Eric Holder opens mouth, inserts foot, should resign

March 1, 2011

The worst attorney general since A. Mitchell Palmer committed what’s known as a “Kinsleyan gaffe,” that moment when a public figure accidentally reveals what he really thinks. Today, in reference to the controversy over the dropping of charges against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia in 2008, Holder uttered this jaw-dropper:

Attorney General Eric Holder finally got fed up Tuesday with claims that the Justice Department went easy in a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party because they are African American.

Holder’s frustration over the criticism became evident during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing as Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) accused the Justice Department of failing to cooperate with a Civil Rights Commission investigation into the handling of the 2008 incident in which Black Panthers in intimidating outfits and wielding a club stood outside a polling place in Philadelphia.

The Attorney General seemed to take personal offense at a comment Culberson read in which former Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career.

“Think about that,” Holder said. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, to compare what people subjected to that with what happened in Philadelphia, which was inappropriate….to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people,” said Holder, who is black.

Emphasis added.

Thanks, Eric! At least now we know for sure how you feel about the dispassionate application of the law, regardless of ethnicity.

Oh, and “my people,” Mr. Attorney General of the United States of America? I thought Americans of all ethnicities were “your people.” Imagine if a White AG had said that highlighted line to, oh, let’s say John Conyers? I can see the screaming headlines calling for his resignation now. But, in your case… ?

Worst. AG. Ever.

via The Tatler

RELATED: Can we impeach him now? My blog-buddy ST focuses on Rep. Chaka Fattah’s not-so-subtle double-standard.

Advertisements

Bombshell allegation: Mexican presidents colluded in drug trafficking?

March 1, 2011

And the accuser isn’t some minor politico or crime figure, but a former state governor from the long-time ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) . According to Borderland Beat, Mexican presidents from Miguel de la Madrid through Ernesto Zedillo, nearly 20 years, bought social peace by telling the cartels which routes they could use to bring their drugs to the United States and which areas they had to leave alone:

In a conference with students held on Wednesday, February 23, at the Law School of the Autonomous University of Coauhuila in Saltillo, Socrates Rizzo delivered a bombshell that has rocked Mexico as the campaign for the 2012 presidential election approaches.

During an interview session the former PRI Governor admitted that previous PRI presidents held strong control over drug trafficking routes that prevented the attacks on civilians and the violence that Mexico is undergoing today.

Although an open secret in Mexican society and a charge occasionally leveled publicly by the country’s two other major political parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), this is the first time in recent history that a former or current PRI politician has admitted publicly that this arrangement existed.

“Somehow the problems with drug trafficking were avoided, there was a strong State control and a strong President and a strong Attorney General and a tight control of the Army.”

“Somehow they (drug traffickers) were told: ‘You go through here, you here, you there’, but do not touch these other places,” he said in his speech.

The former Governor added that this strategy allowed the State to ensure the social peace that has been lost in the war on drugs launched by the PAN administration of Felipe Calderon.

“What the old guard says is that we had control by the Government and the Army. The big problem is consumption, and while consumption exists in the U.S. there will be drug trafficking in that direction.”

“What control by the PRI governments guaranteed was that drug trafficking did not disturb the social peace.”

Former Governor Rizzo also said Mexico’s current troubles with violence began with the electoral victory of the National Action Party‘s (PAN) presidential candidate, Vicente Fox, in 2000. They knew nothing of the deal with the cartels, didn’t want to know, and indeed tried to crack down, with the bloody results we’ve seen in years since, especially since President Calderón took office in 2006. In fact, the PRI candidate in 1994, Luis Donaldo Colosio, may have been assassinated by the cartels because he didn’t want to play along, breaking the deal. Rizzo laughably says the problem with the PAN presidents was a lack of “professionalism.” I guess “professional” in his book means “willing to play along.”

Not that the three PRI presidents, de la Madrid, Salinas de Gortari, and Zedillo were just honest brokers trying to spare their people as much as possible. Concern for their people may have been part of it, but they and those under them were getting their cut, too. In fact, the corruption grew so bad under Salinas that his predecessor, de la Madrid, was shocked at his greed. (Sort of like Louis in “Casablanca?”)

Rizzo retracted his story the next day under heavy criticism, especially from two Mexican senators from the PRI Party, Manlio Fabio Beltrones and Fernando Baeza Melendez, both former governors themselves and both reputedly in tight with the cartels. Fabio Beltrones, in particular, is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate next year, should the party’s golden boy, Enrique Peña Nieto, falter. Wouldn’t that be sweet if he wins? “We’re back in business, boys!”

The trouble with Rizzo’s retraction, however, is that his accusations are just too plausible: not only are his critics rumored to have heavy ties to the cartels, but the problem with violence after Calderón started his crackdown didn’t spring from nowhere. Large cartels were known to exist in the 80s, for example, Rafael Caro Quintero’s Guadalajara Cartel. It’s hard to believe they could do the volume of business they did in the 80s and 90s without some sort of under-the-table official protection.

And corruption in Mexico is known to have crawled up into the federal ranks. With that much money at stake, it’s inevitable  that a lot was spread around to ensure “cooperation.” But it didn’t happen overnight, and Rizzo’s allegations argue that these corrupted cops were just following El Presidente’s lead — at least until the new guys screwed up a sweet deal.

But don’t think that this can be solved by Calderón or his successor cutting another deal with the Devil. As the Borderlands piece points out, Mexico now has its own drug consumption problem, and these guys are fighting over markets inside the country, not just for prime routes north. It will be much harder for Fabio Beltrones, for example, to come to a new understanding with the cartels that allows him to tell them what to do.

Of course, the big question for us is “Isn’t this all history?” In a sense, yes. What those three presidents did years ago has done its damage in the United States, and Mexico is now paying the price of cleaning it up — if it can be cleaned up. The monster de la Madrid and his successors summoned may have grown too big for their successors to defeat without a lot more blood being spilled, which has predictable implications for our own security.

But one also has to ask what happens if PRI wins the next election, particularly if Fabio Beltrones or some other cartel-friendly candidate becomes president. If Rizzo’s accusations are true, then it is a dubious question whether almost any PRI president and his administration can be considered a reliable partner against the cartels — or whether he is their partner.

Do read the whole thing. It’s long and it relies in part on rumor and anonymous sources, but it has a disturbing ring of truth to it, too.

via Business Insider

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


When science fiction becomes real: unleash the robot cheetahs!

March 1, 2011

Some of the neatest stuff comes out of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) — like this Internet thingy we’re playing with. Much of their work –that they tell us about– involves robotics, “intelligent” machines that can be sent into dangerous areas both to spare human soldiers the risk and to extend their capabilities. Wired has story on the progress toward developing, get this, a robot cheetah:

Perhaps you thought the four-legged BigDog robot wasn’t eerily lifelike enough. That’ll change soon. BigDog’s makers are working on a new quadruped that moves faster than any human and is agile enough to “chase and evade.”

Boston Dynamics, maker of the Army’s BigDog robotic mule, announced today that Darpa has awarded it a contract to build a much faster and more fearsome animal-like robot, Cheetah.

As the name implies, Cheetah is designed to be a four-legged robot with a flexible spine and articulated head (and potentially a tail) that runs faster than the fastest human. In addition to raw speed, Cheetah’s makers promise that it will have the agility to make tight turns so that it can “zigzag to chase and evade” and be able to stop on a dime.

Cheetah builds off work on the company’s previous four legged animal bot, BigDog.  It was built as a kind of unmanned pack mule, designed to carry equipment for troops on the battlefield. The robotic donkey could carry 300 lbs. over 13 miles on flat ground, take a swift kick and keep on moving. It’s creepy, lifelike movement can be seen on a number of videos online, climbing over hills and snow and hiking alongside soldiers, using GPS coordinates as its waypoints.

They talk about non-military applications, of course*, but, come on. Who didn’t smile at the prospect of unleashing robotic cheetahs that can run faster than a human on the Taliban?

LINKS: An earlier post on our coming Space Marine force. I’m also quite interested in powered exoskeletons, which are a precursor to full-blown powered armor. As I like to say, “We have all the best toys!”

*To keep the progressives happy, y’know. They’re sensitive like that.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)