"Pakistan on the Brink" on HuffPo

I pulled together some of my posts and thinking about Pakistan into an essay for Huffington Post, which has now been promoted to 'Featured Blog Post' status.

The crisis in Pakistan has the potential to overshadow Iraq and Iran in the big scheme of threats to global security. The Bush strategy of clinging to Gen. Pervez Musharraf's authoritarian regime is in increasing peril as his suspension of the constitution and repression of judges, media, and political opponents continues. Once again, we face a foreign policy nightmare with few good options, but in this case it seems clear at the very least that Musharraf's power grab must not be tolerated. If we care about our own ideals of democracy and liberty, not to mention our own security in view of the increasing risk of a cataclysmic overthrow of Bush's protege in a nation that has WMDs, we should all be calling on our government to pressure Musharraf to undo his abuse of power.

Reich: "The Era of Easy Money is Over"

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich knits together the housing crisis and credit crunch with the falling dollar and rising personal bankruptcies in an entry on his personal blog that looks beyond the current business cycle (and a likely recession) to forecast a broader consequence -- the end of free spending by the American consumer:

For years now, America's middle class has lived beyond its paycheck. Middle-class lifestyles have flourished even though median wages have barely budged.

The reason is we’ve been able to borrow so much so easily. With housing prices rising, home equity loans have financed renovations and home improvements. With credit cards raining down like manna from heaven, we’ve bought plasma TVs, new appliances, vacations. With dollars artificially high because foreigners have held them even as the nation sank deeper into debt, we could summon cheap goods and services from the rest of the world.

New Ohio Poll: No Benefits For Illegal Immigrants, But Don't Deport Them

There is a new Ohio poll from Quinnipiac University on attitudes toward illegal immigrants. It reveals overwhelming opposition to providing them government benefits like government-paid health care (86% to 11%), driver's licenses (84% to 11%), and free schooling (61% to %35), and strong support for draconian enforcement measures like building a big fence on the border (60% to 34%) and issuing a national ID card (61% to 32%). These are the aspects of the poll highlighted in initial media coverage.

However, the poll importantly reflects a lack of support for deporting illegal immigrants who are already settled in the country. By a 55% to 38% margin, Ohioans think that illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. Also, although Ohioans overwhelmingly think that illegal immigrants do more to hurt rather then help the country (73% to 18%), a majority concedes that illegal immigrants mostly take jobs that nobody wants rather than taking jobs away from Americans who need them (53% to 34%).

Incidentally, the poll confirms the popularity of Gov. Ted Strickland (D), whose job performance is favored by 61% of Ohioans, including 51% of Republicans. The 61% score represents a generally upward trend (he was at 45% in February). Approval of the performance of the General Assembly is at 41%, also representing an upward trend (they were at 38% in March).

A Photo From Pakistan That Says It All

Trakas (R) to Run Against Kucinich (D)?

So says Your Professor at Political Science 216. He reasons that the Ohio GOP hates contested primaries, a sentiment only heightened by the ugly dogfight just concluded in the 5th Ohio Congressional District, so therefore the Republican powers-that-be will pressure former State Rep. Jim Trakas (R-Independence) to bow out of the 24th Ohio Senate District race where he faces State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) and take on Rep. Dennis Kucinich instead.

I can't see Trakas winning that race, so I have a hard time imagining that he will in fact jump in, but stranger things have happened.

Pakistanis Heap Flowers on Judges Who Resist Musharraf

This is extraordinary. In a widespread show of respect and support for the disbanded Pakistani judiciary, which has resisted Pervez Musharraf and largely refused to take a new oath of office as a condition of being reinstated, Pakistani citizens are depositing mounds of flowers at their homes:


A commenter called me a "media pawn" over my comments about the situation in Pakistan, arguing that the entire drama is a charade co-managed by Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. Let me make clear that I am well aware that Bhutto is a problematic alternative to Musharraf, as her two terms as Prime Minister were marred by corruption. However, although Bhutto attempted to work with Musharraf on the U.S.-brokered deal hold election and share power, I don't see any basis to conclude that the events of the past ten days are part of some nefarious plan. I imagine that Bhutto may have tried to communicate with Musharraf through back channels during this time, I would expect nothing less -- but this notion that the "emergency" is stage-managed is ridiculous. I'm also not at all convinced that if free elections were held, Bhutto and her party would win. I know that she thinks so, but her cooperation with Musharraf is extremely unpopular in Pakistan and may have irredeemably damaged her standing.

News and Notes: Ohio

What's happening on Veteran's Day in the state whose constitution requires a ballot referendum every 20 years on whether to hold a new constitutional convention (next up, 2012):

Plain Dealer Presidential Poll - PD-sponsored Mason-Dixon poll shows only 45% of Ohioans say they would consider voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), much lower than other major Democratic candidates. Reactions on DailyKos (Democrats "have work to do"), on the MCDAC Blog (questioning polling sample) and Redhorse at Psychobilly Democrat (pointing out that Obama fares well in the poll).

Blade Profiles Latta - The whole legacy thing. Now let's see a nice profile of Weirauch, please.

Strickland is the New Glenn - Nice piece in the Dayton Daily News about how former senator John Glenn (D) can now get some rest because popular Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is the new go-to guy for campaigning pols.

Musharraf Bolsters Crackdown by Imitating U.S. Patriot Act

This brief report in the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times says so much, on so many levels (emphasis added):

The government has amended the Army Act of 1952 and President General Pervez Musharraf is likely to issue an ordinance allowing military courts to prosecute terrorists and any civilians suspected of terrorist or subversive activity on Friday, reported Geo News.

It would also allow intelligence agencies to apprehend any person suspected of terrorism, the channel added. ...

Qayyum said the new ordinance was necessary and inevitable for protecting the sovereignty of the country, adding that it would be similar to the United States’ Patriot Act.

Black Is The Color Of Resistance

Black has been adopted as the color of resistance to the dictator Pervez Musharraf.

Black is the color of the suits worn by Pakistani lawyers, who have courageously taken to the streets in protest and boycotted court proceedings conducted by replacement judges.

Patriotic Pakistanis are being urged to wear black armbands, wristbands, headbands, or fly a black flag. At student protests at the University of Lahore, all in attendance wear black armbands:

In the latest news, Benazir Bhutto has been released from house arrest and intends to lead a motorcade from Lahore to Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

Prof. Juan Cole has an excellent essay at Salon.com, explaining Bush's stake in Musharraf's continued rule and why the imposition of martial law changes nothing. A good backgrounder.

Clinton (D) Scores Strickland (D) Endorsement

Well, the timing is certainly odd -- both day of the week and stage of the primary season -- but Gov. Ted Strickland officially endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) today:

“It’s no wonder that he is so popular across Ohio because he’s restored integrity and accountability to state government,” Clinton said. “I look forward to working with him, to seeking his advice and counsel as I move forward in this campaign.”

[B]illed by Clinton as a “major endorsement,” [this] will fuel speculation that ... Clinton could ask Strickland to be her running mate [in which Strickland again said he has no interest].

“If I am fortunate enough to be the nominee, I will then turn my focus on picking a running mate,” Clinton said. “But first thing’s first, and what is so important to me about the governor’s endorsement is that I think his credibility and his record of service and his very significant victory in Ohio in the last election sends a very positive message about my campaign.”

Clinton's campaign hit its first bump in the road recently when she performed poorly in the last debate. However, it's hard to see how this particular endorsement would be much of a cure for that ailment. Strickland is not well known outside Ohio, and Ohio doesn't hold its primary until March.

Nobody who heard Strickland's glowing introduction of Clinton at this year's Democratic State Dinner, or her glowing response, can pretend to be too surprised at this endorsement. The two have supported each other in the past. Still, Strickland had been holding his cards close to his vest. I wonder if this means that the other Democratic statewide officeholders are now free to make endorsements, and who they may select?

h/t Buckeye2010 at BSB.

UPDATE: Alright, so I'm a little slow. But like they say in Bree, I can see through a brick wall in time.

It's not whether Strickland is popular or well known outside Ohio (where today's Ohio Poll has him at 69% approval - wow!) that matters to Clinton, it's what state he governs. This endorsement is all about Hillary's electability.

Clinton is taking Strickland to Iowa for tomorrow night's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. (Hence the timing.) That's the dinner where Kerry started his comeback in 2004. Clinton is showcasing Strickland there in order to buttress her electability, where Obama and Edwards are most likely to challenge her. "See?," she is saying, "I can win Ohio, so I can win the nation. I've got Ted."

Enquirer Reports Portman (R) to Run for Governor or Senate

Howard Wilkinson reports in the Cincinnati Enquirer that former congressman and Bush administration official Rob Portman is planning to run for either the governor's office in 2010 (facing likely primary opposition from former congressman John Kasich and/or former senator Mike DeWine) or the U.S. Senate, in 2010 if Voinovich retires or 2012 if he does not. Worth a read.

From the article:

[Portman has] started his own political action committee to raise money to finance his political trips around the state and help Ohio GOP candidates in the 2008 election cycle.

In recent weeks, Portman has spoken to GOP groups in Akron, Findlay and Cleveland and has another speech scheduled next week in Dayton. He was scheduled to talk to a group of young Republicans gathering in Blue Ash Thursday night.

I'd say he's pretty much running already.

OH-13: Want Impeachment? Call Sutton (D)

Are you hankering for impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney (R-Undisclosed Location)? An American Research Group poll in July found that a majority of Americans (54%) want the U.S. House of Representatives to commence impeachment proceedings against Cheney. (As compared to only 45% who want them against President Bush.) That's a lot of people.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) has introduced the impeachment resolution, but to proceed the House Judiciary Committee must pass it along to the floor for a vote. Seven Democrats on the committee are in favor of the resolution, but Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) is not one of them.

If impeachment is your thing, contact Sutton by calling (202) 225-3401 or going to her website.

As for me, I don't think it is a good idea. Let's keep our eye on the ball: winning the White House and increasing our majorities in Congress. The Democratic leadership in Congress needs to rally voters by resisting the White House on policy, but going the impeachment route risks a major backlash. A majority of people like the idea of impeaching Cheney in the abstract, but if impeachment hearings become a protracted reality and dominate the news I expect that the public would quickly tire of the whole thing. Removing Cheney would be an accomplishment, but a negative one, not as helpful as positive accomplishments like getting a compromise SCHIP bill passed or forcing the White House to accept a timetable to begin getting out of Iraq. Let's work on those things.

Still, 54% of Americans is a lot. If you are one of them and you want to push the process along, you know what to do. For that matter, if you oppose impeachment proceedings, call and say that.

News and Notes: Ohio

What's happening in the state whose name has a digital root of 2, which numerologically speaking stands for balance, union, receptivity, and Yin:

Strickland, Dann, and Zurz Vow Lender Crackdown: Ohio mortgage lenders having refused to sign Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed compact on aiding troubled mortgage borrowers, the Governor, Attorney General, and Commerce Director held a press conference yesterday to announce that they are lowering the boom. Marc Dann is issuing subpoenas to investigate civil rights, antitrust, and consumer law violations and Kimberly Zurz is seeking regulatory rule changes to help borrowers. Chief Justice Thomas Moyer called attention to a pilot program to impose mediation in foreclosure proceedings in Ohio's three largest counties. Callahan has more.

Brown Co-Sponsors Bus Safety Bill: Responding to the tragic crash in Atlanta that killed five members of the Bluffton University baseball team last year, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) has teamed up with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) to introduce legislation that would require charter and passenger buses to require safety equipment like seat belts and ejection-resistant windows, and driver training. Unfortunately, it won't affect school buses. That business of no seat belts on buses has always bothered me. We've all gotten used to buckling up in the car, I've always wondered why you don't even have the option of buckling up as a bus passenger.

Bush Approval Still Tanking: How low can he go? Almost a quarter of Americans (23%) think he is the worst president ever, while only 34% approve of his performance.

Ohio GOP Puts Women By The Door: In a crass act of tokenism, Republican leadership in the Ohio House of Representatives have installed women in two leadership positions (Rep. Michelle Schneider (R-Maderia) as Majority Whip, Rep. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) as Assistant Majority Whip), disguising the fact that there are only 5 female GOP members altogether. Let's see, that means that only 9.4% of Republican state representatives are women, but 40.0% of those women occupy 33.3% of GOP leadership positions. Jill is dumbfounded.

Religious Coaltion Fights Negative Campaigning: The group "We Believe Ohio" is calling for a "sleaze-free zone" in political campaigns. Sign their online petition here.

Dream Big, Win Big: A write-in candidate beat both regular candidates on the ballot to become mayor of Columbus Grove, Ohio -- 402 write-in votes vs. a total of 209 votes for the other guys. It took two days to count and verify all the write-in ballots and declare the winner. I love it.

Pakistan: Bhutto Detained; Attempted Rally Crushed

Pakistan will not have its Tiananmen Square moment, not today. Showing all the tenacity and brute force that it has failed to display in combating the Pakistani Taliban (who have declared an Islamic Emirate in the northern tribal territories), the government of dictator Pervez Musharraf arrested 5,000 Pakistan People's Party members and prevented Bhutto from leaving her home:

Dozens of police, some in riot gear, were deployed at Bhutto's residence by barbed wire and steel and concrete barriers. Other security personnel patrolled on motorcycles, horseback and in armored vehicles. At least 12 Bhutto supporters were arrested, including a woman who showed up with flowers.

In the second clash in Rawalpindi, about two dozen supporters burst out of an alley, shouting, "Long Live Bhutto!" Police, some on horseback, others banging their shields, chased them away. Other supporters set a tire and garbage on fire. Police fired tear gas shells from an armored personnel carrier, and the protesters pelted the police with stones.

Pakistan: Tomorrow is Critical

In this important bit of video, opposition leader Imran Khan, in hiding as he flees arrest, explains that the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf is not really fighting terrorism but preserving his own unpopular totalitarian rule, and makes an apt comparison between U.S. support for Musharraf and our ill-fated support for the unpopular Shah of Iran before he was overthrown by religious extremists:



The announcement today by Musharraf that parliamentary elections would be held by February 15th, a month later than the scheduled date, accomplished several purposes at once. It gave the Bush administration cover to delay cutting off aid, and indeed the White House promptly took the bait ("the White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, welcomed [Musharraf's comments], saying it was important for the Pakistani people to hear the 'clarification' about the election date"). It created favorable headlines around the world (AP: Pakistan Election Expected by February"). And it deflected attention from his brutal action to clamp down on the Pakistan People's Party to try to stop Benazir Bhutto's "long march" from Lahore to Rawalpindi tomorrow (as many as 500 key PPP personnel have been arrested).

Voinovich (R) Joins First Veto Override

This is important:

President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was filled with unnecessary projects. The 79-14 vote included 34 Republicans who defied the president.

This vote sets the precedent for rank-and-file GOP legislators to start distancing themselves from the White House and supporting veto overrides on other bills. Having Sen. Voinovich (R-Cleveland) actually break ranks with the president by how he votes, rather than just talking the talk as usual, is huge.

The White House is calling it fiscal responsibility vs. a big-spending Congress, but sometimes spending is exactly what the country needs:

The bill funds hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration, that are important to local communities and their representatives. It also includes money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts.

Peru Trade Bill Passes

The Peru trade agreement, modeled on NAFTA and CAFTA, passed today 285-132, despite opposition by Ohio Democrats including Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Cpoley Township). Fair trade zealot Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) expressed his deep disappointment:

"I am disappointed that the House passed another job-killing trade agreement that will result in more unsafe food in our kitchens and consumer products in our children's bedrooms. We need a strategic pause from NAFTA-modeled free trade agreements. We must help workers and businesses by passing strong currency and trade enforcement legislation. We must develop a new model for negotiating trade deals. We want trade, and more of it. But we want fair trade."

ADDENDUM: According to The Daily Briefing, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) broke ranks and voted for the Peru trade agreement, which is extremely disappointing. She says that the trade agreement "represents a sound and critical" approach to labor and environmental standards, but that is just wrong. (Among other problems, the Peru trade agreement derails efforts to reverse the privatization of Peru's social security system [pdf].) All the other Ohio Democrats voted against. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairesville) had this to say:

"I was pleased to vote against another wrong-headed trade agreement put forth by this Administration. With the highest U.S. trade deficit ever, we cannot afford any more NAFTA-like trade deals. American workers deserve more. I’m disappointed the Peru Free Trade Agreement passed the U.S. House of Representatives today.”

New Ohio Poll: Voters Not Yet Fully Engaged; Clinton and Giuliani Favorability Ratings Increasing

Hat-tip to Mark Naymik at Openers for flagging this new Ohio Poll from the University of Cincinnati.

The pollsters report that only 35% of Ohio's electorate say that they are giving "a lot" of thought to the presidential race, 45% say they are giving it "some" thought. Nevertheless, name recognition for the major candidates among registered voters of their respective parties is very high. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) each score 100% and all the big names are in the 90's except former senator Fred Thompson (R-TN):

99% Gore (D)
96% Obama (D)
93% Edwards (D)

98% McCain (R)
96% Gingrich (R)
91% Romney (R)
88% Thompson (R)

Thompson has gained 22 points in name recognition since the last Ohio Poll in May, and Romney has gained 13 points. Obama has gained 9 points. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is known to only 79% of registered Democrats in his home state, which surprises me.

The poll doesn't include head-to-head matchups but voters were asked about whether they view the candidates favorably or unfavorably. Clinton's net favorability among Democratic voters has increased by 9 points to +50% (69% to 19%) since May. Obama's has slipped 9 points to +28% (50% to 22%). Edwards' net favorability is strong at +42% (56% to 14%) and Kucinich's is weak at +8% (27% to 19%).

On the GOP side, Giuliani's net favorability is up 12 points since May to +55% (71% to 16%), while Romney is up 9 points to +20% (28% to 8%). A lot of Ohio Republicans (55%) are still saying that they know too little about Romney to give an opinion. Thompson has gained only 5 points to +25% (32% to 7%) and McCain has slipped 7 points to +28% (51% to 23%).

Carnival of Ohio Politics #90: Turnpike Edition

Yes, the Carnival is up and Lisa Renee did a great job with it, including her tribute to I-90. Of course that's the Ohio Turnpike for much of the width of Ohio, and I blasted my way back and forth on it twice in the last six days covering the 5th Congressional District special election.

So put your pedal to the metal and motor on over -- you might want to stop at an oasis for some Starbucks, but save some scratch for the toll and don't tailgate the 18 wheelers.

News and Notes UPDATED

I have to spend much of today on non-blogging activities, so let me just note quickly some things going on in the state with the highest density of population of any state not on the Atlantic Ocean:

Hoffman on DailyKos: ODP blogger Todd Hoffman has a good post on DailyKos today, summarizing the strength displayed by Ohio Democrats on Tuesday and discussing ODP priorities going forward. I had forgotten about how the GOP crowed over winning the Canton mayoral election in 2003, with Rove crediting his special GOTV techniques and Bush calling the new mayor to congratulate her and tell her how much the GOP needed for her to win. So much for all that!

UPDATE - Rothenberg Also Analyzes Election: Along with Hoffman's post, also go read this interesting piece by Brian Rothernberg at Progress Ohio. He sounds a note of caution amid the general celebration, noting that the ODP's ground game still needs help outside the big cities. He has an interesting analysis of GOP strategy going into 2008, with moderates largely expunged from Ohio Republican leadership and Bill Todd showing once again that running a hard-right campaign doesn't work. It shapes up as a battle for the middle, of course, and Brian has detailed thoughts on what may succeed in attracting moderate voters.

Big Losses for Ford: After reporting a sizable profit in the second quarter, Ford is reporting a $380 million loss for the third quarter, including $1 billion lost in the domestic part of their operations. Not good news.

5th District Campaign Previewed: In the Toledo Blade's report on the special primary we learn that Weirauch is proposing a clean campaign pledge and wants to discuss product-safety standards for Chinese-made products and health care for uninsured children. Latta says he will run on his own merits and not even mention his Democratic opponent. Guess we won't be seeing many debates. Buehrer's concession statement is interpreted to mean that he won't run in the March 2008 primary, but I wouldn't bank on that just yet.

New Poll Shows Clinton and Giuliani Tied: This new WSJ/NBC poll is interesting because it finds that Americans prefer a Democrat to succeed Bush by 50% to 35%, but when you plug Clinton and Giuliani into a head-to-head match-up it's 46% to 45%. Clinton has a lot of work to do to overcome reservations about her personality and sincerity, although the poll finds that people respect her experience and leadership.

Change to Ballot Referendum Procedure Proposed: State Reps. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) and Jon Peterson (R-Delaware) want to make the deadline for submitting petitions sooner, to save the expense and confusion of having an invalid issue on the ballot. Fine by me, that was ridiculous.

Ohio's Crackdown on Charter Schools Featured in New York Times: In case you missed it, this is a great story from yesterday about how charter schools exploded due to lax oversight and lots of seed money under the Republicans, and our Democratic governor and attorney general are now cracking down on some of the many that are academically deficient. As the USA Today reports, "the once-potent school vouchers movement suffered another setback Tuesday when Utah voters killed the nation's first statewide voucher program," and charter school advocates across the country are watching Ohio's crackdown nervously.

They're Still Talking: The U.S. House Democratic leadership is still negotiating with GOP members (but not their leadership) on an SCHIP compromise that would bring over just enough votes to forestall another veto.

OH-05: The Nation is Watching

Bellwether election, indeed. In a CQ Politics article about the just-concluded 2007 election, concluding that it provides "no clear signal" as to the parties' standing going into 2008, author Bob Benenson makes this comment about the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District:

The next harbinger of the parties’ state of play may come in the Dec. 11 special election to fill a vacant House seat in Ohio’s 5th District. Democrats are hoping that a brutally negative fight for the Republican nomination, won narrowly by state Rep. Robert Latta over state Sen. Steve Buehrer, will open a window of opportunity for Democratic nominee Robin Weirauch in a largely rural northwestern Ohio district that normally is a Republican stronghold. Republicans say, though, that the party’s internal wounds will quickly heal and that they will prevail with ease in the race to succeed the late Republican Rep. Paul E. Gillmor, who died in early September of injuries suffered in a fall.

This means, it is time to make a statement. It is time to pull out all the stops. It is time, in short, for the party and for office holders to put resources into the 5th District race.

There are a number of prominent Ohio Democratic incumbents who are sitting on large war chests that they don't really need for their own re-election. Now is the time to invest some of that capital. We need a strong showing going into 2008, and hopefully a victory. It won't happen without an infusion of cash and other support.

OH-17: VIDEO - Watch First Vlog by Ryan (D) and Meek (D)

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) and fellow "30 Something Working Group" member Kendrick Meek (D-FL) initiate a series of "vlogs" (video blogs) with this report from inside the halls of Congress:



This brief initial foray is not particularly substantive, but fun. Be sure to watch to the end to hear Meek respond to Ryan's pointed remark about Meek not being technically "30 Something."

Ohio Employment Still Below Recession Levels


The job picture in Ohio is still basically stagnant since the last recession ended in November 2001, despite job growth in all but two other states (Michigan and Massachusetts) during that time, according to the folks at Policy Matters Ohio:
There are 47,000 fewer jobs in Ohio than in November 2001. Though there have been some ups and downs in the past year, Ohio employment was just 700 higher in September than it was a year earlier, according to seasonally adjusted payroll numbers for nonfarm wage and salary jobs released Oct. 19 by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

It is a big hole we are in.

Foreclosure Crisis - Shaping the Consumer Response

11/09/2007 - 8:30am
11/09/2007 - 3:30pm

"Organize! Ohio" and Bromley & Associates will sponsor a one day conference at Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, featuring national and regional experts presenting strategies to combat predatory lending and payday lending. Speakers will include Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, Ohio Representative William Batchelder (R), Stephen Dane, nationally recognized attorney in fair housing and mortgage lending, and Marty Gelfand, counsel from Congressman Kucinich’s office who organized a series of public hearings related to sub prime lending and foreclosures. An overview of Governor Strickland’s Foreclosure Task Force will be also be presented.

Cost is $30 which includes lunch and continental breakfast. Students free.

Pakistan: Supporting Musarraf Is Not "Realism"

Former Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto has just announced what form her opposition to the state of emergency declared by dictator Pervez Musharraf will take. She has threatened to lead a mass protest march from Lahore to Islamabad unless Musharraf quits as army chief, holds elections and restores the constitution. She has given Musharraf until Friday to respond. We saw in the bombing on October 18th the scale of the risk that she is taking, not only as to her own safety but that of her followers.

Meanwhile Barnett Rubin, just returned from Islamabad, explains why supporting General Musharraf at this juncture is not justified as a "realist" exercise in foreign diplomacy:

I agree that promoting democracy (even if it were done sincerely and intelligently, which is not the usual practice) sometimes has less priority than other goals. In any case, democracy cannot function without internal security and the rule of law.

But don't the reporters notice that the very pictures they are showing contradict the realist frame? General Musharraf has not suspended the constitution to fight terrorism. He has not even continued to fight terrorism while suspending the constitution. He sent his police to arrest lawyers, liberal politicians, and human rights activists. Meanwhile, he is doing virtually nothing against those Taliban in their scary turbans, who are taking over Swat:

The imposition of emergency in Pakistan has not put any pressure on Taliban in Swat district. Taliban have taken over police stations in Matta, Khawazkhela and Charbagh. ...

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