Saturday, October 13, 2007

News round up and Anne Coulter Vs Rage Against The Machine

Amongst the continuing and tragic genocide in Burma comes two noteworthy political articles this month:

First from the Bangkok Post.

Deputy Prime Minister Sonthi Boonyaratkalin flexed his muscles yesterday by ordering the Interior Ministry to mobilise its grassroots mechanisms to prevent politicians loyal to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra returning to politics after the election scheduled for Dec 23.

Notice Sonthi's title has changed from CNS leader to deputy PM. You see , he resigned the former post stating "My job is done" and took up the latter post the next day. That guy must cut one amazing job interview.

His announcement was interpreted by observers as an attempt by the ministry, under Gen Sonthi's supervision, to play a greater role in overseeing the poll to prevent Thaksin allies from winning.

''The Interior Ministry has a duty to bring about national reconciliation to prevent national crisis. If there are mistakes in this election, the [vicious] cycle will return,'' he told officials during a briefing at the ministry. Gen Sonthi, when he was the army chief, engineered the military coup that ousted Mr Thaksin from power on Sept 19 last year.

Sonthi's quote could easily be interpreted as "If people don't vote in the people I like, I'll just have to come back and do this all over again".

He said diverse groups with differing opinions had emerged in society and the ministry's administrative mechanisms at the grassroots levels such as tambon and village heads must take a leading role in educating people about the importance of national interests that must come before self-interest.

There is a big difference between "diverse groups with differing interests" and "national reconciliation". The two are by no means mutually exclusive. Sonthi is basically giving us the same message as the previous paragraph I wonder if the irony of the last sentence in this paragraph was lost on Sonthi.

''This will bring the public to their senses and help them decide who they should or should not vote for,'' Gen Sonthi said, adding that provincial governors must be in charge of the campaign to educate people in their provinces about the downside of vote-buying and to persuade them to vote for good people.

"This will bring the public to their senses"? In other words: "This will stop the stupid people who don't agree with me". And this from a man who reminds us at every opportunity what a patriot he is. The dangers of vote buying are agreed and noble, but what is the difference between vote buying and an unelected junta leader launching a campaign with tax payer's money to tell them who NOT to vote for?

He said although the Election Commission (EC) was in charge of organising the poll, it still needed the ministry's support to ensure it was free and fair.

Perhaps he just decided that he was on a roll, and should just disrespect as many people as possible, hip hop gangster style.

Given that the EC's job description is constitutionally defined as "ensuring a free and fair election" why would they need the ministry's support? Are they incompetent? If so, surely Sonthi and Surayud should be seeking replacements?

He added that the people's decision at the ballot box would be final and must be respected, no matter who came into power after the election.

Providing "the people come to their senses" so the "vicious cycle" does not repeat, presumably.

Our second point of interest comes from The Nation:

AEC sees three ways to bring charges
Deposed and exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can be tried in civil cases even if criminal hearings have to be suspended, graft-busters believe.

"But in civil suits, the court can proceed in absentia," a source with the Assets Examination Committee said yesterday.

The AEC has three major avenues to press charges against Thaksin in the many cases against him.

First he will be charged for holding shares and concessions while serving in office.

Second, Thaksin will also be taken to task for abusing his authority to provide favours to companies owned by his family.

Undoubtedly this is true, but we would surely need some more specifics such as particular laws and offences. The British government will not accept slack investigations.

Finally he will be held accountable for being unusually rich.

I repeat: this is certainly true but it is not evidence. From a British viewpoint, the AEC are working for an unelected government to bring back an elected leader. To even stand a chance of getting extradition, they need to be painfully fastidious in their evidence and investigations.

The AEC plans to wrap up the cases next month and lodge both criminal and civil suits against him. AEC spokesman Sak Korsaengruang said that although the statute of limitations on criminal charges against Thaksin expires in 20 years, the AEC has frozen Bt65 billion of the Shinawatra family's wealth gained from selling Shin Corp stock.

"Even though the owners of the money are not present, their money is," Sak said.

Good move. Money is what Thaksin cares about most.

AEC members were answering questions forwarded by 20 supporters from Kamphaeng Phet who offered them encouragement.

This worries me. "20 supporters"? The AEC - great as they are - are a legal team, not a pop group. They don't need to be "meeting ssupporters".

This is what we expect from corrupt politicians and their aides, and the implication is always that the "supporters" were paid to be there. We saw this when the former Election Commissioners faced jail. Their supporters were groups of northerners who spontaneously decided to turn up at court to cheer on the blatant and remorseless criminals and subsequently storm the court house to shout obscenities and tell the judges "You don't love the country".

I am not saying the AEC are sinking that low but they need to be careful.

AEC secretary Kaewsan Atibodhi said four public prosecutors had left for the United Kingdom to find legal venues to extradite Thaksin and they were confident it was possible to bring him back if their counterparts there cooperate.

This also worries me. Fonzi made a point that I want to disagree with but I can't. He suggests that the AEC members will simply spend some time in England, meet nobody, do nothing and come back claiming that the Brits won't extradite Thaksin. It will all be Britain's fault, the Junta are happy because Thaksin is away, Thaksin will be happy because he gets off free (minus some cash) and the taxpayer's money is wasted.

The AEC should put minds at rest by giving us some kind of schedule or at least a name of whom they will meet.

Lawyer Noppadon Pattama appeared before the AEC as a witness in the Shin Corp tax-evasion case. The AEC asked him to present a document on the takeover of the Manchester City Football Club by Thaksin. He suggested that the AEC seek the document from the United Kingdom's stock exchange because the company owning the soccer club is listed there.

More stalling by Nappadon.


At least it's not only Thailand that has to deal with media nonsense.

One of my favourite bands, Rage Against The Machine (from now on I'll call them 'RATM') featured on Fox News lately. For those who don't know or care, RATM are a strongly left wing political rock and rap group. Most of the band served a stint with the highly popular Audioslave.

RATM recently gave a concert where front man Zack gave this speech.

A good friend of ours [Noam Chomsky] once said that if the same laws were applied to U.S. presidents as were applied to the Nazis after World War II [...] every single one of them, every last rich white one of them from Truman on, would have been hung to death and shot---and this current administration is no exception. They should be hung, and tried, and shot. As any war criminal should be.

Yes it was a daft and unfair thing to say but RATM have always gone over the top with their political sentiments. But the obnoxious and worthless FOX News choose to edit and present Zack's statement as...

"This current administration...... there is no exception they should be hung, tried and shot"

To make things worse, they had Ann "America would be better if women did not vote" Coulter up in the studio. By the the end of the ten minute discussion, Anne and the other speakers had discussed RATM as "threatening to kill the president" "wanting to assassinate the president" and "should be investigated by the secret service....even though I've never heard of them" (The last quote was Anne's)

Ann gave various pearls of wisdom such as "Nobody has heard of them, I had to look on the internet to even see who they are" [Every album they have done has gone platinum Anne, keep up with the youth old girl!] "

"They are losers, their fans are losers and there's a lot of violence coming from the left"

Yeh, tell that to all the families who have lost someone they love in Iraq, Anne.

Since Anne claimed "These people are animals", let me share some of Anne's own comments courtesy of wikiquote.

On the Jersey Girls (9/11 widows group)

These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis... These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much.

On Canada:

[Canadians] better hope the United States does not roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.

On the New York Times:
* My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.
o New York Observer article; August 26, 2002

* Of course I regret it. I should have added 'after everyone had left the building except the editors and the reporters.'
o; June 26, 2003

On women having the vote:
It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact. In fact, in every presidential election since 1950 - except Goldwater in '64 - the Republican would have won, if only the men had voted.

On Richard Dawkins (Author of 'The God Delusion')
"I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell."

For many more pearls of loving Christian Anne Coulter, check out the wikiquote link above.

Even the unedited version of the RATM was unfair and wrong. But at least RATM give us great music, some good politics and genuine activism. What has Anne Coulter given the world besides hate?

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