Roots of Terror

Nick Kristof’s op-ed in Thursday’s NY Times, An Unsettling Complicity, ia a very worthwhile read, for the points he sought to make, and beyond.

Kristof’s point, with which I do not take issue, is that our coziness with corrupt Angolan officials is a moral failure. Kristof:

What unsettles me is the Western role in this corruption. Western oil companies and banks work closely with Angolan officials, enabling the kleptocracy, and the United States and other governments mostly avert their eyes from the corruption, repression and humanitarian catastrophe.

A generation ago, the United States supported a brutal warlord, Jonas Savimbi, in Angola’s civil war. He lost. Now, because of oil interests, we have allied ourselves with the corrupt and autocratic winner, President José Eduardo dos Santos, in a way that also will also be remembered with embarrassment.

This is nothing new. It’s happened in Saudi Arabia, Iran before 1979, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen, to name just a few. It happened throughout Central and South America, where the chickens are now coming home to roost.

Here’s what this policy translates into on the ground:

Marques de Morais has tracked $3 billion accumulated by President dos Santos’s daughter, the $13 million refurbishment of the presidential palace, the Lexus LX 570 luxury S.U.V.’s given to each member of Parliament — all at a time when children aren’t consistently getting five-cent deworming pills.

Kristof concludes:

In other words, we have influence, if we’re willing to use it. And when children are spitting up worms and a country ranks No. 1 in child mortality worldwide, let’s exercise that influence rather than remaining complicit.

Okay, let’s pick up where Kristof leaves off. Continue reading

Democratic governors doing things the right way, not the Republican way, to great success

scott walker az chamber of commerceGovernor Doug Ducey, the man hired by Koch Industries to manage their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, hosted Governor Scott Walker, “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin” (h/t Charles Pierce) at, where else, an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event Chamber Leadership Series on Wednesday in downtown Phoenix.

Walker would have everyone in the political universe believe that he is currently the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for president. So it raises questions and suspicions that Walker came to Phoenix and did not do any media availability. The Arizona Republic reported today:

Walker, another leading GOP 2016 prospect, was in downtown Phoenix Wednesday to speak at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon, but outside of some Twitter posts from attendees there wasn’t any news coverage of his remarks. At Walker’s request, the event was closed to the media, and he did not make himself available to reporters before or after.

What kind of candidate for president passes up an opportunity for publicity in a state?

Or maybe Walker didn’t want to answer questions about the publicity I have given him, with a comparison and contrast between the success of Democratic run Minnesota versus Republican run Wisconsin, If the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry really wants to learn about ‘Leadership,’ it should invite Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to speak instead, and the fact that Walker’s economic policies have been an economic disaster for Wisconsin’s middle class. Scott Walker brings his failed economic plan to Arizona.

Nancy LeTourneau at the Political Animal Blog does some more bragging on Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, and California Governor Jerry Brown, two seasoned Democrats who are showing what real leadership looks like. What Minnesota and California Have in Common:

I’ve probably done enough humble-bragging about my home state of Minnesota and Governor Mark Dayton. But I did appreciate the way this visual summed it up.

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Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Last November, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down proof-of-citizenship requirement for National Voter Registration Form:

NoVoteA panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, in a unanimous decision, struck down Arizona’s Prop. 200 (2004) proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration and a similar provision of Kansas law in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (Nos. 14-3062 and 14-3072). Specifically, this case concerns whether Arizona and Kansas have to accept the federal National Voter Registration Form without additional proof of citizenship. The Arizona Voter Registration Form proof-of-citizenship requirement has previously been upheld by the Courts.

Read the Opinion Here (.pdf).

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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that Kansas cannot require proof-of-citizenship documents — almost always a birth certificate or passport — from prospective voters who register using a federal voter registration form. The court also said that a federal agency doesn’t have to alter the [federal] form to fit Kansas requirements.

Arizona has a similar proof-of-citzenship requirement, and Kobach argued the case on behalf of both states in conjunction with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

I commented at the time, “Justice Antonin Scalia, who suggested this convoluted legal process to Kansas and Arizona in his earlier Supreme Court opinion, is salivating at the prospect of judicially rewriting the federal law in favor of “states’ rights” when this case winds its way back to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a temporary victory, I fear.”

We are about to find out. The Wichita Eagle reports, Kris Kobach asks U.S. Supreme Court to restore his proof-of-citizenship law:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision and restore a state law he wrote requiring proof-of-citizenship documents to register to vote.

Kobach wants the Supreme Court to undo the November decision by the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeal, in a case pitting Kansas and Arizona against the federal Election Assistance Commission and a bevy of voting rights groups.

The appeals court ruled that the states could not require document citizenship proof from prospective voters who register using a federal form that doesn’t demand it – and that the commission doesn’t have to alter the federal registration form to comply with the states’ demands.

Kobach argues Supreme Court guidance is needed because the case is of paramount national importance.

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Arizona legislature: the coming week

By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

There is going to be almost no committee activity this week as the lege looks to adjourn for the year.

Sources say that the goal of leadership is to wrap up by Thursday, but that they aren’t optimistic about meeting that particular goal.

As of right now, expectations are that if the lege doesn’t finish things up by the start of holiday period next weekend (it’s a significant period in many faiths), the lege will adjourn for the weekend and come back to town next week for a day or two.

That would put sine die on Tuesday or Wednesday, still making this one of the shortest legislative sessions in memory (just a guess here, because I haven’t been able to find a definitive record of such things, but if this session isn’t the shortest ever, it is almost certainly the shortest non-election year session).

Having said all of that, Governor Doug Ducey may be the key here.  If he shows any indication that he is willing to sign off on some of the nuggets of ugly (aka – the crazy bills) that remain under legislative consideration, the session may continue until the bay at the moon caucus gets votes on everything that they want.

One thing to watch for this week: committee meetings scheduled on short notice.  As of right now, no bills are scheduled to be considered by any committee, but that can change in the time that it takes a lobbyist to write a check for a “campaign contribution”.


Notes: Continue reading

Political Calendar: Week of March 29, 2015

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Political Calendar for the Week of March 29, 2015:

Sunday, March 29, 7:00 p.m.: Laughing Liberally Tucson returns to lampoon the national, state and local political scene. Come out and enjoy Tucson’s best and brightest comics as we try our best to save democracy…one laugh at a time. it’s FUN…it’s FREE…it’s Sky Bar Tucson. Last Sunday every month.

Monday, March 30, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. Featured speaker is the Rev. John fife, founder of the Sanctuary Movement, on “Current immigration issues in the Southern Arizona border region.” Next Week: Tim Steller, columnist for the Arizona Daily Star, on “The baked apple update.”

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Cartoon of The Week

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