Daily Archive: 05/13/2011

May 13 2011

Supposedly Liberal

I’m rooting for the guy you don’t see in the Tigers cap (not the one with the mustache in the Ferrari).

May 13 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Well, that’s it.  Your Bloguero has finally decided that he’s had enough of writing weekly digests that probably don’t get read widely, so he’s going to take this weekly digest to the last roundup.   Unless unforeseen events require otherwise, this is the very last one.  It’s just like Gene Autry sang in 1933 but without the yodeling:

Be sure to wave your sombrero as your Bloguero rides off with his comic sidekick into a cactus filled digest sunset.   He’s riding that old paint to The Dream Antilles, his home sweet home on the range.  (Ironic Note to Reader: Where the antelopes play? Wiki says no antelopes are native to North America.)

(Further Note to Reader: A brief but probably necessary disclaimer.  Your Bloguero does not necessarily support the raising and/or slaughter and/or eating of cattle.  Your Bloguero, however, reserves his right to choose appropriate metaphors that might involve non-native species and/or cows and/or an excess of sentimentality.  No violence was done to any animals to produce these metaphors.)

Your Bloguero has been fulminating about the death penalty for decades.  This week, when it looked like Connecticut was finally going to join the rest of the civilized world by abolishing the death penalty, the forces of reaction won an important battle.  Connecticut Clings To Death Penalty  Barely.  skewers the tortured nonsense relied upon by two state legislators to change their promised vote for life to an ignominious vote for death.  The battle continues, one step forward, two steps back.  (Note to Reader: Your Bloguero apologizes for this cliché.  Like all clichés it fit like a glove.  Sorry.)

Estamos hasta la madre means “We’re fed up!” and is the rallying cry of the people’s democracy movement in Mexico to end the drug violence.   One of its leaders is the poet and teacher, Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed.  Sicilia’s dramatic story is in the essay.  And his incredibly important speech to the march this past Sunday in the Zocalo (Mexico City’s Central Park) is required reading.   Your Bloguero compares this movement to the democracy movements in Tunisia and Egypt.  Unfortunately, the traditional media seem unwilling or unable to make that connection, and apparently prefer to continue to report the lurid, horrific violence in the border states and to ignore the efforts of Mexicans to end the violence.

Sunday Evening Inspiration is a wonderful music video produced by Amnesty International.  Your Bloguero counsels you to turn this up, get back from the keyboard, get out of the chair, and shake it.  Your Bloguero is with Emma Goldman, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolucion.”

An important writer you’ve probably never heard of is Horacio Castellanos Moya.  Born in Honduras and raised in El Salvador, he is now living and writing in Pittsburgh.  “Senselessness” (Insensatez) is a short, scorching, scary novel, and one that your Bloguero highly recommends.   Sometimes The Dream Antilles actually resumes its focus as a “lit blog.”  And when it does, your Bloguero likes to inform about the Latin American writers your Bloguero enjoys so much.

Your bloguero notes that this Digest was a weekly feature.  This is the last of that series of Digests.  Your Bloguero tried to post these Digests on Saturday morning early.  He almost never succeeded in that.  And so, the series goes out as it began, posted at the wrong time.  Hasta pronto.

 

May 13 2011

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

John Nichols: House Republicans Shred Constitution With Backdoor Proposal of Permanent War

House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Tea Party, and their circle even attempted — in unsettlingly bumbling manner — to read the document into the Congressional Record at the opening of the current Congress.

Now, however, with a backdoor plan to commit the United States to a course of permanent warmaking, they are affronting the most basic premises of a Constitution that requires congressional declarations of all wars and direct and engaged oversight of military missions.

The House Republican leadership, working in conjunction with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, has included in the 2012 defense authorization bill language (borrowed from the sweeping Detainee Security Act) that would effectively declare a state of permanent war against unnamed and ill-defined foreign forces “associated” with the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney: Dear GOP: We Don’t Negotiate With Hostage Takers

Last week, 44 Republican Senators signed a letter to President Obama declaring that they will refuse to confirm anyone as a director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “absent structural changes that will make the Bureau accountable to the American people.”

The changes they propose — which match legislation being considered today by the full House Financial Services Committee– would cripple the bureau and slow the reforms necessary to help avoid another financial crisis.

In other words, Senate Republicans have the CFPB, and if we ever want to see it alive, we have to meet their demands.

My good friend and colleague Barney Frank called this “the worst abuse of the confirmation process I’ve ever seen” and I couldn’t agree more.

Richard (RJ) Escow: To Learn the Game, the Left Could Use a “Weekend at Bernie’s”

Bernie Sanders may represent Vermont and have a New York accent, but right now he looks a little like a Texas Ranger. The motto for those Lone Star State lawmen — “One Riot, One Ranger” — comes from their legendary ability to face down a hostile crowd single-handed. Bernie just faced down something that may be even scarier that rioting cowboys in the Panhandle: a powerful Democratic chairman and his entire Committee.

Sen. Sanders isn’t a Democrat (he’s an Independent socialist who caucuses with them), but he has a lot to teach progressives inside and out the party about how to stand up for what’s right: Detach from party leaders, hang tough, and be prepared to walk away if you can’t negotiate something reasonable. He’s fighting for better policies — and ones that the public strongly supports. (Our American Majority project has more details.)

Let’s hope they’re paying attention across the country — and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ruth Marcus: Boehner’s Unreality Check Boehner’s Unreality Check

Washington – The news out of House Speaker John Boehner’s speech to the New York Economic Club was his demand for “cuts of trillions, not just billions” before the debt ceiling can be raised. Not just broad deficit-reduction targets, the Ohio Republican insisted, but “actual cuts and program reforms.”

That’s alarming enough. It is all but impossible to get this done in the available time. It certainly can’t be accomplished on Boehner’s unbending, no-new-taxes terms. And if the speaker truly believes that it would be “more irresponsible” to raise the debt ceiling without instituting deficit-reduction measures than not to raise it at all, we’re in a heap of trouble.

Even more alarming, because it has consequences beyond the debt ceiling debate, is the incoherent, impervious-to-facts economic philosophy undergirding Boehner’s remarks.

Gail Collins: Reading, ‘Riting and Revenues

American education is going to be reformed until it rolls over and begs for mercy. Vouchers! Guns on campus! Just the other day, the Florida State Legislature took a giant step toward ending the scourge of droopy drawers in high school by upping the penalties for underwear-exposing pants.

Today, let’s take a look at the privatization craze and the conviction that there is nothing about molding young minds that can’t be improved by the profit motive.

Enrollment in for-profit colleges has ballooned to almost two million, propelled by more than $25 billion in federal student loans, many of which are apparently never going to be repaid. More than 700 public K-12 schools around the country are now managed by for-profit companies. Last week, in Ohio, the State House went for the whole hog and approved legislation that would allow for-profit businesses to open up their own taxpayer-financed charter schools.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.; Will the Courts Wreck Health Care?

As if our political system was not having enough trouble already, we now confront the possibility that a highly partisan judiciary will undo a modest health care reform that is a first step toward resolving a slew of other difficulties.

As you watch the suits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act work their way through the courts, consider that what you are really seeing is a great republic tying itself into as many knots as possible to avoid facing up to a challenge that every other wealthy capitalist democracy in the world has met.

May 13 2011

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

John Nichols: House Republicans Shred Constitution With Backdoor Proposal of Permanent War

House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Tea Party, and their circle even attempted — in unsettlingly bumbling manner — to read the document into the Congressional Record at the opening of the current Congress.

Now, however, with a backdoor plan to commit the United States to a course of permanent warmaking, they are affronting the most basic premises of a Constitution that requires congressional declarations of all wars and direct and engaged oversight of military missions.

The House Republican leadership, working in conjunction with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, has included in the 2012 defense authorization bill language (borrowed from the sweeping Detainee Security Act) that would effectively declare a state of permanent war against unnamed and ill-defined foreign forces “associated” with the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney: Dear GOP: We Don’t Negotiate With Hostage Takers

Last week, 44 Republican Senators signed a letter to President Obama declaring that they will refuse to confirm anyone as a director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “absent structural changes that will make the Bureau accountable to the American people.”

The changes they propose — which match legislation being considered today by the full House Financial Services Committee– would cripple the bureau and slow the reforms necessary to help avoid another financial crisis.

In other words, Senate Republicans have the CFPB, and if we ever want to see it alive, we have to meet their demands.

My good friend and colleague Barney Frank called this “the worst abuse of the confirmation process I’ve ever seen” and I couldn’t agree more.

Richard (RJ) Escow: To Learn the Game, the Left Could Use a “Weekend at Bernie’s”

Bernie Sanders may represent Vermont and have a New York accent, but right now he looks a little like a Texas Ranger. The motto for those Lone Star State lawmen — “One Riot, One Ranger” — comes from their legendary ability to face down a hostile crowd single-handed. Bernie just faced down something that may be even scarier that rioting cowboys in the Panhandle: a powerful Democratic chairman and his entire Committee.

Sen. Sanders isn’t a Democrat (he’s an Independent socialist who caucuses with them), but he has a lot to teach progressives inside and out the party about how to stand up for what’s right: Detach from party leaders, hang tough, and be prepared to walk away if you can’t negotiate something reasonable. He’s fighting for better policies — and ones that the public strongly supports. (Our American Majority project has more details.)

Let’s hope they’re paying attention across the country — and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ruth Marcus: Boehner’s Unreality Check Boehner’s Unreality Check

Washington – The news out of House Speaker John Boehner’s speech to the New York Economic Club was his demand for “cuts of trillions, not just billions” before the debt ceiling can be raised. Not just broad deficit-reduction targets, the Ohio Republican insisted, but “actual cuts and program reforms.”

That’s alarming enough. It is all but impossible to get this done in the available time. It certainly can’t be accomplished on Boehner’s unbending, no-new-taxes terms. And if the speaker truly believes that it would be “more irresponsible” to raise the debt ceiling without instituting deficit-reduction measures than not to raise it at all, we’re in a heap of trouble.

Even more alarming, because it has consequences beyond the debt ceiling debate, is the incoherent, impervious-to-facts economic philosophy undergirding Boehner’s remarks.

Gail Collins: Reading, ‘Riting and Revenues

American education is going to be reformed until it rolls over and begs for mercy. Vouchers! Guns on campus! Just the other day, the Florida State Legislature took a giant step toward ending the scourge of droopy drawers in high school by upping the penalties for underwear-exposing pants.

Today, let’s take a look at the privatization craze and the conviction that there is nothing about molding young minds that can’t be improved by the profit motive.

Enrollment in for-profit colleges has ballooned to almost two million, propelled by more than $25 billion in federal student loans, many of which are apparently never going to be repaid. More than 700 public K-12 schools around the country are now managed by for-profit companies. Last week, in Ohio, the State House went for the whole hog and approved legislation that would allow for-profit businesses to open up their own taxpayer-financed charter schools.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.; Will the Courts Wreck Health Care?

As if our political system was not having enough trouble already, we now confront the possibility that a highly partisan judiciary will undo a modest health care reform that is a first step toward resolving a slew of other difficulties.

As you watch the suits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act work their way through the courts, consider that what you are really seeing is a great republic tying itself into as many knots as possible to avoid facing up to a challenge that every other wealthy capitalist democracy in the world has met.

May 13 2011

John McCain: Torture Doesn’t Work

Torture is a war crime. Water boarding is torture. If you advocate, authorize or perform it on another person, you are breaking not just US law but international law. Period. The President and the DOJ are obligated by law to investigate and prosecute war crimes. Under the law if they do not, they, themselves are complicit. There are no excuses.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was tortured while a POW in Viet Nam, wrote an editorial in the Washington Post rejecting and chastising those who were making the claim that torture, specifically water boarding, was instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden. He then appeared on the Senate floor ans spoke for 20 minutes.

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that “the intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed , who broke like dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included water boarding. He loosed a torrent of information – including the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.” That is false.

I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was water boarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led to bin Laden, as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee who was held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were water boarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

Law professor Jonathan Turley appeared on MSNBC’s The Ed Show and addressed this on his blog

Last night on The Ed Show, I discussed the amazing speech and column by Senator John McCain on torture. One of the most notable aspects of the comments was McCain stating that the claim by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey that torture led to the location of Bin Laden is simply untrue and confirmed as false by CIA Director Leon Panetta.

As did Ron Paul in the recent Republican debate, John McCain confronted his colleagues over the effort to redeem torture by claiming that it was beneficial in this case. As he correctly notes, torture is a war crime not because it lacks any benefit in terms of intelligence but because it is immoral . . . . .

To the contrary, McCain points out that the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed resulted in demonstrably “false and misleading information.”

Where I part with McCain is his insistence that, despite it being torture (and thus a war crime), no one should ever be punished for the crimes. It is important to stand for principle but it is even more important to bear the responsibility that comes with principle. It may not be popular or convenient, but we are obligated to investigate and prosecute torture.

Glenn Greenwald is an absolute must read on the Nuremberg Principles:

Benjamin Ferencz is a 92-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, American combat soldier during World War II, and a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, where he prosecuted numerous Nazi war criminals, including some responsible for the deaths of upward of 100,000 innocent people.  He gave a fascinating (and shockingly articulate) 13-minute interview yesterday to the CBC in Canada about the bin Laden killing, the Nuremberg principles, and the U.S. role in the world.  Without endorsing everything he said, I hope as many people as possible will listen to it.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey then lamely attempted to rebut McCain through an op-ed by former Cheney speech writer, Marc A Thiessen. It does not change the fact that Mukasey, Gonzalez, Bybee, Yoo, et al and now, Holder, have excused, covered up and defended war crimes, thus making them all eligible for cells at the Hague.

May 13 2011

Formula One: Texas Subsidy Style

Some of you might get the impression that I’m a big fan of Formula One racing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My dad, Richard, is hugely into all motor sports, even the Turn Left red neck bumper car travesty of twisted chunks of flaming metal.  By comparison Formula One has dignity.

But not much.

Ecclestone is a corporate whore who hired the son of a Nazi that likes his sex with 5 or 6 workers dressed in jackboots.  He’s probably just as responsible for the repression of the Bahrain Democracy movement as the Emir so he wouldn’t have nasty icky protesters spoiling his circus.  Under his direction driving is pay to play, a seat goes for over a million in sponsorships and without it you watch from the stands no matter how good you are.

In short an example of Galtian Greed that makes selfish George Steinbrenner seem all warm and fuzzy by comparison.  At least George wanted to win.

Which is why it’s no surprise to read stories like this-

Texas Taxpayers Finance Formula One Auto Races as Schools Dismiss Teachers

By Darrell Preston and Aaron Kuriloff, Bloomberg News

May 11, 2011 12:43 PM ET

As many as 100,000 teachers in Texas may be fired because of spending cuts to cope with the state’s budget crisis, according to Moak Casey & Associates, an Austin-based education consultant. For $25 million a year, the state could pay more than 500 teachers an average salary of $48,000.



If the financing works as projected, the decision will use $250 million in state tax revenue for the races over 10 years.

“With places struggling, spending that much money on an essentially one-off event is tough to do,” said Michael Cramer, a former president of baseball’s Texas Rangers and hockey’s Dallas Stars who runs the sports and media program at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s a very high cost of entry.”

Texas, like other states cutting budgets for schools, nursing homes and basic services, uses economic-development spending to bring in jobs and seed growth. That often involves giving up tax revenue generated by a project to pay part of the cost. New Jersey is providing $200 million of tax-increment financing to help develop the American Dream in the Meadowlands, which will be the biggest mall in the U.S. when it opens.

“I’m not sure of the wisdom of using tax dollars to fund a racetrack,” said Siwak, the Austin teacher. “They’re giving so much tax dollars away I don’t think they could make it up with the racetrack.”



The state’s $25 million is being paid to London-based Formula One Management Ltd. to hold the race in Austin, Sexton said. Formula One, owned by London-based CVC Capital Partners Ltd., a private-equity firm, is run by Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive officer of the series.

“It’s going to Mr. Ecclestone and Formula One to get them to bring the event here,” Sexton said.

Paying such a fee goes beyond the intended use of the state fund, which was set up to support bringing annual events to Texas by rebating increased taxes they generate to cover costs including security and traffic control, said Richard Viktorin, an accountant with Audits in the Public Interest. The Austin- based group opposes government support for the races.



“It’s off-balance-sheet financing for a rich man’s sport,” Viktorin said. Combs is “supposed to be a fiscal officer for the state. She’s not controlling that fund.”



Austin and the state are unlikely to recover their investment directly, Cipolloni said. However, the race will expose the city to a wide audience of tourists and executives that could help recruit companies and create jobs, he said.

“They won’t collect tax money equal to the $25 million” from the state, Cipolloni said. “It’s just a way to get exposure for the city.”

As State Faces Deep Cuts, Texas Commits $250 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Auto Racing

By Marie Diamond, Think Progress

May 12th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

The motorsport franchise left the U.S. four years ago because of low attendance, but the effort to bring it back – and base it in Texas – has been spearheaded by B.J. “Red” McCombs, the co-founder of conservative media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. Despite being consistently ranked as one of Forbes 400 richest Americans – with a net worth last estimated at $1.4 billion – McCombs has gotten state Comptroller Susan Combs to agree to build a racing track in Austin at taxpayer expense. Austin’s city government may also invest an additional $4 million a year in tax revenue to facilitate the plan.



Corporate backers of the plan and their GOP allies insist that F-1 racing will pump money and jobs into the Texas economy. But sporting experts say the state is betting taxpayer money on an uncertain investment. Michael Cramer, a former president of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, told Bloomberg, “With places struggling, spending that much money on an essentially one-off event is tough to do.”

F-1 races have tried and failed to gain traction in the U.S. in different cities since since the 1970s. Even Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of the F-1 series admitted that, “No one wanted to hold it,” until the Austin promoters stepped in.

May 13 2011

Rajaratnam Roundup

One of the few things I miss about working in a convenience store is that I used to be able to read 5 or 6 newspapers a day and even take them home after I cut out the masthead.  It’s like those paperback books with the cover ripped off, the publisher doesn’t charge you for the unsold stock and since it’s too damn expensive to handle the whole thing the cover will do for the refund.  Who wants to read a coverless book anyway?

Heh.

Now the Daily News is great for sports and has 3 pages of comics, but the one I really hoped wouldn’t sell out when I was addicted to dead trees was The New York Times.  Their paywall was anticipated with much trepidation and loathing but I’ve personally found it a great convenience.  I used to get nagged all the time to register, but now hardly ever because they don’t count views from blogs like this one or even aggregators like Google.

If you are having a problem I suggest you get a selective cookie deleter and search and destroy the ones containing “nyt”.  There’s also a tool called NYTClean that I’m told works except I’ve never had to use it.

All of which is an introduction to this roundup of the not so Gray Lady’s coverage of the Rajaratnam verdict that I actually did pick up from the front page of their International Herald Tribune subsidiary.

So if I start getting nasty messages I’m going to blame you, dear reader.  It’s one of the sacrifices I make for blogging.

Wall Street, Held Accountable

The New York Times

Published: May 11, 2011

It is sometimes said insider trading is a victimless crime. It is not. Was it good for Goldman Sachs’s reputation to have wiretaps played in court of a director leaking confidential information to Mr. Rajaratnam? Or for Intel, I.B.M., McKinsey or other companies to have illegal inside tips about them passed to him and his cronies?

More fundamentally, everyone affected by markets distorted by such illicit trading is a victim. The prosecution of Mr. Rajaratnam was a test of whether this kind of fraud is still offensive to an American jury.



The crimes he was tried for began in 2003 and ended in 2009, a period when markets were out of control. Had he been acquitted, Americans might have concluded that it was O.K. for an insider to play the markets as dishonestly as he did because they are basically rigged.

Galleon Chief’s Web of Friends Proved Crucial to Scheme

By PETER LATTMAN and AZAM AHMED, The New York Times

May 11, 2011, 7:28 pm

In many respects, Mr. Rajaratnam was no different from the thousands of Wall Street stock pickers who diligently network with corporate executives and industry experts to gain an investment edge. But Mr. Rajaratnam, a 53-year-old Sri Lankan native, sought out information that was confidential, beyond the reach of research, and illegally traded on it, a jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan found on Wednesday, convicting him on all 14 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy.

Next Up, a Crackdown on Outside-Expert Firms

By EVELYN M. RUSLI, The New York Times

May 11, 2011, 9:11 pm

Federal authorities have tried to quell the anxiety by drawing a distinction between the legitimate players and the bad actors. In March, Preet S. Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said that there was “nothing inherently wrong or bad about hedge funds or expert networking firms or aggressive market research, for that matter.”

Such statements have provided little reassurance. Many financial firms that are still using expert networks have moved their business to the largest outfits with the most established compliance practices

“If this little industry is to survive, it’s going to have to glow with virtue, which means a lot of self-regulation,” said Robert Weisberg, a professor of criminal law at Stanford.

Also there are these two handy charts-

Happy nag free reading!

May 13 2011

On This Day in History May 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

May 13 is the 133rd day of the year (134th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 232 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk‘s request.

The Mexican-American War (or Mexican War) was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

Origins of the war

The Mexican government had long warned the United States that annexation would mean war. Because the Mexican congress had refused to recognize Texan independence, Mexico saw Texas as a rebellious territory that would be retaken. Britain and France, which recognized the independence of Texas, repeatedly tried to dissuade Mexico from declaring war. When Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845, the Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with the U.S.

The Texan claim to the Rio Grande boundary had been omitted from the annexation resolution to help secure passage after the annexation treaty failed in the Senate. President Polk claimed the Rio Grande boundary, and this provoked a dispute with Mexico. In June 1845, Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to Texas, and by October 3,500 Americans were on the Nueces River, prepared to defend Texas from a Mexican invasion. Polk wanted to protect the border and also coveted the continent clear to the Pacific Ocean. Polk had instructed the Pacific naval squadron to seize the California ports if Mexico declared war while staying on good terms with the inhabitants. At the same time he wrote to Thomas Larkin, the American consul in Monterey, disclaiming American ambitions but offering to support independence from Mexico or voluntary accession to the U.S., and warning that a British or French takeover would be opposed.

To end another war-scare (Fifty-Four Forty or Fight) with Britain over Oregon Country, Polk signed the Oregon Treaty dividing the territory, angering northern Democrats who felt he was prioritizing Southern expansion over Northern expansion.

In the winter of 1845-46, the federally commissioned explorer John C. Fremont and a group of armed men appeared in California. After telling the Mexican governor and Larkin he was merely buying supplies on the way to Oregon, he instead entered the populated area of California and visited Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley, explaining he had been looking for a seaside home for his mother. The Mexican authorities became alarmed and ordered him to leave. Fremont responded by building a fort on Gavilan Peak and raising the American flag. Larkin sent word that his actions were counterproductive. Fremont left California in March but returned to California and assisted the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, where many American immigrants stated that they were playing “the Texas game” and declared California’s independence from Mexico.

On November 10, 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer of $25 million ($632,500,000 today) for the Rio Grande border in Texas and Mexico’s provinces of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. U.S. expansionists wanted California to thwart British ambitions in the area and to gain a port on the Pacific Ocean. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the $3 million ($76 million today) owed to U.S. citizens for damages caused by the Mexican War of Independence and pay another $25 to $30 million ($633 million to $759 million today) in exchange for the two territories.

Mexico was not inclined nor able to negotiate. In 1846 alone, the presidency changed hands four times, the war ministry six times, and the finance ministry sixteen times. However, Mexican public opinion and all political factions agreed that selling the territories to the United States would tarnish the national honor. Mexicans who opposed direct conflict with the United States, including President José Joaquin de Herrera, were viewed as traitors. Military opponents of de Herrera, supported by populist newspapers, considered Slidell’s presence in Mexico City an insult. When de Herrera considered receiving Slidell to settle the problem of Texas annexation peacefully, he was accused of treason and deposed. After a more nationalistic government under General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga came to power, it publicly reaffirmed Mexico’s claim to Texas; Slidell, convinced that Mexico should be “chastised”, returned to the U.S.

May 13 2011

Six In The Morning

Pakistan Army Chief Balks at U.S. Demands to Cooperate



By JANE PERLEZ

Published: May 12,


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Despite mounting pressure from the United States since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, seems unlikely to respond to American demands to root out other militant leaders, according to people who have met with him in the last 10 days.

While the general does not want to abandon the alliance completely, he is more likely to pursue a strategy of decreasing Pakistan’s reliance on the United States, and continuing to offer just enough cooperation to keep the billions of dollars in American aid flowing, said a confidant of the general who has spoken with him recently.

Such a response is certain to test American officials, who are more mistrustful of Pakistan than ever.

May 13 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 12, 2011-

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