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4/20/2009
INDEFENSIBLE: OBAMA FAILS HIS FIRST BIG TEST

Our founders were very suspicious of the presidency. There were many who believed - Thomas Jefferson among them - that all that was needed to govern a free country was a Congress elected by the people at suitably short intervals so that if a representative proved untrustworthy or unresponsive, the people could put someone else in his stead. Many of Jefferson’s ilk saw the presidency as an invitation to monarchy. And the very idea of a Supreme Court who might be able to overturn laws passed by Congress gave the Jeffersonians the vapors.

Thankfully for history’s sake, a more realistic and hard-headed approach to designing a system of government for the United States prevailed in Philadelphia during that God-awful hot summer of 1787. As the delegates sweated through the debates over big state-small state issues, it became clear that there should be some kind of federal office charged with making sure the laws were “faithfully executed.” Not a king or emperor supreme to Congress but an executive who would enforce the laws passed by the legislature as well as act as a representative of American sovereignty as Head of State and Commander in Chief of the military.

Several plans regarding the executive were presented and tossed aside including an idea to make the president little more than errand boy for Congress. Clearly, there were grave misgivings about granting a single individual so much power in a republic.

What turned the tide toward a strong executive branch was the certainty that George Washington would be our first president. While debating the limits and scope of the presidency, delegates would glance at Washington and be reassured that the office would start out in good hands at least. They knew that Washington would defend the United States with honor - something he did several times during his two terms when he responded to various calumnies advanced by the French who accused the US of favoring Great Britain in their war against Napoleon.

The Founders imbued the office of President with a dignity that few presidents have besmirched in our history. We have endured fools, knaves, stumblebums, party hacks, and political generals. But each of them tried honestly to defend the United States when she was attacked.

The president is ultimately responsible for the maintenance of American honor. And defending that honor is perhaps the greatest privilege - and challenge - of the office.

President Barack Obama either doesn’t understand this aspect of the presidency or, just as likely, doesn’t believe that safeguarding American honor is his job. Or even that it is worth his time.This became apparent as a result of what happened at the Summit of the Americas that the president is attending along with the heads of state from most of Latin America.

Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista Marxist thug who is currently President of Nicaragua, used his opening remarks at the summit to skewer the United States in a rant that lasted more than 50 minutes. The dripping irony of this communist lout decrying the actions of America over the last century (and longer) is a titanic joke. Ortega’s actions in support of the Communist guerrillas in El Salvador as well as his attempts to undermine governments elsewhere in Latin America during his first term as “president” back in the 1980’s makes anything he says regarding American interference ring hollow.

Ortega and the Sandinistas, along with a coalition of middle class and small businessmen deposed Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. The first thing the Sandinistas did - as any good little Communist would do - was to kick out the more moderate political partners who played a big role in the largely bloodless revolution, jailing some, and establishing a Marxist dictatorship. No other political parties were allowed to operate freely. Their rallies were broken up by black shirted thugs. They were denied air time on government controlled TV. Opposition leaders were routinely arrested, harassed, and beaten.

Almost immediately, he was opposed by former National Guard members who began an armed revolution that eventually - with the help of the US - forced Ortega to hold elections in 1990. Every lefty in America worth their salt traveled to Nicaragua to help Danny Ortega defeat the evil designs of the Americans. Ortega did his part by trying even harder to suppress the opposition, using his bully boys to intimidate and beat down - literally and figuratively - his opponents, led by Violetta Chamorro, publisher of La Prensa and leader of the National Opposition Union.

In the end, when given the choice between freedom and Communist tyranny, the people chose Chamorro. But before Ortega left office, he had his Sandanista legislature pass a law granting he and several of his cronies deeds to vast estates that were confiscated during his presidency. The theft made him fabulously wealthy.

In the intervening years he ran for the presidency twice and lost badly. Then, in 1998, his daughter shocked the world when she accused her father of sexually abusing her from the time she was 11 until 1990. Denied the opportunity to prove her case in Nicaragua, she took it to the Inter American Human Rights Commission which ruled the charges admissible. A settlement was reached with the government but Ortega’s daughter has never recanted the charges.

This is the man who stood in front of our president and railed against American interference in Latin America. Fond of pointing out American hypocrisy, our friends on the left are silent about both the Ortega diatribe and Obama’s “Grip and Grin” with that other paragon of democratic virtue and non-interference, Hugo Chavez. Instead, they have chosen to attack conservatives who are criticizing Obama for his being a bump on a log while Ortega skewers the country he supposedly leads and Chavez presents him with a book that is such a laughably, over the top, exaggerated, Marxist critique of American policy in the region that one wonders what planet it fell from. The author himself, Eduardo Galeano, admits he is not an historian nor does he write history but rather a combination of “fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history.”

I will be the first to admit that the United States has behaved very badly in Latin America over the years; there has been resource grabbing, commercial exploitation, support for thugs like Somoza, and CIA shenanigans in countries too numerous to count. Most of our military interventions were to keep pro-American governments in power or help stamp out leftist guerrillas. Some of our interventions were to prevent the expropriation of American companies so that commercial monopolies could be maintained. There’s worse and it’s all true.

What is also true is that for the last few decades, no nation has done more for Latin American democracy than the United States - and that includes leftists in Latin America who prove that when they get a chance to lead are as brutal and thuggish as any right wing dictator who ever ruled in the region. Galeano apparently has the honesty at least to point out that Latin America’s problems are largely the result of their own making - their own view of themselves.

Of course, he also makes it clear that Euro-American “colonialism” is the major cause of this but there is something more fundamental at work. Very few Latin American countries have established the rule of law as a basis for governance. This is not the fault of colonialism, or America, or the CIA but rather the fault of the people themselves. It is not blaming the victim to point out the numerous opportunities that Latin American nations have had to rectify this situation and have chosen instead the path of corruption, oppression, and tyranny. The ruling class in most Latin American countries is besotted with crony capitalists, confiscatory leftists, and ambitious generals. And it’s time to stop blaming America, colonialism, the CIA, United Fruit, and all the other scapegoats presented to their long suffering citizens as excuses for their poverty and hopelessness and place the blame where it belongs; in the face looking back at them in the mirror.

Ortega presented the classic Latin American leftist case for why when they get in power, they muck things up so badly and continue the cycle of extreme poverty; it’s America’s fault:

Ortega, meanwhile, droned on about the offenses of the past, dredging up U.S. support of the Somoza regime and the “illegal” war against the Sandinista regime he once led by U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Ortega was a member of the revolutionary junta that drove Anastasio Somoza from power in 1979 and was elected president in 1985. He was defeated in 1990 by Violeta Chamorro and ran unsuccessfully twice for the presidency before winning in 2006.

Of the 19th and 20th centuries, Ortega said: “Nicaragua central America, we haven’t been shaken since the past century by what have been the expansionist policies, war policies, that even led us in the 1850s, 1855, 1856 to bring Central American people together. We united, with Costa Ricans, with people from Honduras, the people from Guatemala, El Salvador. We all got together, united so we could defeat the expansionist policy of the United States. And after that, after interventions that extended since 1912, all the way up to 1932 and that left, as a result the imposition of that tyranny of the Samoas. Armed, funded, defended by the American leaders.”

Ortega denounced the U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro’s new Communist government in Cuba in 1961, a history of US racism and what he called suffocating U.S. economic policies in the region.

Ortega droned on for the better part of an hour and what was our president doing while a tin pot thug was running down his country, spreading exaggerated claims and outright lies?

Obama sat mostly unmoved during the speech but at times jotted notes.

He could have gotten up and walked out. That would have been the headline for the day as well as being the right thing to do. There should be a limit in the international arena of how much calumny can be heaped upon your country before honor requires a president to remove himself in protest. We can take a little intelligent criticism. But when the United States is savagely attacked, its honor impugned by a lying, child molesting, thieving, hypocritical Marxist gangster, I question the president’s judgment in sitting there and calmly “taking notes.”

Later, the president failed again to defend the United States when he gave a milquetoast response:

“To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. We’ve all heard these arguments before.”

Has a president ever tried to distance themselves from the history of their own country in such a shocking and narcissistic way? Obama makes absolutely no attempt to answer Ortega or call him the liar that he is. Instead, he shows incredible weakness by, in effect, validating Ortega’s critique while attempting to wash his hands of the history of his own country.

But this is patriotic, of course as I have written about before. Recognizing the faults of America, trying to outdo our foreign critics in trashing one’s own country is leftist dogma. I don’t doubt the president’s patriotism (according to his lights) nor do I mind Obama going around the world apologizing for what he perceives are our mistakes. I expect no better from a liberal. But this is different. The honor of the United States demanded a ringing defense of the many good things we have done and are doing for Latin America. The scales may not balance but to quit the ring without throwing a punch smacks of either cowardice or ignorance.

Obama is no longer a leftist senator projecting his ideological slant and accepting criticism of the US from foreigners as just and necessary. He is now head of state and thus charged with defending the US from attacks like Ortega’s. Someone has to stand up for the United States in forums like the summit. In this, the president has failed his first big test as chief executive. The State Department can’t be counted on to defend America from such attacks (Secretary Clinton wouldn’t even talk about the Ortega rant.) Only one person is charged by history and tradition to call out the lying thugs who besmirch the name of the US and thus, deliver a slap in the face not just to the government but the people of America as well.

The president’s meek acceptance of Ortega’s largely unjustified criticism may play well among his ideological soul mates but for the rest of us, it causes one to wonder if there is any calumny, any lie, any exaggerated falsehood that Obama would balk at accepting.

Judging by what happened at the summit, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you.

UPDATE

Most of my critics so far think it childish or just not a good idea for Obama to have walked out on Ortega when he was railing against America.

Here are some folks who walked out on Ahmadinejad at Durban II in Geneva when he went into his anti-Israeli speil.

And it wasn’t even their country the Evil Elf was ranting against.

By: Rick Moran at 7:15 am
47 Responses to “INDEFENSIBLE: OBAMA FAILS HIS FIRST BIG TEST”
  1. 1
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    7:41 am 

    Gotta disagree with you this time, Rick. Obama walking out of Ortega’s diatribe would just have encouraged his and others of his ilk (ie, Chavez) to keep on spewing such nonsense whenever Obama comes to visit. By sitting down, pretending to listen, and then referencing the fact in his own speech that these events happened a long time ago, Obama neutralized this buffoon. Didn’t beat him of course, but then again thats not what is supposed to happen at these intra-nation events. Lets be patient for history to shove this Sandinista into the obscurity he deserves instead of creating a tempest in a teapot that will make his star shine longer.

  2. 2
    Comrade Stuck Said:
    8:21 am 

    Good to see your back on yur wingnut game today, Rick. This “Marxist Thug” happens to be the elected president of Nicaragua, you know, that democracy thing you claim the US made possible Central and South America with. You should have stopped with the understated admission of post Monroe Doctrine meddling on that continent as causing the folks their problems, which are legion, and actually are the main source of poverty. Why? Because of our 200 year relentless support of right wing thug juntas and their Oligarch masters, all toward making conservative US business interests an exploitive dollar.

    Get honest here. You just don’t like the ideology of the Ortega’s and Chavez’s who once again are only two guys the majority of their respective citizens supported enough to vote into power. It’s called democracy, deal with it. Just about the entirety of SA population are pissed at our abhorent behavior meddling in their politics for some 200 years now.

    And as a final insult, the American Right disparages the leaders latinos have made democratically, while paternalistically claiming they brought democracy to these ungrateful heathens.

    And Obama promised to listen, and not get into juvenile pissing matches with tiny countries leaders to drum up knew enemies for right wing consumption.

    **At least the Sandinista revolution was largely bloodless, which could not be said of our guy Somoza’s reign of terror.

    Ortega and the second major party made a corrupt deal and fused their lists. The reason is simple; both the Sandinistas and the Constitutional Liberty Party wanted to plunder the treasury by enriching themselves and their cronies. Not only that, since Ortega could never get more 40% of the vote or so, part of the deal was to lower the threshold for election from 45% to 35%. He got 38% against a slate of weak candidates.

    And I’ve got news for ya - ask the Mestizo Indians in the north how bloodless the Sandinistas were. Somoza and his 15,000 national guardsmen pale in comparison to the Sandinistas and their 800,000 man army that brutally suppressed the opposition as well as systematically killing the indians in the north who opposed the Marxist agricultural plans of Ortega and his black shirted thugs.

    And the fact that we did indeed promote democracy under three presidents - Reagan, Bush, and Clinton - seems lost on you and your ilk. The people of Latin America are freer and wealthier today than they have ever been thanks to the US. Our trade policies are the most liberal in the hemisphere. It is not our fault that the people keep electing Chavez, Morales, and the Ortegas who then strip the people of their freedom as cleanly and as efficiently as any right wing thug we ever supported.

    Not looking at both sides of the issue brands you as a partisan hack.

    ed.

  3. 3
    michael reynolds Said:
    8:37 am 

    Ah, the smell of fresh Manufactured Outrage.

  4. 4
    Shaun Mullen Said:
    9:03 am 

    Pretty obvious looking back over the last few weeks that you are seriously off your game.

    This post is not merely not a tempest (Commenter #1) wingnutty (#2), and manufactured outrage (#3), it is beyond disingenuous.

    If Obama not acting like a jerk in the presence of a bunch of tinhorns is failing his first big test, then what was the Somali pirate hostage drama, the torture-memos release, as well as his decisive economic recovery actions?

    My suggestion would be to delete this post ASAP, take a deep breath and try to figure out the roots of your ongoing schizophrenia.

  5. 5
    Lukas T Said:
    9:04 am 

    I disagree with Comrade Stuck when it comes to the labels you put on these “leaders,” but I do believe he is right when it comes to the “pissing matches.”

    The fact is, what they are ranting about is history, and instead of getting into a fight about - literally - nothing that is relevant today, Obama just chose to sit down, and move on. Everyone of any inform on the issue of these leaders knows they’re crazy. We know who we are, and there is certainly honor to be found in silently disagreeing while dealing with the issues that matter today, not the ones that mattered last decade. To respond to their claims, to defend the US, only reminds us of something we already know: these guys are narcissistically whack.

    But, considering that whackness, Obama also knows that these people still hold considerable influence in South America. He’s not the type of leader who will exert influence by covert CIA operations to overthrow governments (at least his release of the torture documents wouldn’t suggest that) and instead hopes to exact change through public means. It’s possible that those types of attempts are futile in a place as corrupt as South America. But the fact is that his best chance at doing that is to avoid fights over historical fiction and instead to talk about what’s happening today. I’m not sure that this path is the best one for change, but I am sure that the way he’s doing it maximizes the possibility of success. America’s honor has always come from it’s ability to change the world in decent ways - and in that way Obama not only wishes to protect our honor, but to enhance it.

  6. 6
    David L. Said:
    10:11 am 

    Those who liked Obama’s handshake with Chavez and his blase attitude toward Ortega’s rant are going to be ecstatic at the fond farewell Obama gave Chavez at the conclusion of the “Summit of the Americas”. Let me translate a short paragraph from “Noticias 24″ about that last - for now - encounter between Obama and Chavez:
    http://tinyurl.com/detp84
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/detp84

    Spanish: El presidente Obama se le acercó al presidente Chávez y se despidió exclamando “Adiós, mi amigo”.

    English: President Obama approached president Chavez and bid him farewell, exclaiming “Goodbye, my friend.”

  7. 7
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    10:12 am 

    I disagree with Comrade Stuck when it comes to the labels you put on these “leaders,

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the labels, since I like neither Chavez, nor Ortega. They really are loudmouths and self aggrandizing thugs. My point was that they are democratically elected loudmouths and self aggrandizing thugs. So when you attack them by disagreeing with their ideology and style of governance, you are attacking the prevailing sentiment in their respective countries. And that should be noted is all.

  8. 8
    jackson1234 Said:
    10:31 am 

    While Ortega and Chavez won quasi-democratic elections, they employed old school Marxist techniques to help achieve their victories. To an extent, the same applies to Morales in Bolivia. All of which is to say these leaders squelched as much speech as possible, threatened opposition leaders and parties, and possibly worse since people simply disppeared in some cases. I didn’t read anywhere that there was massive voter fraud but I might have missed it, hence, the “quasi-.”

    The problem I have, Rick, isn’t so much that Obama didn’t uphold the good name of the United States. He didn’t, but I think he just does apologies under the naive assumption it will curry favor. No, the problem is the signal this gives to the democratic opposition in nations under the thumb of the likes of Ortega–the United States is no longer there to help you.

    I largely agreed with your post about torture because such behavior degrades America’s reputation in the world. The same applies to coddling nascent dictators. This is what Obama has done, and it speaks volumes–both to the world, and to those oppressed by these governments.

    Finally, Violetta Chamorro is one of the tue heroes of the last century. If there is any justice in the world, she will be the name Managua speaks with pride after it moves beyond its shameful Sandinista and Somoza past.

  9. 9
    Yeah, right Said:
    10:36 am 

    Said:
    8:37 am

    Ah, the smell of fresh Manufactured Outrage.<<

    Yeah, Reynolds, that’s something you and your nitwit lefty ilk have down pat, huh?

    You mean like the Manufactured Outrage over….
    Torture (It’ll be just fine when O! does it, and he will, trust me)
    Patriot Act (Gosh, the left has been silent over that one since 1/20/09. How odd.)
    The “wars of aggression” in Iraq and Afghanistan (I must have missed the big protests of Obama’s unmanned drone escapade into Pakistan)

    I could go on, Reynolds, but you’ve got the playbook down.

  10. 10
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    10:40 am 

    While Ortega and Chavez won quasi-democratic elections, they employed old school Marxist techniques to help achieve their victories. To an extent, the same applies to Morales in Bolivia. All of which is to say these leaders squelched as much speech as possible, threatened opposition leaders and parties, and possibly worse since people simply disppeared in some cases.

    You will need to provide evidence of these charges to be taken seriously.

  11. 11
    jharp Said:
    10:41 am 

    You said.

    “I will be the first to admit that the United States has behaved very badly in Latin America over the years; there has been resource grabbing, commercial exploitation, support for thugs like Somoza, and CIA shenanigans in countries too numerous to count.

    There’s worse and it’s all true.”

    And Obama responds. ‘To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”

    I honestly don’t see how you can come to your conclusion that Obama erred by not walking out.

    I’m a new visitor here and thought I was witnessing a wingnut conversion to truthiness.

    After today it seems I was wrong.

  12. 12
    jambrowski Said:
    10:41 am 

    rick,
    they see what they (libtards) want to see. they are basically looking for milk in the fridge while they are holding it in their hands, or to quote adam savage “I reject your reality and substitute it with my own.” seriously, they miss your point entirely and feign “manufactured outrage” at you, me, us, and America. there is nothing to be done of the past, it is gone, the only thing to do correctly is to not let those past errors consume us by repeating them again (i.e., holocaust, slavery, civil rights, suffrage, hate, colonialism, etc…), as you point out the last three presidents have done more than all the others combined to help aid and lift up latinos. i think milbank has it right (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/17/AR2009041702639_pf.html) they were mad, they are mad, and they are going to continue to be mad, interestingly enough, i think we are starting to figure out how they work (the end matters more than the means to get there), maybe we have their playbook now. don’t you question now the kooks that were at the tea party’s? were they actually plants? right wing kooks are not necessarily the ones that would be out holding up signs that obama is a nazi or something worse (though if you think about that, nazi’s were socialists, were they not?), code pink and moveon have admitted to as much on their blog sites (http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/v1220040416.pdf), i mean really how many conservatives even though they were there didn’t feel a little out of sorts by being there, just think about that, as well as think about the above, you are being attacked on a conservative website? by conservatives? me thinks not, this is one of their angles.
    anywho, keep up the good work rick, maybe they can sling some sh%t my way now.

  13. 13
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:47 am 

    Yeah Right:

    You mean like the Manufactured Outrage over….
    Torture (It’ll be just fine when O! does it, and he will, trust me)
    Patriot Act (Gosh, the left has been silent over that one since 1/20/09. How odd.)
    The “wars of aggression” in Iraq and Afghanistan (I must have missed the big protests of Obama’s unmanned drone escapade into Pakistan)

    1) Torture will not be okay if Obama does it.
    2) I don’t think I ever even wrote about the Patriot Act other than to suggest that if we needed surveillance we should do it under color of law.
    3) I supported both wars. In fact, I was pushing for more forces in Iraq long before McCain.
    4) Not only do I support Predator strikes in Pakistan I did so when the objection to it was coming from right wingers who claimed it showed Obama was reckless.

    But by all means, keep flailing away at straw men.

  14. 14
    Yeah, right Said:
    11:07 am 

    >>But by all means, keep flailing away at straw men.<<

    Why not? I just follow your lead, master.

  15. 15
    Yeah, right Said:
    11:14 am 

    So then why did you vote for Obama since he campaigned on ending the wars in the Middle East via US defeat and was against the surge?

    Or am I confusing you with another poster here?

    I agree with your points 2-4. Disagree on 1.

  16. 16
    jackson1234 Said:
    11:19 am 

    Mr. Stuck:

    While I could give a fuck less whether you take me seriously, and in full awareness that no amount of what you describe as “evidence” will suffice, I bring you a few excerpts from that right-wing extremist organization Amnety International:

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/venezuela

    “Background
    President Hugo Chávez Frías took office for a third term in January and Congress granted him powers to pass legislation by decree for 18 months on a wide range of issues including public security and institutional reform. In December, Venezuelans rejected controversial constitutional changes in a referendum. Concerns had been expressed, including by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, that some of the constitutional changes proposed would have curtailed fundamental human rights
    Political violence
    The authorities did not take effective action to stop an escalation of violence in the context of demonstrations by supporters and opponents of government policies. There were reports of violent clashes between civilians, and between civilians and police officers throughout the year which resulted in scores of injuries and at least two deaths.
    Scores of demonstrators, mainly students, including several who were under 18 were injured or arrested in the context of protests over the authorities’ decision not to renew the licence of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) in May. Several police officers were also injured in the clashes.
    Confrontations between both law enforcement officials and demonstrators, and between demonstrators and armed civilians, also took place in the context of tensions over the proposed constitutional reforms.
    Human rights defenders
    Human rights defenders continued to face intimidation and attack.
    ? José Luis Urbano, human rights defender and president of the Organization for the Defence of the Right to Education (Pro-Defensa del Derecho a la Educación) was shot and wounded in February, in his home town of Barcelona, in the northern state of Anzoátegui. The attack appeared to have been linked to his public criticism of the quality of education available to poor children in the state and his allegations of corruption. José Luis Urbano received protection until April. However, by the end of the year no one had been brought to justice for the attack.
    Police and security services
    According to the Attorney General, between 2000 and 2007 more than 6,000 complaints were filed at his office for alleged extrajudicial executions by the police. Of the 2,000 officers reportedly involved, less than 400 had been provisionally detained by the end of the year.
    None of the recommendations made by the National Commission for Police Reform had been implemented by the end of the year. Among the recommendations of the Commission were measures to improve the accountability of the police, training on human rights and the use of force, the regulation and control of arms used by the security forces, and legislation to integrate the different police bodies.”

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/nicaragua

    “Workers’ rights
    Local organizations reported that labour rights continued to be poorly enforced. Workers lodged various complaints with the authorities and human rights organizations regarding working conditions, including adverse effects on health, and freedom of association.”

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/bolivia

    “Freedom of expression – attacks on journalists
    Members of the security forces and others were reported to have attacked and threatened media workers during the year. In November dozens of journalists held a demonstration to highlight abuses against them and journalists’ unions protested at criticism of their work by members of the government.
    ? More than 10 journalists were reportedly attacked in Sucre in November while they were covering violent confrontations between police and demonstrators protesting about the new Constitution.
    Political violence
    Violence erupted in several cities, including Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, between government and opposition supporters. The clashes left at least five people dead and hundreds injured.
    ? In January Christian Urresti and Juan Ticacolque were killed and more than 100 were injured in Cochabamba, Cochabamba Department, following clashes between groups supporting the governing Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS), who were calling for the resignation of the Prefect of Cochabamba, and groups supporting the Prefect and calling for greater regional autonomy. Judicial investigations into the killings were initiated but had not concluded at the end of the year.
    ? In November, three people were killed and over 100 were injured in two days of violent confrontations in Sucre, Chuquisaca Department. Members of the police, using tear gas and rubber bullets, battled with thousands of demonstrators carrying rocks and clubs. Some protesters attacked the headquarters of the Transport Police using firecrackers and Molotov cocktails (home-made explosive devices). They destroyed office equipment and set fire to police and public vehicles. Gonzalo Durán Carazani and José
    ? Luis Cardozo died of gunshot wounds. Juan Carlos Serrudo Murillo died after being hit by a tear gas canister. Members of the police were also injured during the clashes. Investigations into the incidents have been announced”

    I’m sure that isn’t sufficient for you but it is sufficient to demonstrate you are nothing but a partisan hack, as noted above.

  17. 17
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:24 am 

    Yeah, Right:

    I did support Obama, who has behaved precisely as I thought he would. Unlike many people, I actually paid attention to what he was saying. And I think I accurately guessed who and what he is. I’m not responsible for either right-wing hysterics who completely mis-read him, (and continue to do so,) or left-wing ninnies who did the same.

    Obama’s Iraq plan has the consensus support of pretty much the entire foreign policy establishment. His Af-Pak strategy has the support of even Mr. McCain.

    His Iran approach is smart, his Cuba opening is smart, and his refusal to be baited by tinhorn thugs like Chavez and Ortega is wise. As was his handling of the torture issue.

    I voted for Obama and I am extremely glad I did.

  18. 18
    jackson1234 Said:
    11:30 am 

    Mr. Stuck, knock yourself out. I know this notoriously right-wing group will not suffice as evidence for somone of your ilk, but Amnesty International reports:

    “http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/venezuela

    Background
    President Hugo Chávez Frías took office for a third term in January and Congress granted him powers to pass legislation by decree for 18 months on a wide range of issues including public security and institutional reform. In December, Venezuelans rejected controversial constitutional changes in a referendum. Concerns had been expressed, including by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, that some of the constitutional changes proposed would have curtailed fundamental human rights
    Political violence
    The authorities did not take effective action to stop an escalation of violence in the context of demonstrations by supporters and opponents of government policies. There were reports of violent clashes between civilians, and between civilians and police officers throughout the year which resulted in scores of injuries and at least two deaths.
    Scores of demonstrators, mainly students, including several who were under 18 were injured or arrested in the context of protests over the authorities’ decision not to renew the licence of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) in May. Several police officers were also injured in the clashes.
    Confrontations between both law enforcement officials and demonstrators, and between demonstrators and armed civilians, also took place in the context of tensions over the proposed constitutional reforms.
    Human rights defenders
    Human rights defenders continued to face intimidation and attack.
    José Luis Urbano, human rights defender and president of the Organization for the Defence of the Right to Education (Pro-Defensa del Derecho a la Educación) was shot and wounded in February, in his home town of Barcelona, in the northern state of Anzoátegui. The attack appeared to have been linked to his public criticism of the quality of education available to poor children in the state and his allegations of corruption. José Luis Urbano received protection until April. However, by the end of the year no one had been brought to justice for the attack.
    Police and security services
    According to the Attorney General, between 2000 and 2007 more than 6,000 complaints were filed at his office for alleged extrajudicial executions by the police. Of the 2,000 officers reportedly involved, less than 400 had been provisionally detained by the end of the year.
    None of the recommendations made by the National Commission for Police Reform had been implemented by the end of the year. Among the recommendations of the Commission were measures to improve the accountability of the police, training on human rights and the use of force, the regulation and control of arms used by the security forces, and legislation to integrate the different police bodies.

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/nicaragua

    Workers’ rights
    Local organizations reported that labour rights continued to be poorly enforced. Workers lodged various complaints with the authorities and human rights organizations regarding working conditions, including adverse effects on health, and freedom of association.

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/bolivia

    Freedom of expression – attacks on journalists
    Members of the security forces and others were reported to have attacked and threatened media workers during the year. In November dozens of journalists held a demonstration to highlight abuses against them and journalists’ unions protested at criticism of their work by members of the government.
    More than 10 journalists were reportedly attacked in Sucre in November while they were covering violent confrontations between police and demonstrators protesting about the new Constitution.
    Political violence
    Violence erupted in several cities, including Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, between government and opposition supporters. The clashes left at least five people dead and hundreds injured.
    In January Christian Urresti and Juan Ticacolque were killed and more than 100 were injured in Cochabamba, Cochabamba Department, following clashes between groups supporting the governing Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS), who were calling for the resignation of the Prefect of Cochabamba, and groups supporting the Prefect and calling for greater regional autonomy. Judicial investigations into the killings were initiated but had not concluded at the end of the year.
    In November, three people were killed and over 100 were injured in two days of violent confrontations in Sucre, Chuquisaca Department. Members of the police, using tear gas and rubber bullets, battled with thousands of demonstrators carrying rocks and clubs. Some protesters attacked the headquarters of the Transport Police using firecrackers and Molotov cocktails (home-made explosive devices). They destroyed office equipment and set fire to police and public vehicles….
    Luis Cardozo died of gunshot wounds. Juan Carlos Serrudo Murillo died after being hit by a tear gas canister. Members of the police were also injured during the clashes.”

  19. 19
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    11:30 am 

    or left-wing ninnies who did the same.

    These are the hardest for me to deal with. And there seems to be at least as many as on the right. And I agree that he is doing precisely what he said he would do as a candidate. People can love or hate him, and/or his policies, but his fealty to promises made, THUS FAR, is straight up and solid. Regardless of the hysterics right and left.

  20. 20
    Tim Said:
    12:35 pm 

    Yeah - I think it’s unanimous. This post tops all of your previous contrived Obama hit-pieces. You really shouldn’t have hit “publish: on this one, Rick.

    That’s just friendly advice… Really though.. I say keep it up. You’re ratcheting up the right-wing-nut meme that is just starting bloom quite nicely…. Nice work.

  21. 21
    GoodGod Said:
    1:15 pm 

    Who cares if Obama greeted a Communist and sat meekly while we were criticized? We deserve the criticism. Does it bother anyone that are biggest trading partners are a Communist Dictatorship? Does it bother anyone that this Communist Dictatorship owns most of our Treasury Bonds? Does it bother anyone that the US give billions to Uzbekistan’s torturing dictator thug just so we can use their airfields?

    No.

    I could go on.

    So why all the manufactured outrage? Frankly my friends, he has passed his first tests with flying colors. Not the least of which was the pirate Hostage situation.

    You know what you guys hate? That you lost the last election by a very large number and a reasonable man is President, not some imperial militarist.

    Believe me, if Bush were around during the pirate incident, he would have showed up at the press conference dressed like a sniper.

  22. 22
    jharp Said:
    1:41 pm 

    “So why all the manufactured outrage?”

    Because they lost to a man they hate and are whiny losers. Exactly the same reason the teabaggers embarrassed themselves last week.

  23. 23
    jackson1234 Said:
    1:55 pm 

    Here’s where to start, Mr. Stuck:

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/regions/americas/venezuelah

    Be sure to check out what his notorious right-wing cabal has to say about Nicarauga and Bolivia, in particular. I won’t wait any apology in the event you are one of the types who no amount of evidence will satisfy, or changes the subject when it gets presented.

  24. 24
    Michael Said:
    2:00 pm 

    Rick, I am with you on this one. Which of your critics here would calmly sit through a long and insulting tirade against their family by some loud-mouthed bigot? President Obama’s conduct was disgraceful. On a personal level he has stood with these kinds of people most of his life. What he did here was no harder for him than sitting through one of Rev. Wright’s tirades. However, now he represents all Americans and this is what he fails to remember.

  25. 25
    dude08 Said:
    2:12 pm 

    Get a clue, Moran. The Ortegas and the Chavezs of the the world want Obama to throw a hissy fit and treat them with disdain. It plays well at home. By just sitting there, Obama played the role of the calm parent to their two-year old temper tantrums.

    Obama didn’t run out of the room like some little girl who got insulted at the prom. What is it with right-wingers and their bizarre fetish for victimhood status? Seriously. Grow a pair.

  26. 26
    Lukas T Said:
    2:46 pm 

    Mr. Stuck -

    This is a good, albeit slightly dated, article on Chavez by Foreign Policy:
    http://www.sumate.org/democracia-retroceso/Prensa/FPhugoboss.html

  27. 27
    bsjones Said:
    3:17 pm 

    I thought Obama passed his first big test by pulling the trigger on Somali pirates!?

  28. 28
    bsjones Said:
    3:43 pm 

    One possible approach in Nicaragua is to work diplomatically to establish relations and political influence in the country. Could it work? Maybe.

    Another possibility is to fund a guerrilla war with money gained for selling arms to Iran and send advisers to the region to train an insurgent guerrilla army in terror tactics. Did it work? Was it even legal?

    Still, a full on frontal assault with U.S. Marines followed by an occupation of several years to a decade where the U.S. sets up several strategic military bases might produce the desired result. Cost effective in the age of smaller government tax rebellions?

    Finally, how about showing diplomatic contempt for the country the U.S. is trying to influence might get the desired results. A “NO SOUP FOR YOU” approach. Try to embarrass the country in an attempt to preserve American honor. Follow that up with an embargo. (Let’s hope the country does not have huge oil reserves!)

    What is the correct approach? It depends on what the goal of the U.S is in the region. If honor is the goal, then “NO SOUP FOR YOU” might be the answer. Without clearly stated goals and articulated U.S. interests it is hard to know what is the correct action for the United States. Perhaps if Americans knew what the interests and goals of the U.S. government were in Nicaragua and the region we would be able to formulate and evaluate policy that did not rely on honor and saving face.

    One thing to remember. America has interests. Other countries have interests too. These interests (as you might expect) do not always align. Politics is the art of accommodating conflicting interests. When one nation is powerful and the other weak, as is often the case with the U.S. in Latin America, the powerful country can force it’s will. When the weak country has a good hold card, say oil or nuclear weapons diplomacy tends to be more beneficial.

    What to do in Nicaragua? First, clearly articulate your interests and goals.

  29. 29
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    4:00 pm 

    jackson1234 Said:
    1:55 pm

    Be sure to check out what his notorious right-wing cabal has to say about Nicarauga and Bolivia, in particular

    Do you mean this?

    Nicaragua signed the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture in March.

    No, I bet this Obamanation is what has your knickers in a twist.

    The National Assembly approved a new Criminal Code which omitted an article criminalizing gay and lesbian relationships which had been present in the previous criminal code.

    That awful Ortega is a queer lover. I see why you hate him.

    ******

    This atrocity from Chavez should make you wingnuts seeth in defiance.

    Violence against women

    A new law on the right of women to live free from violence came into force in March. Although women victims of violence are guaranteed greater protection under the new legislation, a fully resourced plan of action to implement the law had not yet been developed by the end of the year.

    As for Bolivia, it is the poorest country on earth with some of the most valuable minerals on said earth. The majority indian population has been under the heel of US supported Oligarchs like no other, and tens of thousands have died in their mines and by political oppression.

    And none of this answers my challenge to you to provide evidence of election fraud, by violence or otherwise.

    And I never said that Ortega and Chavez are asswipes personally. Read my earlier comment on this.

  30. 30
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    4:26 pm 

    And I never said that Ortega and Chavez are (not) asswipes personally.

  31. 31
    bsjones Said:
    5:10 pm 

    How ya gonna disrespect me?
    How you gonna disrespect my people?
    Nobody disrespect me..
    Nobody disrespect my posse…
    You disrespect me, you deal with this (displays his AK 47)

    N*g*h please! You want me to cap yo @ss?

  32. 32
    EBJ Said:
    5:34 pm 

    I forget who said that the value of a country (maybe society) can be determined by what the people will do to defend it. A society nobody will defend is demonstrably worthless. A society that people will die for is valued.

    What’s the value of a society that elected a leader who aggrees with foreign criticism of his society, only with the caveat that it was before his time and he should, presumably, get a pass? And how narcissistic does one (or One) have to be to throw your entire country under the bus so as to avoid personal criticism? Wait until O hears about what Andrew Jackson did to the Indians. I think we’re going to see quite a few ex-Presidents turned into speed bumps for the lightworker. Private citizens, living (and dead) Presidents: cross O and you’ll answer to his minions.

  33. 33
    Joe Said:
    6:42 pm 

    I swear to God Rick that nothing this president does is right with you. Has he made mistakes, of course he has, but the rightwing is so bitter towards Obama it makes me sick. All your side does is bash him. This makes my support for him go thru the roof. If your side wants a war of ideology, I say bring it. We have demographics on our side and we will continue to crush the gop in elections. There is no way to discuss rationally with rightwingers anymore. Its either their way or nothing. I hope Obama reaches out more to our enemies, we don’t follow Bushies cowboy diplomacy, we actually have rational thought. Your side is just attack dog 24/7. So be it, see ya at the polls in 2010.

  34. 34
    Elizho Said:
    9:27 pm 

    Has anyone noticed almost in every multi-national conference the US delegates have attended, it has become a custom for the US to be a well-established target of censure? It is clearly a legacy of Bush administration left for this nation to deal with for decades to come. Yes, the majority of these harangues are being pegged by the nefarious elements such as Chavez, Ahmadinejad, et al. but the point is that every Conservative administration since Reagan has done so much negative that in retrospect it has granted these neo-anti-Americans enough ammo to rail against the US at every chance they can muster and use the sentiment to garner support among their local constituents. Even that I consider certain fiscal Conservative policies meritorious, one thing for sure, the Conservative foreign policy has served this country nothing other than antagonism in almost every corner of this planet.

    And as for Rick’s suggestion for Obama to grow a pair of cajones and walk out of the conference, I must say that’s the most juvenile deed one can commit to. When encounter with thugs, the worst reaction is to bestow a landscape of reason for them to waltz into their thuggish modus operandi. Many Conservative common folks have this mentality that any sort of misdeed must be answered with a swift round kick. If diplomacy was to be trimmed to such level, then why do even have the State Department in the first place? Just to be fair, Rick has clearly stated that the US’ pass action, i.e. sending economical hitmen for resource subjugation, etc., has indeed contributed, partially, to the current establishment of power in the region although, as always, the local regimes and people who enable them are too should take the blame for many shortcomings, and rightfully so.

    I believe what Rick demands from Obama is to reciprocate the same amount of blame-game to these attention-seekers, i.e. Ortego and Chavez by articulating their history of atrocities and what not. If Obama was to go down that path, the encounter would culminate to nothing but a snot fest of Imperialism-vs-Fascism contest. As a president of the United States, you never allow yourself to stoop to such level where the discourse is mired with a dialogue suited for school yard argument — you just don’t. I believe what Obama should have added is that in retrospect, although the US’ role in the region has not always been beneficial, many faults also lay on the local governing forces therefore, it would be paramount for the solution to be approach from a mutual and bilateral stand point. Meaning, even though both sides have had their share of blame (not equally in many respect), we might be able to agree upon a new approach. Of course, many in the hardcore Conservative movement will go into shock-induced coma as any thought of something remotely close to the aforementioned statement.

  35. 35
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    11:44 pm 

    ed.

    You built a number of strawmen in your comment. And the “largely bloodless revolution” was taken from Rick’s words, if you had bothered to read the thread post. And I never said America didn’t help promote and establish democracy in SA, though that doesn’t come near making amends for our mischief there over the centuries. i was saying that focusing on these leaders, it should be prominent that they were elected leaders, and not dictators, as such.

  36. 36
    Lukas T Said:
    4:50 am 

    To draw a parallel between Latin American victimization and Islamic anti-semitism is sort of an apples and oranges situation, no? After all, Ortego ranted about America being the devil in a largely cliche speech (for a socialist Latin American leader, at least) whereas Ahmadinejad demonized an ethnicity and nation currently fighting for its very existence. Keyword there being currently. I think making that comparison is a tad intellectually dishonest, considering the vastly different circumstances.

  37. 37
    jackson1234 Said:
    10:56 am 

    Typically selective, Mr. Stuck. I noticed how you failed to mention political prisoners and closed media outlets and jailed opposition leaders, ad nauseum. And then you constructed a strawman wherein you claimed I said the elections were fraudulent when I clearly said if that had been reported it had escaped me. I should have known better. Next time I will simply ignore you.

  38. 38
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    4:44 pm 

    jackson1234.

    I didn’t see any of the things you were alleging for Nicaragua and Venezuela from the link you provided.

    As for Bolivia, they are in the middle of civil strife over a new Constitution largely between the indigenous Morales government an the old guard opposition. The violence is primarily instigated by opposition to the new Constitution which does allow for nationalizing the mineral resources and free health care for all. I know that offends your right wing sensibilities, though it doesn’t mine.

    As for your allegations of election fraud here is what you said.

    While Ortega and Chavez won quasi-democratic elections, they employed old school Marxist techniques to help achieve their victories. To an extent, the same applies to Morales in Bolivia. All of which is to say these leaders squelched as much speech as possible, threatened opposition leaders and parties, and possibly worse since people simply disppeared in some cases. I didn’t read anywhere that there was massive voter fraud but I might have missed it, hence, the “quasi-.”

    Lost in translation is the fact I consider so called Marxist Techniques a form of “election fraud”. And I still did not see any evidence of “Marxist Techniques” for this at AI for Nicaragua and Venezuela, except maybe from Bush’s embassy in those countries with no evidence to support it. And Bolivia is in the middle of a quasi civil war with all sorts of shenanigins from both sides.

    If I missed at AI what you were alleging, please let me know and where it is.

  39. 39
    bsjones Said:
    6:04 pm 

    Does anybody here have an idea what the U.S. government’s interests are in Nicaragua?

    I remember Ronald Reagan’s speech explaining that Sandinista rebels were two days drive from Texas. Maybe this is just about national security?

    Are we ready?

  40. 40
    bsjones Said:
    7:36 pm 

    On a positive note, if Texas DOES secede, the Marxists will have to drive about 12 more hours before they reach Kansas. This should give us the extra time we need to mobilize air power!!

  41. 41
    B.Poster Said:
    7:41 pm 

    I think we should set up a tribunal of some sort to try all American actions in South and Central America. Anyone who feels they have a claim against America can register a complaint and the cases can be tried individually on a case by case basis. Also, the Americans can bring cases against folks from South and Central Aemrica who have wronged it. I could turn out that most if not all of American actions within the region are/were fully justified. Perhaps not. In any even, it seems unlikely that these things happen in a vacum.

    The main problems I see with the tribunal approach is two fold. 1.) Its hard to imagine a scenario where Aemrica or its government can get a fair trial. As it stands right now, this court would simply be a kangaroo court designed to try and convict the American government or its officials. 2.) If the court finds that the United States owes reparations to one or more Central or South American countries the Americans would have no choice but to live up to these obligations even if they wanted to not live up to them. Media scrutiny on the United States and its government is always intense. As such, the United States would have no choice but honor the terms decided by the court. Countires in South and Central Aemrica do not face the kind of scrutiny that the United States faces. As such, it is unlikely there would be any mechanism in place to ensure their compliance with any obligations the court may impose on them.

    Until these issues are addressed, I would find it impossible to support the tribunal approach. As soon as a way is found to ensure the United States gets a fair trial and to ensure compliance of South and Central American countries with any findings by the tribunal, I think we can go ahead with this approach and justice for all can finally be achieved.

  42. 42
    bsjones Said:
    7:44 pm 

    Then again, on a negative note we will no longer be able to marshal the forces of the Texas Air National Guard.

    It’s all so confusing. If we only knew what both countries wanted to achieve in the region we might be able to broker a political settlement.

    Now I remember!! America wants to promote democracy in Central America and Nicaragua wants Marxist Global Domination.

    I guess political accommodation is not going to work after all. I wish Obama was not so smiley and hand shakey with all those thugs.

  43. 43
    DALL Said:
    9:24 pm 

    3 months after the Bay of Pigs -April 1961 (04/61) means he was born in January 1961(01/61). That’s probably the truth… Just a Fruedian slip, all the more reason he should prove himself to the American People.

  44. 44
    bsjones Said:
    4:42 pm 

    The Banality of Obama

    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/04/the-banality-of-obama.php

  45. 45
    mdaultry Said:
    12:01 pm 

    Perhaps Americans will NOW learn the difference between a “community organizer” and “President of the United States” — BIG difference!

  46. 46
    WAYNE Said:
    4:19 pm 

    COULD IT BE THAT THE REASON BARACK OBAMA DID NOT DEFEND HIS COUNTRY AGAINST THESE HATEFUL RANTS WAS BECAUSE HE AGREED WITH THEM. AFTER ALL IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN THAT MUCH DIFFERENT THAN HIS SOAKING UP THE HATEFUL RHETORIC OF JEREMIAH WRIGHT AT THE TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST FOR 20 YRS.

  47. 47
    Mike t. Said:
    9:25 pm 

    I think that everyone is putting way too much thought on such an insignificant issue such f—ing daniel Ortega.I agree Barack is not perfect. But he is not a huge ass clown George W. Was. Or at least less of an ass clown.Either way Barack obama is comander in cheif. He will make mistakes let’s just hope he learns from his mistakes.

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