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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The counter-revolution is being televised

MIchelle writes the post I thought about writing, trying to present both sides in the controversy over the non-renewal of the broadcast license of anti-Chavez TV station RCTV in Venezuela. WIIIAI has been pointing out, with some justification, that President Hugo Chavez has been acting a tad bit dictatorial. Here is part of a comment I left at WIIIAI:
This is the Venezuelan government's defense of the actions taken against RCTV. I can only add that when I was in Caracas in 2004, the vociferous opposition of the mainstream media to the government was far beyond anything I've ever seen in any other country (especially this one). If there were a scale for anti-government sentiment in media, with the NY Times being a 1, the WIIIAI blog being a 5, and the John Wilkes Booth newsletter "Sic Temper Tyrannis" being a 10, the major TV stations and newspapers in Caracas would be about a 15. That they are being used and supported by the Bushies as a tool for regime change in Venezuela seems a near certainty.

Obviously I can't defend all the actions of Hugo Chavez. I do strongly suspect that the very real attempts to overthrow him coming from Washington have caused him to act in a more dictatorial fashion than he would have otherwise, as has been the case with Castro. People really are out to get them.
But, while WIIIAI, the Venezuelan Information Office, Michelle and I have reading about what's going on, Jeopardy champ and best traveloguer ever Bob Harris has been WATCHING it.

What you don't know can kill you

Read IOZ's post about how the abysmal state of American "education," leaving almost everybody behind when it comes to understanding world affairs, makes Bush wars possible. Be sure to read Justin's comment as well. His reaction to 9/11 was almost identical to mine:
I have been reading about 100 books a year, primarily on history and politics, since 9/11 so I am thankfully not that ignorant anymore. (Or so I think.) The only difference between me and what you are describing is that my reaction to 9/11 was to try and understand the world through self education rather than to punch a stranger. I remember that I didn't know exactly why I knew, but I knew that what I was hearing in the media and from our politicians was mostly bulls**t.
Although I can tell you exactly how I knew--it was when W said "you're either with us or with the terrorists." That was such a rude, obnoxious, mind-closing statement that I knew without a doubt that his purposes were evil.

I remember going to Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks after 9/11, intending to buy a book about Afghanistan. I expected there would be a table or endcap display somewhere, but there was nothing. Finally, I asked a clerk, and he said "Why would you want a book about Afghanistan?" "Well, we're about to go to war with Afghanistan, I thought it might be worthwhile to know something about it." He shrugged and found me the only copy of the only book they had in the store on Afghanistan. Apparently I was the first to ask.

And IOZ's point about how high-school history classes hardly ever come anywhere near the present is right on target. A teenager who doesn't know that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were both US allies in the 1980's is in no position to make the life-threatening decision to enlist in the "war on terror." His knowledge of "pilgrims" and the like, much of which is probably pure BS (as I'm learning reading Charles C. Mann's 1491) serves him not at all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

While much of America is pretending to remember the "fallen heroes" of our various and nefarious imperial wars by burning hot dogs and fossil fuels, I suggest we remember why there are SO MANY "fallen heroes" to remember--mainly that our "democracy" has repeatedly produced "leaders" who start criminal wars for political and financial gain. Strangely, it has often been high-ranking officers involved in those wars who have been the ones to blow the whistle, albeit usually decades too late, on the criminal motives of the politicians. Like me, you're probably aware of the quotes from Generals Smedley Butler and Dwight Eisenhower. But until today, I'd never read anything from Gen. U.S. Grant. Chris Floyd has these excerpts from Grant's memoirs:
For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure [the annexation of Texas], and to this day regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
Texas was originally a state belonging to the republic of Mexico.... An empire in territory, it had but a very sparse population, until settled by Americans who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. These colonists paid very little attention to the supreme government, and introduced slavery into the state almost from the start, though the constitution of Mexico did not, nor does it now, sanction that institution. Soon they set up an independent government of their own [and won independence after a war with Mexico]. Before long, however, these same people -- who with permission of Mexico had colonized Texas, and afterwards set up slavery there, and then seceded as soon as they felt strong enough to do so -- offered themselves and the State to the United States, and in 1845, their offer was accepted. The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.
Grant himself was a part of the troops sent to the "disputed" border region between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers, much as our three carrier groups in the Persian Gulf are today:
We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico should commence it. It was very doubtful that Congress would declare war; but if Mexico should attack our troops, the Executive could announce, "Whereas, war exists by the acts of, etc." and prosecute the contest with vigor. Once initiated, there were but few public men who would have the courage to oppose it.
The Mexican war was a political war, and the Administration conducting it desired to make party capital out of it.
I, of course, believe that the current Iraq war was and continues to be a huge crime, and have criticized and protested against it since before it started. But anyone protesting it who claims that it was unprecedented--that the US had never before started a war of aggression--clearly knows nothing of the history of the Mexican war (or the Spanish-American war, or the Vietnam war).

So, this Memorial Day, take a break from remembering their "sacrifice," and instead remember who sacrificed them and why. And ask yourself--why was Texas admitted to the Union...twice???

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Jonathan Schwarz compares Hillary to Cheney and Saddam Hussein

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Olbermann on the Dumbocrats sellout

Video here.

From Tom Toles.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quote du jour

"It didn't make any sense to impose the will of politicians over the recommendations of our military commanders in the field." -- George W. Bush

Unless, of course, your form of government is democratic. In a military dictatorship, Bush is right.