Saturday, September 24, 2016

WILL MEXICAN PRESIDENT PENA NIETO’S POPULARITY TAKE A NEW NOSEDIVE?


Washington’s Friendly Relations with Mexico in spite of Peña Nieto’s Unpopularity – compare that with Venezuela:
In August a reputable pole put his popularity at 27 percent, after the revelations regarding the plagiarism of his BA thesis, recognized by the Universidad Panamericana where he graduated from, and the Casa Blanca scandal in which he asked Mexicans to forgive him for having bought a 7 million dollar house from the construction firm that is the major contractor of his government. Since the 27 percent poll was conducted, Peña Nieto provoke the wrath of all Mexicans by having the chutzpah to invite Donald Trump to the country, in spite of his anti-Mexican racist pronouncements and his ludicrous call for building a wall separating the two nations. Now the latest scandal is the case involving 11 women who were raped by police under the most brutal circumstances under his watch, when he was governor a decade ago. From 27 percent will his popularity reach 20 %, 15% or 10%? But the real question is not that. The real question is will the Obama administration call for regime change in Mexico as it has in Venezuela. Obviously not. Why not? Could it have anything to do with Mexico’s friendly and generous policy toward foreign investment which has increased by an annual rate of 50% under his administration?



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

WAR IN THE 1960S VERSUS WAR IN THE 21st CENTURY: I JUST DON’T GET IT!


In the 60s, there was a massive movement against the horrors of an absurd war that cost many lives and much destruction. And on the electoral front, the Vietnam War was very much in the center of debate. It actually convinced a president not to run for re-election, the very same president who four years before had run and was elected as a peace candidate. I’m referring, of course, to Lyndon B. Johnson. In ‘68 there was also a three-way race for the Democratic nomination and it was all about (or largely about) who was going to get us out of the war. And the Republican candidate (Nixon that is) got elected on that very promise. Four years later the Democrats ran a peace candidate.

Now the absurdity of war has reached a new threshold. Military strategists tell us it will go on for five decades or so. The example of Syria is just as ghastly as that of Vietnam. Libya, one of the most advanced nations in Africa and the envy of the rest of the continent, is in shambles. And yet the issue of U.S. military intervention is almost an afterthought. That despite the fact that in the 60s we had guns and butter. Now with the great recession still lingering on after eight years and a 15 trillion dollar public debt, it’s either one or the other. Don’t people realize that the military budget is largely responsible for the mess we are in? And yet you have two candidates that don’t even mention the connection between war and the economy. I just don’t get it.




Monday, September 12, 2016

“Johnny I hardly knew ye”: As appropriate as ever

As the United States gets ready to choose between two presidential candidates who support the vision of the world as a perpetual battlefield, the song “Johnny I hardly knew ye” is as appropriate as ever. Joan Baez sang this song in the 60s in the context of the Vietnam War. Why isn’t the U.S. public as concerned and outraged by the ongoing wars (in Afghanistan it’s going on 15 years!) as we were in the 60s:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTYBtj0gFcY

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

THE DEBATE OR LACK OF DEBATE OVER THE FIRST-STRIKE USE OF NUCELAR WEAPONS


OBAMA IS BACKING DOWN FROM HIS PLEDGE TO ACHIEVE THE EVENTUAL ELIMINATION OF NUCLEAR ARMS, PUT FORWARD IN HIS 2008 CAMPAIGN. HE IS APPARNETLY RULING OUT THE POSSIBILITY OF RENOUNCING A FIRST-STRIKE USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. The argument, as the NY Times points out in its article “Obama Unlikely to Vow No First Use of Nuclear Weapons” is that such a vow will “embolden” Russia and China and also send a signal of weakness to our allies such as South Korea. Nowhere in the article is there mention that failure to do so encourages a nuclear arms race. And nowhere in the article is there discussion of the heinous scenario in which the U.S. unilaterally employs nuclear weapons. What would such a scenario look like? Again, the corporate media, while giving the appearance of objectivity, is not telling the whole story.  

The article does state that the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington, released a study “showing that Mr. Obama had dismantled fewer nuclear warhead than any other post-Cold War president.” The article also says “Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has said little this year about her nuclear plans, and Mr. Trump has argued for a major military buildup.”

This is an additional reason to include the two main third-party candidates in at least one of the presidential debates. Who is raising the real issues that are of concern for the U.S. public?

Jill Stein, for instance, states unequivocally “WE DON’T NEED NUCLEAR WEAPONS.”



Sunday, September 4, 2016

The International Media and the Opposition's Protest March in Caracas


THE VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT HAD REASON TO BELIEVE THAT SOME OF THE ORGANIZERS OF THE SEPTEMBER 1 “TOMA DE CARACAS” HAD THE INTENTION OF REPLICATING THE EVENTS OF APRIL 11, 2002. There was ample evidence to indicate that the protesters may have ended up confronting the government in order to force it to accept their demands. Whether the confrontation was to take the form of violence to achieve regime change or massive civil disobedience to force the Consejo Nacional Electoral to accept the opposition’s electoral demands was never clear.  

But the fact is that the social media was replete with the same messages as during the “guarimba” of 2014, when opposition leaders claimed that the government would fall within a week or so. Freddy Guevara, national deputy and leader of Voluntad Popular, declared that the march represented an “ultimatum” and that protesters would not leave Caracas until their demands were met: “We invite all people who are willing to stay on the streets peacefully and civically until we achieve change, constitutionally, democratically and pacifically.” Indeed, the April 11, 2002 march was also supposed to be “peaceful.”  

Several days prior to the protest, Henrique Capriles and Chúo Torrealba of the MUD stressed the peaceful nature of the protests and claimed that hooded protestors (“encapuchados”) would not be allowed and that the protest organizers had the means to guarantee peace. Nevertheless, encapuchados and others attempted to block traffic on the Francisco Fajardo freeway where Guevara was stationed. The MUD claims that they were “infiltrados.”

 The foreign media reporting on the September 1 events has (true to form) conjured up the image of government repression and restriction on freedom of expression. The other side of the story – namely that the Chavistas were also mobilized in large numbers, that the opposition leaders refuse to recognize the government’s legitimacy, that their regime-change rhetoric comes in distinct forms, and that their past actions have on occasions erupted into violence – was downplayed or completely ignored by the international media. It may be that the government’s firmness and the strictness of the measures that were taken acted as deterrents and explain the more cautious pronouncements coming out of the MUD in the days prior to September 1.




Friday, September 2, 2016

JOHN NEGROPONTE ENDORSES HILLARY CLINTON: What does that say about Hillary Clinton?


John Negroponte served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s. In addition to (at best) covering for that country's murderous autocrats, he helped turn Honduras into a staging area for American-trained death squads in places like El Salvador and Guatemala. Furthermore, during his tenure, the Nicaraguan contras set up shop in Honduras.

ISN’T THAT REASON ENOUGH TO VOTE FOR GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE JILL STEIN?


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

COLIN KAEPERNICK’S STAND ON RACISM (no pun intended)


ALL COLIN KAEPERNICK DID WAS MAKE A STATEMENT. Now he’s a traitor, professional football executives hate him, and his football career is all but over. What does this say about freedom of speech in this country?

OBVIOUSLY BLACK LIVES MATTER. Thanks to Colin Kaepernick, and now several other professional football players who have joined his protest, this issue is reaching more people than otherwise would have been the case. If the U.S. judicial system functioned properly, this kind of protest would be unnecessary. But too many killers (both policemen and non-policemen – as in the case of George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin) have been let off the hook.