Saturday, September 30, 2006

One positive thing about a border fence... that you can play international border volleyball.


10K + kids

I ran a 10K this morning downtown, pushing my two kids in the jogger stroller. One problem with pushing kids is that they keep heavier as time passes. Even though more and more people do races with jogger strollers, I still got quite a bit of attention during the race. What’s funny is that there is one thing that’s said to me multiple times without fail in every race: some variant of “Can I have a ride?” I know they’re only being good natured, so I chuckle and pretend I haven’t heard it countless times before.

This is prime racing time, with a 15K at Lake Norman next month and half marathons in November and December.


Friday, September 29, 2006


The front runner in Ecuador’s presidential campaign, Rafael Correa, insulted President Bush in a television interview, calling him “dimwitted” and adding:

"Calling Bush the devil is offending the devil," said Correa, a U.S. trained economist who leads 12 other candidates in polls ahead of the Oct. 15 election. He said "the devil is evil, but intelligent.”

I’m assuming he figures, like Chávez, that a jab at Bush will play well at home. I wonder which is worse: a presidential candidate who weakly tries to copy Hugo Chávez by making inflammatory statements or the fact that the Bush administration’s poor image abroad and strongarm tactics make such statements easy to make.

Incidentally, Boz shows current polls putting Correa at 26%, and about 6-8 points ahead of his nearest challenger (Leon Roldos) with several others getting double digits. To win without a run-off, you need either over 50%, or over 40% if your nearest challenger is at least 10% behind.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Search for Neofascism

I received a catalog from Cambridge University Press, and one book caught my attention because it echoes something I always discuss in class and blogged about in July, namely the abuse of the word “fascism.” In July I wrote:

The word “fascist” has been thrown around so often that it has come only to mean “politician I don’t like.” The word “terrorist” is heading in the same direction.

The new book I spotted is The Search for Neofascism: The Use and Abuse of Social Science by A. James Gregor at Berkeley. Here is part of the synopsis:

Its central thesis of the work [sic] is that terms like 'fascism', 'generic fascism', and 'neofascism' are often used with considerable indifference, applied uniquely to political movements and regimes considered on the 'right' rather than the 'left', intended more often to denigrate rather than inform. The result has been confusion.

I will have to take a look at this book.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

TV Martí

The NYT has an article about TV Martí, which along with Radio Martí is part of the U.S. government’s effort to broadcast messages to Cuba. It is well worth a read, as it lays out everything wrong with U.S. policy toward Cuba. TV Martí is dominated by Cuba exiles, and it is impossible to turn off because you’d be risking those votes:

Both stations have been accused of shoddy journalism and hiring practices, especially since the move to Miami, where some say they are primarily a jobs program for hard-line exiles.

In 1999, the inspector general of the State Department told Congress that the stations had “problems with balance, fairness, objectivity and adequate sourcing that impacted credibility.”

Another inspector general’s report, in 2003, criticized the hiring practices and program quality at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, prompting its director to resign.

If that’s not bad enough, the article provides an example of what it claims is the most popular programming. Cuban exiles act the roles of Fidel and Raúl Castro, showing them as dimwitted while pumping in a laugh track.

And this will impress the Cuban people and convince them the Bush administration is their friend? Is it so difficult to forge a Cuba policy with even just a shred of nuance?


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The "impossible vote"

My friend Mike points out the latest statement from the Bachelet administration that it has not ruled out abstaining from the UN Venezuela vote. I realized I had missed this story from Sunday’s La Tercera, which has more detail. The headline there sums it up perfectly: “An Impossible Vote.”

Although the administration explicitly says that such an option should not be linked to the recent insulting comments by the Venezuelan ambassador, it is impossible not to do so. It may well be that Venezuela has finally pushed too hard. Bachelet does not want to antagonize the Christian Democrats too much, especially after they’ve been openly criticized by a foreign ambassador.

Other interesting tidbits:

Guatemala claims to have 110 votes (if all countries vote, then you need 128 to win). There is no way of knowing how accurate that is.

Although Uruguay and Costa Rica are viewed as potential consensus candidates, the Dominican Republic has also been approached by Chile.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Landlocked Bolivia

The NYT has a great story on Bolivia’s quest to regain access to the ocean, which it has been denied since it lost territory as a result of the War of the Pacific (1879-1884). President Morales has urged the Organization of American States to help broker a solution (such as Chile granting a small strip of land) but hasn’t received much response, and although his relationship with President Bachelet seems to be positive, there isn’t much appetite in Chile to give anything back.

Before reading this story, I had not known that there is a formal organization called the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, which has 31 members and which Bolivia is currently leading. Morales has made the issue a prominent part of his speeches.

The picture accompanying the story is poignant: the sad and lonely looking Vice Admiral of the Bolivian Navy, which is relegated to patrolling rivers and Lake Titicaca.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

A good day

What a day. Jake Peavy pitched a gem (8 IP, 11 Ks, only one run) against the Pirates, and Trevor Hoffman then tied Lee Smith’s all time save mark with a perfect ninth inning (Dodger manager Jim Tracy was quoted as saying he has grown to hate the song Hell’s Bells). In the meantime, the Dodgers lost, so now we’re 1.5 games up in first place with 8 more games to play.

Plus, Cal crushed Arizona State 49-21. I don’t follow college football that closely, but I do enjoy those periodic moments when Cal is good.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Unintended consequences of immigration policy

For some time now, it has been well documented that as border security goes up (e.g. all those impressive-sounding policies like Operation Gatekeeper) more illegal immigrants choose to stay in the United States. People are still willing to make the first trip, but less willing to take the risk and pay the money more than once, so instead of leaving the U.S. (and coming back seasonally) they stay.

Now there is a new twist with the current round of security measures. The NYT highlights Mexican workers who are rejecting agricultural work, and the dire straits of some growers in California. If you know that you’re going to stay in the U.S., then it’s logical to seek a job that is more permanent and less taxing.

So after billions of dollars, we get a system that does not stop people from coming, encourages them to stay, and creates incentives not to do certain work in the United States that needs to be done.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Venezuela and Chile

I am sure the Bachelet administration will be relieved when the UN vote is finally done. The Venezuelan ambassador was rebuked for making comments about Christian Democrat opposition to Venezuela’s bid (which I’ve discussed before). The ambassador compared it to the Christian Democrats’ opposition to President Salvador Allende. At that time, the party played a shameful role in encouraging the 1973 coup. The party later regretted it, but when it comes to a military overthrow of a democratically elected government, there is no turning back.

There is obviously no useful comparison between the two cases. The Venezuelan government really wants Chile’s vote, but it should be very careful about invoking 9/11 (meaning the Chilean 9/11/1973). Hit the wrong nerve, and even the Socialist Party will back away.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

The devil went down to the UN

Marc Cooper has a great post about the Chávez speech. Most importantly, I wish we could shift our attention away from buffoonery. As he points out, Lula's speech, which had substance, is getting ignored.


The latest on Congress and immigration

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had anything positive to say about Congress’ efforts to address illegal immigration. The latest, I’m afraid, is even worse than usual. Not only is is real reform dead for the year, not only do we have people spouting nonsense about virtual fences, and not only is the Senate going to take up the proposal to build a real fence.

But. As it stands now, they’re planning to pass such measures without paying for them. These just aren’t real solutions.

The narrower bill sets a May 2008 deadline for building the first 361 miles of fencing -- along the border between Calexico, California, and Douglas, Arizona -- and also requires 30 miles of fencing along the Laredo, Texas, border crossing.

The bill wouldn't actually provide any funding to cover costs of the total of 700 miles of fencing and other barriers it would require to prevent Mexicans from entering the country illegally. According to informal estimates, the fence and other security steps could cost several billion dollars.

About $1 billion for the fencing is likely to be included in a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security that Congress is expected to approve for President Bush before adjourning for the elections.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Charlotte's Immigration Study Commission

I have to say I’m impressed. Alan Gordon, the head of the mayor’s Immigration Study Commission, was called to speak to the County Commissioners, even though the commission has not finished its work (it is scheduled for December). This is obviously a very hot topic, yet he got praise from both sides of the aisle, even from Commissioner Bill James, who has been the most vocally critical of the commission and of how the county deals with illegal immigration. I hope that Alan’s even handed treatment of the issue will serve to keep both rhetoric and policy from getting too extreme here in Charlotte, where thus far it has remained quite temperate.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Professors selling lectures

A professor at NC State has agreed to stop selling his lectures until the university can determine whether it constitutes a conflict of interest:

Robert Schrag, who has taught at North Carolina State since 1980, sold 12 lectures on a Web site called Independent Music Online before he agreed last week to stop. The lectures cost $2.50 each, and Schrag got $1 on each sale.

To my students: why don't I sell you the lectures, a recording of me doing some discussion, and some take home tests, all for the low price of $99.99. I make money, you don't have to come to class, and we don't have to bother with all this education stuff.


The UN race continues

Juan Tokatlián, a professor in Argentina who has published widely on security and international relations in Latin America, wrote an Op-Ed in the Miami Herald providing some historical insight into the Venezuela-Guatemala UN hubbub. He notes how the same thing happened in 1979, when Cuba and Colombia were vying for the seat, and the General Assembly voted 154 times without ever gaining the necessary 2/3. Ultimately, both sides backed down, and Mexico was brought in as a consensus candidate. Tokatlián suggests that Latin America should choose a different country—he suggests Uruguay—and present it as a consensus candidate.

It’s hard to see that happening, since Hugo Chávez is so set on getting the seat, though I do agree that Uruguay would be a great candidate.

Meanwhile, both the U.S. (no less than Condoleezza Rice herself) and Venezuela want a meeting with Chile at the UN to discuss its vote. President Bachelet is keeping quiet, but is facing a split within the Concertación coalition. It is mostly the Socialist Party that favors Venezuela, while the others (especially the Christian Democrats) want either Guatemala or a new candidate. Bachelet is viewed as leaning toward Venezuela because a) it is a South America candidate, already supported by many other South American countries (this article claims Peru is leaning toward Guatemala, which contradicts statements that García has made); and b) Venezuela lobbied hard to get José Miguel Insulza (a Chilean) installed as Secretary General of the OAS, while Guatemala (and the U.S.) opposed him.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Padres back in first

The Padres beat the Dodgers yesterday, and are now back in first place for the first time since August 9. Finally! But the last game of the 4 game series is tonight, so we need to keep up the momentum. It’s Jake Peavy and Brad Penny—Jake’s numbers have been very good in August and September, while Penny has been getting roughed up. I just wish these games (with the exception of yesterday, which I listened to on the internet) weren’t so late at night on the east coast.

And I shouldn’t neglect to remind everyone that Trevor is only three saves away from Lee Smith’s all time record. There are few cooler experiences in baseball than to hear Hell’s Bells starting as he walks in.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Illegal immigrants and worker's comp

Liz Chandler at the Charlotte Observer published several very good articles (there is also multimedia) in today’s paper. The topic is injured illegal workers. They take very dangerous jobs, and get injured or killed at work at much higher rates than anyone else, and employers/insurers refuse to compensate them.

The worker highlighted in the study had bought a fake Social Security card, and the business accepted it, knowing full well he was illegal (thuogh the article doesn’t note this, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, passed in 1986, let businesses get away with a cursory glance at documents, which then sparked a huge market for fakes). He was in an accident on the workplace, and they were “shocked” to discover he was illegal, and so refused to pay a dime. It took a very long, drawn out legal fight to force them to accept responsibility.

So, businesses continue (yes, even in this enforcement era) to actively attract illegal workers, confident that they’ll have no rights if something goes wrong. Meanwhile, the Mexican government provides nothing, so simply returning home is not a great option.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Chile-Cuba comparison

Jordan, a student in my Latin American Politics class, sent me a link to the story about how the U.S. government is calling for a referendum in Cuba. As I told him, I had been thinking of blogging about it, but what I hadn’t seen was the Chile connection, which made it even more interesting. The quote comparing Chile to Cuba came from the U.S. Secretary of Commerice, a Cuban American:

"They were asked a simple yes or no to dictatorship, very simple, and the people said 'no,'" Gutierrez said.

On the surface, this seems reasonable. In 1988, Chileans did vote “No” to eight more years of President Pinochet, and soon thereafter there were free elections.

Beyond that, there are few similarities. I will highlight some of the contrasts:

--the biggie is that the pressure for the referendum was domestic. Chileans were growing tired of the dictatorship, and had been making that clear.

--plus, there were constitutional stipulations for the referendum to occur. It was not a random event.

--the Chilean government, though definitely criticized (even by the Reagan administration) and denied some military aid for its terrorist acts in Washington DC*, had often been an ally in the “war on communism” as opposed to a long-term enemy.

--in Chile, the leadership of the junta (composed of the Commanders in Chief of each military branch, plus the Carabineros) was split. Air Force commander Matthei confirmed the “No” vote early, thus robbing Pinochet of the ability to announce otherwise. (Hard to see Raúl Castro playing the same role).

The lesson? The idea that the U.S. can make “suggestions” to Cubans about how to proceed is both moronic and counter-productive. The Chilean case is not a good example to use, because it represented the gradual development of events within Chile.

I do agree that a referendum, where voting is free and fair, is long overdue in Cuba. It is time the Cuban people are allowed to speak freely. But if the U.S. government really wants that to happen, it needs to keep its collective mouth shut, because anything condoned by the U.S. government (especially the Bush administration) will automatically be viewed with suspicion.

*in 1976, former Allende cabinet official Orlando Letelier, and an American woman who worked with him, Ronni Moffitt, were murdered just off Dupont Circle on the order of the Chilean government. There is an excellent book on this, Assassination on Embassy Row, by John Dinges (who also recently published a great book on Operation Condor) and Saul Landau. It reads like a thrilller, though you already know the tragedy to come.


Friday, September 15, 2006

AMLO backing down

The NYT has a good article on the dismantling of the tents in Mexico City. One of the decisive factors is that even AMLO’s aides recognize that his support is rapidly disintegrating. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the founder of the PRD who likely won the 1988 presidential election, published a critical letter:

“It worries me profoundly, the intolerance and demonization, the dogmatic attitude that prevails around Andrés Manuel for those of us who do not accept unconditionally his proposals and who question his points of view and decisions,” he wrote.

Even Carlos Fuentes got into the mix, wondering why he never claimed fraud for the congressional elections his party won.

We still don’t know exactly how his “shadow government” will work, or how disruptive the PRD will attempt to be, but pragmatism is starting to show itself.

I’d like to harp on something just one more time. Someone should do a content analysis of U.S. newspaper articles since the election. Every day, they made a point that violence was just about to erupt. No matter that nothing had erupted yet, this is Mexico, this is Latin America, and this is a “leftist” so you know it’ll be violent. And aside from very minor incidents, this remained entirely nonviolent, a testament to both sides.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Immigration enforcement

From the SF Chronicle: in 2006 and 2007, the federal government will spend $44 billion on immigration enforcement, even as it refuses to hammer out real immigration reform. This includes $5.5 billion for a “virtual fence.” If Congress gets excited about gadgets that magically make problems disappear, then you know you’re in trouble.

I suppose it is fitting, because the virtual fence will provide only a virtual solution. The stubborn refusal to address either push or pull factors in immigration from Latin America is depressing. The overall attitude seems to be that throwing enough money at the issue will make it go away, and that such decisions will have no effect at all on the economy or society.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Immigration and race in NC

Via This Old State: Jessie Helms’ 1990 campign ad showing white hands crumpling a job rejection letter became famous for its explicit use of racial tension for political benefit (“You needed that job. And you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.”). In a bizarre (and sad) twist, a conservative African American congressional candidate in NC’s 13th district is copying the exact same ad, but aiming at illegal immigrants:

In the newest reincarnation of the ad, the hands crumpling the rejection letter are black – suggesting that illegal immigrants take jobs away from black citizens.

“You needed that job,” the ad says. “And you were the best qualified. But they gave it to an illegal alien so they could pay him under the table.”


More thoughts on Latin American non-alignment

In response to yesterday's post, I received an email from John Hyatt, a former student of mine, who wrote that he thought Argentina might be another example of a country balancing Venezuela and the U.S. That is entirely logical.

It seems that the more hysterical the U.S. becomes about Chávez, the more Latin American countries have to gain, because it gives them leverage. Thus, a former UN Ambassador writes an Op-Ed (via The Latin Americanist) decrying the relationship between Chávez and Kirchner:

Kirchner must understand that any alliance with Chavez will be costly. The new Argentina-Venezuela axis should serve as a wake-up call to President Bush. Democracy is at risk in Latin America.

Kirchner can take this to the bank. The Bush administration already knows it has limited power to punish Argentina economically, and it needs allies in South America. So Kirchner can take Chávez’s money and even vote for him in the UN, then go to the U.S., talk nicely, and get something in return.

It reminds me a bit of World War II, when the U.S. courted southern cone governments because they had important natural resources (especially Chile’s copper) and were close to Germany. Argentina and Chile delayed declaring war, using their leverage as much as possible.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Uruguay and a new Non-Aligned Movement

The NYT has an interesting article about how Uruguay is being courted heavily both by Venezuela and the United States, each of which is showering it with money and development projects. I’ve mentioned before how the left in Uruguay, even within the Frente Amplio government, is split. At the moment, the president is interested both in a free trade agreement with the U.S. and a closer relationship with Venezuela.

In this context, what really struck me is that the Non-Aligned Movement is currently meeting in Havana, but since the Cold War has been over for so long, it raises the question of what countries they are seeking to be non-aligned from.

In the case of Latin America, I’d say “non-aligned” would mean independent both from the U.S. and Venezuela, which are the only two countries constantly jockeying for position, seeking military advantage, doling out favors, calling each other evil, etc. This article would suggest that Uruguay is doing an excellent job of gaining benefits from both, while refusing to get sucked in too far.


Monday, September 11, 2006

AMLO and the army

In some good news from Mexico, AMLO has said his followers will not block the military’s Independence Day parade this coming Saturday. He said that they respected the military, and that “most of the troops belong to the people.” They will move the tents out of the way for the parade, but no one knows whether they will be put back right afterward.

Boz had argued that AMLO would possibly start backing off, claiming victory while ratcheting down the disruptive tactics. Is this such an example, or simply a way to avoid a direct confrontation with the army? I'm not ready to hazard a guess.

Also, Michelle does a nice job of summing up the past several months in Mexico, centered on the theme of disappointment.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Baseball in Charlotte

There is a new website dedicated to increasing public awareness of the proposed plan to bring baseball back into downtown Charlotte. It comes on the heels of a public rally to do the same. There is a complicated land swap deal in the works, but it requires public support to pull it off.

Baseball here is weird. The Charlotte Knights, the AAA affiliate for the White Sox, don’t play in Charlotte. In fact, they don’t even play in North Carolina. Since 1989, they have played right over the border in Fort Mill, SC, I assume because it is cheaper.

I would love to get baseball downtown, so I signed the online petition. Going to Fort Mill is a hassle and a long drive, and for popular games (like July 4) the traffic is a nightmare because of a bottleneck. Plus, because of blue laws, if you go to a Sunday game you cannot buy beer.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

My first podcast

My first podcast is now available for listening--the topic is immigration. I didn't time it exactly, but it is under 10 minutes. Thanks to Scott Phillipson, the technology guru at the College of Arts & Sciences, who got me set up. It's all a bit experimental right now, as few people have done them. When you click on the link (which I hope to beautify a bit over time) it'll take a minute or two, then come up in QuickTime.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton

I finished listening to Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, and loved it (this is what I often do when driving alone). I had known very little about his personal background before. The book is beautifully written, and the narrator—Grover Gardner--is excellent.

I just kept thinking it was ironic how barbaric, crude, and wasteful (in terms of human life) duels were, even while the participants saw them as the highest manifestation of good breeding and honor. Hamilton’s own son had already been killed in one, and Hamilton used the same guns when Aaron Burr killed him. What a tremendous waste.

The biography is clearly partial to Hamilton, but I think Chernow does a nice job of showing how his weaknesses caused him serious problems. He had both a massive ego and a massive sexual appetite, and at one point was blackmailed by the husband of a mistress. He was capable of amazing amounts of work (writing parts of The Federalist Papers extraordinarily quickly) and incredible ideas, but his drive involved directing insults to others, and landed him many enemies (many years later, his wife was still angry at James Monroe for his role in leaking papers that discussed one of Hamilton’s affairs).

It is also reading about the “founding fathers” (or as Joseph Ellis has put it, the “founding brothers”) that makes me wonder about the many current arguments claiming that today political debate is more polarized than ever. Although we want to lionize the country’s founders, some of them despised each other with a passion, they had surrogates write nasty and untrue articles about each other, they insulted each other constantly and in this case, they even shot at each other. What we see now is pretty tame in comparison.



The wife of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet says he asks victims of his government to forgive him, “if he did anything wrong.” The “if” is ridiculous, but even too much for pinochetistas, who immediately said this was just her own interpretation, as Pinochet himself has often declared he has no reason to ask anyone’s forgiveness.

This also comes precisely at a time when there is renewed debate over the death of former President Frei—an initial supporter of the coup who quickly soured on the dictatorship-- in 1982. He died during surgery, and many supporters maintained he was killed by the military government. A doctor who attended to him recently came out and said he believed that as well. I think this is the sort of thing that will never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chile and Venezuela

The news from Chile is that Venezuela has sent 14 tons of goods to victims of a July storm. At the same time, the Venezuelan government has requested a meeting with the Chilean delgate to the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Havana next week to discuss the UN Security Council vote. At the same time, the U.S. has been pushing Chile very hard on this same issue.


Mariano Azuela's The Underdogs

I just read Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs (which I am including in the sidebar), a novel of the Mexican revolution first published in 1915. Another professor had said he used it in his Latin American politics class, and in the past few years I’ve been incorporating fiction into my classes (this semester I am using Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden) so I thought I would take a look.

It was a very compelling novel, and though it lacks a plot as we normally understand it, that seems to be a metaphor for the war itself. No heroes, no nice stories that get neatly tied up, no relief from the war. The main character, Demetrio Macías, is lauded for his bravery but admits he has no idea why he’s fighting, and gets caught up in the rape, looting, and drinking that characterizes most of the soldiers in the book. Another character sums it up toward the end of the novel:

I love the revoluton like a volcano in eruption; I love the volcano because it’s a volcano, the revolution because it’s the revolution!

Later, Demetrio returns to his wife, who asks him why he keeps fighting. He throws a stone to the bottom of a canyon, and says, “Look at that stone, how it keeps on going…”


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The Cuban state paper Granma has a message from Fidel and some photos. He looks quite chipper, really, for an 80 year old who recently had major intestinal surgery. Much of the message defended all the secrecy, though without really giving any reasons for it:

We should all understand that it is not convenient to systematically offer information, or to provide images of my health process.

Meanwhile, The New Republic has an article claiming that the Bush administration’s policy toward Cuba is more moderate than it appears. My impression, though, is that the article offers little evidence for it. Rather, it seems a call for moderation rather than proof that moderation already exists. It would take more to convince me that the U.S. government doesn’t plan to get deeply involved in a transition.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The race for the Security Council continues

From the Associated Press—the latest on the race between Venezuela and Guatemala to win the UN Security Council seat. I had someone ask me in a previous post whether the vote was public or not. My answer was that I thought with most votes, it was private unless there was a specific request for it to be public. This article says explicitly that it will be private, but does not explain why.

I took a look at the UN Rules of Procedure. Voting is covered on pages 27-29. Rule 127 states that any representative may request a recorded vote. I haven’t yet found anything to suggest that this particular vote will be different, unless there is an assumption that everyone wants it private.

There is a quote from the Guatemalan Foreign Minister that I found interesting, and so characteristic of U.S. policy:

''In some countries I have to admit the U.S. has come on too strong in its opposition to Venezuela,'' Rosenthal said. ``We would be happier if they would not promote our cause so much because we would like to be our own promoter.''


Monday, September 04, 2006

Defense conflict in South America

The Paraguayan government is expressing its concern about the bilateral defense accords between Bolivia (i.e. its neighbor) and Venezuela. In particular, they involve Venezuela helping Bolivia build a port (which they claim will be entirely commercial) near Paraguay, and upgrade a military base.

The U.S. is also involved, because the Paraguayan government has already voted to allow U.S. troops into the country, which has fueled speculation that the Bush administration plans to build a military base there, hence the efforts of Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez to beef up their own military presence in the region. For years, the so-called “Triborder Area” has been viewed as a haven for terrorist money laundering. Although it is an area traditional considered virtually lawless, there is quite a lot of debate about whether the threat is being exaggerated.

Unfortunately, I think Presidents Bush and Chávez are once again stoking up unnecessary conflict.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Day in the life of Hugo Chávez

Wake up. Put on red shirt. Announce foiled coup and/or assassination plot. Think up new name for George Bush (the latest is “Mr. Devil”). Announce again that you’d like to be president forever. Take a quick flight to do an oil deal and hopefully get another vote for the Security Council seat (the latest is Angola). Give Fidel a call to see how he’s doing. Go to bed. Repeat.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

PRD strategy

As has been widely reported, members of the PRD prevented President Fox from making his State of the Union address yesterday. Although I’ve disagreed with him in the past, I have to agree with Ricardo on this one—I just can’t see how this does anything but make AMLO and the PRD look bad. So far, Fox has handled it pretty well, so it may simply reinforce support for the PAN, depending on how Calderón reacts once he is president.

In a recent post, I mentioned the process of democratization in Mexico. Especially if the government’s response continues to eschew violence (I think the minimal amount of violence on both sides is noteworthy) this could ultimately strengthen collective commitment to democracy, as people consider the importance of loyal opposition.

Or maybe I’m just optimistic on a beautiful, clear and cool September morning.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Padres trade Kottaras for Wells

The Padres acquired David Wells (again) from the Red Sox, and it’s reported that we’re giving up catching prospect George Kottaras. I’m not sure about this trade. The argument is that although Wells’ season numbers stink and he’s been hurt, his last several starts have been pretty good. It is also a popular move in the clubhouse.

I guess I’m just dubious about these late season pick-ups that give away top prospects, especially for a pitcher who is so old (Wells is 43). Although Kottaras’ numbers aren’t so hot this year, he can put up good AVG, OBP, and SLG numbers, and he’s only 23. Even if we wanted to trade him, we probably should’ve been able to get more in return.

If Wells pitches well and the Padres make the playoffs, then I’ll be happy to eat my words. Padres RunDown also takes a look at the trade, and how the Red Sox managed to increase the price tag.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP