Monday, March 31, 2008

Pictures from Today's Obama Event in Pennsylvania

(This is a minor digression from my Zimbabwe coverage.)

My brother and sister-in-law went to see Barack Obama today. Here are some pictures (see if you can spot the Secret Service - they're pretty inconspicuous):

Click to embiggen

Zimbabwe Election Update IV: MDC with Slight Lead; Riot Police Deployed

House of Assembly

MDC: 46

Riot police are being deployed ostensibly in preparation to crush any opposition protests that occur after the fraudulent election results are announced.

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Zimbabwe Election Update III: Results Trickle In

Only 52 of 210 parliamentary seats have been announced so far and the results have been split evenly between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC. No results for president have yet been announced.

The prolonged delay has made many people think that what they feared prior to the election, that Mugabe would rig the vote, may be coming to pass. I read conflicting accounts that say the Zimbabwe Election Commission (the members of which were appointed by Mugabe) will announce that he has won 52% of the vote, thereby avoiding a run-off, despite the fact that the opposition puts his total closer to 37%. Other rumors say that Mugabe has already fled the country or that the members of ZANU-PF are trying to decide who has to tell Mugabe that he has lost.

I'm just not sure what to expect. I can't imagine he'll just accept the will of the people. However, among the results that have been announced are losses by Mugabe cabinet members; so, it is hard to guess what is going on.

Again, we'll have to wait and see...

Update: The count is now 31 seats for ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai's MDC with 30 and a rival MDC group with 5. An independent election monitoring group has projected that Tsvangirai should win 49.4% of the vote (just shy of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff) to Mugabe's 41.2%

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Zimbabwe Election Update II: Opposition Declares Victory

The Movement for Democratic Change (opposition) party in Zimbabwe has declared themselves the overwhelming victor in both parliamentary and presidential polls based on results they say they got directly from polling stations.

The elections were declared "peaceful and credible" by monitors but there was dissent on that conclusion amongst the monitors. Also, the release of the official results are being delayed, most likely because they are being altered to give Mugabe and Zanu-PF the election. I have also read that the delay may be so that the government can put security forces in place to crush any protests or popular uprising.

So, it is a case of wait and see. (Rumors are already circulating. Hopefully, the "Mugabe has fled the country" one is true.)

Update: Results are expected to be announced at 6 AM Zimbabwe time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Zimbabwe Election Update: It Begins

The house of a member of Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party had her house bombed in the early morning hours prior to the opening of polls.

The opposition has already claimed that there are widespread voting irregularities.

Unfortunately, we can probably expect a lot more of both of the above in the days to come. First results are expected on Monday.

PS: Did I mention that the election monitors for the Zimbabwean poll are from Russia, Iran, Libya, and China? They wouldn't know a free and fair election if it bit them in the @$$.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Tomorrow's Election in Zimbabwe

One of my favorite subjects is Zimbabwe, or as I call it, "The Worst Country in the World." So, I thought I would be remiss if I didn't say something about tomorrow's Presidential election in Zimbabwe.

Despite the fact that President Robert Mugabe will more than likely win re-election in what is expected to be a wildly illegitimate poll, the aftermath of the contest will probably cause yet more strife for one of the more put-upon (to put it lightly) populaces in the world.

[Just as an aside, Zimbabweans have had to endure a Mugabe monarchy, violent oppression, the destruction of their internal agricultural systems - once the "breadbasket" of southern Africa - and resulting food shortages, not to mention 100,000% or greater rates of inflation. So, that probably sucked.]

If the election isn't rigged (which it will be - it just depends how badly), the vote will be split between the three main candidates, Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and Simba Makoni who was formerly a member of Mugabe's government until he fell out of favor. Tsvingirai would probably win at least a plurality (the winner must exceed 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off) as he is the furthest removed from the Mugabe regime. However, Makoni may inspire an anti-Mugabe revolution in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

I'm not well versed enough in the internal politics of Zimbabwe to effectively handicap the race. My point here is that: a) Mugabe would lose free and fair elections, and b) there is a lot of potential for unrest if the elections are not free and fair.

There is the potential for a popular uprising if the election is rigged in favor of Mugabe. Remember Kenya? That'll be nothing compared to Zimbabwe. Kenya is a relatively well off African country whereas Zimbabwe, well, see above "probably sucked" comment. The opposition has said they are organizing protest rallies and Mugabe said, "Just dare try it." That's fairly ominous.

Also, if the growing dissatisfaction with Mugabe inside the Zanu-PF results in a rift in the party with party members getting behind Makoni, who will the military back? They are the ones necessary to properly steal the election. We saw that recently in Venezuela when the military in that country refused to help Hugo Chavez steal a referendum that would have effectively cemented his power to become the Castro of Venezuela. Instead, he will now be term limited out of office and Venezuelans can get on with their lives. Could this happen in Zimbabwe?

Let's hope so. Also, let's hope that whatever happens, there is little to no violence. Zimbabweans have had enough suffering; it would be nice if they could start an upward spiral rather than always the reverse. (Sadly, my money is on the violence. Once again, way to go, Bob. Why don't you go bribe some more voters?)

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Look

Well, I've been wanting a three-column layout for a while and I finally adapted this one to include all of my crap.

Please let me know if this looks good or if it looks insanely ridiculous. I've sort of lost perspective.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

300 & Bush's War

300 is a great movie, but it is an even better number of days left in the Bush Administration to get below:

We're under 300 days, people!

Speaking of which, if you missed "Bush's War" on Frontline, you can watch the entire thing on line here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Not Sure How I Feel about This...

"Upon entering his spacious office overlooking the Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C., the first thing to catch your eye is his Nebraska Cornhuskers screen saver. Mr. Thomas never attended the University of Nebraska, or even lived in the state."
That's from (an incredibly biased) piece from the Wall Street Journal on none other than Associate Supreme Court and, apparently, Husker fan Justice Clarence Thomas.


All are welcome in Husker Nation. (Unless your name is Bill Callahan or Kevin Cosgrove.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Look Who's Stealing My Ideas Now: Cenk Uygar

A couple of people have brought to my attention this piece that appeared yesterday on the Huffington Post by Cenk Uygar and the fact that it totally rips off this post that I wrote on Friday!

I would also like to point out that I didn't use the hedging "phrase-my-accusation-in-the-form-of-a-question" crap like he did. I threw down! I make a definitive statement!

So, I have two challenges (one sarcastic, one not - see if you can guess which is which):

1. Cenk Uygar, I expect some damn credit!

2. Senator Clinton, cut the $#!# and prove you aren't trying to sabotage Senator Obama by GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THE RACE!

PS: In reality, I'm glad that people are talking about this. The Super delegates need to break hard for Obama and force her out of the race. Step up, cowards.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Cut the $#!#: Clinton's Staff Knows She Can't Win

From Politico:
"One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe."
So, basically, the Clintons must have a masochistic love of self-destruction because the overwhelmingly likely outcome of the Democratic primary will be what it has going to have been since Iowa 2+ months ago: Obama will be the nominee.

So, two questions:

1. Why keep fighting?

As easy as it would be to simply chalk it all up to the legendary Clinton hubris and stubborn arrogance, not to mention sense of entitlement, (all of which are most certainly at play) I think the real motivation is, sadly, more sinister. She's taking the Mitt Romney route and setting herself up for another presidential run in 2012.

Romney had to drop out when it was clear he couldn't win because he couldn't be seen to hurt the party's nominee. That wasn't so bad for Romney because, frankly, McCain probably won't win and a salt-the-earth-for-McCain-even-though-I-can't-win-the-nomination campaign would have soured Republicans on Romney in a way they wouldn't have forgotten in four years.

Since the momentum in the country right now is fiercely anti-Republican, Clinton doesn't have the same luxury. If Obama wins the Dem nomination, he'll probably win the Presidency and then, unless she wants to give him a primary challenge in 2012 (unlikely, but see above hubris, etc. comment), she's going to have to wait until 2016 to make another run. By then she'll probably have to compete with Obama's VP (cause it ain't gonna be her - Go Jim Webb!) and a whole crop of names that we probably don't even know right now - most of whom, if all goes well, will probably be trying to emulate Obama, something Clinton can't do even with 8 years of practice. (She would have to add more to her public persona than being able to pretend to cry.)

So, the answer to this question is, quite simply, Clinton wants Obama to either have a spectacular collapse before the convention so she can be the nominee, or have a spectacular collapse after the convention so McCain will win and she can run again in 2012 with Obama so stained by his loss in 2008 that he won't be able to run again and she'll be able to say, "See? You should have listened to me last time. Now shut up and get in line, peasants!" (Alright, she probably wouldn't say "peasants".)

2. Why the hell is the media pretending Clinton can still win the nomination?

Answer: The Horse race. The Horse race gets ratings. The Horse race sells papers (if people still bought newspapers). I touched on this last month when I commented that less than 7,500 votes and a healthy dose of the media in love with the trite, hackneyed "Comeback Kid" storyline (the kind of story they love because they have a Word doc with 75% of the story already written saved on their laptop) kept this crap alive. The Politico story actually does a good job of pointing this out. (Kudos Politico!)

In summation, the Democratic nomination process is over. Don't give me this crap about letting everybody vote; when the hell has that ever happened in a primary? The fact that it actually went past South Carolina (although it shouldn't have) is noteworthy in primary history. So, listen up Clinton, I've said it before, I hope I don't need to say it too many more times: cut the $#!#. Seriously. You are not more important than America. You are not entitled to be either the Democratic nominee or the President of the United States. Ever. Stop embodying the stereotypical selfishness of the Worstest GenerationTM and get out before you do irreparable damage to your party and its nominee, Barack Obama.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Post-American World

Fareed Zakaria has written a new book! (from his Web site):
In The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria argues that the "rise of the rest" is the great story of our time.

"This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else." So begins Fareed Zakaria's important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the "rise of the rest"—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.
It comes out in May. I'll be pre-ordering my copy. If you're interested in the real major challenge to the U.S. in the 21st Century (hint: it isn't al-Qaeda and it rhymes with vaChina), I'd suggest you do the same.

THE Speech

This is what a President looks like. More importantly, this is what a leader looks like.

Full text here.

For God's sake Clinton, you cannot beat this guy - you can only help McCain beat him.

So please, for your own sake, for the good of your party, and more importantly, for the good of the country and the world, cut the $#!#. I'm not saying quit (although I want you to), just cut the $#!#.

[Check out V's take. This is an example of what Obama can do.]

Update: Apparently, Obama wrote this speech by himself. When's the last time W did that?

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Tibet Deadline Passes

Can this last until the Olympics?

Well, nobody thought that the Democratic nominating process would take this long either.

Good luck and God bless, Tibet.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dalai Lama: THIS Is China

"They [the Chinese] simply rely on using force in order to simulate peace, a peace brought by force using a rule of terror."
Enjoy the Olympics! (And Wal-Mart!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama Denouces His Pastor's Inflammatory Statements

What I especially like about this is the bit at the end asking us to send this around.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Evening Chuckle: Viva Obama!

This is the 600th post at Tokatakiya and what a fitting one. This is sooo awesome. Enjoy.

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Hugo Chavez: Dictatorship, The Hague, or Bust!

I'm going to take a break from talking about the Democratic Primary to discuss something slightly less depressing than last night's election results: a regional war in South America!

The short version of the story for those who don't know is this: Columbia has been plagued for years by the narco-terrorist group, FARC. The Columbian version of events says that Columbian troops were pursuing a high-ranking FARC official who then crossed over the Ecuadorian border. The Colombians then followed the rebels across the border and killed them.

Ecuador was none to pleased with this violation of their sovereignty, which is understandable. However, the facts seem to suggest that Ecuador may have been harboring FARC rebels - in which case: too %#@%ing bad, Ecuador. Ask the Kurds how well harboring the PKK is working out for them. (Personally, considering what the FARC has put Columbia through over the last several decades, I feel this incursion was more than justified - it isn't like they over through the Ecuadorian government, they killed some terrorists and went home.)

So, this has resulted in Ecuador massing troops on their border with Columbia. Again, this is an understandable response - even though, frankly, Ecuador asked for it. But then, never one to miss a trick, Hugo Chavez (or Tubby Fidel) decided to mass troops on the Venezuelan border with Columbia and began to sabre rattle about Columbia's incursion.

Now, here's the really interesting part:
Colombia yesterday said it uncovered evidence on the laptop of slain rebel leader Raul Reyes showing Venezuela had funneled at least $300 million to the FARC, as the rebel group is known.

The laptop was seized Saturday when Colombia's military crossed into Ecuador to kill Reyes, its biggest military triumph in four decades of guerrilla warfare.

General Oscar Naranjo, Colombia's police chief, said the computer files also indicated Ecuadorean Security Minister Gustavo Larrea had been in contact with Reyes in a bid to get President Rafael Correa involved in the release of hostages held by the rebels to boost his political standing.
So, Chavez is pumping his petrodollars (provided by all us good, idiot consumers) into a narco-terrorist group that is trying to overthrow the government of one of his neighbors (who, coincidentally, also happens to be a U.S. ally). Hey, if he can fund Cuba, why not the FARC? Surprisingly, Columbia is none too happy with this and will bring international charges against Chavez for supporting terrorism.


(Oh, and FARC may be trying to attack Columbia with dirty bombs. Minor point.)

So, what does all this mean? Well, this would obviously be a proxy war between the U.S. and Chavez but, unless he is somehow killed (very unlikely) or deposed (slightly possible), military action of this scope would only strengthen Chavez' hand in Venezuela. He recently finally lost an election - due, in part, to the fact that the Venezuela military told him they wouldn't help him steal it - and, as it stands now, will be term limited out of office in a few years.

Give him a justification to declare martial law (one that the military leadership would probably agree with) and he's in. I'm talking about Castro in. Venezuela may see a new leader in a few decades.

In other words, let's hope the result of this is some serious international pressure against Chavez and his backing of actual, for-real, not-just-calling-them-terrorist-to-be-fear-mongering terrorists. Hopefully, that would reduce his ability to destabilize his neighbors and prop up Cuba.

Send Tubby to the Hague!

Presidential Math: Clinton + Presidency = Self Destruction

I just received this email from the Obama campaign (emphasis mine):
Our projections show the most likely outcome of yesterday's elections will be that Hillary Clinton gained 187 delegates, and we gained 183.

That's a net gain of 4 delegates out of more than 370 delegates available from all the states that voted.

For comparison, that's less than half our net gain of 9 delegates from the District of Columbia alone. It's also less than our net gain of 8 from Nebraska (editors note: Go Huskers!), or 12 from Washington State. And it's considerably less than our net gain of 33 delegates from Georgia.

The task for the Clinton campaign yesterday was clear. In order to have a plausible path to the nomination, they needed to score huge delegate victories and cut into our lead.

They failed.

It's clear, though, that Senator Clinton wants to continue an increasingly desperate, increasingly negative -- and increasingly expensive -- campaign to tear us down.

That's her decision. But it's not stopping John McCain, who clinched the Republican nomination last night, from going on the offensive. He's already made news attacking Barack, and that will only become more frequent in the coming days.

Right now, it's essential for every single supporter of Barack Obama to step up and help fight this two-front battle. In the face of attacks from Hillary Clinton and John McCain, we need to be ready to take them on.

Will you make an online donation of $25 right now?

The chatter among pundits may have gotten better for the Clinton campaign after last night, but by failing to cut into our lead, the math -- and their chances of winning -- got considerably worse.

Today, we still have a lead of more than 150 delegates, and there are only 611 pledged delegates left to win in the upcoming contests.

By a week from today, we will have competed in Wyoming and Mississippi. Two more states and 45 more delegates will be off the table.

But if Senator Clinton wants to continue this, let's show that we're ready.

Make an online donation of $25 now to show you're willing to fight for this:

This nomination process is an opportunity to decide what our party needs to stand for in this election.

We can either take on John McCain with a candidate who's already united Republicans and Independents against us, or we can do it with a campaign that's united Americans from all parties around a common purpose.

We can debate John McCain about who can clean up Washington by nominating a candidate who's taken more money from lobbyists than he has, or we can do it with a campaign that hasn't taken a dime of their money because we've been funded by you.

We can present the American people with a candidate who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with McCain on the worst foreign policy disaster of our generation, and agrees with him that George Bush deserves the benefit of the doubt on Iran, or we can nominate someone who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning and will not support a march to war with Iran.

John McCain may have a long history of straight talk and independent thinking, but he has made the decision in this campaign to offer four more years of the very same policies that have failed us for the last eight.

We need a Democratic candidate who will present the starkest contrast to those failed policies of the past.

And that candidate is Barack Obama.

Please make a donation of $25 now:

Thank you,

David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America
Sigh. More of this crap.

I'm going to go to the Web site and buy an Obama shirt - that counts as a donation, folks!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Election Crap from My Brain

[I have emerged from my blogging torpor.]

So, what's going to happen tonight?

Hell if I know.

However, everything looks as if Clinton will win Ohio & Rhode Island, Obama will win Texas & (already has won) Vermont. Obama will probably modestly extend his delegate lead (and, according to Tom Brokaw, there are 50 or so superdelegates that are going to endorse Obama tomorrow).

A close race doesn't hurt Obama very much. Close wins help him, close wins hurt Clinton. The only way things will change after tonight will be if Obama wins a lot (in states and votes). A close race will give Clinton justification to stay in the race, although she will continue to look more desperate and will just hurt herself and Obama.

I would like it if she would stop.

So, sadly, unless Obama stomps Clinton in Texas (possible) and Ohio (unlikely), we're in for a loooong spring.



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