Tag Archives: Liberals

Venezuela, The Neocons are Back!

Yes, the neocons are back, and as matter of fact they were never far away from power through think-tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. Monthly Review Online, 02/19/19.

Elliott Abrams 2Elliott Abrams, a controversial neoconservative figure who was entangled in the Iran-Contra affair, has been named as a Trump administration special envoy overseeing policy toward Venezuela, which has been rocked by a leadership crisis.  Politico, 01/25/19.

The United States has a clear objective in Venezuela: regime change and the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. Yet sanctions, international diplomatic isolation, and internal pressure have failed to deliver a breakthrough. Minds are turning to military intervention. U.S. President Donald Trump has said that “all options are on the table.  Foreign Affairs, 03/19/19.

Iterations of Interventionists

Neoconservatives, or neocons, are the hawkish rightwing in the political spectrum. They are fond of regime change, spreading democracy, defending our interest abroad, and protecting oil.

This is not to say that U.S. interventionism or empire building started with the rise of the neocons in the 1960s. Far from it. Neocons just took over where previous iterations of interventionists left off.

Neocons are the liberal internationalists who endeavored to impose U.S. ideals where they saw such ideals lacking. They are the remnants of the Cold War. They are the revolutionaries of the 1960s who became disenchanted with what the liberalism of the day came to mean: hippies and the anti-war protests. Eventually they migrated to a solid hawkish camp and embraced regime change in whatever form.

Certainly there are those who wish to make fine distinctions between iterations of interventionists. But black ops, development aid, building civil society, hard power, and military force all aim toward the same objective – takeover of a sovereign nation.

The U.S., of course, is not alone in its quest for hegemony. Cultural, economic, and military conquest has existed since the beginning of time. Today, as always, superpowers vie with one another as to who can dominate the most people. But here we focus on Venezuela and the U.S. track record in Latin America. Will U.S. taxpayers be once again on the hook for another questionably imperative neocon adventure?

U.S. Intervention in Latin America

Before the Middle East was all the news, there was Latin America. Now, after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, the U.S. is pivoting towards Venezuela. A look at the U.S. track record in Latin America since the 1960s would give us a rough idea of how useful an intervention in Venezuela would be.

* Fidel Castro’s economic and military alliance with the Soviet Union displeased President John F. Kennedy. In 1961 the U.S. backed an invasion of Cuba intended to overthrow Castro. The “Bay of Pigs Invasion” failed and Castro continued in power.

* When President of Brazil Janio Quadros resigned in 1961 after seven months in office, his vice president Joao Goulart assumed the presidency over the objections of the military, who feared Goulart’s left-leaning tendencies. In 1964 Goulart was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup, which installed a military authoritarian government that lasted until the 1980s.

* Before and after the election of Marxist President Salvador Allende of Chile, the CIA worked diligently first to prevent Allende from getting elected and then to promote a coup to remove him from office. The CIA succeeded when in 1973 troops led by General Augusto Pinochet overthrew Allende. Pinochet ruled as president of a repressive authoritarian state for the next 17 years.

* In 1979 left-leaning Sandinistas took power in Nicaragua, and were not interested in U.S. influence. The Ronald Reagan administration mounted a covert operation whereby the U.S. would sell arms to Iran, so Iran could continue its war with Iraq, and the money generated from the arms sale would finance the Contras opposition to the Sandinistas. The Sandinistas remained in power for the next decade, while the Regan administration suffered accusations of illegal foreign operations.

* Manuel Noriega was a long-standing CIA informer who became President of Panama. In 1989, the U.S. invaded Panama and arrested Noriega. U.S. President George H.W. Bush cited the need to safeguard the lives of U.S. citizens living in Panama, defend democracy and human rights, combat drug trafficking, and protect the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaties. This incident marked the first time the U.S. arrested, tried and convicted the leader of a sovereign nation.

* Haiti’s duly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed in 1991 by a military coup headed by Lieutenant-General Raoul Cédras. Aristide appealed to the Organization of American States and the United Nation’s Security Council. After many attempts at negotiation with Cedras, in 1994 the U.N. Security Council authorized member states to form a multinational force to use all necessary means to restore Aristide to his post as President of Haiti. A U.S.-led invasion of Haiti did just that. In 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed again. U.N. Missions are still in Haiti.

* Starting in the 1890s U.S.-based banana companies established vast plantations in Honduras, transforming the country into the quintessential Banana Republic. Militarization as a result of the U.S. using Honduras as a base to fight the Nicaraguan Sandinistas added to the country’s problems. In 2005 left-leaning Manuel Zelaya was elected President of Honduras. He attempted liberal reforms and relations with Cuba, and was overthrown by a military coup in 2009, in which the U.S. remained tacit. Today, the dire situation in Honduras contributes to thousands of asylum seekers to flood U.S. borders.

It’s not surprising then that the rising and pervasive violence and deep economic insecurity in Honduras and the region has resulted in unprecedented numbers of refugees and migrants fleeing to seek safety and security. The awful irony is that many must seek that shelter in a country that has in no small part contributed over the course of decades to the rapidly deteriorating conditions from which they are fleeing – and that is overtly unwelcoming and hostile.  Eight Years After the Coup in Honduras The Struggle Continues, Center for Constitutional Rights, 06/28/17

So, Does Intervention Work?

From the U.S. track record in Latin America (and the Middle East), one might question the long term effects of military intervention. Thousands suffered at the hands of right-wing autocrats like Augusto Pinochet because such leaders were deemed by the U.S. preferable to left-leaning reformers. Thousands suffer today in Haiti, Honduras, and Venezuela. Relatively stable nations like Brazil and Panama are plagued by extreme inequalities of opportunity.

Maybe the Donald Trump Administration should engage in a reality check before intervening in Venezuela.

Jeff Adachi – A True Believer

San Francisco lost a true believer on February 22, Jeff Adachi. The City’s Public Defender died unexpectedly at 59. His professional life was dedicated to defending whoever needed defending, no matter what. To that end, he did not observe political niceties, and preferred instead to go after the likes of powerful unions and their potentially unsustainable public pensions, City officials that did not hold police accountable for unwarranted shootings, and Board of Supervisor members who wavered on funding to defend the undocumented when necessary.

Perhaps a less publicized side of Adachi were his California Bar exam guides and books, and the time he spent selflessly preparing both traditional and non-traditional students for the grueling California Bar exam. His dedication to ensuring that everyone had the tools to succeed on a notoriously difficult test was unwavering; so much so that many California lawyers often credit Adachi for being the sole reason they passed the Bar.

Jeff Adachi took seriously one of the basic principles of this republic – Justice is blind. Justice should not look to whether your wallet is full, your skin is of a certain color, or your papers are in order. Justice’s only job is to review the case of any accused and determine what needs to be done under the law.

Adachi’s Public Defender’s Office was not the usual staid lawyer’s den. It was a place where questions were raised, public officials were called into account, and the rich or powerful got the same treatment as the downtrodden.

We will see who takes Adachi’s place. Matt Gonzalez, Deputy Public Defender, an equally true believer who is not know for running away from a good fight? Let’s hope that the Chief Public Defender that follows Jeff Adachi truly defends and does not merely appease the powerful. Let’s hope he or she is as dedicated in providing a level playing field.

Adachi protest 2
Jeff Adachi leads a “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” rally in San Francisco in 2014

Progressive Cities: We Have a Problem

San Francisco is one of California’s jewel cities.  Prized not only for its magnificent views, but also for its progressive populace.  There is not a tax the City does not love, or a compassionate deed that is left undone.

Yet, the City’s vistas, cable cars, resident technology giants, multi-million dollar mansions, as well as its busybody Board of Supervisors have taken a back seat in the City’s consciousness to its streets littered with human feces, discarded needles, and homeless misery. San Francisco has 7,499 unsheltered and sheltered individuals, in the streets or in temporary living arrangements. This number is not surprising, since one-quarter of homeless people in the United States live in California, even though Californians make up only 12% of the U.S. population.

Once Far Back In Time and Now

CableCarTurstile

San Francisco was once called “The City That Knows How,” where streets were clean and safe. Those were the days before the immense tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, before liberals took over City Hall, before developers – for profit or not – joined forces with corporate think tanks to redraw the City, before environmentalists hit upon the gold mine of climate change, and before the City’s Department of Public Works had a Poop Patrol or the City’s Department of Health had free injection needles.

Now Downtown, and increasingly the neighborhoods, is a place where one walks gingerly in order not to accidentally step of human faces or on discarded needles. In spite of the talk about placing children’s playgrounds in every neighborhood, parents are cautious least their children are inadvertently injured by drug paraphernalia on the ground.

Why the Descent Into Hades?

Unfortunately, no one agrees on the cause of the City’s descent; therefore, remedies are irrelevant and ineffective. The laundry list of culprits is varied:

* High-income technology workers that bid up housing costs and displace lower-income residents.

* Out-of-towners attracted by relatively balmy weather that allow for outdoor living, generous public assistance, a permissive population, and free injection needles.

* A welfare-homeless cabal that profits from the homeless trade. Think social workers, non-profit organizations, shelter operators, food banks.

* Legislators that seem to work to attract and keep the homeless. For example, the City is working hard to establish “safe-injection sites,” where homeless addicts can shoot up under the supervision of medical professionals. Another example, the City’s Mayor has proposed legislation that would forcefully place homeless individuals who cannot take care of themselves into conservatorships administered by the City’s Public Guardian. Once plugged into a conservatorship, no legal escape from the City is possible without a Court order.

From the Experts

The health implications of the mounting trash are stark. Discarded needles may be contaminated with diseases like Hepatitis B and C and HIV, infectious disease scientist Lee Riley told NBC Bay Area back in February. Dried feces, he added, can release viruses into the air … Riley, a University of California, Berkeley scientist who has researched the effects of extreme poverty on the health of some of the poorest groups in the world, said the contamination in San Francisco was “much greater than [in] communities in Brazil or Kenya or India.”  Newsweek 08/02/18

Mohammed Nuru, the director of San Francisco Public Works, told Boston’s NPR-affiliated WBUR station the waste is tied to the San Francisco’s high rates of homelessness. People often live in tents with little access to sanitation facilities or trash collection, he said … “Our city has been a magnet for providing services, and you know a large number of the people we see on our streets are not necessarily from San Francisco,” Nuru told WBUR. “They’re coming from surrounding counties and in some cases even from across state lines.”  Newsweek 08/02/18

San Francisco has a ‘Poop Patrol’ to deal with its feces problem, and workers make more than $184,000 a year in salary and benefits.  Business Insider 08/24/18

The main reason that so many people in San Francisco, and other cities like Los Angeles, are living on the streets is that the cost of housing over the past two decades has vastly exceeded the amount of income that people earn making minimum-wage jobs or bring in from modest pensions, disability, or welfare … Before Reagan took office and destroyed the American safety net, and San Francisco decided to be the West Coast Manhattan, you could live on SSI or a low-wage job and still pay rent in this town. When that changed, people who were formerly housed became homeless.  San Francisco Tenants Union 06/07/18

Bad and Beautiful

As one approaches the City for the first time as a tourist, a convention attendee, or a prospective resident, one might notice two breathtakingly beautiful bridges, as well as an ugly as sin structure visible for miles from all parts of the City. The dichotomy is made readily clear.

Loss of Liberty and Who is to Blame

Here is an article worth reading:

The State of the Union: These Are Dangerous Times, and the Government Is To Blame, by John W. Whitehead, published on the Rutherford Institute website on February 4, 2019.

The article is worth reading, especially if you still believe all is well with our nation. Sure, the economy looks good at present, we can still vote for candidates and laws of our choice, we still move relatively freely within our nation and in and out of our nation. However, there are areas of concern. The article in question lists a few of these concerns, such as,

* The tendency to consider all citizens suspect – guilty until proven innocent.

* Invasive strip searches, forceful drawing of blood, intimate probes.

* Militarization of our city police.

* A constitutional right to bear arms that applies to government officials only.

* Spying by government and commerce into private lives of citizens.

* Courts more interested in advancing government’s agenda than seeking justice.

The concerns are serious and the events listed above real. However, is the government to blame, as the title of the article indicates? The subtitle of the website on which the article appears is “It’s our job to make the government play by the rules of the constitution.”

That indeed is the job not only of The Rutherford Institute but of every voter and resident of this nation. If we the people choose to vote for candidates and laws that place security above liberty, we are to blame. If we obediently submit to walking without our shoes on airport floors, we are to blame. If we aid the surveillance state by choosing all manner of “smart” gadgets, we are to blame.

The list of sins we commit against ourselves by far outweigh those committed by government against us.  Government robs our liberties by our own consent.

Democracy - CopyAlexis de Tocqueville signaled how a nation descends into soft despotism in his book Democracy in America.  At the end of the devolution are a childlike populace and a “tutelary” government.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild …

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805-1859, Democracy in America

A Government by Tweets and Marches

We have a government by Tweets and marches; which is fine, since the right to Tweet and march is absolutely guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It says right there in Amendment I,

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.

Marches have brought about profound changes to our nation. Suffragette marches forced in 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. The Vietnam War protests were instrumental in ending in 1975 the U.S. “quagmire.” Tweets are a principal arena in which the political and cultural battles for the heart and soul of voters take place – the Tweet platform is free, accessible, and effective.

Just Vote No is wondering if any such profound changes will result from this year’s (2019) Tweets and marches. Let’s arbitrarily look at one particular march coming up this month, the Blexit Rally in Los Angeles on January 20.

Change vs. Profound Change

Candace Owens

The leader of the Blexit Rally is Candace Owens, originally a liberal, who morphed into a conservative in 2017. She is currently Communications Director of Turning Point, a student organization established in 2012 to “promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”

The Blexit announcement says that, “The black community will no longer be patronized; there is no virtue in victimhood and we should no longer buy into the myth that we are somehow separate from the American Dream.”

Blexit, as well as Owens’ current mission, can be viewed on two levels: level 1 – bring voters into the Republican Party, and level 2 – encourage Black Americans to look forwards, not backwards. Level 1 is the kind of party-growing effort practiced by every political party. But level 2 could eventually fall into the category of profound change, change that could lead people to abandon what Owens calls “the plantation.” The plantation is a state of mind, not a physical place.

One important caveat, though, is that the point Just Vote No is making with this article is not Republicans good/Democrats bad. The point is to emphasize the harmful results of any, repeat any, politically-created mantra that aims to indoctrinate rather than enlighten, that aims to restrict thought rather than encourage open discussion, and that aims to keep people trapped in dependence.

The Owens Message

There are many articles on the Internet about Candace Owens. However, the best way to understand her message is to listen to what she has to say first hand. Here are a couple of YouTube links:

In her video blog How to Escape the Democrat Plantation, Owens provided some background information on who were the Klansmen, the segregationists, the ones that set the dogs on the civil rights marchers – their political identities forgotten in favor of remembering forever Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society.

At an American Experiment meeging in Minnesota, Owens discussed the breakup of the American family encouraged by the Great Society and the poor results such event entailed, she mentioned that politics flows from culture not the other way around, and she talked about informed individualism as defense against being trapped into a controlled group or being imbued with a culture of victimhood.

The Liberal Culture

Today, especially in progressive enclaves, culture is dominated by supporters of a Great Society type of world. It all starts with indoctrination in government schools, it continues with the profitable divide-and-conquer drumbeat emanating from the media, and it is perpetrated by legislators at all levels of government who pass laws that curb personal initiative in the name of helping an underclass (the poor) that they themselves helped create.

If Candace Owens succeeds in helping the nation to move away from such a culture, we will all benefit.  However, crucial benefit will come to those who at present find themselves trapped in a politically-created plantation.

Loving The Border Wall – In Spite of Frost

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”

Mending Wall by Robert Frost is often quoted in disapproval of walls that separate people. It would not be surprising if that poem helped topple the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War.

“The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made”

We build walls when we want to keep entities out or keep them in – even when we know walls on their own do not work for such purposes. Walls slow unwanted entry or egress, provide places for “checkpoints,” and act as powerful symbols of regime sovereignty. It is possible to abhor force – sometimes deadly force – inherent at checkpoints, while insisting on preserving regime sovereignty.  It is possible to dislike regime sovereignty while needing to protest against some aspect of the status quo.

Thus, according to the GoFundMe website, as of Thursday, December 20, 2018, 5:47 pm,  151,413 individuals have donated $9,189,073 to a GoFundMe campaign that started 3 days ago by a triple-amputee war veteran to fund a U.S./Mexico border wall with private donations.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out”

There are no doubt an infinite number of reasons why 151,413 individuals would donate nearly $10 million dollars to build a border wall. Among those reasons might be the following:

* The rise of regional “governments” at various levels of jurisdictions, led by unelected officials perceived as responding more readily to the United Nations than to residents – witness the current Yellow Vest protests in France – is not universally welcomed. A border wall is a symbol of sovereignty. Donating to build a border wall might be an expression of support for that symbol.

* Calls for open borders that do not take into account economic consequences, inefficient rules regarding asylum seekers, and refusal of legislators to craft workable bipartisan immigration rules are situations displeasing to some. The “Cliftivism” offered by this GoFundMe campaign is a relatively painless call attention to these situations.

* Populous left-leaning states like California and New York have succeeded in establishing a national narrative that Donald Trump is an unwanted President insisting on an unwanted border wall. A substantial volume of voluntary donations to build such a wall would place that narrative in question.

“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” – Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

Trump Wall Go Fund Me 2

If you are a Trump supporter, or if you are not a Trump supporter but fall into one or more of the categories listed above, you might want to consider the campaign.

Fund the Trump Wall GoFundMe Campaign.
https://www.gofundme.com/TheTrumpWall


Can a Republican win in San Francisco?

John Dennis, a Republican, is running for Supervisor in San Francisco’s Supervisorial District 2.  In case there is anyone out there who does not know that San Francisco is solid Democrat, and even leaning Republican is considered cause for alarm, we are here to remind them.  However, Dennis has not only the backing of the local Republican Party, but also that of Libertarian/libertarians.  As proof of Dennis liberty credentials, we note that members of the San Francisco Libertarian Party (Big L — a real political party) are campaigning for him.  More on Dennis