Your Tuesday Random-Ass Roundup: The Return of Baby Doc.

Haiti is struggling to rebuild after last year’s catastrophic earthquake and trying to resolve its national elections, but it was thrown another curveball late this weekend: the return of its corrupt and brutal former dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. No one seems to know why he’s back — he says he’s there “for the reconstruction of Haiti” —- but the U.S. has long feared that his return could further destabilize Haiti.

“Baby Doc” took over Haiti in 1971 at the age of 19, after the death of his father, the notorious dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. The successive Duvalier regimes built up a cult of personality, and dispatched their own personal militia, the Tonton Macoute — named after a boogeyman from Haitian folklore that kidnapped children in their sleep and ate them —  to torture and kill their enemies. After being ousted in 1986, Baby Doc was flown by the American military to France, and despite the continued largess of some of his supporters, he’s been increasingly financially desperate (his divorce from his wife depleted his wealth), taking out ads in French papers looking for work. He was led away by police from his posh Port-Au-Prince hotel this morning, and human rights groups like Amnesty International are hoping he might stand trial for the atrocities committed during his rule.

After last year’s devastating earthquake, school officials in Florida’s Miami-Dade county readied themselves for an influx of impoverished Haitian children who were fleeing  their homeland. But it wasn’t poor kids who who showed up. “Many were like Nicolas Villedrouin, Carl Frederick Janvier and Zahry and Nakim Edmond, survivors who are now classmates at Felix Varela High School here. Nicolas’s father owns an engineering company in Haiti with 300 employees. Zahry and Nakim’s father owns a pharmaceutical company. Carl’s father is a dentist, his mother a doctor. …The principal at Varela High, Connie Navarro, figured the new arrivals would be shell-shocked — in ways that even they might not fully understand yet — and had extra counselors in place to help. She did not expect that she would have to add an Advanced Placement course to accommodate them. Nor did she expect that three quake survivors — Nicolas Etienne, Hans Hillel Rousseau and Zahry Edmond — would be top-ranked tennis players in Haiti and lead Varela High’s team to its first-ever regional playoff.”

Just because we lost the fight for better abortion services in the health care debate, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty more battles to lose on the abortion rights front at the state level. Women’s E-News has a great roundup of what’s likely to happen in Republican-controlled legislatures this term. (Monica(

Kevin Drum analyzes the latest takes on why our economic recovery is still jobless, and comes to a simple conclusion: the job market is bad because the recession was really, really bad. Also, I take issue with Nick Rowe’s assertion, highlighted in the post, that so many construction workers were laid off because their skills are general rather than specific, and they’ll be easy to replace. Rowe hasn’t, it seems, paid much attention to the increasing, and probably unnecessary, requirement that almost all construction workers these days have licenses that take some amount of college to require. (Monica)

Freddie DeBoer is worried about the blogosphere’s lack of a serious lefty. Matt Yglesias and Ryan Avent, offer their rebuttals, as does Mike Konczal at Rortybomb. (Nicole)

Portugal’s nine year experiment with drug decriminalization not only didn’t fail, it might have actually worked. (Nicole)

Dana Goldstein reminds us that America’s schools are even more segregated now than they were at the time of Martin Luther King’s death. “Given this track record, it’s a disappointment that the Obama administration has not created incentives aimed at encouraging school districts to experiment with magnet schools and other means of desegregation. On the upside, there is good work being done at the Department of Housing and Urban Development on attacking residential segregation; in 2009, for example, HUD told Westchester County it could no longer build affordable housing only in towns and cities that already had high concentrations of poverty. (Doing so was always illegal, but past administrations failed to enforce the law.)”

The historic jump in global food prices is causing some weird problems.  Like stolen sheep. (Nicole)

George Allen, the former Senator from Virginia who was considered a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination before he decided to hurl a racial slur at a Desi-American cat at a campaign event, is considering running to get his seat back from Jim Webb, who narrowly defeated him in 2006. Jamelle: “The ensuing media scrutiny over the slur revealed a whole history of racially problematic behavior, including his vocal affection for the Confederacy. As governor, Allen declared April “Confederate History and Heritage Month,” and called the Civil War a “a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights.” And before then, as a state representative, Allen opposed a holiday commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Related: Here are some white people who said “nigger” on the Internet today.

Got any links to share? Hit us in the comments.

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Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs about race and ethnicity for National Public Radio. He is a native of South Philly and reads and writes and runs and rants. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to him on Facebook.

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5 comments to Your Tuesday Random-Ass Roundup: The Return of Baby Doc.

  • DanceHallKing

    Kevin Drum analyzes the latest takes on why our economic recovery is still jobless, and comes to a simple conclusion: the job market is bad because the recession was really, really bad. Also, I take issue with Nick Rowe’s assertion, highlighted in the post, that so many construction workers were laid off because their skills are general rather than specific, and they’ll be easy to replace. Rowe hasn’t, it seems, paid much attention to the increasing, and probably unnecessary, requirement that almost all construction workers these days have licenses that take some amount of college to require. (Monica)

    I’m in the constuction/ building trades (HVAC/R to be exact) and I can tell you that requiring licenses removes a lot of potential jackleg contractors out of circulation.

    • quadmoniker

      I don’t think requirements are entirely unnecessary, but that some of the processes probably are. For example, I like it better when people are getting on the job training and can get certificates through union programs at no cost to them, than I do when people have to go to community colleges and pay tuition.

      That said, my real point was that I don’t think Rowe’s assertion that a lot of construction jobs are “general skill” jobs with people who can be easily replaced with minimal training is correct.

  • GD: That’s not what the distinction between general vs firm-specific skills means.

    Firm-specific skills are skills that are only valuable at one specific employer. Things like learning who’s who in a particular firm.

    Brain surgeons (I think) have “general” skills in this sense, rather than firm-specific skills. Sure, pull some random person off the street, and they will not be able to do brain surgery. But take two brain surgeons, working at different hospitals, and they can swap jobs. They can do their jobs just as well at any hospital.

  • Paula

    I only skimmed the various articles and comments related to that DeBoer post, and I’m kind of with the faction that finds the complaint insubstantial. He seems to try to grapple with the (lack of) deep ideology among high-profile center-left bloggers but … he can’t seem to define what a better alternative would be like. He has buzzwords like anticapitalism and neoliberal but he doesn’t really acknowledge the historicity of these words … and ends up sounding as shallow as the people he criticizes.

    I don’t read DeBoer, though, so for all I know he could have articulated it in other posts.

    And, as always, no discussion of bloggers of color.

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