Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for January 20th, 2008

Great moments in irony

Posted by Charles II on January 20, 2008

From the Beeb:

Mr Walters said [Venezuelan president] Mr Chavez had failed to root out corrupt officials or to deny Venezuelan ports and airfields to smugglers.

Such failure, he said, came from more than neglect.

“It goes beyond ‘I can’t do it’ to ‘I won’t do it’. And ‘I won’t do it’ means that ‘I am colluding’,” Mr Walters said.

“I think it is about time to face up to the fact that President Chavez is becoming a major facilitator of the transit of cocaine to Europe and other parts of this hemisphere.”

Someone might say something very similar about President Bush and the failure, despite a massive militarization of the southern border, to intercept traffickers. In fact, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb did, though it had to do with another Bush. From PBS:

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of that sub-Committee, had this to say about the recent allegations raised by Mr. Webb and others, “There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, or on the payroll of the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the Contras…” 

Update: Apologies to Stormcrow for the disappeared post. Some days, all ten fingers go fat. Thanks for reminding me to do the link to the BBC article. Thanks also for the link to Michael Fletcher in the Washington Post, who wrote:

White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers’ districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said documents obtained by his panel suggest that the appearances by the drug control officials were part of a larger White House effort to politicize the work of federal agencies that “may be more widespread than previously known.”

Waxman cited a memo written by former White House political director Sara M. Taylor showing that John P. Walters, director of the drug control office, and his deputies traveled at taxpayer expense to about 20 events with vulnerable GOP members of Congress in the three months leading up to the elections….

The drug control office has had a history of being nonpartisan, and a 1994 law bars the agency’s officials from engaging in political activities even on their own time.

As Stormcrow noted, Walters is a fine one to talk about lawbreaking, considering how casually he breaks them.

Posted in Busheviks, Venezuela | 4 Comments »

The self-destructing Democrats

Posted by Charles II on January 20, 2008

Thomas E. Mann, Molly Reynolds and Nigel Holmes  did an OpEd in the New York Times (via t/o).

The OpEd itself is pretty dull reading. “Dems accomplish goals, which were of limited importance” could sum it up. Fewer earmarks. Some restraint on the corruption through ethics and lobbying reform. A rise in the minimum wage falls beneath the radar of Mann et al. But the graphic is telling, and here is the story it tells:

In 2005, the most corrupt Congress in two generations started out with an approval rating of 43% and reduced it to 29% by the end of the session. In 2007, the Democratic Congress started out with an approval of 35% and succeeded in reducing it to 22%. (disapproval for both Democrats and Republicans is very high).

The Senate has spent 30 more days and 200 more hours in session than at any time since the Gingrich railroad, while the House has spent 20 more days and 300 more hours. The House has almost doubled the roll call votes and increased substantive bills by about 50% and routine bills have roughly doubled, but the Senate has not passed more substantive legislation than in a typical year. Symbolic bills have roughly tripled in both chambers. (Granted, one person’s symbol is another person’s substance, so caveat emptor)

There are fewer open House bills and more closed, structured, or self-executing bills. Oversight hearings have increased. Clouture motions have (no surprise) increased.

The conclusion I take away is that the Democrats have failed to change the political dynamic. Instead, the Congress is awash in symbolism and oversight, without that translating into action. The public is restless, and blame is being apportioned equally between the parties.

Posted in Democrats, Republicans | 10 Comments »

Why Privatizing Our Elections Is Not a Good Idea

Posted by MEC on January 20, 2008

When states buy voting machines, they often buy related services from the manufacturer: programming the machines, training elections workers, etc.

In Maryland, the state’s contract with Diebold Election Systems (now officially renamed Premier Election Solutions) includes transporting the machines from the warehouse to the polling places. Apparently, there’s nothing in the contract to prevent Diebold from subcontracting this work.

So they hired a company owned by the former chairman of Maryland’s Republican party to take custody of the machines “for hours at a time”.

These would be the Diebold machines that “produce no paper trail and have experienced glitches that have invited close scrutiny after previous elections.”

We’ve seen numerous demonstrations of how easy it is to hack a Diebold machines. We’ve seen numerous reports of Republicans using unethical and illegal means to rig the election outcomes.

But according to state legislatures all over the country, the real threat to the integrity of our elections is voters who don’t have government-issued identity cards.

Posted in capitalism as cancer, Diebold, election theft, voting machines, wrong way to go about it | Comments Off on Why Privatizing Our Elections Is Not a Good Idea

Obama Won Nevada

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 20, 2008

Yes, he did — and here’s how (h/t Adam B):

Barack Obama may have won the most delegates in Saturday’s Nevada Caucus, even though Hillary Clinton bested his statewide turnout by about six points.

A source with knowledge of the Nevada Democratic Party’s projections told The Nation that under the arcane weighting system, Obama would win 13 national convention delegates and Clinton would win 12 delegates. The state party has not released an official count yet.

Barack Obama released an official statement celebrating a delegate victory. “We came from over twenty-five points behind to win more national convention delegates than Hillary Clinton because we performed well all across the state, including rural areas where Democrats have traditionally struggled,” he said.

A current estimate of the national convention delegate count is below, though not all precincts have fully reported.

District 1 Clinton 3, Obama 3

District 2 (Washoe) Clinton 1, Obama 2

District 2 (Rural) Clinton 0, Obama 1

District 2 (Clark) Clinton 1, Obama 1

District 3 (Clark) Clinton 2, Obama 2

At-Large Clinton 2, Obama 1

PLEO Clinton 3, Obama 3

UPDATE: The Obama Campaign is now pushing hard to promote this delegate victory. The campaign is convening a post-caucus conference call for reporters -- something that only winning campaigns usually do -- and circulating numerous Clinton quotes about how delegates are the only thing that matter. From the new press release:

Senator Obama was awarded 13 delegates to Senator Clinton's 12. As Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson said, "This is a race for delegates...It is not a battle for individual states. As David knows, we are well past the time when any state will have a disproportionate influence on the nominating process. [Washington Post, 1/16/08]

The Nevada Democratic Party has spoken — per MSNBC — and guess what?

The Nation is right! Obama DID get more delegates:

But hold on, folks. The Nevada Democratic Party just issued this clarification (emphasis is ours): “No national convention delegates were awarded. That said, if the delegate preferences remain unchanged between now and April 2008, the calculations of national convention delegates being circulated by the Associated Press are correct. We look forward to our county and state conventions where we will choose the delegates for the nominee that Nevadans support.”

What does this mean? It looks like the Obama camp’s math (as well as the AP’s and NBC’s) is correct.

So Hillary’s Nevada win is not only not the crushing blow it was being made out to be, it’s really not even a win — as it’s the delegate count that matters.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »

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