Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Long time, no post. Well, so it goes when one is occupied with other more important things. But I won't give up the ghost just yet. Bush's absolutely disastrous Latin American policy is beginning to be noticed by more than just the specialist journalist like Andres Oppenheimer or the interested academic like me. Peter Bienart of The New Republic has an excellent piece on the very points about Bush's (non) Latin American policy that I have been harping on for so long now. His last few comments in this article are both sarcastic and sad:

Perhaps the White House will turn its attention south as 2004 approaches. Then again, if Karl Rove decides on a different strategy to woo Latinos, maybe Bush can finally admit that he has given up on Latin America. Which would make sense--since Latin America has pretty much given up on him.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Kingfishery & Kingcakery - Bruce Alpert has this piece on Mary Landrieu's latest meeting with the US Trade Representative on the purported sugar deal with Mexico. While I have mixed feelings on this deal as a policy initiative, I remain convinced that the way the Bush team handled this news during the Landrieu/Terrell election was deceitful and opportunistic. Bush is a liar and a conniver, just like most any other politician - and his supporters shouldn't pretend otherwise.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Clay who? Like the energizer bunny, Bush's Latin American policy keeps going, and going, and going ... down the drain. As Andres Oppenheimer notes in the column linked to above, Bush sends people like Clay Johnson III, his deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, to attend the inauguration of a Latin American head of state as head of the US delegation. Even Oppenheimer had no clue who Johnson was, and had to make a few phone calls to find out. Bush should not be surprised when Latin America comes up to bite his global foreign policy initiatives in the a**. As past US Presidents have discovered after behaving so cavalierly towards the region, Latin America will get the US's attention in other, more troubling ways, if it can't get the US's attention in the course of normal, stable, day-to-day affairs that carry some importance within the region.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Is Brazil planning to join the nuclear club? Jeesh!! At least Brazil is friendly towards the United States ... for now. We'll see how Bush treats Lula's government.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Want to see what Bush's failure in his Latin American policy has meant for his ability to carry out his objectives in other, "more important" parts of the world? Check out this interesting story on how the Venezuelan crisis (due in part to Bush Administration incompetence) is affecting the likelihood of going to war with Iraq. Message to Bush: Ignore Latin America at your own peril!

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Bye-Bye, Otto Reich - and good riddance! Apparently, Reich fell out of favor even with some Republican members of Congress - not to mention Colin Powell. Can't say that I'm very happy about this Noriega fellow as his replacement, though. I don't know that much about him. I'll do some homework and give my two cents as soon as I get a chance. Boy, there's a lot going on in Latin America these days - all a reflection of the Bush Administration's absolute failure with regard to the region. As Andres Oppenheimer has recently written about Bush's Latin American Policy: What policy? Bush's negligence of the region and his utter lack of leadership has only added to the upheavals and crises that the region is experiencing. Hell, Bush's best shot at making an impact in the region (with the Fox Administration of Mexico), has taken an irreversible turn for the worse with Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castañeda resigning because of the Bush Administration's inability or unwillingness to shape a constructive and engaged relationship with Mexico. He just simply got fed up with grovelling at the doorstep of the White House. Castañeda is not a man to take such patronizing snubs lightly, and his resignation will cause Bush even more trouble as his replacement is outspokenly critical of NAFTA. All Mexico has to do to terminate its adhesion to NAFTA is to give six month's notice of its intent to withdraw. This probably won't happen with Fox at the helm, but watch the debate surface and gain some steam in Mexico to the embarrassment of Bush, whose plan for the hemisphere includes an extension of the free trade regime. Hey, let's look at the record: Bush flubs the situation in Venezuela during the first briefly successful, but ultimately unsuccessful coup against Hugo Chavez (look what results that has borne in Venezuela now!); Bush snubs the newly-elected President of Brazil by refusing to send even Colin Powell to attend the inauguration; and now Bush can be blamed for Castañeda's quitting the Mexican government. This policy drift is dangerous and pathetic.

Lagniappe - Finally, a Republican with the "cojones" to be REALLY pro-life. Republican Gov. George Ryan of Illinois, as the papers are quipping, emptied the state's death row. How outraged will Republican pundits be? I hope plenty outraged ... so much so that they can't keep this brave and morally correct act out of the news. All of George Ryan's foibles aside, he is to be admired for this singular act. I can't say I think the man deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, as some are saying; but he'll certainly be remembered and honored much more for this than for anything else he's done in office. Good for you, Mr. Ryan!

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Lagniappe - Well, I've stumbled across all by myself a great "Bushism" - always good for a laugh. Apparently, in defending his absurd $670+ billion tax cut plan, Bush railed against his critics who say the plan favors the rich by complaining about the "class war of politics". What the hell does this mean? Does he mean that the actual various social classes are fighting a war of politics? I think he means the "politics of class warfare" in which politicians who may or may not come from a particular social "class", use the divisions between the classes (i.e. "class warfare"), in their political jockeying. Come on, Bush! Get your turns of phrases correct! Show some intelligence, for goodness' sake!

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Lula has taken over the reins of government in Brazil, thus inaugurating an opportunity for a type of "new-left" leadership for the region. Andres Oppenheimer explains that Lula is not to be feared as some Conservative Republicans do; and that Bush made a mistake in snubbing Brazil by not sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to attend the inauguration. Just goes to show that the Bush Administration's Latin American policy is very misguided and captive to the narrow interests of the "anti-leftist" leadership of Otto Reich.

The "Weak" in National Review - From the man (Jay Nordlinger of Impromptoupees) who has gone to the ends of the earth to rail on Jimmy Carter: "It’s amazing how far people will go just to jab Reagan." What is "amazing" is that Nordlinger should find such behavior amazing at all.

Lagniappe - Welcome to the New Year! I hope all have had a pleasant holiday season and are ready to get back to it (whatever "it" is). My top tens for the following year are:

Top 10 desires:
10 - That some courageous movie producer and director team up to make a blockbuster movie series out of C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. I've just read the entire series for the first time with my daughter, and find it worthy of some visual interpretation. I think it would be a smash at the box office as well.
9 - That I get to play golf more often.
8 - That the United States avoids war completely.
7 - That the final installment of the LOTR trilogy is released sooner than next December.
6 - That the United States pays better attention to Latin America as a region and that the region is given the respect that it deserves, and not the cold shoulder.
5 - That Catholics come to a greater understanding of the Church's Social Justice teachings.
4 - That the New Orleans Saints make it to the playoffs (and beat Atlanta twice!)
3 - That Jesuit High School of New Orleans admits women.
2 - That Alberto Gonzalez be Bush's replacement selection for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and that Justice Gonzalez turn out to be just like Justice David Souter.
1 - That my 2 little girls and my beautiful wife have a healthy and happy year, and that my oldest daughter find herself enrolled in the International School of Louisiana.

Top 10 predictions:
10 - That the United States will, sadly, go to war with Iraq.
9 - That the New Orleans Saints will not only fail to make the playoffs, but will also have a losing season.
8 - That the Pittsburgh Steelers will win the superbowl and the AFC will win the All-Star Game.
7 - That the PRI will capture an absolute majority of the Mexican Congress.
6 - That my oldest daughter is accepted into the International School of Louisiana.
5 - That Venezuela and Ecuador will each experience military coup attempts.
4 - That Fidel Castro will die of natural causes.
3 - That the GOP will again lose control of the Senate.
2 - That George W. Bush's approval ratings slip below 40% as the domestic economy fails to improve and as his foreign policy continues to hurl down the path of incoherence and inconsistency.
1 - That the final LOTR installment is everything and more than it is expected to be.