Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Calderón is as smooth a technical fighter as there is in the sport, but he has zero pop, and his fights are as patterned and predictable as an assembly line. I like him to stink it out even more than usual against Cázares, who roughed him up in their first bout, and win a decision.
John Ruiz, who would be this generation's Sugar Ray Robinson if boxing rewarded clinching, steps back into the ring with Russian giant Nikolai Valuev. Valuev, a seven-footer who looks more like a Grand Theft Auto villain than anyone on the planet, scored a controversial decision over the Quiet Man in 2005. Both men are said to have improved in the interim, though I've seen neither fight since then. Just as in 2005, this fight is in Germany, so any decision will go to Valuev, and I don't see Ruiz throwing enough punches to knock him out. Hopefully, Valuev takes on Vlad Kitschko next. It would be a fun promotion, building up to an easy knockout for Lil Bro.
Gancho Boxing is 5-4 on the year.
Obama has vowed to "cut investments in unproven missile defense systems."A fair (if underdeveloped) point. But then, a mere four paragraphs later:
Steamboats, railroads, airplanes and vaccines were "unproven" until farsighted
people made investments.
Obama's rhetorical extravagances are inversely proportional to his details, asI love that vaudeville joke (and applying it other timeless combinations: gin and tonic, Gibson and Glover, Swedish bikini teams and Old Milwaukee/Old Milwaukee Light), but how is the second argument any different from the first?
when he promises "nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy" in
order to "end the age of oil." The diminished enthusiasm of some voters hitherto
receptive to his appeals might have something to do with the seepage of reality
from his rhetoric. Voters understand that neither the "transformation" nor the
"end" will or should occur. His dreamy certitude that "alternative" fuels will
quickly become real alternatives is an energy policy akin to an old vaudeville
joke: "If we had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs, if we had some ham."
I heard on Pedro Ferriz de Con's radio show this morning that 72 percent of his listeners had come down agains the ruling, which would seem to be a pretty strong argument against legalized abortion in Mexico. However, his presumably conservative audience plays a big role here. I dug up a poll by Consulta Mitofski that shows 59 percent of Mexicans are in favor of legalized abortion. I'm guessing the latter poll is a more accurate reflection of the Mexican population.
Let's dedicate this Friday to heated American reproductive hot-button issues, transplanted to Latin America: take a look at Chile's squabbles over the morning-after pill here.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
[T]he idea of having greater controls on the police agencies, by way of the
establishment of military-style disciplinary measures, doesn't sound
hair-brained. One of the characteristics of the Mexican army for which it has
been used in combating drug trafficking is precisely that: there
are stronger mechanisms of corruption control, although it hasn't
disappeared, nor will it.
But, unlike what is occurring today with the country's police, the incomes
of the soldiers are known by everyone and there's no possibility of, through
legal means, earning more. If a soldier with a low salary appears overnight with
a house in Bosques de las Lomas and a Ferrari, it's obvious that he is receiving
illicit money. It's that simple.
There's also a very strict control of the activities that they carry out:
where they are and where they go. There exists, at the same time, a greater
institutional support in the case of sickness or incapacity, which generates
esprit de corps, a sense of belonging to the institution, which doesn't exist
in the great majority of Mexican police forces.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe the Soviets saw Carter as a
committed ideological foe as well as geopolitical adversary--and as a President
prepared to act on his hostility in both arenas. And in that he represented
a decided change from his predecessors going back to Eisenhower. Further,
I think the Kremlin later came to see great continuity between Carter's
approach to them and that of his successor, Ronald Reagan. In fact, Carter
prepared the ground for Reagan in the strategic arena, confronting the Soviets
and Cubans in the Third World, and in challenging the legitimacy of Soviet
authority at home. He took the first steps to strip away the mask of Soviet
ascendancy and exploit the reality of Soviet vulnerability. Unfortunately for
Carter, until now hardly anyone has known.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'm all for pundits and reporters pointing out the gap in Obama's idealistic rhetoric and his less idealistic campaign tactics (John Dickerson's been all over that for months), but two points are worth mentioning: first, there is a difference between campaigns and governance. A dirty campaigner may be more likely to inject partisanship into his government (see Bush, George W), but that doesn't mean that Obama can't apply a new post-partisan paradigm to governing after several months of hammering McCain. In any event, aggressively pointing out where McCain has changed his opinions over the last few years and why the maverick image is something of a sham is not one the same level as the Swift Boaters.
At the core, Obama’s best message has always been this: He is unconnected with the tired old fights that constrict our politics. He is in tune with a new era. He has very little experience but a lot of potential. He does not have big achievements, but he is authentically the sort of person who emerges in a multicultural, globalized age. He is therefore naturally in step with the problems that will confront us in the years to come.
So as I’m trying to measure the effectiveness of this convention, I’ll be jotting down a little minus mark every time I hear a theme that muddies that image. I’ll jot down a minus every time I hear the old class conflict, and the old culture war themes. I’ll jot down a minus when I see the old Bush obsession rearing its head, which is not part of his natural persona. I’ll write a demerit every time I hear the rich played off against the poor, undercutting Obama’s One America dream.
I’ll put a plus down every time a speaker says that McCain is a good man who happens to be out of step with the times. I’ll put a plus down every time a speaker says that a multipolar world demands a softer international touch. I’ll put a plus down when a speaker says the old free market policies worked fine in the 20th century, but no longer seem to be working today. These are arguments that reinforce Obama’s identity as a 21st-century man.
Second, holding Democrats to a standard that Republicans dynamited a generation ago is a bit unfair, and a recipe for Democrats losing races that they should win. Obama's invited a lot of that with his persona, but anyone who takes him to task for not holding as firmly as perhaps he should to his new-politics promise should also recognize that Republicans have made it very hard to win the presidency without periodic trips to the gutter.
Monday, August 25, 2008
These blank pages are not an error. It's the sad evidence of how, as a society, we have become the target of insecurity and terror: kidnapping, violence, organized crime, impunity. These blank pages are cries of fear. Cries to the emptiness lifted up by victims of insecurity and violence. Cries that the society listens to with horror. Cries that the authorities don't hear, don't attend to, leave blank. These blank pages are absence of action from the authorities. Without worrying about the clamor for protection of citizens, they have left blank their promises to combat crime, to reform the obsolete judicial system. To guarantee us tranquility. These blank pages are the new banner of the society. A banner of peace and insistence from all of Mexico waving before the authorities. We demand that the put to one side their political differences and fulfill their fundamental obligation: our security. Now, enough already!
Of all the complaints made against Barack Obama, the one I least understand is that he's some kind of millennial cult leader. An ad for John McCain and endless conservative commentary have harped on the theme of what National Review editor Rich Lowry called Obama's "secular messianism." Conservatives have sternly lectured Obama's fans that he will not, in fact, deliver paradise if elected. I agree! But why is this a reason to vote against him? McCain isn't going to create heaven on earth, either. Obama, however, might deliver health care reform and a more moderate federal judiciary.Later:
Next, there is Obama's declaration that "we are the ones we've been waiting for." The point, which he has made many times, is that voters should take responsibility themselves for enacting change, and thus that his supporters should not treat him as a savior. Obama-as-cult-leader screeds insist upon reading the meaning as the exact reverse. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, "in the words of his own slogan, 'we are the ones we've been waiting for,' which, translating the royal 'we,' means: 'I am the one we've been waiting for.'" As a pundit, I'm intrigued by this technique of taking a word out of your subject's statement and substituting its opposite. Did you know that McCain's slogan, "Country first," could be translated via the Krauthammer method into "Country last"? Why does John McCain hate America?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Gentlemen: if you think the bar is very high, if you think it is impossible to do, if you can't, quit. But don't continue occupying government offices, don't continue receiving a salary for not doing anything.
It's absolutely serious that Marcelo Ebrard doesn't want to shake hands nor sit with President Felipe Calderón. For the first time they will find themselves in the session of the National Security Council and the perredista [Ebrard] doesn't want a photo.
Olympic boxing is little more than a sword-less fencing match, and the scoring is a joke. The scoring system takes a flaw inherent in boxing—human judgment and therefore human error—and, without doing anything to alleviate it, hides it behind a mask of technological objectivity. Twenty years ago, at least we knew who was screwing Roy Jones in Korea. Today, a corrupt or biased judge is nearly impossible to finger individually.
It also creates a gigantic gap between the skills needed to succeed at the highest amateur and professional levels. This year's Olympic failure coincides with a steep decline in the professional fortunes of the Olympic team. From 1960 to 1996 (with the exception of the boycotted 1980 Olympics), there was an average of one boxer per team who was destined to be a pound-for-pound top three entry, and arguably top 50 all time: Mayweather, de la Hoya, Jones, Holyfield, Whitaker, Leonard, Foreman, Frazier, and Clay. In Jermain Taylor and Jeff Lacy, the 2000 team had two guys loaded with physical talent but saddled with technical flaws, and both were ultimately unable to make the leap into superstardom in the pro ranks (though I guess there’s an outside shot Taylor could still add a great deal to his legacy at super-middleweight). The cream of the 2004 crop, Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward, seem even less likely to break through. It's not a coincidence that almost all of the best American boxers to come up in the last eight years --Paul Williams, Kelly Pavlik, Juan Diaz-- haven’t been Olympians. Nor is it just the Americans; by my count, Miguel Cotto is the only ex-Olympian on Dan Rafael’s top ten pound-for-pound list-- and his very un-amateur style got him bounced in the first round in the Sydney Games.
Now, back to the pros!
Obama-Biden will be a formidable ticket, and a risky ticket, and not a comfort zone choice for Obama. "It's a big ball pick, not a small ball pick," an adviser said.
Put aside the obvious: Biden has foreign policy meat on his bones...He's a great debater... he's the party's best foreign policy surrogate... world leaders call him...he has a working-class Scranton-bred Irish-Catholic heritage...he knows Washington very well...he has known tragedy in his life..
He was elected to the Senate as a change agent at the age of 29. He is comfortable but not wealthy -- he has not used the prerogatives of office to enrich his personal wealth, although his family has benefited from his stature. (The GOP will quickly point out that one of his sons is a lobbyist.)
Biden premised his presidential candidacy on the notion that Obama was unqualified and not ready from day one. You can expect that the McCain campaign or the RNC will run a national television advertisement featuring Biden's many and various quotations to this effect. Biden will have to explain why he has changed his mind.
I gather that what impressed Obama about Biden is that Biden gets things done. He's a man of action. He's not a bullshitter. I also get the sense that Biden, 65, is pretty well aware that, at age 73 in eight years, he's not going to be a viable presidential choice, and thus was able to convince Obama that because the vice presidency would be his terminal position, the famous Biden ego will take a subordinate role.
I gather that Obama realizes that he needed a pick that would demonstrate some level of intellectual seriousness about the condition of the world. One of his sons heads for Iraq soon. Obama knows that, for Biden, getting Iraq right is much more than just about proving a point. If Georgia had not been invaded by Russia, would Biden be as attractive? Maybe. Counterfactuals for another time.
Biden is also a fighter on domestic policy. He touts as one of his greatest legislative accomplishments 1994's Violence Against Women Act. He's a mainline Democrat whose fingerprints are on most of the major liberal policy accomplishments over the past few decades.
Some liberals think he's a bully who got the Iraq war wrong (although Biden did try to pass a less bellicose resolution.) But I suspect that the general response from most Democrats will be "Great choice."
The criticism will focus on Biden's 1987 plagiarism bout, his support of credit card companies (he pushed the bankruptcy bill that Dems hate), his comments about Obama, his racial obliviousness (the comment about Indian-Americans in 7/11). He's a DC Insider. Obama didn't double down on hope. In a normal year, this stuff would have disqualified him instantly. The biggest trope may be that the Dems are an All Talk ticket. Two famous talkers.
That Obama (apparently) picked him demonstrates a recognition that the Democratic ticket ought to be more than just about Obama's personality... or a statement of bipartisan pragmatism... it's easy to float on gossamers when the world is safe, but when it's burning down, a guy like Biden is just the ticket. I take it that Obama likes the fact that Biden gets things done. Sure, he talks a lot. But he gets things done.
Ron Fournier says the pick demonstrates a lack of confidence. Maybe. Or maybe the pick demonstrates Obama's confidence and a tempering of his overconfidence. Confidence, because Biden could upstage him, will be independent, and will be better at certain things than Obama. But if Obama were overconfident, if he believed that his personality and story alone were enough, then he'd have chosen someone less threatening.
On the trust issue: I take the conversation went something like this: "Barack, you can trust me because what you see is what you get."
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I'd like to have more to say about the US win over Guatemala, but as is often the case, they didn't televise it here in Mexico. If Nafta is renegotiated next year, Mexico's blackouts of the US national team should be at the top of the agenda.
Nationalization supporters who had gathered outside a Cemex plant in eastern Venezuela sang the national anthem while fireworks exploded overhead, according to news reports.This part of the LA Times story is quite misleading:
The bad blood between Mexico and Venezuela has been brewing for some time. Last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Calderon publicly chastised Venezuela for moving "toward the past" with "harmful" socialist policies.That slip of the tongue a few months after Calderón got to office was one of the very few examples of Mexico aiming any fire at Venezuela. (And if I remember correctly, it was an indirect criticism. I don't think he mentioned Venezuela's or Chávez's name in regard to the harmful socialism, though I may be mistaken.) Calderón may be right-of-center, but the salient aspect of his foreign policy has been a more accommodating approach toward Cuba and Venezuela. And look what it got him.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
There's a moral problem with all the pro-Georgia cheerleading, which has gotten lost in the op-ed blasts against Putin's neo-imperialism. A recurring phenomenon of the early Cold War was that America encouraged oppressed peoples to rise up and fight for freedom -- and then, when things got rough, abandoned them to their fate. The CIA did that egregiously in the early 1950s, broadcasting to the Soviet republics and the nations of Eastern Europe that America would back their liberation from Soviet tyranny. After the brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956, responsible U.S. leaders learned to be more cautious, and more honest about the limits of American power.
Now, after the Georgia war, McCain should learn that lesson: American leaders shouldn't make threats the country can't deliver or promises it isn't prepared to keep. The rhetoric of confrontation may make us feel good, but other people end up getting killed.
[In] the last few days he's made his attacks even sharper, emphasizing the link between McCain and Bush and portraying McCain as a poll-driven Washington insider out of touch with regular people. In perhaps the most aggressive attack on his opponent's values, he raised questions about McCain's honor. "I have never suggested, and never will, that Sen. McCain picks his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition," he said. "I have not suggested it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America's national interest. Now, it's time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same."I'm not sure that I see Obama attacking McCain's honor in that quote. It seems more like he's defending himself against attacks on his own (like the suggestion that he would rather win an election than a war).
The essential issue is control, not centralization; local police forces in Mexico too often answer to criminals, not the proper political bosses. It may seem easier to oversee one giant police agency from the federal government, but there's no reason that a governor or mayor or city council can't do it on a smaller scale. And there's also no reason to think of centralizing the police as some sort of corruption cure-all. After all, federal officers, though by and large more reliable than locals, are involved in plenty of illegal shenanigans, too.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The PRD is no longer a party, nor does it behave as one.
From said article:
Now if only the two former rivals could get past ... oh, where to begin?I'm not sure I've ever seen a more colloquial style in the Times. How did all the above make it through edits? Also, I understand that with a conversational approach you can take some grammatical liberties, but wouldn't it be more correct to have "bottom line" (which, for your convenience, appears in the bottom line of the quote) followed by a colon rather than a comma? After all, he's in essence saying, "The bottom line is that which follows:"
Think back to high school: In interviews on Monday, Clinton aides said they thought Mr. Obama did not like Mrs. Clinton. Clinton aides also said they thought Mr. Obama thinks Mrs. Clinton does not like him. And, like him or not, she is skeptical that he can win, her aides continue to say. Bottom line, chemistry might be a problem here.
The article also mentions that the department says there is increasing interconnection between drug traffickers and kidnapping cells. This would seem to suggest an increasing number of drug traffickers don't have access to their product thanks to higher levels of interdiction over the past couple of years. To maintain their cash flow, drug gangs turn to other activities, kidnapping among them. This pattern has been documented in Tijuana and will likely be repeated elsewhere. It's a phenomenon that the government needs to keep in mind as it charts security strategy.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Also, the PRI mentions reaffirming its roots as the party of Lázaro Cárdenas, but will that mean anything beyond rhetoric? It makes sense politically since Cárdenas remains a beloved figure, but his ideas are 70 years old, and the PRI is in the midst of partially undoing his most celebrated achievement in office, the oil nationalization.
I agree that Obama needs to show some urgency, but more as it relates to his campaign than on the issues and events making news. I've never felt that an Obama victory was less likely (although I think it's still probably a coin flip) than I do now. The polls (both nationally and in key states) have been moving in McCain's direction recently, and a big reason is that Obama isn't being aggressive enough. McCain has flipped on more positions than Kerry ever did. He has said that his grasp of the economy is quite limited. He has foreign policy views (and a cohort of foreign policy advisers) well to the right of the mainstream. The image of McCain as a moderate maverick is simply wrong, but not enough voters recognize this, and it's Obama's job to inform the public of this. I understand that he wants a new brand of politics, but there's no dishonor in going negative if you aren't tarring the man personally.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The proposal, for which he has expressed sympathy, is: No officer of any corporation receiving a federal subsidy, broadly defined, can be paid more than the highest-paid federal civil servant ($124,010 for a GS-15). This would abruptly halt the galloping expansion of private economic entities -- is GM next? -- eager to become, in effect, joint ventures with Washington.
The lack of leadership demonstrated by Felipe Calderón, Marcelo Ebrard, and in general the entire political class is worrying. And I'd say to them that before the growing demands of the citizens to do something to combat the epidemic of kidnappings, violence, and insecurity in which the country lives, the reactions have left a lot, a whole lot, to be desired.Salazar's harsh tone is apt, but I think it's still possible that the politicians make a credible showing of themselves in regard to the Martí case; if in ten years Mexico has independent and competent security agencies around the country as a result of reforms undertaken in these next few months, no one will remember the squabbling and the lack of coordination now occurring. However, that doesn't seem to likely at this point, and if it doesn't happen, they all share the blame for letting a golden opportunity slip away.
What a shame that it has to be civil society headed by María Elena Morera, who directs Mexico United Against Delinquency, and relatives of kidnapping victims, such as Alejandro Martí, who have to request that those who direct the fate of the this country get to work, that they search for solutions or listen to those objectively offered and that they reach agreements to drive down criminality.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Merida Initiative is stingy by any standard but especially by U.S. standards. Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are allocated only $65 million -- one-sixth the amount that legislators initially deemed necessary. Mexico receives $400 million a year, a comparatively princely sum but the same amount that the United States spends in Iraq in a single day.It's kind of ironic that the leader of Costa Rica, the safest of any of the nations receiving Mérida money, would makes this point, but it's hard to dispute.
Friday, August 15, 2008
"This demonstrates that there is a lot of love for you...I think you should use some of that love for yourself."
The high moral dudgeon on display today is an obscenity--not nearly as obscene as the Russian violence in Georgia, of course, but ghastly in its own way because it promises continuing American myopia and the policy puerility that--as we have seen in Iraq...and also, as Fred Kaplan argues, in Georgia--gets innocent people killed.That's three dashes and an ellipse in just one sentence. Impressive.
Also, Guillermo Ochoa criticized Mexico's extensive use of nationalized foreigners on la selección. The large number of talented South Americans playing in Mexico combined with the relative weakness of the homegrown talent puts the program in a unique situation. You have lots of guys with extensive ties to Mexico who would be able to contribute on their national team but not on the Argentine or Brazilian sides. Sven-Goran has ramped up the use of naturalized Mexicans, too, calling up Matías Vuoso, Leandro Augusto, Sinha Naelson, and Guillermo Franco. Four foreign-born players is too many for one national team, in my view. I'm not sure there should be a rule against the practice, since it's not as extensive elsewhere, but it would be a shame if a Mexican team playing two Argentines and two Brazilians knocked a purely Nigerian (or Croatian or American) squad out of the World Cup.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Anyone walking into Tropic Thunder looking to be offended by Downey's minstrel turn will soon find that the movie is two steps ahead. His role is no one-note, let's-shock-the-audience race joke—it's a densely layered little study of American racial anxiety.And:
At any rate, never has a role so cannily taken advantage of [Tom] Cruise's compact, thumblike body shape—that is, his physical resemblance to a penis.
Such a meeting, like many of the proposed changes to Mexico's crime-fighting strategy, is great, as long as it's not confused with being a solution in and of itself. Greater communication and trust between different police agencies, levels of government, and political parties is an important step; a one-off meeting designed to give the illusion of cooperation is worthless. I'm not sure into which category the proposed event will fall.
I've seen/heard/read a few interviews with Alejandro Martí in the last couple days, and he has been monumentally impressive. His last few months were more difficult than any experience most people will ever face, and yet he talks very little on himself, focusing instead on what Mexico can learn from his tragedy. He's been the most logical and forward-minded of anyone commenting on the event.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
A few years ago there existed a commercial that asked: "It's 11 at night, do you know where our children are?" That same question should be put to the authorities: Do you know where your police are? It's obvious that most do not.Thus, stricter control mechanisms are urgent. You could think, for example, of satellite positioning systems for patrol cars and even for the police themselves. You could think systematic controls of confidence and a oversight of bank accounts and assets of police.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Santiago Vasconcelos is a man who knows like few others the environment of law enforcement, organized crime and the relationship with the institutions of other countries, especially the Untied States. And he should be protected for that.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Just 100 U.S. firearms agents and 35 inspectors patrol the vast border region for gun smugglers, compared with 16,000 Border Patrol agents, most of them working the Southwest border.I liked this part, too:
Elias Bazan, a supervisory agent with the ATF in Laredo, Texas, has a staff of just six agents at one of the grittiest stretches along the Rio Grande.
"I don't have an analyst," he said. "I don't have an administrative assistant. I don't have an inspector. One major case can soak up my entire office. And we have major cases all the time."
Last year, 2,455 weapons traces requested by Mexico showed that guns had been purchased in the United States, according to the ATF. Texas, Arizona and California accounted for 1,805 of those traced weapons.That's not exactly the most insightful estimate from U.S. authorities. Since 2,455 guns found in Mexico had American roots, how could the number not be in the thousands?
No one is sure how many U.S.-purchased guns have made their way into Mexico, but U.S. authorities estimate the number in the thousands.
The speed at which Mexico's leaders are responding to this crisis is impressive, but it makes you wonder how much it has all been thought through, if politicians are more worried about being seen to respond than actually responding. For instance: is the Investigatory Police going to amount to more than a change in name for the Judicial Police? Is Calderón's proposal of life sentences for kidnappers going to be accompanied by any rise in the conviction rate? Is the federal anti-kidnapping division, which seems to have been thrown together at breakneck speed, the result of careful planning and adequate training? I think it's great that there's this groundswell of outrage against criminals and even better that the government at all levels seems to be responding, but it remains to be seen if all this will lead to an improvement in security.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Barack Obama remains opposed to new offshore drilling (although he now says he would accept a highly restricted version as part of a comprehensive package). Just last week, he claimed that if only Americans would inflate their tires properly and get regular tuneups, "we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling."He even takes some inspiration from an unexpected source:
This is bizarre...
Do everything. Wind and solar. A tire gauge in every mailbox. Hell, a team of oxen for every family (to pull their gasoline-drained SUVs). The consensus in the country, logically unassailable and politically unbeatable, is to do everything possible to both increase supply and reduce demand, because we have a problem that's been killing our economy and threatening our national security. And no one measure is sufficient.
Let's start a national campaign, Cuban-style, with giant venceremos posters lining the highways. ("Inflate your tires. Victory or death!") Why must there be a choice between encouraging conservation and increasing supply? The logical answer is obvious: Do both.
You think Steve Schmidt et al are hoping the Tennessee-UCLA game on September 1 is a barn burner?Sorry boys, East Tennessee may be the most conservative place on the planet, but we can't help you out here. This one is going to be over in the second quarter. The Vols march into LA and take the Bruins' heart; utter domination from kickoff to final whistle. Bush and Cheney play to an entirely undistracted, attentive TV audience. Go Vols!
Mexico's economic destiny will continue to be inextricably linked to that of the United States. Even if the United States escapes from inflation and recession, its recovery will be slow and Mexican growth will be very limited. If in this scenario the government takes care of qualitative issues, for example, security, spending austerity, quality of education, and honesty, it will advance a great deal. If it can't even achieve visible progress in these fields, it will dangerously magnify the effects of the lack of growth. We'll see the results shortly.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Mexican: What did he do?Me: He led a group that raped and killed two teenage girls.Mexican: And he's dead now?Me: Yes.Mexican (with finality): Good.
It seems to me that this gleeful counterpunch thrown by Barack Obama shows exactly the sort of facility that Al Gore and John Kerry lacked as candidates....and it gets right to the heart of the teenaged, testosterone-addled irresponsibility of the McCain campaign.I acknowledge that the presidential campaign is not the same as the West Potomac High School lunchroom, but for every election I can remember Republicans have won when they painted the other guy as a dweeb (Gore, Kerry, Dukakis), and lost when they couldn't (Clinton). In the clip, Obama comes across as superior, but all politicians do, albeit in very different ways. What Obama isn't is nerdy, and that's an important difference.
Bolivia, as today's Washington Post article demonstrates, hasn't gotten there just yet. With a vital referendum on President Evo Morales and his governors looming on Sunday, the country is torn between Morales' socialist approach and the Santa Cruz-based elites demanding more autonomy. To be fair, Morales' economic team hasn't been terribly irresponsible, and the opposition to him owes a lot to the old ruling elites' racism and the loss of their privileges, but whatever the reason, the pragmatic consensus remains elusive in Bolivia.
For more info on Bolivia, check out any one of these detailed Crisis Group reports.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Q: Are you familiar with the test [to be taken on Monday]?
A: No I'm not.
Q: Shouldn't the secretary of education be familiar with the test?
A: I prefer not to; otherwise, one gets suspicious. It's better like this, because it's a great responsibility. A letter was made up from Transparency Mexico, and they have agreed to accompany us in the process of confidentiality.Such is Mexico's all-encompassing distrust of officials that the Secretary of Education doesn't feel comfortable even glancing over one of her greatest accomplishments in office. Nice.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The agreements included [in the Mérida Initiative], he said, will permit the elimination of officials connected to corruption and the possible protection of the cartels, but they will also establish new areas of responsibility and the need to make the actions of each judicial department more transparent...So were those removed from their positions allegedly corrupt or inefficient? It remains unclear.
"We know that their exist officials in the Mexican government who have been threatened by drug traffickers, but we also know of complaints about performance, which is why the restructuring will allow the improvement of civilian judicial institutions," detailed another State Department official consulted on the matter.
Nothing better exhibits the political difficulties through which Felipe Calderón is passing than his decision to throw his arms around Vicente Fox and the group [of panistas] from Guanajuato.Zepeda overstates the PAN's weakness. As far as the 2009 mid-terms go, the PRI has put itself in a great position to make gains, but it's way, way too early to start calling Calderón a lame duck. I've seen no polling that makes a PRI wipeout seem likely, and tellingly Zepeda offers no specifics. The PAN remains the strongest party in Congress, and the president remains a very popular figure. One of its biggest competitors, the PRD, has all but fallen apart, and barely gets off the ground in voter identification polls these days. The PRI might, might be able to take over as the largest congressional bloc, but it'll almost certainly fall short of an absolutely majority. In such a situation, I don't see the PRI going back to a strategy of constant obstruction, as it did while Fox was in power. Instead, I think it'll continue with the constructive approach that has served it so well over the past two years (though the bargains the PRI drives will likely be harder). As far as the outlook for the presidency in 2012, there's no question that the PAN's potential candidates look weak right now, but a lot can happen in four years. Calderón was unheard of in 2002.
It's a decision that must have cost President Calderón sleep, and forced him to swallow a healthy dosage of his pride. And it shows that the PAN is entering the zone of desperation.
One poll after another reveals that the PAN will be erased by the PRI in the mid-term Congressional elections in 2009, which will further reduce the margins of operation in Los Pinos. The problem for the PAN is that in 2009 every one of the 300 districts goes to the polls, and in such terrain the PRI could presumably win 200 of them (let's not forget that it still governs 60 percent of the federal entities [i.e., local governments]).
The SOS call to Fox is a strategy to gain time. The panismo of Calderón lacks the charisma or the leadership to successfully deal with the bad times that are gathering around it.
It's also odd to see Fox hailed as some paragon of electoral leadership. Th 2003 mid-terms were an unmitigated disaster for the PAN. As a popular president, he couldn't even shepherd his own man through the PAN primaries before the 2006 elections. And Calderón, while not endowed with the same sort of cowboy charisma that Fox deployed in 2000 (and then discredited through six years of clownish ineffectiveness), is a dogged campaigner. Just ask Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The answer is that, in the late 1940s, global power was concentrated. The victory over fascism meant the mantle of global leadership rested firmly on the Atlantic alliance. The United States accounted for roughly half of world economic output. Within the U.S., power was wielded by a small, bipartisan, permanent governing class — men like Acheson, W. Averell Harriman, John McCloy and Robert Lovett.As a result, none of today's problems can easily be solved by one or even a handful of strong-willed leaders, which frustrates voters accustomed to more able executives. Brooks lists the many industrial-country leaders whose approval ratings are in the toilet, not just Bush but Gordon Brown, Yasuo Fukuda, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, and Silvio Berlusconi.
Today power is dispersed. There is no permanent bipartisan governing class in Washington. Globally, power has gone multipolar, with the rise of China, India, Brazil and the rest.
All that seems right on. His solution, however, does not: the League of Democracies proposed by (among others) John McCain, effectively a China-less and Russia-less end run around the UN Security Council. The logic for such a plan is contradicted by Brooks' analysis in the column's first 600 words. As he notes, the world is multi-polar, and today's problems are such that everyone needs to be on board to solve them. We can't simply pretend that China and Russia don't have the power that they do. What use is a League of Democracies on nuclear proliferation if Russia can't be involved? How can you solve global warming or establish a more comprehensive international trade regime if China doesn't have a voice?
Nor am I convinced that a League of Democracies would make solving problems like Darfur and Iran a lot easier. Countries threatened by the West would rush to take cover under the Chinese/Russian umbrella (which the two powers, thumbed in the eye by the mere creation of the League, would be even more ready to provide than today), and we would probably find ourselves risking more Cold War-type escalations. As such, a League would inevitably lead to more antagonistic relations with between the US-led West and both nations mentioned above, which undoes a truly the historic achievement of the last 20 years: the absence of great-power animosity.