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The Collective
Sunday, September 21, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Like a lot of people, I am not sure what to make of the current financial crisis the commensurate ~$1 trillion bailout/nationalization of much of the country’s financial sector.

Beyond the question of whether what it is that is being done and whether it is the right thing to do, I continue to wonder as to where are the actors in question getting the authority to do what they are doing? At such, I am with James Joyner:

do we really want such fundamental decisions being made by obscure, unaccountable men like Bernanke, Paulson, and SEC chair Chris Cox? Shouldn’t Congress and the president be more than bit players?


I must say, I am not surprised by the lack of transparency in the behavior of the Bush administration, as we have seen this movie before, i.e., in war on terror policy. The Bush administration has never been all that fond of explaining to the American public the what and why of its policies, but rather it is fond of telling us that it is doing the right thing to help us all, but that we should trust them. They have also never much cared for involving the Congress.

Right now the process of Paulson and Bernanke going behind closed doors to negotiate these moves with Wall Street executives and then announcing multiple hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts is unnerving and since it is our money ultimately, I would like to see a bit more public deliberation.

In regards to the process, I am with Paul Krugman:

Treasury needs to explain why this is supposed to work — not try to panic Congress into giving it a blank check.

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Filed under: The Economy, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (3) | | Show Comments here
Saturday, September 20, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via AFP: Khan sacks Cuban trainer.

To which I can only point to this.

I find this to be highly amusing at the moment.

(Have I mentioned that I have been editing my manuscript for most of the day?)

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Filed under: Latin America | Comments/Trackbacks (1) | | Show Comments here
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Hadron Collider halted for months.

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Filed under: Not politics | Comments/Trackbacks (0) |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Peru rebel rejects surrender call:

Comrade Artemio, whose real name is Filomeno Cerron Cardoso, leads what is left of the group.

In his first apparent interview in almost two years, he told a local radio station near the rebel stronghold, Radio La Luz in Aucayacu in Huanuco region, that the rebels completely rejected an ultimatum issued by Peru’s national police chief to surrender.

“We still insist that what is needed is a political solution, what is needed is a general amnesty and national reconciliation,” he said.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if one’s first reaction was “the Shining Who?” depending on one’s age and predisposition to pay attention to Latin American politics. The Shining Path was once one of the most fearsome and violent guerrilla groups in the history of Latin America and they created a great of havoc in their day. However, they are now less than a shadow of a shell of their former selves:

The Shining Path nowadays is just a fraction of its former size, reports the BBC’s Dan Collyns from Lima, but its fighters still control remote coca-growing areas of Peru’s central jungle and are heavily involved in the drugs trade.

Experts say there are no more than 150 fighters and they no longer present a threat to national security.

The group has killed dozens of policemen and anti drugs workers in recent years, but it is a far cry from the Maoist-inspired organisation of the 1980s and 1990s which tried to impose a communist regime and in the process saw almost 70,000 people killed, our reporter adds.

This is not a group in a position to demand much of anything from the government. Indeed, save for the legacy of the name,1 they would appear to be little more than petty criminals at the moment.

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  1. To range into the silly for a moment, I have always thought the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso in Spanish) had ones of the best all time guerrilla group names-although nothing can top this one. []
Filed under: Latin America | Comments/Trackbacks (0) |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

If you have ever read and enjoyed the blog Arms and influence, please go read the linked post and vote.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Deadly bomb hits Pakistan hotel

The BBC’s Barbara Plett who is at the scene says that the entire front section of the Marriott Hotel has been blown out and wreckage was everywhere.


She says that about two-thirds of the building is on fire, and the wounded and dead are still being brought out, on stretchers or wrapped in sheets.

A suicide bomber is expected, but no details about who is responsible for the attack have been released.

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Filed under: Asia, War on Terror | Comments/Trackbacks (1) | | Show Comments here
Friday, September 19, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via El Tiempo I see that President Álvaro Uribe is in the US and will meet with President Bush on Saturday (Diálogo telefónico de Álvaro Uribe con Barak Obama fue un ejercicio de equilibrio político. The headline of the story highlights that Uribe spoke on the phone with Senator Obama.

Uribe is here to lobby for the US-Colombian Free trade agreement, which is stalled in Congress. Oddly, the Colombian President has no appointments with any members of Congress according to the story.

The AFP has an English-language write-up: Colombia president has ‘constructive’ talks with Barack Obama

Also expected to attend the meeting in Washington are three American former hostages who for several years were held captive by FARC rebels in Colombia, and who returned to the United States in July following a dramatic and daring rescue by Colombian armed forces.

Uribe hopes to meet on Sunday in New York with the most well-known of the newly-freed hostages, Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

On Monday he plans to address the United Nations General Assembly.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Poll: Obama tops McCain as football-watching buddy

Obama was the pick over McCain by a narrow 50 percent to 47 percent, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll released Friday

Shockingly, the results are not that different than the national polls.

Still, why these silly questions every four years? Who would you rather have a beer with? Who would you invite to your BBQ? It is the general election campaign manifestation of pancake flipping in New Hampshire (but at least the silly polls are only hypotheticals).

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (4) | | Show Comments here
Thursday, September 18, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

This has nothing to do with the McCain interview, so if you are tired of that one, you’re safe.

No, this post has to do with the fascinating topic of Spanish last names. In reading the coverage of the aforementioned story I noticed that the Spanish PM’s full name is: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. This struck me because in normal Spanish usage, individuals go by their first last name (their father’s), rather then their second last name (their mother’s). For example, the previous PM was José María Alfredo Aznar López, and was referred to as Prime Minsiter Aznar, not López.

For a moment I thought that perhaps I had made a blunder that, as a Spanish-speaker, I shouldn’t have made by calling him Zapatero, but in that exact same moment I knew that as far as I could recall, he is always referred to as “Zapatero” and never as “Rodríguez” or “Rodríguez Zapatero.” Indeed, while the El Pais piece on the McCain flap spells out the PM’s full name, it refers to him throughout as “Zapatero’ (including in the headline: “El candidato republicano no se compromete a ver a Zapatero si gana.”

I have no idea why he goes by his matronymic rather than his patronymic (if anyone knows, I am curious and would like to hear the explanation). I have never encountered the practice in my study of Latin America and am under the impression that it isn’t common in Spain, either.

If anything, the name did play into his campaign:

In poking around to find some answers I surfed over to the PSOE’s (Zapatero’s party) website and discovered the real reason McCain is giving the Big Z the cold shoulder:

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, Europe, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (5) | | Show Comments here
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Having given the whole McCain/Zapatero business a bit more thought, it really seems to me that the McCain campaign, and Randy Scheunemann in particular, is trying to provide an ex post facto explanation for McCain’s odd/non-answer of a question about meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister.

It is as though it is better to turn a cold shoulder to the Spanish than to admit that McCain misunderstood what he was being asked.

Marc Ambinder corresponded with Scheunemann and was given the following response:

In this week’s interview, Senator McCain did not rule in or rule out a White House meeting with President Zapatero, a NATO ally. If elected, he will meet with a wide range of allies in a wide variety of venues but is not going to spell out scheduling and meeting location specifics in advance. He also is not going to make reckless promises to meet America’s adversaries. It’s called keeping youtr options open, unlike Senator Obama who has publically committed to meeting some of the world’s worst dictators unconditionally in his first year in office.

That sounds like revisionist hooey, to be honest. It is, strictly speaking, true: mcCain did not rule in or out a WH meeting with Zapatero. However, that is a total obfuscation of the way McCain’s response to the question went down. Either McCain specifically went out of his way to send a message of displeasure to Zapatero or he didn’t understand what was being asked of him.

If he had wanted to leave the issue of a WH or other kind of visit open, he could have done so without making it sound as thought Zapatero was on the same plane as Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales in terms of current relations with the US.

I’m with Joe Klein on this one: “Seems to me that putting a chill in the relationship with one of our NATO allies simply because McCain misheard a question is going a bit far.” And really, that is what this sounds like, especially taking both of Scheunemann’s responses together (the first one was noted here)-it just seems like ill-advised damage control.

The bottom line is I really don’t believe that McCain was trying to make a definitive statement on US-Spanish relations in a McCain administration. Either he misheard/misunderstood what was being asked (while difficult to fully understand how this could be the case, a telephone and a foreign accent was involved here, so some benefit of the doubt is warranted, I suppose) or he didn’t remember who Zapatero was and decided to BS the response.

If it is one of the later two, and McCain is willing to spin it into some statement about US-Spanish relations, that doesn’t speak well to McCain’s character (i.e., he’d rather cause problems with an ally than own up to a mistake). Even if this is his policy preference and is willing to continue to punish Spain for pulling out of Iraq (as has been the Bush administration’s approach to the Zapatero government), when it was a clearly response to an election, that, too, raises serious questions about his foreign policy intentions going forward.

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, Europe, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (5) | | Show Comments here
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