The Futile War on Drugs, from the Mexican Side

Estado de Tamaulipas
Tamauli­pas and neigh­bor­ing states

[Rarely do Amer­i­cans hear or read of the effects on Mex­ico and its cit­i­zens of the failed War on Drugs . I’ve just trans­lated a recent arti­cle in Mexico’s lead­ing polit­i­cal affairs pub­li­ca­tion, Pro­ceso, to help you under­stand. Hope this helps…]

North­ern Bor­der, Stu­dent Exo­dus Due to Drug Violence

Laredo, Texas, 4 April 2015

Stu­dents and uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tors mur­dered or dis­ap­peared by orga­nized crime, school author­i­ties extorted, thou­sands of stu­dents that flee the coun­try, col­lapse of enroll­ments and uni­ver­sity cam­puses closed, are part of the “col­lat­eral effects” of the “war on drugs” that bat­ters north­east­ern Mexico—Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila—and is going on a decade now.

Such is the panorama that Mex­i­can and United States aca­d­e­mi­cians, busi­ness exec­u­tives and even pros­e­cu­tors describe to Pro­ceso investigators.

Like, for exam­ple, Guadalupe Cor­rea Con­tr­eras, an inves­ti­ga­tor at Texas Uni­ver­sity in Brownsville (UTB), explains in an inter­view: “The vio­lence linked to orga­nized crime has been extended until reach­ing the insti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing. In the north­east of the coun­try we might well con­sider the case of two stu­dents from the Mon­ter­rey School of Tech­nol­ogy that died in a gun-fight, and above all in the state of Tamauli­pas this sit­u­a­tion is clear.”

Since two years ago the orga­nized crime that oper­ates in Tamauli­pas is “offer­ing” to pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties and high schools a “pro­tec­tion ser­vice” in order that they not suf­fer attacks. The extor­tions pro­voked the Uni­ver­sity of Mex­ico Val­ley (UVM) in Reynosa to tem­porar­ily sus­pend oper­at­ing, while the UVM in Nuevo Laredo closed permanently.

In addi­tion, exec­u­tives at the Cham­ber of Com­merce and admin­is­tra­tors of pri­vate schools denounced the clos­ing of the pri­vate high schools and the threat of clos­ing 18 more. They warn that the Zetas and the Gulf car­tel called the schools “offer­ing” to pro­tect them in exchange for fees that run from 100,000 to 350,000 pesos monthly.

In regard to the Nuevo Laredo cam­pus of UVM, it suf­fered a visit of thugs and buses of armed men were cir­cu­lat­ing in the same area, which oblig­ated the admin­is­tra­tors to sus­pend classes per­ma­nently since last February.

Given the seri­ous­ness of the threats, that included direct attempts on the life of those who form a part of our com­mu­nity, we make the deci­sion, first, to evac­u­ate the facil­i­ties and to close the cam­pus,” the offi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion stressed. It added that the local author­i­ties offered their sup­port, but in Sep­tem­ber, when the Reynosa cam­pus suf­fered threats, the mil­i­tary kept watch for a few days, and, upon leav­ing, the insti­tu­tion “suf­fered and assault, for which rea­son we con­sider that the risky sit­u­a­tions will con­tinue being repeated.”

State pros­e­cu­tors inden­tify José Ismael Men­doza Fal­cón, “El Poli­menso,” ex-policeman in the munic­i­pal­i­ties of Miguel Alemán and Mier, as “the per­son respon­si­ble for the threats received by the rec­tor of the Uni­ver­sity of Mex­ico Val­ley, Reynosa campus.”

The vio­lence also reached the fac­ulty of the Inde­pen­dent Uni­ver­sity of Tamauli­pas (UAT). The Zetas and the Gulf Car­tel col­lects fees from teach­ers, and the stu­dents are obliged to buy lot­tery tick­ets whose prizes no one wins.

In Tamauli­pas we have observed in the last few years a direct attack on uni­ver­sity build­ings or on admin­is­tra­tive author­i­ties, includ­ing those at the high­est lev­els. The mur­ders of the direc­tor of Human Resources in 2012 and the coor­di­na­tor of the Ethics Pro­gram at UAT in 2011 are high­lighted,” com­ments Guadalupe Correa.

More­over, “the dis­ap­pear­ance of José Guadalupe Rivera Martínez, rec­tor at the Reynosa cam­pus of UAT last Decem­ber [hap­pened]. It is an unprece­dented act, that shook the insti­tu­tions of higher edu­ca­tion,” the inves­ti­ga­tor at UTB added.

Cor­rea under­lined that the direct attacks to the edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions moved the stu­dents toward the US or other parts of the coun­try, and closely ana­lyzed sta­tis­tics of the uni­ver­si­ties in Texas and in Nuevo León con­firm a rise in the exo­dus of Tamauli­pas uni­ver­sity students.

Cur­rently the Inde­pen­dent Uni­ver­sity of Tamauli­pas (UAT) serves around 40,000 stu­dents in 26 aca­d­e­mic units, facil­i­ties, schools and vir­tual classes.

Reg­istries of Tamauli­pas stu­dent asso­ci­a­tions show that some 15,000 alumni immi­grated to other states and the US.

Alia Paroiat­nikova, exec­u­tive direc­tor of UTB, indi­cates to this reporter that “[they rely] on approx­i­mately 400 inter­na­tional stu­dents, 71% com­ing from Mexico.

The reg­is­tra­tion of the Mex­i­can stu­dents has risen in the last few years. We have many fam­i­lies that order their stu­dent sons and daugh­ters study here in Brownsville,” she specified.

The enroll­ment of the stu­dents com­ing from Tamauli­pas shows that they have left the cities most affected by the vio­lence: Mata­moros, Tampico, Ciu­dad Vic­to­ria, Valle Her­moso and San Fer­nando, among other places, Paroiat­nikova explains.

Nev­er­the­less, the Nuevo Laredo cam­pus of Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity reg­is­ters the biggest flow of migra­tion. In their cam­pus around 7,000 inter­na­tional stu­dents are reg­is­tered, and more than 40% are or Mex­i­can ori­gin. Some even receive a Texas gov­ern­ment sub­sidy so that they don’t pay a for­eign stu­dent enroll­ment fee, rather like Texan res­i­dents, since the fee per semes­ter is around 5,500 dollars.

The migra­tion of stu­dents obliged the cur­rent Tamauli­pas gov­ern­ment to offer sup­port to the stu­dents that study out­side the state, with schol­ar­ships that run from 6,000 to 15,000 pesos per semes­ter if they main­tain grades higher than 9.0.

Mur­dered Students

The 11th of April, 2013, Ceclila, Marlyn, Cin­tia and Car­los, 7th semes­ter stu­dents, fin­ished their activ­i­ties early in the Account­ing & Admin­is­tra­tion Build­ing of the Mon­clova cam­pus of the Coahuila Uni­ver­sity. That after­noon they decided to go to drink some beers. They got in a Stra­tus (car) and headed for kilo­me­ter 18 of high­way 57, in the direc­tion of Sabinas.

The four young peo­ple arrived at a bar in the zone known as “Cal­i­for­nia.” They real­ized that they were in the wrong place when a car­a­van of buses of armed men arrived. Imme­di­ately they left the bar, got in the car and tried to get away as fast as they could.

Zeta hit­men observed the pre­cip­i­tous escape. They pur­sued them on the high­way in the direc­tion of Mon­clova… Scared, the young peo­ple accel­er­ated, and when they heard the first shots, one of the stu­dents told his fam­ily via cell phone that they were pur­su­ing them and that they were shoot­ing at them. The next day four fam­i­lies came to the Attor­ney Gen­eral of the state Jus­tice to denounce the dis­ap­pear­ance of their stu­dent son and daughters.

Days later the author­i­ties reported that the Stra­tus was found burned up and with pock­marked with bul­let holes. Five Zeta thugs that were detained con­fessed that after the attack they received the order, from their radios, to tow the car to the Estancias com­mu­nity, where the set it on fire.

In Tamauli­pas, sources in the prosecutor’s office who asked to remain anony­mous point out to Pro­ceso that tens of “picked up” and dis­ap­peared stu­dents by the local car­tels have been added.

In Nuevo León, that stu­dents that have been vic­tims of vio­lence reach about 20. The streak of vio­lence against the stu­dents began on the 19th of March, 2010, when Jorge Anto­nio Mer­cado Alonso and Javier Fran­cisco Arredondo Ver­dugo, two post­grad­u­ate stu­dents with schol­ar­ships for excel­lence from the ITESM, were in the library of the Mon­ter­rey cam­pus prepar­ing their next exam.

Out­side the library, on Euge­nio Garza Sada avenue, gun­men on board an armored bus con­fronted Army soldiers.

Inside the library they didn’t hear the first shots. So when Jorge and Javier took a break in their stud­ies to go to din­ner, on walk­ing they real­ized that the sol­diers were inside the cam­pus grounds fir­ing large arms.

The young men were rid­dled with bul­lets by the cross­fire. The gun­fire that reached them also came from the guns of the military.

At the end of the skir­mish, the mil­i­tary and the forces of the Jus­tice Depart­ment of Nuevo León tried to make it appear that the stu­dents were hit­men. The drug them toward the out­side of the insti­tu­tion, beat­ing them var­i­ous blows, remov­ing their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and plant­ing two guns on them.

Hours later the attor­ney general’s office stole the videos from the secu­rity cam­eras of the cam­pus and reported that two “delin­quents” were killed by the Army.

It is clear that they aren’t the first stu­dents of per­sons to dis­ap­pear or be killed by the vio­lence which our coun­try lives. It is esti­mated that 22,000 per­sons dis­ap­peared in the last 6-year Pres­i­den­tial term. Many of them, accused cor­rectly or incor­rectly of being asso­ci­ated with orga­nized crime,” com­ments the ex-director of the ITESM, Rafael Rangel, at the end of 5 years of crime.

Jorge Anto­nio Mer­cado Alonso and Javier Fran­cisco Arredondo Ver­dugo were exe­cuted at one of the entrances to the Mon­ter­rey School of Tech­nol­ogy. Also, just as the stu­dents of Ayotz­i­napa, they were dis­ap­peared and removed of their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion after being exe­cuted. They were accused of being part of orga­nized crime,” he concluded.

After the crime, the School of Tech­nol­ogy suf­fered a fall of 10% in its enroll­ment. In addi­tion, the school had to trim by around 13% of their admin­is­tra­tive per­son­nel and had to mod­ify their agree­ments with their pro­fes­sors. All agree­ments that paid by salary were elim­i­nated and new agree­ments were drawn up pay­ing by fees.

The vio­lence and inse­cu­rity that rages in Coahuila and Nuevo León also obliged uni­ver­sity author­i­ties to trim evening schedules.

Obsta­cle to Progress

Accord­ing to Guadalupe Cor­rea, the vio­lence against the uni­ver­si­ties rep­re­sents a great lim­i­ta­tion for eco­nomic devel­op­ment, for it accel­er­ates the loss of human capital.

Tamauli­pas is one of the most impor­tant states in the coun­try for the future invest­ments in energy, and is los­ing a fun­da­men­tal resource: its edu­cated pop­u­la­tion and the human cap­i­tal, which is vital for the growth of the sec­tor and of the state in gen­eral,” he explained.

In turn, Car­los Flo­res, mem­ber of the Cen­ter of Inves­ti­ga­tions and Higher Stud­ies in Social Anthro­pol­ogy (CIESAS), states that the attacks against said edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions are “a sign of extreme ero­sion of the ele­men­tal con­di­tions for devel­op­ment of a soci­ety, not any­more do we talk of via­bil­i­ties and hopes, which nat­u­rally are seen seri­ously threat­ened when such does not offer min­i­mums of cer­tainty for their young.”

Also he warned that prized demo­graphic of Mex­ico, since its youth is the vic­tim of vio­lence, is being dis­crim­i­nated and mar­gin­al­ized of real options for devel­op­ment and, in addi­tion, the state is inca­pable of pro­vid­ing min­i­mum guar­an­tees for their safety.

He empha­sized that the clo­sure of uni­ver­si­ties has grave con­se­quences for the soci­ety, but that Tamauli­pas author­i­ties try to play

What a horrible mother:” How a call from a “good samaritan” derailed these mothers’ lives — Salon.com feedly

What is hap­pen­ing to America?

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“What a hor­ri­ble mother:” How a call from a “good samar­i­tan” derailed these moth­ers’ lives — Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/2015/04/19/what_a_horrible_mother_moms_arrested_for_leaving_their_kids_in_the_car/
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Why Is the US Still Spending Billions to Fund Mexico’s Corrupt Drug War? | The Nation feedly

[draft]

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Why Is the US Still Spend­ing Bil­lions to Fund Mexico’s Cor­rupt Drug War? | The Nation
http://m.thenation.com/article/199569-us-connection-mexicos-drug-war-corruption
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The Solution to Ghost Apartments Is Obvious and Predictably Overlooked feedly

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The Solu­tion to Ghost Apart­ments Is Obvi­ous and Pre­dictably Over­looked
// Ian Welsh

So, one of the rea­sons we have resur­gent hous­ing bub­bles in world cities like New York, Lon­don, Hong Kong, and Toronto is because of for­eign­ers who buy apart­ments and then leave them empty. Newsweek has a good arti­cle on ghost apart­ments, but I want to focus on this because it’s symp­to­matic of why we can’t fix almost anything:

In Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong, offi­cials tried to slow the spread of absentee-owned lux­ury hous­ing by lim­it­ing mortgages.

….

To encour­age own­ers to occupy their units or sell, New York state leg­is­la­tion has been drafted to impose a pro­gres­sive tax on vacant lux­ury apart­ments worth $5 mil­lion or more. The pro­posed levy would start at one-half of 1 per­cent and rise to 4 per­cent on val­ues above $20 million.

Peo­ple who can afford lux­ury apart­ments can afford that fee. Make it sim­ple: Put in a res­i­dency require­ment. Some­one must live in the apart­ment six months a year. If they don’t, the tax rate is 50% of the osten­si­ble value of the apart­ment. If that doesn’t work (and it might not, given how rich they are), well, then just make it ille­gal to own apart­ments that aren’t used and have the gov­ern­ment seize the apart­ment and use it for social hous­ing, or sell it. And if the next owner doesn’t use it, seize it again.

Lest you think this isn’t a seri­ous prob­lem, under­stand this: Every unused apart­ment raises the rent of every other apart­ment in the city and increases the cost of every other condo in the city. This is sup­ply that is arti­fi­cially off the mar­ket. Because peo­ple don’t live in these apart­ments, local busi­nesses don’t have as many cus­tomers. Mean­while, the high prices of lux­ury apart­ments for which there is no actual local demand dri­ves up real-estate prices, which dri­ves up tax­a­tion. Every­one pays more in taxes, rent, or mort­gages to sub­si­dize for­eign­ers who aren’t even using the condos.

The same is true for houses.

Rich peo­ple who want to visit world cities can suck it up and pay for a hotel. There are plenty of hotels that cost thou­sands of dol­lars a day (tens of thou­sands aren’t uncom­mon, but ordi­nary peo­ple will never even see these listed), which are suit­able for their “needs.”

The are many prob­lems like this which are easy enough to fix by either extremely puni­tive tax­a­tion and fines or by just for­bid­ding these destruc­tive actions.

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Cause all of me, loves all of you … who are harmed by mass incarceration’s imperfections feedly

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’Cause all of me, loves all of you … who are harmed by mass incarceration’s imper­fec­tions
// Sen­tenc­ing Law and Policy

Images (1)The title of this post is my weak effort to merge John Legend’s most pop­u­lar song lyrics with his notable new cam­paign. This AP story pro­vides the details:

John Leg­end has launched a cam­paign to end mass incar­cer­a­tion. The Grammy-winning singer announced the mul­ti­year ini­tia­tive, FREE AMERICA, on Mon­day. He will visit and per­form at a cor­rec­tional facil­ity on Thurs­day in Austin, Texas, where he also will be part of a press con­fer­ence with state leg­is­la­tors to dis­cuss Texas’ crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

We have a seri­ous prob­lem with incar­cer­a­tion in this coun­try,” Leg­end said in an inter­view. “It’s destroy­ing fam­i­lies, it’s destroy­ing com­mu­ni­ties and we’re the most incar­cer­ated coun­try in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the rea­sons we got to this place, we as a soci­ety made some choices polit­i­cally and leg­isla­tively, cul­tur­ally to deal with poverty, deal with men­tal ill­ness in a cer­tain way and that way usu­ally involves using incarceration.”

Leg­end, 36, will also visit a Cal­i­for­nia state prison and co-host a crim­i­nal jus­tice event with Politico in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., later this month. The cam­paign will include help from other artists — to be announced — and orga­ni­za­tions com­mit­ted to end­ing mass incarceration.

I’m just try­ing to cre­ate some more aware­ness to this issue and try­ing to make some real change leg­isla­tively,” he said. “And we’re not the only ones. There are sen­a­tors that are look­ing at this, like Rand Paul and Cory Booker, there are other non­prof­its that are look­ing at this, and I just wanted to add my voice to that.”

Legend’s speech at the Acad­emy Awards this year struck a chord when he spoke about mass incar­cer­a­tion. He won the Oscar for best orig­i­nal song with rap­per Com­mon for “Glory” from the film “Selma.”

The singer said an early vic­tory for his cam­paign was the approval of Propo­si­tion 47 in Cal­i­for­nia in Novem­ber, which calls for treat­ing shoplift­ing, forgery, fraud, petty theft and pos­ses­sion of small amounts of drugs — includ­ing cocaine, heroin and metham­phet­a­mines — as mis­de­meanors instead of felonies. “Once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it’s hard for you to do any­thing,” Leg­end said. “Get­ting those reduced to mis­de­meanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more ini­tia­tives like that around the country.”

Per­haps “Weird Al” Yankovic or John Leg­end him­self can pen a ver­sion of “All of Me” that could become the movement’s theme song.

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Israeli Paper: Israel Needs To Find the Right Time To Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program feedly

The great­est threat to world peace: Isreal

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Israeli Paper: Israel Needs To Find the Right Time To Stop Iran’s Nuclear Pro­gram
// WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Israel is on its own on Iran and has to find the right time to stop its nuclear pro­gram kinet­i­cally,” Efraim Inbar, direc­tor of the Begin-Sadat Cen­ter for Strate­gic Stud­ies at Bar-Ilan Uni­ver­sity, told The Jerusalem Post in an inter­view on Sunday.

The issue is polit­i­cal will,” said Inbar, argu­ing that we got to this point “because the US admin­is­tra­tion does not have the will to act against Iran­ian nuclear aspirations.”

US-Israel rela­tions are on a col­li­sion course because of [Pres­i­dent Barack] Obama’s pol­icy on Iran and dur­ing this dif­fi­cult period Israel needs to min­i­mize the dam­age to the pil­lars of US-Israel rela­tions,” he said.

How­ever, he says, “We can­not accept the Amer­i­can pol­icy on Iran and some­times small states have to oppose even super­pow­ers’ policies.”

Iran and world pow­ers reached a frame­work nuclear agree­ment on April 2 that would require Iran to shut down parts of its nuclear pro­gram that could be used to build a bomb, and accept intru­sive inspec­tions, in exchange for the West lift­ing eco­nomic sanctions.

Israeli polit­i­cal lead­ers and Repub­li­can con­gres­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tives have strongly crit­i­cized the deal.

There is no way to sweeten the deal; it is essen­tially flawed and it reminds us clearly of the North Korean agree­ment,” which failed to stop the reclu­sive Asian coun­try from going nuclear, said Inbar.

And just like the agree­ment with North Korea in 1994, the Ira­ni­ans also have no qualms about cheat­ing their way to the bomb, he said.

Inbar wrote in a Besa Cen­ter report pub­lished on Thurs­day: “Unfor­tu­nately, no bet­ter deal is in the off­ing. What­ever revi­sions are intro­duced can­not change its basic nature.

The accord allows Iran to have fis­sion­able mate­r­ial that can be enriched to weapons grade mate­r­ial in a short time and Tehran can always deny access to inspec­tors any time it chooses.

This is the essence of the North Korean precedent.”

Inbar added that a nuclear deal is no longer enough to pre­vent Iran from going nuclear and that only an attack can stop the Shi’ite coun­try from get­ting the bomb.

Asked if it would be bet­ter to wait out the Obama admin­is­tra­tion and hope for a more coop­er­a­tive Repub­li­can admin­is­tra­tion, Inbar responded that he is not sure a future Repub­li­can pres­i­dent would nec­es­sar­ily be tougher on Iran, as for­mer pres­i­dent George W. Bush did not deal with the prob­lem and “kicked the can down the road.”

He adds that it may be too long to wait in any case.

Another point, noted Inbar, is that a final agree­ment is still no sure thing as nego­ti­a­tions could still fall apart.

Asked about the argu­ment by some who favor the frame­work agree­ment that it slows down Iran’s pro­gram, Inbar asserted that “the longer the pro­gram is entrenched, the more dif­fi­cult it will be to get rid of it.” For exam­ple, there will be more peo­ple trained to develop the nuclear pro­gram and more chance to enrich uranium.

Another prob­lem with the cur­rent nego­ti­a­tions between world pow­ers and Iran is that the Amer­i­cans are not insist­ing on link­ing other issues such as the country’s mis­sile pro­gram or ter­ror activ­i­ties to the deal.

Iran is the main national secu­rity chal­lenge to Israel,” stated Inbar, point­ing out that its lead­ers often call to destroy the Jew­ish state.

Asked if Israel should be get­ting involved to help regional Sunni forces against the Shi’iteled Iran axis, Inbar said that “Israel has to rec­og­nize it has lit­tle capa­bil­ity to influ­ence regional developments.”

Israel should be care­ful not to get entan­gled in Arab domes­tic con­flicts because of the unex­pected con­se­quences,” he said.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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A Clintonian Coronation? feedly

Can Clin­ton beat the Repub­li­can can­di­date, most likely Jeb Bush? Well, her neg­a­tives are high, and she’s try­ing to extend a Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­dency which has been pretty awful on the econ­omy (many peo­ple will try to pre­tend oth­er­wise, they are either stu­pid, in the top 5% or so who have done well, or on the pay­roll.) On the other hand iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the Demo­c­ra­tic party is sig­nif­i­cantly higher (almost 10%) than with the Repub­li­can party. That’s a sig­nif­i­cant advantage.

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A Clin­ton­ian Coro­na­tion?
// Ian Welsh

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

Hilary Clin­ton Sec­re­tary of State Portrait

So, Hilary has made it offi­cial. Last time she was the front-runner and lost, but this time there are no par­tic­u­larly strong pre­sump­tive nom­i­nees: no Obama, nobody even as strong as Edwards was.

Clinton’s neg­a­tives are ter­ri­ble, and she has a lot of bag­gage. The right will ham­mer her on Bengazi, but more seri­ous to left-wingers is Iraq and the larger pic­ture of the for­eign pol­icy when she was Sec­re­tary of State. Libya’s a com­plete mess, the Arab Spring failed and gave way to more repres­sive states, ISIS rose (albeit its spec­tac­u­lar break­out was after her res­ig­na­tion), and so on.

Back in 2008 I read the three major cam­paigns pol­icy doc­u­ments and releases care­fully, it was my job. Edwards was the most left-wing can­di­date, it wasn’t even close. Not a lot sep­a­rated Clin­ton and Obama on sub­stan­tive issues, but gen­er­ally speak­ing she was slightly to his left on domes­tic bread and but­ter issues, and slightly to his right on for­eign affairs. It is instruc­tive that her post was at State.

When Lin­coln Chafee declared his can­di­dacy for the Demo­c­ra­tic nom­i­na­tion he was very explicit about Iraq: Chafee was the only Repub­li­can to vote against the war. Say what one will, that took integrity and guts. Clin­ton likes to say she makes “hard choices”, but it’s not clear to me what those are. Her “hard choices” are gen­er­ally of the “make your bones” vari­ety: do what the elites want and shove it down the throats of ordi­nary people.

The main excep­tions would be in terms of women’s rights, which she gen­uinely believes in and has fought for.

Can Clin­ton beat the Repub­li­can can­di­date, most likely Jeb Bush? Well, her neg­a­tives are high, and she’s try­ing to extend a Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­dency which has been pretty awful on the econ­omy (many peo­ple will try to pre­tend oth­er­wise, they are either stu­pid, in the top 5% or so who have done well, or on the pay­roll.) On the other hand iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the Demo­c­ra­tic party is sig­nif­i­cantly higher (almost 10%) than with the Repub­li­can party. That’s a sig­nif­i­cant advantage.

This far out, I don’t know. There are weak­nesses in a Clin­ton can­di­dacy. This is not 2008, where the elec­tion was the Demo­c­ra­tic nominee’s to lose. The real elec­tion in 2008 was the Demo­c­ra­tic pri­mary, every­one knew it, and that’s why the fight was so vicious.

Per­son­ally, of the peo­ple who have put them­selves for­ward so far I like Chafee the best. He seems to have some actual integrity, and is at least say­ing most of the right things. He doesn’t appear to have much of a chance; like every other Demo­c­ra­tic nom­i­nee so far he’s about wait­ing for Clin­ton to stumble.

I think coro­nat­ing Clin­ton is most likely a mis­take, though and not just because I don’t like her pol­i­tics. She needs to be tested prop­erly in com­pet­i­tive pri­maries. Clin­ton of the late 2008 cam­paign was a fierce cam­paigner, but she’s bun­gled a great deal before and since then.

May the best can­di­date for Amer­ica, and the world, win.