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Archive for March, 2010

Honduran dictatorship, day 64

Posted by Charles II on March 31, 2010

A few more links to update the approximately weekly post:

Journalist José Alemán , a correspondent for Radio America and Tiempo collaborator, has fled Honduras after being attacked by two men. They entered his apartment, firing wildly. Not finding him in, they stalked him on the street. The police told him they couldn’t provide any security.

Peter Lackowski (Upside Down World) reports that Rafael Alegria says that on June 28th, the Resistance is going to “hold a great poll of our people which is going to express our judgment… in favor of a democratic and participatory constitutional constituent assembly in our country,”

Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrenshas has a review in NACLA of developments this year. The role of the US is most clearly seen in how it has financially sustained the bankrupt dictatorship:

On March 9, the International Monetary Fund recognized Porfirio Lobo’s regime, releasing $160 million in loans that had been frozen following the coup and providing an additional $90 million in new loans. The IMF is directing a mission to Honduras to evaluate the economy and will conclude its work on March 25. The World Bank had already recognized the Lobo government in February, restoring $270 million in loans and providing an additional $120 million in new loans. The Inter-American Development Bank was the last hold out. It restored lending just a few days ago, on March 16.

Revistazo reports that a group of businessmen warned a Congressman, Juan Orlando Hernández, that they had overthrown one president and could do the same to Lobo. He passed this on to the president and both of them took it, not surprisingly, as a threat.

Honduras Solidarity features a piece by Dr. Juan Almendares about the Military-Mining-Agroindustrial complex. He sees a connection between the militarization of the war on drugs, the growth of agribusiness as small farmers are displaced from their land, and the use of food as a means of controlling populations.

A young teacher, Denia Mejia, has received death threats and rape threats of a significant enough nature that the case has been taken on by Defensores en Linea. Her apartment was searched and sacked, and a laptop and camera stolen.

Eleven labor leaders were released from what is euphemistically called “preventive detention” (more honestly called “state-sponsored kidnapping”). They will have to sign in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but will face judgment as free people.

Breny Mendoza asks a very good question: what is so important about tiny Honduras that the US has staked so much on suffocating democracy there? Was it over tilapia, of which Honduras is the second-largest exporter to the US?

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | Comments Off on Honduran dictatorship, day 64

The Banana Republicans

Posted by Charles II on March 31, 2010

Bob Parry has an interesting piece on how the GOP has turned a propaganda apparatus used to destabilize Latin American countries against the US:

Having covered CIA destabilization campaigns in Third World countries, particularly Nicaragua, I was struck by the similarities [to the assault on Clinton]. In the 1980s, the Reagan-Bush-41 administrations destroyed Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista revolution by systematically making the country ungovernable via a combination of economic dislocations, political/media propaganda, and paramilitary activities.

Finally, in 1990, Nicaraguan voters – faced with a choice of electing the U.S.-financed candidate Violeta Chamorro or suffering a continued U.S. economic embargo and a resumption of attacks by U.S.-supported contra rebels – opted to accede to Washington’s desires and voted for Chamorro.

By the second year of the Clinton administration, it seemed something similar was occurring in the United States, in part, because the Reagan-Bush-41 administrations had left behind not only a capacity for “information warfare” in the Third World but a domestic version of that propaganda infrastructure.

Documentary evidence from Reagan’s presidential library now shows that the overseas and domestic propaganda machines were built simultaneously as Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey recruited conservative foundation executives like Richard Mellon Scaife to help finance these activities.

Casey also put a senior CIA propagandist, Walter Raymond Jr., into Reagan’s National Security Council to create an inter-agency propaganda bureaucracy and to oversee its operation. [See’s “How Reagan’s Propaganda Succeeded.”]

Another major accomplishment of the Reagan administration was the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy, which on the surface was intended to finance pro-U.S. political/media entities around the globe.

But NED had another side. Since many of the NED-funded organizations were based in Washington – and since the NED bureaucracy was dominated by neoconservatives – NED, in effect, became a permanent funding mechanism for the neocon community in the U.S. capital.

Ironically, NED, which currently has a $100 million annual budget, may have done more to influence the course of the United States than any of the countries it has targeted for “democratization.” NED funding explains why Washington’s neocons have remained so influential despite their involvement in so many policy disasters, such as the Iraq War.

Even when the neocons find themselves adrift during brief periods out of power, many of them remain afloat with the help of NED grant money. They can hang onto a financial life-preserver tossed from some institute that benefits from the federal funding.

That way, the neocons can continue writing op-eds and books, while weighing in on TV talk shows and at conferences that shape U.S. government policies.

These political/media mechanisms dating back to the Reagan years may have been originally designed to protect the political flanks of a Republican administration, but it turned out they could be put to use just as effectively for offense as for defense.

Let’s see…
economic dislocations: check
political/media propaganda: check
paramilitary activities: check

Posted in Latin America, propaganda, Republicans acting badly, terrorism, totalitarianism | 3 Comments »

My Hypocrisy Meter Just Exploded

Posted by MEC on March 31, 2010

Every Republican in Congress voted against the health insurance reform bill. Every one of them, both houses, without exception.

Immediately upon passage, the Republicans began clamoring for repeal. Republican state attorneys general filed suit to stop it.


John Cornyn is advising Republican Senate candidates to claim the credit for health care reform.

Posted in Republicans acting badly | 3 Comments »

Reality costs $50 extra

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2010

Greg Sargent tells us of the Michele Bachmann chronicles. Today’s installment, courtesy of Steve Benen, as reported in Politics Daily:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told a crowd at a Duluth, Minn., rally over the weekend that there is no evidence that several black lawmakers were harassed by conservative protesters on Capitol Hill in the days leading up to the health care reform vote.

Black lawmakers, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), reported that they had been spat on and slurred by protesters demonstrating against the health reform bill last week.

“Democrats said that they were called the ‘N word,’ which of course would be wrong and inappropriate. But no one has any record of it. No witness saw it, it’s not on camera, it’s not on audio,” she said. “They said that they were spat upon. No one saw it.”

She went on, “There’s a $10,000 reward right now for anyone who can produce a video or an audio. Don’t you think we would have seen a video or an audio by now if there was something out there?”

Just give your money to Tarryl Clark. All of it. Now.

Posted in Michele Bachmann, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans, Tarryl Clark | 4 Comments »

Juan Cole On The Hutaree Terrorists

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 30, 2010

Professor Cole notes that the Nice White Conservative Christians that no one dares call “terrorists” espouse tactics similar to those of the Mahdi Army.

Posted in terrorism, theocrats | 7 Comments »

Could Someone Please Explain…

Posted by MEC on March 29, 2010

… why the “Christian” militia members who were arrested this weekend for plotting to kill law-enforcement officers in order to spark an uprising against the U.S. government are not considered terrorists?

The federal indictment [PDF file] cites five charges against them, including “attempt to use weapons of mass destruction”, but does not mention “terrorist” or “terrorism”.

Is it because they’re grossly distorting the teachings of the Bible, not the Koran?

Posted in terrorism, theocrats | 12 Comments »

Mary LaHammer’s Selective Gatekeeping

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 29, 2010

Mary LaHammer, whose TPT show is tasked with allegedly covering events at Minnesota’s State Capitol, is getting all dog-in-the-manger about the presence of The UpTake in the Capitol’s press corps. Per Politics In Minnesota’s Sarah Janacek (who by the way is a hardcore Republican operative best known for falsely claiming that closed-captioned TVs were being used as “applause signs” at Williams Arena during the Wellstone memorial event):

TPT’s political reporter and “Almanac at the Capitol” host Mary LaHammer confirms that TPT also has concerns about The Uptake’s presence in the press room, noting that TPT is “zealous” about anyone or any organization using any TPT resources for partisan purposes, because of the public television company’s nonprofit status.

Funnily enough, neither Mary LaHammer nor TPT seem to have ever had any problems with Michael Brodkorb, who was a paid Republican activist and blogger even as he pretended to be just some guy who just happened to have a couple of blogs that served as conduits for Republican oppo attacks on Democrats. (Brodkorb now works as a Deputy Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.)

Neither does she have a problem with pushing baseless anti-Democratic smears, as MNPublius’ Zack Stephenson pointed out in October of 2008.

Maybe instead of trying to get The UpTake banished from the press pool for being too “partisan”, she could perhaps stop being such an easy mark for Republican smear merchants. Or is that too much to ask?

Posted in IOKIYAR, media, Media machine, Minnesota | Comments Off on Mary LaHammer’s Selective Gatekeeping

The Neo-Confederates Ride Again!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 28, 2010

As many of you no doubt know, Patrick McHenry (R-NC) wants to replace Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 with Ronald Reagan — an idea that even McHenry’s fellow Tarheels aren’t too thrilled about.

But McHenry — whose main claim to fame before this was as being like fellow conservative Republican David Dreier in that he was effectively outed as gay, then effectively un-outed in a mass forgetting process that only seems to exist for conservative Republicans — isn’t just trying to honor the man who may have been our worst president ever.

Here’s a test: Ask Rep. McHenry why we shouldn’t replace Andrew Jackson or Alexander Hamilton with Ronald Reagan. Dollars to doughnuts, he’ll react like a vampire in a tanning booth.

The deal here is that this is a twofer: McHenry and his buddies are using Reagan to attack Grant.

You know, the guy who kicked Jeff Davis’ ass?

The guy whose armies freed the slaves?

The guy who, when he became president, did more for the civil rights of African-Americans than any other president from Lincoln to LBJ?

The guy whose memory in general (and presidential tenure in particular) has been systematically trashed by generations of Confederate-sympathetic historians, who emphasized the corruption of some of Grant’s associates whilst ignoring the far greater corruption of the Gilded Age presidents that followed him?

Now you know why McHenry’s doing what he’s doing.

Posted in conservativism, racism, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Honduran dictatorship, day 61

Posted by Charles II on March 28, 2010

First, this amazing news: [corrected, thanks to Alfredo]

The Central American Parliament (Parlacen) has been caught up in the political confrontation in Honduras between Manuel Zelaya, the president who was ousted on Jun. 28, and the leader of the coup government, Roberto Micheletti, because the regional body is having a hard time deciding which of the two it should accept as a member.

There has been more violence since this series was last updated, and again Adrienne Pine has been one of the few English-language sources on the Net to aggregate the events.

Via Adrienne as translator, a report on Vos from Cesar Silva, “This morning journalists José Bayardo Mairena Ramírez and Manuel Juárez were murdered, killed by numerous [60] gunshots. The murders took place in the department of Olancho, on the highway to the city of Juticalpa….Reporter José Bayardo Mairena Martínez worked in the local Canal 4 and was considered one of the most hard-hitting journalists in the region of Olancho department, who strongly questioned the coup d’etat carried out June 28, 2009. He also had systematically denounced the constant human rights violations carried out by the army and police against citizens in resistance on the radio station in Olancho where he worked. For his part, journalist Manuel Juárez, who worked at Radio Excélsior and Canal 4, also had strongly criticized the violent acts going on in the country.”

The slaughter of journalists is so prevalent that even the AP has taken brief notice (not mentioning that all these murders are probably by the government).

In addition, Silva says:

The executive board of the labor union of the workers at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) were arbitrarily arrested on the afternoon of Thursday, March 25th and immediately sent to prison with their hands and feet cuffed like terrifying criminals.

The union leaders, 16 in all, are accused of the crime of sedition. Of those, 11 were jailed. Five of those were given house arrest on account of their advanced age, and the other six were sent to prison. The remaining five have gone into hiding to escape capture.

The individuals under arrest include the union president René Andino, and Orbelina Zúñiga Gutiérrez, Óscar Orlando Salgado and Marco Antonio Moreno.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | 3 Comments »

The rest of the story on the Tea Partier who threw dollar bills at a Parkinson’s patient

Posted by Charles II on March 27, 2010

At MercRising, we try to follow stories over the longer term, to gain some understanding of what they really mean, to make corrections where necessary, or to admit error. Southern Beale brought to my attention the following story which helps to advance our understanding of the story about the man at a Tea Party rally who threw dollar bills at a counter-protestor who had Parkinson’s.

The man who berated and tossed dollar bills at a man with Parkinson’s disease during a health care protest last week says he is remorseful and scared.

“I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can’t explain it any other way,” said Chris Reichert of Victorian Village, in a Dispatch interview.

In his first comments on an incident that went viral across the Internet and was repeatedly played on cable television news shows, Reichert said he is sorry about his confrontation with Robert A. Letcher, 60, of the North Side. Letcher, a former nuclear engineer who suffers from Parkinson’s, was verbally attacked as he sat before anti-health care demonstrators in front of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s district office last week.

“He’s got every right to do what he did and some may say I did too, but what I did was shameful,” Reichert said. “I haven’t slept since that day.”

“I made a donation (to a local Parkinson’s disease group) and that starts the healing process.”…

He said he’s fearful for his family after reading comments about his actions on the Internet.

“I’ve been looking at the web sites,” he said. “People are hunting for me.”…

“That was my first time at any political rally and I’m never going to another one,” Reichert said.

I would predict that people are not hunting for him, and will forget about him in short order. But one value of a follow-up like this is to urge people to calm down and understand that behind the vicious act, there was a human being.

As I commented to Southern Beale, anger is a drug. We have lots of addicts, and lots of dope peddlers on hate radio. (There are some on the left, though thankfully far fewer than there are on the right). Reichert is like the man who gets drunk, wakes up in the morning, and is ashamed of himself. Don’t be too sorry for him until he’s sober for a few years.

Southern Beale’s post is worth reading, because it describes two other examples of Road Rage, but what more aptly be called Right-Rage.

For people who follow history, this is best understood as a political phenomenon. The right usually uses hate as a means of intimidating or killing the opposition. Anyone who followed Honduras last year and this can see how hatred of communists, gays, indigenous people, and the poor is used to mobilize supporters to mass violence. On the left, the Gang of Four and Pol Pot’s people also did this.

Posted in conservativism, GOP bullying | 6 Comments »

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