Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Honduras update

Here is another good summary of the Honduras situation with some historical perspective by Benjamin Dangl, editor of TowardFreedom.com.

On early Sunday morning, approximately 100 soldiers entered the home of the left-leaning [President Manuel] Zelaya, forcefully removed him and, while he was still in his pajamas, ushered him on to a plane to Costa Rica. The tension that led to the coup involved a struggle for power between left and right political factions in the country. Besides the brutal challenges facing the Honduran people, this political crisis is a test for regional solidarity and Washington-Latin American relations.

Monday, June 29, 2009


OK, so how worried should we be that the US, or elements from within the US, are behind the Sunday morning ouster of leftish Honduran President Manuel Zelaya?

This is not as much a stretch as it might seem at first glance. The US has a long history of engineering the overthrow of popularly elected left-leaning leaders in Latin America. Indeed, the Honduras coup calls to mind both the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende's Chile and the late-night kidnapping (as he described it) of Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. In the case of Chile, it was the Chilean military under Augusto Pinochet, supported by the US; in Haiti, it was the US's own military that spirited Aristide away in the hopes of making Haiti safe once again for US business interests.

But I digress. A good summary of the background to the Honduran coup can be found in this essay, by Latin American expert Nikolas Kozloff, who asks:
Are we to believe that the United States had no role in coordinating with Vasquez and the coup plotters? The U.S. has had longstanding military ties to the Honduran armed forces, particularly during the Contra War in Nicaragua during the 1980s. The White House, needless to say, has rejected claims that the U.S. played a role.
Meanwhile, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now has an interview with Honduran physician and human rights activist Juan Almendares and New York University professor of Latin American history Greg Grandin. Grandin says:
The Honduran military is effectively a subsidiary of the United States government. Honduras, as a whole, if any Latin American country is fully owned by the United States, it’s Honduras. Its economy is wholly based on trade, foreign aid and remittances. So if the US is opposed to this coup going forward, it won’t go forward. Zelaya will return, if the United States—if Obama and Hillary Clinton are sincere in their statements about returning Zelaya to power.
It should be pointed out that at least some of the military leaders of the coup were trained at the School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, Georgia, well-known as a training ground for thugs, torturers, murderers, and worse. Also, in the Democracy Now piece, Amy Goodman reports that the Venezuelan representative to the Organization of American States has charged that former US Undersecretary of State Otto Reich played a role of some kind; Reich has a long history of participation in such activities, some of which can be found in this report from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

It's too early to be certain that this was a US-sponsored ousting of a popular and populist elected leader; but it's never too early to be paranoid.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More evidence that Nixon was a sociopath- Part 2

And by the way, everything we have learned about Nixon suggests that it was a huge mistake for Ford to pardon him after he resigned, thus paving the way for him to become an elder statesman. He should have been indicted, tried, found guilty, and died in prison, preferably in that order but I'm not picky.

Ford's pardon of Nixon paved the road straight to our current reluctance to confront the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, Feith, González, Yoo, and the rest of the gang; we're still arguing about whether any of these thuggish goons should be held accountable for what they did over the last eight years. Without the precedent of Nixon walking away free and clear, the case would be easier to make.

More evidence that Nixon was a sociopath

In the newly-released tapes of conservations Richard Nixon had with various aides, celebrities, etc. in 1973, there's this bit taken from right after the Roe v. Wade decision:
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”
So, a "black" and "white" couple having a child was, in Nixon's twisted mind, equivalent to being raped and having a child. Or rather, the children so conceived were equally ill-begotten.

There must be more to say here, but I can't do it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Say what?

Yes, it's been a while. We are winding down the Summer A semester (today was my last class session) and the preceding six weeks have been somewhat hectic. But I'll try to take time to make a few comments about things people have said recently.

Here's "Newt" Gingrich, on June 9, reacting to President Barack Obama's self-characterization as a "citizen of the world":
"I am not a citizen of the world. I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous!"
Is a doctorate in history really this easy to obtain? As I suggested Monday in my class on peoples and cultures of the world, the Columbian Exchange, which began in the fall of 1492 when Christopher Columbus ran into the Americas on his way to Asia, made everyone a citizen of the world. Columbus set in motion the process we now refer to as globalization. He did this by bringing together the First Earth (Eurasia, Africa) and the Second Earth (the Americas), regions that had been substantially separated from each other for at least 10,000 years except for a minor incursion here and there (the Vikings in northeastern North America, for example). This set in motion a vast transfer of people, plants, animals, ideologies, and technologies between the two Earths, so that they became, in effect, one.

Consider sugar. Columbus brought sugar cane, a plant native to Papua New Guinea, which was already being grown and processed around the Mediterranean, with him to the Americas. It soon became far more important to the European merchant classes than the precious metals of Mexico and Perú. The profits made by European based corporations from the cultivation and processing of sugar cane by enslaved Africans working on plantations in the New World fueled the Industrial Revolution. In addition, the sugar plantation became the model for the developing factory mode of production; and, the machinery used on the plantations was the product of some of the earliest industrial factories.

We are all, like it or not, citizens of the world.

Moving on. Here's John McCain calling attention to the possibly questionable reelection of President Ahmadinejad in Iran on NBC's Today show, June 16:
"He should speak out that this is a corrupt, fraud, sham of an election. The Iranian people have been deprived of their rights."
Who remembers him saying anything like this about G. W. Bush's "election" in 2000 (or 2004, for that matter)? Hypocrisy, thy name is McCain. Enough said.

Moving further on, here's Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) bloviating over the Obama Administration's attempts to reform the way access to health care is provided here in the US:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Barack Obama's plan to include government-backed health insurance for the public is a "non-starter" for most Republicans considering health care reform.

Appearing on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, McConnell told host Bob Schieffer that Mr. Obama's plan for a government health insurance plan would essentially crowd out other insurers from the private market, eliminating competition.
McConnell makes me reluctant to admit that I was born in Kentucky. He wants access to health care to be determined by "competition" among mega-extortion agencies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, AvMed, and United Health. Folks without insurance can live or die, but the corporation must endure. What makes people like him think like this? Anthropologically, it's tempting, and probably not far off the mark, to chalk it up to US-style independence training and the culture of capitalism. But it's also emotionally tempting to just call McConnell and the others who think like him (and there are plenty) evil swine. Explanation does not always bring satisfaction.

Summing up, right-wingers in the US...
  • ... believe that Americans should think of themselves as totally insulated from the rest of the world;
  • ... can spot a rigged election thousands of miles away, but not in their own back yard;
  • ... want people to live or die for the profit of the "insurance" industry.
This is the thinking of psychotics and sociopaths.