Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for June 22nd, 2010

Honduran Dictatorship, Day 155

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2010

I’ve been unable to even post as often as once a week. Here’s a very minimal survey of what’s out there, really just a summary of the two blogs doing the heavy lifting, Quotha and Honduras Culture and Politics.

Adrienne translates a piece by Giorgio Trucchi appearing at Nicaragua y Mas but originally from here. The basic message is that the repression has continued unabated, with 12 murders, according to Berta Oliva of COFADEH (human rights group), having been committed by the Lobo government. The dictatorship has polished its skills in brutality, she says.

Adrienne also has a lengthy post on the complexities within the resistance. Not unlike the United States, there’s an awkward relationship between the poor and wealthy liberals. As is shown on a sign advertising phone service, the poor are valued as marketing emblems and also as proof that wealthy liberals are part of an oppressed class, since they are with the poor in the resistance, just not in the cheap seats. The wealthy liberals want to treat Mel Zelaya as the leader of the resistance, even though much of the resistance did not support him in his campaign for president and regards the real leaders of the resistance to be union leaders, farm leaders, etc. And, of course, very few of the coupistas are oligarchs– most are average people like the resistance, though their jobs may depend very closely on obeying the oligarchs. RAJ has comments on and a translation of Zelaya’s recent letter to the resistance that also gives a sense of the problem of centering the resistance movement around Zelaya vs. recognizing Zelaya as a mainstream founder of the movement.

Laura Flanders did an interview with Greg Grandin in which she showed excerpts of the new documentary on Honduras by Katia Lara. She also mentioned, in discussing a strike in Colombia, that BP has had 9,000 people executed (I would guess this is worldwide) to bust union organizing.

Adrienne has a memo from Radio Globo telling journalists not to insult the station’s sponsors…. like, for example, oligarch Miguel Facussé. That would be the same oligarch under whose general orders police have just killed another 16 year old boy, Oscar Geovanny Ramirez and arrested five others in the dispute in Bajo Aguan. (originally from Dina Meza of Defensores en Linea). Freedom of speech, you see, is not free.

It has been especially expensive for reporters. As RAJ documents here and here, the murder rate of journalists in 2010 is approximately 60 times higher than the average of the preceding 19 years, i.e., from 1993-2009, there were 5 murders, while there have been nine in the first half of 2010. By contrast, the prevalence of murder is up 9% since 2008.

One hundred Hondurans have sought asylum in Spain, and their requests are being processed, according to El Libertador, supposedly from Tiempo. Jonathan Ponce fled after his partner was tortured and murdered. A great deal of the repression is targeted against associates of Zelaya and his cabinet. The nephew of Minister Arcadia Gomez and Zelaya collaborator and director of the Sustainable Rural Development program Luis Roland Valenzuela are examples listed by El Lib.

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | 2 Comments »

Funny How CBS Radio News Didn’t Mention This

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 22, 2010

Seems that Martin Feldman, the judge who just overturned Obama’s six-month drilling moratorium in a “curious” (to put it mildly) court decision, has Transocean stock in his portfolio.

Can you say “conflict of interest”, kiddies?

I knew you could.

Posted in Oil | Comments Off on Funny How CBS Radio News Didn’t Mention This

Biden Was Right, McChrystal Was Wrong

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 22, 2010

As Emptywheel points out, that’s what people should be taking away from the latest events in Afghanistan, not McChrissy’s little temper tantrums:

As the story shows, McChrystal has always been a barely-contained insubordinate man, whether as a cadet or a general. His brilliance, and his cultivated mystique, has always succeeded in excusing gross errors like the Pat Tillman coverup and the Camp Nama torture. He has always succeeded in–as he himself points out in the article–ordering Special Ops guys to kill many targets but then publicly scolding them the next day so as to maintain the fiction that he’s really supporting a less lethal strategy.

This mystique relies on precisely the kind of bravado that would lead an aide to share really damning comments about Joe Biden. It’s the verbal ass-kicking that makes Stanley McChrystal who he is.

But, at least according to this story, it doesn’t necessarily work with the guys on the front lines, and it doesn’t do a damn bit of good with an old Washington guy like Biden with decades of expertise on the region.

This article appears to be a McChrystal-led effort to shore up his tough guy cred. But the actual content of the story shows that tough guy cred won’t win you a war in Afghanistan.

Hell, I’ve half a mind to wonder if McChrystal staged his temper tantrum just so he could get fired and then spend the rest of his doing to Obama what MacArthur did to Truman — namely, blame him for failures of his own making.

Posted in abuse of power, Afghanistan | 11 Comments »

An economy of words

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2010

Atrios is well known for expressing things concisely, effectively, and with dry humor. But this is one for the ages:

I frequently see intelligent people taking the whole COIN [counterinsurgency] thing very seriously, if with skepticism about its chances for success. Maybe I’m an idiot, but to me it always just sounds like “kill all the people who want us to leave and then we can finally go.”

Atrios is no idiot.

Posted in Afghanistan, humor, Iraq war | 1 Comment »

Alan Simpson Gives The Game Away: We’re All “Lesser People”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 22, 2010

Just as Michael Steele touched off a huge furore when he admitted that the Southern Strategy, far from being something only Richard Nixon used, has been part of the Republican bag of tricks for four decades, Alan Simpson has sent his fellow Catfood Conspirators scrambling for cover as they fall over themselves trying to disavow his blunt statements concerning the Catfood — erm, Deficit Commission’s true goals:

By the way, the stuff Simpson’s spewing, particularly about the worker-to-retiree ratio, has already been debunked to a fare-thee-well. Here’s one debunking:

Myth: Social Security is a victim of the aging baby boom, reflected in the ratio of workers to retirees, which used to be 16 to 1, is now 3 to 1, and in 2030, will be 2 to 1.

Reality: Today’s projected deficit has nothing to do with the size of the baby boom or worker to retiree ratios. The 16 to 1 ratio is a meaningless factoid, plucked from 1950, a year when Social Security was expanded to cover millions of new workers. The ratio never influenced policy in the slightest. It is the kind of ratio experienced by all pension plans, public and private at the start when few workers have yet qualified for benefits; the 2 to 1 ratio is meaningful and does translate into higher costs, but those costs were addressed decades ago. Congress has enacted ten significant Social Security bills since 1950. Every enactment has taken into account the baby boom, and each has left the program in long-run actuarial balance. The most recent enactment was in 1983, when the program was in balance through 2057 – the year the youngest boomers, those born in 1964, will turn 93. How social security went from a projected surplus through 2057, when most of the baby boom will be dead, to today’s projected deficit involves a number of factors, mainly related to changes in assumptions about wage growth, productivity and disability rates. The change from surplus to deficit is totally unrelated to the number of baby boomers, as one would surmise. After all, no new baby boomers have been born since 1983.

Remember, Simpson comes by his upper-class arrogance honestly: He’s the spoiled-brat son of a former governor and senator, not the hard-bitten self-made man he’s implied to be. And his own son, Colin, is the Republican Speaker of the Wyoming House.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, deficit, propaganda, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples, safety net, Silly Republicans, Silver Spoon Squad, Social Security | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

South of the Border

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2010

There are very few means for Americans to get a glimpse into the reality occurring in Latin America. Oliver Stone has produced a film called “South of the Border” that gives some insight not only into that reality, but into how the American media have completely misled our understanding of what’s going on. Now, what is going on in Latin America is too complex for a guy like Stone to capture. By necessity, given the time constraints of the medium, he sketches in black and white. There’s a lot of gray.

At any rate, here is an excerpt of a longer interview of him and co-worker Tariq Ali on his new movie:

AMY GOODMAN: That was Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Oliver Stone, talk about how the US media portrays Chávez.

OLIVER STONE: Well, all you have to do is go to YouTube, and you’ll see. I mean, we put in the movie, it’s hysterical and outrageous. And by the way, mainstream—Washington Post, New York Times—it’s awful. I mean, it’s almost as if the New York Times guy—Simon Romero is his name—he sits there for years, and he’s a sniper. He doesn’t say one positive thing. It’s like every week or two he has to file his story, make it negative. It seems like that’s a directive. And he goes out—I mean, you read this stuff. All of it—and he never goes to the other side. He never gets the other side of the story. And he gets very complex little incidents, and he builds it up into this madhouse. It seems like it’s Chile again, like Allende. It’s like the economy is crashing. And the contrary is true. I mean, it’s a very rich country. It’s a regional power. It’s got, apparently, $500 billion—5,000 billion barrels of oil in reserve. It’s a major player for the rest of our time on earth, as long as we go with oil. You know, they’re not going to go away. So, Brazil and Venezuela.

And that raises a whole interesting thing about what recently happened in Iran, you know, when Lula from Brazil went over there with Turkey, Erdogan. That was a very interesting moment for me and for Tariq, because I grew up in the ’50s, so did he, and we remember the neutral bloc, remember the—remember Nehru and Nasser and Sukarno and fellow in Cambodia.

TARIQ ALI: Sihanouk

OLIVER STONE: Sihanouk. I mean, there was a bloc of people who used to say, “Hey, this is what we want. This is not what the United States wants.” And they were a mediator, a third rail between the Soviets and us. That’s gone in the world, and people don’t seem to realize it who are growing up. So when Lula did that, I couldn’t believe the outrage by people like Tom Friedman attacking him. And it was disgusting, I thought, really disgusting, because he never presented the point of view of Brazil and Turkey, which are major countries, huge powers, regional powers.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the New York Times, of course, before that trip, was blasting the possibility of Lula being able to negotiate any kind of arrangement and basically saying he was naive, he was out of his league. And Tariq, your response? The impact of that deal that was brokered by Turkey and—

TARIQ ALI: Look, I mean, everyone was surprised in the West, that how dare these countries have the nerve to go over our heads and negotiate an independent deal with Iran. But this is what the world once used to be like. No one accepted US hegemony unquestioningly, as many of the Security Council members do. The other point is that Brazil was very courageous to do this, Lula particularly, because Brazil has been trying to get a Security—permanent Security Council seat for a long time, and they’ve now jeopardized that process. They will never be allowed it. So they did it for good principled reasons, showing the world Iran is prepared to do a deal; it’s you who don’t want to do it, because you’re permanently under pressure from Israel.

This is what we’re seeing emerge from US weakness: a new, non-aligned bloc.

Posted in Brazil, Iran, Latin America, Turkey, world news | 4 Comments »

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