Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May, 2009

Part 12387498 Of “Have They No Shame?”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 27, 2009

How sick, amoral, and demented do you have to be to, like Newt Gingrich, send a Twitter message, from Auschwitz, calling respected jurist Sonia Sotomayor a racist?

I know that “racist” is the bogus and unfounded smear that King Rush Limbaugh has decreed you all must hurl at her today — calling her “stupid” was for yesterday, and for actual bigots like Pat Buchanan (funny how you guys don’t let him anywhere near Auschwitz) — but when does the evil stop, Republicans? When does the amorality stop for you guys? Is there nothing too sick for you all to do?

And the crowning sick laugh of the day: CNN’s Ed Hornick alleges that you all are “walking a fine line on Sotomayor”. So calling her a stupid racist is walking a fine line? Gee, what would he consider transgressive behavior from you all?

UPDATE: Oh, and even better: The quote of Sotomayor’s that Newt, Rush et al claim makes her a “racist”? It was butchered out of context by known right-wing operative Stuart Taylor. The circle is complete.

Posted in Newt Gingrich, projection, racism, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | 2 Comments »

Mexico, May 27th 2009

Posted by Charles II on May 27, 2009

Just a quick overview:

From Nancy Davies, a teacher’s strike is shaping up in Oaxaca.

From BBC

Mexican authorities have arrested 27 high-ranking officials suspected of collaborating with drug-trafficking gangs in the state of Michoacan.

They include 10 mayors, a judge and an aide to the governor of Michoacan.

___________
While Michoacan has had some extreme drug violence, the BBC’s naming of it as the most violent is doubtful, given what goes on in Ciudad Juarez.

Michoacan is split between the right-wing PAN and the left-wing PRD (with the PRD being somewhat stronger), so a key question is how these arrests may affect the political balance of power. Since the governor is PRD, one would guess that the damage will be inflicted mostly on the PRD

___________________

Ernesto Elorriaga and Gustavo Castillo, La Jornada:

The arrested included at least two PAN officials and an advisor to the PRD Governor Leonel Godoy, Citlalli Fernández. According to differing versions, the PRIist mayor of Zitacuaro was arrested with an orgy of violence or in a dignified surrender.

Gustavo Castillo García, La Jornada:

The national Procurator says that this isn’t narcopolitics, just personal behavior

Posted in Mexico, War On Some Drugs | 1 Comment »

Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 26, 2009

The skinny on her is that, far from what’s been stated by the obligatory right-wing smear jobs already being lobbed at her, she is a sober-minded and mature thinker.

Interestingly enough, the New York stock markets, which had been expected to follow the European and Asian markets and go sharply lower in reaction to the North Korean missile launch, have instead gone sharply up, starting their skyward climb shortly after the 10:15 am announcement of Sotomayor’s nomination:

djia052609

Considering that today’s ecnomic news has been at best mixed, or what the financial press usually considers “mixed” — much higher consumer confidence, but housing prices still are way down from their (vastly overinflated) values for the same quarter of 2008 — it’s tough to see what would make Wall Street’s investors suddenly forget about North Korea’s saber-rattling. Unless it was Sotomayor.

Posted in President Obama, stock market, Supreme Court, The smear industry | 5 Comments »

NYT Irrelevancy Watch: Helene Cooper Edition

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 26, 2009

The New York Times‘ Helene Cooper claimed Obama was attacking straw men. Except that, as Publius of Obsidian Wings notes, every single one of the “straw men” Cooper cites is very real indeed, as fifteen minutes with Lexis-Nexis or even plain old Google would have shown her.

Even better: as Robert Waldmann points out here, Cooper is a repeat offender — she tried this garbage six weeks ago — and had to butcher an Obama quote to do it.

Sigh.

Posted in GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, news media, President Obama | 2 Comments »

Obama Curtails Bush Policy Of “Preemption”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 25, 2009

Remember how Bush used weaker Federal regulations with regard to the environment, employee protections, and the like, to override stronger state policies concerning these issues?

Obama’s just undone that policy:

Obama, in a memorandum to federal agency heads issued late Wednesday, said his administration should undertake regulations preempting state laws in rare instances and “only with full consideration of the legitimate prerogatives of the states and with a sufficient legal basis for preemption.”

The president ordered department heads to review all regulations issued in the past 10 years that are designed to preempt state law and determine whether they are justified under the new policy. If they cannot be justified, Obama said, his administration should consider amending the regulations.

Bush administration officials inserted preemptive language into dozens of federal regulations, in many cases shielding corporations from restrictive state laws. For instance, federal preemption provisions stopped California from enforcing a law limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s environmental law, it’s drug law, it’s mortgage law, it’s a whole host of areas where the Bush administration was really aggressive about using regulatory action to clear state and local laws that businesses and corporations didn’t like,” said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

How do we know this is a good thing? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is already whining about it. So is the National Association of Manufacturers. Funnily enough, both of these groups are known for their lavish financial support of the Neo-Confederate “states’ rights” crowd that’s controlled the Republican Party for four decades. Of course, “states’ rights” in that case was a term for the “right” of the Confederate states to keep the descendants of freed slaves in some sort of legal and social and financial subordination. When it comes to actual states’ rights, the Neo-Confederates can always be found lined up with the corporate opposition.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, Good Things, President Obama | Tagged: | Comments Off on Obama Curtails Bush Policy Of “Preemption”

$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