 1997).  And of course, they discussed business matters, like deregulating the energy market in Texas, which was a financial boon to Enron.  In 1997, Bush called Tom Ridge, then the governor of Pennsylvania, to lobby "on Lay's behalf to open that state's market to energy trading."  It was a quid-pro-quo relationship: Lay gave Bush campaign dollars, Bush gave Lay favorable legislation.

That Lay was instrumental in Bush's rise to the presidency is indisputable. Since 1993, Lay and top Enron executives donated nearly $2 million to Bush. Lay also personally donated $326,000 in soft money to the Republican Party in the three years prior to Bush's presidential bid, and he was one of the Republican "pioneers" who raised $100,000 in smaller contributions for Bush. Lay's wife donated $100,000 for inauguration festivities.

As governor, Bush did what Enron wanted, cutting taxes and deregulating utilities. The deregulation ideology, which George W. long had adopted as gospel, allowed dubious bookkeeping and other acts of chicanery that shocked Wall Street and drove a $60-billion company, seventh on the Fortune 500 list, into bankruptcy.

(incidentally, both linked articles were from Robert Scheer, who's followed this saga acutely.)

This is to say nothing of Lay's secret meetings on energy policy with Dick Cheney, and his almost becoming Energy Secretary, and his hiring former Bush I cabinet officials (like James Baker) to work at Enron, and the current Bush Administration stepping into a dispute between Enron and India to help Enron sell a power plant, and so on, and so on, and so on.

It's about as scummy a thing as you can do, to have a long and mutually beneficial friendship end, with you giving no comment on his death.  The Bush family is defined by their vaunted loyalty.  However, that loyalty must end as soon as it gets out that you might embarrass the family with your actions.  In truth, Ken Lay has been dead to the Bush clan since 2002.  

UPDATE: Here's the full transcript:

Q One other quick question. What has been the President's reaction to the death of Ken Lay?

MR. SNOW: I really haven't talked to him about it. I'll give you my own personal reaction, which is when somebody dies you leave behind those who grieve and I think they deserve our compassion. But I don't know, what do you think would be the appropriate thing to say?

Q I don't know. I don't know him. The President was his friend, not me.

MR. SNOW: No, the President has described Ken Lay as an acquaintance, and many of the President's acquaintances have passed on during his time in office. Again, I think -- it's sort of an interesting question, but not answerable by me.


Ken Lay

I wouldn't be surprised if convicted former Enron Chairman Ken Lay's death were a suicide. Even if it weren't, clearly the stress had something to do with yesterday's massive coronary. Cliff Baxter, another former Enron exec, committed suicide back in 2002.

But I feel sorry for any family's loss, and I won't speak ill of the dead. So RIP.

I do hope this, however. I hope that the President comes out and expresses his condolences for his good friend. Not only was Lay the biggest Bush campaign contributor in the 2000 election, but Bush had a decades-long relationship with the guy, which he abruptly ended as soon as Lay got into legal trouble. The President shouldn't have to be asked about it. He should come out and express his sorrow that his personal friend Ken Lay has died.

UPDATE: Someone more brilliant than I remembered this passage from The Godfather, Part II:


Hagen and Pentangeli outside, by the electric fence. They cannot be overheard. Pentangeli takes out some cigars and offers Hagen one. Hagen takes it and Pentangeli lights both their cigars. They puff on them contentedly. They are comfortable together, almost.

Tom, what do I do now?

The light is beginning to turn reddish as the sun falls.

Frankie, you were always interested in politics, in history. I remember you talking about Hitler back in '43. We were young then.

Yeah, I still read a lot. They bring me stuff.

You were around the old timers who dreamed up how the Families should be organized, how they based it on the old Roman Legions, and called them 'Regimes'... with the 'Capos' and 'Soldiers,' and it worked.

Yeah, it worked. Those were great old days. We was like the Roman Empire. The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire.

Yeah, it was once.

They both puff on their cigars. Pentangeli lets himself be carried away by thoughts of old days of glory; Hagen thinks of other days too.

(very gently)
The Roman Empire... when a plot against the Emperor failed, the plotters were always given a chance to let their families keep their fortunes.

Yeah, but only the rich guys. The little guys got knocked off. If they got arrested and executed, all their estate went to the Emperor. If they just went home and killed themselves, up front, nothing happened.

Yeah, that was a good break. A nice deal.

Pentangeli looks at Hagen; he understands.

They went home and sat in a hot bath and opened their veins, and bled to death. Sometimes they gave a little party before they did it.

Hagen throws away his cigar. Pentangeli puffs on his.

Don't worry about anything, Frankie Five-Angels.

Thanks, Tom. Thanks.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Everybody loves exploding things on the Fourth:

North Korea has test-fired a number of missiles, one of which was a long-range weapon capable of reaching the US, state department officials believe.

It is thought the Taepodong-2 missile failed about 40 seconds into flight.

The US said North Korea may have fired as many as six missiles. At least three - two of them said to be shorter range - fell into the Sea of Japan.

My standard line on this is "Keep testing missiles! Do you know how much kimchee it costs to build another one?" Clearly this is Kim Jong Il screaming "look at me, look at me" metaphorically. He wants to extract more largesse from the international community. Additionally, the long-range missile didn't work.

It is worth noting, however, that this comes on a day when it gets revealed that the CIA has closed its bin Laden tracking unit. I mean, it's not like he's responsible for the death of 3,000 Americans or anything. Much like with bin Laden, this government ignores the very real problems around the world while focusing directly on threats that are, to put it charitably, not as urgent. On this President's watch, North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons, and Iran has at least gone down that road. Somalia is in the hands of Islamists, and bin Laden is practically allowed to roam free. Meanwhile, Iraq, with their 500 unexploded and degraded sarin gas shells, is under occupation. The foreign policy priorities of this Administration are completely backward.


Happy 4th

I'm actually off on a holiday for the first time in quite a while. So enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.

For your viewing pleasure, watch this surgical strike by Dana Priest of the Washington Post on slot-machine addict Bill Bennett.

UPDATE: John Kerry on patriotism.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Dr. Mardozo's Traveling Sideshow Podcast Almost Up

I recorded a segment for a comedy podcast over the weekend. Here's a picture:

I kind of did a riff on this story from last week about the Utah House candidate who said Satan was keeping him from winning. It turned out pretty OK, I think.

The show should be up tomorrow or Wednesday, and there are a lot of good LA-based comedians involved, so check it out. It'll be available on iTunes (as Dr. Mardozo's Traveling Sideshow) and also at this link.


Yet Another Depressing Post on Iraq

The Iraqi Parliament is cracking up:

The largest Sunni Arab bloc in the Iraqi parliament said on Sunday it would boycott the fledgling legislature to protest the kidnapping of a colleague, at a time when the prime minister is pushing a reconciliation plan aimed at bringing religious sects together and lessening the daily violence.

The decision by the Sunni Accord Front, which holds 44 seats in the 275-member parliament, threatens to pull the legislature apart. The announcement came a day after legislator Tayseer Mashhadani and seven of her bodyguards were abducted in broad daylight on a busy street in a predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Baghdad. One of the leaders of the Accord Front, Adnan Dulaimi, said the Sunni parliament members would not participate in the legislature until Mashhadani was released.

When sectarian militias are not disarmed and allowed to flourish, you're going to get kidnappings and revenge killings and mass ethnic cleansing. Having armed camps based along religious lines is necessarily the ingredients of a civil war. The Parliament could make whatever laws they want and show up for work every day and shake hands with one another, but until the militias get under control, it really doesn't matter. Further, this meaningless Parliament isn't even able to stay collegial. And the reconciliation plan the Prime Minister is pushing appears DOA:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last month called for Sunni Arab insurgent groups to lay down their arms and asked them to return to the political fold. On Saturday, a truck bomb killed at least 66 people in a busy market in the heart of a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, the deadliest attack since the government took power in May.

"The major factions have refused this initiative and are not interested in it," said Hussein Falluji, a Sunni lawmaker. "This reconciliation plan is only in the prime minister's mind. It was born dead."

Of course, what the role of the US military can be in a civil war remains unclear, other than siding with one faction over the other. This frustration over the lack of a defined mission and the difficulty in determining the enemy ALWAYS lead to events like this:

A 21-year-old former soldier has been arrested in Marion, North Carolina, and charged with killing four Iraqi civilians in March, when he was serving in Iraq.

Steven D. Green, who had been stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Division, was taken into custody Friday evening, the Army said Monday in a news release.

He is charged with killing an Iraqi man, two women and a girl, as well as raping one of the females, according to U.S. Attorney David L. Huber of the Western District of Kentucky and FBI Special Agent in Charge Tracy Reinhold of Louisville, Kentucky.

All accounts from the DoJ and military officials indicate that this was premeditated rape and murder, where the GIs went to the girl's house with specific intentions and malice aforethought. This was not a case of mistaken identity; the girl would pass by the checkpoint where these soldiers were stationed all the time, attracting their attention. According to this article (via quinn) she was 15 years old (the military initially put her age at 20).

Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.

Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.

Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.

Janabi said he agreed.

Then, "I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear," Janabi said. "I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing."

Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter.

Instead, attackers came to the girl's house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister.

Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate.

I cannot throw this completely on the mission; these are cold-blooded killers. The details in this article are devastating. but the lack of a mission, the idleness, in the heat, the strain that war puts on you (one of these GIs was later dismissed from the Army for a "personality disorder"), makes the likelihood of something horrific like this happening that much greater.

Rape is a very serious crime in the Middle East. Juan Cole says that "the story is so explosive that most Iraqi newspapers have declined to report it." No doubt nudged in that direction by the Pentagon. We've really left a part of ourselves on this battlefield, a part of our humanity. I feel pain for everyone caught up in this nonsensical, assinine war, who are still there because a small man in Washington can't abide admitting a mistake. Waving the white flag? No, we're waving the flag of sanity. The one that stipulates that sending tens of thousands to their deaths so you can look like a tough guy defies all known logic, and is in fact criminal.


These Are The People Running The Country

Ted Stevens (who wears an Incredible Hulk tie on days when there are big votes):

There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right. (If Netflix doesn't get a commercial out of that, they're idiots -ed.)

But this service isn't going to go through the interent and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

That's why I get all my Internets delivered to my door. That way, I know when the Internet's coming, there's no wondering about "When's my Internet going to get here," it can be tracked (on a separate Internet), and nobody has to worry.

Good Jesus. This is the HEAD OF THE COMMITTEE that makes decisions on Internet commerce and Net Neutrality. Can we just force a guy to recuse himself on the grounds that he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about?

Read the transcript at Wired, too, it gets worse.


Guilty of Helping People

The overwhelming popularity of funding stem cell research and the promise of curing previously incurable diseases has forced the Republicans to flip-flop

Urged anew by Nancy Reagan, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Thursday revived a bill to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research after conservatives who had blocked it withdrew their objections.

"It's my intention now that we've gotten over this first hurdle that we will (vote on the bill) in the not too distant future," Frist said as he brought the three-bill package to the floor.

"We'll do this before we get out of here for the October break?" asked Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

"We will," replied Frist, R-Tenn.

The bill passed the House a year go, but Dr. Frist diagnosed it as dead on arrival to the Senate, presumably because he didn't want to upset his fundie benefactors in his run for the White House in 2008. The wingnuts simply don't value the progress of science over the life of a blastulae. The Vatican's even talking about excommunication, if you can believe that:

Scientists who engage in stem cell research using human embryos should be subject to excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church, according to a senior Vatican official.

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, who heads the group that proposes family-related policy for the church, said in an interview with the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana published Thursday that stem cell researchers should be punished in the same way as women who have abortions and doctors who perform them.

"Destroying an embryo is equivalent to abortion," said the cardinal. "Excommunication is valid for the women, the doctors and researchers who destroy embryos."

This is not some run-of-the-mill Vatican official, either, it's the Pope's top advisor on these issues. How a stem cell enbryo is a member of any family baffles me. This is a life-saving technique that has as its only goal eradicating diseases that have threatened the species for centuries. It's immoral not to allow science to move forward.

Of course, these are the guys that imprisoned Galileo.

If the Senate is actually going to seriously move stem cell legislation through, good. We're already falling behind the rest of the world in this field because we're not funding it at the federal level. Of course, with this Rubber Stamp Republican Congress, I'll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE: Think Progress has the details on how the stem cell issue is greatly affecting the Missouri Senate race.


Independence Day

Well, it's the day before, but Independence Day has come early for Joe Lieberman:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is to announce today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an "independent Democrat," giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.

Lieberman, 64, a three-term senator whose outspoken support of the war in Iraq has brought months of grief and inspired a strong primary challenge from Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, intends to announce his decision this afternoon at the State Capitol.

Even should he lose in August -- and the most recent public poll shows him leading Lamont by 15-percentage points among likely primary voters -- Lieberman would retain his status as a registered Democrat, but his name would not appear on the ballot line with other Democrats.

I guess Joementum wants to keep his committee assignments, so he's running as a "petitioning Democrat." That means "I'm a Democrat, but I have contempt for Democratic voters, so if I lose the primary I can still retain my divine right to be your Senator."

Lieberman had to announce this early, because of Connecticut election law. He's hedged his bets for hears. In 2000 he ran for Vice President and Senator at the same time. If he would have won both, the Republican governor of Connecticut would have appointed a fellow Republican to a 6-year term. The Senate ended up tied 50-50. Lieberman, were he elected, would have been responsible for handing the Senate back to the Republicans.

His job is more important that his party. It always has been. The question is whether the Party will follow him in this self-destructive manner. David Sirota sez:

Will the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee back Lieberman if Lieberman loses the Democratic Party primary? After all, the DSCC itself claims that its “mission is to elect more Democrats to the United States Senate.” So, will the DSCC respect the will of Democratic Party voters in Connecticut and back the Democratic nominee, even if it is Ned Lamont? Or, will the DSCC succumb to Washington insiderism and back Lieberman, even if he loses the Democratic Party primary and leaves the party?

It’s time to take action. Call the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at 202-224-2447 or email them here. Tell the party’s insiders in Washington that they should issue an official statement immediately promising to uphold their own mission statement, back Connecticut’s Democratic Senate nominee and not back someone who, after losing a Democratic Party primary, would leave the Democratic Party in order to cling to power.

That's a few minutes of your time well-spent for the sake of democracy. The Party may not come willingly, but eventually they're going to need to hop aboard and get out in front of the people who want real Democrats standing up for them in Washington. They can take all the credit they want when it succeeds. Just don't get in the way.


Too Close To Call

The Mexican election really does have wide-ranging effects for the US economy and the debate over immigration. A Mexico that makes the right choices about its people, that puts its poor on a track to succeed in their own country, becomes much less of a burden on its Northern neighbor. We don't yet know the outcome of the election, as leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and center-right Felipe Calderon have both claimed victory. And we may not know the answer for a few weeks.

One thing we should hope for is a victory for Lopez Obrador. Otherwise we will be subjected to more of the same Mexican policies that have caused millions of them to cross the border illegally during the neoliberal, "Washington consensus" economic stewardship of Vicente Fox. As a narrow group gets richer, the poor have been battered by NAFTA and forced to scatter. I was encouraged to see a major US newspaper, for the first time I can remember, actually print a story about the realities of NAFTA for all North American workers:

Francisco Herrera Sanchez is not an economics expert and knows little about globalization. But the octogenarian says he knows that something has gone terribly wrong with U.S.-backed trade policies that were supposed to lift millions of Mexicans from poverty.

He has seen hundreds of residents flee this farming community for the United States since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement began opening Mexico's markets to more low-cost U.S. agricultural products. He feels his neighbors' absence in the meager receipts at his tiny grocery in this hamlet about 3 1/2 hours southeast of the capital. "The riches are up there," said the 85-year-old widower, referring to the U.S. Here "there is nothing, not even music. Just silence, like a dead man hanging."

Many Americans are angry that as many as 12 million illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican, are living in the U.S., driven by lack of opportunities at home. Critics are demanding that Mexico right its stumbling economy, create jobs for its people and end its de facto development strategy of shipping its problems north of the border.

But some experts say U.S. economic policies have played a role in fueling the mass exodus. Pushed hard by the United States, Mexico began embracing the Washington-backed prescription of privatization, free trade and government austerity in the early 1980s. A quarter of a century later, the results are decidedly mixed and are the heart of Sunday's cliffhanger presidential election in Mexico.

There has been an surplus of Mexican trade with the US, but a severe lack of jobs, particularly for subsistence farmers, whose industry has been ravaged by American agribusiness. Nebraska corn shows up in Mexican tortilla manufacturing plants. This is not a level playing field. There's no way a small farmer in Oaxaca can compete with Archer Daniels Midland. And increasingly, that farmer is coming to the US to pick for them, instead. This is why Mexico has lost 30% of its farm jobs since the establishment of NAFTA. And for every job they've gained in the maquiladora factories (read: corporate sweatshops) that line the US border, they've lost four farm jobs. China has undercut their competitive edge as surely as they have the US.

This is an unbelievable statement for an establishment newspaper:

Economist Jeff Faux, author of a new book on globalization, said the current focus of the U.S. Congress on tougher border enforcement ignored the root economic causes pushing migrants north. He said talk of fences, guest worker programs and Mexican government ineptitude diverted attention from U.S.-backed policies such as NAFTA that have helped create the very flood of illegal immigrants that many Americans are now decrying.

"It's really unconscionable that there is no discussion of the American fingerprints on this," said Faux, founding president of the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute and author of "The Global Class War." "There is a lot of winking and nodding going on … because it's their business constituents that supported [NAFTA] and that are enjoying the benefits" of low-wage immigrant labor.

A Lopez Obrador victory, and it remains to be seen if that will happen, would at least open a discussion on NAFTA and how these policies are doing nothing but exacerbating the flow across the border. American business certainly doesn't want to have that debate. Neither does the current Administration. It would force them to come to grips with the fact that undocumented workers aren't coming to America because they want to steal hospital and education services. They're here because of awful trade policy.

"An essential part of any migration program designed to reduce the flow [of illegal immigrants] needs to have U.S. efforts to help Mexico develop its own economy," (Pamela) Starr said. "The U.S. has two options. It can import Mexican goods or it can import Mexican workers."


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Media Prints EXACT Location of the President's House!

The journo-terrorists are at it again. The Washington Post seems to have no problem with letting Al Qaeda know exactly where they can find President Bush:

In striking down the military commissions Bush sought for trials of suspected members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the high court Thursday invited Congress to establish new rules and put the issue prominently before the public four months before the midterm elections. As the White House and lawmakers weighed next steps, House GOP leaders signaled they are ready to use this week's turn of events as a political weapon.

Did the commie pinkos over at the Post just refer to the White House, where Mr. Bush and his wife and dog live? Jeez, do they want to put a target on the President's back as well?

Not only that, I found this Bin Laden-loving rag called The Wall Street Journal, and some writer named John Harwood (John al-Harwood?) decided to take it a step further:

Legislative leaders face a daunting equation when a president of their party occupies the Oval Office: reduced power -- since 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue sets the agenda -- plus increased expectations, since the governing party is supposed to deliver. Often that equals limited tenures, as one-time Senate Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Tom Foley can explain after seeing their majorities crumble in the Reagan and Clinton years.

OMG OMG OMG!!! Now everyone knows that Bush lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!!! It's only a matter of time before they figure out that's in Washington, DC!

I wonder how much money bin Laden paid John al-Harwood to print that to all the sleeper cells just waiting for us to slip up so they can strike! Somebody oughta hunt that guy down...

UPDATE: The turncoat British media is doing it too! They keep putting "10 Downing Street" in the paper! Why don't we just wave the white flag of surrender! Stupid Dhimmis!

(context here)