November 30, 2005

Same Old Same Old

It seems I keep putting the same post over and over again. Bush gave a "major" speech on Iraq today, but he's full of it, Iraq sucks and we are all going to die. Or something similar. For some reason the Washington conventional wisdom seems to be that today's speech was setting the stage for troop withdraws next year. The best example of this I can find comes from Mr Howard Fineman who is pretty much Washington conventional wisdom personified:

With his new “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” the president isn’t really aiming for “victory” in the conventional sense. Nothing is “conventional” in a war against Islamist terrorists, and Iraq will remain a breeding ground for them regardless. Rather, Bush’s goal is to begin a draw down of our troops before next year’s Congressional elections. To do that, he needs the Dec. 15 election in Iraq to go well, with Sunni participation. Then the troop reductions can begin.

The weak “cut and run.” This president, nudged by Karl Rove, will trim and tiptoe. That way, White House advisors hope Bush can pay homage to the Cheney neocon vision and save his presidency at the same time.

But I didn't really hear that in the speech. Of course I was taking a shower through most of it this morning, so I may have missed parts, but Bush did say something along the lines of:

We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

Now it seems pretty hard for the President to claim "complete victory" and start to pull troops out. I think that might be a rhetorical bridge too far. My guess is that the Bush team is trying to drop some hints about troop withdrawal to buy some time with the GOP and the media while Bush still beats the "no retreat, no surrender" drum. Not that they can do anything with that time except dig the hole a little bit deeper.

November 29, 2005

Death on a Tuesday

Not to bring down the mood, but Ohio just executed the 999th person since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. The 1000th should happen this week.

Also, Stan "Tookie" Williams has been in the news a lot, as the Governator considers granting one of the founders of the Crips street gang clemency. Tookie stands convicted of four murders, but has turned it around in prison, working against gangs, writing childrens books and generally making himself more useful to society alive than dead.

So the question is: what is the death penalty for? If it about deterrence, Williams shouldn't die, because then the message that we send is turn your life around and die anyway. If it's about closure, by which we really mean revenge, then Williams needs to die. Four people are dead, they have families, and the families need Williams to die. We always overpersonalize crime in this country. Its not the families of the dead vs the accused, its society vs the accused. So the real question should be “Is society better off with Stan Williams dead or alive, not will some victims feel better with him dead. I think a pretty good case has been made that we are better off, as a society, with Williams alive.

So now it's up to society, in the form of a bodybuilder turned actor turned Governor to decide if this man lives or dies.

MORE: Slate has a really interesting story up. It appears that there is very clear evidence that Texas executed an innocent man. That fact alone should bring the death penalty to a screeching halt. The article also makes the point that the death penalty is extremely expensive. New Jersey has spent 250 million dollars on its death penalty system and hasn't managed to kill anyone. Personally, I think this is the best way to implement the death penalty. Give out death sentences, the families get "closure" but then make the process so hard and expensive that no one ever gets killed. The real problem with the Texas death penalty is that it’s relatively easy to kill people. Give me the New Jersey (and Californian) system. Lots of closure, no wrongful executions.

November 28, 2005

Going Down

Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of taking bribes and tax evasion and has resigned from the US House of representatives. I think he will be remembered as one of the first to fall, but by no means the last. Word is that my Congressman-at-my-last address John Doolittle (Great name, eh) is under investigation as well as a whole slew of others.

You know, it not too late to file. Anybody want to run for Congress? Openings now available. More opening all the time.

November 27, 2005

Personal Note

Do not try and set up a new apartment the weekend after Thanksgiving. I've had to make three trips to Target and it's ridiculously crowed each time. And it not like I realize that I need an organizer for my silverware till I get that box open...

November 25, 2005

Mr. Miyagi, RIP

Pat Morita has died. The Karate Kid was a key part of my childhood. We would spend hours just quoting back Mr Miyagi lines. Still do, come to think of it:

Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: I guess so.
Miyagi: [sighs] Daniel-san, must talk. Man walk on road. Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk down middle, sooner or later, get squished
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Same here. You karate do "yes," or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so,"
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Understand?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I'm ready.
Miyagi: Karate come from China, sixteenth century, called te, "hand." Hundred year later, Miyagi ancestor bring to Okinawa, call *kara*-te, "empty hand."
Daniel: I thought it came from Buddhist temples and stuff like that.
Miyagi: You too much TV
Daniel: Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.
Daniel: Ever catch one?
Miyagi: Not yet.
Miyagi: Wax on... wax off. Wax on... wax off.

All the lines can be found here.

Day After Thanksgiving Open Thread

M&M's: Danger to society or harmless treat?

Wal-Mart Bargins: Worth fighting over?

Does any other family put peas in the stuffing, or is that just my brother-in-laws family?

What is the difference between a sweet patatoh and a yam, anyway?


November 23, 2005

Mixed Message

Wait, I thought the official company line from the Bush administration was "No Retreat, No Surrender" How is it that now the Pentagon is talking about pulling troops out:

Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.

Constant violence and massive car bombs in Iraq don't surprise us any more, so really there will be no "surprises" in Iraq to stop this. The real trick for the Bush-backers will be to call the actual withdrawal "heroic" while still bashing everyone who called for a withdrawal "cowardly."

Duty Calls

John Kerry just served jury duty. He was elected foreman, so it turns out he is electable. Seems he made a good impression:

"I just found him to be a knowledgeable, normal person," said Cynthia Lovell, a nurse and registered Republican who says she now regrets voting for President Bush in last year's election.

If only we could have recreated the experience of serving jury duty with John Kerry for a few million swing voters, we could have swung the election.

One year after the election

November 2004:

November 2005:

November 22, 2005

Poll Check

A lot of ink gets spilled about elected officials "rising above politics" and "doing the right thing" despite the polls. JFK's Profiles in Courage was all about unpopular but correct political choices made by US Senators. I admit to being a sucker, from time to time, for someone who will just do what he believes, polls be damned.

We now have someone who is doing just that and the results turn out to be scary as hell: Dick Cheney.

John Dickerson makes the case that the fact that Dick Cheney isn't running for President in 2008 and thus doesn't have to worry about the polls is letting Cheney run wild:

Just because Cheney lacks a personal political ambition doesn't mean he's lacked a personal ideological agenda. He has been able to pursue that agenda without compromise. He followed his determined ideas for strengthening the executive branch and America's place in the world with no fear of political damage. Since he didn't need Congress or the press as much as he might have if he were a potential candidate, Cheney dismissed them almost the minute he came back to Washington. His energy task force operated in secret and told no one about its operations. Congress and outside groups sued to gain access and lost. When it came time for war, he stepped up his calls for executive authority, endorsing detention and interrogation policies that became the focus of international condemnation. His overly dire predictions about Saddam Hussein's weapons and optimistic ones about the progress of the Iraq war undermined his credibility.

Some really bad stuff can come from a guy who doesn't worry about voters. That's why we have a basic principal that democracy is better than dictatorship. The President has given a few speeches on the matter himself. Voters, as a general rule, will punish bad behavior. No accountability leads to...well...torture:

Despite his lowered standing, Bush knows he can keep using Cheney for unpopular assignments because in theory, his approval ratings can drop to zero and Cheney won't balk. So, Cheney has taken up opposition to John McCain's amendment that would restrict "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of American military prisoners. The president can't argue the case directly, and he certainly can't argue it in public, so he lets Cheney do his dirty work for him.

November 21, 2005

No Way Out

Bush had some trouble getting off a stage during his China trip yesterday. Seems he was trying to exit stage left through a locked door. Good lord he looked silly:

You can check out the video here. Putting a line in here about an "exit strategy" is really just too easy. But I'll do it anyway.

Boy the President sure could use an exit strategy, couldn't he?

November 20, 2005

Run Away

"Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."
John F. Kennedy

"I didn't advocate invasion, I wasn't asked."
Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary on THIS WEEK, this morning.

November 18, 2005

A Stir

So Rep. John Murtha a conservative, pro-military Democrat from Pennsylvania has gotten everyone fired-up over his call to pull US forces out of Iraq in six months. Murtha is no SF liberal. He's a Vietnam vet and voted for the war. I think he's a little ahead of things, including most other democrats in Congress, but my guess is that a whole lot of people will be joining Murtha in the next year.

November 17, 2005


So I saw Cheney attacking war critics on my TV this morning and all I could think was "even his tie is crooked” Seriously, isn't there someone there to straighten his tie? I mean he's the Vice President and he's about to smear some opponents on national TV. Not being straight with the American people, not having a straight tie, it’s a visual metaphor.

Also a further sign that Republicans are just unhip. But today’s real evidence that conservatives are unhip is the band The Right Brothers, who are attempting to get their single "Bush was Right" on MTV. Sample lyrics:

Freedom in Afghanistan, say goodbye Taliban
Free elections in Iraq, Saddam Hussein locked up
Osama’s staying underground, Al Qaida now is finding out
America won’t turn and run once the fighting has begun

Don’t you know that all this means…
Bush was right! Bush was right!

Sad really. Elections can go either way, and conservatives have all kind power, but they will never be cool.

November 16, 2005

A Scandal...

...Isn't really a scandal until Bob Woodward gets involved. TPM has the details. Bob Woodward is now officially a part of the CIA leak case.

In non-Woodward involved scandal, it turns out a bunch of oil excutives were, in-fact part of Dick Cheney's energy task force:

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

Who exactly was part of Cheney's energy task force has been an issues that has dogged this administration from the start of it's first term. They really should have just admited that oil company officials were part of the task force, take the hit for being corporate tools and moved on. But now we have a bunch of CEO's who have lied to Congress, Cheney was hiding things, again and this will get out of control.

November 15, 2005

Fun With Numbers

In the latest bad poll numbers for Bush from Gallup there is this little gem:

People polled rated Bill Clinton as more honest than George W. Bush by a margin of 48%-36%. Clinton beats Bush by 12% in honesty. Honesty is the central selling point of the whole Bush presidency. "Ya he's dumb, but at least he's honest." "Ya his policies are bad, but at least he's honest." "The war has gone badly, but at least he's honest." Take away his honesty and he's got nothing.

I'm of the rather firm belief that the longer we have to look Bush in action the worse he looks. Three more years of this stuff. This weeks is another trip abroad for Bush and everybody just hopes he doesn't do any more damage. That the watch-word for the next three years. "No more damage."

November 14, 2005


I watched like 3 hours of Sunday political shows yesterday. Of course, I was always doing something else at the same time. Things like laundry or eating or whatever. So it was more like background noise for my Sunday. So really the only thing that I came away with is that the Queen of Jordan is just amazing beautiful. I mean wow. It's a real pity that her country has to be bombed by terrorists for her to pop up on my radar. But the important lesson here is that the Queen Rania of Jordon is really hot. By the way, does anyone know if there's a law against pointing out that the Queen is hot in Jordon? Am I now in danger of having something chopped off if I travel to Jordon?

November 12, 2005

Redemption Song

Don't ever give up trying after a setback. You can always try and get back up. The former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori is attempting to return to the Presidency of his Country. Now he has suffered a bit of a set-back. His government collapsed in 2000 following corruption and human rights abuse charges. That might deter some but not Fujimori. The fact that he will be arrested if he sets foot back in Peru and is even now fighting extradition from next-door Chile might overwhelm some people, but not Fujimori. So I don't want to hear to excuses on the setbacks you faced in your life. If Alberto Fujimori can keep trying, then damn it, so can you.

November 11, 2005

Con Job

So Bush is once again pushing back against critics of the war in Iraq. You know, the 55% percent of the public that now believe that we were mislead into this war. The basic line seems to be a lot of people believed that Saddam was a threat before the war so nobody can complain now. Really what the Bush administration wants is credit for being good liars before the war. A con man's defense can't be that people believed him before he was caught. If Bush lied us into war, then it doesn't matter how many people believed him or if it was a convincing lie. He lied.

November 10, 2005

Quote of the Day

Don Imus: Now why don't you just answer my question. Would you like [President Bush] to come to Arizona and cut some campaign commercials for you and run them on all those TV stations in Phoenix and Tucson and Flagstaff and Prescott, and all?

Rep. J.D. Hayworth : In a word, no. Not at this time.

Thanks to Slate.

The President is becoming ratioactive. Touch him and you become a former-Congressman. Bush can now threaten to come visit you in your district if you don't vote for his bill.

November 9, 2005

More! More!

Kwame Kilpatrick, the self declared "Hip-Hop" Mayor of Detroit got re-elected, despite a scandal-wrecked first term that included getting his family a luxury's SUV on the City's dime.

The Democratic Mayor of St. Paul, who endorsed Bush in the 2004 election, got beat 2-1 by a Democrat who, well, didn't.

El Dorado Hills voted against becoming a city, which is a huge surprise. Locals almost always want more control of their issues. I wonder what was the argument was to oppose cityhood.

The entire pro-intelligent design school board was dumped in favor of a pro-evolution slate.

And finally proving that a lot of politics is just showing up, both LINESVILLE, Pa. and HILLSDALE, Mich. have new 18 year-old Mayors. Remeber, we are all ruled by people who said "What the hell, let's run for Mayor."

Result Oriented

The votes are in and there are certainly some results here. Every single California ballot measure lost. Most by huge margins. The redistricting measure, which I considered the only worthwhile measure in the whole bunch is losing 60%-40%. All of the Arnold - backed initives have gone down, which doesn't speak well to the prospects for the Govinator. I get the feeling that the space-time rift that has led to an Bodybuilder/Bad actor to be in charge of our State will soon close.

Democrats won governor races in both Virginia and New Jersey and the pundits are taking this as a sign the GOP is in trouble. I, of course, agree.

The surf chick story does not have a have a happy ending. Donna Fry lost 46%-54% to a former Police Chief in her race for the Mayor of San Diego. All I can say is:


In local news, measure I received an overwhelming no vote, mainly on the strength of a last minute Craigorian Chant endorsement.

November 8, 2005

Election Day Voter Guide

Back by overwhelming popular demand. (OK, two people asked for it, but that's a large percentage of my readership) A handy guide to the propositions now before the good people of California (or at least the ones that show up and vote.

Prop 73 This one mandates a waiting period and parental notification for a minor seeking abortion. This is supposed to be an abortion restriction even pro-choice voters can embrace. You may want abortion to be legal but at least we can all agree that a minor has to notify her parents. Of course, this is mandating a Leave it to Beaver kind of world. If it's ok for a minor to tell her parents, then she will, regardless of the law, and for situations where its not safe for her to tell her parents, then it's really not safe and this law will only make things worse. The Chant recommends No.

Prop 74 This one increases the time that a teacher needs to teach in order to get tenure. Personally I think you can tell a teacher is bad or good in two years and not five. What this really amounts to is the Govinator trying to give the teacher's union a kick in the groin because of all the trouble they caused him. I say why try and make teacher's lives harder? The Chant recommends No.

Prop 75 Restricts unions so that they have to get permission from individual members in order to use union dues for political purposes. Fine, sounds reasonable, till you consider that the corporations don't need shareholder permission to spend money on politics. Doesn't make for a very level playing field. This is an effort to hurt unions because they have been doing too good a job of opposing the Govinator's agenda. The Chant recommends No.

Prop 76 Spending limits for the State budget. California has a screwed up State budget situation. This situation is mainly the fault of propositions that were approved in the past. Limits on taxes, spending mandates, a super-majority to pass a budget and so on. So here comes still yet more proposition to mess with the budget process. This one limits spending and in a dumb "only what we spent last year" way. There is a great article from TAP on Colorado's experience with a similar measure. Short version - when the schools and roads start to fall apart, this measure is going to start to look pretty stupid. The Chant recommends no.

Prop 77 Redistricting. This is the interesting one. Currently the legislature draws the boundaries for the district from which they are elected. They are drawn in such a way as to be overwhelmingly partisan in one direction or the other. Thus, not one race in California for the State Ledge or U.S. Congress are competitive. No seat change hands and no incumbents lose their job. Prop 77 is designed to take redistricting away from the Legislator and gives it to a panel of retired judges. The hope is that they would draw more competitive districts. Now the Govinator is very much in favor of this, but it should be a good idea anyway. Some are worried that this is all a ploy to increase GOP power in the State. But I doubt, given the rather overwhelming partisan advantage the Dems currently have in California, that the Donkeys will lose control of the State anytime soon. And more competitive seat will be a tremendous boost to the running of the State government. If you can lose your job, you do a better job. The Chant recommends Yes.

Prop 78 and 79. Prescription Drug discounts. Both of these measures claim to decrease the price of drugs. Of course, 78 is sponsored by the drug companies, so they make the discount program voluntary. The drug companies can end it at any time. Its a limited time promotional offer, not a law. If you really want cheaper drugs go with the measure backed by consumer groups. That would be 79. The Chant recommends no on 78 and yes on 79.

Prop 80 Electrical Reregulation. Because electrical deregulation worked so well for the State. It brought higher rates, rolling blackouts and the current Movie Star/Govener. That said, I'm really not sure if this is they way to fix it. Its a long and complicated law and I don't want to read it. And I shouldn't have to. Seriously, this is why we need a Legislature, with staff, research and public hearings. That's the way to take on something as complex as energy regulation. The Chant recommends No.

For a local angle I'm also adding a recommendation of No for Measure I in Amador County. Its a non-binding resolution asking if we want more Indian Casinos in Amador County. I'm of the rather firm opinion that one casino is enough.

Polls are open now and close at 8:00 pm. Post-game to follow.

November 7, 2005


Trying to wake up this Monday morning? Let's check out some exciting headlines! That should wake you up. Election tomorrow! Yawn. Lobbyist Connected to Gangland Murder. Interesting, I’m starting to perk up. Ok, how about Cruise Ship Attacked by Pirates! That’s pretty exciting. Pirates are always interesting. Carolina Panthers Cheerleaders Arrested! They got in a bar brawl! They were having sex in the bathroom! With each other! All-right now I’m awake. Bring on the day!

November 6, 2005

Speaking of Corruption and France...

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005 came out on October 18th. Commissioned by Prof. Dr J. Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau, this a quite a detailed look at corruption on a national scale based on research by 10 national and international institutions organizations. You could probably spend hours reading and following all the links in the report!

-- The TI Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. It is a composite index, drawing on corruption-related data in expert surveys carried out by a variety of reputable institutions. It reflects the views of business people and analysts from around the world, including experts who are locals in the countries evaluated.

--The CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector and defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain.

Read the FAQs here

One detail that may stand out to the Chant readers is that France ( a favorite country of most of this site’s frequent visitors) is more corrupt than the United States. Thats right, France! Yes its close but France IS more corrupt than America.. Its funny because there are factions in America that think France is such a stellar, fantastic county what with their passivist-no-Wal-Mart-anti-American beliefs. Yet they suck more than America, at least as far as corruption is concerned.

A good part of the world and many Americans themselves view the US as an immoral, pseudo imperialist, bully who rolls into town, beats down native peoples and imposes its globalist/military/cultural ways on everyone. They don’t like us and they don’t like our polices. America has made mistakes. But other countries are just as naughty if not more so and are often down right criminal.

In reality, its France that’s more corrupt and therefore LESS moral than the United States. I believe you can interpret the corruption list as viewing those countries towards the top more as moral, and those countries towards the bottom as less moral.

It makes sense right? I mean if you take bribes, commit extortion, lie, engage in Enron like accounting practices you can’t really be said to be a moral government can you? Certainly there exists good and bad people in the governments of all countries, but the proportions vary considerably.

Now lets return to France. Let me point out that France “hates freedom.” That’s right, you read correctly. I actually said it, oh yes, read it again to make sure. They don’t have the religious freedom we in America have. The French despise this expression so much, like Craig mentioned in his post, that the actually passed a law against it in an attempt to “preserve French secular traditions from Muslim fundamentalism.“ Shockingly intolerant is it not?

So in fact France is just as bad, and often worse than the USA, and the two are far less corrupt than all the countries in Africa.

The ill-founded war in Iraq doesn’t make America as corrupt as, say, Chad. And an administration that opposes gay marriage isn’t immoral because its just a belief with equally valid sides; some people think gay marriage is immoral, but stealing money, extorting people, regardless, are for sure forms of corruption.

W., Karl Rove, leaking CIA agents names is certainly scandalous, but remember, we have a far higher percentage of competent officials that keep our government running smoothly. Many African officials commit numerous crimes on a frequent basis that don't get as much press because they're not the world super power.

Imperialist European nations can’t be responsible for EVERY thing wrong on that continent, but thus far, no African Bill Cosby has stepped up to speak the truth.

Lets address the African issue brought up by the CPI. First lets look at some content of the report regarding wealth:

Wealth does not determine progress against corruption

Wealth is not a prerequisite for successful control of corruption. New long-term analysis of the CPI carried out by Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff shows that the perception of corruption has decreased significantly in lower-income countries such as Estonia, Colombia and Bulgaria over the past decade. In the case of higher-income countries such as Canada and Ireland, however, there has been a marked increase in the perception of corruption over the past ten years, showing that even wealthy, high-scoring countries must work to maintain a climate of integrity. Similarly, the responsibility in the fight against corruption does not fall solely on lower-income countries. Wealthier countries, apart from facing numerous corruption cases within their own borders, must share the burden by ensuring that their companies are not involved in corrupt practices abroad. Offenders must be prosecuted and debarred from public bidding. The opportunity for ensuring sustainable progress also lies in the hands of the World Trade Organization, which needs to actively promote transparency and anti-corruption in global trade.

The lessons are clear: risk factors such as government secrecy, inappropriate influence of elite groups and distorted political finance apply to both wealthy and poorer countries, and no rich country is immune to the scourge of corruption.

Transparency International urges the following actions: By lower-income countries * Increase resources and political will for anti-corruption efforts. * Enable greater public access to information about budgets, revenue and expenditure

Hmmm. It doesn’t say anything about giving Africa money as a way to ease corruption.

--According to Transparency International, the African state (Chad) is marked by political instability, human rights abuses and weak press freedom.

--Africa is the most corrupt continent in the world, --The watchdog organisation says that out of 44 African nations covered in its 2005 corruption perceptions index, 31 of them scored less than three —“a sign of rampant corruption” — on a scale of zero to 10. --But the main responsibility for change is among Africa’s ruling elites, he says. “The prime changes have to happen in Africa itself but it does seem to be getting worse.” --“The country is marked by political instability, human rights abuses and weak press freedom,” the body says. --When countries improve governance and reduce corruption, they reap a“development dividend” that, according to the World Bank Institute, can include improved child mortality rates, higher per capita income and greater literacy.

Now the goal of Live 8 was to

“...double aid, fully cancelling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa...”

But will this help? Over a $100 billion has been given to Africa since the early 1970s and look how much that has helped.

And here is an excerpt from make poverty history, website which is linked to a Live 8 website:

Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate and major increase in international aid. Rich countries have promised to provide the extra money needed to meet the internationally agreed poverty reduction targets. This amounts to at least $50 billion per year and must be delivered now. Rich countries have also promised to provide 0.7% of their national income in aid and they must now make good on their commitment by setting a binding timetable to reach this target.

Here we go with the money thing again even though we know that hasn’t helped much in the past.

The site does acknowledge that the way aid is distributed needs to be changed:

However, without far-reaching changes in how aid is delivered, it won't achieve maximum benefits. Aid needs to focus better on poor people's needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic health care and education...Aid should support poor countries' and communities' own plans and paths out of poverty.

But what is the plan for how to implement these changes? They just talk about throwing money at the problem with no set strategy.

The site does mention corruption, but it doesn’t place the appropriate blame. It just talks about how poor people suffer but not who (African governments themselves) is primarily responsible:

Corruption is an issue which affects both rich and poor countries, but it is the poorest people who suffer most from it. Poor people in developing countries expect the aid and debt relief received by their government to be spent in ways which actually improve their lives. Similarly, taxpayers in rich countries expect finance to poorer countries to be spent on fighting poverty. MPH believes corruption must be tackled in order to make poverty history,
and that a number of actions, by both developing countries and rich countries, will help to fight corruption.

“A number of actions”? What does that mean? Where is the talk about how African governments are the most corrupt in the world and how they’re incompetence is crippling their people?

You won’t see any talk about that because this site isn’t interested in laying out all the facts, they want their agenda implemented and don’t want to face certain truths.

Debt relief doesn’t make a country wealthy, but it also doesn’t help end corruption which is Africa’s biggest problem.

Thirty years from now are we going to be saying the same things about Africa? Is it still going to be in retched poverty, corrupt beyond any nation in the western world?

Most likely.

November 5, 2005

Profound Questions

I'm surrounded by obsessive compulsive people. All kinds of leftover Halloween candy laying around this week. For some reason people have the compulsion to separate them into different categories. Snickers bars in one pile, the jolly ranchers in another and so on. What makes people do that? Are they driven to bring order out of chaos? Is this the one thing that they can control?

I heard an ad for the new David Grey album. One of the selling points was that the album was #1 in England. The thing is I sort of assume that the Album is good because it’s popular in England. Why is that? If an album was #1 in Japan I wouldn't think it was good. But for some reason I just assume that England has good musical tastes. Why is that?

November 4, 2005

Le Riot

The French have been having nightly riots in Paris. Mostly Muslim youths have been tearing things up but good and things seem to be spreading to other area. Now I have been accused of being a French-loving liberal by some. (I’m looking at you Lackey!) Hey, now that I think about it, Chris is literally a French-loving liberal. Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to bash the French a bit.

The French have a monumentally bad immigration policy. Immensely bad. Endanger the Republic bad. The French do nothing to assimilate immigrants who come to their country. Unlike American “culture” which is a mash-up of everything under the sun, the French have a very clear notion of what French language and culture should be and that notion doesn’t let in newcomers. Muslim girls in French schools are banned from wearing headscarves, for example. The result is a complete ghettoization of immigrants in French cities. And Ghettoes, as everybody knows, are places of peace and safety, where young people are bound to turn out ok. If France is going to have immigration, and they need to have immigration, they really need to let these people in all the way. Or else these riots are just the start.

This ends our critic of the French. On a related subject, those French girls sure are cute.

November 3, 2005

Corruption Update

While I've linked to plenty of stories about the Delay and Scooter indictments, the real mother of all GOP scandals revolves around a guy named Jack Abramoff. He's a super-lobbyist with all kinds of connections to the highest levels of the conservative movement and the GOP. He's the guy that got things done. Who has Senior White House Staff and Congressional Chairmen and cabinet secretaries on speed dial. He is also deeply, amazingly and completely corrupt. Already under indictment in Florida for business dealings there, he is now at the center of a scandal to bilk Indian tribes over gambling. Basically the scam worked like this: Abramoff promised to help a tribe that already had gambling to prevent other tribes from opening casinos. He would do this with his contacts at Department of Interior (which oversees Indian Affairs) and by getting Christian Conservative groups fired up against gambling. In exchange the tribe with the existing casino gives millions of dollars to conservative groups that work with Abramoff. You can read all the dirty dealings in Salon. This is good old fashion political corruption pay for play with the added fun of conservative Christian groups fighting one casino on behalf of another.

November 1, 2005

Clever Boy

In an earlier post, I speculated that Harry Reid had kind of goofed by suggesting Harriet Miers for SCOTUS and that he should be acting like he suggested the nomination to Bush as a clever ploy to jam Bush up. In the light of today's activities, I have to say that Reid is a tactical genius who clearly had the Miers nomination all planned out. Senate democrats called a special secret session to discuss WMD and Iraq, invoking some national security procedures to bring all Senate business to a screeching halt. This is a great move on so many levels. It gets the story off the new SCOTUS nomination and back on administration screw-ups. It jams up the GOP on Capital Hill. And it is a great sign of the Donkeys fighting back despite a lack of real power. So clearly, Reid is a clever, clever man.


Who the hell put Halloween on a Monday. One little party and I'm a wreck for Tuesday. Now I'm all grumpy. Of course, not as grumpy as the President of Iran who declared that he want to wipe Israel off the map. Now that's grumpy.

Also I'm getting more grumpy the more I learn about Samuel Alito. Think Progress has all the bad news. This is really not a guy we want on the Supreme Court.

I'm going back to bed.