Special July Fourth Commentary: Taking Back the Concept of Patriotism

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Liberals have allowed conservatives to both steal and co-opt the concept of patriotism over the years. The conception of patriotism put forth by some contemporary conservatives seems at times to be a very narrow form of love for country embodied by the slogan: “my country right or wrong.” And symbolized by unquestioned loyalty and such overt acts such as flying the flag or draping oneself in the national colors. We have the flag burning amendment and yellow ribbons to support not just the troops, but the war itself.

The liberal opposition to war and refusal to be caught up in the superficial symbolism have caused them to be labeled unpatriotic. I would however argue that an adherence to empty symbols is not patriotism, rather it is jingoism.

Liberals need to press harder on conservatives on this point because true patriotism is not the adherence to blanket symbolism and support, but rather love of country that should be embodied by the notion of the very principles on which we have been founded.

One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers. In fact, the continued support of this destructive war undermines the troops rather than supports them. I support our troops by wanting every single one of them out of Iraq. I support our troops by wanting to provide them with jobs, job training, financial security, and good medical coverage when they come home. I support our troops by never wanting to see another Veteran on a street corner begging for money. And I support our troops by never wanting to see another one come home dead or severely injured.

I do not believe that my country is always right. Rather I hold my country to higher standards–the standards embodied in our foundations of social justice, liberty, freedom, and the due process of law. I oppose acts in this nation that tear away at the fabric of freedom and liberty. I oppose acts that strip away the protections of due process of law. Those who hide behind slogans as they destroy our nation’s principles are not patriots, but rather traitors and cowards.

Jefferson tells us,

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Franklin warns us,

“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

Why are conservatives so afraid of dissent? Our nation was founded on dissent. Our founding fathers believed in dissent with every bone of their body. The hallmark of freedom is the freedom of speech.

This freedom is embodied within our nation’s first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Within the first amendment we have the right to free speech, the right to a free press, and the right to protest and dissent against the government. The founders knew full well that without the right to dissent, the freedom to speak meant nothing. Freedom is not tested when we all agree on something.

In the movie “The American President,” Michael Douglas’ character, the President, exemplifies the true meaning of free speech:

“You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

The core the statement is true, as writer Nat Hentoff explained, most Americans are willing to allow free speech only when they agree with what is said. That is not freedom of speech. Are you willing to allow the KKK to march through town in their white robes and hoods and say everything that you oppose with all your heart? Are you willing to allow a man draped in the American flag to proclaim that we need to be a country of white Americans? Those are the tests of freedom.

President Bush frequently talks about the Muslim world hating our freedom, but in many ways, I think the President doesn’t know what our freedom is. He curtails it every step he gets. When people complain about the war, they are labeled as unpatriotic, told that they are not supporting our troops, and at times told that they are providing aid and comfort to the enemy. The latter is a charge of treason–dissent has become not just un-American but treasonous.

I would argue that dissent is our strength not our weakness. It is what holds us accountable. It is what forces us to seek to attain a higher standard. Criticism and dissent force the other side to be more careful, to do a better job. And they hold us accountable when we make errors. Without dissent, there can be no accountability.

Finally on this Fourth of July, I will take issue with another popular myth, that the left “hates” America. I love my country. They misinterpret criticism for hate and blind obedience for love. I love my country, like people love their children. People love their children no matter what they do. However, they do not stand by and approve of everything their children do for the sake of love. To do that would be bad parenting. To do that for a country would be a bad citizen and a bad voter.

Instead people criticize, punish, and teach their children how to properly conduct themselves in the world. When they err, they get punished and reprimanded. They are instilled with values and when they transgress against those values they are admonished and scorned. Parents do not stand idly by and allow their children to misbehave or to undermine their values. Nor should citizens of a nation stand by and watch their nation undermine their values.

But more than that, I hold my country to a higher standard than I hold others. I hold my nation to the due process of the law even as others summarily execute their criminals. I hold my nation to the doctrines of the Geneva Convention, even as the enemy tortures, maims, and kills its prisoners of war and civilians with malice. I hold my nation to be above such tactics as torture, recognizing full well that many others will not. And I hold my nation to be an agent of peace even in the time of war.

I do these things not because I hate America, but because I believe in America and American values. I hold these values and principles above the temporary expediency of security. And because I wish to adhere to those values, I will criticize my nation even in the time of war. For just as free speech does not exist without dissent, neither does patriotism exist without war protests and marches.

This is Independence Day, and it is time for a moment of reflection. But we should remember today above all else the values under which this nation was founded. The values of dissent and freedom. Of liberty AND justice. Of the rule of law over the rule of the mob. Of the ideal that all people were created equal. Of the ideal that we can rise up and transcend our limited condition. And finally of our commitment to peace and social justice. All of these are the embodiments of patriotism and those who threaten them are not patriots, they are merely jingoists.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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104 thoughts on “Special July Fourth Commentary: Taking Back the Concept of Patriotism”

  1. davisite

    …took in Michael Moore’s SICKO last evening at its opening in Davis.
    The message goes beyond the healthcare issue; it tries to get the audience to reflect on what we(the collective WE) are really all about.. Don’t miss it.

  2. davisite

    …took in Michael Moore’s SICKO last evening at its opening in Davis.
    The message goes beyond the healthcare issue; it tries to get the audience to reflect on what we(the collective WE) are really all about.. Don’t miss it.

  3. davisite

    …took in Michael Moore’s SICKO last evening at its opening in Davis.
    The message goes beyond the healthcare issue; it tries to get the audience to reflect on what we(the collective WE) are really all about.. Don’t miss it.

  4. davisite

    …took in Michael Moore’s SICKO last evening at its opening in Davis.
    The message goes beyond the healthcare issue; it tries to get the audience to reflect on what we(the collective WE) are really all about.. Don’t miss it.

  5. truman

    Support our country on Independence Day by exercising your freedom to dissent against the Bush/Cheney administration. They should be impeached as provided for in the Constitution for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    Come out to the Community Park today for the 4th of July and visit the Davis Democratic Club booth. Sign our petition to get out of Iraq, buy a button or bumper sticker supporting our anti-war/anti-bush activities. Buy your favorite Democratic presidential candidate button or bumper sticker too.

  6. truman

    Support our country on Independence Day by exercising your freedom to dissent against the Bush/Cheney administration. They should be impeached as provided for in the Constitution for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    Come out to the Community Park today for the 4th of July and visit the Davis Democratic Club booth. Sign our petition to get out of Iraq, buy a button or bumper sticker supporting our anti-war/anti-bush activities. Buy your favorite Democratic presidential candidate button or bumper sticker too.

  7. truman

    Support our country on Independence Day by exercising your freedom to dissent against the Bush/Cheney administration. They should be impeached as provided for in the Constitution for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    Come out to the Community Park today for the 4th of July and visit the Davis Democratic Club booth. Sign our petition to get out of Iraq, buy a button or bumper sticker supporting our anti-war/anti-bush activities. Buy your favorite Democratic presidential candidate button or bumper sticker too.

  8. truman

    Support our country on Independence Day by exercising your freedom to dissent against the Bush/Cheney administration. They should be impeached as provided for in the Constitution for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    Come out to the Community Park today for the 4th of July and visit the Davis Democratic Club booth. Sign our petition to get out of Iraq, buy a button or bumper sticker supporting our anti-war/anti-bush activities. Buy your favorite Democratic presidential candidate button or bumper sticker too.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    “The conception of patriotism put forth by some contemporary conservatives seems at times to be a very narrow form of love for country embodied by the slogan: “my country right or wrong.” And symbolized by unquestioned loyalty and such overt acts such as flying the flag or draping oneself in the national colors.”

    I’m grateful that we live in a country that is not so black and white. While you are quite extreme in your left-wing views, and you like to pit them against extreme right-wingers, the vast majority of us are not so ideologically inclined. Fortunately, most Americans are somewhere in the middle, even if their positions are not always consistent.

    “The liberal opposition to war and refusal to be caught up in the superficial symbolism have caused them to be labeled unpatriotic.”

    I doubt that any American liberals are ‘unpatriotic.’ However, some on the not liberal far-left clearly are, at least in the sense that whenever there is a dispute between the United States and some other country or group, their first inclination is to find fault with America.

    Even though most on the far left would hate to live under an Islamist regime, I rarely hear lefties decrying Islamism for what it is. They focus on some imagined American foreign policy which for 100 years has caused these nut jobs to hate us, assuming that these people are incapable of making bad choices on their own. Likewise, they refuse to be critical of the actions of the Islamists, without (falsely) equating them with fundamentalist nut jobs like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The Christian right may be completely wacked, but I don’t see the 700 Club arming children with suicide bomb-belts in order to murder hundreds of innocents or any other such acts of terror.

    I can’t remember any lefties ever holding their allies abroad to any high standards. As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”

    I don’t support the Iraq War. It’s not only a failed enterprise, but I can’t see how it is in our national interest in any sense. Nonetheless, your focus on our ‘maiming them’ is bizarre. Almost 100% of the intentional ‘maiming’ going on is being done by our enemies against innocents or other Iraqi fighters. It’s perfectly fine to point out the chaos and violence our troops are responsible for. But it’s wrong of you to do so out of the context of how small it is in comparison with the larger civil war going on in Iraq.

    If your focus of blame is on us because we started the war, then say that. But then — despite the wrong-headedness of our decision — you ought to point out the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed, tortured and imprisoned by the regime we ousted. By avoiding all explanatory context in your argument, you do a disservice to your side.

    Franklin warns us, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

    While I share Franklin’s view, my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.

    “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

    That was just tested in Japan when one of their cabinet ministers mistakenly admitted in public that our dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    “The conception of patriotism put forth by some contemporary conservatives seems at times to be a very narrow form of love for country embodied by the slogan: “my country right or wrong.” And symbolized by unquestioned loyalty and such overt acts such as flying the flag or draping oneself in the national colors.”

    I’m grateful that we live in a country that is not so black and white. While you are quite extreme in your left-wing views, and you like to pit them against extreme right-wingers, the vast majority of us are not so ideologically inclined. Fortunately, most Americans are somewhere in the middle, even if their positions are not always consistent.

    “The liberal opposition to war and refusal to be caught up in the superficial symbolism have caused them to be labeled unpatriotic.”

    I doubt that any American liberals are ‘unpatriotic.’ However, some on the not liberal far-left clearly are, at least in the sense that whenever there is a dispute between the United States and some other country or group, their first inclination is to find fault with America.

    Even though most on the far left would hate to live under an Islamist regime, I rarely hear lefties decrying Islamism for what it is. They focus on some imagined American foreign policy which for 100 years has caused these nut jobs to hate us, assuming that these people are incapable of making bad choices on their own. Likewise, they refuse to be critical of the actions of the Islamists, without (falsely) equating them with fundamentalist nut jobs like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The Christian right may be completely wacked, but I don’t see the 700 Club arming children with suicide bomb-belts in order to murder hundreds of innocents or any other such acts of terror.

    I can’t remember any lefties ever holding their allies abroad to any high standards. As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”

    I don’t support the Iraq War. It’s not only a failed enterprise, but I can’t see how it is in our national interest in any sense. Nonetheless, your focus on our ‘maiming them’ is bizarre. Almost 100% of the intentional ‘maiming’ going on is being done by our enemies against innocents or other Iraqi fighters. It’s perfectly fine to point out the chaos and violence our troops are responsible for. But it’s wrong of you to do so out of the context of how small it is in comparison with the larger civil war going on in Iraq.

    If your focus of blame is on us because we started the war, then say that. But then — despite the wrong-headedness of our decision — you ought to point out the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed, tortured and imprisoned by the regime we ousted. By avoiding all explanatory context in your argument, you do a disservice to your side.

    Franklin warns us, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

    While I share Franklin’s view, my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.

    “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

    That was just tested in Japan when one of their cabinet ministers mistakenly admitted in public that our dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    “The conception of patriotism put forth by some contemporary conservatives seems at times to be a very narrow form of love for country embodied by the slogan: “my country right or wrong.” And symbolized by unquestioned loyalty and such overt acts such as flying the flag or draping oneself in the national colors.”

    I’m grateful that we live in a country that is not so black and white. While you are quite extreme in your left-wing views, and you like to pit them against extreme right-wingers, the vast majority of us are not so ideologically inclined. Fortunately, most Americans are somewhere in the middle, even if their positions are not always consistent.

    “The liberal opposition to war and refusal to be caught up in the superficial symbolism have caused them to be labeled unpatriotic.”

    I doubt that any American liberals are ‘unpatriotic.’ However, some on the not liberal far-left clearly are, at least in the sense that whenever there is a dispute between the United States and some other country or group, their first inclination is to find fault with America.

    Even though most on the far left would hate to live under an Islamist regime, I rarely hear lefties decrying Islamism for what it is. They focus on some imagined American foreign policy which for 100 years has caused these nut jobs to hate us, assuming that these people are incapable of making bad choices on their own. Likewise, they refuse to be critical of the actions of the Islamists, without (falsely) equating them with fundamentalist nut jobs like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The Christian right may be completely wacked, but I don’t see the 700 Club arming children with suicide bomb-belts in order to murder hundreds of innocents or any other such acts of terror.

    I can’t remember any lefties ever holding their allies abroad to any high standards. As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”

    I don’t support the Iraq War. It’s not only a failed enterprise, but I can’t see how it is in our national interest in any sense. Nonetheless, your focus on our ‘maiming them’ is bizarre. Almost 100% of the intentional ‘maiming’ going on is being done by our enemies against innocents or other Iraqi fighters. It’s perfectly fine to point out the chaos and violence our troops are responsible for. But it’s wrong of you to do so out of the context of how small it is in comparison with the larger civil war going on in Iraq.

    If your focus of blame is on us because we started the war, then say that. But then — despite the wrong-headedness of our decision — you ought to point out the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed, tortured and imprisoned by the regime we ousted. By avoiding all explanatory context in your argument, you do a disservice to your side.

    Franklin warns us, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

    While I share Franklin’s view, my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.

    “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

    That was just tested in Japan when one of their cabinet ministers mistakenly admitted in public that our dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.

  12. Rich Rifkin

    “The conception of patriotism put forth by some contemporary conservatives seems at times to be a very narrow form of love for country embodied by the slogan: “my country right or wrong.” And symbolized by unquestioned loyalty and such overt acts such as flying the flag or draping oneself in the national colors.”

    I’m grateful that we live in a country that is not so black and white. While you are quite extreme in your left-wing views, and you like to pit them against extreme right-wingers, the vast majority of us are not so ideologically inclined. Fortunately, most Americans are somewhere in the middle, even if their positions are not always consistent.

    “The liberal opposition to war and refusal to be caught up in the superficial symbolism have caused them to be labeled unpatriotic.”

    I doubt that any American liberals are ‘unpatriotic.’ However, some on the not liberal far-left clearly are, at least in the sense that whenever there is a dispute between the United States and some other country or group, their first inclination is to find fault with America.

    Even though most on the far left would hate to live under an Islamist regime, I rarely hear lefties decrying Islamism for what it is. They focus on some imagined American foreign policy which for 100 years has caused these nut jobs to hate us, assuming that these people are incapable of making bad choices on their own. Likewise, they refuse to be critical of the actions of the Islamists, without (falsely) equating them with fundamentalist nut jobs like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The Christian right may be completely wacked, but I don’t see the 700 Club arming children with suicide bomb-belts in order to murder hundreds of innocents or any other such acts of terror.

    I can’t remember any lefties ever holding their allies abroad to any high standards. As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”

    I don’t support the Iraq War. It’s not only a failed enterprise, but I can’t see how it is in our national interest in any sense. Nonetheless, your focus on our ‘maiming them’ is bizarre. Almost 100% of the intentional ‘maiming’ going on is being done by our enemies against innocents or other Iraqi fighters. It’s perfectly fine to point out the chaos and violence our troops are responsible for. But it’s wrong of you to do so out of the context of how small it is in comparison with the larger civil war going on in Iraq.

    If your focus of blame is on us because we started the war, then say that. But then — despite the wrong-headedness of our decision — you ought to point out the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed, tortured and imprisoned by the regime we ousted. By avoiding all explanatory context in your argument, you do a disservice to your side.

    Franklin warns us, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

    While I share Franklin’s view, my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.

    “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

    That was just tested in Japan when one of their cabinet ministers mistakenly admitted in public that our dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.

  13. Anonymous

    “…dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.”

    Rifkin’s observation is best responded to with a “Wayne’s World” retort,” GET THE NET!

  14. Anonymous

    “…dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.”

    Rifkin’s observation is best responded to with a “Wayne’s World” retort,” GET THE NET!

  15. Anonymous

    “…dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.”

    Rifkin’s observation is best responded to with a “Wayne’s World” retort,” GET THE NET!

  16. Anonymous

    “…dropping the atomic bombs on Japan served the best interests of Japan. He was, of course, fired, because admitting that truth is still not tolerated in Japan.”

    Rifkin’s observation is best responded to with a “Wayne’s World” retort,” GET THE NET!

  17. Nanci

    Rich –

    I’m glad we live in the U.S. where views such as yours can be expressed.

    To say that you are middle of the road or somewhere in the middle with your views is like saying that George Bush or Dick Cheney are middle of the road.

    Please be honest with yourself.

    Also, you fail to mention that it was your far right “leaders” that helped some of the nut cases get into power by supplying with with training and ammunition.

    Let’s face it…both sides at times have been wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that right now, as we blog, there is an idiot in the White House that is making both sides angry because he fails to listen to ANY leadership and get our troops out!

    The message is simple:

    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!

  18. Nanci

    Rich –

    I’m glad we live in the U.S. where views such as yours can be expressed.

    To say that you are middle of the road or somewhere in the middle with your views is like saying that George Bush or Dick Cheney are middle of the road.

    Please be honest with yourself.

    Also, you fail to mention that it was your far right “leaders” that helped some of the nut cases get into power by supplying with with training and ammunition.

    Let’s face it…both sides at times have been wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that right now, as we blog, there is an idiot in the White House that is making both sides angry because he fails to listen to ANY leadership and get our troops out!

    The message is simple:

    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!

  19. Nanci

    Rich –

    I’m glad we live in the U.S. where views such as yours can be expressed.

    To say that you are middle of the road or somewhere in the middle with your views is like saying that George Bush or Dick Cheney are middle of the road.

    Please be honest with yourself.

    Also, you fail to mention that it was your far right “leaders” that helped some of the nut cases get into power by supplying with with training and ammunition.

    Let’s face it…both sides at times have been wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that right now, as we blog, there is an idiot in the White House that is making both sides angry because he fails to listen to ANY leadership and get our troops out!

    The message is simple:

    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!

  20. Nanci

    Rich –

    I’m glad we live in the U.S. where views such as yours can be expressed.

    To say that you are middle of the road or somewhere in the middle with your views is like saying that George Bush or Dick Cheney are middle of the road.

    Please be honest with yourself.

    Also, you fail to mention that it was your far right “leaders” that helped some of the nut cases get into power by supplying with with training and ammunition.

    Let’s face it…both sides at times have been wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that right now, as we blog, there is an idiot in the White House that is making both sides angry because he fails to listen to ANY leadership and get our troops out!

    The message is simple:

    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!

  21. Rich Rifkin

    Rifkin’s rules of clarification. I wrote: “As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.”

    I should have said, “…beloved figure on the far-left…” I recently read a magazine piece about a large group of American ultra-lefties (led by a famous calipso singer and a famous American anti-War activist from Vacaville) which travelled to Venezuela to praise the dictatorship of that country.

    In case anyone missed the Japan story, here is a link:

    TOKYO – Four weeks before a crucial parliamentary election that could decide Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political fate, his defense minister was forced to resign Tuesday after making comments apparently justifying the United States’ use of atomic bombs against Japan during World War II.

    In a public appearance Saturday – the unofficial start of the campaign for the upcoming election – Kyuma said dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 “ended the war,” adding, “I think that it couldn’t be helped.” Otherwise, Kyuma said, the war would have dragged on and the Soviet Union would have ended up occupying northern Japan.

  22. Rich Rifkin

    Rifkin’s rules of clarification. I wrote: “As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.”

    I should have said, “…beloved figure on the far-left…” I recently read a magazine piece about a large group of American ultra-lefties (led by a famous calipso singer and a famous American anti-War activist from Vacaville) which travelled to Venezuela to praise the dictatorship of that country.

    In case anyone missed the Japan story, here is a link:

    TOKYO – Four weeks before a crucial parliamentary election that could decide Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political fate, his defense minister was forced to resign Tuesday after making comments apparently justifying the United States’ use of atomic bombs against Japan during World War II.

    In a public appearance Saturday – the unofficial start of the campaign for the upcoming election – Kyuma said dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 “ended the war,” adding, “I think that it couldn’t be helped.” Otherwise, Kyuma said, the war would have dragged on and the Soviet Union would have ended up occupying northern Japan.

  23. Rich Rifkin

    Rifkin’s rules of clarification. I wrote: “As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.”

    I should have said, “…beloved figure on the far-left…” I recently read a magazine piece about a large group of American ultra-lefties (led by a famous calipso singer and a famous American anti-War activist from Vacaville) which travelled to Venezuela to praise the dictatorship of that country.

    In case anyone missed the Japan story, here is a link:

    TOKYO – Four weeks before a crucial parliamentary election that could decide Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political fate, his defense minister was forced to resign Tuesday after making comments apparently justifying the United States’ use of atomic bombs against Japan during World War II.

    In a public appearance Saturday – the unofficial start of the campaign for the upcoming election – Kyuma said dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 “ended the war,” adding, “I think that it couldn’t be helped.” Otherwise, Kyuma said, the war would have dragged on and the Soviet Union would have ended up occupying northern Japan.

  24. Rich Rifkin

    Rifkin’s rules of clarification. I wrote: “As repulsive as the current dictator in Venezuela is, he is now a beloved figure on the American left, largely because he’s built his reign on hating America.”

    I should have said, “…beloved figure on the far-left…” I recently read a magazine piece about a large group of American ultra-lefties (led by a famous calipso singer and a famous American anti-War activist from Vacaville) which travelled to Venezuela to praise the dictatorship of that country.

    In case anyone missed the Japan story, here is a link:

    TOKYO – Four weeks before a crucial parliamentary election that could decide Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political fate, his defense minister was forced to resign Tuesday after making comments apparently justifying the United States’ use of atomic bombs against Japan during World War II.

    In a public appearance Saturday – the unofficial start of the campaign for the upcoming election – Kyuma said dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 “ended the war,” adding, “I think that it couldn’t be helped.” Otherwise, Kyuma said, the war would have dragged on and the Soviet Union would have ended up occupying northern Japan.

  25. Anonymous

    Definition of Rifkin: The far-right, masquerading as a moderate.

    Those who oppose the mighty Lexicon Artiste (‘e’ added for emphasis), are bad writers. Or wrong, or lacking in mental capacity. Or fail to see the big picture, even if it is out of focus and based on a movie review from 1975.

    Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple. Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed. If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.

    Watch, now he’ll get upset with this post, and speculate that I MUST be someone with a financial interest in stopping the war, because who else could disagree with the mighty Rifkin?

  26. Anonymous

    Definition of Rifkin: The far-right, masquerading as a moderate.

    Those who oppose the mighty Lexicon Artiste (‘e’ added for emphasis), are bad writers. Or wrong, or lacking in mental capacity. Or fail to see the big picture, even if it is out of focus and based on a movie review from 1975.

    Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple. Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed. If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.

    Watch, now he’ll get upset with this post, and speculate that I MUST be someone with a financial interest in stopping the war, because who else could disagree with the mighty Rifkin?

  27. Anonymous

    Definition of Rifkin: The far-right, masquerading as a moderate.

    Those who oppose the mighty Lexicon Artiste (‘e’ added for emphasis), are bad writers. Or wrong, or lacking in mental capacity. Or fail to see the big picture, even if it is out of focus and based on a movie review from 1975.

    Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple. Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed. If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.

    Watch, now he’ll get upset with this post, and speculate that I MUST be someone with a financial interest in stopping the war, because who else could disagree with the mighty Rifkin?

  28. Anonymous

    Definition of Rifkin: The far-right, masquerading as a moderate.

    Those who oppose the mighty Lexicon Artiste (‘e’ added for emphasis), are bad writers. Or wrong, or lacking in mental capacity. Or fail to see the big picture, even if it is out of focus and based on a movie review from 1975.

    Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple. Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed. If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.

    Watch, now he’ll get upset with this post, and speculate that I MUST be someone with a financial interest in stopping the war, because who else could disagree with the mighty Rifkin?

  29. Anonymous

    Anyone want to really know why Shrub invaded Iraq? This article says it all: Revenge.

    “That man tried to kill my dad, says Bush
    By David Rennie in Washington
    Last Updated: 12:22am BST 28/09/2002

    President Bush has publicly condemned Saddam Hussein as the man “that tried to kill my dad”.

    Mr Bush disclosed his personal reasons for hating the Iraqi leader during a Republican fundraising event in Texas.

    Saddam is accused of trying to kill the first President Bush with a car bomb in Kuwait in 1993. The plot was frustrated, but triggered a United States missile strike on intelligence buildings in Baghdad.

    advertisementMr Bush’s comments formed part of an attempt to portray Saddam as a viscerally anti-US menace, whose overthrow is a patriotic duty for Americans of all political persuasions, in which other countries are only side-players.

    The high risk strategy carries the danger of fuelling talk that Mr Bush’s campaign for regime change in Baghdad is driven by a desire to finish the job left undone by his father at the end of the Gulf war.”

  30. Anonymous

    Anyone want to really know why Shrub invaded Iraq? This article says it all: Revenge.

    “That man tried to kill my dad, says Bush
    By David Rennie in Washington
    Last Updated: 12:22am BST 28/09/2002

    President Bush has publicly condemned Saddam Hussein as the man “that tried to kill my dad”.

    Mr Bush disclosed his personal reasons for hating the Iraqi leader during a Republican fundraising event in Texas.

    Saddam is accused of trying to kill the first President Bush with a car bomb in Kuwait in 1993. The plot was frustrated, but triggered a United States missile strike on intelligence buildings in Baghdad.

    advertisementMr Bush’s comments formed part of an attempt to portray Saddam as a viscerally anti-US menace, whose overthrow is a patriotic duty for Americans of all political persuasions, in which other countries are only side-players.

    The high risk strategy carries the danger of fuelling talk that Mr Bush’s campaign for regime change in Baghdad is driven by a desire to finish the job left undone by his father at the end of the Gulf war.”

  31. Anonymous

    Anyone want to really know why Shrub invaded Iraq? This article says it all: Revenge.

    “That man tried to kill my dad, says Bush
    By David Rennie in Washington
    Last Updated: 12:22am BST 28/09/2002

    President Bush has publicly condemned Saddam Hussein as the man “that tried to kill my dad”.

    Mr Bush disclosed his personal reasons for hating the Iraqi leader during a Republican fundraising event in Texas.

    Saddam is accused of trying to kill the first President Bush with a car bomb in Kuwait in 1993. The plot was frustrated, but triggered a United States missile strike on intelligence buildings in Baghdad.

    advertisementMr Bush’s comments formed part of an attempt to portray Saddam as a viscerally anti-US menace, whose overthrow is a patriotic duty for Americans of all political persuasions, in which other countries are only side-players.

    The high risk strategy carries the danger of fuelling talk that Mr Bush’s campaign for regime change in Baghdad is driven by a desire to finish the job left undone by his father at the end of the Gulf war.”

  32. Anonymous

    Anyone want to really know why Shrub invaded Iraq? This article says it all: Revenge.

    “That man tried to kill my dad, says Bush
    By David Rennie in Washington
    Last Updated: 12:22am BST 28/09/2002

    President Bush has publicly condemned Saddam Hussein as the man “that tried to kill my dad”.

    Mr Bush disclosed his personal reasons for hating the Iraqi leader during a Republican fundraising event in Texas.

    Saddam is accused of trying to kill the first President Bush with a car bomb in Kuwait in 1993. The plot was frustrated, but triggered a United States missile strike on intelligence buildings in Baghdad.

    advertisementMr Bush’s comments formed part of an attempt to portray Saddam as a viscerally anti-US menace, whose overthrow is a patriotic duty for Americans of all political persuasions, in which other countries are only side-players.

    The high risk strategy carries the danger of fuelling talk that Mr Bush’s campaign for regime change in Baghdad is driven by a desire to finish the job left undone by his father at the end of the Gulf war.”

  33. Anonymous

    Freedom is great! Unfortunately, we have people like Rexroad, who think that freedom means letting illegal shooting occur anywhere anyone wants it to. Who feels that marriage should be denied loving couples, based on their gender, and with no explanation but a swift ‘no’ vote. Who feels that we shouldn’t give social services to the ‘worst people’ in our county. Who feels he isn’t partisan, but works to elect the most right-wing Bush supporters in the Country.

    God Bless America, but let us stay vigilant against those who work against her. Even those enemies in our own County.

  34. Anonymous

    Freedom is great! Unfortunately, we have people like Rexroad, who think that freedom means letting illegal shooting occur anywhere anyone wants it to. Who feels that marriage should be denied loving couples, based on their gender, and with no explanation but a swift ‘no’ vote. Who feels that we shouldn’t give social services to the ‘worst people’ in our county. Who feels he isn’t partisan, but works to elect the most right-wing Bush supporters in the Country.

    God Bless America, but let us stay vigilant against those who work against her. Even those enemies in our own County.

  35. Anonymous

    Freedom is great! Unfortunately, we have people like Rexroad, who think that freedom means letting illegal shooting occur anywhere anyone wants it to. Who feels that marriage should be denied loving couples, based on their gender, and with no explanation but a swift ‘no’ vote. Who feels that we shouldn’t give social services to the ‘worst people’ in our county. Who feels he isn’t partisan, but works to elect the most right-wing Bush supporters in the Country.

    God Bless America, but let us stay vigilant against those who work against her. Even those enemies in our own County.

  36. Anonymous

    Freedom is great! Unfortunately, we have people like Rexroad, who think that freedom means letting illegal shooting occur anywhere anyone wants it to. Who feels that marriage should be denied loving couples, based on their gender, and with no explanation but a swift ‘no’ vote. Who feels that we shouldn’t give social services to the ‘worst people’ in our county. Who feels he isn’t partisan, but works to elect the most right-wing Bush supporters in the Country.

    God Bless America, but let us stay vigilant against those who work against her. Even those enemies in our own County.

  37. Rich Rifkin

    “Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple.”

    I said it was, lady.

    “Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed.”

    Where does this term ‘talking-point’ come from? I don’t even know where to look for these, let alone employ them.

    “If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.”

    Wow, I seem to have really got under the skin of this lady.

    Apparently, she seems incapable of understanding that two things can be true at the same time.

    1) The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. We never should have started this war. It has harmed our country, harmed many of our soldiers and made it far more difficult to garner support in other areas where we are needed in the world (such as in The Sudan). Even though bad things, probably worse things, will go on after we leave, there is little point in continuing our fight, other than making sure our soldiers can exit safely.

    And 2) Saddam was every bit as bad a guy to his people and his region as his most fervent enemies said he was. He was truly evil. His bellicosity led to approximately 875,000 dead in the Iran-Iraq War; his usage of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians killed thousands of innocents; he brutalized and massacred the marsh Arabs of the Basra region; he launched the brutal invasion of Kuwait, which forced the subsequent Gulf War; and for 30+ years he and his fellow Ba’athists terrorized the vast majority of Iraqis.

  38. Rich Rifkin

    “Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple.”

    I said it was, lady.

    “Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed.”

    Where does this term ‘talking-point’ come from? I don’t even know where to look for these, let alone employ them.

    “If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.”

    Wow, I seem to have really got under the skin of this lady.

    Apparently, she seems incapable of understanding that two things can be true at the same time.

    1) The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. We never should have started this war. It has harmed our country, harmed many of our soldiers and made it far more difficult to garner support in other areas where we are needed in the world (such as in The Sudan). Even though bad things, probably worse things, will go on after we leave, there is little point in continuing our fight, other than making sure our soldiers can exit safely.

    And 2) Saddam was every bit as bad a guy to his people and his region as his most fervent enemies said he was. He was truly evil. His bellicosity led to approximately 875,000 dead in the Iran-Iraq War; his usage of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians killed thousands of innocents; he brutalized and massacred the marsh Arabs of the Basra region; he launched the brutal invasion of Kuwait, which forced the subsequent Gulf War; and for 30+ years he and his fellow Ba’athists terrorized the vast majority of Iraqis.

  39. Rich Rifkin

    “Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple.”

    I said it was, lady.

    “Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed.”

    Where does this term ‘talking-point’ come from? I don’t even know where to look for these, let alone employ them.

    “If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.”

    Wow, I seem to have really got under the skin of this lady.

    Apparently, she seems incapable of understanding that two things can be true at the same time.

    1) The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. We never should have started this war. It has harmed our country, harmed many of our soldiers and made it far more difficult to garner support in other areas where we are needed in the world (such as in The Sudan). Even though bad things, probably worse things, will go on after we leave, there is little point in continuing our fight, other than making sure our soldiers can exit safely.

    And 2) Saddam was every bit as bad a guy to his people and his region as his most fervent enemies said he was. He was truly evil. His bellicosity led to approximately 875,000 dead in the Iran-Iraq War; his usage of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians killed thousands of innocents; he brutalized and massacred the marsh Arabs of the Basra region; he launched the brutal invasion of Kuwait, which forced the subsequent Gulf War; and for 30+ years he and his fellow Ba’athists terrorized the vast majority of Iraqis.

  40. Rich Rifkin

    “Look, Richy, the invasion of Iraq was wrong, plain and simple.”

    I said it was, lady.

    “Don’t give the (again) right-wing talking point about all the people Saddam tortured or killed.”

    Where does this term ‘talking-point’ come from? I don’t even know where to look for these, let alone employ them.

    “If we used that as a basis to invade a country, we’d invade ourselves.”

    Wow, I seem to have really got under the skin of this lady.

    Apparently, she seems incapable of understanding that two things can be true at the same time.

    1) The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. We never should have started this war. It has harmed our country, harmed many of our soldiers and made it far more difficult to garner support in other areas where we are needed in the world (such as in The Sudan). Even though bad things, probably worse things, will go on after we leave, there is little point in continuing our fight, other than making sure our soldiers can exit safely.

    And 2) Saddam was every bit as bad a guy to his people and his region as his most fervent enemies said he was. He was truly evil. His bellicosity led to approximately 875,000 dead in the Iran-Iraq War; his usage of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians killed thousands of innocents; he brutalized and massacred the marsh Arabs of the Basra region; he launched the brutal invasion of Kuwait, which forced the subsequent Gulf War; and for 30+ years he and his fellow Ba’athists terrorized the vast majority of Iraqis.

  41. Anonymous

    Only those people living in extremely liberal and narrow minded places like Davis and San Francisco would consider Rifkin to be a conservative. If you think rifkin is conservative, then you are a long way from understanding the vast majority of people in this country.

  42. Anonymous

    Only those people living in extremely liberal and narrow minded places like Davis and San Francisco would consider Rifkin to be a conservative. If you think rifkin is conservative, then you are a long way from understanding the vast majority of people in this country.

  43. Anonymous

    Only those people living in extremely liberal and narrow minded places like Davis and San Francisco would consider Rifkin to be a conservative. If you think rifkin is conservative, then you are a long way from understanding the vast majority of people in this country.

  44. Anonymous

    Only those people living in extremely liberal and narrow minded places like Davis and San Francisco would consider Rifkin to be a conservative. If you think rifkin is conservative, then you are a long way from understanding the vast majority of people in this country.

  45. Richard

    actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit

    oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US

    unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed

    and, on top of everything else, Chavez doesn’t run his own Guantanano off shore, and doesn’t manufacture phony reasons to invade other countries, as we did in Iraq, killing untold numbers in the process, doesn’t have his troops brutally policing an occupation of that country, again, in this instance, Iraq, and isn’t supplying weapons to all factions of that country (as we are doing with Sunni, Shia and Kurds), while simultaneously saying that we have to stay there to prevent a civil war

    oops, sorry Rich, too bad that the facts in this case actually do justify blaming the US

    –Richard Estes

  46. Richard

    actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit

    oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US

    unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed

    and, on top of everything else, Chavez doesn’t run his own Guantanano off shore, and doesn’t manufacture phony reasons to invade other countries, as we did in Iraq, killing untold numbers in the process, doesn’t have his troops brutally policing an occupation of that country, again, in this instance, Iraq, and isn’t supplying weapons to all factions of that country (as we are doing with Sunni, Shia and Kurds), while simultaneously saying that we have to stay there to prevent a civil war

    oops, sorry Rich, too bad that the facts in this case actually do justify blaming the US

    –Richard Estes

  47. Richard

    actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit

    oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US

    unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed

    and, on top of everything else, Chavez doesn’t run his own Guantanano off shore, and doesn’t manufacture phony reasons to invade other countries, as we did in Iraq, killing untold numbers in the process, doesn’t have his troops brutally policing an occupation of that country, again, in this instance, Iraq, and isn’t supplying weapons to all factions of that country (as we are doing with Sunni, Shia and Kurds), while simultaneously saying that we have to stay there to prevent a civil war

    oops, sorry Rich, too bad that the facts in this case actually do justify blaming the US

    –Richard Estes

  48. Richard

    actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit

    oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US

    unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed

    and, on top of everything else, Chavez doesn’t run his own Guantanano off shore, and doesn’t manufacture phony reasons to invade other countries, as we did in Iraq, killing untold numbers in the process, doesn’t have his troops brutally policing an occupation of that country, again, in this instance, Iraq, and isn’t supplying weapons to all factions of that country (as we are doing with Sunni, Shia and Kurds), while simultaneously saying that we have to stay there to prevent a civil war

    oops, sorry Rich, too bad that the facts in this case actually do justify blaming the US

    –Richard Estes

  49. Don Shor

    Very nice commentary, DPD. Thank you.

    There is, of course, nothing new about political factions co-opting the mantle of patriotism. “Waving the bloody shirt” goes back to the post-Civil War era. And my father described to us the imposition of the loyalty oath when he was in academia:

    As passed by the Regents, April 12, 1950

    “Having taken the constitutional oath of the office required by the State of California, I hereby formally acknowledge my acceptance of the position and salary named, and also state that I am not a member of the Communist Party or any other organization which advocates the overthrow of the Government by force or violence, and that I have no commitments in conflict with my responsibilities with respect to impartial scholarship and free pursuit of truth. I understand that the foregoing statement is a condition of my employment and a consideration of payment of my salary.”

    Having experienced the antiwar protests against the Vietnam War, I will say that the antiwar movement today has been notable for the respectful and civil tone. Support and concern for the welfare of the troops is often mentioned. It is a shame that it took so long for the general media to pick up on the stories about Walter Reed that had been covered in the Military Times, but the outrage was bipartisan and heads rolled. Now we’ll see if long term changes in the veterans’ medical system really occur.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”
    Rich, I read this entirely differently than you did. This war has killed over 3500, and ‘maimed’ over 26,000, American soldiers. The comment has nothing to do with the casualties inflicted on Iraqis by other Iraqis, Al Qaeda, us, or anyone else. Your point about Saddam Hussein is, of course, accurate. And it is worth noting that Al Qaeda has been vicious enough to drive some of our former enemies there into alliance with our troops–as in Anbar province.

    Rifkin: “…my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.”
    Yep. His suspension of habeas corpus was probably impeachable. It would have been useful if he had been impeached for it, as it would have set a standard for presidential behavior. As it is, impeachment has been so mis-used that we have almost no broadly accepted basis for what might really constitute ‘impeachable’.

    I don’t consider Rich to be a conservative, at least not as defined by the contemporary Republican party. And I still like Harry Belafonte, but I do wish he’d stick to singing.

  50. Don Shor

    Very nice commentary, DPD. Thank you.

    There is, of course, nothing new about political factions co-opting the mantle of patriotism. “Waving the bloody shirt” goes back to the post-Civil War era. And my father described to us the imposition of the loyalty oath when he was in academia:

    As passed by the Regents, April 12, 1950

    “Having taken the constitutional oath of the office required by the State of California, I hereby formally acknowledge my acceptance of the position and salary named, and also state that I am not a member of the Communist Party or any other organization which advocates the overthrow of the Government by force or violence, and that I have no commitments in conflict with my responsibilities with respect to impartial scholarship and free pursuit of truth. I understand that the foregoing statement is a condition of my employment and a consideration of payment of my salary.”

    Having experienced the antiwar protests against the Vietnam War, I will say that the antiwar movement today has been notable for the respectful and civil tone. Support and concern for the welfare of the troops is often mentioned. It is a shame that it took so long for the general media to pick up on the stories about Walter Reed that had been covered in the Military Times, but the outrage was bipartisan and heads rolled. Now we’ll see if long term changes in the veterans’ medical system really occur.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”
    Rich, I read this entirely differently than you did. This war has killed over 3500, and ‘maimed’ over 26,000, American soldiers. The comment has nothing to do with the casualties inflicted on Iraqis by other Iraqis, Al Qaeda, us, or anyone else. Your point about Saddam Hussein is, of course, accurate. And it is worth noting that Al Qaeda has been vicious enough to drive some of our former enemies there into alliance with our troops–as in Anbar province.

    Rifkin: “…my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.”
    Yep. His suspension of habeas corpus was probably impeachable. It would have been useful if he had been impeached for it, as it would have set a standard for presidential behavior. As it is, impeachment has been so mis-used that we have almost no broadly accepted basis for what might really constitute ‘impeachable’.

    I don’t consider Rich to be a conservative, at least not as defined by the contemporary Republican party. And I still like Harry Belafonte, but I do wish he’d stick to singing.

  51. Don Shor

    Very nice commentary, DPD. Thank you.

    There is, of course, nothing new about political factions co-opting the mantle of patriotism. “Waving the bloody shirt” goes back to the post-Civil War era. And my father described to us the imposition of the loyalty oath when he was in academia:

    As passed by the Regents, April 12, 1950

    “Having taken the constitutional oath of the office required by the State of California, I hereby formally acknowledge my acceptance of the position and salary named, and also state that I am not a member of the Communist Party or any other organization which advocates the overthrow of the Government by force or violence, and that I have no commitments in conflict with my responsibilities with respect to impartial scholarship and free pursuit of truth. I understand that the foregoing statement is a condition of my employment and a consideration of payment of my salary.”

    Having experienced the antiwar protests against the Vietnam War, I will say that the antiwar movement today has been notable for the respectful and civil tone. Support and concern for the welfare of the troops is often mentioned. It is a shame that it took so long for the general media to pick up on the stories about Walter Reed that had been covered in the Military Times, but the outrage was bipartisan and heads rolled. Now we’ll see if long term changes in the veterans’ medical system really occur.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”
    Rich, I read this entirely differently than you did. This war has killed over 3500, and ‘maimed’ over 26,000, American soldiers. The comment has nothing to do with the casualties inflicted on Iraqis by other Iraqis, Al Qaeda, us, or anyone else. Your point about Saddam Hussein is, of course, accurate. And it is worth noting that Al Qaeda has been vicious enough to drive some of our former enemies there into alliance with our troops–as in Anbar province.

    Rifkin: “…my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.”
    Yep. His suspension of habeas corpus was probably impeachable. It would have been useful if he had been impeached for it, as it would have set a standard for presidential behavior. As it is, impeachment has been so mis-used that we have almost no broadly accepted basis for what might really constitute ‘impeachable’.

    I don’t consider Rich to be a conservative, at least not as defined by the contemporary Republican party. And I still like Harry Belafonte, but I do wish he’d stick to singing.

  52. Don Shor

    Very nice commentary, DPD. Thank you.

    There is, of course, nothing new about political factions co-opting the mantle of patriotism. “Waving the bloody shirt” goes back to the post-Civil War era. And my father described to us the imposition of the loyalty oath when he was in academia:

    As passed by the Regents, April 12, 1950

    “Having taken the constitutional oath of the office required by the State of California, I hereby formally acknowledge my acceptance of the position and salary named, and also state that I am not a member of the Communist Party or any other organization which advocates the overthrow of the Government by force or violence, and that I have no commitments in conflict with my responsibilities with respect to impartial scholarship and free pursuit of truth. I understand that the foregoing statement is a condition of my employment and a consideration of payment of my salary.”

    Having experienced the antiwar protests against the Vietnam War, I will say that the antiwar movement today has been notable for the respectful and civil tone. Support and concern for the welfare of the troops is often mentioned. It is a shame that it took so long for the general media to pick up on the stories about Walter Reed that had been covered in the Military Times, but the outrage was bipartisan and heads rolled. Now we’ll see if long term changes in the veterans’ medical system really occur.

    “One does not support our troops by supporting a war that is killing and maiming them in vast numbers.”
    Rich, I read this entirely differently than you did. This war has killed over 3500, and ‘maimed’ over 26,000, American soldiers. The comment has nothing to do with the casualties inflicted on Iraqis by other Iraqis, Al Qaeda, us, or anyone else. Your point about Saddam Hussein is, of course, accurate. And it is worth noting that Al Qaeda has been vicious enough to drive some of our former enemies there into alliance with our troops–as in Anbar province.

    Rifkin: “…my reading of history is that this is exactly what Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president, did.”
    Yep. His suspension of habeas corpus was probably impeachable. It would have been useful if he had been impeached for it, as it would have set a standard for presidential behavior. As it is, impeachment has been so mis-used that we have almost no broadly accepted basis for what might really constitute ‘impeachable’.

    I don’t consider Rich to be a conservative, at least not as defined by the contemporary Republican party. And I still like Harry Belafonte, but I do wish he’d stick to singing.

  53. Anonymous

    In some respects it seems that President Bush would have enjoyed ruling Germany during the 30’s and 40’s. There was too much blind loyalty to the governing party which led to unnecessary warfare, the elimination of citizen rights (internal spying activities), concentration camps (full of political prisoners not allowed due process) and a war against independent ideas. Independence was lost.SAH

  54. Anonymous

    In some respects it seems that President Bush would have enjoyed ruling Germany during the 30’s and 40’s. There was too much blind loyalty to the governing party which led to unnecessary warfare, the elimination of citizen rights (internal spying activities), concentration camps (full of political prisoners not allowed due process) and a war against independent ideas. Independence was lost.SAH

  55. Anonymous

    In some respects it seems that President Bush would have enjoyed ruling Germany during the 30’s and 40’s. There was too much blind loyalty to the governing party which led to unnecessary warfare, the elimination of citizen rights (internal spying activities), concentration camps (full of political prisoners not allowed due process) and a war against independent ideas. Independence was lost.SAH

  56. Anonymous

    In some respects it seems that President Bush would have enjoyed ruling Germany during the 30’s and 40’s. There was too much blind loyalty to the governing party which led to unnecessary warfare, the elimination of citizen rights (internal spying activities), concentration camps (full of political prisoners not allowed due process) and a war against independent ideas. Independence was lost.SAH

  57. Rich Rifkin

    Richard Estes writes:

    “actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit”

    That is probably true. Chavez is very likely quite popular in Venezuela for the very same reasons. He is not the first popular dictator/thug in world history. His redistributionist brand of socialism — he calls himself a “communist,” but he has not really established a Marxist-like political party — is similar to that of Mussolini’s in the 1920s. However, Mussolini did not have the great oil fortune of Hugo Chavez.

    This comes from the CIA’s World Factbook on the Venezuelan economy:

    “Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, more than 50% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP. … Fueled by higher oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP growth in 2004 and 2005 to approximately 18% and 11%, respectively. Economic growth in 2006 reached about 9%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has fueled a consumption boom – car sales in 2006 increased by around 70% – but has come at the cost of higher inflation.”

    Estes writes:

    “oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US.”

    FWIW, Hugo Chavez tried to seize power in his country in 1992 in a failed coup d’etat. The president at that time, though democratically elected, was very unpopular and ruling in an authoritarian manner. However, Chavez’s coup failed, and he was put in jail for two years.

    Estes writes: “unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed”

    That is actually similar to what happened when Chavez attempted his first coup.

    I guess it does not matter to Estes and other American supporters of Chavez that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have strongly condemned him. Nor does it matter that he has imprisoned his most vocal critics. And it likely doesn’t matter that after the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ Chavez traveled to Tehran to say that he ‘support(ed) him fully in all matters.’

  58. Rich Rifkin

    Richard Estes writes:

    “actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit”

    That is probably true. Chavez is very likely quite popular in Venezuela for the very same reasons. He is not the first popular dictator/thug in world history. His redistributionist brand of socialism — he calls himself a “communist,” but he has not really established a Marxist-like political party — is similar to that of Mussolini’s in the 1920s. However, Mussolini did not have the great oil fortune of Hugo Chavez.

    This comes from the CIA’s World Factbook on the Venezuelan economy:

    “Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, more than 50% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP. … Fueled by higher oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP growth in 2004 and 2005 to approximately 18% and 11%, respectively. Economic growth in 2006 reached about 9%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has fueled a consumption boom – car sales in 2006 increased by around 70% – but has come at the cost of higher inflation.”

    Estes writes:

    “oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US.”

    FWIW, Hugo Chavez tried to seize power in his country in 1992 in a failed coup d’etat. The president at that time, though democratically elected, was very unpopular and ruling in an authoritarian manner. However, Chavez’s coup failed, and he was put in jail for two years.

    Estes writes: “unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed”

    That is actually similar to what happened when Chavez attempted his first coup.

    I guess it does not matter to Estes and other American supporters of Chavez that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have strongly condemned him. Nor does it matter that he has imprisoned his most vocal critics. And it likely doesn’t matter that after the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ Chavez traveled to Tehran to say that he ‘support(ed) him fully in all matters.’

  59. Rich Rifkin

    Richard Estes writes:

    “actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit”

    That is probably true. Chavez is very likely quite popular in Venezuela for the very same reasons. He is not the first popular dictator/thug in world history. His redistributionist brand of socialism — he calls himself a “communist,” but he has not really established a Marxist-like political party — is similar to that of Mussolini’s in the 1920s. However, Mussolini did not have the great oil fortune of Hugo Chavez.

    This comes from the CIA’s World Factbook on the Venezuelan economy:

    “Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, more than 50% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP. … Fueled by higher oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP growth in 2004 and 2005 to approximately 18% and 11%, respectively. Economic growth in 2006 reached about 9%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has fueled a consumption boom – car sales in 2006 increased by around 70% – but has come at the cost of higher inflation.”

    Estes writes:

    “oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US.”

    FWIW, Hugo Chavez tried to seize power in his country in 1992 in a failed coup d’etat. The president at that time, though democratically elected, was very unpopular and ruling in an authoritarian manner. However, Chavez’s coup failed, and he was put in jail for two years.

    Estes writes: “unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed”

    That is actually similar to what happened when Chavez attempted his first coup.

    I guess it does not matter to Estes and other American supporters of Chavez that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have strongly condemned him. Nor does it matter that he has imprisoned his most vocal critics. And it likely doesn’t matter that after the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ Chavez traveled to Tehran to say that he ‘support(ed) him fully in all matters.’

  60. Rich Rifkin

    Richard Estes writes:

    “actually Chavez is popular on the left, because he took control of the country’s resources and began using them to address the country’s poverty, while simultaneously reducing the country’s foreign debt, increasing economic growth and building necessary infrastructure like affordable housing and mass transit”

    That is probably true. Chavez is very likely quite popular in Venezuela for the very same reasons. He is not the first popular dictator/thug in world history. His redistributionist brand of socialism — he calls himself a “communist,” but he has not really established a Marxist-like political party — is similar to that of Mussolini’s in the 1920s. However, Mussolini did not have the great oil fortune of Hugo Chavez.

    This comes from the CIA’s World Factbook on the Venezuelan economy:

    “Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, more than 50% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP. … Fueled by higher oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP growth in 2004 and 2005 to approximately 18% and 11%, respectively. Economic growth in 2006 reached about 9%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has fueled a consumption boom – car sales in 2006 increased by around 70% – but has come at the cost of higher inflation.”

    Estes writes:

    “oh, and he also survived a coup led by some members of the military and the business community in 2002, a coup that suspended the constitution and the legislature and installed a new government that was, of course, immediately recognized by the US, and only the US.”

    FWIW, Hugo Chavez tried to seize power in his country in 1992 in a failed coup d’etat. The president at that time, though democratically elected, was very unpopular and ruling in an authoritarian manner. However, Chavez’s coup failed, and he was put in jail for two years.

    Estes writes: “unfortunately, for the coup plotters and their allies in Washington, the people came out into the streets and mid-level officers refused to take orders from their superiors, and the coup collapsed”

    That is actually similar to what happened when Chavez attempted his first coup.

    I guess it does not matter to Estes and other American supporters of Chavez that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have strongly condemned him. Nor does it matter that he has imprisoned his most vocal critics. And it likely doesn’t matter that after the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ Chavez traveled to Tehran to say that he ‘support(ed) him fully in all matters.’

  61. Anonymous

    HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.

  62. Anonymous

    HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.

  63. Anonymous

    HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.

  64. Anonymous

    HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.

  65. Don Shor

    None of us would tolerate the kind of civil rights abuses that Hugo Chavez has implemented in Venezuela, and if it weren’t for the oil wealth he’d be just another tin-horn dictator with no influence whatsoever.

    …the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’

    My understanding is that is a mis-translation of what he said. There are plenty of reasons to think Ahmadinejad is loopy, but this particular charge is not precisely true. I’m pretty sure Juan Cole has addressed this on his blog, Informed Comment:
    http://www.juancole.com/

  66. Don Shor

    None of us would tolerate the kind of civil rights abuses that Hugo Chavez has implemented in Venezuela, and if it weren’t for the oil wealth he’d be just another tin-horn dictator with no influence whatsoever.

    …the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’

    My understanding is that is a mis-translation of what he said. There are plenty of reasons to think Ahmadinejad is loopy, but this particular charge is not precisely true. I’m pretty sure Juan Cole has addressed this on his blog, Informed Comment:
    http://www.juancole.com/

  67. Don Shor

    None of us would tolerate the kind of civil rights abuses that Hugo Chavez has implemented in Venezuela, and if it weren’t for the oil wealth he’d be just another tin-horn dictator with no influence whatsoever.

    …the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’

    My understanding is that is a mis-translation of what he said. There are plenty of reasons to think Ahmadinejad is loopy, but this particular charge is not precisely true. I’m pretty sure Juan Cole has addressed this on his blog, Informed Comment:
    http://www.juancole.com/

  68. Don Shor

    None of us would tolerate the kind of civil rights abuses that Hugo Chavez has implemented in Venezuela, and if it weren’t for the oil wealth he’d be just another tin-horn dictator with no influence whatsoever.

    …the president of Iran called for ‘wiping Israel off the map,’

    My understanding is that is a mis-translation of what he said. There are plenty of reasons to think Ahmadinejad is loopy, but this particular charge is not precisely true. I’m pretty sure Juan Cole has addressed this on his blog, Informed Comment:
    http://www.juancole.com/

  69. Anonymous

    A class revolution transfers only governing power from the powerful to the previously disenfranchised. Economic power and military power still remain,for a time,exclusively in the hands of those who were displaced(and their allies) who immediately attempt to launch a counter-revolution.This first step of a successful class revolution has little hope of surviving without initial “freedom” restrictions in the face of the inevitable counter-revolution. The true freedoms at this stage are from hunger, disease and exploitation.

  70. Anonymous

    A class revolution transfers only governing power from the powerful to the previously disenfranchised. Economic power and military power still remain,for a time,exclusively in the hands of those who were displaced(and their allies) who immediately attempt to launch a counter-revolution.This first step of a successful class revolution has little hope of surviving without initial “freedom” restrictions in the face of the inevitable counter-revolution. The true freedoms at this stage are from hunger, disease and exploitation.

  71. Anonymous

    A class revolution transfers only governing power from the powerful to the previously disenfranchised. Economic power and military power still remain,for a time,exclusively in the hands of those who were displaced(and their allies) who immediately attempt to launch a counter-revolution.This first step of a successful class revolution has little hope of surviving without initial “freedom” restrictions in the face of the inevitable counter-revolution. The true freedoms at this stage are from hunger, disease and exploitation.

  72. Anonymous

    A class revolution transfers only governing power from the powerful to the previously disenfranchised. Economic power and military power still remain,for a time,exclusively in the hands of those who were displaced(and their allies) who immediately attempt to launch a counter-revolution.This first step of a successful class revolution has little hope of surviving without initial “freedom” restrictions in the face of the inevitable counter-revolution. The true freedoms at this stage are from hunger, disease and exploitation.

  73. Che

    I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…perhaps a thriving socialist democracy 90 miles off our coast.

  74. Che

    I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…perhaps a thriving socialist democracy 90 miles off our coast.

  75. Che

    I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…perhaps a thriving socialist democracy 90 miles off our coast.

  76. Che

    I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…perhaps a thriving socialist democracy 90 miles off our coast.

  77. Rich Rifkin

    “I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…”

    Just for the record… Cuba has been able to trade more-less freely with every country on Earth (save the U.S. and one or two others) for the last 48 years. So this ‘strangulating embargo’ is mostly a fiction. Canada and Mexico, for example, have always had open trade with Cuba, the entire span of Castro’s dictatorship. As such, most of the failings of the Cuban economy — despite massive subsidies from Russia for 30 years — are due not to our policies* but to the dictator’s.

    * Let me clarify this somewhat. Our government’s policies have hurt the Cuban economy, but not really our embargo. That embargo has been mostly irrelevant. What we have done by interfering in the world sugar markets for 50 years has caused problems for all poor sugar-producing countries (save Brazil**). Our policies have created gluts in world sugar, lowering the price at times below the cost of production. Countries have done this in order to meet our quotas, which they use to export very expensive sugar into the United States (and Europe). The sole beneficiary of our market-interference strategy have been U.S. sugar growers (most of whom in Florida are Cuban ex-pats). Because Cuba is a major sugar producer and does not qualify for import licenses into the United States (or Europe), the non-market sugar quota system has hurt their economy.

    Nonetheless, Cuba’s economy has performed far more poorly due to its socialistic, non-market schemes. But in recent years, their economy has picked up, with a great expansion in the construction of hotels and other facilities to serve wealthy foreign tourists. They still are behind where they were in 1958, when Cuba was a popular tourist destination. But they could eclipse their old status if they continue to allow capitalists to build hotels and resorts, as they have been doing for a decade, now.

    ** Brazil has been able to absorb its excess sugar production since the early 1980s, when they began their system of using sugar cane ethanol in place of petroleum. That program was a huge failure for its first 15-20 years, as the ethanol was terribly expensive and it caused a lot of air pollution problems. However, since the massive rise in oil prices over the last 5 years, Brazil’s program looks pretty damn smart.

  78. Rich Rifkin

    “I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…”

    Just for the record… Cuba has been able to trade more-less freely with every country on Earth (save the U.S. and one or two others) for the last 48 years. So this ‘strangulating embargo’ is mostly a fiction. Canada and Mexico, for example, have always had open trade with Cuba, the entire span of Castro’s dictatorship. As such, most of the failings of the Cuban economy — despite massive subsidies from Russia for 30 years — are due not to our policies* but to the dictator’s.

    * Let me clarify this somewhat. Our government’s policies have hurt the Cuban economy, but not really our embargo. That embargo has been mostly irrelevant. What we have done by interfering in the world sugar markets for 50 years has caused problems for all poor sugar-producing countries (save Brazil**). Our policies have created gluts in world sugar, lowering the price at times below the cost of production. Countries have done this in order to meet our quotas, which they use to export very expensive sugar into the United States (and Europe). The sole beneficiary of our market-interference strategy have been U.S. sugar growers (most of whom in Florida are Cuban ex-pats). Because Cuba is a major sugar producer and does not qualify for import licenses into the United States (or Europe), the non-market sugar quota system has hurt their economy.

    Nonetheless, Cuba’s economy has performed far more poorly due to its socialistic, non-market schemes. But in recent years, their economy has picked up, with a great expansion in the construction of hotels and other facilities to serve wealthy foreign tourists. They still are behind where they were in 1958, when Cuba was a popular tourist destination. But they could eclipse their old status if they continue to allow capitalists to build hotels and resorts, as they have been doing for a decade, now.

    ** Brazil has been able to absorb its excess sugar production since the early 1980s, when they began their system of using sugar cane ethanol in place of petroleum. That program was a huge failure for its first 15-20 years, as the ethanol was terribly expensive and it caused a lot of air pollution problems. However, since the massive rise in oil prices over the last 5 years, Brazil’s program looks pretty damn smart.

  79. Rich Rifkin

    “I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…”

    Just for the record… Cuba has been able to trade more-less freely with every country on Earth (save the U.S. and one or two others) for the last 48 years. So this ‘strangulating embargo’ is mostly a fiction. Canada and Mexico, for example, have always had open trade with Cuba, the entire span of Castro’s dictatorship. As such, most of the failings of the Cuban economy — despite massive subsidies from Russia for 30 years — are due not to our policies* but to the dictator’s.

    * Let me clarify this somewhat. Our government’s policies have hurt the Cuban economy, but not really our embargo. That embargo has been mostly irrelevant. What we have done by interfering in the world sugar markets for 50 years has caused problems for all poor sugar-producing countries (save Brazil**). Our policies have created gluts in world sugar, lowering the price at times below the cost of production. Countries have done this in order to meet our quotas, which they use to export very expensive sugar into the United States (and Europe). The sole beneficiary of our market-interference strategy have been U.S. sugar growers (most of whom in Florida are Cuban ex-pats). Because Cuba is a major sugar producer and does not qualify for import licenses into the United States (or Europe), the non-market sugar quota system has hurt their economy.

    Nonetheless, Cuba’s economy has performed far more poorly due to its socialistic, non-market schemes. But in recent years, their economy has picked up, with a great expansion in the construction of hotels and other facilities to serve wealthy foreign tourists. They still are behind where they were in 1958, when Cuba was a popular tourist destination. But they could eclipse their old status if they continue to allow capitalists to build hotels and resorts, as they have been doing for a decade, now.

    ** Brazil has been able to absorb its excess sugar production since the early 1980s, when they began their system of using sugar cane ethanol in place of petroleum. That program was a huge failure for its first 15-20 years, as the ethanol was terribly expensive and it caused a lot of air pollution problems. However, since the massive rise in oil prices over the last 5 years, Brazil’s program looks pretty damn smart.

  80. Rich Rifkin

    “I wonder what Cuba would be like now if the US had “accepted” their revolution and had not imposed a strangulating embargo and supported violent counter-revolutionaries out of Miami for the past 50 years?…”

    Just for the record… Cuba has been able to trade more-less freely with every country on Earth (save the U.S. and one or two others) for the last 48 years. So this ‘strangulating embargo’ is mostly a fiction. Canada and Mexico, for example, have always had open trade with Cuba, the entire span of Castro’s dictatorship. As such, most of the failings of the Cuban economy — despite massive subsidies from Russia for 30 years — are due not to our policies* but to the dictator’s.

    * Let me clarify this somewhat. Our government’s policies have hurt the Cuban economy, but not really our embargo. That embargo has been mostly irrelevant. What we have done by interfering in the world sugar markets for 50 years has caused problems for all poor sugar-producing countries (save Brazil**). Our policies have created gluts in world sugar, lowering the price at times below the cost of production. Countries have done this in order to meet our quotas, which they use to export very expensive sugar into the United States (and Europe). The sole beneficiary of our market-interference strategy have been U.S. sugar growers (most of whom in Florida are Cuban ex-pats). Because Cuba is a major sugar producer and does not qualify for import licenses into the United States (or Europe), the non-market sugar quota system has hurt their economy.

    Nonetheless, Cuba’s economy has performed far more poorly due to its socialistic, non-market schemes. But in recent years, their economy has picked up, with a great expansion in the construction of hotels and other facilities to serve wealthy foreign tourists. They still are behind where they were in 1958, when Cuba was a popular tourist destination. But they could eclipse their old status if they continue to allow capitalists to build hotels and resorts, as they have been doing for a decade, now.

    ** Brazil has been able to absorb its excess sugar production since the early 1980s, when they began their system of using sugar cane ethanol in place of petroleum. That program was a huge failure for its first 15-20 years, as the ethanol was terribly expensive and it caused a lot of air pollution problems. However, since the massive rise in oil prices over the last 5 years, Brazil’s program looks pretty damn smart.

  81. davisite

    ++from Headlines, Democracy Now.
    http://www.democracynow.org

    ++UN Environment Head Backs Castro on Ethanol Warning
    The UN’s top environmental official has backed Cuban President Fidel Castro’s recent warnings that the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger. UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner spoke Wednesday in Havana.

    UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner: “What President Castro points to is something that for instance the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has also recently also pointed to: That there is significant potential and risk for competition between food production and production for a global biofuels markets. The latest scientific consensus is that we have 10 to 15 years to initiate the kinds of changes that will require fundamental transformations in our energy and transport economies.”

    Steiner went on to praise Cuba for solving its energy shortages without undermining a pledge to promote environmentally-friendly fuels. Steiner says Cuba has taken important steps towards reliance on wind and solar power.

  82. davisite

    ++from Headlines, Democracy Now.
    http://www.democracynow.org

    ++UN Environment Head Backs Castro on Ethanol Warning
    The UN’s top environmental official has backed Cuban President Fidel Castro’s recent warnings that the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger. UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner spoke Wednesday in Havana.

    UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner: “What President Castro points to is something that for instance the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has also recently also pointed to: That there is significant potential and risk for competition between food production and production for a global biofuels markets. The latest scientific consensus is that we have 10 to 15 years to initiate the kinds of changes that will require fundamental transformations in our energy and transport economies.”

    Steiner went on to praise Cuba for solving its energy shortages without undermining a pledge to promote environmentally-friendly fuels. Steiner says Cuba has taken important steps towards reliance on wind and solar power.

  83. davisite

    ++from Headlines, Democracy Now.
    http://www.democracynow.org

    ++UN Environment Head Backs Castro on Ethanol Warning
    The UN’s top environmental official has backed Cuban President Fidel Castro’s recent warnings that the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger. UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner spoke Wednesday in Havana.

    UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner: “What President Castro points to is something that for instance the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has also recently also pointed to: That there is significant potential and risk for competition between food production and production for a global biofuels markets. The latest scientific consensus is that we have 10 to 15 years to initiate the kinds of changes that will require fundamental transformations in our energy and transport economies.”

    Steiner went on to praise Cuba for solving its energy shortages without undermining a pledge to promote environmentally-friendly fuels. Steiner says Cuba has taken important steps towards reliance on wind and solar power.

  84. davisite

    ++from Headlines, Democracy Now.
    http://www.democracynow.org

    ++UN Environment Head Backs Castro on Ethanol Warning
    The UN’s top environmental official has backed Cuban President Fidel Castro’s recent warnings that the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger. UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner spoke Wednesday in Havana.

    UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner: “What President Castro points to is something that for instance the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has also recently also pointed to: That there is significant potential and risk for competition between food production and production for a global biofuels markets. The latest scientific consensus is that we have 10 to 15 years to initiate the kinds of changes that will require fundamental transformations in our energy and transport economies.”

    Steiner went on to praise Cuba for solving its energy shortages without undermining a pledge to promote environmentally-friendly fuels. Steiner says Cuba has taken important steps towards reliance on wind and solar power.

  85. Rich Rifkin

    “the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger.”

    I strongly agree with this statement. In fact, I suspect anyone who shops for food and has in the last year seen prices inflate for just about everything, but particularly for dairy, knows that this is right. The environmentally questionable, maybe even negative, substitution of corn ethanol for petrol is driving the price of corn and products (like dairy and meats or tortillas) which use corn as an input up very high.

    For an ethanol product, we would probably be much better off going to cellulosic fibers, such as switchgrass, as Bush himself said in a State of the Union speech a couple of years ago. It is apparently much more energy efficient, and products like switchgrass, which are grown on poorer soils, won’t have the effect of driving food prices up.

  86. Rich Rifkin

    “the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger.”

    I strongly agree with this statement. In fact, I suspect anyone who shops for food and has in the last year seen prices inflate for just about everything, but particularly for dairy, knows that this is right. The environmentally questionable, maybe even negative, substitution of corn ethanol for petrol is driving the price of corn and products (like dairy and meats or tortillas) which use corn as an input up very high.

    For an ethanol product, we would probably be much better off going to cellulosic fibers, such as switchgrass, as Bush himself said in a State of the Union speech a couple of years ago. It is apparently much more energy efficient, and products like switchgrass, which are grown on poorer soils, won’t have the effect of driving food prices up.

  87. Rich Rifkin

    “the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger.”

    I strongly agree with this statement. In fact, I suspect anyone who shops for food and has in the last year seen prices inflate for just about everything, but particularly for dairy, knows that this is right. The environmentally questionable, maybe even negative, substitution of corn ethanol for petrol is driving the price of corn and products (like dairy and meats or tortillas) which use corn as an input up very high.

    For an ethanol product, we would probably be much better off going to cellulosic fibers, such as switchgrass, as Bush himself said in a State of the Union speech a couple of years ago. It is apparently much more energy efficient, and products like switchgrass, which are grown on poorer soils, won’t have the effect of driving food prices up.

  88. Rich Rifkin

    “the US-backed reliance on ethanol production will increase food prices and global hunger.”

    I strongly agree with this statement. In fact, I suspect anyone who shops for food and has in the last year seen prices inflate for just about everything, but particularly for dairy, knows that this is right. The environmentally questionable, maybe even negative, substitution of corn ethanol for petrol is driving the price of corn and products (like dairy and meats or tortillas) which use corn as an input up very high.

    For an ethanol product, we would probably be much better off going to cellulosic fibers, such as switchgrass, as Bush himself said in a State of the Union speech a couple of years ago. It is apparently much more energy efficient, and products like switchgrass, which are grown on poorer soils, won’t have the effect of driving food prices up.

  89. Anonymous

    “HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.”

    Inquiring minds want to know:
    when is Rich “The Mighty” Rifkin declaring his candidacy for president?

  90. Anonymous

    “HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.”

    Inquiring minds want to know:
    when is Rich “The Mighty” Rifkin declaring his candidacy for president?

  91. Anonymous

    “HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.”

    Inquiring minds want to know:
    when is Rich “The Mighty” Rifkin declaring his candidacy for president?

  92. Anonymous

    “HELP!! Don’t encourage HIM! Once a month in The Enterprise is more than enough for his pontifications. It is neither Republican or Democrat as he declares but rather springs from some DARKER place.”

    Inquiring minds want to know:
    when is Rich “The Mighty” Rifkin declaring his candidacy for president?

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