Poop like a politician

Almost immediately after coming to power in India, Prime Minister Modi launched a campaign to clean up the country (called Clean India).  He asked“After so many years of independence, do we still want to live in filthiness? Can’t we resolve this much?”   His goal was pretty lofty too, (over) promising that “we will have a country where there is not even a speck of dirt in our village, city, street, area, school, temple and hospital.”

Modi launched the Clean India campaign in 2014 by urging bureaucrats to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth by sweeping instead of taking the day off:

“All staff were “requested” to come to work on Thursday by 9am and take a “cleanliness pledge”, promising to devote at least 100 hours every year – or two hours a week – to cleaning up, then pick up the broom and start cleaning immediately. As proof, before and after photographs have to be submitted.”

You can imagine how thrilled the bureaucrats were when they heard the news. I love the part about the before and after pics too.

Well, apparently there is still dirt to be removed and the Clean India campaign continues. The government is emphasizing the importance of ending “open defecation” and claims the it will “install 110 million toilets nationwide by 2019.”  This seems like an important goal since 40% of the population lack access to “safe, functioning commodes.”

For a number of reasons, the campaign isn’t going so well. One of the reasons seems to be cultural, in that many poor households have a long list of goods they would like to buy before adding a toilet to the house.  The article reports that a recent study used “survey data to rank 21 basic consumer goods in the order that Indian households would prefer to acquire them. According to their analysis, toilets ranked 12th — meaning a poor family would buy a television, a pressure cooker or a motorcycle before it acquired a toilet.”

So now there is growing demand for politicians to be role models when it comes to toilet use.  Seriously.

“The western state of Maharashtra this past week became the latest to pass a law requiring those running in municipal and village-level elections to present proof that they have access to working toilets. Five Indian states — with combined populations of nearly 400 million people, or roughly one-third of the country — have enacted similar legislation over the past two years.”

Opponents of the bill argue that rules like this “disqualify many poor candidates as well as those living in urban areas who use shared public toilets.”  The government eventually agreed and decided that candidates only needed to produce a certificate saying they had access to a “functioning toilet.”   I wonder which ministry is in charge of issuing these certificates… At least you can forget about framing any fancy diplomas when decorating your new office–you can just proudly display your toilet certificate instead!



Looks like two wrongs DO make a right!

So last month in a seemingly incomprehensible bit of overkill and pique (and possible ass-covering over making nice with the Castro brothers), Obama formally declared that Venezuela was a threat to the national security of the US.

What the hell does that mean, you ask?

Well, “Declaring any country a threat to national security is the first step in starting a U.S. sanctions program. The same process has been followed with countries such as Iran and Syria, U.S. officials said.”

Now Venezuela has responded….by sending the late Hugo Chavez’s “favorite” daughter to the UN! (I first told Robin that this must just be an April Fool’s, but she insists not).

Apparently, Maria Gabriela Chavez is now Venezuela’s “deputy permanent representative” to the UN, and she made her first appearance at “A “Day of Solidarity” where Syria, Russia and others lined up to slam the United States for its recent sanctions against seven senior officials of the socialist country.”

She didn’t actually make any on the record remarks, but did receive, “hugs and warm greetings”

I guess Obama loved Chavez so much, he just had to have another member of that family in politics.

The PRI just keeps digging and digging

Back in November, I posted a photo of EPN digging a hole and asked “My goodness, who in the world is advising EPN these days?”  My free PR advice to him was that “When you’re in a hole, you best stop digging..”  Well, the same advice could be given to the PRI as a whole.  Who is advising these yahoos?  How can you be so tone deaf?  I guess 70+ years of monopoly political power leads to the same kind of attention to PR as 70+ years of monopoly economic power.

You may remember that Cuauhtémoc Gutiérrez de la Torre, the PRI party president, was running a prostitution ring out of his office.  Apparently that is no cause for expulsion from the party though. Forbes just published an article called “Running A Prostitution Network At The PRI Party Offices In Mexico City Is A ‘Personal Matter’.” The title pretty much says it all, but let’s get into the details, which somehow manage to be even more unbelievable than expected. Here are my favorites:

1. “Cesar Camacho, the PRI’s powerful National Chairman, [on] why he has not been expelled, he answered: “Cuauhtémoc’s criminal behavior is his personal behavior; it is not the PRI’s business.” He brushed off any negative effects the scandal has had on the PRI’s reputation.” Maybe the PRI’s reputation is already so tarnished that a little prostitution ring is nothing to worry about.

2.  So why might it not just be a “personal” issue?  “Gutierrez took advantage of his position to keep a network of prostitutes on the PRI’s payroll, used the PRI’s offices to have sex with them and the PRI’s image to lure potential victims (mostly single mothers, divorced young women and students) into applying for jobs that were misrepresented in the classified pages of a major newspaper.”  Yikes!

3. “Noticias MVS sent an under-cover female reporter to apply for the job at a “government office,” offering a salary up to 14,000 Mexican pesos (around $1,000) a month. The candidates for the job (ages 18 to 32) where asked to specify their weight, height and availability, and change into short skirts and high heels. Those hired were later given a blazer with the PRI logo. In the 4-hour-long audio recording, parts of which were aired for the first time on April 2 by Noticias MVS, Priscilla [the interviewer] is heard telling the undercover reporter that she will need to perform sexual acts —“oral or vaginal”— when her boss asks for it. If he opted for oral sex, she was instructed: “You have to swallow his semen so he gets happy.” The reporter is informed that she will be on the PRI’s payroll.”  Holy cow!

4. “Gutiérrez demanded sex from the new recruits on the first day. Around 12 to 15 women were permanently at his service. If they gained weight or resisted following his orders, they were fired.”

5. “80% of all Mexicans said in a recent poll that they do not believe Gutiérrez will ever be punished.”  I’m surprised it’s actually that low!

Here’s the charmer himself on the right. What a guy and what a frickin political party.  I thought the PRI was going to capitalize on the opportunity to be in charge again to show that they had changed their colors and learned a thing or two in opposition.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.


Whatever happened to the 22nd amendment?

People, sometimes it seems to me like the Shrub is still in the Oval. Wars going badly in Afghanistan and Iraq? Check. Massive privacy violations by the NSA? Check. Gitmo open for business? Check.

And now, apparently, we may be re-affirming the Bush administration’s twisted logic on the geographic specificity of our commitment not to torture?

Why do we even have elections at all up in here?

That didn’t take long

Ah, Mexico, so far from god, so far from a decent political system. The new and heralded reform-minded “Pacto por Mexico” is on hold as opposition parties rage about the political corruption of the PRI.

Hard to imagine why they are surprised. To paraphrase Chris Rock, the PRI didn’t go crazy, the PRI went PRI.

Anyway, recordings of PRI officials in Veracruz brainstorming about how to use a social program to capture votes has the government cancelling Pacto events, delaying new legislation, and backpedaling on the viability of the relevant cabinet officer.

And the finance minister / Svengali / brains of the operation is on TV saying it will all blow over in a few days.

And maybe it will for now, but Mexico will never get where it wants to go while the PRI exists as a major political force.