politics and policy

Porfirio Díaz, whose full name was José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori, (Spanish pronunciation: 15 September 1830 – 2 July 1915) was a Mexican general and politician who served seven terms as President of Mexico, a total of three and a half decades from 1876 to 1911. A veteran of the War of the Reform (1858–60) and the French intervention in Mexico (1862–67), Díaz rose to the rank of General, leading republican troops against the French-imposed rule of Emperor Maximilian. Seizing power in a coup in 1876, Díaz and his allies, a group of technocrats known as “Científicos” ruled Mexico for the next thirty-five years, a period known as the Porfiriato.

Díaz has always been a controversial figure in Mexican history; while the Porfirian regime brought stability after decades of conflict, it grew unpopular due to civil repression and political stagnation. His economic policies largely benefited his circle of allies as well as foreign investors, and helped a few wealthy estate owning hacendados acquire huge areas of land, leaving rural campesinos unable to make a living. Despite public statements favoring a return to democracy and not running for office, Díaz reversed himself and ran in 1910. His failure to institutionalize presidential succession, when he was 80 years old, triggered a political crisis between the Científicos and the followers of General Bernardo Reyes, allied with the military and with peripheral regions of Mexico. After Díaz declared himself the winner of an eighth term in office in 1910, his electoral opponent, Francisco I. Madero, issued a call for armed rebellion against the Díaz, leading to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. After the Federal Army suffered a number of military defeats against Madero’s forces, Díaz was forced to resign in May 1911 and went into exile in France, where he died four years later.

Having created a band of military brothers, Díaz went on to construct a broad coalition.[18] He was a cunning politician and knew very well how to manipulate people to his advantage. A phrase used to describe the order of his rule was “Pan o palo”, “Bread or a beating” (literally “Bread or stick”), meaning that one could either accept what was given willingly (often a position of political power) or else face harsh consequences (often death). Either way, rising opposition to Díaz’s administration was immediately quelled.

Over the next twenty-six years as president, Díaz created a systematic and methodical regime with a staunch military mindset. His first goal was to establish peace throughout Mexico. According to John A. Crow, Díaz “set out to establish a good strong paz porfiriana, or Porfirian peace, of such scope and firmness that it would redeem the country in the eyes of the world for its sixty-five years of revolution and anarchy.” His second goal was outlined in his motto – “little of politics and plenty of administration.”

In reality, he started a Mexican revolution; however, his fight for profits, control, and progress kept his people in a constant state of uncertainty. Díaz managed to dissolve all local authorities and all aspects of federalism that once existed. Not long after he became president, the governors of all federal states in Mexico were answering directly to him. Those who held high positions of power, such as members of the legislature, were almost entirely his closest and most loyal friends. In his quest for even more political control, Díaz suppressed the media and controlled the court system.

In order to secure his power, Díaz engaged in various forms of co-optation and coercion. He played his people like a board game – catering to the private desires of different interest groups and playing off one interest against another.[6] In order to satisfy any competing forces, such as the Mestizos and wealthier indigenous people, he gave them political positions of power that they could not refuse. He did the same thing with the elite Creole society by not interfering with their wealth and haciendas. Covering both pro and anti-clerical elements, Díaz was both the head of the Freemasons in Mexico and an important advisor to the Catholic bishops. Díaz proved to be a different kind of liberal than those of the past. He neither assaulted the Church (like most liberals) nor protected the Church. As for the Native American population, who were historically repressed, they were almost completely depoliticized; neither put on a pedestal as the core of Mexican society nor suppressed, and were largely left to advance by their own means. In giving different groups with potential power a taste of what they wanted, Díaz created the illusion of democracy and quelled almost all competing forces.

Díaz knew that it was crucial for him to suppress banditry; he expanded the guardias rurales (countryside police), although it guarded chiefly only transport routes to major cities. Díaz thus worked to enhance his control over the military and the police.

During the Díaz regime, the state began to take control over the cultural patrimony of Mexico, expanding the National Museum of Anthropology as the central repository of artifacts from Mexico’s archeological sites, as well as asserting control over the sites themselves. The Law of Monuments (1897) gave jurisdiction over archeological sites to the federal government. This allowed the expropriation and expulsion of peasants who had been cultivating crops on the archeological sites, most systematically done at Teotihuacan. Former cavalry officer and archeologist Leopoldo Batres was Inspector of Archeological Monuments and wielded considerable power. He garnered resources from the Díaz government funds to guard archeological sites in central Mexico and Yucatan, as well as to hire workers to excavate archeological sites of particular importance for creating an image of Mexico’s glorious past to foreign scholars and tourists, as well as patriotic fervor in Mexico.

From 1892 onwards, Díaz’s perennial opponent was the eccentric Nicolás Zúñiga y Miranda, who lost every election but always claimed fraud and considered himself to be the legitimately elected president of Mexico

Trump may not know who runs North Korea, may think all three leaders are the same guy

  • Without looking, can you say the name of the supreme leader of North Korea? If you said anything with the name “Kim” in it, you’ve come way closer to guessing correctly than Donald Trump.
  • During a Fox News interview, the president didn’t appear to know the name of the leader of North Korea. 
  • He not only referred to the leader of North Korea as “this gentleman” multiple times during the interview, but also implied that Kim is the same person as his father and possibly even his own grandfather.  Read more. (4/18/2017 12:03 PM)
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Donald Trump made up a terror attack in Sweden. Sweden replies, “What are you talking about?”

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver was baffled by the latest news cycle surrounding President Donald Trump. “Trump dominates the news cycle the way a fart dominates the interior of a Volkswagen Beetle,” Oliver said. “There is simply no escape from him.”

The latest example came when Trump triggered minor international confusion over the weekend when, at a Saturday rally, he seemed to suggest there had been some sort of attack in Sweden: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. … You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden? Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

This confused everyone, including Sweden. There was no major attack in Sweden on Friday, as Trump implied. The confusion eventually led Trump to clarify that he was talking about crime and immigrants generally in Sweden, based on a report from Fox News. And this isn’t even the first time something like this has happened; Trump’s team has gotten into trouble repeatedly over making up fake terror attacks, like the nonexistent “Bowling Green massacre.”

“Here’s where we’re at right now,” Oliver said. “Trump can dominate the news merely by referencing something that didn’t happen in Sweden.”

The story, however, serves as a warning to other countries. Oliver explained, “Just a quick message to all other countries on Earth: In the future, you’re going to find yourself wanting to ask, ‘What is your president talking about?’ a great deal. And the answer is almost always going to be, ‘We have no fucking idea.’”

Richard Spencer’s white supremacist group loses its tax-exempt status

  • White supremacist organizer Richard Spencer has collided with something that might smart a little more than a punch to the face: The revocation of his organization’s tax-exempt status by the IRS.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported Monday evening that Spencer’s National Policy Institute, the quasi-academic think tank behind a notorious Washington, D.C., conference in November, has lost its tax-exempt status after the paper inquired whether Spencer had filed proper paperwork to fundraise in Virginia. Read more (3/13/17 11:18 PM)
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Elizabeth Warren on the one good thing that came of her being silenced

Jeff Sessions was confirmed as US attorney general on February 8 — but not without a fight.

In an incident on the Senate floor that quickly became notorious, the Senate used an arcane rule to bar Sen. Elizabeth Warren from speaking further against Sessions as she read a letter by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr.

King wrote the letter in 1986, in opposition to Sessions’s then-nomination for a federal judgeship on the grounds that he regularly “used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.” Later in the evening, Warren’s male colleague Sen. Jeff Merkley read portions of the same letter himself, without incident.

Warren’s subsequent reading of the letter on Facebook Live has since been viewed more than 6 million times, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reasoning for invoking a technicality — “she was warned, she was given an explanation; nevertheless, she persisted” — has since been repurposed as a feminist rallying cry. Many people responded angrily and viscerally to the way Warren was silenced but Merkley was not. Not only did the hashtag #ShePersisted fly around social media, it was also rapidly emblazoned on mugs, T-shirts, and anything else Etsy’s ever dreamed of, and put up for sale online.

After the Sessions vote, Daily Show host Trevor Noah tried to ask Warren why her male colleague got to read the letter after she was barred from speaking, and whether she and Mitch McConnell have since realized “what a solid he’s done you.”

But Warren was single-mindedly passionate about one thing: “Millions of people are now reading Coretta Scott King’s letter.”

Shitty Knight running for president:

KNIGHT 2040: WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

Shitty Knight running for re-election:

KNIGHT 2044: WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT HAPPENING TWICE?

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Donald Trump drops longstanding US insistence on Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution

  • Trump said Wednesday that a two-state solution is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, backing away from a policy the United States has pushed for decades.
  • “I’m happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referring to Israeli and Palestinian aspirations.
  • A two-state solution — which would create an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River alongside a Jewish state of Israel — has been the United States’ policy since President Bill Clinton was in office.
  • Trump’s retreat from a two-state solution led to an outcry from Democratic lawmakers. Read more (2/15/17 3:15 PM)
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s furious tweetstorm on Michael Flynn

Top Republican investigators on Capitol Hill say they don’t have plans to investigate Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, or his conversations with President Donald Trump — and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is furious, previewing an attack line Democrats are likely to deploy frequently in the days to come.

“Congress must pull its head out of the sand and launch a real, bipartisan, transparent inquiry into Russia. Our natl security is at stake,” Warren wrote Tuesday in a series of condemning tweets aimed at Trump’s administration after Flynn resigned from his post as national security adviser late Monday night.

Flynn stepped down after a series of leaks revealed he had lied to top White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, about the extent of his conversations with a Russian envoy prior to Trump’s inauguration.

Warren raised the concerns many in Washington have long had about Flynn’s role in the White House and his alleged close ties to Russian officials.