Archive | February, 2008

Election Time is Here

24 Feb

Early voting has started in Texas. Here is what is at stake.

At stake in Austin is the fate of the Texas House of Representatives. The far-right Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick (R-Midland), has polarized and angered so many of both parties that loyalty to Craddick is a central focus of primary races across the state. Craddick has survived multiple attempts at overthrow him with the support of pro-Craddick Democrats despite numerous Republican defections. As a result, the both Republican and Democratic primaries are mostly contests between Craddick loyalists and opponents.

Speaker Craddick (first elected in the 1960s) derives his power from powerful interest groups that have stayed in Austin as long as he has. These include the tort reform lobby, big business (Texas Association of Business), and Dr. James Leininger (voucher advocate extraordinaire). Using the money from these groups, Craddick (under the table and secretly) finances challenges against moderate and anti-Craddick Republicans. These “Leininger clones” in 2006, for example, would be recruited, interviewed, coached, and funded by James Leininger for opposing Craddick and/or school vouchers. In one race, I remember 90% of Leininger clone’s fundraising coming just from Leininger.

Keep that in mind when voting in the down ballot statehouse races. I’d love to see Craddick go down in 2009.

Texas ObserverPrimaries ’08

It also seems that we have a kinda, sorta li’l primary for the president of the United States. For those voting in the Democratic primary, here is what you need to know in Texas. YOU MUST VOTE TWICE if you really want your candidate to win.

First, you must be registered, and yes, it is too late to do that now. THERE IS NO PARTY REGISTRATION IN TEXAS. Anyone can vote in either primary.

Second, you must vote where were registered (absentee, early, election day). Keep your receipt or stamp on your voter ID card. Most pledged delegates will come from this statewide election.

Third, at 7PM on March 4th, you must attend a precinct caucus. This meeting will be at your election day precinct which is usually different from your early voting location. At the caucus you must declare for one candidate or the other and sign in. The remainder of the pledged delegates will come from the local caucuses. You can only caucus where you are registered. If you absentee voted, you are probably out of luck.

Everybody got that? Vote early (until February 29th) and often.

Texas Absentee Ballot link (application due on Feb. 26)
Early voting in Texas
Where do I vote? or call 1-800-252-VOTE
Am I Registered?

NPR – “Texas Primary explained by Texas Democratic Party
Fort Worth Star-Telegram – “Texas primary combines traditional vote and caucus

If only Saddam were so lucky

2 Feb

Former Indonesian president Suharto died this week. One of the greatest mass murderers of the 20th century, he was responsible for the invasion and genocide in East Timor after its independence in the 1970s and “[b]etween 300,000 and 1 million [deaths] in what the CIA called ‘one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century'” in his liquidation of the Indonesian Communist Party. The CIA apparently helped out because the “CIA provided lists of thousands of leftists, including trade union members, intellectuals, and schoolteachers, many of whom were executed or sent to remote prisons.” He did what we couldn’t do in Vietnam.

Suharto came to power after overthrowing the father of Indonesia, President Sukarno, in 1965 and ruled until the 1997 Asian financial crisis. And he did it all with the bipartisan presidential support of the United States (and apparently Australia). His invasion of East Timor was greenlighted by Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger in a 1976 visit where we supplied 90 percent of the weapons for the invasion.

Closer to home, the University of Texas at Austin has a new building named after Jim Bob Moffet, the owner of Gulf Coast-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Freeport-McMoRan’s mining in Indonesia has polluted the local river so bad you can see it on Google Earth. Local Indonesians that complain of environmental abuse are killed by the Indonesian military which Freeport-McMoRan uses as a sort of rent-a-cop.

After the Indian Ocean tsunami, when no one was watching, the United State re-normalized relationships with Indonesia’s notorious military that had been cut off after the 1999 East Timor massacre.

And unlike Saddam, who fell from America’s favor and died at the gallows, Suharto died as a rich, old man without ever being prosecuted for his crimes. Unlike Saddam, Suharto’s name will not be a synonym for “mass murderer” for Americans. He died surrounded by adoring authoritarian Asian leaders at his side. Suharto casts a long shadow in Southeast Asia. Too bad none of us have heard about him or our assistance rendered to him.

Asia Sentinel – “Death won’t End Suharto’s Malign Influence
Asia Times – “Obituary
Asia Times – “Economic Upside – and downside