Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Waiting for Hurricane George

March 11, 2007

So, we just returned from a lovely afternoon walk in our blockaded neighborhood here in Guatemala City. It’s pretty eerie out there and reminds me of when I was growing up in Central Florida. When we had hurricanes, we usually knew they were coming a couple of days ahead of time – enough to put plywood up on the windows, buy extra groceries, and then go for a walk under sunny skies. On our walks, we’d always bump into the neighbors and chat, all while feeling a sense of impending doom/giddiness. It was the same this afternoon here in la Zona Viva…

A few notes on the visit:

I’m frustrated with CNN’s lack of coverage of President Bush’s Latin American trip – instead, it’s every detail about the happy news of the baby from Lubbock, TX being found, the Atlanta bus crash, and the forest fires in California – but nothing on Colombia.

As I posted in the comments below, the Mayan people near Iximche are going to do a purification ritual of the site after Bush’s visit tomorrow. I find this whole purification stuff to be really interesting – from a religious and PR/political statement point of view. Some of you might remember conversations in the past about purifying Gandhi’s tomb after Bush’s visit a few years ago (more about the bomb-sniffing dogs than Bush…).

The graffiti outside of our neighborhood is intense and scary. Although Guatemala has not seen the kind of protests that occurred in Brazil and Uruguay/Argentina, the graffiti is pretty incredible – those people who do want to protest Bush’s visit sure have some nasty things to say/write! It certainly speaks to the growing negative perceptions of the US here in Latin America.

Immigration – not crime, foreign aid, drug trafficking, or Iraq – seems to be the main issue on everyone’s mind here. Many Guatemalans have family and friends in the US and the desire for a fair immigration package is the one issue mentioned by most people I talk to and those quoted in the papers.

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Why is John Edwards so popular?

February 4, 2007

I just don’t get why John Edwards is so popular among those of us on the liberal left… I’m watching him on Meet the Press and it’s just a festival of, “I got it wrong… I’m sorry…” If he got Iraq wrong during a short few years in the Senate, what else is he going to get wrong as President? Look, I admire everything Edwards has to say about the struggles of the middle class and poverty in America as a moral issue. He deserves a lot of credit for that. I’m just not sure why the “experience” question doesn’t haunt him the way it does Obama, and why the “Iraq vote” issue doesn’t haunt him the way it does Hillary.

Other notes: Edwards’s position on trade and outsourcing is isolationist and short-sighted… And, voting to cut off funding for the war is not a good move – it’s easy for Edwards to say since he faces no consequences with his constituents. Our troops need our support – Congress needs to pressure the President in other ways that don’t put our troops in physical danger.

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Salon.com editorial on Guantanamo

January 18, 2007

Here is an excellent Salon.com editorial by my friend Anant, one of the lawyers representing prisoners at Guantanamo.  Some of the letters in response make great reading and arguments on this issue as well.

Write to the White House – Law firms should be proud of representing Guantanamo prisoners!

January 13, 2007

As a lawyer myself, with a very good friend working on the Guantanamo cases pro bono, I find reprehensible Charles Stimson’s comments criticizing lawyers at big firms representing Guantanamo prisoners and his call for a boycott. The thing about being detained by America is that you deserve legal counsel. The thing about being a lawyer is that you donate some of your time to helping those in need of representation. Unless he wants to attack every public defender, every pro bono asylum lawyer, every legal professional in the U.S., Stimson and his followers ought to shut up. If right-wingers want to go on a witch hunt, they should steer clear of reputable lawyers who are giving of their own precious time to ensure that our system of legal rights is not affected by the present administration’s madness. It’s like J. Edgar Hoover all over again.

Write to President Bush right now and demand that he rebuke Stimson’s comments. Alberto Gonzalez and the DoD already did, but I’m afraid without our demands Stimson’s concerns will stay on the right-wing, nut-job radio stations for a very long time.

Oh, and apologies for the long absence, which may continue a bit longer – the New Year has arrived replete with many new projects here in Guatemala. I’m struggling a bit to juggle it all and prioritize… but this issue was too important not to post…

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An early Christmas present for YOU

December 20, 2006

… the 12 Days of Indian Christmas!

Lots of religion in the news/blogs lately: the New Atheists, Matthew LaClair and his crazy proselytizing high school history teacher, Sam Brownback (is he always in the news lately or what??)…

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Fun Stuff from our Blogroll

November 22, 2006

Just three small notes from my favorite sites:

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Bush’s terrible pick to head HHS family planning dept.

November 17, 2006

Check it out – the HHS’s new family planning director will be a MAN who is AGAINST contraceptives for American women since he considers them “demeaning to women”… Like TGW, I wonder why Bush couldn’t find a WOMAN for the post???

And, I personally find it totally demeaning to prevent my access and choice to what science has made possible… I think the last elections show that Americans don’t want Republicans meddling in their personal lives or going too far to the crazy-religious-right. These people don’t want us to have access to: CONDOMS, THE PILL, THE PATCH, IVF, STEM CELL RESEARCH. Their tyranny is inexcusable and the more Bush panders to them, the more he and his party will lose. (At least I have more confidence in my fellow Americans now!) 

Write to the White House right now and oppose Eric Keroack as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs! I did it, and so can you…

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Did Macacas make the difference?

November 11, 2006

There’s a lot of post-game wrap-up these days about whether South Asians tipped the balance in Virginia (and therefore the Senate!), and/or whether Allen’s slur against Indian-Americans made a difference. I personally think it would be pretty cool if we Desis could claim the entire victory in the Senate, but like Kos wrote in his Memo to the Democrats, this election was more likely a perfect storm of events and actors. Here are three fun links looking back on the Macaca incident and analyzing its importance to the election:

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My 2006 Election Predictions

November 7, 2006

Senate: Tester, Casey, Whitehouse, Brown, Menendez, Cantwell, Cardin and Webb all win for the D’s. For the Republicans, Corker wins relatively big and Sen. Talent wins a nail-biter. Lieberman wins handily.

House: 26 seats move to the Democratic side. Close winners include McNerney (CA-11) , Kleeb (NE-03), Lampson (TX-22), Trauner (WY-AL), Grant (ID-01), Paccione (CO-04), Mahoney (FL-16), Cranley (OH-01) , Yarmuth (KY-03) and all three CT races.

Texas Governor, in order: Perry, Bell, Strayhorn, Kinky.

PS – Does anyone know how to use Sunlight Labs’ Popup Politicians on WordPress.com blogs?

Although I’m a proud independent, I’ll be watching the races closely to see if dems can pull out some big gains. I’ll be especially rooting for McNerney against Pombo in CA-11.

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Guatemala vs. Venezuela (and other political musings)

October 21, 2006

Three interesting pieces of political news from Guatemala this week:

First, the voting continues for a temporary seat on the Security Council – it’s between Guatemala and Venezuela. The press here is definitely covering Hugo Chavez’s antics, who makes it sound like he’s running against the U.S. for the seat – as if a vote for Guatemala is a vote for George W. Bush or something… I think it would be great for Guatemala to be on the Council and to have more exposure on the world stage. At least the voting process is making more people around the world aware of Guatemala, its political interests, its economy, its culture…

Second, this past Tuesday, 10 major political party leaders – guided by a group of 15 community and academic leaders – released a “Visionary Plan for the Country,” with goals for improvement in the areas of security (which is dismal – see previous posts), health and nutrition (also dismal, since Guatemala this year fell to the bottom of Latin American-Caribbean countries in terms of child malnutrition), rural development, and education. Come this December, ten years will have passed since the Guatemalan Peace Accords, so it is time for a new agenda to shock the political system here – everyone I know here is pretty skeptical, but I still hope this is it…

Third, Wonkette – in a striking departure from its normal, humorous tone – covers the impending page scandal regarding House representative Jerry Weller, whose father-in-law happens to be Guatemalan former president/dictator, Efrain Rios Montt. Frankly, I’m addicted to U.S. mid-term election news, so it was surprising to see a Guatemalan connection like this. The Guatemalan supreme court ruled last week or the week before that Rios Montt cannot run for president again, but that still doesn’t seem to stop him as I just saw a campaign commercial for him on the local news channel yesterday… maybe he’s the equivalent of a Guatemalan Ralph Nader (but obviously more sinister)?

(Cross-posted at The View From Here.)

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