One of the things we found out because of the Wilileaks cables release was that Clinton and Obama were specifically advised by the US ambassador to Honduras that Zelaya's ouster couldn't possibly be legitimate, advice they cheerfully ignored because of the military aid implications. This was the stuff the press had no interest in because they were more concerned with tales of Gaddafi's busty nurse and whatnot.
"Obama is the president of the United States, but he is not the chief of the empire."
Seems like a correct understanding to me, though I guess to people who haven't been fully able to overcome what they were taught in eight grade government class (sorry Jon), it's just apologetics.
Also, the fact that Obama isn't chief of the empire doesn't mean anybody has to like him, and it certainly doesn't mean that Zelaya likes him. It just means Zelaya doesn't have silly illusions about our system and understands who really was out to get him and who simply didn't do anything about it.
It just means Zelaya doesn't have silly illusions about our system
Can't go with you there. "Even though Obama would be against the coup"? Please.
Since this post 'goes out to John Caruso', I shall refrain from suggesting what N E do with it's* straw men and passive-aggressive insults, and instead offer Q&A humor:
Q. Pete and the Chief were sitting on a log, and the Chief fell off. Who was left?
A'. If you stare at the word Chief long enough, it starts to look bizarre and misspelled
*I don't know whether N E is a male or a female robot.
It's puh-leeze, Jon, and backatcha. Of course Obama doesn't want coups like that, though obviously he didn't do a damn thing about it. I doubt he has spent half an hour thinking about Honduras in the past year. I think Zelaya would just shake his head and smile at you. Latin Americans usually don't have any trouble understanding that the military is an independent source of power, and often far more powerful than any civilian, even a president.
I'm an androgynous transvestite cyborg. Figure that out.
But if you were using your smarts, you'd notice that I'm not too passive-aggressive, and also notice that my comment certainly wasn't. I don't disagree with Jon often, because he's so damn wise and witty, and I certainly don't think his understanding naive often, but nobody's perfect, and I think there's a gap in his understanding of political power that's characteristically American. Maybe I'm wrong. Whatever.
Of course Obama doesn't want coups like that, though obviously he didn't do a damn thing about it. I doubt he has spent half an hour thinking about Honduras in the past year.
My feeling is that if you do everything within your power to get a job operating the live hanging machine at the chicken plant, and you cash the paycheck, you do in fact want to kill chickens. That's true even if in some abstract sense you feel "bad" about killing chickens and wish the world could be otherwise, and the live hanging machine can't do anything but kill chickens no matter who's operating it.
I didn't say he feels bad, in an abstract sense or any other sense. I would bet that he does NOT feel bad and has high self-esteem. I also didn't say that he isn't morally culpable. I said that Zelaya's observation that Obama isn't running the empire seemed right on the money to me, and that Zelaya was probably also right that Obama probably actually didn't even want the coup. Does that mean Obama isn't responsible for not trying to prevent the coup? No. Does it mean he isn't powerful? No. Does it mean he really even cared? No. Lots of things going on around the empire aren't really his doing, and lots of them happen without him even knowing much about what actually is going on. It's a big empire. I don't care whether anybody likes Obama; it's just not smart to reason that since he's The President he must actually be in charge of everything. That's not logical. Lots of Latin Americans don't get confused about that, though of course there are plenty of deluded Latin Americans, particuarly some whom I once got to know better than I liked.
What I sometimes wonder is who is in charge of the empire. I tend to think it's more or less in charge of itself at this point, with all sorts of scoundrels using it for their own purposes, though obviously the military and the NFL seem to be top dogs.
(I also think it makes words meaningless to say that a powerful person wants everything to happen that he allows to happen. No, he wants what he wants, and he allows what he allows. Chicken plants got nothing to do with it.)
OF COURSE Obama isn't in charge of Empire, WE The People, U&I, are. Make no mistake, what goes down in Honduras Obama or ANY American President has say-so over. If a coup happened its red, white, and blue in color.
If NE were a shampoo, the instructions would read:
1. The US president doesn't run much of anything. He is not the chief of the empire. US democracy is a sham. Langley calls the shots. Or DOD. Just not the president. He is a pawn. Only naive doofuses like Jon believe he is the king.
2. JFK was murdered! OMG!!! Our powerful almighty president, who was going to stop the war -- so powerful he was they had to kill him! Such an intolerable assault on our glorious democracy. How powerful was JFK? I've read 355 books about him. That's how powerful he was.
3. Rinse and repeat.
Look, Obama is the President. He does what the American ruling class tells him to do. That is what the CEOs of modern countries do -- they are responsible to the stockholders.
Maybe he personally plotted to oust Zelaya. Maybe he didn't and found the coup an embarrassment which he had to engineer because he was told to. What difference does it make? Zelaya was simply pointing out that personalising the issue is a foolish red-herring. The problem is the system.
NE: What I sometimes wonder is who is in charge of the empire. I tend to think it's more or less in charge of itself at this point, with all sorts of scoundrels using it for their own purposes, though obviously the military and the NFL seem to be top dogs.
I understand where you're coming from, but you go down this road and eventually you're saying that no one was in charge of Nazi Germany and responsible for what happened. Individuals always have a choice, even when it's between getting with the genocide program and getting shot in the head.
The Creator: Zelaya was simply pointing out that personalising the issue is a foolish red-herring. The problem is the system.
No, that's really not true. Read the whole interview, he definitely is personalizing it, explaining that certain people within the US government made this happen (Otto Reich, etc.) and certain other people (Obama) "would be against the coup."
I'll read the whole article--obviously should have already--but you again confuse whether Obama is in charge of the whole empire and supported the coup with whether he "had a choice." It isn't the case that because the President isn't in charge of "the empire" that Hitler wasn't in charge of Nazi Germany--that doesn't follow at all--though of course there was a lot more going on then too than one racist nut's megalomania.
It also doesn't follow that Obama didn't have a choice--though I feel sure that his choice was a little different from the choice you are thinking about. A very devastating moral critique can be done of Obama, but not a critique that makes him the prime mover of all things evil.
It doesn't make any sense at all to me to suppose that Obama supported the Honduran coup, so it doesn't surprise me that Zelaya didn't think he did, and I gotta tell you, I used to know way, way more than the average joe about Latin American politics, including from quite a bit of very personal experience, and I remember a little of what I learned, from books and close observation of specific people 25 years ago. Everything involves specific people, and some whom we have never heard of wield more power than you might think in far off places.
So of course specific people were involved in making the Honduran coup happen--everything happens through specific people. But the specific people don't have to be elected officials or well known to us--they just to have positions in particular times at particular places that give them power and influence over such events. That Zelaya knows who they were doesn't much surprise me. I used to knew who some such people were too, and not that far from Honduras. As you say in your other post, it's a cohesive international oligarchy. Indeed.
Come on, give reading a try. Guessing how the past happened just doesn't work. Trust me, I tried that first. But if life has never made you crazy enough to spend a couple of years fact-checking history with obsessive-compulsive abandon, or if you have better things to do, you might consider wondering if maybe there are some possibilities you have not explored. Alternatively, you can go with your option and just figure anyone crazy enough to do that is crazy. Either is fine as long as you don't think you can get snarky without being counter-snarked. I will tell you that I was not dispositionally predisposed to reaching some of the radical conclusions that I have reached about assassinations and intel agencies. I too had it thoroughly beaten into my head, like you and pretty much everybody in the US, that all that stuff is wacky bullshit.
"Obama is the president of the United States, but he is not the chief of the empire."
According to George Carlin,
Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, and city halls.
Sure America is owned. The people that owns her are Americans. A few Americans(1%) own a lot more than the rest, yes. But they don't own everything. I've seen that with my own lyin' eyes.
The coup in Honduras has its roots in several presidencies ALL the way back to St. Ronnie. Of course Obama was never on the streets of Honduras with a bull horn and a rifle, none the less he pulled the trigger on this one. Maybe he did like it, maybe he didn't.
Guessing how the past happened just doesn't work. Trust me, I tried that first.
Oh, I trust you on that, because "guess how the past happened" is what you still do, and you claim that your guesses are fact.
But if life has never made you crazy enough to spend a couple of years fact-checking history with obsessive-compulsive abandon, or if you have better things to do, you might consider wondering if maybe there are some possibilities you have not explored.
Once again I have to wonder who you're talking to. I know that I did exactly that, "fact-checking history" though not exactly "with obsessive-compulsion abandon." I'm reasonably sure I'm not the only person around here who did. Instead of just making stuff up, as you do, I tried to find out what did happen, or at least to find out what didn't -- for example, North Vietnam did not invade its helpless free neighbor to the South, who then cried piteously for humanitarian American assistance.
The notion floated by The Creator, that corporate CEOs just do what their stockholders tell them to, is laughable; so it can't be used to argue that by extension the US President is just the CEO of America Inc., doing what his stockholders tell him to. The analogy doesn't hold up, though Obama, like many a corporate CEO, lies constantly. As Daniel Ellsberg pointed out, politicians aren't pathological liars, they're professional liars "who should be looked at at skeptically as used-car salesmen or Pfizer or Merck spokesmen."
I don't know, and I'd like to know how N E can claim to know, that Obama didn't want the Honduras coup. Given his generally despicable attitude toward our neighbors to the south, who cares whether he wanted it? That's not even remotely relevant to anything of importance, but of course that's N E's normal approach, like any other Obama apologist: focus on trivia.
Obama got where he is by hitching his wagon to the interests of the rich and powerful. That makes him a thoroughly average political hack, and therefore of little interest. He has, however, used the power he has to commit some fairly horrifying crimes, like killing innocent civilians, but it's okay because they're like foreigners. (To repeat something I noticed long ago: N E cares very much about the possibility that the US government might have killed a few thousand Americans on 9/11, and again, for N E possibility equals certainty; he doesn't care very much about the documented certainty that the US government has killed millions of dusky foreigners.) He has used his power to escalate Bush's war on whistleblowers; he is perfectly willing to use his clout as President to pressure Congresspersons into supporting his corporate allies. Yet I'm supposed to sympathize with him because he's only doing their bidding? Hell, no. I sympathize with, and support, those people who have no power, yet stand up anyway to and annoy and disrupt the mental peace of Obama and his allies. It's not impossible to have such courage; millions of people around the world have it, often facing far harsher repression than the US police have unleashed so far. Sure, those who oppose those people would face unpleasant consequences if they joined them, but I refuse to see them as positive figures anyway. My respect goes to those who take the risks, not to toadies like Obama.
P.S. "Obama is the president of the United States, but he is not the chief of the empire."
Actually, he is. A chief is never someone who stands alone at the top and orders everyone else around; even the Roman Emperors or the Emperors of China had to make sure they kept the support of the Army, their ministers, and many other people. The guy at the top of the pyramid isn't holding himself up; he's standing on the backs of many others, and he'll falling down if they decide not to hold him up any longer.
It's increasingly clear to me that even if Obama weren't a sleazy, ambitious political hack, he was a terrible choice for President at this time in our history because he lacked the political experience to drive the system. He's just been trying desperately to hang on while it goes helter skelter, but he never had any idea what he was doing. That's the most conciliatory way to put it, and it's much better than he deserves.
Relax, NE. It's just you're one massive contradiction, on the one hand telling us the POTUS is a puppet, but then in the same breath telling us what a giant humongous tragedy to our democracy it is when the puppet gets shot. Which one is it? Why does it matter if the puppet gets shot? Can you pick one of these two contradictory opinions and stick with it?
IMHO, one doesn't have to like or approve of Obama to believe that Zelaya may be telling the truth. I don't know if he is or not, but making it about Obama-worship, rather than Zelaya and/or the Pentagon, is an example of the limits of bloggery.
What is ironic, or cutting, or pleasing to juxtapose--that is, what blogs well--isn't necessarily what's important. To deny Zelaya's assertion simply because it's amusing, in a grim and knowing way, to add the Honduras coup to the overfull sack of Obama's sins, buries the lede for the sake of a joke, and it's a joke that--as Jon admits by referencing John Caruso--has been made many times before.
Zelaya was there; it happened to him; that's not nothing. Could Zelaya be lying or mistaken? Sure--but he could also be telling the truth, and that seems to make some of you disproportionally uncomfortable. Personally, if a system acts thoroughly broken and corrupt, as ours does, I assume it's thoroughly broken and corrupt, and not broken and corrupt but still with some deep respect for the separation of powers as put forth in the Constitution, not to mention unerring civilian control of the military.
I mean no disrespect to anybody, I know your opinions are nuanced and well-founded--but on this blog of all places, where the ruthlessness of people in power is assumed--I feel the irony's worth pointing out. Sociopaths break rules; that's why they're sociopaths. And it doesn't make me happy to feel that it's perfectly likely the Pentagon does stuff without the President's knowledge; I get no sardonic pleasure out of it--or if I did, it's long gone by now.
And of course this worldview comes from my reading on the assassinations. People such as NE and myself don't "believe" in the JFK assassination like they believe in an afterlife or root for the Pittsburgh Steelers. We look at CE 399; we see evidence-tampering and other suggestions of a frame-up; we watch Oswald get shot in police custody; and then conclude that the official story is bullshit. Then the reading really begins. It's not an easy hunt, and it's not one that he or I undertake in a half-assed way. Don't diminish it to internet trolling, please. It's not. I personally don't care what ATR commenters think about JFK; but having read the site for eight years of unremitting bitching over the state of the world and the corruption and cravenness of our leaders, I'm simply gobsmacked that the place people will not go is so damned close. Militaries do things outside of civilian control in every country; always have, always will. And the more powerful the military, the more likely the overstep. There's simply nothing in our country or its government or the character of our citizens or leaders that makes us any different or better, so I, for one, can imagine Zelaya being right. Or not. I don't know, but I don't assume it's Obama-worship. That's a weird, illogical leap.
Whatever the truth of the Honduras coup is, it's in the evidence; investigate it if you wish. But starting from the place that Zelaya must be lying simply because Obama's a shitheel, is likely to mislead.
Mike, you are my hero, and I'm honored to be in your camp, but you're being pretty polite. I don't really pay any attention to Duncan, and if he doesn't pay any attention to me, which he obviously doesn't, or has a good rant, that's okay. Ranting is good for stress relief, and maybe he won't have a stroke if he unloads a little, which would be good, because strokes are bad, and Duncan might be a swell bloke for all I know, and he probably is, because he hangs out here at ATR now and again, unlike at that Tomatoes site or wherever neanderthals are gathering these days. I think too much stress makes people mean, and blurgs are a good outlet. Plus, they let people unload a lot of useless stupidity, and I find that ranting sometimes actually makes people much smarter. Politeness has its limits in that way. Ranting can be very candid. Sometimes people need to hear that they're being MORONS. As you point out, when somebody can shoot an assassin in police custody, and everybody later acts like it's ridiculous to think there was a conspiracy, people have gradually been turned into IDIOTS without noticing. It happens to us all nowadays, what with repitition being so effective in controlling thought. I used to enjoy it--it's way more fun than being so jaded about the way everything works. You know, the truth is ugly. As Nietzsche said, we have art to escape truth. Ouch.
As for specifics of this little post, you can rest assured that Zelaya knows way more about how that coup happened than anyone commenting here, or than Jon, and than me, though I myself do have some pretty vibrant memories of people who made that kind of evil shit happen 25 years ago in that region, and I'm pretty sure that Duncan and bobs in this instance have their eyes glued firmly on their colons. That's not a view I want to share.
But you, Mike, are the man, and I hope all is well with you and stays that way. And please tell Jon he's still a genius. Even Ted Williams only hit .406, and only once.
MoA and NE:
>> As Nietzsche said, we have art to escape truth.
>> Then the reading really begins. It's not an easy hunt, and it's not one that he or I undertake in a half-assed way.
OK, fine, but could you cut the purple prose? I wonder if you guys realize that you come across as nut jobs.
My two cents is that Zelaya seemed manifestly delusional about the political avenues open through appeal to the US government through the coup and its immediate aftermath, so it doesn't seem surprising to me that he may remain delusional about such appeals.
I'm not clear on what people are arguing about here. In the past NE had sometimes come across as an Obama apologist, because he used to talk about Obama as though he was a good person doing his best against the CIA and the Pentagon. Later I remember some posts where he seemed to lose faith in Obama's good intentions, while still maintaining his view that others have the real power. But in this thread I don't see that he's actually saying that much different from what Jon said. I personally doubt that staging a coup in Honduras was at the top of Obama's to do list, but presumably there are people in the Empire who do care about Honduras and could swing things their way and Obama went along.
As for Zelaya, leaders and diplomats from little countries don't necessarily have the luxury of being able to tell the truth all the time. Take Ramos Horta, who has been involved in East Timorese politics for decades as its representative at the UN and later as President. He could, if he wanted, condemn almost the entire foreign policy establishment of the US as accessories to genocide, but if he wants East Timor to have good relations with the US he probably won't do that now. (Though it's pretty clear in his autobiography that came out in the late 80's.)
Zelaya doesn't believe it ... he can't be that stupid ... he's just playing the ever so successful nobel peace prize ploy: you give obama praise and he'll earn it. He's just hoping that obama coups him back into power. I see that Zelaya moved to the left after he got into office, so good luck with 'dat Manuel ...
You've either been toying with me like a bored genius, or I was more right than I realized in suggesting that you and Duncan don't even pause to briefly read my comments.
I always said Obama wouldn't be able to change things, and that he doesn't have the ability to do some things people think--that power doesn't work the way people think, and in Presidents in our system is more limited than people think. That was my early emphasis on all the "Obama is the devil" posts. That always sounded to some like apologetics, and it actually be BE apologetics in a way, though not the typical way that people here think, which is very moral in its emphasis.
I actually don't think I've ever put much emphasis on intentions, but I do think I have lost confidence that Obama would ever be bold or courageous or do much to attempt to avoid things like the Honduran coup, which like many other things resulted in people dying. When someone with the power of the Presidency, despite its limitations, is so cautious and conservative, and in my view often also politically foolish, it's hard for me to feel much enthusiasm about saying anything that is a form of apologetics or would be construed that way. It seems offensive to the dead people to me.
On the other hand, politicians do have to be rotten bastards to survive in politics, and I temper my judgments with that thought. I do believe some tough calls are inescapable. But not all of them, or nearly this many.
For the record, I have no trouble believing that the Feds did JFK in, because the deep research indeed seems to suggest it. Such a scenario doesn't mean that JFK was so great, it just means a certain faction found him unacceptable.
Donald Johnson, yes, the argument comes from the fact that we know each other's commenting personalities and jump the gun on snark. At least I did.
The Feds have no reason to do Obama in, because he is their man. He is with the program. Remember Bush II did not actually make the decision to attack Iraq -- that came from Pentagon planners and The System too. One can just as well say that Bush II might not have been so bad at heart, and was constrained by the System. (The image disparity between the two is nothing. Professional liars, etc.) It's that we always hear this line of the D, but not the R politicians, that wears a bit thin.
Aw shucks, Jon, thanks. And I didn't get you anything.
Cloud: It's that we always hear this line of the D, but not the R politicians, that wears a bit thin.
Exactly. What NE is seemingly incapable of understanding is that the truth or falsehood of his belief in a near-omnipotent shadow government that engineered the JFK assassination, 9/11, etc is completely beside the point. The point is that he regularly acts as though Democrats like Obama are innocent victims or (at worst) unwitting dupes of that cabal, whereas Republicans like Bush are its willing participants and enablers. To quote his philosophy:
[I]t's our obligation as subjects to understand the predicaments our rulers find themselves in so that we can judge them fairly. Otherwise, we might blame them for wanton death and destruction that they feel bad about. This could weaken them and lead to their replacement by other rules who don't feel bad about causing even more wanton death and destruction and, worse, the new rulers enjoying themselves in the process.
Setting aside the nauseating notion that we're just subjects whose obligation is to empathize with our rulers so we can judge them fairly, NE feels he has the clairvoyance to look into Obama's heart and see that Obama "feels bad about" death and destruction, whereas evil Republicans like Bush not only "don't feel bad" but "cause even more wanton death and destruction" and "enjoy themselves in the process"—which combines that Democrat-favoring clairvoyance with a refusal to accept the many straightforward examples of Obama causing more wanton death and destruction than Bush (and giving every indication of enjoying himself quite a bit).
There'd be no inconsistency whatsoever in believing in a shadow government that's actively aided and abetted by Democrats like Obama, of course—but no amount of evidence will shake the faith of people like NE in the inherent goodness of well-intentioned Democrats like Obama who are secretly on our side, or the improvement they offer over mustache-twirling Republicans like Bush who're in the cabal's pocket. Which makes his condescending sniping about naivete painfully ironic (but on the plus side, good for a laugh).
Thank you for linking to yourself, because that was a very fine post. Propaganda, advertising, all that--it works. What I think is really impressive is that the military gets us to pay taxes that are allocated to it for it to brainwash us so that we can pay more taxes for it to brainwash us some more. In addition to having wars in Asia and building remote-controlled drones to murder people there, of course.
The czar is working behind the scenes to ameliorate the harshness of the nobles' rule.
To add to your point, though it ruins the view of human nature held by some people, a person--anyone--can rise to the occasion at any given time and make a brave and morally correct choice. That's to be commended, even deeply admired, though it doesn't mean all the bad things before that were okay. Why it is hard to accept that we all, even politicians, have the capacity to do wrong, and also do right, I don't really get. A person doesn't get to be President by doing the right thing all the time, or even most of the time, but like anyone else, a President still can do the right thing sometimes, even when it's dangerous if it seems important, as avoiding a nuclear war might have seemed to JFK. For a President, going against the hawks happens to be the most likely way to get shot at or poisoned by those who think doing something moral or pacifistic or just amounts to treason.
The one place I disagree with you is that lots of right-wing nuts really do think Obama is a dangerous socialistic treasonous type, though I agree with you he certainly isn't. That just means he gets less space to do something that might seem unpatriotic to the yahoos on the right before they start to call for his head, which certainly would be useful to those who want to keep him timid.
I don't think anyone can judge how Obama would react if the Pentagon wanted him to drop hydrogen bombs all over Asia, so it's a bit unfair to compare his courage to that of JFK. The Curtis LeMay crowd wanted to nuke China and the USSR for a long time. Seriously. That sort of forced JFK to be unusually courageous, but God bless him anyway.
I always get a chuckle out of Caruso linking back to me making fun of Caruso. So I'm glad you like laughing at me too, JC, because laughter heels.
Maybe we should should start the Turing machine debate again, unless we've got the energy to get a third party going for someone like Nader who could rise above politics and heel the nation. Or we could just all pat ourselves on the back and talk about how great we are, those of us who agree about everything anyway. Because everyone knows there's no higher morality than believing the right things, except maybe hating the right things. If you believe the right things and hate the right things, you must be a good person, right JC?
Coups and Revolutions in Central America---THE HOBBY of Presidents.
Whatever happened to the recent post on TARP being a diversion for the multi-trillion dollar bank bailout? It raised a couple of questions for me, but when I went back to check on the comments thread I got a Moveable Type error message "No such entry ID '3578' ".
Bruce F - that's odd, isn't it? It doesn't appear on the ATR main page, and yet I could find it by Googling -
Bruce F - that's odd, isn't it? It doesn't appear on the ATR main page, and yet I could find it by Googling -
ATR's on an old version of Movable Type and disappears old comments on a semi-regular basis (possibly due to bugs in that version)—I've occasionally looked for old comments of mine and found them missing.
I've never seen it lose a posting, though. That one is currently marked as a draft, so either Jon unpublished it or MT somehow mangled its status.
"Nader who could rise above politics and heel the nation."
Was that a typo? Because he's not the 1st politician that phrase brings to mind.
"Heel, nation! Now, sit. Sit! Now beg."
to see where the USA is today, watch this:
the man is the father of a friend of my niece in Cincinnati. My niece is 17, I guess she is getting an education on how things are here in the USA. She is planning on organizing a fundraiser.