Foreign Policyasks: Why does James Inhofe support Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo?
(Laurent Gbagbo is the Ivory Coast dictator who’s refused to step down after an internationally monitored democratic election voted him out of office. James Inhofe is the senior United States Senator from Oklahoma.)
Most nations in the world as well as the UN have recognized Gbagbo’s rival as the rightful president of Ivory Coast. There has been terrible violence in that country since the election and it’s apparently okay with Ggagbo because his ego must be fed.
Inhofe’s position starkly contradicts the administration’s policy on the Ivory Coast, where Gbagbo has been widely accused of targeting civilians and opposition supporters during the four month stand-off. U.S., European, U.N., and African Union policy has called for the outgoing president to step down immediately. Today, the U.N. Security Council slapped tough sanctions on his regime, adding to existing American, European, and African sanctions already in place.
So how did an Oklahoma senator come to support a man that most see as an obstacle to peace in the Ivory Coast?
Salongot the first bite out of this story, reporting that Inhofe and Gbagbo met through a Christian group known as the Fellowship.
The back story of that ‘friendship’ – one also shared by other prominent people in the Christian right – is here.
. . . .[but] one aspect of Gbagbo’s past — and present — has flown under the radar: his longtime ties to the Christian right in the United States, a movement in which he still finds at least some support.
That includes a U.S. senator and acquaintance of Gbagbo who declined to intervene in the crisis when asked by the State Department earlier this year, a former congressman who was hired by Gbagbo as a lobbyist, and a Christian right TV network that ran a fawning profile of Gbagbo, even as violence engulfed Ivory Coast.
Did you get that? A US Senator, when asked by his State Department, to lend his gravitas and personal connections to resolution of a violent dispute, refused. And he refused because he and the bad guy are Evangelical Christians together and sort of buddies, body count be damned. See?
Inhofe disgraces us all.
(A million people have already fled the country; the violence is expected to reach some sort of resolution very soon.)
It’s been raining for three days here and no one is complaining. Rain in March/April is welcome; heck, rain at any time is welcome. Florida gets an average of 55″ annually, but we do have periodic droughts. When we run short, it’s partly because my State hasn’t quite figured out to retain enough of what we get.
In addition, municipalities and counties have been building runoff infrastructure for decades – as a result, water that should be replenishing our life-sustaining aquifer is being spilled into bays and estuaries and oceans, carrying with it plenty of nasty stuff picked up on the roads and golf courses. Stuff that kills living things. This is not good.
A theatre friend died Saturday. He was much too young and we loved him too much to have him leave us so soon.
Steve often appeared on stage with kids in the youth theatre productions – there were always adult parts; he was an audience favorite and was cast frequently. He was the first to make new kids feel welcome; he quickly put them at ease and showed them the ropes. They adored him.
He was a snarky and sarcastic fellow which of course was his charm. Steve often sat outside the stage door smoking (yes, smoking), wearing a baseball hat bearing a show logo – from which perch he could greet arrivals with ‘glad to see you decided to join us’.
Sunday night I was still feeling a bit sad when I took Logan and his mom to dinner. We talked a bit about Steve, but Logan was excited about the movie Billy Elliot which he’d just seen (he now wants to be a dancer). Later on at his house he performed his version of a number from that show and he dedicated it to Steve.
Moore will enter a field already crowded with socially-conservative potential candidates, including former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. . . . Moore was removed as chief justice by Alabama’s judicial ethics panel in 2003 for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments monument after a federal court order. He is the author of “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.”
Moore has twice lost GOP gubernatorial primaries in Alabama, in 2006 and 2010.
Get it on, Your Honor – great credentials there. And I say the more the merrier!
Over at Notes from Rumbly Cottage, the Answer Lady has thoughtfully provided a photo of a brick wall – for those who found themselves at her site in their search for such an image. This oddity sent me to my own site stats to see what might cause Google and Bing to direct people here.
Turns out it’s Scalia. Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS for those of us ‘in the know’). Those search engines scoop me right up with the other droppings, even though I’ve no memory of using a Scalia picture, but Google knows what Google knows, so we may assume that in fact I did. We may also assume that I had a darn good reason!
That long-forgotten posting may even have featured the photo above. I just found it via Google – at yet another blog – which may have actually gotten it here – via a Google search – and maybe I posted it the first time after finding it on another blog via Google . . . I think we need a word for this disturbing and all too common process.
So allow me to take the self-serving lesson and throw some feed to my site stats. If one Justice is good, nine are better.
In a recent post, Robert Reich catalogs and rebuts the biggest whoppers spun by the Republicans regarding job creation:
“Cutting taxes on the rich creates jobs.” Nope. Trickle-down economics has been tried for thirty years and hasn’t worked. After George W. Bush cut taxes on the rich, far fewer jobs were created than after Bill Clinton raised them in the 1990s.
“Cutting corporate income taxes creates jobs.” Baloney. American corporations don’t need tax cuts. They’re sitting on over $1.5 trillion of cash right now. They won’t invest it in additional capacity or jobs because they don’t see enough customers out there with enough money in their pockets to buy what the additional capacity would produce. Florida Governor Rick Scott, for example, says his proposed corporate tax cuts “will give Florida a competitive edge in attracting jobs.” They’ll also require education spending be reduced by $3 billion. Florida already ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending and has one of nation’s lowest graduation rates. If Scott’s tax cuts create jobs, most will pay peanuts.
“Cuts in wages and benefits create jobs.” Congressional Republicans and their state counterparts repeat this lie incessantly. It also lies behind corporate America’s incessant demand for wage and benefit concessions – and corporate and state battles against unions. But it’s dead wrong. Meager wages and benefits are reducing the spending power of tens of millions of American workers, which is prolonging the jobs recession.
“Regulations kill jobs.” Congressional Republicans are using this whopper to justify their attempts to defund regulatory agencies. Regulations whose costs to business exceed their benefits to the public are unwarranted, of course, but reasonable regulation is necessary to avoid everything from nuclear meltdowns to oil spills to mine disasters to food contamination – all of which we’ve sadly witnessed.
“Cutting the federal deficit will create jobs.” It’s not true. Cutting the deficit will create fewer jobs. Less government spending reduces overall demand. This is particularly worrisome when, as now, consumers and businesses are still holding back. Fewer government workers will have paychecks to buy stuff from other Americans, some of whom in turn will lose their jobs without enough customers.
Reich calls on the President to refute these claims loud and long, before they become conventional wisdom. He can’t understand Obama’s silence in the face of the Republican onslaught.
We use oil. We use coal. We use gas. We use energy resources and technologies that diminish our stores of natural resources and poison our environment. It’s really not a very smart model anymore.
We need to create a future and leave the fossil fuels in the ground – in our past. It took millions of years to create those reserves and we are on our way to using them up within two centuries while pretending they’ll be there forever.
Imagine ‘intelligent pavement’ that could generate power for use elsewhere AND power our vehicles AND pay for itself – imagine replacing asphalt roads with solar panels in glass surfaces. It’s possible.
Imagine the jobs in research, manufacturing and construction. Imagine people imagining solutions.
Friend Brian (a Canadian – quelle horror!) sent me this video.
Top news: Aided by the internationally-imposed no-fly zone, Libya’s rebels are closing in on Muammar al-Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte after a rapid advance during which they retook hundreds of miles of territory that had been lost in the previous week, including two key oil complexes. . . . The rebels also scored a diplomatic victory when Qatar became the first Arab country to recognize them as the legitimate government of Libya. Qatar has promised the rebels help in selling their oil on the international market . . .[Obama] scored an victory on Sunday when NATO ambassadors approved a plan for the alliance to take over command of aerial operations from the United States.
Maybe the rebels are a more cohesive group than they’ve appeared to be. Let us hope.
Maybe we can take the Administration at their word. Maybe this will be Grenada, not Afghanistan.
Anticipating the coming 2012 campaign, FactCheck.org takes a detailed look at the results of the 2006 Massachusetts health care law. Because of the similarities to the federal bill, much spin is predicted. FactCheck summarizes its findings:
The major components of the state and federal law are similar, but details vary. The federal law put a greater emphasis on cost-control measures, for instance. Massachusetts is just now tackling that.
The state law was successful on one big goal: A little more than 98 percent of state residents now have insurance.
Claims that the law is “bankrupting” the state are greatly exaggerated. Costs rose more quickly than expected in the first few years, but are now in line with what the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation had estimated.
Small-business owners are perhaps the least happy stakeholders. Cheaper health plans for them through the state exchange haven’t materialized, as they hoped.
Despite claims to the contrary, there’s no clear evidence that the law had an adverse effect on waiting times. In fact, 62 percent of physicians say it didn’t.
Public support has been high. One poll found that 68.5 percent of nonelderly adults supported the law in 2006; 67 percent still do.
The article is long but worth a read. Check the section “What Happened to Premiums?” (The short answer is that overall they went down — but, of course, it’s much more complicated than that.) Prepare to consume mass quantities of hot air in the lead-up to the election.
Joe Bageant, 1946-2011
Joe Bageant, author of the incomparable Deer Hunting with Jesus and the recently-released Rainbow Pie died yesterday following a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 64. Joe wrote about poverty and class in America with humor and love. His work will live on.
He’s so crooked, he’s a blockbuster movie all by himself. He just escaped indictment last time, although his company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud. Also, he doesn’t blink. I do not trust people who don’t blink.
(For some weeks, I’ve been trying to write a comprehensive post on my new governor but the stories are popping up with such frequency I can’t finish the thing!)
The good governor is now setting up another sweetheart deal for himself per this at Washington Monthly.
Before inexplicably becoming the governor of the state of Florida, Republican Rick Scott’s most notable accomplishment was pulling off a major health care scam, defrauding taxpayers, and narrowly avoiding a criminal indictment.
That felonious background is of particular interest given Scott’s new scheme to “reform” Medicaid, which may make him an even wealthier man.
. . . Scott is pushing a controversial measure that stands to put millions of tax dollars into his own family’s bank account, profiting from a government-run health care plan after running on a platform in opposition to government-run health care.
The whole story is here. The company of which he ‘divested himself’ is now wholly owned by his wife. And it’s poised to make tens of millions if the proposed legislation passes.
He gets a lot of face time on TV pretending he’s running for President. Plus there’s the intellect. Also. He opines on Libya (h/t Dave Weigel at Slate):
Newt on FOX March 7
Newt on GMA March 23
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?Exercise a no-fly zone this evening! Communicate to the Libyan military that Gadhafi was gone and that the sooner they switch sides, the more like they were to survive, provided help to the rebels to replace him.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?I would not have intervened. I think there were a lot of other ways to affect Qaddafi.
REASON TO GO?All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.
REASON TO GO?The standard [Obama] has fallen back to of humanitarian intervention . . . This isn’t a serious standard. This is a public relations conversation.
Bob Herbert has been one of the treasures at The New York Times for the past 18 years. My ‘must reads’ among the Times’ stable of op ed writers has been dwindling in recent years; but Herbert kept me coming back. His voice always clarified complex social challenges; he always pulled me back to earth. He says he’s “off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society.” Good for him. But oh, he’ll be missed.
Today’s column, Losing Our Way, is his last. It is, of course, pure Herbert.
So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home. . . . Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st Century. . . . The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
. . . [Today’s income] inequality . . . is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.
. . . Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power . . .So the employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.
New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.
This is going to get repetitive, we’re afraid, but every aspect of the “financial crisis” in the United States is due to corporations not paying taxes and the very richest .01% individuals not paying taxes. That’s it, that’s the whole thing — your crumbling schools, your sinkhole highways, your abandoned state parks, the laid-off city maintenance worker . . . everything. General Electric, America’s largest corporation and the second-biggest company on Earth, simply does not pay any taxes at all. You try that! . . .
With a massive internal tax-evasion department headed by a former Treasury official and staffed with former IRS agents, G.E. is simply the best at what has become common practice for the monstrous mega-corporations that control every aspect of policy and “politics.” A half century ago, corporations paid 30% of America’s total taxes. Now it’s down to 6.6%.
And still, they whine ceaselessly about how they can barely afford to do business in America, what with the crushing burden of 6.6% taxes.
When the nuclear went down, Japan turned to its wind farms. Stupid Japanese, don’t even know that wind has no role in any serious energy policy. We know, cuz Dick Cheney told us.
Even the country’s totally badass Kamisu offshore wind farm, with its giant 2 MW turbines with blades big as the wings on a jumbo jet, and only 186 miles from the epicenter of the largest quake ever recorded in Japan, survived without a hiccup thanks to its “battle proof design.” As a result, the nation’s electric companies have asked all of its wind farms to increase power production to maximum, in order to make up for the shortfalls brought about by the failure of certain other aging, non-resilient 20th-century technologies
“Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives.”
— Editorial Page, Portland Oregonian
A few goodies from Bartcop today. UPDATE: A friend just pointed out the disappearing wallet! I missed it first time.
A post I wrote but didn’t publish after the State of the Union speech about the silliness that is CNN. Posting it now speaks to my laziness today, and something is better than nothing. And for me, any opportunity to trash CNN is timeless.
Eric Alterman gets it right. He pretty much always does ( I admit to a prejudice because he published my letters back in the days when Americans hadn’t yet forgotten that we were/are engaged in two [now three?] wars). Here, he eviscerates CNN for their crappy news judgement.
Fingernails on a blackboard
The network, with annoying regularity, exhibits a puffed up sense of self-importance. In his column, Alterman goes after them for their journalistic cluelessness after they broadcast the ‘response to the response to the State of the Union’, delivered by that towering American intellect and historian, Michelle Bachman.
CNN alone mistook it for real news. They were played. But I suppose a network that likes Wolf Blitzer as its wise old man (will he never retire?) has an expectation of poor judgement.
(By the way, they do have an international edition which I understand is pretty good – why oh why do we get only the crap?)
This from Politico a few days back – the House Energy and Commerce committee which wants to block EPA rules basically (they want to override EPA on the science of global warming, cuz they’re all such great climatologists) – now want to forbid EPA from declaring carbon dioxide to be a greenhouse gas. Truth. They really do – rename it and problem goes away.
“Some Republicans refuted the claim that global warming science has been settled. “We should not put the U.S. economy in a straightjacket because of a theory that hasn’t been proven,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). “To put this amendment into the law I think would go against everything that people on both sides of the aisle say they’re for.””
That’s kind of the same reasoning John Yoo used to define torture – “it’s torture when it results in organ failure”. And heaven’s sake, we don’t need seawalls just because floods might happen. And why vaccinate little Johnny when it’s probably going to be little Susie who gets polio? Seat belts? Nonsense, I can’t see the car around the corner that’s going to hit me!
When Barton’s ‘proof’ arrives, it will be too late; perhaps he’ll see it when his favorite golf course is underwater.
Moments when this country could have made epic and positive changes – but didn’t.
President Andrew Johnson – He entered the White HOuse following Lincoln’s assassination. He had utter disdain for the emergingReconstruction policy, stopped it and led with is own bigotry. The legacy of slavery wasn’t addressed again until the mid-20th century (Truman to Johnson).
GW Bush – Following 9/11, just eight months into his presidency, George Bush had a nation that would have followed its president anywhere, risen to any challenge. He had a chance to give us a ‘go to the moon’ challenge and the US could have begun a journey to lead the world in alternative energy technology (not instead of Afghanistan; the efforts could have been side by side).
Obama – He walked into office on a day when the nation would have enthusiastically gotten behind a call for vast reform of the financial industry, the tax codes and a stronger regulatory structure. But he didn’t. Stimulus was the right thing to do, but it stopped short. And in the financial industry at least, it reenforced the bad behaviors that led to the meltdown.
This is an open book test. Please answer the following essay questions as completely as possible.
The UN humanitarian intervention in Libya was initiated to prevent Muammar Qaddafi from committing acts of aggression and brutality against “his own people”.
If attacking and killing “one’s own people” is the test for intervention, what will happen when armed rebels fire on supporters of Muammar Qaddafi? Should the UN intervene to prevent them from attacking “their own people”? Why or why not?
The leaders of Bahrain and Yemen have also ordered brutal attacks against “their own people”. Should the UN intervene to protect the civilians of these countries? Why or why not?
In Ivory Coast, the refusal by Laurent Gbagbo, the loser of the presidential elections, to step down has led to the deaths of hundreds, and soon possibly thousands, of “his own people”. Should the UN carry out a humanitarian intervention to protect the civilians of this country, which is of low strategic value to the West? Why or why not?
Democratic aspirations have manifested in Saudi Arabia, currently the most repressive regime in the Middle East. Containing the world’s largest oil reserves and of supreme strategic importance, Saudi Arabia is America’s oldest ally in the region. If, in the event of a democratic uprising, the Saudi government attacks “its own people” to suppress the democratic movement, should the UN intervene to protect the civilians of this country? Why or why not?
If the capability existed in 1861, should the international community have intervened to prevent Abraham Lincoln from using violence to prevent secession by “his own people”? Why or why not?
Walked today with my 90-year old friend Bessie. Remarkably she keeps up. I should not be surprised, since she flew B-17’s in WWII and today walks about five miles a day! I’m trying to grow up and be her. As we wandered through the lovely park that begins at the bottom of my street, we saw five gopher turtles and were visited by a family of scrub jays who like peanuts.
PBS is damn good. National Geographic is pretty terrific. But this! Here’s a trailer for the BBC One program (I almost typed ‘programme’ – heh), The Human Planet. It’s 3 minutes and it’s stunning – try to watch it in full screen. (h/t cousin Lizzie)
In my old stomping grounds right now, the crocuses are probably up and daffodils are showing their heads in odd places all over lawns. People like me are probably outside with the kitchen scissors, cutting some forsythia branches to bring inside and ‘force’. And they will bloom – is there anything more exhilarating than a large vase with a dozen long forsythia branches, graceful, reaching and pointing to every corner of the house? I miss that.
The exotic Florida Snowbird
But after 17 years in Florida, I’ve learned to appreciate our own Spring – there are flowering shrubs and lilies of all kinds. A brief rain turns the world green overnight. It’s quite remarkable. And the sweetest sign of spring – snowbirds head home and we can go out to eat again!
Newsweek just published one of those How Dumb Are We articles that seem to pop up every few years. We Americans never do very well, especially compared with the rest of the First World.
For as long as they’ve existed, Americans have been misunderstanding checks and balances and misidentifying their senators. . . . the yearly shifts in civic knowledge since World War II have averaged out to slightly under one percent.
This time the magazine surveyed 1000 people and the 100 questions were from the current test for US Citizenship. It seems most of us would fail. I tried to take the quiz and got up to #28 (of 100 questions), but honestly, the process is painfully slow so I just quit. Each question is on its own screen, then another screen for the answer which also shows the scores of the people surveyed. It was depressing:
70% of Americans don’t know what is the supreme law of the land
86% don’t know how many members of the House of Representatives
61% have no idea how long a Senator serves
63% don’t know how many justices on the Supreme Court
87% don’t know that the economic system in the US is capitalism
81% couldn’t name one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government
73% couldn’t name the US enemy in the Cold War
Oddly, a full 58% do know that the Speaker of the House is third in line for the Presidency.
The accompanying article, in making the point that Americans have always been ill informed about their own government and country, said that now, however, “the world has changed. And unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more inhospitable to incurious know-nothings—like us.”
In fairness, they describe some of the mitigating factors that contribute to why we fare so poorly against other developed nations, especially in Europe.
Most experts agree that the relative complexity of the U.S. political system makes it hard for Americans to keep up. In many European countries, parliaments have proportional representation, and the majority party rules without having to share power with a lot of subnational governments . . . In contrast, we’re saddled with a nonproportional Senate; a tangle of state, local, and federal bureaucracies; and near-constant elections for every imaginable office. . . It doesn’t help that the United States has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the developed world . . . we have a lot of very poor people without access to good education, and a huge immigrant population that doesn’t even speak English.
If you have the patience to take the test (here) let us know how you did.
Woke up this morning feeling great and with a busy day ahead. After putting the coffee on, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I reached up grab my toothbrush and my back screamed “Oh no you don’t!! Stop it right now!!’ Let me repeat, I had moved my arm slightly away from my body to reach my toothbrush. That is what I did; that is all I did. And that is how it goes, children, that is how it goes.
I have put on a neck brace (I have one – this has happened before). A shower is out of the question which is annoying as I’ve a ten o’clock date with a dozen people who will be assembled because I asked for their help in a volunteer project. I’ll get to watch them which might cause some hard feelings. I hope the neck brace convinces them that to go easy on judging me.
Blogging will resume later today, assuming the damn neck allows me to use these fingers on keyboard (not actually going very well right now).