by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

I can not attend CPAC this year, but have been paying attention to the speakers; yesterday Senator Marco Rubio’s speech on American exceptionalism defined America’s post-Obama foreign policy, as Mediate rightfully said:

He defined the threats he warned that the United States will face in the near future and defined current and long-term America’s economic challenges in terms relating to the preservation of free trade guaranteed by American military and diplomatic strength.

All the threats come from totalitarian regimes, regimes who do not respect their citizens’ God-given rights: “Any government and any leader who violates those rights is an illegitimate one.”

Rubio asserted that “America must be involved in leading the world”. “There is only one nation on earth capable of rallying and bringing together the free people on this planet to stand up to the spread of totalitarianism. The United Nations cannot do this. In fact, they cannot do anything.”

“If you think high taxes and regulations are bad for our economy, so is global instability and the spread of totalitarianism,” Rubio continued. “What we have in America is the exception, not the rule, in human history. Almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet didn’t’ get to choose their leaders, and they didn’t get to choose their life either.”

Ed Morrissey:

Rubio nails it on foreign policy, and in a way explains why the Obama administration fell into the trap of their own arrogance. Barack Obama campaigned on “hope and change,” and later implied (if not quite stated outright) that he was the change and the hope. The administration seemed to have bought its own hype. The mere fact of his election was supposed to argue that America had already fundamentally changed, and that all that was needed to get imperial-oriented nations like China and Russia to see the light was a reset button or two.

That’s the “fantasy” world inhabited by the Obama administration, as the Washington Post described it last weekend. Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry all seem to believe that just talking about change and hope will mean that nations run by power-seeking leaders will suddenly embrace Utopianism, because — as Kerry explicitly said — that’s the right side of history, and the geopolitical manipulations of Russia and China are on “the wrong side of history.” There is absolutely no evidence for that claim, except for their own declarations that it’s so.

Video of the full spech:

Memeorandum thread.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on Latin American and USA politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan

found that New York lawyer Steven Donziger and his litigation team engaged in coercion, bribery, money laundering and other misconduct aimed at securing a 2011 verdict against the company in Ecuador.

The judge concluded that Mr. Donziger and his team fabricated evidence, promised $500,000 to an Ecuadorean judge to rule in their favor, ghostwrote much of the final verdict in the case and took other actions that “perverted” the course of justice.

In the 2011 lawsuit, Chevron accused Donziger and Ecuadorian plaintiffs of fraud and racketeering in the 2003 Lago Agrio trial that resulted in a US$19billion verdict against Chevron, which had never operated in Ecuador but had inherited an environmental clean-up case when Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. (The Wall Street Journal has a timeline, and you can read the 500-page Kaplan ruling here.)

Last November Ecuador reduced the $19 billion to $9 billion.

The Aguarico-4 site became a favorite cause among celebrities like Sting, Danny Glover, Cher, Daryl Hannah and Mia Farrow (who on January 27 tweeted that she was “in Equador to check out the toxic #mess left by Texaco-#Chevron” but appears to have deleted that tweet and turned her attention to other matters). These same celebrities have nothing to say about tribal warfare in the Amazon killing hundreds of people, the government’s war against freedom expression, and China’s control of Ecuador’s oil.

The government of Ecuador gives tours to the site, which is actually owned by its own oil company, Petroecuador.

Chevron is right to continue to fight the (now) $9 billion judgement.

I expect that Donziger will appeal: Jack Fowler reported in late January that

Donziger has cobbled a fourth legal defense team, led by Deepak Gupta, who will be assisted by University of Denver Law School professors Justin Marceau and John Campbell.

Judge Kaplan probably expects him to, also, considering his 500-page decision plus 89-page appendix.

Judge Kaplan points out that Donziger is a master at public relations, and Donziger’s strategy of a media campaign “shifting the focus from the fraud on Chevron and the Lago Agrio court to the environmental harm that Donziger [and the plaintiffs] claim was done” will most likely continue.

Over in US, however, the Chevron Case Helped Wreck a Big Law Merger between Patton Boggs of Washington, DC, and Locke Lord of Texas,

Chevron has filed a counterclaim against Patton Boggs in the case, and two sources familiar with the matter told The Am Law Daily that the firm’s potential liabilities on that front contributed to Locke Lord’s decision to call off merger talks.

Last month Locke Lord managing partner Jerry Clements told The Am Law Daily that the potential liabilities and “reputational aspects” of the Chevron matter were a key part of her firm’s due diligence efforts in evaluating a merger with Patton Boggs.

“Reputational aspects” indeed.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on Latin American and US politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog. You can read her posts on the Chevron case here.

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by baldilocks

Only soft-handed Marxists natter on about the “right” or “wrong side of history.” Countries like Poland, however, have been battered by real Marxism and proceed accordingly.

NATO allies will hold emergency talks on the crisis in Ukraine on Tuesday, for the second time in three days, following a request from Poland, the alliance said on Monday.

In calling the meeting, Poland, a neighbor of Ukraine, invoked a NATO rule allowing any ally to consult with the others if it feels its security, territorial integrity or independence are under threat, the so-called Article 4.

“The developments in and around Ukraine are seen to constitute a threat to neighboring Allied countries and having direct and serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area,” the alliance said in a statement.

Emphasis mine; Poland knows Russia well.

There’s the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, under which Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR agreed to split up Poland.[i]

There’s the Katyn Massacre. Originally attributed to the Nazis, it was actually perpetrated by the NKVD (Soviet Secret Police); the USSR admitted to the massacre in 1990.

And there’s the Warsaw Pact. Allegedly it was formed counter as counter to NATO and as a “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance” between the USSR and eight other eastern European countries, including Poland. But, as is well-known,  it was de facto enslavement of those countries by Soviet masters.

But Poland doesn’t even have to look to the previous century find reasons to be suspicious of Russia and its goals.

Recall the scrapped agreement for the missile shield technology  for Poland and the Czech Republic. It had been promised by George W. Bush, opposed by Vladimir Putin, and, in the end, was reneged on by Barack H. Obama.  And recall that the turnabout was announced on September 18, 2009—the seventieth anniversary of the day on which Hitler and Stalin carried out their designs on Poland.

And let’s not forget what happened to the Polish leadership in 2010.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some of the country’s highest military and civilian leaders died on Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia, killing 96, officials said.

(…)

Russian and Polish officials said there were no survivors on the 26-year-old Tupolev, which was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the [Katyn] massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

This grimly ironic accident is still being questioned.

Our leadership and many other observers may not be taking into account—or even be familiar with—the history of this abusive relationship, but it would be safe to bet that the Poles had it in mind when they decided to make their appeal to NATO.

This is not to say that the United States should intervene on behalf of Ukraine. Even if our mandate to do so were morally and politically clear-cut, in the wake of the hollowing out of this nation–militarily, economically, socially, and, most importantly, in the leadership sphere–we are simply not able to help Ukraine or any other nation.

But while the President of the United States continually provides negative examples of an observation made by King Solomon in Proverbs, Poland looks at Ukraine, scrutinizes its own history and soberly ponders reality. Please, God, let there be a few more sober realists in the USA!

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Lithuania invokes Article 4 as well.


[i] In his actions concerning Georgia and Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin has borrowed a strategy from both Stalin and Hitler: both claimed that their attack on Poland was to protect ethnic Ukrainians, Belarusians and Germans in the country—a pretext, to be sure.

Putin used a similar justification, with respect to ethnic Russians living in the Republic of Georgia, for the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, which resulted in the “independence” of formerly Georgian provinces Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both provinces “had been functioning for 15 years outside Georgian control, their de facto independence guaranteed by Russian peacekeeping troops.” Putin is using this same strategy at present as justification for Russia’s incursion into Ukraine–an old form of ethnic cleansing.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

By Pat Austin

I’m missing Ronald Reagan today.

It seems inconceivable to me that we have fallen to such low regard in the world, with our weak, inept leaders, that Russia is once again spitting in our face and laughing behind our back.  It could not be more clear that Vladimir Putin thinks that President Obama is a schmuck who is so self-absorbed with his own celebrity and so far diminished as a leader that all pretense of peace and goodwill are now out the window. I dare say that Putin would not have taken the aggressive steps he is now taking if we had a strong, effective leader like Reagan at the helm.

A couple of weeks ago, Peggy Noonan wrote:

The world is watching. Part of the story in Ukraine is that the people are rebelling against their elites, which have cozied up to Russia for their own purposes. We won’t be seeing less of this kind of thing in the future but more. Don’t we want to be understood to be on the right side of that battle?

You can thank the Obama voters for this new aggressive Russia: the kumbaya-singing, hand-wringing, peaceniks who are so determined to make sure America is not seen as an occupier and a bully.  “Why should we care what happens in Russia?”, they think.  They can’t see the connection.  Certainly Obama can’t see any need to intervene; remember Iran in 2009?  Obama would not dare do anything (but blather in televised speeches on his way to a fundraiser) about Russia’s power grab in the Ukraine lest he be perceived as a war-monger.

Noonan, again:

I think our leaders are now so anxious about appearing to support entangling America in another conflict that they’ve become afraid to voice full-throated support for those who fight for principles completely in line with our own—the right of people to choose their own economic and governmental arrangements, and their right to resist any illegitimate limiting of their freedoms.

Certainly between John Kerry and Barack Obama, Putin must be quaking in his “fur-lined boots,” as Charles Krauthammer said this week.  While Obama pretends to be “gravely concerned” over Putin’s aggression, John Kerry is talking with George Stephanopoulos and declaring that “all options are on the table.”  Certainly Putin is not in the least concerned that these two clowns will fight over Crimea.

Obama and Putin have always had … let’s just say an edgy relationship.  Rather like two men playing a game of Rook while smoking cigars and sipping wine.  But Putin has never been deluded by Obama like many American voters have been.  Putin has always seen Obama for the weak, spineless pseudo-leader that he is; Obama has always wanted to be perceived as cerebral and intelligent:  smart power!  But right now, today, Putin is the one who appears stronger.  And Obama voters are getting exactly what they wished for.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”

Ronald Reagan would weep if he could see this.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Psychologists state that it takes roughly twenty-eight days to develop and maintain a new habit.

Perhaps one of the best definitions on what constitutes a habit was but forth by the late Dr. Stephen Covey in his best selling work “The Seven 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Dr. Covey wrote that a habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. All three of these elements must be present in order to adopt and maintain a new discipline.

The Christian Church (Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestant) enters into one of the two holiest seasons of the year – The Lenten Season – on Wednesday, March 5th of this year; this day is known to Christians as “Ash Wednesday.” (The other holy season is Advent which is observed four weeks before Christmas.) Ash Wednesday formally initiates the Lenten calendar in the Holy Christian and Universal Church.

The importance of Ash Wednesday and the days that follow must not be minimized. It is during this time that the Disciples of Christ seek to enter into the reality of their Savior’s Life, Death, and Resurrection in a deeper way.

Christians practice the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – not as rituals in themselves – but as a means to allow GOD The Father, GOD The Son, and GOD The Holy Spirit to remake, revive, and renew the presence of Christ in their hearts.

Lent is a time of repentance (the Greek word for repentance is “metanoia” which means “changing one’s mind about sin and confessing it as evil and turning away from sin and radically turning to GOD and accepting His forgiveness and grace).

The Advent Season is a time of festivity, fun, and festival. It is during Advent that the Christian remembers that Christ came to the world of men by entering into the womb of the Virgin Mary. Advent is during Christmas time and Christians celebrate this time because it reminds them that Immanuel “GOD is indeed with us!”

Conversely, the Lenten Season is one in which we mourn for our sins and we mourn over the results of the sins of others. Lent forces the Christian to come to grips with his personal sin and failure see how sin causes a separation between him and his relationship with both GOD and other human beings.

The solution to this break in relationship with Almighty GOD is to receive His extended mercy at The Cross.

Lent is not simply about giving up candy, sweets, T.V., Facebook or things that we enjoy – although there is a time and place for this.
Lent marks a time of taking on new disciplines that aid and assist us in our earthly pilgrimage with Christ. We join Christ in His passion as he marches to Calvary.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the believers at Ephesus to put off the old man and to put on the new man created in righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:17 and the verses that follow state these vital truths:

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Finally, the seven Sundays (40 to 45 days) before Easter are days and times in which the Christian Community pauses, reflects, and meditates on Scripture and allows the Gospel Story – the “Good News” story of Christ’s redeeming love – to enrapture their hearts and bring about needed change from within.

May GOD richly bless each and everyone of you as you walk with CHRIST JESUS THE LORD in pilgrimage during this most Holy Season.
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by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

We turn our attention away from porn stars (and no, looking up a Twitter feed is not a good idea), if we may, to a more vexatious problem: The economics of ruinous populism in Latin America, and how to avoid that in the USA.

Samuel Gregg, in his essay EXORCIZING LATIN AMERICA’S DEMONS
Its populist cultural norms are a killer
, explains that reversing decades’ worth of damage,

such as food-shortages, electricity-blackouts, endemic corruption, the disintegration of rule of law, utterly insecure property-rights, and wild inflation — all of which have helped ArgentinaVenezuelaBolivia, and Ecuador achieve the ignominious distinction of being categorized as “repressed economies” in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom

will take more than just

a dramatic shift of economic incentives away from the relentless cultivation of connections with politicians and bureaucrats, . . .mandated price-and-wage controls, government restrictions on currency and capital movements, the nationalization of industries, import-substitution policies, and the manipulation of official statistics.

A drastic shift in culture will have to also take place: it will require the embrace of “the habits and institutions of freedom.”

Gregg lists abandoning three mindsets:

  •  the widespread clientelismo, where government  dispenses favors and largesse to their followers,
  • the idea that if only the “the right leader” can be found, everything will be fine,
  • the widespread use of the language of conflict.

In other words, abandon Chicago-style politics.

We are experiencing in the USA many of the  ruinous policies that Gregg lists: “the relentless cultivation of connections with politicians and bureaucrats”, wage controls, government dispensing favors and largesse to a select few who can afford the lobbyists, a cult of personality where anyone disagreeing is accused of racism, a language of conflict accompanied by attempts to curb free speech, and the manipulation of official statistics.

It behoves us as citizens to stop these policies. The question is, how?

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on American and Latin American politics at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Embedded image permalink

“He who tires, loses.”

Venezuela is at a crossroads.

For over two weeks, the people have been protesting against the government. What started as a students’ protest has spread throughout the country – even the beauty queens are protesting. Why?

The protests accompany inflation officially at 56% (but likely much, much higher); the third-highest murder rate of any country in the world; and, according to an official index, scarce supplies of one out of four staple items needed in every home, such as cooking oil, corn flour, and toilet paper.

Nationalization and expropriation of private businesses, price controls, huge corruption, government printing money to finance itself (including having to pay bond yields higher than all 55 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg) are all part and parcel of a ruined economy. The scarce benefits that may have accrued under Chavez are being eaten away fast by the crisis.

One of the causes for the rampant criminality is due to the multiple times when, urging his “Bolivarian Revolution,” Hugo Chavez  encouraged the poor to steal while he created a favored class, instead of directing his regime towards the rule of law. Chavez armed gangs that repressed opposition demonstrations (and, make no mistake, they’re on the attack now). He named to his cabinet men who were designated as “Tier II Kingpins”  by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. To worsen things, as part of his “war of all the peoples”, Chavez forged close ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

Add to how socialism has destroyed Venezuela, the regime’s suppression of the media:

  • international networks have been blocked from cable and satellite TV,
  • TV and radio stations had their licenses revoked,
  • newspapers are denied the hard currency they need to buy paper,
  • news websites are taken down,
  • the government blocked Twitter images and digital walkie-talkie apps like Zello.
  • president Maduro calls CNN “fascists”, throws them out of the country, and them changes his mind, allowing them to stay if they toe the line,
  • all while the government continues to assert that Venezuela is a free democracy.

YouTube, Twitter and other social media carry the opposition’s message as the international media has ignored until this week the Venezuela story. Worryingly,

influential news outlets have started describing students protests in the country as the domain of “conservative” kids (here’s looking at you BBC). To those who discovered Venezuela only a couple of weeks ago, and are bent on projecting racial and cultural prejudices on the situation, let me just leave with this little factoid to ponder on: chavismo has never won a general election in Venezuelan universities. Ever. Since 1998. In other words, where the voting is manual (rather than with Smartmatic / official electoral body), chavismo is yet to win one election, of either authorities or students bodies in universities across Venezuela.

Much to their credit, CNN en Español sent correspondent Fernando del Rincón to interview retired Brigadier General Ángel Vivas, who had armed and barricaded himself in his home when the National Guard came to seize him for denouncing that Cuba’s giving the orders to the military.

There’s even a photo claiming to show Cuban General Leopoldo Cinta dictating his orders to the Venezuelan army.

Senator Marco Rubio explained Cuba’s influence on Venezuelan affairs:

Like its Cuban overlords, the Venezuelan regime’s human rights violations are egregious:

the human rights abuses taking place every day with government oversight. In the past 14 days, Venezuelan protesters, comprised mostly of students and the middle class, have been shot; tear-gassed, beaten and arrested by National Police. Fifteen people have died as a result of the protests, seven of them were shot in the head. In addition, two local human rights organizations, Provea and the Venezuelan Penal Forum, have also called for investigations on the ongoing torture of detainees.

Here are two tragic (and very graphic) stories that haven’t made their way into American headlines: Geraldine Moreno, a student, died this past Saturday after troops shot numerous plastic bullets at her eyes. Juan Manuel Carrasco, 21, y Jorge Luis León, 25 – two male students detained in the city of Valencia – were allegedly raped with long guns by military troops and handcuffed for 48 hours. There is has been no word of an official investigation, and the two are only being helped by an NGO, Venezuelan Penal Forum.

Today there’s a women’s demonstration taking place. Tomorrow the Organization of American States will be meeting on Venezuela – I doubt they will denounce the regime’s abuses. Jimmy Carter wants to go to Venezuela, Next week Carnival celebrations are scheduled but the opposition has already said no to the Carnival.

Venezuela’s regime has no ace-in-the-hole monetary allies; there are signs that some of the military may side with the protestors. Yet, things will have to get a lot worse before they get better.

Venezuela’s opposition, in order to be effective, must continue its struggle. Their motto, so far, is “He who tires, loses.” As Jay Nordlinger said,

The Castros and the Chávezes and the Maduros and their apologists never tire — ever. Their opponents must not either, if they can possibly help it.

Let this be their anthem, then:

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes at Fausta’s blog on Latin American and US politics and culture.

by baldilocks

Why White People Should Care

Many persons believe that the history of black Americans is worthless—a belief which stems from three factors: 1) that much of widely-known African history and the history of Americans who are black consists of victimization: litany of failures, slavery, oppression, colonialism and perceived lack of innovation, 2) that some black Americans use the American history of slavery and oppression to induce white guilt, and 3) that some black Americans use the same as an excuse for personal failure.

But if it is important that we know the history of our country’s founding and the important political, military, religious and social movements which have shaped this nation’s character—this nation’s people–then the well-informed citizen cannot escape this category of that history; to attempt to do so would be to separate black Americans from the rest of our countrymen once again.

Example: There has been much ado in recent years about the hymn Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, colloquially known since the 1940s as the Negro National Anthem. Many who had not known of the song, its origin, its significance or its informal role among black Americans, have misinterpreted it as some sort of repudiation of whiteness and/or America-as-founded (a notion which has been exacerbated by actual repudiators of whiteness). But the merest bit of investigation into all of these areas and the deployment of some historical perspective reveal that  John  Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson  composed the song as an anthem to God and to a nation which contemporaneously excluded black Americans.

But like any other tool–books and banners, for example–songs can be used for good, neutral, and evil purposes. That fact is separate from the intrinsic good, neutrality or evil of the specified tool, but without necessary information—without history—the truth gets lost and the tool become a bludgeon, and that is what has happened to Lift.

At the beginning of former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s annual State of the City address in 2008 (a prelude to the Democratic National Convention of that year), there was a major brouhaha regard the song when a singer named Rene Marie sang it in place of the Star-Spangled Banner, rather than in the usual order which the song is rendered—after The National Anthem.

At two separate blogs–Hot Air and Breitbart, I provided background on the song. The hosts were cordial and willing to receive new information. The commenters, however, were a different story.  I was attacked by some commenters at both sites, but I didn’t take the ignorance and blatant racial slurs personally from the Breitbart commenters since I rarely comment there, though I suspect that Andrew was turning in his grave.

But with the Hot Air commenters, however, the situation was very painful, since I was a regular commenter there and both Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit had occasionally featured posts from my old blog.  There were no racial slurs, but being called a liar by people who “know” me was shocking.

The most shocking thing about the two episodes, however, was that so few of the commenters had even heard of the song–a song which I can’t recall not knowing.

I’ve had a number of years to think about this and I’ve come to this conclusion: most of us—meaning most Americans–like to celebrate the good parts of our country’s history, but we often ignore the parts which might make us uncomfortable or cause us to reach uncomfortable conclusions about other Americans.

And most people don’t want to be guilt-tripped…especially for the actions of others. So it is that much of black American history is ignored by other Americans, especially white ones. But this type of knowledge gap has allowed the originally apolitical song to be used by all manner of political opportunists, all Leftist in nature.

Well, if you are afraid of being guilt-tripped, then I don’t know what to tell you, because anyone with a strong sense of self-discipline and strong attachment to truth can refuse inappropriate guilty feelings. And that same devotion to truth should make such people hungry for both the good and uncomplimentary history of a group people who are the most American of Americans.

“What would happen if there was a White History Month?”

This often-deployed rhetorical response to Black History Month always betrays a lack of historical perspective and an ability to be guilt-tripped. (If someone wanted to create a White History Month why should they care what anyone thinks?) I would applaud any individual who actually made an attempt to create such a cultural totem. Why?

Because, my fellow Americans who are white: your history is my history…and mine, yours. Let’s all act like it.

RELATED:

 Black History Lessons from the GOP

PREVIOUSLY:

Flip-Flopper: Why I’m Against Black History Month…and For It (Part 2)
Flip-Flopper: Why I’m Against Black History Month…and For It (Part 1)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

 

 

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Yesterday’s massive demonstrations in Venezuela were eclipsed by the bloody suppression of demonstrators in the Ukraine.

To summarize yesterday’s events, hundreds of thousands gathered peacefully in Caracas and other cities to protest the Chavista Communist regime’s rationing, lack of freedoms, and lack of security.

Unarmed students have been demonstrating for over a week, resulting in four dead and dozens wounded. The government charged opposition leader Leopoldo López with inciting terrorism and issued an arrest warrant. López convened yesterday’s demonstration and turned himself in.

Following López’s arrest, the government issued warrants for the arrest of two other opposition leaders, Carlos Vecchio, Leopoldo Lopez’s party leader, and Assemblywoman Maria Corina Machado.

Most international media have completely ignored the Venezuelan events of the past weeks. The Venezuelan government, which controls all the country’s media, blacked out DirectTV and other TV channels, including (briefly) NTN24, which broadcasts from neighboring Colombia on a YouTube livestream, and (also briefly) Twitter.

Following his arrest, López’s wife released a video (in Spanish) they made where

he gives instructions as to how carry on the fight under a dictatorship that has sequestered all media: we all must become a media.

Indeed, most of the photos and reports come via Twitter, with the hashtags #18F, #18FResistencia, #Venezuela, #ResistenciaVzla, #SOSVenezuela, and #LaSalida.

Venezuela’s a country clearly in the path to ruin: exchange controls cripple the economy as oil production plunges. Cuba controls the military and homeland security. Venezuela’s growing ties to Iran include direct flights from Tehran, and ceding Iran a shipyard facility within direct range of the Panama canal.

Some are asking whether Venezuela is collapsing, with some even writing a postmortem.

Venezuela has a long way to go before total collapse:
– While Venezuela’s oil production has severely declined over the years, oil is still hovering the $100/barrel magical number.
– The students are going it alone: Most importantly, no one in Venezuela’s military appears to be behind them.

The country is well down the road to repression. The current regime will continue for many years to come, be it with current dictator Nicolas Maduro, or National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello (who actually drove López to jail last night), or someone else at the presidency. Indeed, their ties to repressive Cuba and Iran signal a willingness to crack down on any form of dissent.

And I pray to God I’m wrong.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on Latin America and American politics at Fausta’s Blog.

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Olimometer 2.52

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by baldilocks

Sometimes it’s a letdown when you get a great idea for a blog post and you find that someone else has already done such a great job with the topic, that you feel you can’t possibly match it. Such was the case as I was thinking about how many accepted “facts” we hold in our heads which turn out to be false. I started brainstorming the idea, then began doing the research—my usual method. (On the occasions when I find that my premise is false, I shift the focus of the post or I don’t write it at all.)

For this particular idea, I had typed twelve items, done a bit of searching, and then I took a break to do some goofing off at my usual goofing-off spot: one of Ace’s comment sections.

It was there where I came across Christopher Taylor’s excellent series, Common Knowledge. Christopher started the list in 2012, but updates it continuously. It is the best list of its kind which I have found.

Two excellent examples:

Still, I will put forth a mini-list of myths; following this paragraph is the fruit of my brainstorming. What I would like the reader to do: find out if these things are true or false and comment about the findings. Yes, some of these assertions have been famously and repeatedly debunked, but one never knows, do one? For some individuals, it may be that a singular long-held myth is tossed. Since my focus is still Black History Month, there is a preponderance of statements regarding the history of Americans who are black.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Democrat/ Republican.
  • Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.
  • W.E.B. Dubois was a champion of black people.
  • Booker T. Washington was a “sell-out” to black people.
  • In the Bible God commanded his people to be their ‘brothers’ keepers.’
  • Islam is the black man’s religion.
  • Edmund Brooke was the first black U.S. senator.
  • The Wright Brothers built the first flyable aircraft.
  • Interracial marriage is forbidden in the Bible.
  • The Democrat Party has always been the champion of black Americans.
  • JFK was killed by right-wing factions in America.
  • Before the voyage of Columbus, Europeans believed that the earth was flat.
  • Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white passenger because she was too tired.
  • Marie Antoinette said, “let them eat cake.”
  • Black Americans were immediately accepted as citizens upon the abolition of slavery.
  • Black Americans were segregated in the U.S. Military from the Civil War (1860-1865) to the National Security Act of 1948.
  • Henry Ford invented the automobile.

Feel free to add more.

The last part of my series “Flip-Flopper: Why I’m Against Black History Month…and For It” will appear in this space next week.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

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Now there is another reason to kick in on a more permanent way

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Please consider being a subscriber. Only 57 subscribers @ at $20 a month are necessary to secure the cost of DaMagnificent Seven & my monthly mortgage on a permanent basis AND if you so at the $25 level
you can receive one of several Exclusive Original Chris Muir high Res Graphics of original members of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Seven Gang. like the one on the right


Low res tha lotPlease specify which of the eight hi res (including myself you wish to receive) Subscribe at $50 a month and receive all eight. Subscribe at $100 a month and get all 8 wanted posters high res graphics plus the high res version of all of us exclusively created for subscribers of DaTechGuy blog by Chris Muir himself!