Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The defiance by Mugabe of the actual election results in Zimbabwe brings up the question of the ability of established power to falsify the outcome of any election unless the most scrupulous care is taken to keep them clean. And where there is any cause to believe otherwise, the burden is always assumed to be on the challengers to prove their case against the presumption of regularity. This presumption represents a flaw in the theory of democratic rule via elections. If the established power has control of the machinery of government, then they can often hide the traces of their machinations, if any, of the machinery of elections as well. That is an almost inescapable consequence of the meaning of government. However, there should be, and is not, an explicit and general understanding that wherever the process of election is not totally transparent, the presumption of regularity must be reversed, and the world opinion must stand against the owner of the election process. That rule would not negate the great advantage the sitting government has, but in view of that, it should be a recognized canon of rhetoric that any government that claims re-election in any process that is not exquisitely transparent and proper must have the case presumed against the incumbents unless they can prove their innocence under that burden. Such a rule should have been the verdict of the world in Mexico in 2005, in Florida in 2000, and in Ohio in 2004. It would not prevail against armed force, but nothing would. Meanwhile, it should be agreed that where the sitting government does not provide that transparency, they lose all legitimacy. How to promote this idea?
As we all look in amazement and horror on the firestorm in Zimbabwe, some of the comments in UK revolve around adverse observations on the failure of democracy in Africa. My second thought is of the similarity to the Mexican election of July 06, in which the world went to bed that day on the news that Sr. Obrador had won, only to be met the next day by the announcement from Pres. Fox that his party’s candidate had won and his dogged refusal over the next months to submit to any verification of that assertion. His party had the army, & street protests made no difference. Not only was I not surprised to hear that Bush was supporting the coup, but I would be if it were proved to me that the CIA had no role in supporting his decision to effectively negate the election by fiat. We have seen it so often, and the level of outrage seems to rest solely on who was WH’s candidate. The capper to this is that the US, which pretends to be the paragon of democracy, has little to show in the matter of electoral integrity these last 10 years. In fact, the acid test of democracy is the willingness of someone who is running for election to play fairly by the rules and hand over power without deceptions, threats or a struggle if they lose. Against that, we have the Lombardian dogma that “winning is the only thing”. In the era of the Cold War, US has been the outstanding disciple of this Lombardianism. In 2006, Mexico played by those rules, and today it is Mugabe. And Condoleezza Rice, who no doubt knows better, fulminates as though butter would not melt in her mouth against him, while her government, and ours, supports equally crooked politicians around the world. Of course these,are like Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, who was in the words of FDR, “a son-of-a -bitch, but our son-of-a bitch.” And that’s where the body is buried. And Mugabe is a son-of-a-bitch, but not ours.
It has become clear that Sen. Clinton has painted herself into a corner with her venom directed at Sen. Obama. However understandable her disappointment at being upstaged by an upstart that will not wait his turn” to be President, the fact is that she has exhibited herself in such an awful light that there is no possibility that the People will flock to her support, & the disappointment of the wealthy and powerful forces that have invested in the dividends they hoped to have from her presidency will not turn the Democratic Party in her favor. What is less clear is how much damage she has managed to inflict upon Obama. He is a gifted orator & has managed to maintain his cool, for the most part, so as to deflect as much of her venom as is possible. However, she has devotedpartisans who might sink his election in November. These include not only the aforementioned investors, like the pharmaceutical industry and Rupert Murdoch, but also many so devoted to her personally that they would rather see McCain win than Obama. We saw something like that in Wisconsin when the partisans of the losing Democratic candidate for Attorney General failed to support the winner, thus giving us a Republican in that office for at least 4 years. There is at least some concern in that direction and no one knows how deep the split in the Democrats runs, fuelled by identity politics. If the Party must be healed, it is clear that Hillary would accept a non-allergenic candidate like John Edwards rather than lose to Sen. Obama. And it is just possible that Obama would accept that too, if party unity were at stake. No one knows. The ego of anyone who would run for President must be so swollen that it would be almost unthinkable. The unknown factor is the influence of the Party grandees, the “super- delegates” that Clinton thinks may yet pull her chestnuts out of the fire, as well as their own ideas about how hot that fire is for the Party itself. It has long been known that Edwards had the best chance of beating McCain, or any other GOP candidate. If he is called upon to heal the potential breach, he would likely take on the task, if Clinton and Obama agreed to it. Fat chance?
In last week’s news was a further incomprehensible payoff to Tony Blair. The Yale schools of Divinity and Management have appointed him to a professorship at a price that I have not seen published. I do not have an familiarity with the school of management, but mostly such beasts are the repository of the hateful doctrine out of the Univ. of Chicago. that greed and predation are the engines of progress and prosperity, so if he will be there to teach greedy students how to cheat the public, that is at least a subject on which he is an acknowledged expert. But on divinity he is about as knowledgeable as a street sweeper. His sudden revealing of his onversion to Catholicism, which was easily known to anyone who observed him during the 10 years of his premiership, is generally thought to have been hidden in order to preserve his standing in Anglican England. I guess this is what he perceives as giving his Christian witness to his faith, but I am no expert on the subtleties of Christian versions of hypocrisy. If that is what he will teach the students at the Yale Divinity School, then it is a much reduced college since I saw it last, 50 years ago. In addition to this wooden medal from Yale, he has been given a job, reportedly paying in the 7 figures, with the Morgan Chase bank. From his record in Britain, I would say that any reputable graduate of Cambridge U in the field of finance knows more about banking than Blair ever will, and Morgan is not even bothering to give him an office, since no one would waste valuable Wall Street space on someone who has nothing to give them. To top this, the Zurich insurance company has also “hired” him, at what figure I do not know. My students in undergraduate probability class probably know more about random risk than he does. My guess is that he is like a general at the Pentagon who has bought shoddy goods from an arms manufacturer and is rewarded after his retirement from that with a fat job in the office of that company. I don’t know who is putting up the money for Blair’s sinecures, but there is no reason to believe that he has any knowledge that they need except whom to go to for favors.