Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 24th, 2009

$100M to destabilize Bolivia

Posted by Charles II on May 24, 2009

The USG makes such brilliant investments. Eva Golinger:

Recently declassified documents obtained by investigators Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger reveal that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested more than $97 million in “decentralization” and “regional autonomy” projects and opposition political parties in Bolivia since 2002. The documents, requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), evidence that USAID in Bolivia was the “first donor to support departmental governments” and “decentralization programs” in the country, proving that the US agency has been one of the principal funders and fomenters of the separatist projects promoted by regional governments in Eastern Bolivia….

One document, classified as “sensitive”, explains that this particular program began when USAID established an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Bolivia during 2004. The OTIs are a division of USAID that function as rapid response teams to political crises in countries strategically important to US interests…

Another principal priority of USAID in Bolivia as outlined in the declassified documents is the extensive funding and training of oppositional political parties. Through two US entities, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI), both considered international branches of the republican and democrat parties in the US that receive their funding from the Department of State and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USAID has been feeding – with funding and strategic political aide – political groups and leaders from the opposition in Bolivia.

Posted in Latin America | 11 Comments »

Mexico, May 25th 2009

Posted by Charles II on May 24, 2009

Another quick and very incomplete glance at Mexico

Owners of communal lands (ejidos) rejected an offer of ca. $2-$7/square meter of land for the construction of a refinery in the town of El Llano en Tula, Hidalgo. They want more like $100.

Lopez Obrador has been forced to defend himself against charges that he met with Carlos Ahumada Kurtz, a businessman convicted of corruption. This has gotten him into an unfortunate p–sing match with Proceso.

The Energy Secretary, Georgina Kessel promises that Mexico’s collapsing oil production will start to recover in 2010.

The Mexican government has been accused of being in bed with the narcotraffickers:

Sometime last weekend and somewhere in the mountains of southern Guerrero state, a group of at least 20 armed men presenting themselves as a column of the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI) appeared before Mexican reporters.

Uniformed and armed with AK-47 rifles, the group was led by Comandante Ramiro, or Omar Guerrero Solis, one of the most wanted men in Mexico and an almost folkloric figure who escaped from a prison outside Acapulco more than six years ago and wasn’t publicly seen again until last weekend’s secret press conference.

In comments to reporters, Comandante Ramiro accused the Calderon administration of not only staging the fight against drug trafficking, but of also protecting the interests of alleged drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The masked guerrilla commander charged Guerrero Gov. Zeferino Torreblanca, who was elected with the backing of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and social sectors sympathetic with the guerrilla movement, with also protecting Chapo Guzman and an alleged associate, Rogaciano Alba.

Posted in Mexico | Comments Off on Mexico, May 25th 2009

Business Roundtable

Posted by Charles II on May 24, 2009

The NY Review of Books has an interesting roundtable with Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini, Robin Wells, and George Soros, along with ex-Sen. Bradley, and also Niall Ferguson for comic relief.

To his credit, Bradley says we should nationalize the banks.

Nouriel says that things are and will be bad, but probably not catastrophic. He says that the solution is to convert debt into equity to reduce leverage, which I think isn’t right: basically this means flooding the market with major corporations priced as penny stocks. It might have worked when stock prices were near $100, but won’t work with stock prices below $20. If you could “induce the unsecured creditors to convert their claims into equity,” then they would have balance sheet problems. He also says this, which gets at the heart of what this means to the solution of the crisis:

But there are only a few ways of resolving that debt problem: either you default on it as countries like Argentina did; or you use the inflation tax to wipe out the real value of the debt; or you have to raise taxes and cut government spending.

Robin Wells seems to have pegged what I would call the ultimate source of the crisis:

I think this story starts really in the Eighties. During the Reagan years, we experienced chronic fiscal deficits, and we began to abdicate our responsibility to raise tax revenue that could sustainably finance government. In order to do that, we had to borrow, and who did we borrow from? We borrowed from countries that were running persistent trade surpluses.

Krugman says,

We are currently in debt about 60 percent of GDP. We have in the past been as high as 100 percent of GDP at the end of World War II without having a crisis, but your ability to go that high does depend upon people’s belief that you will behave responsibly, and that is somewhat in question

There’s more. It’s a conversation worth reading.

Posted in financial crisis, Paul Krugman | 2 Comments »

El Baradei Speaks

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 24, 2009

And, outside of Salon, nobody in the US media cared enough to tell us.

Salon’s posting of the Der Spiegel interview is here.

What’s interesting is that the reporters, while taking a decidedly anti-Iran/pro-Israel slant, somehow manage to allow El Baradei to make his points, all of which challenge if not outright debunk what passes for conventional wisdom in the US media.

Posted in GOP/Media Complex, Iran, israel, nukes, Obama Administration | Comments Off on El Baradei Speaks

The Weird Obliqueness Of The GOP

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 24, 2009

I’m sure by now you all have heard about the rather strange Republican National Committee attack ad leveled against Nancy Pelosi as part of their grand and deeply misogynistic GOP/Media pile-on intended to distract our attention from Bush/Cheney crimes.

What’s unusual here is that it’s a stupid ad, and fails at its task. If the RNC wants to strike fear in the hearts and genitals of white male blue-collar voters, they can’t do so by comparing Nancy Pelosi to Pussy Galore. Ms. Galore is a sexy, smart, sympathetic character, and a good girl at heart who Bond winds up redeeming. If they wanted to use a Bond villainess to hit the various misogyny and homophobia buttons in the Joe Sixpacks of the nation, Rosa Klebb would have been the smarter choice by far — see, Rosa Klebb’s a lesbian, and Pelosi lives in San Francisco, which has lots of lesbians!

But aside from whether the ad itself actually works, it seems to be typical of a new iteration of their long-standing habit of obliqueness from the Republicans — similar to what the late Lee Atwater referred to in 1981 as “getting abstract“:

”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.”’

Ever wonder why Republicans pushed the Obama’s-A-Muslim and Obama’s-A-Foreigner storylines? It’s because, as Lee Atwater said back in 1981, you can’t say ‘nigger’. Just as “cutting taxes” became oblique, abstracted Republican code for oppressing black people, Republicans use Muslims and foreigners as stand-ins for black and brown people in America.

And Al Giordano notes yet another facet of the GOP’s abstraction diamond, in that the hysteria whipped up over housing Guantanamo detainees in US prisons is made to subtly piggyback onto not just general fears of The Other, but onto the fears previously whipped up against undocumented workers from Latin America.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, Gitmo, Pelosi, President Obama, propaganda, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer | Comments Off on The Weird Obliqueness Of The GOP