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What, If Anything, Are Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba Up To?

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There have been a few news articles recently concerning the possible use of Cuban and Venezuelan territory for the construction of Russian military bases. The New York Times noted:

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said his country would be willing to host Russian bases there, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. “Russia has enough resources to secure its presence in different parts of the world. If Russian armed forces would like to be present in Venezuela, they will be welcomed warmly,” Mr. Chávez told reporters on Tuesday, in response to a question about whether Russia could put bases in Venezuela. “We will raise flags, beat drums and sing songs, because our allies will come, with whom we have a common worldview,” said Mr. Chávez, who was in Moscow for talks with President Dmitri A. Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

According to an article by the Chinese news agency, Xinhua, which cites Reuters: the offer of a "warm welcome" was made in response to a question from a journalist at a press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Both of the Cuban and Venezuelan stories broke just about contemporaneously. In the Chinese press article linked above, President Chavez has denied that the reported offer was made: he said,

Such media reports were absolutely "false," Chavez told a joint press conference with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates after they met at the Sao Bento Place in the Portuguese capital, their third meeting in less than a year.

Chavez said he was the victim of a "media war" plotted by the West, noting his reported pledge to Russian leaders to allow Russia to establish military bases on Venezuelan territory was a rumor designed to show the world a "provocative Chavez, a violent Chavez."

"But the Venezuelan people only want peace and justice," he said.

It is not clear that Cuba actually made a similar offer, although it was reported that Russia is considering the establishment of military bases in Cuba.

Russia is considering the use of bases in Cuba for its nuclear bombers, in a move that revives memories of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, according to reports in a Russian newspaper.

Russian military sources said that Moscow is contemplating using Cuba as a refuelling base for its nuclear-bomb carrying aircraft. The move would be in retaliation for the Bush administration's plan to site a missile defense shield in Europe. . . . Russia today officially denied the report but the fact that it had appeared in a newspaper so closely affiliated with the Kremlin encouraged observers to take it seriously – if only as a way of showing Russia's anger at the US missile shield. . . . "Russia, guided by its peaceful policy, is not creating military bases at the borders of other states," Russian news agencies quoted Ilshat Baichurin, acting head of the Russian defense ministry's information department, as saying.

It would seem strange for the Russian press to raise such a possibility without prior governmental consultation with Cuba. Fidel Castro, in a cryptic statement, praised his brother, Raul, for maintaining a dignified silence but neither confirmed nor denied the reports. U.S. General Schwartz commented,

Russia would cross "a red line for the United States of America" if it were to base nuclear capable bombers in Cuba, a top US air force officer warned on Tuesday.
"If they did I think we should stand strong and indicate that is something that crosses a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States of America," said General Norton Schwartz, nominated to be the air force's chief of staff.

Why have Venezuela and Cuba made such offers, if they have actually done so? What's in it for them, and what could Russia gain? Although I certainly don't have the answers, I do find it interesting to speculate.

Is this just a bit of ambient noise, or something more serious? Is the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant) cabal conspiring with Russia, Cuba and Venezuela to give Senator McCain a campaign issue? That seems to be a thought well deserving of consideration; for the trash bin.

Facially, it all seems more like background noise. Russia has about as much strategic or even tactical need for a bomber base, a bomber refueling base or other military base in Cuba, or for that matter in Venezuela, as it has for a cavalry regiment mounted on cement bicycles. A nuclear attack by Russian bombers launched from Cuba could, most likely, be dealt with by the U.S. much more effectively than a missile attack launched from within Russian territory. At the first hint, via satellite photos or otherwise, of a Russian bomber presence in Cuba, the U.S. would almost certainly have a pretty good jet fighter force ready to shoot them down or turn them away should they invade U.S. air space. At least, I hope so. The Russian missiles based in Cuba in the early 1960's were seen pretty quickly during U-2 overflights, and one hopes that U.S. satellite technology is far better now. Even the free version of Google Earth provides some very clear close up, but dated, satellite photos of Cuba. A bomber attack launched from Venezuela would be even less likely to succeed. Either would almost certainly spark a war such as the world has never before seen. It does not seem likely that Russia would like that, or that it would initiate it; Iran, maybe, but Russia has too much to lose and so does the U.S. So, for that matter, do even Venezuela and Cuba.

Venezuela's President Chavez certainly has a big mouth, from the exercise of which he seems to derive nearly orgasmic pleasure. By comparison, even "the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant)" seems to be a restrained, diplomatic statesman. So, once upon a time, did Fidel Castro have a tendency toward orgasmic articulation, but he is now pretty much suffering from political ED.

The only decent explanation of which I can think for these offers coming from Venezuela and Cuba — if they indeed came from there — is that they are strictly for domestic consumption or, perhaps, for consideration by each other — in fact, the latter possibility strikes me as significant.

Chavez seems to become less idolized in Venezuela as each day passes, particularly each day with government policy-induced shortages of basic food. The rate of inflation in Venezuela is the highest in Latin America, globally second only to Zimbabwe. The inflation rate for the first six months of 2008 was 15.1 percent; if continued, that's more than 30 percent for the year. The inability of President Chavez to strut mightily on the Venezuelan stage is becoming more evident, and the opposition parties now have the best chance in many years of kicking him out of power. After his Colombian fiasco, he needs to do something; problem is, he doesn't seem to know what "something" will help him.

Fidel Castro is very ill, and his brother, Raul, now President at 77 years old (almost six years older than Senator McCain), ain't no Fidel. The Cuban economy is nearly as bad as that of Venezuela, upon which it is highly dependent. What will happen when the more pragmatic Raul passes on to join Fidel in the great Socialist Paradise in the Sky? Could the offers, if such they were, have been directed at maintaining the Cuban dependence on Venezuela, or perhaps hinting to Venezuela that Cuba may have less need for her in the future? Overtures to Russia, timed to coincide with those of Venezuela, just might be a way of getting such a hint across; and not only to Venezuela and Russia. This scenario, I submit, bears watching; perhaps it is something of which the U.S. may be able to take advantage, sooner rather than later.

It may well be just a minor domestic thing which has little to do with the U.S. But the coincidence, if such it was, that these events surfaced at about the same time, on or about 24 July 2008, interests, worries and maybe even encourages me just a little bit.

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About Dan Miller

  • Vovka

    I believe that Russia should absolutely have a base in Cuba and Venezuela, and it probably will once the air carrier group is built (6-7 air carriers by 2012 ?). This will cool down some heads in the US and make them look into own backyard rather than seeking lunatic expeditions towards the Eastern Europe, Georgia, Ukraine etc. Once again, the balance of power will be restored. This time it’s not an ideology but rather a reasonable system of checks and balances, where no power no matter how “good” (oh, please) is capable of imposing its will upon the others. Russia has too many economic interests to protect these days.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Perhaps this is part of a plot to make Obama seem even MORE like Jack Kennedy.

    And Vovka, you’re completely insane. You don’t make more peace through even more militaristic posturing.

    Dave

  • http://winthrop360.blogspot.com colleen

    Russia will not station bombers in Cuba due to impracticality, although expect it to cooperate more with Cuba, and Latin America in general, socioeconomically

  • Condor

    This resounds like the sage advice to “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

    Chavez is a clown, albeit a semi-dangerous one. Dan is correct in his statements regarding the economy of Chavezland. Once the good people under his regime have had enough, they will respond unkindly toward their fearless leader.

  • Clavos

    “Russia will not station bombers in Cuba due to impracticality, although expect it to cooperate more with Cuba…”

    A few years ago, the Soviet Union was “cooperating more” with Cuba, subsidizing its nonexistent “economy” to the tune of over $2 billion a year. When the Union broke up, Russia dropped the subsidy.

    A few years ago, Chavez of Venezuela picked it up, has sent Cuba more than $2 billion so far, and the Cuban economy is still moribund.

  • Richard

    Hugo chavez has no other aliances he can seek. So he leans towards Russia looking for support as a
    natural ally against USA of times gone by. So,
    instead of investing the oil windfall in technology and productive enterprizes, he spends it on creating acolytes for his same cause. (which is the poor of the world) Actually good cause, wrong approach. He has a following mainly because USA has turned against their own working class. They use to have an egalitarian bound society, first when they first instituted an egalitarian constitution and lived by it, lost 100 years later with the monopolistic robber barons, and then brought back with the egalitarian Rosevelt. Upto and including Einsenhour, Kennedy and Johson, it was thus. Starting from Nixon passing through Regan and the Bushes, it has become a class society where the upper class is created to be a permanent leisure class for generations to come, just like the monarchies of yesteryear of Europe which our revolution sought to eliminate. The modern day Republicans are the royalty of Europe’s yesterday.

  • Vovka

    The question is not in Cuba or Venezuela. The problem is that the US “overstepped its national borders in any possible way” (V.V.Putin). The system of checks and balances is undermined because of that. And I hope Russia will step in.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Richard, that illiterate class-warrior screed was really not worth posting three times.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Vovka, are you familiar with Russia at all? Let me assure you as a former resident that having Russia ‘step in’ isn’t good for anyone – ironically including Russia.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    If Russia “steps in” anything, it’ll probably smell bad.

  • Vovka

    Dave Nalle, I hope as a former resident (of what?) you understand that for every system having weights and counterweights, checks and balances is important for sanity. The US recently become insane, invading countless countries (destroying own economy along the way, but I guess that’s not important in the Empire Of Good and Democracy). I’m not even talking about idiotic attempts by the US military to get into Ukraine and Georgia: as history teaches us, the US troops were kicked out of those places in 1918-1923 by the Red Army. But our American “partners” have short memories, perhaps.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The US army was in Ukraine and Georgia in 1918? Really? Tell me where you got that information. Let me guess, the soviet school system?

    And I’m a former resident of Moscow, which pretty much destroyed any confidence I have in the goodwill or competence of the Russian government.

    As for the US turning into an evil empire, that attitude shows a profound lack of understanding of the US’s motivations and actions in the world. I agree that it might be a symptom of insanity, but always with the best of intentions.

    Dave

  • Ruvy

    Dave,

    If I were you, I’d pay close attention to Vovka. You were in the USSR many years ago. It appears that Vovka lives in Russia or, or has knowledge of the country that is not so old and out-dated as yours.

    More to the point, westerners make a huge mistake in ignoring the perspective of Russians and acting like they are so damned superior.

    They are not.

    Of course, if you want to act as if America is all-powerful and the Russians are just a bad dream that can be forgotten, you will give people like Putin their most powerful weapon – a stupid American who hasn’t the brains to see the enemy sneak up on him, and who hasn’t the sense to listen to another’s perspective.

    It was a painful lesson that I learned in moving here.

  • Pablo

    Davey re post 2:

    “You don’t make more peace through even more militaristic posturing.”

    Why dont you explain the to the guy your going to vote for, or even better to your bretheren in the GOP down in the good ole boy country bucko? Your hypocrisy knows NO bounds Davey. :)

  • Flavius

    After the fall of the Soviet Union, America tought that nobody can be a match for her.So America started the NEW WORLD ORDER.With this order they wanted to make with world what they want.They have promised RUssia that NATO would not expand to east.They have lied.Now,they will soon reach Russia’s border,whit Ukraine and Georgia in NATO.And more,they want to put a missile shield in E Europe.What they want to do?Not to mention the Balkan war.I live in Romania in a city near Serbian border.I won’t remember what i saw(so much suffering,so many tears,children crying on their parents dead body,peoples who lost everything).They helped the muslims in Kosovo,and they have weakend the Christinity.They have bombed civilian buildings,and a full train with refuges(womans and childrens).Not to mention the war in Iraq.And they still accuse Russia and tell the world that is evil.Now,Russia is reviewing it’s military.Why? Because they are taking measures,they feel the threat.America is going mad,something must happend before they will start to conquer the world…

  • Joaquin

    Two key points: First, in both the case of Venezuela and Cuba, especially the latter, these prospects seem at best vague; indeed, as the article itself says, Cuba is not known to actually have made such an offer. In Venezuela’s case. I really cannot blame Chavez if he indeed seriously or even half-seriously “made an offer” in this vein. Since 2000 the US though the USAID, the NED and myriad “civic” groups have been trying to ovrthrow Chavez Salvador Allende-style, and nearly succeeded in 2002 until the Venezuelans themselves “stepped in” to prevent it. If all this means anything, it’s a propaganda and scare tactic gambit to scare us, the ever so gullible US public into a fear of Russian encirclement so as to pave the way for the putatively “more experienced” and certainly hrd-lined McCain’s election. Second point addressed to Dave’s July 27 23:53 posting: Yes, te US did insert US 12,000 troops into not just Ukraine and Georgia in 1918 but into northeastern and noerhwestern RUSSIA ITSELF in a 14-nation effort (unsuccessful)to assist the anti-Soviet White Guards – the Contras of the day – overthrow Russia’s new and popularly supported Soviet Bolshevik government.

  • Ruvy

    I was waiting and hoping for people from Eastern Europe to comment. I’m glad to see that they have. It’s about time that some of the Amero-centric shit at BC was countered with a bit of reality.

    I was warned over two years ago by a young Russian lady who is very conversant in foreign affairs that the policy of the United States of setting up bases all around Russia would push Russia into the arms of China. In addition, I was warned that Putin was rebuilding the Russian Empire in response to American policy.

    What Dan Miller failed to cover adequately in this article is the axis of Iran, Venezuela and Russia, with China backing up North Korea. This is the group of foreign powers who face America and who can threaten it in a new cold war.

    Point. The North Koreans want food and money. If someone comes along with enough of both, they will be happy to set up nuclear facilities for the fellow with the goods.

    Point. Conspiracy types in the States point (accurately) to the presence of European and Eastern European soldiers on American soil. But this presence comes at the cost of setting up bases with American troops in Central Asia which ony make a nuclear power, Russia, nervous.

    Point. The Americans did attempt to overthrow the Soviet regime in the Russian Civil War. I have books from the era that document this attempted interference. This gives backing to the Soviet/Russian fear of American interference in its internal affairs, and provides the background behind Putin’s charges of American interference.

    Point. The Russian regime, in rebuilding the Russian Empire, is using, among other things, Russian emigrants to Israel to attempt to turn Israel in its entirety into a Russian base of some sort. Hamas and HizbAllah are propagandizing Russians here with Russian language propaganda, and many Russians here are biting the bait.

    In addition, there has been a spate of Jew-hatred on the part of Russians who are not really Jews at all, dragged here by their parents, who were lured here by Israeli payments to immigrants.

    Americans can ignore Russia if they want.

    But they can no longer afford to at all. The country is not run by some stupid drunk anymore. It is run by a ruthless man capable both of killing and charming non-Russian leaders, and willing to do both.

  • Empanada

    1) Never trust anyone; particularly gov’t, that includes the US, Russia, Venezuela or any other.

    2) There is no solely “good” nor absolutely “bad” gov’t/country. There are pro and con in every one; all is relative!

    3) In worldwide history, USA has proven to behave again and again a teenager! Respect your elder, even when you think they are wrong. That includes Russia, Europe, China, Japan, and whole Middle East.

    4) Being almighty powerful does NOT mean you are correct nor you own the right answer to all problems. Every country, every people deserve its right for self-determination, just as America enjoyed in their revolutionary years back in 1700 and 1800’s. Back then, in British eyes, American were just a bunch of uncivilized, uneducated people, behaving pretty much as terrorist attacking British troops. Oops sorry, it was for a just cause, revolution and freedom. But that same standards do not apply today for other people, right?

    5) Check and Balance, sounds good. Who sets the right check and balance? it is all subjective I guess. But yes, they are needed. Don’t think so? Just open any history book, the older the better. Where are old the greatest civilizations? Why did they fall? Watch out America. Mankind is the only specie that made same mistake more than twice! And we call ourselves the intelligent ones?

    6) Sorry to say, but current GWB admin has proven to be not more than just a teenager cowboy bullish prick, and, what foreign policy? Oh, there is NO foreign policy (Check Dictionary for definition of Policy)

    7) Unfortunately, we are where we are today because of the “great” american foreign policy (aka “i only care for my economic interest”)

    8) We dont need more wars or military bases, what we need is more MUTUAL understanding, cooperation, and acceptance. We are different, stop trying to measure everyone by the same rule!

    9) Watch out Venezuela and HugoChavez; his ambitions are large and more achievable than you think.

  • Joaquin

    … Oh yes, sily me. I inadvertently forgot to include our ever-so-accurate folks at the Central Intelligence(?)Agency (CIA) among the kitty of organizations who’ve been trying, and still continue trying to overthrow the twice-elected and “referendum” survivor popular President of the sovereign Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Happy 54th Birthday, Pres. Chavez! And thanks for using your petrodollars the way they should be used, to fund very bady needed social programs and to generously – and understandibly shrewdly – sow goodwill beyond your borders, including in our own New Hampshire by providing subsidized low-cost badly-needed oil, which is something our own corporate bought-and-sold “leaders” and their corporate bedmasters never get around to doing. Instead, “our” own petrodollars are used by the foreign oil producers to buy US bonds which our own LAME duck then uses to fund his “Big Adventures” – Pee Wee Herman, where are you when we need you?). My apologies again Langley.

  • bliffle

    Daves hopes of US military competence are in vain as this administration has pursued a wide and deep policy of replacing competent people with those who are Politically Compliant and willingly subvert factual reports with boosterism.

    “At the first hint, via satellite photos or otherwise, of a Russian bomber presence in Cuba, the U.S. would almost certainly have a pretty good jet fighter force ready to shoot them down or turn them away should they invade U.S. air space. At least, I hope so.”

    Hope all you wish, Dave, hope will not make it so.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    For the historically challenged, the US sent about 13,000 men to fight in the Russian Civil War. They went in two primary expeditions – in Vladivostok (about 8,000 men) and Arkhangelsk (5,000 men)in 1918. They lost about 400-odd men in total, some to combat but a significant number to the Spanish flu. They returned in 1919.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Why dont you explain the to the guy your going to vote for

    I think Bob Barr already understands this, Pablo.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Since 2000 the US though the USAID, the NED and myriad “civic” groups have been trying to ovrthrow Chavez

    USAID has been trying to overthrow Chavez? With what, food shipments?

    Yes, te US did insert US 12,000 troops into not just Ukraine and Georgia in 1918 but into northeastern and noerhwestern RUSSIA ITSELF

    So not in Ukraine or Georgia as claimed, and not in fact US troops, just supported by the US. As I recall those troops were primarily from other European nations.

    Dave

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    FYI…There were, in fact, US troops directly involved.

    The American North Russia Expeditionary Force consisted of the 339th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division and the First Battalion of the 310th Engineers, 85th Division. They called themselves the “Polar Bears” due to the nature of the expeditionary force. They were involved in fighting around Arkhangelsk and the White Sea for approximately 9 months before being withdrawn in the wake of criticism and pressure for still being overseas after the Armistice in Nov 1918 that ended WWI. You can find their dead buried in Troy, Michigan. The last known survivor of the fighting died in 2003.

    The American Expeditionary Force Siberia included the U.S. Army’s 27th and 31st Infantry Regiments, volunteers from the 13th and 62nd Infantry Regiments primarily, as the name implies, based and operating in Siberia, along the railroad and the port of Vladivostok.

    Both groups operated as a part of the Allied Expeditionary force (mainly British & French, although it included Canadians, Czecks, Poles, Greeks, Japanese etc.).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    I have found the comments thus far very interesting, particularly those from abroad, and would like to share some of my perspectives gained as an old fart U.S. expat living in Panama for the past seven years.

    Panama, with a population of about 3.3 million, neither is nor has pretensions to become, a world power. That is, as far as I am concerned, a Good Thing. Living in a rural area up in the highlands, where our nearest neighbor is roughly a kilometer distant by road and there are few other Gringos, I have little foundation to speak about urban areas, such as Panama City and Colon which have their problems, or even the “51st State,” Boquete, which has lots of gated communities, Gringos and its own albeit different problems, principally related to the influx of Gringos.

    There seems to be a sense of self-sufficiency here, and little expectation that the Government will deal with local problems. Consequently, the local people do their best to deal with problems themselves; perhaps that is as it should be. When the roads really need work, local people with shovels do most of it. Sometimes, materials are provided by the local government, sometimes not. When the schools need work, local people volunteer labor and materials. From a U.S. perspective, there is quite a lot of poverty. However, there are few people who lack the basic necessities or, from my observation, who feel poor. Possibly, this is the case because (a) families help each other and (b) there are fewer affluent people of whom they can feel jealous. True, there are some rich Panamanians — who tend to live far away (more than 400 kilometers) in Panama City — and some rich Gringos closer by; however, they seem to be viewed as different and to be little more envied than a horse seems to envy a dog, or vice versa.

    Few rural Panamanians have cars and, with gasoline at about $4.25 per gallon, just over half a day’s wages, few could afford to drive them if they had them. They walk, ride their horses or take a bus. There seems to be little expectation that affluence is on the horizon.

    I have not been to Cuba, but it was reported in one of the principal Panama City newspapers today that Raul Castro this past weekend offered rather a downbeat address, urging Cubans not to expect a whole lot of improvement in their lives anytime soon. According to an imperfect English translation, via Google,

    The president Raúl Castro prescribed this weekend a new dose of realism to the Cubans, to prevent an outbreak of expectations about rapid economic improvements. If two weeks ago announced that they would extend by five years the retirement age and begin to levy income taxes on Social Security, on Saturday night said that above will have to get used to receive bad news.

    I think President Castro is making a lot of sense; much more than his older brother ever did. Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and to encourage them is one of the cruelest and most counterproductive things one can do. Perhaps it might be useful were politicians in the U.S. to keep this in mind, instead of promising the moon when they can’t even deliver a pound of green cheese.

    Before coming to Panama, I spent a total of maybe a year, off and on, in Venezuela just as Chavez was coming to power; there seemed to be a lot of optimism, though not among the oligarchy or even the well-to-do. The rural areas were beautiful and bountiful. Food was plentiful, gasoline was very inexpensive (still is); people outside the urban slums seemed quite happy. My perception is that Chavez has impoverished his country and made life better for few other than his most enthusiastic supporters, while promising his diminishing numbers of poorer fans the moon. In recent years, Chavez has tried to establish himself as a world leader, for which he has few qualifications and for which Venezuela simply cannot provide the necessary resources except by diminishing the lives of her people. True, Venezuela has oil, very heavy crude with high sulphur content, for which the principal refineries are in the United States. She has little else to export. With Venezuelan crude at current prices, the lives of Venezuelans should be far better than they are. Although they have benefitted very little from the increases in oil prices, they are probably the ones most likely to suffer if and when oil prices drop, as has been happening recently.

    I have no idea what Russia will do vis a vis Cuba and Venezuela, but suspect that she will do very little. Indeed, I don’t think there is much she can do to assist Chavez, were that her wish, or even Cuba — Russia was there for years, and did little to make the lives of Cubans better. She has more than enough on her own plate right now. Noise, maybe, but little more, as an inexpensive way to put the U.S. in her place, is all that I expect from her insofar as Venezuela and Cuba are concerned; she will probably be content to soak up Venezuelan oil money by selling armaments which Chavez claims Venezuela needs to protect her natural resources.

    The speculation I offered in the article, that Cuba may be playing the U.S. off against her current benefactor, a moribund Chavez, gained in my opinion a modicum of support from Raul Castro’s comments noted above. Although it would most likely make a bunch of Cuban expats living in Florida unhappy, it seems at least barely possible that President Castro is interested in receiving some benign help from the U.S. and that now may be the time for the U.S. to make some subtle moves in that direction.

    Dan

  • Pablo

    Dave,

    Oh do you mean the same Bob Barr that participated in the socialist witch hunt a few days ago. Is that the Bob Barr you are referring to bucko?

    Forgive me, I do recall another post where you said you were going to vote for McCain. In either event, I still stand by the statement Davey boy.

    As for your argument with Deano, about troops in Russia in 1918, I am just gonna sit back and see (if Deano’s claim is true) the great literary politico Dave Nalle make a public retraction!

    By the way Deano buddy, I am still waiting for you to admit that I was right about Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands being in the SS. I know it will be a cold day in hell before I get you to admit that you not only were incorrect but quite rude in your assertion that I was off the wall about it. I wasn’t and provided numerous references to support my claim bucko. Not only was I right, I attempted to be civil to you and sent you an email about it, to which your reply was extremely rude and condescending.

  • Tom

    The Americans are such hypocrites. It’s O.K. for the US to put missiles in Russia’s back yard and when they threaten to do the same we scream “New Cold War”. It is just hard for many fearing Americans to see that the US is the destabilizing force in the world, not Russia. I wish America went after tax cheating oligarchs like the Russians do. Truman Capote said; “If you don’t think it’s about the money, it’s about the money! Go US military industrial complex!

  • bliffle

    It’s just chess moves: you create new threats against your opponent whenever possible, which is usually when opponent fails to sufficiently increase his threats. Usually, chess games are lost, not won, when one player crumbles under the threats.

    Unfortunately, the current administration seems to know nothing about such strategy, as their only chess move is to kick the board over, but it doesn’t work because opponent and all observers remember exactly where the pieces were.

  • Pablo

    The USA hypocritical ya say? I could not agree more!
    Particularly with reference to weapons of mass destruction, as in being the only country in the history of the world to use them to murder over 100,000 human beings, the vast majority of them civilians. Yes I could not agree more Tom.

    However hypocrisy is getting about as American as apple pie these days, as is fascism.

  • sane

    Just FYI, Russia or any other power for that matter, has the same right as the US to put up any kind of base anywhere if invited. I just hope they do.

  • Joaquin

    Dave,
    Very cute but doesn’t make it: your comment, “USAID has been trying to overthrow Chavez? With what, food shipments?” For your info, the USAID, founded in 1961 as part of JFK’s “alliance for Pogress” program in Latin America was officially – and ostensibly – established to provide huamnitarian aid and totally refrain from military aid or facilitating military actions. So one can understand why you, like myriad other misinformed Americans can make such a comment. But in 1962-1964, the USAID, with the complicity and abetting of other branches of the US govt. began violating that key part of its founding charter – like other parts of the Alliance for Progress – by aidiing in the overthrow of another democratically elected government, the Joao Goulart govt. in Brazil, Since then, the USAID has been used, primarily as a condiut for CIA money, to overthrow govts. the US oligarchy and govt. does not like. Indeed, as at least one former CIA officer has testified, among the “humanitarian aid” the USAID has been providing foreign countries, particularly in Latin America, are instruments of torture. The USAID in fact provided the post-Goulart dictatorship in Brazil with electroshock torture equipment, which was used, under the supervision of the late US CIA Officer Dan Mitrione (later himself kidnapped and killed by the Uruguayan Tupamaros – karma at work it seems!) to torture scores of Brazilians for their left political views and activities, none of which qualified as “terrorist.” In the same way, USAID has been used as a conduit for CIA money and has acted on its own to similarly fund “opposition,”or the political “putas” – entirely from the supplanted US-supported oligarchs – who ruled (or misruled) Venezuela since 1958 as a duopoly, and who want their old positions of power back. So Dave, show us where or when the USAID provided ANY truly humanitarian aid, in good faith, to Venezuela since 2000.

  • Mikhail

    Living in Moscow the last 10 years everything has changed. Life is much much better and easier because of Putin(Look at economy look at Income I’m Happy and many Russians are happy and have money and travel. I see to much U.S propoganda on the internet against Russia but honestly i ignore it now because anything Russia does is evil and anything U.S does is good/free and correct. U.S Put missile shield in Eastern Europe and expanding NATO closer to Russia border is ok??? Russia puts nuclear bombers in cuba it crosses red line??? This shows how bad the U.S government is. I don’t have much against the people of U.S but day by day on the streets of Moscow i see people creating hate towards the U.S because of its aggressive stance towards Russia.

    And Dave i really do hope you take a look at the perfect America whose economy is in a lot of trouble. From a person actually living in Russia i say to you Zhri govno i zdohni!

  • Joaquin

    Mikhail (July 28 @ 22:55)
    As a long-time student of Russia and before that the Soviet Union,- and as I am married to a Russian-Ukranian with lots of contact from Russia proper – I have to say that you are quite fortunate to be in the position you are. I understand that a lot of Russians are still struggling economically. But I also must agree with you that things have gotten better, and the fac that there are people still struggling there is an indicator of the continuing long-term effects of the harmful and economically toxic policies of the bad old days of the Yesltsin administration. I agree that Putin has straightened out a lot of the mess that Yeltsin and his crowd created with their sheepishly pro-Western neoliberal policies, the same neoliberal policies Washington pushed on Latin America and which, like in Russia in the 1990’s, failed catastrophically. It is precisely these policies that the current governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Nicaragua are trying to reverse and protect their countries from, and which the Argentines have, under center-left governments, also successfully reversed, much to the chagrin of the oligarchs in Washington BC … er, excuse me …, DC. I agree that Russia and Russians are today doing better precisely because Putin reversed the Yeltsin crowd’s neoliberal havniok policies, again to the chagrin and anger of the Washington crowd (both Democrats and Republicans alike!), and which is why Mr. Putin whas been and contiues being so demonized by Washington and the corporate US media.

    Although I’ve been around on this beautiful planet a long time, and have studied history and politics for at least the last 35 years, and should by now have developed very thick skin, I still cannot get used to the prevailing double-standards of the US policymaking establishment and media, especially in the area of foreign policy – again on the part of BOTH corporate parties, the Dems. and Repubs. alike! I never fail to bristle with indignation when I see, read, or hear US officials and punditocrats whine and froth whenever Russia or any other country so much as contemplates taking necessary proactive steps to militarily or otherwise defend what’s theirs and in their legitimate interests – e.g. Chavez’s steps to keep US-sponsored subversion in check in his country, or Russia defending its perimeter in Eastern Europe and south Central Asia, or for those 1980’s veteran activists, the efforts of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua to seek arms and alliances to defend their country against relentless US attacks on all fronts. All the while, however, who’s been provocatively setting up their bases, missile bases, and shields around other powers’ perimeters? Who’s been carrying out the most sophisticated campaigns of subversion against other governments, friends and adversaries alike? Whos’ been promoting balkanization in other countries i.e. Kosovo in Serbia, or Santa Cruz in Bolivia? And who’s been nakedly carrying – or seeking to carry out – “regime changes” around the globe?

    Again, If Mr. Chavez even half-jokingly offered to host Russian bases in Venezuela, given US behavior towards him and his government over the last 9 years, he’s acting quite rationally in defending and safeguarding his country and his government aginst very real outside threats.

    Druziem!

  • Mikhail

    Joaquin(July 28, 2008 @ 23:53PM)
    I agree with pretty much everything you have written and are a smart person.

    In terms of Living Standards in Russia you are right i am quite lucky living in Moscow but things are good in the large cities. Moscow is the most expensive city in the world which makes it very difficult for people outside it to move and adjust as they lose all there money very quickly. Ill give you some examples

    Levels of GDP per capita in Moscow are around nearly $30,000USD the same as in many parts of Europe already. GDP per capita in the country as a whole at $14,700 USD per capita but growing at a much faster rate than in Moscow. If everything is stable the GDP per Capita by 2013 is estimated at being 25,000USD. Outside Moscow life is somewhat difficult as well but Russian HDI is rated in the High Category with all the “Western World” countries.

    By the end of 2008 Russia will be the third largest economy in Europe, overtaking France and reaching a GDP in PPP terms of over $2 trln. Two years thereafter, i calculate that the country will overtake the UK and then start to challenge Germany for preeminence in Europe.

    But i agree with you in all areas
    A weak Russia=Democratic
    A Strong Russia= Evil/Communist Regime

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Well, Mikhail, I can see how you’d be happy with the Putin regime. He’s found a way to bring some prosperity back to the select few by reinstituting a lot of the top-down statist control which characterized the old Stalinist regime. For those in a priveleged position that’s a pretty good deal. Maybe a kinder, gentler Stalinism is basically better for Russia than the chaos of the pre-Putin period. Maybe Russia can’t be ruled any other way.

    As for Russia being democratic, that boat has sailed. It’s back to being an oligarchy, and that’s true whether it’s powerful or weak. Putin is fully aware that democracy gets in the way of order in a country which has never really been naturally inclined towards democracy.

    Dave

  • Condor

    Is it my imagination or do all Russian bloggers write like a cheap hollywood script for a B movie. You’ll have to excuse me, but looking over the thread… I’m thinking we have a pile of lurkers or 1 or 2, not unlike our friend Jamil…. there is just too much similarity in writing styles, paraphrasing… not to mention the dropped prepositions to give it a feeling of mediocre command of english.

    It’s too obvious.

    Now, if I’m wrong here’s my apology:

    Bash the US all you want. My dad fought in WWII and fought his butt off, your parents and/or grandparents were happy not to have the 3rd Reich regime or the Imperial Japanese as the controlling authority in your lives. And although Patton never got his wish, you had Stalin and the others to guide you and keep you under the thumb of his and subsequent regimes.

    Despite all of that… If, in fact the world has a such a dim view of the U.S. then exercise your rights to abstain from visiting the U.S., receiving aid from the U.S., coming to U.S. to work legally or illegally), or to receive education. After a global boycott of anything U.S., we will have received the hint, and probably have a much nicer country in spite of your protests.

    Do we have a deal?

  • Condor

    Oh, and one more point.

    Thanks for bringing this up Joaquin; USAID was instituted under the JFK administration, which like most things JFK… set the tone for most of the cold war. JFK was sanctified after his death, and in the U.S., it’s been hands off as far as the days of “Camelot” is concerned, but be advised… and again Joaquin clearly points this out.

    JFK had a keen interest in special operations. Entities like USAID, Peace Corp, USOM, and a myriad of other “extensions of good will” had other assignments besides the “official” designators. But, in all fairness, other countries used identicle tactics of farce, to which only the sheeple in the respective countries were ignorant of.

    I witnessed USOM’s operation in Southeast Asia, it was quite impressive, hardly claudestine (except to the general polulace back the U.S.). The big 3 all had stuff going on, face it… it was Cold War, we all lived through it, the governments waged it.

    And obviously from this thread the scars are still evident.

    If we can’t resolve it, or if we continuously bring the flem of history up in our throats, lets just bid adieu. Go our separate ways, not communicate, leave each other alone, and isolate. Technology will allow us to isolate yet verify; correct?

    Why not. You all are obviously sick of the U.S. and the citizens of the U.S. are sick of putting up with a lot crap from other countries…. and stymied that our government keeps on pushing the agenda. A lot of us are wrapped up in our lives, providing for our families, keeping our nose to the grindstone and out of trouble and what do we get? A government that throws our tax dollars at other countries, who really don’t give a shit. I guess familiarilty does, in fact breed contempt. Why are we (the U.S.) so concerned about the welfare of people who don’t give a shit?

    We’re not the nanny here, they have their own government to take care of them. The live in systems that provide (or are supposed to) provide everything to everyone from womb to tomb. Those people in those countries are set, for-get-about-it…. let’s go isolationist and grow from within. Secure the borders, keep to ourselves.

    George Washington advocated isolation. Maybe it’s time to listen. My traveling days are done, I’ve been all over the globe. And the U.S. is still the place for me to hang the hat. I think I’ll keep the hat on the hook and stay right here.

    Good night Boris, good night Natasha… say hello to Rocky and Bullwinkle for me.

    xoxoxo

  • Ruvy

    Good night Boris, good night Natasha… say hello to Rocky and Bullwinkle for me.

    Smart move, condor. This is just the kind of Amero-centered bullshit attitude that earns Americans brickbats the world over – including here in Israel.

    You don’t have to like Russians, but for the most part you don’t have to live with them. I do. When you live with them, you learn that there is a lot more to them than vodka and commie propaganda.

    And you learn that the world does not stop at the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean, and a lot bigger than the narrow views of the mainstream American media and the fools who worship at their feet….

    But you want to stay in America and isolate yourself from the world. You are 120 years too late. The world will not let you. So, get used to the world with its foreign noise and stink. To the world, you stink, too.

  • http://www.javiermiyares.com javier

    this is typical cia psy-ops propoganda intended to influence public opinion in the u.s. the venezuelen constitution prohibits foreign military bases and cuba does not need russia to defend it. this story came from a dubious source, and the fact that it has been promoted by the a.p. and other compromised international news spigots convinces me that it is b.s. nothing to see here. don’t worry dave, the russians are not coming.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Y’know I was just going to suggest that some of the russian commenters here might be part of their psyops/shillblogging opreation. Seems more believable tham the CIA theory.

    Dave

  • STM

    Dave Nalle: “And Vovka, you’re completely insane. You don’t make more peace through even more militaristic posturing.”

    Lol. Gotcha. An armed society is a polite society, Dave, isn’t that what you always say?? :)

  • Condor

    “Smart move, condor. This is just the kind of Amero-centered bullshit attitude that earns Americans brickbats the world over – including here in Israel.” Ruvy

    I ment to say “Moose and Squirrial”

    And you are more than welcome for the billions U.S. dollars that are poured into Israel yearly to prop up their defense industry… Ungrateful?

    Then my point in both comment 36 and 37 has been validated.

    I’m not arguing that familiarity does not breed contempt, nor am I arguing that countries do not necessarily enjoy the foreign aid packages. What I am promoting is that, if a country doesn’t like or dispises the aid, the U.S. should pull it. Send more to countries that need the medical aid, or the wells dug, or the food brought in.

    Your country Ruvy, would probably do just fine without the aid, especially if your country feels the way you obviously do.

    And one more thing… do not fear the Russians, do not fear the Soviets (they are still out there). In fact, don’t fear anything. Fear incapacitates the ability to think and to act. When you live in fear, you piss yourself on a continuous bases. And yes Ruvy, in case you’re wondering, I’ve got a few war stories too.

  • Clavos

    cuba does not need russia to defend it.

    You’re right there. There’s nothing in Cuba that would entice another nation to invade it.

    But Cuba does need Russia (or Venezuela, or somebody) to support it.

  • Franco

    #17 — Ruvy

    “the axis of Iran, Venezuela and Russia, with China backing up North Korea. This is the group of foreign powers who face America and who can threaten it in a new cold war.”

    Correction Ruvy, not “can threaten” they “are and have been threatening” and it has been going on a long time.

    “And you learn that the world does not stop at the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean, and a lot bigger than the narrow views of the mainstream American media and the fools who worship at their feet.”

    I have to agree. Being a American who grow up in Los Angeles California in the 1950’s through the 1990’s (love the place) and conducting international trade and eventually moving to Chile in 2000 where I have lived the past 8 years, one gets a much larger perspective on the world.

    When I see the US media speak or the Congress for that matter, I see a group of so called leaders, the supposedly best we can offer in their field look like obtuse nitwits. It is embarrassing to see how how obtuse they appear to the rest of the world. The MSM is really quite a circus act!

    What is heartening for me Ruvy here in Chile though, is even thou the Chilean see this too, they over look it as they see so much more real value in every human endeavor coming out of the USA.

    What is disheartening for me Ruvy, is I do not see this same Chilean sprit coming from you out of Israel.

  • Joaquin

    As I rummaged through old e-mail to clean up my in-box, I ran into another item on this subject of the putative – and now more apparently prematurely assumed – prspect of Russian bases in Venezuela, an aritcle by Daniel Cancel on Boomber.com of July 28, 2008: “Chavez said if Russian navy ships were to arrive in Venezuelan ports they would be welcome, and said the reactivation of the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet to patrol the Caribbean is a threat to Venezuela and the region.” There are two points raised in this sentence: First, in the last part of the sentence, the reactivation of the US Navy’s 4th Fleet is a most provocative move of which Mr. Chavez – and really all Latin Americans concerned with the respect of their sovereignty – should and must be most concerned. As I understand it, the 4th Fleet, primarlily a World War II expedient for hemisphereic defense against the European fascists and Japanse militarists with whom the Hemisphere (excepting Argentina) were actively at war, was stood down in the 1950’s since that war had ended, and despite the Cold War that followed it, was not projected to be reactivated save if REAL war threatened. As crazy as our leaders were during that chapter in our history (especially JFK, Nixon, and Reagan), as far as I know none of them looked to reactivate the fleet, not even dirung those tense days of late October 1962. Hence its reactivation now by our adolescent-in-chief, especially now as election time rolls around, is of most serious concern, to Mr. Chavez and really to us as well.

    The second, and most immediately important point in this on-going conversation is in the first part of the sentence, namely: “Chavez said if Russian navy ships were to arrive in Venezuelan ports they would be welcome,….” Mr. Chavez said ONLY hat Russian navy ships would be welcome should they call on Venezuelan ports, just as British or Canadian ships would surely be welcomed in US ports should they need to call on them. There is NOTHING here about bases! Neither in, nor behind, nor in front of, above, or below that key phrase. This seems to reinforce the thesis put forth by several contributors, and which I myself hold, that Dan Miller’s article – at least its title, is at least obliquely intended to lead the reading public to jump to paranoiac conclusions of a Russo-Venezuelan trheat to US national security. In my 3 and half decades of reading the US media, I have long learned that this is the all-too-typical M.O. of the US corporate media, which especially over the last 25 years has become more of another branch for the executive branch of the US govt.

  • Condor

    Joaquin, I agree however I would like to throw in a couple of personal points (the inference is mine).
    1. I do not see any threat from the Russians or the Chavezista’s. (note: I know many Venezuelan citizens, and they do not share any affection for Mr. Chavez).

    2. The media’s M.O. is to sell advertising. Given that corporate goal of enabling the bottom line, we can always expect sensationalized news or broadcasting. And only the sensational news will be brought to our immediate attention, to wit, Britany, Paris, Chavez… Market share is going internet for a reason, as traditional news sources are rife with “breaking news” that isn’t breaking, nor is it really important. That is until some event really newsworthy breaks, then the agencies usually quit treading water and recycle about 4 hours of news repeatedly for 2 weeks. Then it’s OJ trial mode until we just shut off the news and play solitaire on the laptop.

    We used to say that the newspapers buy ink by the barrel and have to pay the bills, hence the reporting suffered. But overtime, it’s become the advertising dollars driving the bus.

    Gotta go and Make it a good one!

  • Franco

    #45 — Joaquin

    Joaquin, post #45 is based on fallacies.

    The US has very close allies in Latin America and the Caribbean that welcome US efforts to protect their sovereign interests in the wake of the antics of Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers. Its just not something that is going to be spoon feed you in 35 years or reading US MSM.

    Countries like Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Peru, all have serious “in your face” reasons to be concern that it is in fact Chavez, not the US, the will not respect their sovereignty.

    Even within the countries that Chavez wants everyone to think are going his way, Ecuador and Bolivia, and last but not least, even within Chavez’s own Venezuela, there has been, and continues to be, ever growing opposition to him and his other 2 side kick Latin Presidents who will never pull ecconomic reform together for their people when surendering to the likes of Chavez. The insight and skills are not there and the people are being taken for a ride to no ware as the reast of free market Latin America is on a boom.

    Bolivia has been torn in half, Ecuador’s economy has now been set up to tank by making it debendent on Chavez leed up to MECR trade block, while the people in these countires watch Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru economies growing more ecconomicly sound everyday with their interantial free traid agreements.

    If Chavez wants to play serious games with his other Latin American neighbor states and tries to cover it up by claiming he needs to protect himself from the US, that is his call, but his revolution at home has already stated to unravel.

    This has not deterred Chavez from continually messing with other neigbor states, nor has it lead to any increase of respect for his other Latin American neighbors when they complain to him about his meddling with their sovereignty.

    His Latin neighbors watch him as he spends billions on Russian military land, sea, and air equipment, i.e., 7 new Russian submarines, 30 or 40 MIG’s, 2 AK-103 factories, and multiple batteries of anti-aircraft missiles all on order for Chavez and his continental revolution.

    When Chavez claims they are to fend of the US, his neighbors aren’t buying it because they know it is his bull shit cover story, because they know, just as the US knows, that the book dose not read that way on the inside.

    Joaquin, you really need to get out more.

    There are a lot more countries in Latin America that see Chavez as a major threat to their sovereignty then they do the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet.

    Now why is it that Russia always sides with the wackos who are against counties that are not opressive and are doing very well on free market ecconomics and or what to break away from their style of free market oppression (just like Chavez) as Russia is doing to countires in Europe right now and playing the same oil weapon over Europe as Putin plays over Europe. That has been Russia’s unbroken record from day one and they are still militarally packing and backing the counties that play this game right along with them. Talk about major powers messing with sovereign states.

    Now if you don’t like the fact that these other Latin American states don’t like or trust Chavez, or Russia’s intentions with Chavez, then that is another issue all together.

    If that is the case, at least have the balls to address that instead of the weak kneed leftist US bashing, which has been so over played to the point that the pendulum has already started it swing back. If you don’t see that, just keep standing in its way.

  • Joaquin

    Franco

    I’ll address the last point first. To begin, where do you get the notion that most Latn American countries see Mr. Chavez and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a greater threat to their soveriegnty than the US? Give some solid evidence and I’ll consider taking your claim seriously and address it as such. Second, why is it then that Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Paraguay have kept friendly and collaborative ties with Venezuela, and Argentina along with the avovementioned plus several others have been establishing or looking to establish alternatives like MERCOSUR, ALBA, and even a regionan non-US and non-EU dominated regional banking institution? For the sake of argument, supposing many Latin Americans do see Chavez as a threat, who owns, controls, or materially influences the bulk of the Western world’s media, including the Latin American media? The US-dominated media conglomerates. My understanding is, the last time I was informd of this, that only 6 mega-conglomerates (almost all US-dominated or influenced) hold not just the Western world’s media but most of theat of the world, with exception of the independents, which fortunately appear to be growing, but not in the Americas but in Eurasia. Then, there’s the critical factor of the local oligarchies tied to US and European transnational capitalism, many including local media. Then there are the governments, especially ones like Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru, bought, paid for, and sold by US and European capital as well as Washington. Read your Latin America History. Indeed, Colombia, the third biggest recepient of US aid (almost all military) in the world, next to Israel and Egypt, a country where death squads have been terrorizing the population and killing labor, student, and social justice leders and activista and with one of the worst human rights records in the hemisphere and the world, that country (of which I am a native by the way) has shown to be more of a therat and violator to neighborng countries’ sovereignty than Venezuela has to any of its neighbors. Finally, as for fragmentatiojn in Bolivia, it is the Bolivian overwhelmingly white (and therefore anti-indigenous and thus anti-Morales) right wing concentrated in Santa Cruz, instigated by US NGO’s and of course our CIA that’s been balkanizing that country.

    To tother things, your “Now why is it that Russia always sides with the wackos who are against counties that are not opressive and are doing very well on free market ecconomics and or what to break away from their style of free market oppression (just like Chavez) as Russia is doing to countires in Europe right now and playing the same oil weapon over Europe as Putin plays over Europe. That has been Russia’s unbroken record from day one and they are still militarally packing and backing the counties that play this game right along with them. Talk about major powers messing with sovereign states.” bit, well, here’s proof of the pudding of what I intimated about the noxious and deceitful influence of mush of the world’s media. Lastly, as for your “Joaquin, you really need to get out more.” gem, as previously indicated, not only was I born abroad, but over the last 20 years I have not only travelled abroad (too many countries to list)but I’ve studied and worked abroad over the last 18 for stretches of 3-4 months, and in some cases going back for 2nd and 3rd tours of work (Spain, Russia, Ukraine, some examples). Maybe it;s you bud who need s to get aout more, and not just as a tourist seeking fun and diversion, but engaged in productive and positive pursuits as I was. Indeed, this is the first year I’vbe spent entirely in my home in California USA which I love, in 4 years and I love staying home for a change. Now I can in more relaxed fashion absorb and process not just what I’ve expereinced and seen abroad, but can more deeply read reports from around the world with a more informed eye and mind, and NOT from MSM or UP or API, or the New York or LA Slimes… er, excuse me, Times.

    So come out from your sandbox dear friend.

    JJD ;-)

  • Joaquin

    Oh yes, Franco, few things I forgot to address. First, “Countries like Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Peru,…” with the exeption of Brazil, all countries with the bought, paid for, and sold govts I referred to earlier (it’s COLOMBIA, not Columbia by the way). As for Chile, read a non-commercial media history of Chile, whose people and history suffered one of the harshest trajectories in the region after the overthrow of their democratically elected and supported Popular Unity govt, of Dr. Salvador Allende on – of all dates – 9/11 of 1973 – yes, the OTHER 9/11 by the way! – and the Pinochet dictatorship which killed some 3200 Chileans, including ones outside of Chile like Orlando Letelier in Washgington, DC, and “disappeared” a much larger number of them, and which implemented the region’s first neoliberal economic regime you seem to extol at the end of the bayonet. Hence one can understand why that country may be distancing itself from Venezuela. As for Brazil, Mr. Lula may indeed be keeping a safe distance, but note that he has not and I think will not come out explicitly against the Bolivarian government because he knows, has previously worked with, and respects Messrs. Chavez, Correa, and Morales, not to mention the Castros. I suspect Mr. Lula, a spresident of South America’s leading regional power is merely trying to appear “responsible” as the US/Western-dominated plastic corporate multnational media constantly misdefines the term, but nothing more. As for the “oppsition” in Venezuela, I’ve been speaking ad nauseam on this point in some detail since I entered this conversation, and frankly it’s a bit irritating to have to repeat the lecture to inattentive students in the back of the classroom who spend class time doodling, text messaging, and otherwise farting around. So at the risk of imposing yet another impossible assignment on you, I will simply refer you to two books by Eva Golinger, The Chavez Code and Bush vs. Chavez, as well as reading some independent alternaive press for a change. Lastly, on your bit on “while the people in these countires watch Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru economies growing more ecconomicly sound everyday with their interantial free traid agreements.” (that’s TRADE, not traid, by the way, and also, what on earth is “interantial?”). The implosion of the neoliberal experiments-in-error in South America in the 1990s’ led Argentina and several other countries to sensibly jettison that model you extol like one very bad experience, and, like Russia has done as well, they have sensibly been reinstating more local state control of their economy and assets, and doing all the better for it. Finally, assume you live in the US. If you do, and assuming you actually work for a living as I and most normal people do, do you REALLY want free trade agreements concluded between the US and mafia regimes like Colombia’s? In practical terms that would mean more US jobs – possibly including your own! – being exported there to be “given” to poor Colombians at a fraction of a fraction of the wages those companies paid US workers in arrangements enforced not only by the structural poverty of 70% of Colombians but also draconianly enforced by the paramilitares death squads that see to it that no one organizes, unionizes, and otherwise “causes touble” or disrupt the unjust “peace.” A real deal isn’t it?

    So Franco my dear, it is your post #47 that’s based on phallusies, … er, excus me, fallacies.

    Cheers ;-)

  • Joaquin

    Franco, again,

    You can start with The Nation, VenezuelAnalysis, Scoop and Granma. Just some alternative sites to fill you in, my friend.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    That would be a bigass US socialist magazine, a Chavista front site, a far-left New Zealand newspaper (you couldn’t find one in this hemisphere?) and a link that doesn’t work at all.

    As an alternative, try finding out some of the truth at VCrisis.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    The link that doesn’t work is to pinche Fidel’s version of Pravda (i.e., another commie rag), Granma, and the link doesn’t work, because it was incorrectly type; it’s in cuba, so the letter before the slash should be a “u,” (as in cuba), not an “o.”

    This is it.

  • Ruvy

    Your country Ruvy, would probably do just fine without the aid, especially if your country feels the way you obviously do.

    You are very right. We do not need American aid, and I have been saying that for as long as I’ve been commenting on this site. But the criminals who are the “power-holders”, bought out by the United States and beholden to its evil regime (not its decent people but its evil regime – there is a difference), feel otherwise.

    American “aid” is a mechanism for imperial control.

    Better that we should use the Tavor or the Galil rifle, than the M16. Better we should stick to using our Uzis as well.

    In fact, don’t fear anything. Fear incapacitates the ability to think and to act. When you live in fear, you piss yourself on a continuous bases.

    We agree on this. It is the basis of a very famous song amongst us, about how the world is very narrow bridge….

  • Clavos

    I’m not Franco, but i couldn’t let this one slide:

    do you REALLY want free trade agreements concluded between the US and mafia regimes like Colombia’s?

    In a word: Yes. Alvaro Uribe’s administration is not only not a “mafia regime,” it is one of our staunchest allies in the region.

    In practical terms that would mean more US jobs – possibly including your own! – being exported there….

    In the short term, perhaps, but, at the same time increased exports to trading partners and access to inexpensive raw materials from those same trading partners will enable more manufacturing here in the US. In addition, the rising cost of fuel and the falling dollar are combining to begin to entice some US companies that had outsourced offshore to move operations back to the US in order to remain competitive, thus re-establishing manufacturing jobs here; the likelihood of jobs moving offshore is now reduced in part by high fuel prices, which will likely remain high from now on.

    Oh, and BTW, Joaquín, Franco lives and works in Chile.

  • Ruvy
  • Joaquin

    Clavos my friend, si sabes tanto, then type it in right – the Granma site, nd as for your “it was incorrectly type” it’s “typed” just FYI. And Davy baby …, and you too Clavos (BTW, you might have the manhood to use your real name) and Franco, YES, these are all commie Chavista-Fidelista-Sandinista or what have you sites and rags. Precisely the point! Open your minds to different points of view besides the canned corporate tripe that comes out of our corporate media. You might learn something surprising and constructive.

    Clavos again: As for your bit, “Alvaro Uribe’s administration is not only not a “mafia regime,” it is one of our staunchest allies in the region.” It is PRECISELY because he is such a US toady that Uribe’s regime is so corrupt – and it’s BECAUSE it’s such a mafia regime that our adolescent-in-chief in DC is so close to Uribe and his mob. Just some recent Colombian history: Wherever Alvaro Uribe has had the misfortuen of governing, as mayor of Medellin (xoxoxo, as governor of the Department of Antioquia, and now as assassin-in-chief of Colombia, there have followed the misplacements and massacres o hundreds of thousands of POOR rural Colombians, the kind of poeple that brainwashed couch potato beer-heaads here don’t give a damn about. Indeed, in 1982 or ’83 he was forced to step down as Medellin mayor after being photographed with some of the local coke capos, including one of the Ochoas. I can go on some more, if you like, but later.

    Finally, as for Franco living and working in Chile … it only compounds his errors all the more!

    Cheers! ;-)

  • Clavos

    Clavos my friend, si sabes tanto, then type it in right…

    ji,ji,ji.

    You tell me this in a comment replete with typos?

    People who live in grass houses…

    Clavos (BTW, you might have the manhood to use your real name)

    Sure. On the internet.

    Soy cabrón. Soy chingón. ¿Pero pendejo?

    No, Joaquín.

  • Joaquin

    Clavos, I’d beg to differ on your closing remarks, especially if you REALLY buy that tripe about “free trade” particularly with Uribe’s mafia regime. In your penultimate interrogatory sentence, well … you’ve said it!

  • Clavos

    J,

    In your penultimate interrogatory sentence, well … you’ve said it!

    Yet, I’m not posting under my own name – but then, you probably aren’t either.

    In re Uribe: In the (probably apocryphal) words of FDR, “He may be an SOB, but at least he’s our SOB.”

    The bottom line on trade is,

    the more the merrier…

    I would like to see China and the US become VERY close trading partners; much more so than now.

    There are 2 BILLION of them, many of whom are becoming more and more affluent by the day.

    The world’s biggest market – bar none.

    Henry Ford had the right idea – pay ‘em enough to buy your product.

  • Ruvy

    What is heartening for me Ruvy here in Chile though, is even thou the Chilean see this too, they over look it as they see so much more real value in every human endeavor coming out of the USA.

    What is disheartening for me Ruvy, is I do not see this same Chilean sprit coming from you out of Israel.

    What is even more disheartening to me is that the government here is stupider, if this is really possible, than the idiots in Washington AND follows its lead like so many retarded pigs wallowing in the feces of the mother pig, thinking it is mud….

    It is hard to have any spirit of hope when we see Israeli police acting in concert with Arabs to harass and arrest Jews in Judea and Samaria, and to generally suppress free speech in this land. The Ministry of Internal security stains the uniforms of policemen here daily with the shit they authorize.

    So, Franco, all you will generally see out of me is contempt and scorn – the bastards who are idiots in America are only surpassed by the idiots who are “power-holders” in Israel. American “power-holders” may deserve the hanging rope for treason – but Israeli “power-holders” CERTAINLY do.

    You’ll see some of that “Chilean spirit” coming out of me when I get to hang me a few traitors here.

  • MAOZ

    Ruvy (#60), a policeman’s uniform can’t be stained by the Ministry of Internal Security if the individual policeman will refuse to go along with the staining.

    Unrelated to that observation — Ruvy, did you happen to see the recent Lazer Beams post re EMP?

  • Ruvy

    MAOZ,

    A long time ago, I read of warnings that the Iranians might try to use an EMP on the States. They might have even been in one of the comments in one of my own articles here. As for Rabbi Brody, this is the same rabbi who believes Obama will win, you know. Go to the Dreaming of Moshiach website and look at the entry for 3 August, and follow it through its links…

    It gets interesting….

    Ruvy

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It is hard to have any spirit of hope when we see Israeli police acting in concert with Arabs […] to generally suppress free speech in this land.

    Then how come I’m reading this?

  • Ruvy

    DD,

    Have you ever heard of the “Protestant work ethic”?

    There is no such animal in Israel. In this country, dictatorship is light-handed because the would-be tyrants are lazy. If there were a Protestant work ethic, the secret police would have long ago dragged me into some back room for a “discussion”. But for me to post here is not a real threat to anybody that is perceived. The minute I start posting in Hebrew, however….

    Of course, you know the price of obtaining a “Protestant work ethic”, don’t you? Lots and lots of Protestants; that’s an unacceptable price to all of us here – except the Protestant missionaries….

  • Les Slater

    “Then how come I’m reading this?”

    I reposted an article from Gaza or West Bank about Israel’s water policy on DECNotes when I working at DEC in the late 80s. DEC employees in Israel had this available to them. Someone from Israeli State security protested this to DEC who in turn asked me to remove the article. Since the article did not violate DEC policy I respectfully declined. The article stayed. It may have had something to do with me being fired shortly after but there were many other issues also.

  • Joaquin

    Clavos my friend …

    “The bottom line on trade is,

    the more the merrier…,” “Henry Ford had the right idea – pay ‘em enough to buy your product.”

    The problem with this thesis is that it’s faulty, based on phallussies … er, excuse me, fallacies: “Trade,” as you call it, with US and Western toady regimes like Uribe’s mafia regime holding my native country hostage is that it consists of:

    1. US-based transnationals exporting US jobs to these countries, putting people here in the US out of work who used to make $8 to $11 dollars an hour to make Nikes so that Nike can then pay Colombian or East Asian workers 0.75c an hour, or less.

    2. Those shoes, costing perhaps $4.00 to make are then imported to the US or other “first world” countries and sold for $150.00 or $200.00.

    3. That means that Nike, or whoever, DOESN’T have to “pay ‘em enough to buy your product.” Get all the work (economic value – and lifeblood!) out of these workers but NOT have to pay thenm enough to buy the goddamned products since THEY were NOT the intended market in the first place; they were just intended to be the human chattel to produce it, while Phil Knight pockets the profits and laughs all the way to the bank.

    So Clavos my friend … “Soy cabrón. Soy chingón. ¿Pero pendejo?” I have to answer that last one in the affirmative! But then I suspect you’re just another brainwashed gusano hiding out in southern Florida. Saque la cabeza del culo!

    Viva Chavez, Viva Castro, viva una nueva Colombia!

    Hasta nunca!

  • Clavos

    And yet, J, the more trade that exists between your “native country” and the US, the richer both economies become.

    But, como buen comunista, you don’t accept that, which is fine, because in LatAm, you commies are losing, big time.

    Viva Fidel, indeed. The man took the wealthiest, most vibrant economy in the Caribbean and destroyed it; driving out all the people with talent, education, intelligence, and energy, and made it dependent on charity for survival; first, from the Soviet Union, and now El Chango Chavez. Yeah, he’s a great leader alright.

    And, despite enormous petrowealth, Chavez is ruining Venezuela just as effectively as Fidel sank the Pearl of The Antilles. You commies certainly are great leaders and even better economists…

    Oh, and FYI: No soy Gusano; I can (and do) return to my (non-communist) country anytime.

  • Joaquin

    Clavos buddy,

    I assume you’re a fairly intelligent chap, y que me estas tomando el pelo (that you’re pulling my leg), and that your narrative is really a farcical comedy act – pues nadie puede ser tan pendejo (nobody can be so foolish) as to belive the jive about trade the way you insist you do.

    “…the more trade that exists between your “native country” and the US, the richer both economies become.” This is true only at the topmost levels de los puros ricachones (of the rich fat cat oligarchs) of both countries, because the working people – the REAL producers – of both countries are getting the shaft. I already went over that in past postings – and thus need not spend my precious time and energy repeating. I assume you work for a living. As a colleague recently observed to me, among people who are not major league independently wealthy, those who are right wingers are only so until their own pocketbooks are affected.

    Now, first lesson, Junior. On your “Viva Fidel, indeed. The man took the wealthiest, most vibrant economy in the Caribbean and destroyed it;” The most vibrant economy indeed, if you are a rackeeteer or a putero (whoremaster and whoremonger). Yes, Fidel did indeed drive out the mob operations of Santo Traficante and Meyer Lansky, who along with el gordo Batista owned Cuba’s pre-revolutionary economy from Havana, which is why the late Vice President Dick Nixon turned to them in 1960 to help the CIA and the gusanos who also got thrown out, or more so, left Cuba on their own after their ill-gotten wealth was confiscated and redistributed under INRI, to attempt to murder Fidel, Raul, Che, and 2 other top men of the revolutionary Cuban leadership. After these and other vice operations were closed down, the revolutionary govt. then took some 12,000 former prostitutes and rehabilitated them, including training them in new, more honorable, and socially needed trades and occupations like textiles, etc. At the REAL life level, the pre-revolutionary economy you refer to was anything but vibrant. The bulk of the population, the rural peasants in teh sugar sector, were condemned to the “dry” or “down” seasons between harvests during which many endured severely lean times, and the conditions that came with them, like infant and child mortalities. The revolution eliminated all that and everyone in Cuba is employed YEAR ROUND, perhaps not living luxuriously, but certainly having their basic needs met.

    As to Fidel “driving out all the people with talent, education, intelligence, and energy, and made it dependent on charity for survival;” again, these people left on their own accord, belonging to the “Other Cuba” the wealthy, overwhelmingly criollo or white MINORITY bourgeois Cuba. The majority of Cuba today is radically different (black, mestizo, “lower class” white) from the gusanos who abandoned the country. As the late Chilean singer and comrade Victor jara aptly observed in one of hs songs before he was brutally murdered by the rigt wing Chilean regime, “siempre los ricos fueron extrangeros, que se vayan a Miami con sus tias …” (the wealthy of our country have always been foreigners at heart, let them go off to Miami to join their aunties). This undoubtedly was yet one more difficulty the revolution had to contend with, the socialist reconstruction of the country without the needed talent and expertise, but they made do as they could.

    Next lesson, your “And, despite enormous petrowealth, Chavez is ruining Venezuela just as effectively as Fidel sank the Pearl of The Antilles” bit. If anyone is running anything down to the ground in Venezuela, it’s the unpatriotic right wing of that country, Venezuela’s own variant of gusanos. After the failed April 2002 coup attemt against Pres. Chavez, a conjunction of US “non-governmental organizations” (NGO’s) with money passed to them by the US State Dept and USAID, and financing Venezuelan “civic groups” (gusanos’ rings)and private media staged on Dec. 2, 2002 a “strike” that focused pricipally on crippling Venezuela’s petroleum industry. The “strike” wich was morr accurately a LOCKOUT since it was a strike by bosses – keeping many honest laborers out of work! – lasted 64 days to early 2003, severely disrupted PDVSA (Venezuela’s state oil company) operations in not only providing Venezuelans’ domestic oil needs, but also meeting foreign contractual obligations – Venezuela actually had to BUY OIL FROM ABROAD to meet the latter! – and ultimately cost the Venezuelan economy $10 BILLION USD of damage! Yet even with this and the myriad ramifications fro Venezuelans, Chavez handily survived the “referendum” of 2004 (yet another US-gusano creation to try – unsucccessfully – oust Mr. Chavez). This “strike” strategem was one that was more successfully used earlier in Nicaragua against the FSLN (Sandinista govt.), which in turn was borrowed from the original one used against Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity govt. leading to the Pinchet coup on Sepetember 11, 1973 – yes, the OTHER 9/11!. But it failed in Venezuela. However, the economic damage has been substantial and has inflicted long term consequences. The same I might add has been done against Cuba – with variations – over the past 46 years. The excuse used to be “the Russians” but after the disappearnce of the USSR, the noose was tightened even more by the Helms-Burton Act and subsequent US policy. As one former CIA case officer has pointed out, in reference to Nicaragua in the 1980’s but really also to Cuba, Chile, and now Venezuela as well, that the the US, the most powerful nation set out deliberately to disrupt and destroy the target country’s economy, and inevitabley these actions are bound to have an effect.

    Yet despite all this, Venezuela, and in particular Cuba have been able to not only survive but make positive progress in key areas. In Cuba, for example, illiteracy, which afflics other “free” Latin American nations like a plague, has been wiped out. Cuba indeed has more per capita teachers, doctors, and health workers than any other country in the world. To wit, the life expectancy, which prior to the revolution was 59 years, has been increased by about 20 years for men and women – in 2005-2007, it attained the rate of 77.97 years for both genders: 76 years for men, and 80.02 for women. This by the way is much higher than anywhere else in Latin America, and higher than even many US cities like LA, New York, and Washington BC … er, excuse me DC., and in some rural areas like Las Tunas it’s even up to 79.28 years for both genders. They ahve also gone as far as making strides in the areas treating and nearly curing cancer and other deadly diseases, strides deprived to us in the “free world” by the 46 year long blockade, not to mentin the AMA an dthe pharmas. These and other accomplishments have been made by the Cuban socialist revolution, contrary to your perile claim that Castro and the revolution “made [Cuba] dependent on charity for survival;” the USSR is gone and the Cuban socialist revolution is still there and going forward. So about Castro and the revolutionary leadership, well … you yourself said it: “he’s a great leader alright.”!

    Finally, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries, including non-revolutionary ones, are going forward in coming up with positive and productive regional alternatives, which I might add, operate along what you call “realistic” capitalist lines, only difference being that these countries have the sense enough to put limits on the application of capitalist principles and mechanisms so as to insure that the region’s social needs are met and its sovereignty protected and respected. This is particularly true in the area of petroleum, inside and outside Venezuela. As W.T. Whitney observed in the July 26-August 1, 2008 issue of People’s Weekly World (yes, a commie rag, no apologies!): “Increasingly in Latin America, oil production serves social and political ends. And barriers are up putting hydrocarbon resources off limits to norther predators. That’s where the [recent US] dispatch of [the US Navy’s 4th Fleet (see my earlier entries)] fits in,….” which is what started this whole debate in the first place. And so Mr. Chavez has every right, and acts sensibly in securing and and preparing Russian Sukhoi fighter jets. He certainly knows what he’s doing for based on the history of US and Western intervention in the hemisphere leaves him little choice.

    So I make no apologies in hailing and giving my “vvas” to messrs. Fidel and Raul Castro, Mr. Chavez, Mr. Correa, Mr. Ortega, Mr. Morales, and Mr. Lula and Mrs. Fernandez (of Argentina).

    Cheers! ;-)

  • Clavos

    the revolutionary govt. then took some 12,000 former prostitutes and rehabilitated them, including training them in new, more honorable, and socially needed trades and occupations like textiles, etc.

    And yet, today there are more jineteras than ever on the island…

    As to Fidel “driving out all the people with talent, education, intelligence, and energy, and made it dependent on charity for survival;” again, these people left on their own accord, belonging to the “Other Cuba” the wealthy, overwhelmingly criollo or white MINORITY bourgeois Cuba.

    In other words, the people who actually WORKED and created work for others, like the Godoys and the Bacardis; the doctors, lawyers and businesspeople whose property the so-called revolution STOLE, and the many who were imprisoned, like Armando Valladares, whose only crime was to refuse put a plaque with a Marxist slogan on his desk; for which “crime” he languished in fidel’s prisons for 25 years.

    The revolution eliminated all that and everyone in Cuba is employed YEAR ROUND, perhaps not living luxuriously, but certainly having their basic needs met.

    Oh really? They’re starving to death; they don’t even get as much as a 1/2 kilo (1.1 lbs) of meat a month-no protein. What little food they do get, they have to stand in line for for days, while the commie elite shop in dollar stores, prohibited to guajiros, in which the shelves are loaded with food and luxuries from all over the world.

    Next lesson, your “And, despite enormous petrowealth, Chavez is ruining Venezuela just as effectively as Fidel sank the Pearl of The Antilles” bit. If anyone is running anything down to the ground in Venezuela, it’s the unpatriotic right wing of that country, Venezuela’s own variant of gusanos.

    Only Chavez has control of the petrodollars, and only Chavez decides where and how many get spent. As a result, Venezuela’s inflation rate is second only to Zimbabwe’s in the entire world. He’s ruining the economy of what could have been one of the most prosperous countries in the world, all by himself.

    In Cuba, for example, illiteracy, which afflics other “free” Latin American nations like a plague, has been wiped out. Cuba indeed has more per capita teachers, doctors, and health workers than any other country in the world. To wit, the life expectancy, which prior to the revolution was 59 years, has been increased by about 20 years for men and women – in 2005-2007, it attained the rate of 77.97 years for both genders: 76 years for men, and 80.02 for women.

    According to fidel’s propaganda machine, and not verified, except by socialist NGOs and left wing amurricans.

    They ahve also gone as far as making strides in the areas treating and nearly curing cancer and other deadly diseases…

    I personally know well two different Cuban doctors, who don’t know each other. They tell the same story: the training is good, and modeled after US medical schools; after that, it’s all downhill, with not enough medicines available to treat everyone, antiquated and insufficient equipment, severe rationing of medical care for the people. But again, the commie elite have a nice, well-stocked and staffed hospital with state-of-the-art equipment to be treated at, and even so fidel brought russian and Spanish doctors to Cuba to treat him, because his own weren’t up to the task.

    contrary to your perile claim that Castro and the revolution “made [Cuba] dependent on charity for survival;” the USSR is gone and the Cuban socialist revolution is still there and going forward.

    Then explain the necessity for the $2 billion a year “allowance” the soviets gave fidelito, which now comes from Chavez, helping to exacerbate Venezuela’s inflation?

    Wake up, Joaquin. Communism is dead. It never was a good economic system to begin with, and the crapheads who have run it in every socialist country made it even worse.

    One last point. I spent 30 years in the air transportation industry. During the 1990s, I operated several charter flights per week between Miami and several Cuban cities. The flights were legally permitted by both Treasury’s OFAC and the Cuban government. During that period, I traveled frequently to Cuba on business. I know what I saw there, and it wasn’t pretty. The infrastructure is crumbling everywhere, and there is extreme poverty. The people are afraid of their own shadows, and prostitution is rampant, especially in Varadero, where the meager tourist facilities are located.

  • Joaquin

    Clavos, hello again!

    First, on the jineteras: At least now these ladies in Cuba have the dignity of plying their trade on their own terms and keeping all their earnings, as opposed to before when they were exploited by their mobster or mob-dominated alcahuetes (pimps) who invariably appropriated all their earnings, passed on to them a mere fraction of it as “allowance,” and then pocketed the much larger rest. Now these women can work on their own terms. I’m far from being puritan in this area. Indeed, I think the Dutch have the right idea when it comes to the sex trade: make it a legitimate, over-ground business which qualifies for trade unionization, social security benefits, and a retirement pension. In that respect, I agree that socialist governments could be more enlightened and not as puritanical as they tend to be in the area of public sexuality. Indeed, original Marxism Leninism did not take these puritanical lines, as shown by Marx’s and Engels’s writings, as well as the early policies towards birth control, abortion, divorce, etc. of the Soviet Russian government between 1918 and 1929 or so. Communism, and a good bulk of the left in general eventually took more puritanical lines as a result of two things: the strong persistence of the noxious Judaeo-Christian heritage still clinging to European and American socialist movements, and the reversing of the earlier more enlightened positions in Soviet socialism and the atavistic reversion to the bad old Judaeo-Christian heritage during the Stalin years. In any case, the bottom line is that today’s jineteras work under better conditions, including much greater medical safety (as opposed to teh perennial dangers of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases threatening sex workers and their clients alike here in Bush’s “abstinence only utopia, or more accurately, dystopia) than their capitalistically exploited pre-revolutunary sisters ever did.

    Next, on Armando Valladares. You picked one hell of a poster boy, didn’t you? A real “human rights hero” with a kitty of lurid stories to tell (“Against Hope”), which not only have made him a best seller, but have also, among other things, netted him the US ambassadorship to the UN Human Rights Commission, leadership in Human Rights watch, kudos from the likes of the Reagans, and miraculous US citizenship, as one description put it, “by a special Act of Congress,” something the average poor Salvadoran or Haitian would-be refugee fleeing for their VERY LIVES threatened by infinitely more malevolent dicktatorships which happen to be friends of the US ruling oligarchy can never even remotely hope for. Under Valladares’s leadership and influence, The UNHRC focused its scrutiny on Cuba’s alleged human rights abuses. In 1988 or so, in the wake of Valladares’s allegations, the UN also opened up an investigation to verify his claims, and lo and behold, the investigating UN delegation found NO EVIDENCE to support Valladares’s allegations, and Valladares’s pet project found itself hardly able to sustain the scrutiny consequently focused on it by the UN. This, in turn had a rather harmful subsequent effect on the credibility of the US on the issue of human rights abuses in that US’s single-minded focus on Cuba, under Valladares’s influence, was often at the exclusion of comparable or worse human rights violations by human rights violators who happened to be US allies and friends – e.g. Israel, Colombia, Pinochet’s Chile, then-still-apartheid South Africa, etc. And of course, Valladares’s own performance in the human rights community was also negatively impacted in that his own (arguably understandable) antipahy towards the Castro government, as one observer noted, “left him with little interest in pursuing OTHER [human rights] violators, particularly of the non-Communist sort.” Yes, he spent 22 years in Cuban prisons, but not because of, as it’s been claimed,ad nauseam, “refusing to put a pro-Castro, pro-Communist plaque” on his desk (that claim has not been satisfactorily verified), but Valladares, along with Carlos Alberto Montaner, was arrested for engaging in activities against the Cuban revolutionary government sponsored by an anti-revolutionary cell known to carry out terrorist activities, to which Montaner also belonged. Nice try, but do pick a better poster child next time, will you bubba!

    Next, as for yor comments on Cuba’s medical system: “the training is good, and modeled after US medical schools; after that, it’s all downhill, with not enough medicines available to treat everyone, antiquated and insufficient equipment, severe rationing of medical care for the people.” Pues descubriste la agua tibia (duh!). What other conditions can you expect from the draconian blockade Cuba has been under for the last 46 years, under which Cuba, instead of being able to obtain equipment, medicines, supplies, etc. from the US (90 miles away) must instead get them from China, Japan, and formerly the eastern and central European socialist bloc and the USSR. The Cubans, for their part would LOVE to get what they need from the US and to trade with the US freely. But it is Washington, whose whore politicians have are repeatedly bought and sold like the putas (in the most undignified sense) they are (in BOTH parties – that’s bi-partisanship for you!)- just as they’re also bought and sold by the Israel lobby – by the gusanos at the Cuban American National Foundation(CANF), it is THAT Washington that’s being the cosmic dickhead and asshole by shutting revolutionary Cuba out. The Cubans, again, work hard to make do with what they do have, often with impressive results.

    Contrast the data concerning the medical system here in “freedom’s home” and “bravery’s land:”

    * The US scored 65 out of a posssible 100 in the areas of health outcomes, quality of care, access, efficiancy, and equity.

    * In 2007, 42% of all working age adults in the US were either uninsured or under-insured, a more than 7% increase from 2006. As for equity, African Americans and Latinos as well as the very poor of ANY race and the elderly, or the especially needy are often subjected to long waits, substandard treatment, and unnecesary hospitalizartions that could be relatively easily avoidable with adequate early stages care or adequate preventive care.

    * According to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, which focuses on health policy reform, it noted the following:
    – The US fell from 15th to last among 19 industrialized nations on premature PREVENTABLE deaths.
    – While the US has some of the best-equipped hositals and best-trained physicians in the world, providing extarordinary care, MILLIONS OF US PEOPLE CANNOT BENEFIT FROM THIS.
    – As for “efficiency,” even as defined by the often twisted standards of capitalism, health insurance administrative costs account for BILLIONS of dollars, which CAN be reduced by $51 BILLION to $102 BILLION if the US changed its system to a single-payer (yes, socialized!) system, like even capitalist countries such as Australia, Finland, and Japan have, and who therefore SPEND THE LEAST on administrative costs.

    Well, enough said on medicine.

    As for your “Wake up, Joaquin. Communism is dead,” bit, communism, or more accurately, revolutionary socialism, is FAR FROM DEAD! One of the beauties of Marxism Leninism is that it’s a LIVING body of theory and praxis and is open and flexible to respond to various conditions, recognizing that life itself changes and cannot be held by textbookish theory alone, a truth that the more enlighteed Marxist Leninists will easily grasp, but which unfortunately, I must admit, has all too often escaped a good part of the Left – again, due to a carry-over residue of the Manichean Judaeo-Christian heritage that has brainwashed western civilization (including eastern Europe as well) with the cosmological illusion that everything is either black or white, taking no account of the much more vast gray nuances in between. Unfortunatly too much of Cuba’s socialism has been modeled along the lines of the Manicahean Soviet “first draft” which in some ways worked, but which eventually fell (something that, by the way, even the chief architect of Cuba’s socialist structure, Che Guevara, in fact predicted as early as 1963 after visiting the eastern and central European socialist countries and the USSR, and coming away rather negatively impressed. But in the wake of Che’s departure from Cuba in 1965, and his eventual death in 1967, Cuba’s revolutionary govt. more fully modeled itself after the Soviet model). If you look at Venezuela today, however, you see that they are NOT copying the Cuban model sheepishly, as neither the Nicaraguan Sandinistas did in the 1980’s- interesteingly, at Fidel Castro’s own recommendation. In both countries a private sector consisted of the majority of the economy, but with the understanding that the ultimate foundation of society and the economic structuere were ultimately socialist. Even Soviet Russia in Lenin’s day also took this creative path in the form of the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921-1928 in which the space for a degree of private enterprise was opened to vitalize the economy (as Soviet Russia was still the only socialist island in a capitalist ocean). But while this economy made some concessions to market economics, the underlying understanding was that the ultimate, most fundamental foundation of the country was, in the final analysis, SOCIALIST and the capitalist sector was ultimately subordinate to it. I could go on, but only at the risk of making this perhaps too tedious for you, so I will stop here.

    J.

  • Franco

    #48 — Joaquin

    Joaquin, I see you’re a stickler for spelling and not bashful about kindly pointing out ALL my mistakes. Thank you and I would be more then happy to reciprocate.

    Joaquin sez…..“as for your “Joaquin, you really need to get out more.” gem, not only was I born abroad, but over the last 20 years I have not only travelled abroad (too many countries to list) but I’ve studied and worked abroad over the last 18 for stretches of 3-4 months, and in some cases going back for 2nd and 3rd tours of work (Spain, Russia, Ukraine, some examples). Maybe it;s you bud who need s to get out more and not just as a tourist seeking fun and diversion, but engaged in productive and positive pursuits as I was. So come out from your sandbox dear friend.

    Joaquin, that’s traveled not (travelled) and that’s it’s not (it,s) (-:

    I have been both working and living day in and day out, year after year, with all classes of people of South American the past 16 years engaged with them in productive and positive pursuits. However, I solute your 3-4 month travel stays here and there.

    “Why is it then that Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Paraguay have kept friendly and collaborative ties with Venezuela, and Argentina along with the avovementioned plus several others have been establishing or looking to establish alternatives like MERCOSUR, ALBA, and even a regionan non-US and non-EU dominated regional banking institution?”

    Joaquin, that’s aforementioned, not (avoveentiioned), and it’s regional not (regionan).

    All countries in SA have tried, and keep trying Joaquin, to keep friendly and collaborative ties with each other, including with Venezuela, including your native country Colombia. Don’t you up in California try to keep openly friendly relations with your neighbors’ even if secretly they may not be your favorites?

    Now as for both the MERCOSUR/ALBA regional trading pacts, and a non-US and non-EU dominated regional banking institution, there is everything right about doing this. I support it.

    This kind of positive principled economic trading program helps all of the people of SA trade their goods and services within the region. This would make SA work more like the US when trading between states. In the US there is no mountain of paper work, or a 20-30% mountain of taxation to move goods from California to Colorado, or any other state in the US. SA people really dig this idea just as the European have. Oh, wait, did I bring up something that the world likes about the US, excuse me.

    The idea for a regional trading pact is not a new concept for SA. Now while this may appear to some people to be a Chavez concept, it is not. SA has been talking about something like this for decades. It’s only being spear headed now because Chavez has seen a special opportunity for himself in it and has thus picked up the ball. A noble man with a noble cause you say? Well let’s take a closer look.

    Chavez has been insisting that the SA trade pact is made into a vehicle to channel hate for the US by using the pact as a regional anti-US cold war trading block. He has been pushing and bulling all other states to abandon all Trade Agreements with the US as a prerequisite to joining a SA trading pack. What had, and has been holding things up, is several states already have existing trade agreements with the US that they want to keep, and several more states that don’t currently have trade agreements with the US what them. Oh, those US free trade rat bastards say Joaquin and Chavez!

    Now while Chavez has succeeded in finding a few radically like-minded state leaders who support his anti- US cold war trading block, most all other SA states, including a large portion of the Venezuelan population, just want the SA trading package to move forward with its own noble concept without the US cold war hate agenda attached to it.

    Who can Chavez count on for support…………the usual suspects.

    (1) Cuba and the Castro brothers – need I say more.
    (2) Nicaragua and President Daniel Ortega – a Communist/Castro mentor.
    (3) Bolivia and President Evo Morales. – a Chavez mentor and yes man.

    Now as for Ecuador and President Rafael Correa, while you Joaquin would have us believe Correa is all lovey dovey with Chavez, it is not as you portray it. In Correa’s case we have both a significantly more skilled and educated leader then the Castor/Chavez/Ortega/Morales ilk. President Correa is a US educated economist who is more of his own man. He what’s to keep options open as he goes about maximizing his skills at building a better state. Now he sees big money in the friendly oil fields of Venezuela, and he is playing his cards smart right now with Chavez. He is watching closely both Chavez’s consistent attempts at his ever increasing power grab while at the same time watching the equally ever increasing unrest Chavez faces within his own country for doing it.

    Now yes, Correa is hard leftist, but Correa is walking the fence and keeping everything open for him like a cat, ready to jump when and where is has to. Correa knows that if the Venezuelan opposition should take control of Venezuela, he wants to be on good graces with them too. Theirs big money of them their fields of black gold.

    It should also be noted that Correa had to finally tell Chavez (when Chavez was insisting he support his anti-US SA Trading pact cold war agenda) that he was keeping Ecuador’s options open concerning signing on to any future Free Trade Agreements with the US. He was able to move out from under the pressure of Chavez on the coat tails of Chile, Peru (a bordering state) who have already signed Free Trades Agreements with the US – and – Colombia and Panama who both want to sign up with the US right now.. Additionally Correa throw Chavez an anti-US bone of peace by telling the US Ecuador would not be allowing the US to use its Military bases in the war on drugs.

    “where do you get the notion that most Latn American countries see Mr. Chavez and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a greater threat to their soveriegnty than the US?”

    Joaquin, that’s Latin not (Latn)“and it’s sovereignty not (soveriegnty). (-:

    Regional perceptions have deep roots. They stem from within the regional historical struggles of each state from this long time developing part of the world. It is the historical events between states that define them to themselves in the region and to others, and the faces of each states heroes are printed on its money.

    International perceptions of SA (people outside the region) are coming from audiences that are not familiar with the intricacy of historical perspectives. While most all of the people of SA know who our Georgia Washington and Abraham Lincoln are, we don’t know who their heroes are, why, and each state has their own list.

    Hugo Chavez knows SA regional history and he recklessly uses it a leverage and plays on this between states to try and get his way. This dangerous bulling all goes on under the radar screen of the NA and European media, but it sets off very serious alarms down here and that is exactly what Chavez wants it to do.

    It is from within these under the table threats that I support my contention that Chavez and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a greater threat to other SA states sovereignty than the US?

    “For the sake of argument, supposing many Latin Americans do see Chavez as a threat, who owns, controls, or materially influences the bulk of the Western world’s media, including the Latin American media? The US-dominated media conglomerates. My understanding is, the last time I was informd of this, that only 6 mega-conglomerates (almost all US-dominated or influenced) hold not just the Western world’s media but most of theat of the world, with exception of the independents, which fortunately appear to be growing, but not in the Americas but in Eurasia.”

    Joaquin, that’s informed not (informd), and it’s rest not (theat)

    “Then, there’s the critical factor of the local oligarchies tied to US and European transnational capitalism, many including local media.”

    You can’t hang your argument on the news media, none of them put food on the table or closes on your back, you have to do that for yourself.

    Whether you like it our not, free market capitalism works and if the major EU media and US push this agenda so be it. But your ignoring the fact that these major media outlets are pushing a more left then right slant. But in either case, no one is getting arrested for saying either.

    But I will say this in your suport for other independent media. Here in SA their is a 24 hour non US and not EU major news media. The Cuban news channel where you get to watch approved state media talking heads tell you how wonderful the Cuban people have it and how wonderful the Venezualen people will have it. But if some one tried to use this Cuban State media outlet to say anything in opposition to its state talking heads they would be arrested and jailed for up to 30 years. Is this the kind of independent media you had in mind Joaquin?

    And besides your fallacy, all free people have open access to the internet where thy can get news perspective from all over the world. So your point is mute.

    “Then there are the governments, especially ones like Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru, bought, paid for, and sold by US and European capital as well as Washington. Read your Latin America History.”

    Then there are the governments, especially ones like Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Argentina, bought, paid for, and sold by Communist capital and arms as well as Caracas/Moscow. Read your current Latin American History.

    “Indeed, Colombia, the third biggest recepient of US aid (almost all military) in the world, next to Israel and Egypt, a country where death squads have been terrorizing the population and killing labor, student, and social justice leders and activista and with one of the worst human rights records in the hemisphere and the world, that country (of which I am a native by the way) has shown to be more of a therat and violator to neighborng countries’ sovereignty than Venezuela has to any of its neighbors.”

    Joaquin, that’s recipient not (recepient) and that’s leaders not (leders) and it’ threat not (therat) and it’s neighboring not (neighborng)

    Spoken like a true comrade. But like all true comrades, your entitled to your opinions but not you’re own facts.

    Indeed, Colombian communist FARC, is the biggest recipient of communist drug running aid, (almost all military) in the world, where death squads have been terrorizing and killing the population, students, and democratic leaders and activists, elected government officials, and with the worst human rights records in the hemisphere and the world, and has shown to be more of a threat and violator to neighboring countries sovereignty than Colombia has to any of its neighbors.

    FARC is a barbaric communist terrorist organization existing within the Colombian borders that both Chavez and Castro have supported for years, and which the governments of Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have publicly expressed support for, oh excuse me, until they got there hand caught in the FARC cookie jar.

    If you are truly a native of Colombia and can not admit this about FARC, what dose this make you?

  • Franco

    #56 —Joaquin

    “Wherever Alvaro Uribe has had the misfortuen of governing, as mayor of Medellin (xoxoxo, as governor of the Department of Antioquia, and now as assassin-in-chief of Colombia, there have followed the misplacements and massacres o hundreds of thousands of POOR rural Colombians”

    Joaquin, that’s misfortune not (misfortuen)

    That is a totally faults and misleading statement. There is absolutely no incentive what so ever for Atvaro Uribe to go after and kill any Colombians unless they are militant FARC. Now if you want to call FARC poor rural Colombians go right ahead, but it only shows two things.

    (1) You are just as a deceptive red as FARC (2) The only one being deceived is you.

    Uribe is tough and relentless of FARC, that is true. And while that may piss off Castor, Chavez and you, I support him and the tax dollars he needs to break its back.

  • Joaquin

    Hey Franco, que milagro!

    I see you caught on to my sense of humour … you know, the spelling bit. I must admit it was quite amusing and it gave a good chuckle. To pay the devil his due, I must concede touché to you!

    Now that we’ve got the niceties out of the way, let’s get to more substantial matters, Junior.

    First, concerning Latin America and its nascent US-free alliance system. After the necessary step of cutting through a lot of the revoltura (tangled mess) that afflicted much of your narrative here, and in the rest of your discourse, I must open up with an apt quote by one of the most respected historical figures in America (yes junior, America consists NOT ONLY of the USA), Simon Bolívar made on 5 August, 1819:
    “…los Estados Unidos que parecen destinados por la Providencia para plagar la América de miserias a nombre de la Libertad.” or ” … the United States is destined to plague the Americas with misery in the name of Liberty.”

    Seems like even Bolívar recognized the nature of teh beast of US capitalist imperialism, though at the time it was chiefly British capitalism/neo-imperialism which had Latin America under economic bondage. So the kind of US-free regional alliances we’re looking at are nothing new, nor has it involved exclusively what you seem to consider “bad boy” states; Brazil’s Mr. Lula and Argentina’s Ms. Fernandez have also been pulling in this direction and both also spoke up strongly against the recent resurrection and re-deployment of the US 4th Fleet, both considering the move as aggressive and hostile on the part of the US. And it seems Paraguay is also pulling in this direction as well. I spoke to this in sufficient detail in earlier postings with Clavos (my posting # 68), as I also spoke on the subject of the REAL nature of US-propagated and US-dominated capitalist “free trade” policy (my posting #66). I should not have to speak to these again. On this point, your:

    “This kind of positive principled economic trading program helps all of the people of SA trade their goods and services within the region. This would make SA work more like the US when trading between states. In the US there is no mountain of paper work, or a 20-30% mountain of taxation to move goods from California to Colorado, or any other state in the US. SA people really dig this idea just as the European have. Oh, wait, did I bring up something that the world likes about the US, excuse me.”

    is just so much revoltura (conflation of incomparables, comparing of apples and oranges)capped with a touch of puerile semi-whine at the end, just as your mish-mosh on media and media coverage is.

    I do agree with you on one point, namely:

    “While most all of the people of SA know who our Georgia Washington and Abraham Lincoln are, we don’t know who their heroes are, why, and each state has their own list.” (by the way, it’s GEORGE Washington, not -LOL- ‘Georgia’ … sorry but I found that one impossible to resist!)

    Yes, it seems that educated Latin Americans (the few there are in those countries outside Cuba) like educated people everywhere else but in the US know more about the history of the USA than North Americans know and learn about the histories of other countries or world history in general. Indeed, many don’t even have a good grasp of the history of the USA itself. THAT’S part of, and a classic symptom of the problem: The last 35 years of rapidly globalizing US-dominated capitalism has been having a most deleterious consequences on the USA itsef effectively “third world-izing” it; particularly in areas like it’s rapidly deteriorating educational system and public infrastructure. Indeed, the ante-deluvian we have currently in the White House is the apotheosis of this nightmarish state of affairs.

    Now, to the mafia regime that currently is holding my native country hostage, the FARC, and my Colombian nationality, which you seem to want to impugn, another short history lesson, junior:

    The armed ELN and FARC insurgencies have indeed committed their fair share of outrages, which in my view are counter-productive in the long run, but I also recognize that they have been systematically forced into those positions by the Colombian establishment with no small help and egging on from its US backers. In this sense, the 700 or so hostages the FARC still holds and those who’ve died at their hand are effectively collateral damage in a 60-year civil war in which the right-wing forces of the ruling oligarchies and their US sponsors have ALWAYS been the initiators, provocateurs, and have ALWAYS kept the push going. But for the sake of perspective, whatever outrages (kidnappings primarily, but others as well)the ELN and FARC have perpetrated, they pale in comparison to the percentage of human rights violations committed by the right-wing forces of the ruling oligarchies, namely the AUC (the grossly mis-named “Self Defense” Forces), which since the US-sponsored Plan Colombia has been operating (2000-2005) have racked up from roughly 65% to 80% of the total abuses, and the left insurgencies do not come close to those right-wing forces in terms of the latter’s sheer barbaraity and gratuitous cruelty (ever hear of the “corbata” for example?). And while the most notorious of the lefty insurgencies’ outrages have been the kidnappings and long holdings of these hostages in captivity – numbering again about 700 selectively targeted from almost exclusively the upper and upper-middle classes – they do not come close to the MILLIONS of predominantly poor rural and often colored people the right wing forces have been SYSTEMATICALLY displacing, dispossessing, and massacring in the most barbarous fashion. This may sound like an impersonal and inhuman way to view all those very human casualties, but it’s the type of military calculus and impersonally military terms imposed on the larger situation by no one except “our” side, the forces of the Colombian establishment and its US backers.

    The current situation in Colombia is a key part of the JFK-created “Alliance for Progress” program, namely it’s counter-insurgecy mission initiated in 1962 and placed under the direction of US Colonel William Yarborough, who recommended the use of death squads. Over the past 46 years, the modes of operation of this program have included, but not been limitd to, ethnic and social “cleansings,” that is getting rid of “troublemakers” or “subversives” as well as the unsightly “deshechables” or “disposables”, i.e. the poor, homeless, and the street children known as “gamines”, just kill them and get them out of sight and out of mind. That’s why if you go to Bogotá today, there are “no gamines” or very few other “human eyesores”, they’ve all been purged away, but the structural problems that engender these “human eyesores” still fester and persist.

    As for the FARC: In the mid 1980’s (1984)when Belisario Betancur (conservative) tentatively made an opening of the historically closed political process, the FARC along with the PCC (Colombian Communist Party) and other non-FARC and non-PCC left forces formed the Union Patriotica (UP)to bring the struggle for popular self-defense and social struggle for social change out of the armed guerrilla war and into the peaceful, civilian political process. But within the first year or 2, right-wing thugs and sicarios (killers) killed some 500 UP activists and politicians, inlcluding mayors, city council members, and a presidential candidate, Jaime Pardo Leal. Indeed, as the UP made political gains in various parts of Colombu=ia in 1988, the right-wing masacres were stepped up – with the complicity of the establishment and state, killing plitical figures, judicial investigators, and others, in all eventually some 3,000 UP people were assassinated. The FARC’s only real crime in all this was in recognizing, as none of the other left forces were able or willing to,that the Colombian establishment and the oligarchs it served were NEVER interested in a peaceful polititical solution in which they might have to share power and benefits with other forces representing the underrepresented and historically excluded classes and groups, and in recognizing this, never making the mistake of disarming as other insurgencies, like the M19 did, to their own peril. Finally, the FARC’s being”narco guerrillas” is a red herring and a label falsely foisted on the Guerrilla Army, the product of US Ambassador Lewis Tambs, who not only discouraged peaceful political solutions to both the civil war and to the narco coke problem, but came up with the term “narco guerrillas” for the FARC in 1984 to paint them as a criminal outfit rather than a political insurgency so as to deprive them of any negotiating role or authority and keep them out of the political pale as “criminals”. In reality, the FARC’s only connection with cocaine has been to tax it, the way they taxed EVERYTHING ELSE within the aresa they controlled. The most they did in this regard was setting rules for market transactins – again in the areas they controlled – but unlike the right wing narcos and their establishment supporters, they did not directly supervise the production of coke or secure, let alone control distribution networks abroad. The FARC in other words is nothing like a cartel.

    As for the mobster-in-chief Uribe, that will be for later, as ther’s a lot to say but I need to get some rest.

    Hasta luego cocodrilo!

  • Clavos

    Words, words, words.

    You’re very glib, J, as are most commies.

    But, unfortunately, in your case they are all “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Only a commie could twist history to the degree you do, making the most free and prosperous culture in the history of the hemisphere the villain in hemispheric affairs.

    Your marxist rhetoric, is, as is all such, tiresome, boring, and most significantly, total bullshit.

    We kicked your ass in the cold war, and there’s still plenty of fight left in the “Don’t Tread on Me” viper.

    We are and will continue to do so, even as the hordes of balseros continue to risk their lives to come to the “shining city on the hill,” while the additional hordes of my countrymen continue to pour over the Southern border, seeking the “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” unattainable en las patrias. And that, amigo, is the real proof of whose system is better.

    There has never been a regime anywhere in LatAm that has ever given more than lip service to ending of exploitation of the campesino. None have ever really given a rat’s ass about them, not Bolivar, or Juarez, nor Dom Pedro. Not O’Higgins, or San Martin; none of them, and especially not the exploiters of today: Chavez, the Castro brothers, Correa and Morales.

  • Joaquin

    Hello Franco, I’m back. Pues tengo que cumplir un compromiso (I must keep a commintment)r.e. Alvaro Uribe.

    Having awakened fully rested, I will address this assassin- and dope pusher-in-chief who now unfortunately sits in Nariño Palace, and afterwards, will address a couple of new points that were brought up, and then get back to professional and family matters.

    I will, however, preface by wrapping up one more thing on the FARC and its primary historical pattern of operation: The territories they’ve come to control over the last 44 years at various times have been previously sparsely populated areas which the Bogotá government never administered in the first place, and continued to neglect until the hundreds of thousands of poor people fleeing the partisan violence or being massively expropriated by the oligarchy’s forces in the more prosperous highlands began filling these nelected territories to survive and eke out a living. The FARC then moved in and introduced the only semblance of government and administartion these areas had known, often providing social services and much-needed infrastructure. It was then after this that the paras (right-wing paramilitaries) at the behest of the ruling oligarchies in Bogotá, Medellin, etc., mounted attack on these areas and taking over, with the fulsome support of the US, and by this method then bringing these areas under Bogotá’s governance – minus the social services they used to get from the FARC. And if the areas are specially profitable, they are opened up to transnational capitalists, including Colombian narcos tied to the right wing and the oligarchy. Today heading this godamned enterprise is our subject, Uribe.

    Uribe’s father, Alberto Uribe Sierra was like many other middle class Medellinians, deep in debt, until in the mid 1970’s “catapulted him to wealth and influence as a politica broker, real estate intermediary, and ‘recognized trafficker.” (Forrest Hylton) In addition, Urobe Sierra is also connected to the Ochoa narco family by marriage. With this backing, the then-30 year-old Alvaro Uribe Vélez was appointed mayor of Medellin, but was quckly removed by the then-governor of Antioquia after Uribe jr. was publicly photographed with coke capos at Pablo Escobar’s estate. He seems to have surrounded himself with these shadowy figures as neighbors (Salvatore Mancuso, a leading para and AUC figure), associates (Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, a campaign advisor and leading importer into Colombia of potassium permanganate, a key chemical in the processing of cocaine, according to the US DEA), and friends and family. Later, during his two year tenure as governor of Antioquia, Uribe set out to legalize the anti-guerrilla militias, the Convivirs, one of the precursors of the AUC, and who during these same 2 years displaced some 200,000 peasants. During this same period, the department (Antioquia) accounted for some “18% of displaced people nation-wide, more than any other department” (Hylton)In addition, Uribe’s governorship brought a 400% increase in the homicide rate in the department. Already high when he took over as governor in 1994, (400) in the 4 “banana” municipalities under his jurisdiction, the homicide rate shot up afterwards: 800 in 1995; 1,200 in 1996; and AFTER HIS LEAVING office, it WENT DOWN to 700 in 1997, and dipped again to 300 in 1998. As for the dope traffic as an alleged FARC racket, it was none other than Carlos Castaño head AUC capo who publicly admitted in 2000 that 70% of AUC’s revenues came from this trade, while Colombia’s ambassador to the US estimtes it at 75% (how did he know?). Indeed, thre was a synergy btween Castaño and Uribe, and Casstaño said after Uribe won the Colombian presidency in 2002 that he was “the man closest to our philosophy.” As president, Uribe’s main strategy was three-fold:
    1. Declaring “peace” and that there was “no civil war” thereby, first, obliterating the political need to have to deal as he should with the paras.
    2. By way of the above, the left insurgencies were then further put out of the political pale and locked into the categories of “criminals” and “terrorists”, and not just the armed insurgencies, but ANY OTHER persons or formations or groups seeking social and economic equity such as labor unionists, student leaders, human rigts activists, etc. By classifying this state of affairs as “peace” Uribe is also left free to attack ALL of them as “terrorists” and “criminals” as he has been doing, and NOT face political pressure to negotiate or even acknowledge let alone talk to any of them. It is this latter strategy and philosophy that underlies Uribe’s current “democratic peace” agenda.
    3. Legalizing the para forces by first entering into “negotiations” with them and offering them “amnesty”, anothe rway of INSTITUTIONALIZING them into the official state apparatus. Hence, the paras won Colombia’s congressional elections in 2006, with more than a little help from their armed friends still “on the outside” who “nudged” the vote from reluctant or unwilling voters.

    Now Uribe is trying to finnagle a third presidential term, against the Constitution – indeed, his second term was already unconstitutional – to continue his right-wing agenda. As even the former head of Colombia’s DAS (their CIA, FBI, DEA thrown into one) Ramiro Bejareno put it in 2006,

    “Uribe has made Colombia’s society one tht is professing the culture of paramilitarism … In Colombia, we are headed toward a mafia state.”

    Enough on Uribe. Now to other things.

    Clavos, r.e. your: “We kicked your ass in the cold war, and there’s still plenty of fight left in the “Don’t Tread on Me” viper.”

    You’ve put it quite well. Historically the forces for social change and social justice have always preferrred to work peacefully and openly. It is only the violence and repression visited upon them by the ruling status quos that obligate the progressive forces to turn to clandestinity and armed struggle. The violence of a country’s revolutionary forces is the mirror-index of the violence of its existing status quo. Such is clearly the case in Colombia.

    As for your: “There has never been a regime anywhere in LatAm that has ever given more than lip service to ending of exploitation of the campesino. None have ever really given a rat’s ass about them, not Bolivar, or Juarez, nor Dom Pedro. Not O’Higgins, or San Martin; none of them,”

    Interesting folks you mentioned here, and I must say you’re right to some extent. Aside from being the national liberators (from Spain though not from British capitalism/neo-imperialism) of Latin America, they were also representative of the the-emerging predominantly criollo (white) comprador bourgeoisie tied to European – chiefly British – capitalism. Indeed, let’s start with Benito Juarez, althogh he was a full-blooded Zapotec Inian, he was raised as white criollo as could be by criollo guardians, and grew up to think, talk, and act bourgeois criollo. As governor of Oaxaca, he refused to side with or even consider the plight of his fellow Indians as they were being expropriated of their communal lands (ejidos). When he and his forces ousted Empeor Maximilian in 1867 – the latter who actually DID MORE than anyone in Mexico at that time to better the lot of rural Indians and peasants under his 1865 Provisional Statute – Juarez restored this system of rural plunder and in this and several other ways paved the way for the much hated Porfirio Diaz dictatorship of 1884-1911. As for Bolívar, as he began the Great Colombia’s independence campaign he found himself FORCED to make the emancipation of black African slaves part of the independence agenda if he and his movement were to receive material help from the Republic of Haiti, and if he hoped to attarct badly needed fighters to his ranks. But initially, part of the Great Colombian criollos’ agenda for independence included their the-purported “right” to own humans as chattel property; it was considered among the “rights” of the Atlantic bourgeoisie. But Bolívar had to backtrack on that one to secure Haitian aid and to attract Blacks to his ranks.
    Indeed, Spanish America abolished slavery between 1815 and 1840, long before the US did (1865). Even the notoriously autocratic Russia abolished serfdom pefore the US abolished slavery (1861). The only exceptions in the hemisphere were Cuba (196 during the fight with pain for independence) and Brazil 1889). Indeed, Colombia between 1840 and 1885 had the strongest and most advanced tradition of popular democracy (albeit bourgeois) of ANY part of the Atlantic world. But as Colombia’s propertied oligarchs found themselves challenged by teh demands of the lower often colored masses, they took control and clamped down, and have continued stubbornly clamping down ever since. Indeed, as Forrest Hylton, an expert on Colombia put it, the war in Colombia today is the apotheosis of historically frustrated and long-overdue social revolution, which the oligarchies, and their supporters in the US have made, and continue to make impossible by peaceful means.

    I have other things to tend to now, and my only parting words are “he who has an ear, let her/him hear.” All others, well, allá con ustedes (have it your way).

  • Joaquin

    Correction to above: “The only exceptions in the hemisphere after 1865 were Cuba (1896 during the fight with Spain for independence) and Brazil 1889).

    Cheers! ;-)

  • Clavos

    Historically the forces for social change and social justice have always preferrred to work peacefully and openly. It is only the violence and repression visited upon them by the ruling status quos that obligate the progressive forces to turn to clandestinity and armed struggle. The violence of a country’s revolutionary forces is the mirror-index of the violence of its existing status quo.

    Ah, J, you are nothing if not a skilled and slick propagandist; but what you spout so well is just that and nothing more: pure fiction–propaganda composed to convince the gullible that black is white. A house of cards in which the chief cards are deceit and obfuscation; both traps laid for the unsophisticated.

    Unfortunately for you and your fellow travelers, modern communications have spread the truth much more efficiently, and the peasants are not nearly so easy to deceive anymore.

    The failure of communism is known and observed by the entire world, which is why it is rejected, unless applied by the use of repression. Interesting that, except by force, it has never even taken root, much less flourished, in a free, sophisticated society.

  • Franco

    Spoke for truth Clavos.

  • Joaquin

    “.Unfortunately for you and your fellow travelers, modern communications have spread the truth much more efficiently, and the peasants are not nearly so easy to deceive anymore.”

    How true this is, Clavos. It’s thanks to the still unprivatized internet that people are better able to democratically organize and mobilize at a moment’s notice. A couple of salient examples:

    In the late 1990’s, the largest multinationals of the then-G7 in league with teh World Trade Organization (WTO) had been SECRETLY negotiating teh Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) Treaty which, if implemented wouuld have addtionally empowered the multinationals (MN’s) at the expense of national governments and AGAINST the larger interests of much of he world’s people those governments are charged to protect. One description called it “a NAFTA on steroids.” Luckily for the world’s people, the treaty and its contents were somhow leaked onto the French Internet (the Europeans, particularly the French, always seem to be leagues ahead of us Americans when it comes to these things)> In a matter of hours and days, enough folks were mobilized around the world, and the MAI was stopped cold in its tracks. And later, when the WTO, the G7 and co. tried to secretly institute the content of that monster-agreement in a secret and remote location (it escapes me at this moment), again, the world’s people mobilized and pressed the government of India which quashed the effort.

    A second example is in Venezuela: One of the results of Mr. Chavez policies and his cointry’s oil income is that no matetr how poor, the average Venezulan in urban barrios has a computer. Thanks to this, Vezuelans were abe to likewise organize and mobilize quickly to crush the would-be Carmona coup against Mr. Chavez in April 2002. Since then, they’ve continued to likewise keep informed and be ready to organize and mobilize against the US and oligarchy-sponsored efforts to subvert their government and defend it.

    Thanks for pointing this out, Clavos.

    J ;-)

  • Clavos

    A second example is in Venezuela: One of the results of Mr. Chavez policies and his cointry’s oil income is that no matetr how poor, the average Venezulan in urban barrios has a computer. Thanks to this, Vezuelans were abe to likewise organize and mobilize quickly to crush the would-be Carmona coup against Mr. Chavez in April 2002.

    Only to find out to their horror that Chavez, who is all talk, smoke and mirrors, is destroying their country right before their very eyes and hungry stomachs, in the time-honored and grand tradition of all “socialist” despots.

  • Franco

    Clavos, I sware, I’m still cleaning coffee off the monitor and keyboard.

  • Joaquin

    “Only to find out to their horror that Chavez, who is all talk, smoke and mirrors, is destroying their country right before their very eyes and hungry stomachs, in the time-honored and grand tradition of all “socialist” despots.”

    If that;s so, Clavos, then how do you explain the 2006 elections’ results, 4 years later, and Mr. Chavez’s overall electoral record? In 2006, Mr. Chavez was challenged by the Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales, backed by a kitty of opposition political parties, “civil society” organizations,business associations, mass media, and the Catholic Church hierarchy, but Chavez STILL WON by the landslide of 64% of a vote that had the highest turnout by the eligible electorate in the history of the country. Not to mention that Mr. Chavez also had 3 previous electoral victories, in 1998, 1999, and 2004, “each garnering a larger majority of votes and voter participation” (Eva Golinger). I might add that each of these elections was minutely scrutinized by independent outside overseers and agencies in a way that elections elsewhere in the hemisphere, particularly among US “friends and allies” are not, and each time, the international observers have given them A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH and confirmed their authenticity. Contrast that with the recent erections … er, excuse me, elections in Mexico where the notoriously corrupt Mexican govt. didn’t even allow international observers and overseers, including the Carter Center in to monitor and verify the elections. EVERYONE in Mexico knows that Calderon DIDN’T win that election, just as Chupacabras, .. er, excuse me, Carlos Salinas also didn’t win the election in 1988.

    J. ;-)

  • Les Slater

    One must not forget that the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ started with the U.S. deploying 15 Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Turkey in 1961, aimed at cities in the USSR, including Moscow. In part of the resolution the missiles were removed from Turkey.

  • Joaquin

    Just as today the US has been encircling Russia more than ever before, but seems it’s not yet satisfied and wants more ….

  • Clavos

    J,

    Tell us about the most recent Venezuelan election…

    Oh, and BTW, J, if you’re such a fervent commie, and a Colombiano, why are you living here, in the belly of the beast? Why aren’t you home, helping the campesinos overthrow the “corrupt” Uribe regime, or at least, living in a good socialist state like Cuba, where I’m sure you’d be comfortable among friends?

    Rigged elections in Mexico? You’re surprised? That’s a nearly century-old tradition.

    Everything in Mexico is rigged–everything.

    Corruption is the first thing Mexicans learn at their mothers’ breast. La mordida is practically written into the constitution.

    And where in this discussion have I held up Mexico as a paragon of virtue?

  • troll

    Joaquin – do you have a source for further info on the penetration of computers in the V barrios – ?

  • Joaquin

    Hello Troll:

    As for exact info, this will take some time as my archiving is a bit messy at the moment (I did an unsuccessful initial search through my files here at home last night). However, you might find the following sites/key words interesting as well:

    VenezeulAnanylis
    specifically: this.

    Stockholm Challenge.

    Fabian Rodriguez.

    The specifics I’m looking for here, and which you requested are in a couple of issues of The Nation magazine. Meanwhile, until I locate the hard copies I KNOW I HAVE SOMEPLACE, I refer you to their site – you might need to do some poking around, however.

    In the meantime, I will continue looking for the hard copies I know I have here at home or in my office.

    Now Clavos:

    “…if you’re such a fervent commie, and a Colombiano, why are you living here, in the belly of the beast?”

    I’m very glad you ask. Indeed, I’ve been waiting for that question, either from you or Franco. I will just preface my answer with the obsevation (from Dr. Johnson I believe):

    “‘patriotism’ is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings.”

    With that, I will begin answering your question. I was born and raised in Colombia but came with my family to the US 44 years ago (most of my that time here in California, but lived long enough in Colombia to remember have the culture embedded in me, and thenks to my mother (my late father was from Mexico City) I’ve kept contact with it and the particularly Bogotano Spanish as well. Having been here for 44 years (more tan 4/5 of my life), however, I”m also very North American as well. I’m particularly reminded of this everytime I travel abroad, which is quite often, particularly on working tours where I might spend 3-4 months at a time living and working in a foreign country. I grew up with the Beatles and the Stones (yes, I know they’re Brits)but also Bob Dylan, the Byrds, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, etc. I also grew up digging American cars, especially Chevy and Ford muscle cars from the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, you know, back when American brand cars were GOOD – that is BEFORE GM, Ford, and Chrysler decided to do the “patriotic” capitalist thing and close down their factories here in the USA – and thus putting many US workers out of work and thus stripping them of their livelihoods, only to ship them off to the countries of the 3rd world, among them Latin America (pursuant to “free trade” agreements like NAFTA, etc.) to pay workers there a fraction of a fraction of what they formerly paid US workers, only to ship hese cars back to the US to be sold AT FIRST WORLD PRICES, you know, when American cars were actually made HERE by American workers who were getting paid well enough to be able to actually afford these cars. But in myriad other ways, I assimiated rather thoroughly to my American environment, in ways that, as I came to learn during my graduate studies, gusanos – be it from WHEREVER in Latin America – generally do NOT. Recognizing notable exceptions of course, I learned that a good part of the wealthy, white anti-Castro Cubans in Miami did not, and still have not bothered to adopt US citizenship, which I DID, and when they do, many do not bother to vote or otherwise participate in the US political process (all the while whining about what a “dictatorship” revolutionary Cuba is); I DO participate in that process and vote every election, frustrating as it may often be, particularly since 2000 thanks to Diebold and other “vote equipment” companies in league with our neaderthal-in-chief and his party. Nor do I cloister myself only among Latinos – as the aforementioned gusanos also tend to, but I like to mingle with the whole glorious mix that comprises the American population. And in instances where they have bothered to get out from the all-Cuban, all-Latino cloister, they have also adopted the more socially retrograde aspects of American life – like confederate flags, extreme right wing politics, etc. All this has been amply (if perhaps indiscreetly) recorded and documented by (interestingly) one of their number themselves, one Gustavo Perez Firmat in his book “Next Year in Havana” a rather very good and engaging book, I might say. The Cubans who HAVE adopted US citizenship and DO participate in the mainstream of US are generally either those who have also taken a more moderate or even a progressive position on revolutionary Cuba and the other Latin American revolutions, or those who have also organized the Cuban mafias … er, excuse me, lobbies like the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) that today buy and sell our politicians in Washington of BOTH major parties and who’ve been organizing the terrorist bands and expeditions that have been perpetrating crimes in revolutionary Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America where revolutionary governments have taken power. Unfortunately the latter category have been the far more visible of the two.

    I am NOT anti-US or anti-American – hey I AM one, as is my son (natural-born) also, as are also many people I love, like, and care for – but I AM anti-imperialist. I am not even totally anti-capitalist, but I AM a revolutionary socialist (Marxist Leninist) as well as an internationalist. I also am a post-Bolivarian in that while I adhere to the Bolivarian vision of Messrs. Chavez, Morales, Ortega, etc., I also like to include the workers and socially progressive of the US, Canada, and the rest of non-Spanish speaking America in the larger vision of a revolutionary progressive united America.

    But I am ALSO very Colombian. I will never concede either Colombian or (and especially)North American nationality to be the exclusive preserve of right wing, redneck, flag-waving, homophobic, puritanical, and misogynist assholes. They are no more “American” or “Colombian” than me, in fact they are less so.

    As for your: “Why aren’t you home, helping the campesinos overthrow the “corrupt” Uribe regime, or at least, living in a good socialist state like Cuba, where I’m sure you’d be comfortable among friends?” and particularly your “why are you living here, in the belly of the beast?”

    I will respond by paraphrasing a point Ernesto “Che” Guevara made: Every effort you make to liberate and transform a country under whose flag you were not born will unltimately be reckoned toward the liberation of your native country.

    Now, your: “Everything in Mexico is rigged–everything.
    Corruption is the first thing Mexicans learn at their mothers’ breast. La mordida is practically written into the constitution.”
    in particular: “Corruption is the first thing Mexicans learn at their mothers’ breast.”

    Whoa!!! Did I accidentally strike a raw nerve here, or what? Two possibilities here: Either you are one hell of an anti-Mexican bigot, or (as seems likely from the tone and content) you are Mexican but with a hopelessly jaundiced view of your mother culture. Such bitterness will inevitably cloud and distort a person’s view and interpretation of EVERYTHING, including humanity and even life themselves.

    J.

  • Clavos

    I learned that a good part of the wealthy, white anti-Castro Cubans in Miami did not, and still have not bothered to adopt US citizenship, which I DID, and when they do, many do not bother to vote or otherwise participate in the US political process (all the while whining about what a “dictatorship” revolutionary Cuba is)…

    You should seek out more sources than just one man’s book, Joaquin; aside from the above being totally wrong, you’re taking one man’s word (One man who obviously has an axe to grind) to form an opinion of how an entire group thinks and acts.

    According to the US Census Bureau, 31.5%of the Cubans in the US are born here. 41.4% were born in Cuba, and are naturalized US citizens. Only 27.1% are Cuban-born and not US citizens. And though the Census doesn’t tabulate it, it’s highly likely that the vast majority of those are only recently arrived.

    Some facts: exactly half of the six person Miami-Dade congressional delegation is Cuban. The other half consists of two american Blacks, and one white person. The state legislature delegates consist of 7 Cubans, 4 Blacks and 2 anglos. The mayor and 3/4 of the city commission is Cuban. You must be a US citizen before you can be a Congressman. Who do you think votes for these Cuban pols? Not the gringos, they all left years ago (according to the Census Bureau, the Anglo population of Miami-Dade is approximately 12%), while 67% is Latino, and 18% american Black (as opposed to Latino Blacks, which are included by the census in the “Hispanic” population).

    The Cubans who HAVE adopted US citizenship and DO participate in the mainstream of US are generally either those who have also taken a more moderate or even a progressive position on revolutionary Cuba…

    Wrong again. It is not a coincidence that all three of the Cuban Congressmen and our Cuban Senator are Republicans.

    So, Joaquin try investigating more than one source before you draw conclusions about people.

    Nor do I cloister myself only among Latinos…

    Congratulations. How progressive and egalitarian of you. Of course, if you lived here, that would be just a bit more difficult – like living in Bogota and not hanging around with Latinos.

    I am NOT anti-US or anti-American – hey I AM one…

    Plenty of americans are anti-american; especially among the “progressives,” and even more so among the (as you call yourself) ” revolutionary socialist (Marxist Leninist) as well as an internationalist.”

    Marxist-Leninism is hardly compatible with the quintessentially capitalist american economic model.

    You say:

    …in particular: “Corruption is the first thing Mexicans learn at their mothers’ breast.”

    Whoa!!! Did I accidentally strike a raw nerve here, or what?

    Nope, no raw nerves, just recognition of a historical fact. Anything is obtainable by bribery in Mexico. Any candid mexican will tell you so. Have you ever read Octavio Paz’s El Laberinto de La Soledad? No bitterness either, J, It is what it is. Why is Pemex (por ejemplo) losing money amid record prices for oil?

    And please, if you’re trying to convince me of the validity of your point of view, don’t try to do so by quoting a murdering thug like Che Guevara, it does nothing for your cause.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    JOAQUIN: As you are becoming a regular debater here, I need you to start formatting links to other sites correctly, as I have done for you in your comment #87 above.

    If you are not sure how to do this, there are many places you can learn how. One such place is HTML Code Tutorial where you can learn many things, including how to format links correctly.

    Thanks in advance.

    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

  • Joaquin

    Thanks Christopher. I will find the advice useful in other areas as well.

    Cheers! :-)

    J.

  • Joaquin

    Hey Clavos again,

    First, I did NOT rely just on Perz Firmat’s book. The latter was only one source I consulted to get a look at the Florida Cuban community, which itself was only a part of a larger reseach project on the US Latino community for a Chicano/Latino Studies seminar. Where I do concede is that, being my very first such research project, my data is old and likely obsolete (late 1980’s-early 1990’s); second, for the same reason my research methods were admittedly a mite bit raw and in need of refinement; finally, it was no a quantitative study, but in that vein, thanks for the updated quantitative data on Miami-Dade County and the US Census info on the Cuban community, I will certainly check it out.

    That being said, I’m still basically on targer when I said:

    “The Cubans who HAVE adopted US citizenship and DO participate in the mainstream of US are generally either those who have also taken a more moderate or even a progressive position on revolutionary Cuba …, or those who have also organized the Cuban mafias … lobbies like the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) that today buy and sell our politicians in Washington of BOTH major parties and who’ve been organizing the terrorist bands and expeditions …[to which I add, ‘and many of those supporting the latter’]… Unfortunately the latter category [I amend, ‘of Cubans in the US’] have been the far more visible of the two.”

    In line with some of the data you gave me, yes, there are those of the Ileana Ros Lehtinen, Mairo and Lincoln Diaz-Balarts (the two “Cuban Kennedys”, and ironically relatives of Fidel and Raul Castro, who have effectively taken lead in the US Cuban community at the political level, and who’ve unfortunately also contributed to steering US policy and politics further to the right on both US-Cuba relatyions and more generally. There are also, however, the Orlando Bosch’s and the Jose Posada Carriles’s (the latter two who perp[etrated the terrorist murder of 73 passangers aboard a Cubana flight from Barbados to Havana in October 1976), and the Alpha 66 and 2506 Brigader variety who have captured the limelight. so again:

    “Unfortunately the latter category [I amend, ‘of Cubans in the US’] have been the far more visible of the two.”

    In this vein, my apologies to those decent, conscientious, and honest Cubans, ncluding conservative ones. It was not my intention to over-generalize.

    As to your:

    “Plenty of americans are anti-american; especially among the “progressives,” and even more so among the (as you call yourself) ” revolutionary socialist (Marxist Leninist) as well as an internationalist.”

    Marxist-Leninism is hardly compatible with the quintessentially capitalist american economic model.”

    First, I reiterate that I do not – nor should I or anyone else – concede to having American nationality and American-ness be confined to the narrow right wing parameters you apparently hold.There are and have been MANY Americans of left-of-center to radical left convictons who are integral part of US history and heritage, and who’ve contributed mightily to bettering the US as a country and a society, some recognizable perhaps as all-American icons: Eugene V. Debs and his Socialist Party of America, Helen Keller (all too-often known just as the deaf-mute-and-blind girl/woman who “overcame all her challenges” by “pulling up on her individual bootstraps” in reality she was not only a radical socialist and feminist, but also joined the Industrial Worker of the World [IWW]) and also Mark Twain – again, all-too-often know as just a wonderful writer of Americana, but was also a most acerbic and keenly aware social and politial critic, with whose words I will close as I have to go a la chamba (to work):

    “My kind of loyalty is loyalty to one’s country, not its institutions or its officeholders.
    The country is the substantial thing … the thing to watch over and care for, and be loyal to.
    Its institutions are extraneous, …its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.
    To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die (or kill) for rags, that’s the loyalty of unreason.”

    So don’t throw your rednecked asshole right-wing pajarilla (tripe) at me to denigrate my American-ness!

    As Arnold Schwarzenegger wouls say, I’ll be back!

    J.

  • troll

    (btw Joaquin – thanks for your efforts and links…it is hard to get a sense of ‘the situation on the ground’ in Venezuela/Iraq/Georgia/etc (even given our blessed www) that is trustworthy

    I regret that the ‘bloggers on the scene’ in Venezuela who have dropped by BC on occasion have not chosen to become more involved here)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Troll,

    Here is a link to what I find to be a pretty good blog in Venezuela. It provides current news and analysis, generally anti-Chavez.

    Dan

  • troll

    thanks for the link Dan – I’ve been through lots of the political blogs coming out of the area…most of them read like propaganda rags

    hopefully this one will be different

  • Clavos

    …rednecked asshole right-wing…

    That’s me.

    And proud of it.

  • troll

    ‘pride precedes the fall’ or some such shit

  • Clavos

    Oh, and BTW, J. I’m not denigrating your “american-ness,” just your economic ideas.

    As a dual citizenship american myself, I couldn’t care less about your (or anybody’s) “american-nes.”

    I do commend you, however, for citing (and apparently admiring) Twain. In that, you are rather rare among left-wingers these days, most of whom (mistakenly) condemn Twain as a racist, specifically for his greatest book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, little realizing that Huck Finn is a treatise against racism.

    Others hold Twain up as a paragon of anti-capitalism; again ignoring (or, more likely, misinterpreting) his writing.

    However, Twain was actually a firm believer in Capitalism, which he explored in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

    As Dr.Jack Cashill, professor and literary critic notes, in an essay originally published in Fortune magazine:

    A whole school of criticism would have you believe that this novel is a searing indictment of mean property consciousness. One professor, James M. Cox, notes that the novel’s hero, Hank Morgan, is a ”grotesque caricature of the enlightenment he advocates.” Why grotesque? Because Morgan has brought science and industry to Camelot and disrupted its rhythms. Since Cox considers Twain’s Camelot ”a charmed Arthurian paradise,” he regards Morgan the way he might view a dioxin salesman. Cox’s reading of this novel borders on the preposterous. Twain called Camelot ”a nation of worms.” He disliked its Catholicism, its feudalism, its ignorance, its squalor. Perhaps more than any other novelist, Twain believed that the capitalist was a liberator. For him, the factory represented the synthesis of ”hand and brain” that would redeem the world from centuries of feudal oppression. ”Who made the greatness of England?” asks Twain in notes he made around the time he wrote Connecticut Yankee. ”Was it Wellington and Nelson? No; these shrink into a pitiful insignificance when placed alongside the mighty names of Watt, Arkwright, Eli Whitney, and Stephenson.” The man truly loved industrialism. It is evident in every page of the novel. But the academics can’t deal with this. They can’t believe that as major a writer as Twain does not share their perspective. So what do they do? They change his perspective. They tell students that Twain ”really” disliked capitalism, and they tell them persistently enough that the students begin to believe them. (emphasis added)

  • Clavos

    ‘pride precedes the fall’ or some such shit

    “Pride goeth before a fall.” From the bible. (I think).

    And I’ve fallen frequently in my life.

    It’s a big deal only if you don’t get up and move on.

  • Joaquin

    Hello Troll,

    In between tasks and deadlines, I’ve been looking for the Nation issue where I found the info about the dissemination of computers in Venezuela. Alas, still to no avail, so now I go to stage 2 of my search. In the process, however, I did find another Nation issue, this one from December 4, 2006 which included the article “Letter from venezuela: The Land of Chavismo” by Chesa Boudin.

    The article discusses a series of social programs initiated in Venezuela in the wake of the April 2002 coup attempt and the Winter 2002-2003 64-day lockout in which bosses and capitalists namely in the oil industry, in concert with elements of the Bush Administration, shut everything down, and which, like similar US- and opposition-fomented actions in Salvador Allende’s Chile in 1972-1973, had been intended to foment a popular rebellion to overthrow Pres. Chavez. While they failed in that objective, they did succeed in inflicting $10 billion in damages to the economy, including the drop of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by more than 20%, and a rise in unemployment upwards of 25% – the rate it was in the US in 1933 during the depth of the Great Depression! These actions on the part of these upper middle and upper class Venezuelans also succeeded in inflicting lots of misery on the rest of the population, particularly the poorer population constituting 70% of all Venezuelans. These social programs, undertaken initially, and ingood part to counter-act the political fallout of the aforementioned opposition actions, were established as “las misiones” or missions, largely funded from oil revenues, and which tackled several key areas.

    These areas include the following. First, they included education: One of these, the Mision Robinson has virtually eradicated illiteracy in their area of charge in a little over one year, a success paralleling similar educational campaigns in Nicaragua in 1979-1982 and in Cuba in 1960-1962. The success of all three has been recognized by UNESCO. Other misiones enjoying similar success included Negra Hipólita, Sucre, and Ribas. The latter has enabled more that 500,000 to earn a high school diploma, while Sucre is currently helping 458,000 students to pursue university studies in 24 fields.

    Other misiones tackled health care, job training, and food programs, including MERCAL and PDVAL which have benefited over 12 million. The Misiones also carried out other social services, and in the 2003-2008 period, visible gains were made, not only in terms of betterment of material conditions, but perhaps more notably, in politically empowering the histoically excluded poor majority population through grass-roots oriented participatory democracy as embodied in the oft-maligned (by the Venezuelan oligarchs and Western circles)Bolivarian circles, foloowing the historical examples of Cuba’s CDR’s (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), the Sandinista Nicaraguan CDS’s (Comites de Defensa Sandinista) and all their forerunner, the Zapatista committees set up by Emiliano Zapata’s forces in teh Mexican state of Morelos in 1914-1916. as one of those served by the misiones and teh Bolivarian circles put it, “Under Chavez we have gotten a taste of what it is like to run the country …” and again, “That feeling of empowerment is not something people in the barrios will easily give up.” These sentiments are the BACKBONE REASON why the 2002 coup failed, or more accurately why so many Venezuelans stopped it.

    But as I remember, you were interested in being as “close to the ground” as possible, and you along with others may ask why I’m bringing up this subject matter from late 2006? Well, it’s STILL relevant and VERY MUCH ON THE GROUND, as the decision has just been taken (June-July 2008)by the Venezuelan government not only to keep these misiones – which were originally intended to be temporary and provisional measures – on a PERMANENT basis, but also to expand their reach beyond the 70% poor population to include broader layers and sectors of Venezuelans. While it was cerrtainly correct to prioritize the most vulnerable and historically excluded majority, the misiones are being expanded to reach out to the needs and concerns of the middle and upper classes as well. Even while these latter efforts are still in their infancy, the particular interests and concerns of these upper and middle sectors (security, freedom from crime, improvement of “unsightly” areas and elimination of other blights particularly offensive to middle and upper class sensibilities) are even now being served, and have indeed been served in that, as one observer noted, “a more educated and cultured people, with more employment and better nutrition, with greater access to sports and recreation, will be less violent and happier,” and thus such a course will ultimately benefit ALL the population, including the bourgeoisie. That is unless that same bourgeoisie persists in undermining these very programs and misiones.

    One last observation. Just FYI, I did in the meantime check out that site referred to you by Dan Miller. My own impression of it was, well, so-and-so ….

    In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for my/our original target, I’m finding interesting things in the process!

    Regards
    Joaquin

  • Clavos

    Joaquin sez:

    …the misiones are being expanded to reach out to the needs and concerns of the middle and upper classes as well. Even while these latter efforts are still in their infancy, the particular interests and concerns of these upper and middle sectors (security, freedom from crime, improvement of “unsightly” areas and elimination of other blights particularly offensive to middle and upper class sensibilities) are even now being served…

    And yet, middle and upper class Venezuelans continue to leave the country by the thousands, as this recent news article in the NYT describes:

    According to census data, the Venezuelan community in the United States has grown more than 94 percent this decade, from 91,507 in 2000, the year after Mr. Chávez took office, to 177,866 in 2006. Much of that rise has occurred in South Florida, making the Venezuelan community one of the fastest growing Latino subpopulations in the region this decade. In many ways, the Venezuelan influx is reminiscent of the Cuban migration spurred by Fidel Castro’s overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and his imposition of a socialist state.

    Apparently, the better educated Venezuelans are able to see through El Caudillo Chavez’s propaganda; they see the proverbial man behind the curtain, and, in the words of one Venezuelan now living and working in Miami, they have good reasons to leave:

    “The principle reason is fear of change of daily life, the loss of private property, loss of independence from the government, fear of the loss of constitutional rights and individual liberties,” said Mr. Corao, who relocated permanently from Venezuela in 1996 and runs Venezuela al Dia, a thrice-monthly tabloid with offices in Doral, a Miami suburb where Venezuelans have settled.

  • Joaquin

    Well Clavos, good to hear from you so soon.

    You were next on my “to do” list. However, rather than waste my (lately quite expended) energy on your latest semi-effort, I will focus my reply to your more civilized and intelligent August 13, 2008, 12PM posting. And what a day you chose to communicate in such an intelligent manner – Fidel’s 82nd birthday!

    Yes, you are certainly correct in pointing out, as I already have long known, that Mark Twain was a firm advocate of free market capitalism. And yes, I do hold him in high esteem as one of the best personifications of what it means to be an American. I sdimilarly hold other similar famous Americans in equally high regard, including H.L. Menken and Gore Vidal, all of whom had rather caustic words against socialism. But Twain also kept close company with those of socialist peruasion, such as Helen Keller, with whom he was quite close. What these folks share in common, and what distinguishes them from many less-informed people on both the left as well as the right is that they recognized the historical significance and value and significance of capitalism,or at least its basic rudiments. They, along with many many others righly recognize that historically speaking, trade and markets, along with the other rudiments of what is commonly known as today’s capitalism has been one of the foremost civilizing influences. It was after all the Phoenicians, perhaps the world’s first great commercial people, who pioneered not only the skills and practices associated with major commerce, but they also pioneered and developed those key and indispensable auxiliary skills such as diplomacy. And Dr. Cashill along with Twain et al are certainly right in comparing favorably the socially, cul;turally and politically liberating influence of bourgeois capitalism to the stultifying influences of pre-capitalist feudalism and the catholicism that underpinned it. In relation to virtually all the pre-capitalist forms of socio-political organization, bourgeois capitalism certainly represented a definite forward mach of progress.

    There are others who understood all this even better than Twain, Vidal, Mencken, Drs. Cashill and Cox, and I might add, than even many leftists. Foremost among these were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as anyone who reads their Communist Manifesto with a modicum of an open mind will readily see:

    “The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
    “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations…. [It] cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society…. The need for a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. The bourgeoisie has theough its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.”

    They go on by saying that thanks to the bourgeoisie:

    “In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, … The boureoisie … draws all, even the most backward nations into civilization … The bourgeoisie has subjected rural areas to the rule of the cities … and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.”

    Finally:

    “The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarcely 100 years, has created moe massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.”

    So I couldn’t agree with you more.

    By way of addressing, at least in cursory fashion, the “data” you presented in your last quasi-effort, I will simply note along with the Russian revolutionary Lev Davidovich Trotsky that since the capitalist bourgeoisie presently has all the weapons in its hands – factories, banks, newspapers, universities, scshools, the army, the police – waht the bourgeoisie calls “democracy” works perfectly for its interests.

    Haasta Luego!

    J.

  • Ruvy

    Joaquin,

    I was looking at your reference to Trotsky in the comment above. You do know I’m sure, that Lev Davidovich Trotsky was originally named Lev Bronshtein, and when they called him up for his bar mitzva, I’m willing to bet they called him Aryeh-Lev ben Dovid.

    Anyway, I just wanted to make this point to you. We Jews have a number of sayings about revolution; after all, the idea of One G-d was pretty revolutionary back 3,300 years ago, and the idea that a man could argue with G-d, like Moses did – and win yet – was even more revolutionary. Jews tend to be revolutionaries, when they’re not oppressing their brother Jews. Give us a messiah to follow – a man of war, not some cheek-turning shmendrik – or give them us revolution. We’ll drink it up like Sabbath wine.

    Anyway, one of those sayings goes this way:

    Haim: Come the revolution, everybody will have peaches and cream.
    Yankel: What if I don’t like peaches and cream?
    Haim: Come the revolution, you’ll like peaches and cream.

    So much for individual liberties under the revolutionary regime.

    “You vill be happy, ja, und if you are not, ve send you to ze firing sqvad! Now ,b>SMILE!

    Just something to think about, Joaquin….

  • Joaquin

    Oh, there’s more Clavos:

    “Apparently, the better educated Venezuelans are able to see through El Caudillo Chavez’s propaganda; they see the proverbial man behind the curtain, and, in the words of one Venezuelan now living and working in Miami, they have good reasons to leave:

    “The principle reason is fear of change of daily life, said Mr. Corao, who relocated permanently from Venezuela in 1996 and runs Venezuela al Dia, a thrice-monthly tabloid with offices in Doral, a Miami suburb where Venezuelans have settled.”

    Very well.

    Yes, “middle and upper class Venezuelans continue to leave the country by the thousands,” and Im certain they’ll continue leaving, no matter how many conciliatory steps the Chavez government takes towards them. That is one of the unfortunate realities every major social revolution faces, the loss of badly needed educated and trained human talent. But as Marx and Engels also noted:

    “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”

    As noted in the Boudin article I cited for Troll, as well as by others like the noted scholar and lecturer Tariq Ali, “Racism is never far from the surface in Venezuela,” and now in Venezuelan politics as well. This has certainly proven true with the “sambo”(mix of indigenous American and African)Chavez and the historically excluded overwhelmingly majority colored population in power. One of the reasons Mr. Chavez is so deeply hated is this racism so deeply imbedded in the overwhelmingly criollo (White European-descended American-born) Latin American middle and upper classes. The same was (and is) true of Cuba, and now also in Bolivia, where the latter classes have been, with the help of US government agencies and NGO’s, attempting to break away the largely criollo eastern province of Santa Cruz.

    But other “ruling class ideas” in question are of course of a more material-social nature as well, pricipally that of, “the loss of private property, loss of independence from the government, fear of the loss of constitutional rights and individual liberties.”

    Again Marx and Engels:

    “By [what the middle and upper classes generally mean by] freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying.”

    As to “individual freedom” as conceived by these same classes:

    “You must … confess that by ‘individual’ you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class [and now upper-class as well] owner of property,”

    and of course the form of property in question here is CAPITAL first and foremost. But the conflation and identification of capital-property with individual personhood is itself an illusion, for:

    “Capital is a collective product,” it is the collective product of the human labor expended to produce it, not by the criollo middle and upper class property owners but by the laborers they exploit …. “Capital is, therefore, not a personal, it is a SOCIAL power.”

    So when Marxists are accused of “depriving freedom” or being “dictatorial” it is generally meant in regard to this form of property. As to our allegedly seeking to “abolish the right to acquire property as the fruit of a person’s own labor,” again Marx and Engels:

    “There is no need to abolish that; the development of [modern capitalist] industry HAS ALREADY DESTROYED IT, and is still destroying it daily” for the overwhelming majority of historically excluded masses.

    Again:

    “But does wage labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates CAPITAL, i.e., THAT KIND OF PROPERTY THAT EXPLOITS WAGE LABOR.” Again, “We by no means intend to abolish [the] personal appropriation of the products of labor … [which] leaves no surplus with which to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, UNDER WHICH THE LABORER LIVES MERELY TO INCREASE CAPITAL, AND IS ALLOWED TO LIVE ONLY IN SO FAR AS THE INTEREST OF THE [CAPITALIST] RULING CLASS REQUIRES IT.”

    And finally:

    “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation.”

    It is this latter “freedom” that many, though certainly to be fair, not all, of those Venezuelans – and more formerly, Nicaraguans, Chileans, and Cubans – flowing into South Florida now lament having “lost.”

    BTW, I hope all is well with you. My understanding is that you live in South Florida, which is being hit or at least rubbed by yet another tropical storm.

    Hasta la otra,

    J.

  • Joaquin

    Hello Ruvy,

    Thank you very much for your additional tidbits about Lev Davidovich Bronstein, as “Trosky” has long been one focus of very deep interest for me, both as a revolutinary and as a Jew. And as you would say, anything additional on him that comes my way I “drink up like Sabbath wine.”

    And yes, I do appreciate your appeal for a salutary pause, as I certainly do not deny that in the history of the socialist revolutionary experience not only have egregious mistakes been made but, particularly true of Stalin, serious outright crimes were committed. And Trotsky himself was guilty of both. In regard to Stalin, the all-too-oft cited “example” of the evils of socialist revolution, the ironic thing is that if anything he in fact took the Soviet revolution, at most critical levels, politically TO THE RIGHT of what it had been under Lenin and Trotsky.

    In this vein, again Marx and Engels:

    “Of course, in the beginning (and historically socialist revolution is still in its beginning, as compared to the 800 year history of capitalist development) [socialist revolution] cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; [or] by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable ….”

    And as one colleague has pointed out, revolutionary change hurts, but to not change and to continue present conditions withou challenge hurts even more.

    Shalom,

    J.

  • Joaquin

    Oh yes Ruvy,

    I almost forgot to refer you to 2 good books on the Russian Revolution in this vein:

    “The Bolsheviks in Power: The first Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd” by Alexander Rabinowtch,

    and

    “Tear Off the Masks! Identity and Imposture in 20th Century Rissia” by Sheila Fitzpatrick.

    J.

  • Clavos

    Thank you for your kind wishes, Joaquin. TS Fay, as such storms go, was largely a matter of blustery winds and a large amount of rain, resulting in some flooding, particularly in east central Florida. Not a big problem, and the heavy rains, especially on Lake Okeechobee, South Florida’s primary water source, were welcome.

    Since your ultimate source for justification of your philosophy are the writings and ideas of Marx and Engels, which, in view of the failure of those ideas in the various countries which have adopted them in the 20th century (Russia, the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, etc.), I totally reject. I see no point in my further participation in the discussion.

    You embrace Communism, I do not.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • Joaquin

    As I said Clavos, I am a Marxist Leninist. Anyway, it was stimulating while it lasted. Thanks for engaging me as long and as doggedly as you did.

    Best wishes!

    J.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    As I said Clavos, I am a Marxist Leninist.

    Fascinating. Are they keeping you in a museum or a zoo? What are they doing to assure that the rare breed doesn’t die out? Do they let you engage in the traditional entertainments of the breed, standing in long bread lines and informing on your neighbors?

    Dave

  • Joaquin

    Dave, long time no hear from you on this blog!

    I see that you regularly inhabit other parts of BC, and have even written a few articles here and there. This, I suppose, makes you a “media person,” certainly here and now. So let’s get to it.

    Your remark of August 21, 2008 @ 17:13 PM, as well as the bulk of your other remarks to various others and to myself on this blog clearly prove a 3-fold point of mine: First, that the greater bulk of the Western media, not only is controlled and serves the dominant corporate interests, but is itself a key part of that corporate capitalist establishment itself; second, how effectively they’ve brainwashed a good part of the Western world’s population, most especially, it seems, the US population: third, among the above, the most brainwashed appear to be the establishment and pro-establishment “media people” themselves.
    Let’s begin with the actual content of your remarks: “Do they let you engage in the traditional entertainments of the breed, standing in long bread lines and informing on your neighbors?”
    Let’s take the “long breadlines” bit first. Surely you must know that breadlines in Russia go back way before the Soviet period to tsarist times. Indeed, it was bread riots in St. Petersburg, in March of 1917 that triggered the Russian Revolution itself. They have also been part of Latin American history as well. They certainly weren’t the unique invention of Russian or Latin American socialist governments. And they continue to be seen elsewhere today.
    Now, for the bit on: “informing on your neighbors?”
    Again, that is not unique to socialist governments like East Germany and its Stasi. A cursory review of recent history and actuality will tell you this right away: Anastasio Somoza’s pre-Sandinista Nicaragua, Batista’s Cuba, “our firm allies” Chile during Pinochet’s dictatorship, and above all Uribe’s Colombia (where people are daily dispatched in the most brutal of ways for not informing!), and let’s not forget our own “land of the free, home of the brave” here in “God’s country”: the snitchings during World War I and the accompanying “slacker raids” of 1917-1919 and “Palmer raids” of 1919-1921, the forced “naming of names” before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947-1954 and McCarthy hearings of 1950-1954, not to mention the latest post-9/11 TIPS program and the goings on at Abu Grahib and Guantanamo – and the US list here is NOT exhaustive!
    But the above sub-remarks need to be addressed at a still deeper, and more fundamental level. You, along with many others have been – to a great extent correctly – pointing out some of the negative practices and the failures of several of the recent socialist governments (however, without acknowledging, let alone mentioning their positive practices and successes) as if they represented and embodied the WHOLE experience and meaning of socialism, and more specifically, of the entire corpus of Marxism Leninism, that is the WHOLE extent of its theory and practice. This is most false! First, what we have seen of the world’s revolutionary states since 1917 – both the positive as well as the negative – represents but a mere sliver of the entire Marxist Leninist (henceforth ML) cosmology (i.e. world view and practice). Secondly, the negative features you and others repeatedly cite, while true, merely tell us that these socialist experiments themselves are but early, and very rough first drafts of a larger, more progressive vision. In this vein, I’d like to point out that for the most part – though admittedly not always, and there have been several very notorious exceptions ! – the tendency has been that each succeeding revolutionary experiment has tended to have less of the more “dictatorial” and “totalitarian” features of their earlier predecessors. This has been particularly true in Latin America: The Cuban revolution did indeed in this vein borrow a great deal from the Soviet rough first draft, including its more ineffective and negative features; the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution, while taking significant lead from its Cuban predecessor, carried less of these “Soviet-like” features; and finally, the Venezuelan Bolivarian revolution carries even less of them. Finally, the analysis of the remarks goes yet deeper. Again, what has been so far seen in the Marxist Leninist experiments up date is but merely the physical and temporal manifestation, by way of trial and error, of a much larger and more coherent weltanschauung (i.e. world view and practice). Perhaps the best practical metaphor I can use to illustrate this is the fact that of all Marxist Leninist literature, only about 30% attempts to map out what an idealized future socialist society would look like in all its particular details, at best a dubious enterprise. The remaining 70%, however, and the greater bulk, consists of a critical analysis of actually existing modern industrial capitalism, and based on this analysis, also tries to map out a praxis for socialist transformation of society. Perhaps we ML’s should spend more effort mapping out the details of a future socialist society, fore as history shows, very often our practice has gone ahead of our theory. But as all of the above should indicate, ML is far from being the irrelevant “museum piece” you allege.

    The point, once again, appears to be: “”The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”

    Now to other matters.

    Dave, you’ve done me, and perhaps others out there as well, the favor of providing me the occasion to return our focus to the original matter that triggered this whole debate to begin with: the allegations by the US and Western media that the Russians are being invited by the Cubans and the Venezuelans to set up their military bases in these two countries. Let me begin first by reiterating, with some abridging, an earlier posting of mine regarding this. Earlier I’d posted that:

    “I ran into another item on this subject of the putative – and now more apparently prematurely assumed – prospect of Russian bases in Venezuela, an article by Daniel Cancel on Boomber.com of July 28, 2008: “Chavez said if Russian navy ships were to arrive in Venezuelan ports they would be welcome, and said the reactivation of the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet to patrol the Caribbean is a threat to Venezuela and the region… The second, and most immediately important point in this on-going conversation is in the first part of the sentence, namely: “Chavez said if Russian navy ships were to arrive in Venezuelan ports they would be welcome,….” Mr. Chavez said ONLY that Russian navy ships would be welcome should they call on Venezuelan ports, just as British or Canadian ships would surely be welcomed in US ports should they need to call on them. There is NOTHING here about bases! Neither in, nor behind, nor in front of, above, or below that key phrase. This seems to reinforce the thesis put forth by several contributors, and which I myself hold, that Dan Miller’s article – at least its title, [along with other similar articles in the Western press] [are] at least obliquely intended to lead the reading public to jump to paranoiac conclusions of a Russo-Venezuelan threat to US national security.”

    I was recently able to get what Mr. Chavez actually said in that speech, verbatim:

    “I believe that Russia has sufficient capacity for mobilization, aircraft and boats to appear in any part of the world; if they appeared in Venezuela, that wouldn’t be a strange thing. Let them visit the seas of Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, if they go to Venezuela they will be welcome, because we’re not talking about the (US) Fourth Fleet here. The Fourth Fleet [which not only would “patrol” the seas surrounding all South America but also go inland into its rivers to “patrol”] is a threat to us, and not just to Venezuela, [but] to all of Latin America. If some day, a Russian fleet should arrive in the Caribbean, we will hoist the flags, play drums and put on the Venezuelan and Russian national anthems, because it would be the arrival of a friend, arriving to hold out her hand; it would be the arrival of our ally. ….”

    First, being “welcome” obviously doesn’t imply Russia would actually stay in Venezuela. Indeed, not only has the Venezuelan Ministry of Communication and Information officially denied the possibility of Russian bases in Venezuela, but such is also prohibited by Article 13 of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Constitution, promoted by Mr. Chavez himself.

    The fantastic notion of Russian military bases in Venezuela is perfectly in line with the on-going US agenda of presenting Mr. Chavez and his government as a danger to “regional stability” as well as to the “security of the US.”

    J.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Well, Joaquin. While I find your Marxism quaint and amusing, you seem not to entirely grasp the environment in which your comments appear to others.

    You rant about the ‘corporate controlled media’ without seeming to grasp that with the advent of the internet and even cable television there is such an overwhelming diversity in media in the US and other free nations that the idea of a unified corporate media viewpoint is positively laughable. This is not Venezuela where Chavez can shut down the independent media on any ridiculous pretext. We have every kind of fool and idiot on the air on major networks and minor saying things which are alternately wise, foolish and positively insane. The main role the corporate media plays in this is that they go out of their way to get people who are controversial and whose ideas are challenging onto their shows because that draws viewers. They do this because that is how they make money, and there is no purer and more innocent motive than that.

    As for Russia’s involvement in Cuba or Venezuela, I don’t see your point. Your last post seems to confirm that Chavez would be perfectly happy to have a Russian presence in his country. Certainly it would help with his effort to subvert the governments of the countries around him and bring them into his Bolivarian Empire in waiting.

    But please, show me where i the western media anyone takes a Venezuelan or even a Russian/Venezuelan threat to the United States seriously. Not a threat to other countries in Venezuela’s geographic region – where there is general concern – but an actual threat to the US? The truth is that this is NOT what people in America or in our media are concerned about. We’re perfectly aware the Venezuela is a minimal threat to the US. But that doesn’t mean we want to stand by and watch them oppress nations which we have relationships with and where representative government and capitalism are growing.

    On all of these issues your viewpoint seems to be dogmatic and shaped by a very limited perception of the realities of life in the free world. I wonder why you would choose not to see the reality around you and live in an ideological bubble. Is it comforting in some way?

    Dave

  • Jordan Richardson

    Dave,

    In terms of media, there certainly are some issues in the United States worth looking at. While I agree with you that the internet has been increasingly hard to chop up and regulate, the “old-fashioned” information highways have not been.

    When CBS refuses to air an ad criticizing the growing federal budget during Super Bowl XXXVIII, but does air a sport celebrating the drug policy of the government, something starts to smell funny. There are numerous cases of news outlets, especially at the local levels, being forced to squash completely factual and legitimate stories because of sponsor demands. These media outlets have more loyalty to sponsors and governments than they do to the public trust and this generates multiple problems, providing less diverse opinions and less actual information.

    So while one might say that Venezuela features more media censorship than the United States, to suggest that American owns a wholly free press operating in the public trust – as it should be – is not true. Americans shouldn’t strive to have media that is “better than China,” they should struggle to have media that serves the public. When a story about BGH is squashed for fear of offending a sponsor, there’s a problem with the free flow of information.

    In 2003, the FCC changed how media ownership took place in America. Michael Powell permitted more single-company market share in any given market (45% is possible now), removed restrictions on companies that owned newspapers and TV media in the same market (Rupert Murdoch loves that one), and halted the renewal of license reviews (this was done to see if the media outlets were serving the public trust). In 2007, the FCC voted to relax media ownership laws further.

    So when you’ve got Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, NewsCorporation, General Electric, and Bertelsmann AG owning 90% or more of all media in the United States, you can see how people would reach the conclusion that the “free press” in the United States refers more to a freedom to serve the corporate trust and not the public trust.

    The main role the corporate media plays in this is that they go out of their way to get people who are controversial and whose ideas are challenging onto their shows because that draws viewers.

    The likes Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Keith Olbermann are not “controversial” in terms of legitimate discourse. They are controversial only in that they play to their particular base and fritter about on both sides of the same ugly coin. I fail to see how these corporate groups “go out of their way” to do this, seeing as how it virtually IS their way to operate in this fashion.

    Point is that the media in America is supposed to serve the public trust and more people are sceptical of it than ever, causing a run to the internet and to the so-called “citizen journalists” who have now become more trustworthy to the average person than “The Most Trusted Name in News.” The people are waking up and most use schlock like O’Reilly, FOX, and MSNBC as entertainment more than anything. Hell, is it any small wonder that most people are getting their “news” from The Daily Show?

  • Jordan Richardson

    When CBS refuses to air an ad criticizing the growing federal budget during Super Bowl XXXVIII, but does air a sport celebrating the drug policy of the government

    That should say “does air a spot,” although the slip-up is funnier.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    When CBS refuses to air an ad criticizing the growing federal budget during Super Bowl XXXVIII, but does air a sport celebrating the drug policy of the government, something starts to smell funny.

    As I recall they didn’t refuse to air the ad, they determined that it didn’t qualify for a discounted rate as a PSA. Not the same thing. And just as you and I may think that budget controls are more important than drug policy, CBS is entitled to believe the opposite.

    There are numerous cases of news outlets, especially at the local levels, being forced to squash completely factual and legitimate stories because of sponsor demands. These media outlets have more loyalty to sponsors and governments than they do to the public trust and this generates multiple problems, providing less diverse opinions and less actual information.

    So your answer would be to nationalize all media? It’s easy to object to commercial media, but where do you go from there? What do you have to offer that’s a better and more equitable alternative?

    So while one might say that Venezuela features more media censorship than the United States, to suggest that American owns a wholly free press operating in the public trust – as it should be – is not true.

    America has a commercial press which operates in its own interest. I have yet to see anyone offer better alternatives.

    Americans shouldn’t strive to have media that is “better than China,” they should struggle to have media that serves the public. When a story about BGH is squashed for fear of offending a sponsor, there’s a problem with the free flow of information.

    I’ve seen reports on BGH in the national media. I see little evidence that they have been suppressed. The milk council has influence, but thye don’t advertise on every station or have enough influence to cover every possible local and national network. Plus their influence is counter-balanced by the very well funded and effective environmental and consumer lobbying groups which oppose them and have just as much ability to influence the media.

    In 2003, the FCC changed how media ownership took place in America. Michael Powell permitted more single-company market share in any given market (45% is possible now), removed restrictions on companies that owned newspapers and TV media in the same market (Rupert Murdoch loves that one), and halted the renewal of license reviews (this was done to see if the media outlets were serving the public trust). In 2007, the FCC voted to relax media ownership laws further.

    So? Has this made smaller outlets disappear? Not in any noticable way. There are more sources for news and entertainment today than there were 4 years ago.

    So when you’ve got Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, NewsCorporation, General Electric, and Bertelsmann AG owning 90% or more of all media in the United States, you can see how people would reach the conclusion that the “free press” in the United States refers more to a freedom to serve the corporate trust and not the public trust.

    That’s SIX different outlets, all competing with each other for audience, and they hardly have the same political allegiances, plus most of them let their local affiliates have enormous latitude in what they cover and do very little to control even what goes on their national news outlets.

    The likes Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Keith Olbermann are not “controversial” in terms of legitimate discourse. They are controversial only in that they play to their particular base and fritter about on both sides of the same ugly coin. I fail to see how these corporate groups “go out of their way” to do this, seeing as how it virtually IS their way to operate in this fashion.

    I wasn’t actually talking about the show hosts. They are by their nature going to be relatively under control. But look at the guests these people have on. In a given day you’ll see scores of people on their shows from every possible political perspective, including people way outside of the mainstream.

    Point is that the media in America is supposed to serve the public trust

    Who says? The media is not a public institution. It’s not some sort of public service organization. It’s a business, just as it was when all we had were newspapers.

    and more people are sceptical of it than ever, causing a run to the internet and to the so-called “citizen journalists” who have now become more trustworthy to the average person than “The Most Trusted Name in News.”

    And that’s a good thing. More diversity, more news on demand, more people doing their own research. Fantastic. And all made possible because of minimal regulation.

    The people are waking up and most use schlock like O’Reilly, FOX, and MSNBC as entertainment more than anything. Hell, is it any small wonder that most people are getting their “news” from The Daily Show?

    Which is also a commercial show on a commercial network.

    Dave

  • Franco

    “On all of these issues your viewpoint seems to be dogmatic and shaped by a very limited perception of the realities of life in the free world. I wonder why you would choose not to see the reality around you and live in an ideological bubble. Is it comforting in some way?”

    Very well put Dave. The telling dysfunction is in his absolutes, which he uses to base the framing of his arguments. It’s a faults premise.

    He was obviously taught by someone using the same faults premise of absolutes and it is the only learned ability he has to apply when re-expressing them outward. In other words, he has not started thinking for himself yet nor developed the confidence to do so outside of his ideological bubble. This dogged adhesion to absolutes denies him sight of the forest for the trees. And he calls the West brainwashed?

  • Jordan Richardson

    So your answer would be to nationalize all media? It’s easy to object to commercial media, but where do you go from there? What do you have to offer that’s a better and more equitable alternative?

    When the media is designed to serve the public trust and it winds up serving the corporate trust instead, there’s a problem. I’ll readily admit to not having many options and will vehemently support going online and to alternative news sources (with rigorous fact checking whenever possible) as the place to “go from there.” I think society is naturally moving in that direction. Media should be for the people, by the people.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    But the media is NOT designed to serve the public trust. It’s a business. Media is for the MARKET, so the people have to determine what they want and will watch and pay for, which is ultimately a much better system than someone in a government office trying to guess what the people need and forcing commercial media to provide it.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Now that the technology of communications has advanced to the degree it has (and who knows what marvels the future will bring?), I suspect that we will never again see one outlet, or even a single medium which will be able to appeal to a broad, “umbrella” segment of the public.

    Instead, as we are beginning to experience even now, we will have narrowly segmented, niche-driven outlets, and some entire mediums, wherein the majority of consumers of a certain demography, whether it be age or interests, income or geographical location, etc., will dominate the demand for content.

  • troll

    Joaquin – thanks for your efforts searching and for the link

    that said –

    …again Marx and Engels:

    “Of course, in the beginning (and historically socialist revolution is still in its beginning, as compared to the 800 year history of capitalist development) [socialist revolution] cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; [or] by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable ….”

    to me this sums up the moral bankruptcy of the ML project

    …save the proletariat of the world from further dictatorships of its bloodthirsty collective id

  • Joaquin

    Franco, Dave Nalle, Troll, et al.

    “On all of these issues your viewpoint seems to be dogmatic and shaped by a very limited perception of the realities of life in the free world. I wonder why you would choose not to see the reality around you and live in an ideological bubble. Is it comforting in some way?”

    ”Very well put Dave. The telling dysfunction is in his absolutes, which he uses to base the framing of his arguments. It’s a faults premise.

    He was obviously taught by someone using the same faults premise of absolutes and it is the only learned ability he has to apply when re-expressing them outward. In other words, he has not started thinking for himself yet nor developed the confidence to do so outside of his ideological bubble. This dogged adhesion to absolutes denies him sight of the forest for the trees. And he calls the West brainwashed?”

    “you seem not to entirely grasp the environment in which your comments appear to others.”

    “You rant about the ‘corporate controlled media’ without seeming to grasp that with the advent of the internet and even cable television there is such an overwhelming diversity in media in the US and other free nations that the idea of a unified corporate media viewpoint is positively laughable. This is not Venezuela where Chavez can shut down the independent media on any ridiculous pretext.”

    Very well.

    First, I arrived at my perspectives independently and in fact facing very strong counter-influences and counter-currents, some relatively benign, others less so. But the cardinal underlying factor in coming to my conclusions was nothing less, and nothing more, than my own unobstructed observations of life in advanced industrial capitalist society itself, news accounts of events elsewhere, however filtered or cooked they may have been, and how they all interrelated together as I began seeing them since the age of 16. I never joined a Marxist party, for one. But in this vein, I have also quoted Marx and Engels extensively in this blog, but in the same way I would quote anyone who puts things according to reality, or conversely, to illustrate important points by way of negative example; if someone else who sees what I see puts it well, I see no need to “use my own words” if that someone else already says it adequately. Conversely, if someone reveals the folly of their misinformed position, well, let them. And by the way Franco, (tsk, tsk) I really hate to harp on the same old theme … but your repeated use of the word “faults” should really read “false.” I would’ve let this slip, except that you made the same old lapse repeatedly, not only in your latest message, but in previous messages as well. I thus concluded that, unlike the many lapses you previously cited on my part (touché, I must admit!), your lapses here were not a question of typing in a hurry, as was my case, but were lapses in basic conception of syntax itself.

    Now, I will address matters of more substance such as the bit on “This is not Venezuela where Chavez can shut down the independent media on any ridiculous pretext.”

    For your information, Dave, the bulk of Venezuela’s media is not only privately owned, but is in fact anti-Chavez. Here are a few observations by someone who has been very “close to the ground” in Venezuela for quite some time:

    “In Venezuela, 5 major private television networks control at least 90% of the market and smaller private stations control another 5%. This 95% of the broadcast market began to outwardly (without major impediments from the Chavez administration) express its opposition … as early as 1999.”

    “For several decades, commercial television in Venezuela has belonged to just 2 families: the Cisneros, who own Venevision (the largest station in the country), and the Bottome & Granier Group …. This same small group of media owners … also own advertising and public relations agencies … as well as record labels and other cultural industries ….”

    In this vein, the Cisneros empire also owns the Los Leones baseball team of Caracas as well as the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant.

    To go on:

    “ Print media (in Venezuela) are similarly concentrated in the hands of just a few wealthy families …” including, “9 out of the 10 major national newspapers ….”

    On the government’s side, by contrast:

    “There is only one (1) public television station with a national broadcasting frequency, Venezolana de Television” a.k.a. “Channel 8.”

    Source: Eva Golinger, “The Chavez Code” 2006.

    Ms. Golinger also found that the private media contributed mightily to the 64-day “strike” or more accurately, bosses’ lockdown in 2002-2003: The Cisneros’s, for example, “ordered the closure of [their] beverage and food product distribution companies so that no commodities were available in markets” during this hard period. Furthermore, “At [the] Cisneros’s milk farm in the state of Merida, witnesses saw workers pouring milk into the rivers instead of bottling it for sale.” Thus, “[the Cisneros’s] had decided that depriving Venezuelan children (from the 70% or so poor majority, of course) of (very badly needed) milk was fair game to get rid of Chavez.”

    Ms. Golinger further notes that this same private media:

    “… snatched up the opportunity to launch the most massive information war ever experienced in modern times.” (I myself would beg to differ here, though it certainly was one of the most massive such campaigns.)

    During that 64-day 2002-2003 lockout:

    “No less than 4 television channels [not to mention radio and print media] joined together 24 hours a day … and broadcast 17,600 propaganda announcements against the government, dedicating all their programming, without a second of rest, to denigrate the government … to cause all classes of alarm and rumors to invoke terror, precisely.” This, according to media expert Luis Britto Garcia.

    And, as Golinger further noted:

    “In the end [during those 64 days], Venezuelans were left with a government denied access to media and a private media functioning as a de facto government.”

    Lastly, and most egregious of all, was:

    “… the broadcast of violent images and opposition propaganda by all private stations DURING CHILDREN’S VIEWING HOURS, IN EXPLICIT VIOLATION OF VENEZUELAN LAW.” (The organic law protecting the child and the adolescent Articles 38, 32, 63, 65, 71, and 74, among others.)

    The net effect of this was indeed that many children were effectively frightened to the point of having nightmares as well exhibiting the physical symptoms of such fright such as cold sweat, hyperventilating, breathing problems, sleeplessness, etc. This was nothing less than political child abuse on the part of the Venezuelan right, much of it funded by US taxpayer dollars, by the way.

    Note that the Venezuelan government did not shut any of these private media outlets, but during the short-lived Carmona coup of April 2002, the coup leaders did storm Channel 8 and shut it down.
    Well, so much for Venezuela.

    Now to other matters.

    “…again Marx and Engels:

    “Of course, in the beginning (and historically socialist revolution is still in its beginning, as compared to the 800 year history of capitalist development) [socialist revolution] cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; [or] by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable ….”

    to me this sums up the moral bankruptcy of the ML project”

    Troll, while it is certainly not my intention here to try and “convert” you to the ML position, at best a most dubious enterprise, I do, however, see the need to clarify further both the actual meaning of the above Marx-Engels quote and also it’s understanding by myself, other ML’s, and other non-Marxist progressives. The key phrase here, to which I now need to correct an accidental remission, is: “[socialist transformation, or even reform] cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production.” The key lies in the “despotic inroads on the rights of property,” that is, by a government taking policy actions concerning property, particularly capitalist property, that are seen, interpreted, and naturally very deeply resented by the owners of capitalist property (for this refer to my Marx-Engels entries on what capital and capitalist property mean in that same blog) as “despotic” of “dictatorial” measures, when the measures are merely correctives to address poverty, fiscal deficit, inequities in wages, working conditions, etc. taken by governments, and not always by Marxist Leninist or even socialist governments. Such actions are also almost always resented – with particularly intense vitriol – by the capital-owning classes when taken even by “democratic” governments in capitalist Western nations as well. If you read a lot of 19th century writing, and Marx was particularly prone to this, you will note that to convey important but often highly nuanced realities, notions, or concepts, it was usual to resort to using terms and words that were highly charged, and unfortunately for that very reason also often reductive as a consequence, to convey an important point. Thus the terminology “despotic inroads” is used.

    The best example that comes to mind is the passage in 1938 of the Fair Labor Standards Act by the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, perhaps the best president this country’s ever had. This act of Congress, which provided for the national minimum wage, the abolition of child labor (under 16 years old), and the 40-hour work week (translated into the 8-hour day: time and a half overtime pay after 8 hours, double-time after 12) that we take for granted today, and which have been under steady attack by the US right, was one of the most highly controversial bills ever introduced. So controversial and polemic was this bill that it took over one year to pass, and along the way it met strong opposition, not just the expected Republican opposition, but also from Democrats. It was even denounced at one point as “un-American” and “subversive”, not by a Republican but by a Democrat. Once it was passed, after such a long and acrimonious fight, the Southern Democrats broke with their Northern liberal colleagues and joined forces with the Republicans to oppose all future New Deal reforms by FDR, and it seems they were successful. In other words, even the prospect of paying workers a decent living wage; of keeping children out of the labor force so they can go to school, and so as to keep children from overflowing the surplus labor pool and thereby driving wages down for the entire workforce; and of setting working hours to the humanly decent number of 8 hours (as opposed to the pre-1938 10, 12,or even 14-16 hour shifts that were the norm, with no overtime!), and providing for just compensation for hours worked beyond that number; all of these – and many others – were regarded by the capital-owning classes as “despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production.”

    Just had to clarify that.

    Next, to address several of the messages of 8/22/08 on the subject of media, I am enclosing the thoughts, findings, and observations of one leading media expert and long-time practitioner, Mr. Ben Bagdikian, professional journalist since 1941, a former editor at the Washington Post, dean emeritus at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Mr. Bagdikian is perhaps best noted as having published a definitive work on the US and Western media, “The Media Monopoly,” originally published in 1983, now in its 7th edition. When the Media Monopoly was first published in 1983, the number of private corporations controlling a majority of US media – including newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, music, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies – was 50. In 1987, the number had shrunk to 26; by 1992, down to 14; by 2000, down to 6; and as of 2004, it’s down to 5.

    The excerpt is from the preface to the book’s 5th edition. The following quotes from 8/22 seemed like apt openers:

    “you seem not to entirely grasp the environment in which your comments appear to others.”

    “So when you’ve got Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, NewsCorporation, General Electric, and Bertelsmann AG owning 90% or more of all media in the United States, you can see how people would reach the conclusion that the “free press” in the United States refers more to a freedom to serve the corporate trust and not the public trust.

    That’s SIX different outlets, all competing with each other for audience, and they hardly have the same political allegiances, plus most of them let their local affiliates have enormous latitude in what they cover and do very little to control even what goes on their national news outlets.”

    “Point is that the media in America is supposed to serve the public trust

    Who says? The media is not a public institution. It’s not some sort of public service organization. It’s a business, just as it was when all we had were newspapers.
    “But the media is NOT designed to serve the public trust. It’s a business. Media is for the MARKET, so the people have to determine what they want and will watch and pay for, which is ultimately a much better system than someone in a government office trying to guess what the people need and forcing commercial media to provide it.”
    (emphases added)
    “In the last 5 years, a small number of the country’s largest industrial corporations has acquired more public communications power-including ownership of the news-than any private businesses have ever before possessed in world history.
    “… At issue is the possession of power to surround almost every man, woman, and child in the country with controlled images and words, to socialize each new generation of Americans, to alter the political agenda of the country. And with that power comes the ability to exert influence that in many ways is greater than that of schools, religion, parents, and even government itself.
    “Aided by the digital revolution and the acquisition of subsidiaries that operate at every step in the mass communications process, from the creation of content to its delivery into the home, the communications cartel has exercised stunning influence over national legislation and government agencies, an influence whose scope and power would have been considered scandalous or illegal twenty years ago.
    “The new communications cartel has been made possible by the withdrawal of earlier government intervention that once aspired to protect consumers and move toward the ideal of diversity of content and ownership in the mass media. Government’s passivity has emboldened the new giants to boast openly of monopoly and their ability to project news, commercial messages, and graphic images into the consciousness and subconscious of almost every American.”

    *****
    “Because each of the dominant firms has adopted a strategy of creating its own closed system of control over every step in the national media process, from creation of content to its delivery, no content-news, entertainment, or other public messages-will reach the public unless a handful of corporate decision-makers decide that it will. Smaller independents have always helped provide an alternative and still do, but they have become ever more vulnerable to the power of the supergiants. As the size and financial power of the new dominant firms have escalated, so has their coercive power to offer a bothersome smaller competitor a choice of either selling out at once or slowly facing ruin as the larger firm uses its greater financial resources to undercut the independent competitor on price and motion. In the process, consumers have become less influential than ever.”
    *****
    “Perhaps the most troubling power of the new cartel is its control of the main body of news and public affairs information. The reporting of news has always been a commercial enterprise and this has always created conflicts of interest. But the behavior of the new corporate controllers of public information has produced a higher level of manipulation of news to pursue the owners’ other financial and political goals. In the process, there has been a parallel shrinkage of any sense of obligation to serve the non-commercial information needs of public citizenship.
    “The idea of government interceding to protect consumers is contrary to the ideology of most of the media cartel’s leaders, who with few exceptions, pursue the conservative political and economic notion of an uninhibited free market that operates without social or moral obligations.”
    *****
    “… earlier, it was possible to describe the dominant firms in each separate medium-daily newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, and movies. With each passing year … the number of controlling firms in all these media has shrunk: from fifty corporations in 1984 to twenty-six in 1987, followed by twenty-three in l990, and then, as the borders between the different media began to blur, to less than twenty in 1993. In 1996 the number of media corporations with dominant power in society is closer to ten. In terms of media possessions and resources, the newest dominant ten are Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, News Corporation Limited (Murdoch), Sony, Tele-Communications, Inc., Seagram (TV, movies, cable, books, music), Westinghouse, Gannett, and General Electric.”
    *****
    “A prime exhibit of the cartel’s new political power is the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This act was billed as a transformation of sixty-two years of federal communications law for the purpose of “increasing competition.” It was, with some exceptions, largely described as such by most of the major news media. But its most dramatic immediate result has been to reduce competition and open the path to cooperation [or cartelization] among the giants.
    “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 swept away even the minimal consumer and diversity protections of the 1934 act that preceded it. Though this was an intricate bill of 280 pages that would transform the American media landscape, its preparation and passage did not meet the standards of study and public participation that ordinarily would precede an historic transformation of a major influence on society.”
    *****
    “Almost all of the media leaders, possibly excepting Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting, are political conservatives, a factor in the drastic shift in the entire spectrum of national politics to a brand of conservatism once thought of as ‘extreme.’”
    *****
    “… most conservatives consider news bias to be any news that departs from the promotion of conservatism and corporate values.”
    *****
    “Domination of corporate values lies behind another profound imbalance in the news. Almost every metropolitan paper in the country has a whole section devoted to “Business,” which, with rare exceptions, combines service to financiers and investors with presentation of corporate leaders as heroes or exciting combatants. There is no such systematic section for consumers, though most of the country’s readers are not investors but consumers.”
    … in this vein, Bagdikian goes on:
    “Another zone of near silence has led to ominous signs in the economy and a threat to social peace. In the United States, maldistribution of income-the growing gap between rich and non-rich-is among the worst among developed countries. Years of systematic silence on the matter in the news media has permitted an accumulation of public distrust, anger, and frustration.
    “Economist Lester Thurow has said of the widening gap, ‘Probably no country has ever had as large a shift in the distribution of wealth without having gone through a revolution or losing a major war.’” But the minimal appearance in the news during the years when this maldistribution was clearly developing has kept both its cause and possible solutions largely invisible – and therefore out of the political arena. As always, the public’s lack of good information during a time of duress has led to finding scapegoats, and to increasing domestic right-wing terrorism of a sort once thought limited to the Third World.”
    *****
    “The role of children in modern commercial television is that of targets-targets for commercials that sell snacks, soft drinks, fashionable clothes, and toys. The idea of the child as future responsible citizen seems not to exist on commercial TV. That role seems to be left to public television, whose appropriations conservatives and commercial interests have done their best to kill, and which in response has itself become dependent upon corporate advertising.
    “In the reign of the new media cartel, the integrity of much of the country’s professional news has become more ambiguous than ever. The role of journalists within news companies has always been an inherent dilemma for reporters and editors. Reporters are expected by the public and by reportorial standards to act like independent, fair-minded professionals. But reporters are also employees of corporations that control their hiring, firing, and daily management- what stories they will cover and what part of their coverage will be used or discarded. It is a harsh newsroom reality that never seems to cause conservative critics to speculate why their corporate colleagues who own the news and have total control over both their reporters’ careers and the news that gets into their papers would somehow delight in producing “liberal bias.”
    [Here I interject to cite the case of Raymond Bonner, former El Salvador correspondent for the New York Times. In January 1982, Bonner, along with fellow correspondent Alma Guillermoprieto of the Washington Post uncovered the El Mozote Massacre of December 11, 1981, in the village of El Mozote, El Salvador where the Salvadoran army massacred some 1,000 villagers, men women, children, an old people. On January 27, 1982 their story was simultaneously published in both papers. In the aftermath, the Wall Street Journal, Accuracy In Media (about one of the most grossly misnamed right wing media watch dog organization in the US!), and the Reagan Administration all strongly criticized the New York Times for publishing the story, and as a result of their pressure, the NYT’s editor-in-chief Abe Rosenthal pulled Bonner from the Central America desk and reassigned to the paper’s Business desk. Shortly thereafter Bonner resigned. Why the concerted pressure, and why the NYT’s cave-in? Because at the time of the massacre and its uncovering, the Reagan Administration had been hyping and pimping the “success of ‘democracy’” in El Salvador, and the government of then-president Napoleon Duarte as “compliant with human rights” requirements, both conditions being required for continued US military aid to El Salvador. The Bonner-Guillermoprieto story, however, exposed all this hyping as one big lie! Eventually, however, the details of the Bonner-Guillermoprieto story were verified as true.]
    “Seeing their journalists as obedient workers on an assembly

    line has produced a growing incidence of news corporations demanding unethical acts. There are more instances than ever of management contempt and cruelty toward their journalists.”
    *****
    “… the daily newspaper business … remains one of the most profitable in the country. Profit level of daily newspapers is two to three times higher than average profits of the Fortune 500 top corporations, according to John Morton of Morton Research, an authoritative source on newspaper economics. According to Standard and Poor’s Media Industry Survey, in 1994, not a banner year in the news industry, the average profit for publicly traded news companies was 20 percent.”
    *****
    “In 1987, cancellation of the Fairness Doctrine made another new antidemocratic phenomenon almost predictable. Talk radio has become an overwhelming ultraconservative political propaganda – machine. The most influential propagandist, Rush Limbaugh, has nineteen million listeners, and there is no right of reply to his extra- I ordinary record of lies, libels, and damaging fantasies.
    *****
    “Point is that the media in America is supposed to serve the public trust

    Who says? The media is not a public institution. It’s not some sort of public service organization. It’s a business, just as it was when all we had were newspapers.
    “But the media is NOT designed to serve the public trust. It’s a business. Media is for the MARKET, so the people have to determine what they want and will watch and pay for, which is ultimately a much better system than someone in a government office trying to guess what the people need and forcing commercial media to provide it.”
    “you seem not to entirely grasp the environment in which your comments appear to others.”
    In this vein, continues Bagdikian:
    “Almost from the start, national communications law has been based on the concept that the public owns the airwaves. For their part, broadcasters insist on government policing and penalties to prevent unlicensed operators from willingly or unwillingly jamming the frequencies of established stations; otherwise there would be a chaos of static on radio and screens full of “snow” on television. But federal law also mandates that those who hold licenses must maintain local studios and operate “in the public interest ‘ which, given the local nature of studios, has meant significant access to the airwaves by community groups. Holders of broadcast licenses have no right to licenses beyond their term limits and presumably may renew them only if they have fulfilled their community obligations.”
    *****
    “There are basic measures to be taken if the public is to regain \ access to its own media and guarantee choices that have some relationship to the varying needs and tastes of the population. Many of these will require mandatory actions: the broadcast industry has an almost unrelieved history of cynicism and evasion in its promises of self-reform.”
    [Oh, oh! Does this mean “despotic inroads on the rights of property?”]
    *****
    [Proposals]
    * “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 needs to be replaced by a new law that can begin to break up the most egregious conglomerates, reinstate mandatory local community access, and put teeth in the requirement that stations demonstrate their record of public interest programming when they apply for renewal of their licenses. License challenge procedures have to be made more accessible to civic groups dissatisfied with their local radio and TV broadcast stations. (Networks are not regulated, but their local affiliates are.)”
    * “Public broadcasting must be financed through a new, nonpolitical system, as is done for the best systems in other democracies. Today, non-commercial broadcasting depends on appropriations by federal and state legislatures that themselves are heavily beholden to corporate interests. A small surtax on all consumer electronic equipment-computers, VCRs, TV and radio sets, and the like-is minuscule at the individual retail level but could provide funding for a full-fledged multi-channel radio and TV non-commercial system, and for a substantial national broadcast news and documentary operation.”
    * “The Federal Communications Commission has succumbed to what seems to be the natural history of too many consumer protection agencies, which over time has been to shift from their original purpose of protecting consumers against unfair or dangerous industry behavior to an opposite role of protecting industries from their consumers…”
    * “The Fairness Doctrine and equal time provisions rdesperately need to be restored. In 1987 broadcasters promised that their repeal would increase serious public affairs programming. In fact, that kind of programming has been largely abandoned in favor of more advertising and violence. The answer to the Rush Limbaughs is not censorship but a restoration of the public right of timely reply on the stations and at the times the Limbaughs and others now broadcast.
    “From the inception of commercially licensed broadcasting in 1927, the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to discussion of controversial issues of public importance, and to permit reasonable opportunities for opposing views to be heard. It included special provisions to oblige stations to provide reasonable time for response by those attacked in discussions. Beginning in 1979 and continuing through the deregulation campaign of President Reagan in the early 1980s, broadcasters pushed for repeal of these regulations, and for all practical purposes the broadcasters won. An equal time provision in essence said that in the forty-five days before an election, stations must make time available to opposing candidates on roughly the same basis, whether for paid time or public service campaign discussions.”
    * “The country needs easy, inexpensive licensing of low-power, city- and neighborhood-range radio and TV stations. Japan has them and so can the United States. As it is, local communities and ordinary local businesses have been effectively excluded from the air by national broadcasters and advertisers.
    * Paid political advertising should be banned from American broadcasting, as it is in most democracies. In the two months before elections, every station should be required to provide prime time hours for local and national candidates, with fifteen-minute minimums for presentations to avoid the slick sound biter without content that now dominate broadcast election campaigns.
    * Teach serious media literacy in the schools, using independently created curricula. Some already are available and others are being developed. The average American child will spend more time in front of a TV set than in front of a teacher. The young are targets for slick materialism. They need to know how this important element in their lives operates and how it can be analyzed.
    * More citizens need to join and contribute to the various media reform groups like the Cultural Environment Movement, the Center for Media Education, FAIR, and the Institute for Alternative Journalism. There are other groups, but these can lead interested citizens to specific action and to other action groups.
    The domination of private money in public politics, which has subverted so much public policy, also prevents legal solutions to problems in the mass media. Most media proprietors show little or no evidence in their programming of any sense of obligation to treat the American audience as citizens of a democracy. Campaign finance reform and media reform are directed at the same societal sickness- the influence of private money that improperly negates civic need and public choice. Linked to the same problem, they have become linked in the ultimate remedy. At stake is the-accountability of politics and with it the media’s socialization of American children and the nation’s culture.”
    Regards,
    J.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I didn’t know you could make a comment that long. It seems to have caused some sort of meltdown of the site. Weird gray blocks all over the place.

    Dave

  • Joaquin

    It came through clearly on my end.

  • troll

    Joaquin – the ‘actual meaning’ of the quote is better clarified in the practice of ML despots than in the enactment of those fascist worker protections that you cite

    (POUM Forever – !)

    I watch Chavez’ results as closely as I can in the hope that Venezuelan workers will be sparred the pleasure of being liberated from their liberties by the ‘cadre’ in order to liberate them as usually has been the case

  • Joaquin

    I see you’re an anarchist, Troll.

    I can certainly understand your avresion to the modern nation-state, which was after all, at least initially, the creation of the rising bourgeoisie. But over the pat 150 years, here in the US since the Civil War, the state has become a bulwark to safeguard the citizen’s rights and interests from the growing power of industrial and financial capital. The anarchist position in a figure of speech throws out the baby with the dirty bathwater. This is graphically illustrated in your referring to these long-overdue, and still in some ways insufficient pro-worker New Deal reforms and protections as “fascist”, measures that were enacted in the US at precisely the time they were being violently doen away with in the REAL facsist regimes in Italy, Germany, Austria, etc.

    J.

  • troll

    fascism – the political system under which capitalist production relations and class structure are guaranteed by the State which ‘reigns in’ the excesses of capitalists and suppresses the excesses of workers – won the world wars in the West

    if you would like to come up with some other word to denote this production for profit under an ‘all powerful’ State that doesn’t carry emotional baggage I’m for it

    seems to me that we are stuck here with our social contradictions until we de-fang the State so that the classes can deal with each other directly

  • Joaquin

    I would like, first, if you gave the source for this definition of fascism.

  • troll

    my (hardly original) definition is based on my reading of Mussolini and Sternhell…(and – obliquely – Strauss)

  • Clavos

    You read Strauss obliquely? How did you do that, put the book over to one side? :>)

  • troll

    with one eye closed through a mirror…it’s the only way

    (actually Strauss’ notions about fascism entered in through weird discussions with some of his students)

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Is it possible to have any other kind of discussion with Strauss’ students?

    But better that than a discussion with one of Rand’s disciples, I suppose.

    Dave

  • troll

    …yup – another strange tribe inhabiting the caves of academia

  • Joaquin

    “fascism – the political system under which capitalist production relations and class structure are guaranteed by the State which ‘reigns in’ the excesses of capitalists and suppresses the excesses of workers – won the world wars in the West”

    As un-original as this definition you say this is, I must say it’s quite fascinating, if not amusing in several respects. But first, I must point out that in the lexicon of professional and reputable historians and political scientists from across the political spectrum, and myself included, fascism is generally defined as a far-right political tendency and practical phenomenon in which the state dispenses with the vestiges of democracy, representative or otherwise, and rules autocratically in defense an as a bulwark first and foremost of private capital, and also for other privileged and traditionalist forces in reaction against secularist and socio-politically progressive trends and forces.

    The phrase in which you say that fascism, “… won the world wars in the West” was a most brilliant double-entendre. At one level, you obviously, if in a somewhat puerile manner lump the Allied forces on both sides of the capitalist/socialist divide as “fascist.” But I suppose this is just the political de rigueur part of the new orthodoxy imposed by the latter-day punk/burlesque-anarchist chic currently in vogue. In other words, the very Stalinism you purport to condemn in Marxist Leninists is oozing from you, as it also does from the latter day punk/anarchist crowd which you seem to come from. The great irony of “punk” is that for a movement that so purports to ditch all forms of “conformisms” it adopted its own obnoxious brand of conformism far more rigorous, fundamentalist, and exclusionary than even the most suburban middle class or “stalinist” ones. The milieu also seems to be one in which the greatest sin a punk artist or musician can be guilty of is success: actually accomplishing something constructive and genuinely impactful beyond the already-converted. But I suppose this is but an accurate reflection of the punk/anarchist ontological dilemma. By the same token, I am a keen defender of the punk scene and its anarchist weltanschauung because though I am fully cognizant of the indispensability of the state in the project of social change, at least at this historical stage in the development of the productive forces, not to mention the capacity for world destruction through our advanced war making capacities, I also recognize that as the instrument of imperfect humans the state and its agents are very prone to abusing the powers invested in them (to gross understatement!), and as such must be reined in and kept in healthy check by popular rebellion. I am a great believer in the view of Thomas Jefferson that, “the tree of liberty needs to be periodically watered with the blood of tyrants.”

    Next phase.

    The other instructive dimension of your phrase that fascism, “… won the world wars in the West” is in its perhaps unwitting truthfulness. As it turns out, After the 1942-1943 Stalingrad-Kursk battles which turned the war in favor of the Allies, the Alliance began to divide between the US/Britain vs. the USSR. From this point on, as relations between the two camps deteriorated, and as the Nazi-Fascist forces increasingly recognized that their gig was up, the latter looked to make deals with the US/British side for more leniency. Finding that the vanquished Nazis and fascists could be useful in the new Cold War against the Soviet commies and their allies, the US/British side eagerly took the bait. If you can, Google “Operation Paperclip.” And if you can, read Christopher Simpson’s “Blowback.” Thus, in the end, the Nazis/Fascists, with US/British sponsorship, “won” many of their objectives in Europe and beyond. This pattern, I might add, was not new to the US: the same sort of post-war deal was made by the victorious Union with the defeated South after the Civil War in the 1870’s.

    Finally, to your, “if you would like to come up with some other word to denote this production for profit under an ‘all powerful’ State that doesn’t carry emotional baggage I’m for it,” I ask the same thing when you refer to governments outside the Nazi-fascist, Somocista, Pinochet ambit.

    J.

  • Clavos

    Wow, I’ve never seen so many eight cylinder words in my life!

    Wish I’d paid attention in college instead of chasing pussy…

  • Pablo

    Well he obviously writes better than you Clavy. hehehe :). a whole lot better bubba.

  • Pablo

    I would like to remind Joaquin however that Marxism, and in particular the Russian Revolution was financed by Wall Street, and has been in their back pocket ever since.

  • Clavos

    Well he obviously writes better than you Clavy. hehehe :). a whole lot better bubba.

    Says the man who gives illiteracy a bad name.

  • Ruvy

    Wish I’d paid attention in college instead of chasing pussy…

    I chased plenty of pussy in school, Clavos. I rites purty good. Haven’t herd from them cute thangs I been chasin’ around in a long time. Cud’t be cuz i’m mareyed?

  • troll

    the ‘Puerile Punk’…not bad – thanks for sharing J.

    and I’m pleased to have fascinated and amused you with the notion that fascism and democracy are not necessarily incompatible

    do rock on with your reputable and genuinely impactful self…and when you go to satisfy your bloodlust and water that tree be sure to set some of the blood of tyrants aside – I’ll put it in those little crystal vials and market it to your minions for you

  • Joaquin

    Admittedly, in the chasing pussy dept. I was something of a late bloomer. But having command of the language, and more age than the average lad, gave me advantages in these areas the latter tend to lack. It’s no joke that “youth is [sometimes] wasted on the young.”

    Cheers! ;-)

  • Joaquin

    Touché Troll!

  • Julian

    If russia develope a base in venezuela and cuba the the US should develope a base in Guyana. im sure the Guyanese govt. wouldnt mine. and then venezuela would be more in treat than ever before, easier for the US to attack and to spy on them, this is a game that anyone can take part in.