Category Archives: Media

Demonstrations and Double Standards

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Whatever you think about the Tea-Party protesters, whether you think their cause (or causes) is right or wrong, you cannot help but notice different standards applied to them and the demonstrations organized by the far left.

First, the matter of numbers. It’s strange how a protest of tens of thousands will make the first few pages of the NYT but a conservative protest with hundreds of thousands is back on page A-37. Moving further left, the various IMCs–the reporters of political rallies, protests, demonstrations, and the like–have been silent. Why is that?

fthetroops

Second, the organizations represented. When the NYT recently reported on an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. they noted the anti-war movement “consists of dozens of organizations representing pacifists, veterans, military families, labor unions and religious groups.” Nothing was mentioned about the groups on the radical left (communists and anarchists) who organize these anti-war protests. Nothing was mentioned about the black bloc and others who routinely destroy property and aggressively confront the police in these demos.

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And, as Zombietime points out, nothing ever gets mentioned about the people who threatened violence against president Bush when he was in office.

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Zombie asks:

Is there a double standard? Seems to be.

Every threat to Obama is now vigorously pursued, trumpeted and dissected by the media and the blogs, and roundly condemned. And I condemn such threats as well.

But in the past, whenever someone threatened Bush at a protest, there was a deafening silence on the part of the media and the left-leaning blogs, and consequently very little (if any) follow-through on the part of the Secret Service. Which I find quite distressing. I was condemning those threats in the past (as best I could, by drawing attention to them on my blog) — but few people were joining me in my condemnation.

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This is not a new development. The NYT regularly downplays the prevalence of extremists on the left, instead preferring to focus on the right. However, where were the racist skinheads, brownshirts and other neo-Nazis at this conservative demonstration? Where were the organizations representing the far-right? Nowhere to be seen or found.

Sure, you had some “birthers” and other kooks but nowhere near the prevalence of “truthers” and other crackpots one finds in left gatherings. Yes, there were nutty Paulistas and people who think Obama is a Muslim Marxist. Like this dude:

muslim marxist

But these people, and the people who compare Obama to Hitler, are far and away in the minority on the conservative right. Most conservatives find those comparisons offensive. Yet comparisons between Bush and Hitler were common on the progressive left during Bush’s two terms in office and few in the mainstream media or on the left were offended by that.

BushHitlerShitAsshole

This brings me to the third double standard, the issue of motivation. What drives individuals to engage in collective action? In the case of left-wing protesters, they are pushed to participate due to a sense of great moral conviction. They protest because it is the right thing to do. What about conservatives who protest? What is their motivation?

The predictable response from the mainstream media is racism. Conservatives protest because our president is black. That is some sad commentary on the state of American politics in the 21st century.

Think about it. It used to be the right that was obsessed with race. At least that was the case when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are right-wing racists and extremists out there who are incensed about Obama’s blackness. All you have to do is look around the Internet. An important thing to keep in mind is radicals are on the margins of mainstream conservatism.

When I look at the political culture of the U.S. today, the partisans obsessed with race are largely located on the left. And I am not only talking about the radical left, the liberal left engages in this as well. NY representative Charlie Rangel, other Democratic legislators and the mainstream media have been reducing conservative disagreements with Obama’s policies to racism.

Congressman Rangel claims conservative opposition is “a bias, a prejudice, an emotional feeling” and thinks “some Americans have not gotten over the fact that Obama is president of the United States. They go to sleep wondering, ‘How did this happen?’ “. Even former president Jimmy Carter felt the urge to chime in. Kate Phillips (NYT) notes:

Coupling the Wilson remark with the images in recent weeks of angry demonstrators wielding signs depicting Mr. Obama as a Nazi or as Adolf Hitler, Mr. Carter said: “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

Carter continued:

“I live in the South and I’ve seen the South come a long way.” However, “I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people not just in the South but around the country … that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

You really should not have to be a conservative to find this sort of rhetoric insulting. I am not a Tea-Party protester. But the double standard applied to them is disturbing. These protests are about dramatically increased taxes, a bloated deficit, and the expansion of federal government power. For the vast majority of participants, race is not an issue.

ADDED:

Martin in the Margins on Carter, “race” and the right

The Stark Tenet on protesting and demonstrations

Podcast on the San Francisco General Strike (1934)

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sf general strike

[I realize it is a few days after Labor Day but here is a program on the 75th anniversary of the SF General Strike from Michael Krasny’s Forum: Podcast is here. The image is from sfgeneralstrike.org]

The San Francisco General Strike
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco General Strike. The strike changed the face of organized labor in the Bay Area and throughout the United States, and had enormous impact on San Francisco city politics and culture. On this Labor Day, we present a pre-recorded broadcast assessing the legacy of the San Francisco General Strike.

Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:

  • Dick Meister, freelance writer, columnist and co-author of a history of farm labor titled “A Long Time Coming”
  • Harvey Schwartz, curator of the ILWU Oral History Collection and author of “Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU”
  • William Issel, professor emeritus of history at San Francisco State University, visiting professor of history at Mills College and coordinator of the Bay Area Labor History Workshop

Honduras Debate: Davis Vs Grandin on Democracy Now

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Democracy Now! is a misnamed show because the program’s host, Amy Goodman, has such an obvious disdain for the concept of democracy. Like so many on the far left, Goodman reserves her criticisms for places like the U.S. and Israel while giving Cuba, Venezuela and Iran a free pass. She also loves bringing on spokespeople from authoritarian political sects like ANSWER, World Can’t Wait, and other communist front groups. So as you may have guessed, I generally avoid her program like the plague.

I was flipping channels the other day and caught the program mid-broadcast and was surprised to hear an actual debate on events in Honduras taking place between Professor Greg Grandin from NYU and Lanny Davis from the Business Council on Latin America.

Not sure why Mr. Davis agreed to be on Goodman’s program in this first place, but he did a good job of refuting the the misinformation promoted by her and Grandin.

Check it out here.

Excepts from the transcript of the program:

AMY GOODMAN:

Protests in the streets of Honduras continue nearly six weeks after President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup. Riot police used tear gas and water cannons on a crowd of hundreds of protesters calling for Zelaya’s return. Clashes have erupted more frequently after the coup government warned last week it would no longer tolerate street blockades.

Meanwhile, soldiers have occupied state hospitals after some 15,000 nurses and other hospital workers declared an indefinite strike. They join tens of thousands of public school teachers who have been striking for weeks. Further protests are expected in the coming days with more Zelaya supporters marching to Tegucigalpa from various regions of Honduras, expecting to converge on the capital on August 10th.

The protests come as the Organization of American States agreed Wednesday to send a delegation to Honduras sometime next week. They want acting President Roberto Micheletti to accept a Costa Rican plan under which Zelaya would return to power until new elections can be held.

Zelaya, meanwhile, has called on the US to use its trade leverage over Honduras to pressure the coup regime. But the Obama administration is showing signs of retracting its stated support for his return. In a letter to Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the State Department said US policy in Honduras, quote, “is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual. Rather, it is based on finding a resolution that best serves the Honduran people and their democratic aspirations.” The letter also criticizes Zelaya for taking “provocative” actions that “led” to his removal…

[T]oday we host a debate on the situation in Honduras. Lanny Davis is an attorney for Honduran business leaders group and the former special counsel to President Clinton. He joins us from Washington, DC. Joining us on the telephone is Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University and author of Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. He reported from Honduras two weeks ago but joins us today from Paraguay.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Lanny Davis, let’s begin with you. Explain exactly who you represent, who is paying you to oppose the ousted president Manuel Zelaya.

LANNY DAVIS: I represent a group of business community people called CEAL, who would be the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce. It’s the Latin American Business Council of Honduras.

I do want to say that I appeared on Democracy Now! with the assurance, Amy, that you would be a neutral moderator, yet your opening is an ideological rant that distorts the facts. For example, you said that Mr. Zelaya accepted the Arias accords. In fact, Mr. Zelaya rejected President Arias’s proposal, and the government of Mr. Micheletti has announced, and has, in fact, said it would continue to discuss. So, let’s get the facts straight before we go any further.

AMY GOODMAN: Greg Grandin, let’s begin with what Lanny Davis contends, that the ousted President Zelaya has rejected the Costa Rica accords.

GREG GRANDIN: No, that’s wrong. Two weeks ago, right when the talks broke down, when Arias presented his seven-point plan, Zelaya almost immediately accepted them. And Oscar Arias came out and gave a press conference in which he regretted the fact that Micheletti, the leader of the new regime, the coup government in Honduras, rejected the accords, while Zelaya accepted them fully. And one can Google the statement, Oscar Arias, Zelaya, Micheletti, and they’ll find the exact quote from Oscar Arias.

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis?

LANNY DAVIS: Well, we’ll Google—we’ll Google this statement, and I will challenge the professor to find the quote of Zelaya saying, “This is unacceptable,” and walking out of the room. And I will challenge him to find the statement by Mr. Micheletti, which he just sent several days ago, asking Mr. Arias and the commission of the Congress, controlled by Mr. Zelaya’s party, with the chairman a liberal, going through each of Mr. Arias’s proposals.

And, by the way, the Congress, 95 percent of the Congress, even if you quarrel with plus or minus ten votes, voted to remove Mr. Zelaya, including a majority of his own party, as did fifteen members of the Supreme Court, including a majority of the Supreme Court justices who were liberal democrats. So those are the facts. And when you describe this as a military coup and don’t add that two civilian institutions of government, the judiciary and the Congress, both ordered Mr. Zelaya to be arrested or to be removed from office, you are not completely and accurately reporting the news.

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, are saying that the coup president right now, Roberto Micheletti, has accepted the Arias accords?

LANNY DAVIS: No, he has taken each element of the Arias accords, which would not, by the way, permit another inaccuracy in your ideological introduction. The Arias accords would not permit Mr. Zelaya to return as president as he was president. He would be restricted from doing anything contrary to the Constitution, such as he is not allowed to support the constitutional so-called referendum, which was found to be, by the Supreme Court, to be unconstitutional. Mr. Arias said that is not permitted. He has to have a coalition government composed of all parties, not just his own. So he would not be allowed to return as president, and that’s really why he rejected accepting all of the elements of the Arias proposal…

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, I wanted, and Greg Grandin, to go back to an interview we did with President Zelaya. It was about ten days after he was ousted. He described for Democracy Now! what happened the day he was removed from power.

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] They attacked my house at 5:30 in the morning. A group of at least 200 to 250 armed soldiers with hoods and bulletproof vests and rifles aimed their guns at me, fired shots, used machine guns, kicked down the doors, and just as I was, in pajamas, they put me on a plane and flew me to Costa Rica.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the ousted President Zelaya. Lanny Davis, your response to what happened to the ousted President Zelaya?

LANNY DAVIS: Yeah, I don’t defend what was done. He should have been put in jail, as the Supreme Court ordered him. He violated the law. The Congress voted him out of office. And he should have been arrested and prosecuted with full due process of law. So I don’t defend that decision.

I understand the decision, because, again, what your program doesn’t report are facts. So, that was in the context of the day before, the president of an elected country leading a mob—that’s a fact—over 2,000 people, overrunning an air force barracks to seize ballots that were shipped in by Venezuela to conduct a referendum that the Supreme Court, by a 15-to-0 decision, called illegal. So the decision to ship him out of the country, I believe, in hindsight, could have been done differently.

But if you don’t also report that he had led a mob to overrun an air force barracks in violation of the two institutions of government, the Supreme Court and the Congress, at the same time that you call that a coup—it was a civilian-ordered arrest, and he defied the law and defied all findings of his own party in the Congress—if you don’t also report that, Amy, you’re engaging not in news, but in ideological ranting, which is what I said to your producer: I would come on this show with the assurance that you would not do that, and I’m afraid you’ve done it again.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Grandin?

GREG GRANDIN: Can I just jump in? There’s a couple of things I’d like to contest that Mr. Davis said. One is, you are reporting the facts. Micheletti—I was in Honduras when Micheletti rejected the accords and then backpedaled and said that he would accept some of them or that he would reject [inaudible]—

LANNY DAVIS: Now you said he backpedaled. You didn’t say that before, did you?

GREG GRANDIN: Can I finish? Can I—

LANNY DAVIS: I’m glad you now conceded that point. Thank you.

GREG GRANDIN: Am I allowed to finish? Can I finish?

LANNY DAVIS: Sure, sure.

GREG GRANDIN: I let you speak, right?

That it’s obviously an effort to buy time, that the pressure of—by the international community. By the way, the rest of the US allies, not just Venezuela, but Chile, Brazil, Europe, Spain, the European Union, all understand this to be a coup, Central American neighboring countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala. So there’s not a dispute in the international community, and it’s only the United States who are having a debate whether this is a coup.

Second of all, let’s just state out—right out front that Zelaya was overthrown because the business community didn’t like that he increased the minimum wage. We’re talking about an elite that treats Honduras as if it was its own private plantation. There’s an excellent AP report published yesterday that says exactly this.

The legal reasoning, all of the legal reasoning and the loaded words about mobs and overrunning that Lanny Davis is using, is all done retroactively in order to justify a military intervention into civilian politics. Even if it is all true, and it’s a big “if,” considering that Otto Reich-linked organizations were running a major disinformation campaign in Honduras for over a year, Zelaya is entitled to due process. Can Davis say where in the Honduran Constitution presidents accused of wrongdoing—not convicted, just accused—can be forced out of bed in pajamas and sent into exile? After all, come on, Bill Clinton was impeached. Members of his own party voted for that impeachment, but he was allowed due process. Zelaya was never presented with an arrest warrant, nor did the military ever mention acting in response to a warrant. All of that was done retroactively in order to justify the military intervention. And in any case, the military is not a law enforcement agency. They certainly aren’t allowed to kidnap citizens and fly them out of the country. The Honduran Constitution guarantees—

LANNY DAVIS: May I respond?

GREG GRANDIN: —due process.

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis?

LANNY DAVIS: The absence of fact by somebody who calls himself a professor is positively breathtaking. Let’s go through each of the misstatements of fact. We at least can agree on facts and put our rhetoric aside.

Number one, the Honduran Constitution has no impeachment process. The 15-to-0 vote by the Supreme Court, which you conveniently forgot to mention, is in separate institution of government, eight out of fifteen from the liberal party; the Congress overwhelmingly voted to remove him from office, because he violated Article 239 by his referendum—both the Supreme Court and the Congress being controlled by members of his own party.

Finally, I have not defended the absence of due process. You don’t even listen while you’re ideologically ranting about the business community controlling the Supreme Court, a duly elected Congress, are all controlled by Otto Reich in Washington. You use rhetoric rather than fact. I do concede, and readily concede—

GREG GRANDIN: Here’s a fact. Here’s a fact. Article—

LANNY DAVIS: He should have been—

GREG GRANDIN: Article—

LANNY DAVIS: Excuse me.

GREG GRANDIN: Here’s a fact, Mr. Davis—

LANNY DAVIS: You have no facts to dispute to that the Congress—

GREG GRANDIN: Article 239—

LANNY DAVIS: Now you’ve interrupted—

GREG GRANDIN: Article 239—

LANNY DAVIS: Now we’re even. Now you’re interrupting me, so we’re even. So let me finish.

The Congress, duly elected, and four out of five of the major parties, all parties, both presidential candidates of the major parties, the Church, every civil institution in Honduras, so we’re talking about the judiciary, the Congress, the Church, all of the parties but one, supported his ouster from government. And you say it was the business community elite? You are an ideologue. You’re not talking facts.

GREG GRANDIN: OK. I don’t know—

LANNY DAVIS: Now I’m done.

GREG GRANDIN: Now can I finish—

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Grandin?

GREG GRANDIN: —the ad hominem attack on whether I’m an ideologue or not. A couple of facts. Article 239 of the—

LANNY DAVIS: You’re using ad hominem words, my friend, not me.

GREG GRANDIN: Article 239 of the—

LANNY DAVIS: “Elite” is an ad hominem word.

GREG GRANDIN: Can I—Article—

AMY GOODMAN: Greg Grandin.

GREG GRANDIN: Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution has what is called a self-executive—executing clause that says that any president who tries to decide—who tries to extend term limits is automatically removed. Now, legal scholars in Honduras have disputed the validity of this clause. But setting that aside, Zelaya wasn’t trying to do away with term limits. It’s a disinformation campaign that Zelaya was trying to extend his term in office, which was the only way in which that clause could be invoked. All he wanted to do was hold a non-binding survey to ask Hondurans if they wanted—whether they were in agreement to hold a constitutional assembly that would approve a new constitution after he had left office.

LANNY DAVIS: Can I ask you a question?

GREG GRANDIN: And in any case, Article 239 was invoked, again, ex post facto. You could read the—you could read—again, fact: you can read the decree by Congress, which justified the removal of Zelaya from office, and it doesn’t mention Article 239.

LANNY DAVIS: Professor, can I ask a question?

GREG GRANDIN: Now—

LANNY DAVIS: Can I ask you a question about Article 239?

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis?

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah.

LANNY DAVIS: Honest question. The Supreme Court’s decision was a review of Mr. Zelaya’s actions and whether it violated Article 239. That’s a fact. And the Supreme Court—you can read the decision—the Supreme Court found 15-to-0 that your scholars, which can—all legal questions can be debated. I agree with you. Your scholars were disagreed with by a 15-to-0 vote by the Supreme Court, including eight members of Mr. Zelaya’s party. What is your comment about the Supreme Court’s decision?

GREG GRANDIN: The Supreme Court decision was done retroactively. And—

LANNY DAVIS: No, it was not.

GREG GRANDIN: —in any case—

LANNY DAVIS: That’s false.

GREG GRANDIN: —the Supreme Court—

LANNY DAVIS: That’s—wait a minute. That’s a false statement. The dateline is the Supreme Court made that decision on June 25th. He was not removed from the country on June 28th. Now, you just made a false statement of fact. Take it back.

GREG GRANDIN: The Supreme—

LANNY DAVIS: Take it back.

GREG GRANDIN: I’m—

LANNY DAVIS: Take it back.

GREG GRANDIN: Look, you made a false statement when you said that—

LANNY DAVIS: June 25th, three days before he was ousted, was the Supreme Court decision. Take your false statement back.

GREG GRANDIN: And did the Supreme Court—

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, let the historian, Greg Grandin, respond.

GREG GRANDIN: Can I finish? Can I finish?

LANNY DAVIS: I’m waiting for him to take it back.

GREG GRANDIN: The Supreme Court did not invoke Article 239 in that decision. It didn’t—

LANNY DAVIS: You are wrong.

GREG GRANDIN: It just simply didn’t—I am not wrong; I am right.

LANNY DAVIS: You are—again, you don’t even know the Supreme—you don’t even know the Constitution of Honduras has no impeachment clause. You referred to impeachment. And you don’t know a basic fact. Have you read the Constitution?

GREG GRANDIN: I was using impeachment—

LANNY DAVIS: Professor, have you read the Constitution?

GREG GRANDIN: I was using impeachment to talk about Bill Clinton.

LANNY DAVIS: Have you read the Constitution?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to take a break, and we’re going to come back. Our guests are Lanny Davis, attorney for the Honduran business leaders group. He is being paid by the—is it the Honduran Chamber of Commerce?

LANNY DAVIS: It’s called CEAL, and it’s the Latin American Business Council of Honduras. But I said it’s the functional equivalent of a chamber of commerce, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University. We’ll be back with both of them in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guests, Lanny Davis, he is being paid by the Honduran chamber of commerce for the Honduran business community opposing the return of the ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, and Greg Grandin, a professor of Latin American history at New York University.

Lanny Davis, I just wanted to read for you from CNN, a headline from July 29th. I am now looking at their website, and it says, “Zelaya accepts proposal; opposition not ready,” talking about the proposal by Oscar Arias to resolve the conflict in Honduras.

And I want to start by asking you now to respond to the European Union imposing sanctions against the coup government, to the Organization of American States also condemning it, to—well, President Obama himself calling it a coup, although they have backtracked on that in the last weeks. Are you satisfied with the Obama administration’s response to the ouster of Zelaya?

LANNY DAVIS: Absolutely. And by the way, if the professor can concede a little bit that maybe Mr. Micheletti is now prepared to go through the Arias proposal and all of its component parts, as the Congress commission recently just did, it sounds like Mr. Zelaya, having put two feet into the Honduras nation and then withdrew, when he was at the border a couple of weeks ago, now seems to have changed his position, and that’s good. And the reason that I say it’s good is that this is going to have to be resolved peacefully between Mr. Micheletti and Mr. Zelaya, and the return of Mr. Zelaya needs to be negotiated under the terms of the Arias proposal. And, of course, Secretary of State Clinton is responsible for encouraging President Arias to begin this process, and Mr. Micheletti and Mr. Zelaya, both of them committed to the process.

At one point, the first announcement day, Mr. Zelaya walked out and said, “This is unacceptable.” I do agree that both parties are now moving to the center and are now at least willing to go back to the table with President Arias, who’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner. There needs to be a negotiated solution.

There will be a new president elected at the end of November. And it’s in the interest of America and the world that there be democratic, free, fair and open elections. I hope the national institutes of democracy, Carter Center, the OAS, everybody who can possibly be on the ground to monitor those elections, so there’s a full and fair and free election for the new president at the end of November, which I think is the ultimate best ending of this very, very tragic story.

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, again quoting from CNN from their report on July 19th, it said, “Earlier Saturday Arias outlined seven steps he believes need to be taken. The first step, he said, is that Zelaya must be returned to power.” Do you agree with the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Costa Rican president?

LANNY DAVIS: Well, remember, I represent—you keep saying Chamber of Commerce, even though I corrected you twice, Amy. I’m not sure why you didn’t hear me.

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead. Repeat who you represent.

LANNY DAVIS: It’s the Latin American Council of Business Leaders. Latin American Council of Business Leaders.

AMY GOODMAN: Also known as CEAL.

LANNY DAVIS: I said it was the functional equivalent of—

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

LANNY DAVIS: —the Chamber of Commerce.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

LANNY DAVIS: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: So, do you agree with—

LANNY DAVIS: Not a big deal.

AMY GOODMAN: —Oscar Arias—

LANNY DAVIS: So I can’t—I can’t—

AMY GOODMAN: —that Zelaya must be returned?

LANNY DAVIS: I can’t offer you my personal opinion; I will offer you the representation of the moderate business community who I do represent, who does say, in retrospect, the sending of Mr. Zelaya out of the country could have been done differently.

But I think they believe that Mr. Arias’s entire proposal, which boxes Mr. Zelaya in to following the law and the Constitution, despite the professor’s disagreement with a 15-0 decision by the Supreme Court—they found the referendum to be illegal and unconstitutional. So, Mr. Arias, reflecting that, has put Mr. Zelaya in the box of the rule of law. And I think the position would be is that nobody trusts him to violate the law.

And I wasn’t characterizing or using inflammatory words when I said—it’s on videotape, on YouTube—I’ll let your viewers look at Mr. Zelaya, the day before the 28th, leading 2,000 people, yelling and screaming and violently pushing forward into the air force base. I won’t use the word “M-O-B,” but what I just said are facts, the president of the country doing that, defying the Supreme Court and defying the Congress to seize ballots that were shipped in by the government of Venezuela.

Now, those are all facts that provide the context of why the Arias proposal, which is the basis for negotiations, has to be fleshed out, so that if Mr. Zelaya returns, he’s required to follow the Constitution and the rule of law and won’t lead another group of people—if the word “mob” offends the professor—another group of people to violate the law and override an air force base guard in order to seize property…

AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel President Obama was wrong in originally calling it a coup?

LANNY DAVIS: I think the word “coup” is used by people to describe the forced ouster of an executive official, and that is the way that President Obama saw it from the first announcement. I think, in the second and third look at the facts, when it was seen that he was ordered to be arrested, and he had self—taken himself out of the presidency—I think the professor was correct in saying “self-executing.” Under Article 239, anybody who tries to extend the Constitution, the term of office, is prohibited under 239 as president and is automatically—

GREG GRANDIN: Can I just jump in here?

LANNY DAVIS: —automatically removed from the presidency. So how could there—

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Greg Grandin?

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah.

LANNY DAVIS: —be a coup, if he no longer was president?

GREG GRANDIN: But one—again, again, in respect to 239, that was ex post facto justified. In the original Supreme Court—

LANNY DAVIS: Justified.

GREG GRANDIN: —ruling—in the original Supreme Court ruling, it didn’t mention Article 239. This was an attempt to put a constitutional veneer on what is in—what the rest of the world is, in fact, calling a coup.

Now, in terms of the rule of law, which Mr. Davis invokes quite a number of times, let’s talk about the current regime. The recent international observation mission made up of fifteen human rights groups has documented what they call, quote, “grave and systemic acts of political repression” taking place. There’s been at least ten murders or disappearances, all of them Zelaya supporters, the latest being last weekend. Martin Florencia Rivera was stabbed to death, leaving the wake of another executed Zelaya supporter.

Mr. Davis talks about the Catholic Church. Well, it turns out that progressive priests, Jesuits, environmentalists, like Jose Andres Tamayo, is being hounded by soldiers. Just the other day, the police attacked the university, director of the university; Julieta Castellanos was beaten with riot clubs.

Members of death squads from the 1980s, most famously Billy Joya, has returned to support the Micheletti government. The government is closing down radio stations. Radio Globo, one of the few radio stations that is calling it a coup, has been shut down. Due process is suspended. Large parts of the southern part of the country have twenty-four-hour curfews. This is the face of the regime, and Lanny Davis is saying it’s constitutional, is saying it’s upholding the rule of law. I don’t understand how a Democrat can defend it.

AMY GOODMAN: Greg Grandin—

LANNY DAVIS: Can I respond?

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis.

LANNY DAVIS: First of all, my name is—apart from getting your facts wrong, my name is Lanny, not Lonnie. But that’s OK. I don’t defend any—

GREG GRANDIN: It’s my Brooklyn accent.

LANNY DAVIS: That’s OK. I don’t defend, if any of those things are true, if any of them are true. The people involved are—

GREG GRANDIN: They’re all true. They are all true.

LANNY DAVIS: Excuse me.

GREG GRANDIN: They’re all documented by international observers.

LANNY DAVIS: Alright, Professor, I think we’re now even, two-to-two, interrupting each other. So, maybe from this point on, we won’t do it.

If they are true, then those people are thugs, criminals, and should be prosecuted. And there are plenty of institutions in Honduras that would prosecute them. The last time that I heard of a charge, however, before we believe truth, because due process is also about getting truth, not believing allegations—I heard somebody and saw on television—the allegation was on CNN—where an individual said, “My mother was abducted from the house. The house was surrounded by police, and I am a Zelaya supporter.” The second or third day story was that this individual was involved in a spousal beating and was arrested, and his mother said, “I wasn’t ousted from my house.” Now, that was the second or third story.

So I’m not denying anything you said, Professor; I’m saying, let’s be sure that what was—seemed to be true is true, and if those people did what you said and if there have been media organizations shut down by the Micheletti government, which I do not believe is the case, but in my mind is open, that’s wrong, it’s a violation of my liberal principles, your liberal principles, there should be prosecutions. As long as you concede that Zelaya violating the law, according to the Supreme Court and his controlled Congress of his party, said he violated the law, and the Congress voted him to be removed, that you will respect democratic institutions in Honduras and not attribute it all to the, quote, “elite,” which is where we started in the very beginning…

GREG GRANDIN: The political institutions, and particularly in these three countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, have been hollowed out from the inside through organized crime cartels, often with deep roots in the military or traditional families. Political parties are often expressions of these interests. Read, for instance, the Washington Office on Latin America, kind of center-left think tank in Washington—they just released a report called “Captive States” that looks at Central America. The United Nations has set up a commission to investigate what they call “clandestine powers” that control Central American politics. This is not a conspiracy theory, and it’s certainly not ideological. It’s just fact…

LANNY DAVIS: May I respond?…

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, I want to follow up my question about meeting with President Obama, which you said you did not have a chance to do that. But you’re a longtime law school chum of Hillary Clinton, as well as Bill Clinton. You, of course, were his special counsel. Have you had a chance to speak with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about this issue?

LANNY DAVIS: No, I not only haven’t, I deliberately chose not to call the State Department at all as part of my job. My job, I thought, and still think, is to get the facts out, to be as honest as I can about my observation of the facts and to testify, as you may know, before Representative Engel’s subcommittee about this situation.

And I would really also have to say that if an American liberal—I assume that professor and I are both liberals—were to make these kinds of judgments about a democracy, the turnout in Honduran—it’s one of the great democracies in Latin America—

GREG GRANDIN: [laughing]

LANNY DAVIS: —in terms of participation and votes. And that kind of laughter and judgmental elitism, which is a word that you seem to like to throw around—I haven’t once heard you mention Venezuela and Hugo Chavez and whether you consider him to be a small-d democrat, or is there any corruption in Venezuela. Would you concede there is similar corruption in one-party rule in Venezuela?

AMY GOODMAN: This is a discussion about Honduras, and I want to stick with this.

LANNY DAVIS: I want to know the answer to the question why Venezuela hasn’t been mentioned.

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, I want to not go into a debate about Venezuela right now. I want to stick with President Zelaya.

LANNY DAVIS: Isn’t it interesting that I mention Venezuela, and, Amy, you don’t want to talk about Venezuela? That’s a very interesting issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Because I want to stick with this issue of President Zelaya. And I want to turn to his words. We had a chance to first interview him earlier this month during his brief visit to Washington, DC. This is what he said when Juan Gonzalez and I asked him whether he was illegally trying to extend his term through the referendum and subvert the Constitution of 1982. This is President Zelaya.

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] In Honduras, we do not have reelections, and I never intended to be reelected. That will be a matter for another government, another constitution and another constituent assembly. The popular consultation is a survey, just like the one Gallup does or other polling groups. It does not create rights. It has no power to impose. It is not obligatory. It’s an opinion poll. How could this be a motive for a coup d’état? No one has tried to me. I was just expelled by force by the military. This is an argument made up by the coup plotters. Don’t believe them.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the ousted President Zelaya. I’m going to give you each a last comment. Lanny Davis, let’s begin with you.

LANNY DAVIS: Could I comment about your being the moderator of this show, Amy? No, I guess you don’t want me to.

AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to give you a final comment on this, if you—

LANNY DAVIS: So Venezuela has nothing to do with Zelaya, even though when he went into the barracks of the air force, he was seizing ballots, which he calls a public opinion survey—he could have hired Gallup—to seize ballots sent in by Venezuela. He’s arguing with his own Supreme Court, 15-to-0.

And your leading question, Amy, to the professor, well, would you comment on the Supreme Court? Well, let’s comment on that, the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is 15-to-0, already answered Mr. Zelaya’s question. The rule of law was that he was ordered to stop, because he was in violation of the Constitution, 15-to-0, eight of whom were from his own party. You always seem to forget mentioning eight of those justices were fellow liberals, and a majority of the liberal congressmen elected, from poor districts as well as wealthy, voted to remove him from office. Amy, you always forget to mention those facts.

And the ballots came from Venezuela, from Chavez. You said we’re here to talk about Zelaya, not Venezuela, which is you’re literally in denial about the involvement of Venezuela and Ortega behind Zelaya.

AMY GOODMAN: Historian Greg Grandin, your final comment?

GREG GRANDIN: Well, I think what you see here is exactly a strategy that Davis is borrowing from the Latin American right to cast anybody that they don’t like, in terms of Venezuela, to taint them with Venezuela, and we’re also seeing the importation of that strategy into the United States. The Republicans have done it quite successfully to derail Obama’s—I mean, Obama came to office promising to enact a new multilateral policy in Latin America, and his attempt to do this and to call the coup what it is, a coup in Honduras, has largely been sidetracked by Republican pressure, which has said that to support Zelaya, the restitution of Zelaya, as the legitimate leader of Honduras, under whatever conditions that the two sides agree on, would be the absolute—would be supporting Chavez’s—would be supporting Chavez’s agenda in Latin America. So we’re seeing both Republicans and Lonnie Davis importing this strategy, which has—

LANNY DAVIS: Lanny, Lanny.

GREG GRANDIN: —actually a quite pernicious effect in Latin America. It’s basically red-baiting…

ISM Activist Tristan Anderson Critically Injured

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I have been reading on the IMCs and in the mainstream media about Tristan Anderson, an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist from the SF Bay Area who was hit in the head by a high-velocity tear gas canister while attending a protest in Ni’lin.

When I first read about his injuries in the NYT, the paper noted his previous stint as a tree-sitter at the University of California, Berkeley. The SF Chronicle published a similar story. As I dug deeper I discovered Mr. Anderson had much wider activist experience, including protests in Mexico and South America as well as the “Battle of Seattle.” Given my own history I wondered if I had met Tristan in the past, maybe at a demonstration or meeting the two of us had attended. I am fairly certain friends in the Bay Area know him and are concerned about his condition and hope he makes a speedy recovery.

YNet reports:

An American national was seriously injured Friday during a rally against the separation fence being built in the West Bank village of Naalin, apparently after being hit by a tear gas canister.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) identified the man injured as Tristan Anderson, 37, of California. He was rushed to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer for medical treatment.

The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office confirmed the report, adding that the incident was being looked into. The army also said that some 400 left wing Israeli, Palestinian and foreign activists had arrived at the area while violating a closed military area order, and that some of them, who were veiled, had hurled stones at the security forces, who responded with crowd dispersal means.

Anarchists Against the Wall notes:

The impact of the projectile caused numerous condensed fractures to Anderson’s forehead and right eye socket. During the operation, part of his right frontal lobe had to be removed, as it was penetrated by bone fragments. A brain fluid leakage was sealed using a tendon from his thigh, and both his right eye and skin suffered extensive damage. The long term scope of all of Tristan’s injuries is yet unknown.

I could not help but notice numerous mainstream media reports of the ISM as a “pro-Palestinian” organization but mention nothing of the group’s anti-Zionism or the recklessness of its confrontations with the IDF. If you did not know any better you would think they represent the second coming of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the ISM is a known supporter of Palestinian terrorism and the vast majority of ISM activists are aware of this support when they volunteer.

Alex Stein (False Dichotmies) who has been to similar demonstrations in the past had this to say:

I can testify to the heavy-handed tactics employed by the IDF, tactics that are not employed when it comes to dealing with settler demonstrations…Most of the forty protesters were drawn from the anarchist movement, a fact reflected in their incendiary slogans, in which the IDF was frequently referred to as a “terrorist organisation”. While I do not share the politics of Anarchists against the Wall,  it’s a shame that other groups (Peace Now, Meretz etc) weren’t represented.

Regarding the settlers, how many times have their demonstrations resulted in the deaths of Israeli soldiers or civilians? If the answer is none, that might explain why the IDF is not as heavy-handed as when they are dealing with demos organized by Fatah, Hamas, or the ISM. As to why less radical groups avoid these gatherings, perhaps they are all too aware of the ISM’s tactics.

Here is comment from the Anderson family posted on Indybay:

We are deeply grateful for the love and support pouring in from Tristan’s friends and fellow activists around the world. It is moving to see how many people care for Tristan and are moved by his work championing social justice issues. We are proud of Tristan’s fierce courage, adventurous spirit, and his many travels to all corners of the globe.

Fierce courage? How about reckless stupidity? I can empathize with the family’s pain but not their failure to look honestly at what led to their son’s injury. Mr. Anderson willingly placed himself in the middle of a combat zone.

As I commented at Roland’s and Noga’s blogs (with some editing):

When Tristan and other ISM volunteers placed themselves in the mix with people throwing stones at the IDF, they knew they were asking for trouble. They knew these disturbances can escalate rapidly. But they volunteered to put themselves in harms way.

Some see this as valorous. I see it as lacking judgment.

I am sad Anderson was injured but activists need to be aware what happens when they play with folks security. They think they have the right to go to countries that are experiencing intense conflicts and expect special treatment. But the situation in Israel is not the same as that of UC Berkeley or UC Santa Cruz or the streets of Seattle.

Israel is very serious about security. Facing daily terrorist threats will do that. When American and European activists go overseas and align themselves with Israel’s enemies they need to think very carefully about what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Is it really in the name of peace or in order to reinforce their own delusional radical politics?

ism-ak

[ISM volunteers]

C-SPAN Presidential Survey

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C-SPAN has released the results of their Second Survey of Presidential Leadership. From the Survey website:

Fifty-eight historians from across the political spectrum who contributed to C-SPAN’s year long series, American Presidents: Life Portraits participated in C-SPAN’s survey. They rated the 41 men who have served in the White House on ten different qualities of presidential leadership. Results of this survey, overall rankings and each president’s scores in individual categories, are being released by C-SPAN to coincide with the February 21 observance of President’s Day…

The cable public affairs network was guided in the survey effort by a team of four historians and academics: Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans; Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Associate Professor of History, Howard University; Richard Norton Smith, Director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library; and Dr. John Splaine, Education professor, University of Maryland.

The four survey advisors devised a survey which asked participants to use a one (“not effective”) to ten (“very effective”) scale to rate each president on ten qualities of presidential leadership: “Public Persuasion,” “Crisis Leadership,” “Economic Management,” “Moral Authority,” “International Relations,” “Administrative Skills,” “Relations with Congress,” “Vision/Agenda Setting,” and “Pursuit of Equal Justice for All”. And, to reflect the changing role of the presidency over the course of US history, the advisory team chose as the tenth category, “Performance Within the Context of His Times.”

The survey was sent by mail in December to 87 historians and other professional observers of the presidency whose work contributed to C-SPAN’s 41 week biography series, American Presidents. Fifty-eight agreed to participate. Survey responses were tabulated by averaging all the responses in any given category for each president. Each of the ten categories were given equal weighting in the total scores. Overseeing the tabulation were Robert Kennedy, C-SPAN CFO and Dr. Robert Browning, a political scientist who serves as director of the C-SPAN archives.

The surveys provide an interesting snapshot of how a particular president is viewed at a particular time. For example, President George W. Bush is number 36 on the list. Will his position rise over time or decline? Back when the first poll was taken in 2000, President Clinton was ranked 21st. Today he has risen to 15th, placing him ahead of John Adams, James Madison, and John Quincy Adams. Time will tell with Bush as well.

Survey results here. Comparison between 2000 and 2009 is here. A list of historians who participated in the survey is here.

What Part of “Not” Does the New York Times Not Understand?

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I was reading today’s NYT in my office and came across this brief piece from the editors, “Meaner Streets in Washington.” Here is a bit:

Congress is considering a reckless piece of legislation that would eviscerate gun controls in the District of Columbia, ignoring the democratic rights of the residents of the nation’s capitol…

Hey NYT, what about the democratic rights of all Americans, regardless of where they live, that are enshrined in the United States Constitution?

Second Amendment

[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Honest Reporting: The New York Times and Israel

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[H/t Grand Muffti. This goes in the “tell me what I don’t already know” department. HonestReporting has an important analysis of anti-Israel bias in the NYT. Post links to the report on anti-Zionist blogs which claim the newspaper is part of “The Lobby.” Have fun…]

The last HonestReporting long-term analysis of the New York Times was released in November of 2007. At the time, we found that there were several disturbing patterns in how the Times reported events in the Middle East. Our conclusion was that the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian actions was so different, that there could be no question that the reporting was favoring the Palestinians rather than remaining impartial. We highlighted specific cases where headlines dealing with Israeli or Palestinian actions were written in different styles. We also noted that the vast majority of images used by the Times appears reflectively sympathetic to the Palestinians while virtually ignoring the greater context surrounding the conflict.

We have now concluded a broader survey of the Times. Specifically, we looked at 205 articles between July of 2007 and June of 2008. Using this much larger time frame, we found that our original thesis has only been strengthened. Specifically, when reviewing headlines and photographs, it is clear that there is an inherent bias in New York Times reporting about the conflict that favors the Palestinians.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: JULY 2007-JUNE 2008- SUMMARY OF FINDINGS:

  • 82 percent of headlines that introduced articles describing Israeli military operations were written in a direct style in which the words “Israel” or “Israeli Forces” (or a similar phrase) were the subject. In the majority of these cases, no details were given as to whether the casualties were combatants or civilians. An example of this type of headline ran in the Times on January 4, 2008: “Israeli Forces Kill 9 in Gaza.”
  • Only 20 percent of headlines that introduced articles describing Palestinian attacks named the group responsible. Most of these headlines were written in a passive, less direct style that removes responsibility of the attack from those who caused it. An example of this type of headline ran on May 13, 2008: “Rocket Fired from Gaza Kills Woman in Southern Israel.”
  • 75 percent of the photographs that could be objectively determined as drawing sympathy for one side or the other in the conflict favored the Palestinians. Palestinian casualties of Israeli military operations and pictures of civilians dealing with shortages in Gaza dominated Times coverage during the time period studied.

[read it all]