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Tragic Anniversaries

This is the third anniversary of the tragic U.S. invasion of Iraq. I think the very best reporting on this sad subject is currently coming from the greatly under-appreciated Michael Ware of Time magazine. No single reporter has been more outspoken, more determined to challenge the official mythologies.  I see no way out of Iraq in the short term. Even if an "out now" Democrat wins in 2008, I can't believe that all troops will be out sometime before the next decade. This war, its impact on our global relations, its sheer cost, are all going to be noted by future historians as a debacle on the same scale as Vietnam. I'm sorry to note that this is also the third anniversay of Cuba's "black spring."  Three years ago today, the Cuban dictatorship rounded up 75 people accused of undermining the state. Given the usual kangaroo-court style of summary judgement, many were locked up for as much as 27 years. Some have been released. Many remain in jail under abysmal conditions. Their "crimes?" The usual sort of thing that lands you in jail in Fidel's paradise: circulating banned books, opening informal lending libraries, publicly criticzing the regime etc. And, yes, some of them had a publicly known meeting with a U.S. diplomat-- much the same way I and many others I have known have had meetings with Cuban diplomats in the U.S. The San Jose Merc is one of the few papers to note this anniversary. And its report says that since the crackdown, human rights conditions continue to deteriorate in Cuba. Pajamas Media also has a round-up of blog postings on the Cuban anniversary. All of the links are to conservative or right-wing blogs.  The reason is unfortunate. There are no liberal blogs marking this anniversay today. At least none that can be easily found. I don't believe for one moment that this owes to some sort of liberal "softeness" on Castro (though there's certainly a sweet spot for him among the more stridently leftist folks).  No, the silence on Cuba owes to something else: a smothering parochialism that has set down upon much of the liberal left and extinguished much more honorable traditions of internationalism. Liberals and progressives nowadays are defined more than anything by their sheer opposition to George Bush and no longer feel themselves part of a bigger cause -- like, say, freedom. For too many of them it's a simple formula: Whatever Bush is for, I'm against.  Period. Next question? The result is a strange liberalish mirror-image of Buchananist isolationism: "I can't be criticizing some foreign government I have no control over when I have to spend all my energy fighting the ills of my own government," as some have crudely and previously put it on this blog. Or, worse, "I'm not going to gang up on Fidel when we Americans have created such a horror in [fill in the blank] Iraq or Haiti or Afghanistan..."  I see. Well, at least during the lulls in your ongoing heroic struggle against rampant Republicanism, take a moment out to quietly remember those prisoners of conscience who languish in Cuban prisons. They deserve your support and solidarity, even if it isn't George Bush who put them there.  P.S. And if you find any links to liberal blogs on this send them along and I will post them. P.P.S. Let me also anticipate some of the other predictable backtalk on this issue. Like, gee, Marc, aren't you a bit obsessed with Cuba? So many postings on it? It's just a few dozen Fidel has locked up, it's not like a genocide or anything. My answer: Given the nature of the Cuban regime, it's completely immune to crticism from places like Washington D.C.  Given the history between the two countries, anything the U.S. government says about Cuba will be written off as propaganda -- because it most likely (but not necesarily) is. Ditto for the critiques coming from the poltical Right. It is criticism --at this point let's say opposition-- from the Left that would be most feared by Castro. Taking away his lingering legitimacy seems, to me, a moral imperative. Those who Cuba most likely considers its passive "friends" in the international community are those whose voices of opposition would carry the most moral weight. My personal motivation is much, much simpler: I don't believe anyone should be repressed or jailed anywhere for espousing their ideas and opinions. Call me old-fashioned.

138 Responses to “Tragic Anniversaries”

  1. Randy Paul Says:


    Please don’t lecture me. Christ I just turned on my computer!

    I was all over it when it happened as well as the American Library Association’s craven Castro appeasement. I’ve posted extensively about human rights.

    Did you ever consider that the selection of blogs may have something to do with the author’s political leanings?

    You’re cherry picking here, Marc.

  2. Randy Paul Says:

    (Hit post too soon)

    That is human rights in Cuba. Hell, I’ve even corresponded with Claudia Linares, wife of one of the jailed dissidents (she’s now in the US).

    Eric Umansky has also posted extensively about Cuba.

    If you want to go after people, go after the ALA, especially those like Ann Sparanese who, in addition to being on the ALA board is one of Castro’s useful idiots in the Venceremos Brigade.

    You might also want to point out that those people who criticized AI and HRW for criticizing the US for HR violations have also been equally critical of Cuba.

  3. Marc Cooper Says:

    Randy.. I want talking about you. You’ve been way, way out ahead on this subject. So has Eric. I was referring to today’s anniversary and I found nothing on the liberal side on Technorati.

    Totally agreed regarding the craven attitude of the ALA. I was thinking of burning my library card!

  4. Randy Paul Says:

    That was a dangling modifier there. AI and HRW have been equally critical of HR abuses in Cuba.

    Moreover, Marc a number of leading leftist intellectuals have openly criticized Castro and the repression. The late Susan Sontag ripped Gabriel Garcia Marquez a new one about the arrest of the Cuban 75. Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago, an unrepentant communist broke with Castro over this issue.

    Finally, Marc, nearly three years ago I offered some pathways to the future. You might want to read them.

  5. Raul Ortsac Says:

    What do you mean there are no liberal blogs commemorating the arrest of the CIA agents? I can think of one:

  6. Randy Paul Says:

    I see the Venceremos Brigade has arrived.

  7. bunkerbuster Says:

    To be sure, it’s beyond stupid to deny Castro’s crimes.

    It’s more important, though, to acknowledge the massive death and destruction that has flowed from the demonization of Castro.

    For progressive values to have a chance in America, the demonization has to stop.

    I think some of the reluctance of some liberals to pile on Castro comes from that.

  8. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    “The result is a strange liberalism mirror-image of Buchananist isolationism: “I can’t be criticizing some foreign government I have no control over when I have to spend all my energy fighting the ills of my own government,” as some have crudely and previously put it on this blog. Or, worse, “I’m not going to gang up on Fidel when we Americans have created such a horror in [fill in the blank] Iraq or Haiti or Afghanistan…”

    Marc–Isolationism would be a nice departure from our traditional imperialistic policy; I know you are “anti-list,” but some items deserve to be listed:

    Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
    Guatemala 1954
    Indonesia 1958
    Cuba 1959-1961
    Guatemala 1960
    Congo 1964
    Laos 1964-73
    Vietnam 1961-73
    Cambodia 1969-70
    Guatemala 1967-69
    Grenada 1983
    Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
    Libya 1986
    El Salvador 1980s
    Nicaragua 1980s
    Iran 1987
    Panama 1989
    Iraq 191 (Persian Gulf War)
    Kuwait 1991
    Somalia 1993
    Bosnia 1994, 1995
    Sudan 1998
    Afghanistan 1998
    Yugoslavia 1999
    Yemen 2002
    Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
    Iraq 2003-
    Afghanistan 2001-
    Iran Next
    China next

    I think we have been too BUSY being a BULLY over the last 50 years meddling in every ones “business;” it’s about time that we started to worry about rebuilding our own infrastructure, establishing a universal healthcare system; eliminating much of the outsourcing which has greatly diminished the middle and working-class and thought less about empire building and more about creating a country which is not looked upon with such disdain by much of the world’s population.

    Has an international court ever convened which read a “will” advising the U.S. that they are legally entitled to all the world’s resources? I wasn’t aware that we had received such a grand inheritance. I think the gift tax is too costly!

    p.s. don’t burn your library card; it’s priceless.

  9. reg Says:

    I agree that this would be a worthwhile commemoration on any liberal blog, but I have to say that I have never heard of any of the blogs linked on Open Pajamas. I assumed when I read your post that the widely read conservative blogs were all over this, while Kevin Drum and Josh Marshal were doing their usual Buchananite turn. If that’s a comprehensive roundup of the conservative blogs who’ve noted this, I’d have to say that you and Randy – and apparently Umansky – have come close to matching the right-wing blovosphere on this issue. I really expected to see some more-or-less rightwing blog at that link that had a large readership. In general, I’m not impressed with the human rights record of most right-wing bloggers these days – Andrew Sullivan excepted. You can lampoon the notion that it’s most crucial to cover the stuff that one feels responsible for in some sense because it’s “our guys” – but it’s not as pernicious as the majority of the Open Pajamas crowd who serve as willing, vocal and determined apologists for torture as long as it’s done by us. So on that score alone, I think I’ll give Josh, Kevin and the boys/girls a pass on the scolding for not being sufficiently cognizant of human rights abuses. They’ve got a lot on their plate.

  10. Raul Ortsac Says:

    People have to understand that Cooper’s remarks are not directed at Cuba, but at the US left. He feels the need to distinguish himself as part of the “decent left’ unlike the ogres in the WWP, the young people who admire Che Guevara and the Nation Magazine for that matter. Cuba jails or frees people based on its own requirements as a nation under the gun of the most powerful imperialist country in history, not because people like Leo Casey or Marc Cooper circulate petitions. Although Marc is really a very coddled member of the journalistic middle class, he likes to spin fantasies about leading a New Left based on his muddled conceptions of the two Alberts: Camus and Shanker. Unfortunately for him, nobody pays him any attention except those who come to his blog for a chuckle. Nobody under 30 would ever act on his proposals, since they would do better to simply work in the Democratic Party where the pay is better. Or even the CIA.

  11. Mark A. York Says:

    Well it didn’t take long to find a Castro supporter. I would end the embargo and the the market take them out of the dungeon.

  12. historymike Says:

    Way to go calling ‘em as you see ‘em, Marc. Castro’s crimes are every bit as repulsive as those of a certain deposed tinpot Indonesian thug named Suharto (albeit on a smaller scale), but Castro is somehow above rebuke because he is a liberal icon.

    Has Cuba gotten a raw deal from the US since 1959? Most definitely.

    Should Castro be forgiven just because his country has been unfairly ostracized? Hell no.

  13. reg Says:

    “his muddled conceptions of the two Alberts: Camus and Shanker”

    The two Alberts ? That’s a muddled conception alright. Of course, it’s hard to imagine anybody’s ever floated this one before Ortsac’s dig at Marc. The only lefties I’ve ever heard routinely invoke Camus as a major influence were the early New Left – folks who sent the “Shankerites” into hot flashes and cold sweats. Marc can correct me if I’m wrong, but while I’d bet he’s got something by Camus on his bookshelf, I’ll venture it’s not being held in place by one of those plaster Chairman Al of the AFT busts you get as a freebie for joining SDUSA.

  14. reg Says:

    “Castro…a liberal icon.”

    Uh, no.

  15. David Cummings Says:

    This past week also marked the the even more quiet 10th anniversary of the March 12, 1996 Helms-Burton Act, a right wing piece of legislation signed into law by Bill Clinton (and watered down by Clinton in Jan. 1997 after he had safely won re-election with the help of Cuban-exile rich Florida….and after the European Union voted and approved a resolution that obligated all European to violate the ridiculous Republican/Democratic measure, which still is technically in effect, though in a less potent form).

    It is doubtful, too, that the Torricelli Act’s 15th Anniversary next year will be marked by “liberal” blogs either. To do so would be an acknowledgement that none of the political parties – particularly not the Democratic Party – has a sane vision for dealing with Castro.

  16. David Cummings Says:

    Camus’s “The Stranger” is a good read, as is “The Plague.” Shanker….eh. I never got past the first few pages of any of his works.

  17. reg Says:

    I’ve heard his comments recorded in the minutes of the 1973 AFT Convention are quite stirring.

  18. David Cummings Says:

    I tried to [unsuccessfully] read “Where We Stand”, a collection of his Times columns published sometime in the early seventies. As I recall, there was a picture on the jacket of that book with him addressing that body.

  19. Mark A. York Says:

    “Chairman Al of the AFT busts you get as a freebie for joining SDUSA.”

    I work for government but this collection acronyms beats me.

    “This past week also marked the the even more quiet 10th anniversary of the March 12, 1996 Helms-Burton Act”

    People are mourning in droves.

  20. Mark A. York Says:

    Since philosophy has entered in here’s one I like:

    “You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

    Robert M. Pirsig

  21. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Perhaps, Marc, can borrow the following books with his library card:

    Rogue State
    Clash of Civilizations
    Manufacturing Consent
    9-11 Chomsky
    Understanding Power
    Downsize this
    Best Democracy Money Can Buy
    Wealth and Democracy
    Paradox of American Power
    Devine Right of Capital
    Bush Dyslexicon
    Silent Takeover
    Democracy For the Few
    Lawless world
    The New American Militarism
    Inventing Reality
    The Lies of George W. Bush
    Rise of the Vulcans

  22. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    “Chairman Al of the AFT busts you get as a freebie for joining SDUSA. I work for government but this collection acronyms beats me. ”

    York–SDUSA, is the SOCIAL DEMOCRATS USA, it is the successor to the Socialist Party.

  23. Mark A. York Says:

    No wonder I wouldn’t know it since I’ve never been a socialist. Just a bleu collar union carpenter, actor, scientist.

    More evidence that reason can transcend ideology.

    “EPA’s approach would ostensibly require that the definition of “modification” include a phrase such as “regardless of size, cost, frequency, effect,” or other distinguishing characteristic. Only in a Humpty Dumpty world would Congress be required to use superfluous words while an agency could ignore an expansive word that Congress did use. We decline to adopt such a world-view.

    Ouch. The opinion was written by a Clinton appointee and joined by another Clinton appointee and … Janice Rogers Brown—who, the LAT notes, was appointed by Bush over a Democratic filibuster.”

  24. bunkerbuster Says:

    ““EPA’s approach would ostensibly require that the definition of “modification” include a phrase such as “regardless of size, cost, frequency, effect,” or other distinguishing characteristic. ”

    Castro would never use “ostensibly” and quotes within quotes so confusingly….

  25. Nell Says:

    Marc: I see no way out of Iraq in the short term. Even if an “out now” Democrat wins in 2008, I can’t believe that all troops will be out sometime before the next decade.

    If the next decade begins in 2010, I can’t believe they won’t be.

    For sure, the services can’t sustain a troop commitment close to 100K for much beyond this calendar year. Equipment and units are nearing the breaking point. Recruiting is not going to pick up, and the math is getting brutal. NCOs are a limiting factor for how effective units are in the field; they’re beginning to fail to re-up in significant numbers.

    So, in 2007-8, the outlook is for about 40-50K troops pretty much restricted to bases, 20K mercs for short-distance travel protection and god knows what else, and AC-130s ready to mow down any large-scale Iraqi mobilizations, of whatever composition, that might threaten the bases…

    Congress needs to condition any future spending for the war on a commitment to total withdrawal with no enduring bases, on concrete withdrawals, and on reconstruction funding that will be Iraqi-administered.

    This president will never renounce permanent bases, which were a fundamental objective of the invasion and occupation. The next Democratic candidate certainly will (as did the last one).

  26. reg Says:

    “York–SDUSA, is the SOCIAL DEMOCRATS USA, it is the successor to the Socialist Party”

    Since this is arcane Leftiana, let me clarify that the SDUSA was the right-wing splinter of the old Socialist Party that was clustered around “real-world” phenomena such as Henry Jackson, Albert Shanker and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) bureaucracy and Commentary magazine. The burning issue that they split over was support for the Vietnam War which led them to support Nixon over McGovern and eventually most of them supported Ronald Reagan. The more moderate and leftist social-democrats joined with Michael Harrington and progressive members of the Democratic Party like Ron Dellums and John Conyers in Democratic Socialists of America. The traditional left wing kept a version of the Socialist Party alive, to perennially field a quixotic third-party candidate for President, in the noble tradition of Norman Thomas and E.V. Debs. Just added that data to leave no turn unstoned in the evolution of the thread. Now back to regular programming.

  27. reg Says:

    “I tried to [unsuccessfully] read “Where We Stand”, a collection of his Times columns published sometime in the early seventies.”

    OK…Now I’m not sure whether or not you were joking. Thought that was a put-on about reading Shanker. As I recall his periodic “columns” (which were paid advertisements for the AFT) were leaden.

  28. reg Says:

    “SOCIAL DEMOCRATS USA” – since I’ve descended into this arcane world, I’ll bring it up to date by noting that this was a group who’s ideological guru was Max Schactman who had at one time been an aide to Leon Trotsky and never abandoned the trappings of Trotskyite sectarianism and rigid ideological argument. Shactman’s role as a mentor to numerous right-wing social democrats who migrated into Reaganite and neo-con circles (Commentary magazine serving as their most “accessible” public face) is one of the bits of evidence for the argument that there’s a messianic “Trotskyist” strain in neo-con ideology.

    Oh god…I hate the fact that I write comments like the above. It’s pretty pathetic.

  29. reg Says:

    Marc – one of the reasons the “heavy hitters” of the right-wing blogmachine aren’t paying any more attention than their liberal counterparts to the Cuba trials anniversary you note is because they’re in a fever over this:

    The implications of that other anniversary – and our pro-warriors scurrying desperately to halt their further marginalization from the American mainstream – seems to be trumping most other topics.

  30. Virgil Johnson Says:

    As far as the time line of staying in Iraq, the goal of this administration was NEVER to leave – and they are doing just fine with the present condition, it means they will be there a long time (has anyone asked qui bono?). It does not matter to them how many bones of the sons and daughters of America or Iraq they grind to make their bread.

    If you doubt what I am writng than ask yourself the reason for the massive military bases and the oversized “embassy.” I’ll spare you my view of why I believe this is the case, since many cannot fathom how this administration could harbor such a goal – nor seem to have enough colonial and neo-colonial understanding under their belt to see how they would accomplish this.

    As far as the political prisoners in Cuba, and the reason for their imprisonment – it is just simply inexcusable. However, I think I have worked out a great plan – how about a prisoner exchange? If they release their political prisoners, we will release ours?

    Since they do not want theirs to stay there and those in power here do not want ours to stay, we could just exchange them (obvious sarcasm). Oh…I’m sorry, I did not mean to imply we have any political prisoners here (quite a bit more) – Marc, feel free to expunge this last line so I do not brutalize the sensitivities of some…..

  31. reg Says:

    Virgil – it’s a hell of a lot easier to get rounded up in Cuba for what any reasonble person would term legitimate political dissent than on U.S. turf. I wouldn’t argue that people have been wrongfully imprisoned or profiled domestically in the U.S. and the situation with POWs and alleged POWs in places like Guantanamo is well known and scandalous (ironic that one of our most notorious prisoner scandals is situated in Cuba ?) but let’s keep this in perspective. Cuba is a classic one-party dictatorship without even the trappings of a free press or a legal opposition offering alternatives to the entrenched authorities. For all of the maddening flaws in our political system, the old saw about “The only system worse than democracy is the alternative” still holds true. Salvation may await us, but it’s not likely to come packaged by political parties – either the opportunistic concoctions that dominate our quasi-democracies or the messianic ones that offer up “revolutions” of various stripes.

  32. reg Says:

    I will add that I never considered someone like Kathy Boudin a political prisoner but a accessory to bank robbery and murder, ableit with a better scam than most because she had a lot of slick comrades on the outside to agitate for her. Most people who get caught driving getaway cars for robberies that end in cop-killings aren’t so lucky. Personally I have more sympathy for the hapless than the amoral zealots who can rationalize anything to suit their pre-fab ideology, be they deranged leftists or Richard Perle.

  33. Virgil Johnson Says:

    Your right Reg., for the most part it is a little more difficult to throw our political dissenters behind bars. Here we have to manufacture false evidence, and we have to get the cooperation of the judicial system. Hell, witnesses are kind of easy – we just need to threaten people already in trouble with the law in the prison population with the dissenting individual, or hire some “professional” (hitman) witness. We have to employ the voice of the corporate press, to both prejudice the people and the entire jury pool – but that’s not to hard.

    So you are right, that it is a little more complicated – you know, to give that appearance of the “rule of law,” but we sure are experts at it. Of course, there is always the chance of a reversal 20 or 30 years later.

    However, if it is a framed homicide than the new arbiter of the fitness of the state, presently written into the Patriot Act renewal – Alberto Gonzales, instead of the judicial system, can snap his fingers to have them executed; so maybe it will be easier to kill an innocent man after all. They might even have express executions, with whatever device in a chamber next to the court room. Than again everything considered, in the end you are correct – it is a little more complicated to imprison someone for political reasons in the United States.

  34. reg Says:

    Since there’s a strong “human rights” aspect to this thread, I’m going to toss in one more thing I gleaned from my periodic perusal of Andrew Sullivan’s site:

    The guy who a lot of hope for our pulling something less than a full-tilt debacle out of the Iraq fire apparently hangs on, Ayatollah Sistani – the “moderating voice” among militant Shiites – renders this verdict on our friends and family of a particular persuasion:

    Oh well…realpolitik forces us into another of those “lesser evil” alliances. I mean, we wouldn’t want thugs and murderers to take over Iraq.

  35. reg Says:

    “it is a little more difficult to throw our political dissenters behind bars

    C’mon Virgil, even in the worst case it’s “a lot more difficult”. The situations regarding dissent, individual or group political rights and open media aren’t even remotely comparable.

  36. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    “Released today by the Bush administration, are maybe, but maybe not, real Iraqi government documents that we found in Iraq. The Bush administration can’t vouch for the documents’ authenticity or the accuracy of the translations from Arabic, but they’re releasing them anyway in the hopes that – get this – right-wing blogs can help them prove their case that Saddam had WMD and ties to Al Qaeda.
    Yes, it’s come to that. Bush is now relying on Michelle Malkin’s keen intelligence skills to prove the case for war in Iraq.”

    That is why Americans are disgusted with the political criminals who can capriciously conduct preemptive strikes on a country that we KNEW didn’t have WMDS; thinking like a small confident child that this debacle was going to be a “cake walk.”

    There was no concern about collateral damage—how many innocent woman and children would be bombed and burned to death. Killing thousands of people with a missile from a plane and cavalierly believing that precision strikes are some how more humane than directly aiming and shooting at a child is psychotic—murder by any other name is the same.

    When we invade a country, we never leave—it will NOT be tens years it will be adinfinitum—we are staying in the Middle East and ensuring that every drop of oil will eventually be owned by American corporations.

    Our national debt is in the trillions but it doesn’t matter because our “green backs” need not be backed by gold; they are backed by something more deadly– U.S. missiles.

  37. Jim Russell Says:

    “a country that we KNEW didn’t have WMDS….”

    No we didn’t know, and neither did you Eleanore.

    “…..thinking like a small confident child that this debacle was going to be a “cake walk.”

    Well put and I agree.

  38. NeoDude Says:

    Castro is a leftist icon.

    Not a liberal one.

  39. Woody Says:

    Want to know how the left views Castro? For a sample, go to “google images” and type “carter castro” (without the quotes)–then proceed to gag as you view the love fest between the two leaders. The left shares much love and indentification with communist Cuba–political deaths and imprisonments be damned. (Of course, Carter identifies with Castro since the results of their leadership are similar. )

    Marc requested links to liberal sites on Cuba, so here is one –and it typifies most liberal blogs. Can you tell any difference?

    Oh, and here is a short article on the free elections in that country, since Carter is such a proponent of fair elections.

    No one should be surprised at the absence of liberal attention to Cuba’s abuse of those who cherish freedom and individual liberties. Why, that would be an attack on their own philosophies.

  40. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Oh Woody, here is a website that I just happen to have stumbled upon–it’s always a pleasure to share info with you.

  41. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Is our latest military attack called operation “SWARMER” or is it better known as operation “SQUANDER”—a U.S. political policy followed since 9/11; a policy especially noted for alienating the U.S. from most of the world’s population. It’s reassuring to know that Bush’s administration is skillful at something.

  42. reg Says:

    You’re a sick puppy. Granma is a “liberal website”?

    I guess Pravda was a liberal newspaper. Your are typically full of crap. If anybody wants to see just how full of crap, go to Google images and type in “Nixon Brezhnev”.

    Oh my. Nixon was obviously living on Brokeback Mountain with the guy based on the images that come up.

    What a wanker…

  43. brian jones Says:

    hey marc, keep on posting about cubay castro! i read an interesting take on castro in newsweek last week, check out:
    also this from raul rivero, a cuban journalist who was imprisoned in march 2003:

    one other comment. while i agree with much of your opinions on various issues. in one of your postings you said you defer to jorge casteneda on some latin american topics. have since gone on to read that castaneda, while once perhaps a leftist, is these days moreso a so-called reformed leftist trying to divide the left and move it toward the right. his opinions on economic globalization and neoliberal policies, for example, would make him a first class candidate for the “friends of the fortune 500 elite.” his essay this week on chile (see is beyond the pale, in my view its dead wrong on some things, such as the state of chilean inequity (chile is one of the worst in rich-poor gap, as you have noted). above all, its rosy picture of chile as a success story distorts the reality for the majority of chileans and i think is one of his growing tome of work to divide the left into various camps. perhaps castaneda is so enchanted with chile technocracy because, as any chile observer knows, there is no left in chile. the right and the left are almost the same these days — which sort of mirrors castanedas evolution into a false leftist. would appreciate your comments on what i say here…thanks

  44. Woody Says:

    Eleanore, your suggested site illustrates leftist zaniness.

    reg, leftist sites are as concerned with Cindy Sheehan and Bush “crimes” as is that Cuban mouthpiece. They look the same to me.

    Since you want more images and might want to see Clinton’s link with Castro, go to google clips and input “Elian Gonzalez.” The assault troops make it look like a “Die Hard” movie–and a proud moment for liberal Democrats who favor sending kids back to dictators rather than let them experience freedom.

    BTW, neither of your references have anything to do with Cuba and Castro.

    Why do you two get upset with me when all I’m doing is saying, in this case, similar things as Marc, just in a different style with different examples.

  45. Mark A. York Says:

    “Castro is a leftist icon.

    Not a liberal one.”

    Certainly, and as we can see reading comments here they aren’t anywhere in the neighborhood of the same. It’s good to see Woody still raging over Carter, like he can alter the dictatorship of Castro in any way. Of course opening the place up to the outside world, which he advocates could, but hey, might as well stick with something whether it works or not. Maybe in the next 40 years? Hope is not a plan.

  46. reg Says:

    “They look the same to me.”

    Everything in your muddled mind looks the same to you…what else is new ?

  47. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Truth is stranger than fiction–who could have ever imagined such an incompetent President; who writes Bush’s speeches, the staff of SNL?

  48. reg Says:

    What have “Die Hard” dead-enders who’ve promoting the wonders of Bush these past six years have left but to rage at Carter and Clinton. It’s a measure of their relevance.

  49. Mark A. York Says:

    “Why do you two get upset with me when all I’m doing is saying, in this case, similar things as Marc, just in a different style with different examples.”

    Well because you refuse to see that the embargo policy has failed miserably. Instead of deriving sick pleasure from the false ridicule of Jimmy Carter, perhaps a venture into original thought? Lack of this and an inability to change kills fill-in-the-blanks ideologues of both stripes regardless of issue. You examples are classic straw men.

  50. Semanticleo Says:

    “What have “Die Hard” dead-enders who’ve promoting the wonders of Bush these past six years have left but to rage at Carter and Clinton.”

    Add the new Cooper deflection;

    Commie Castro

  51. reg Says:

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that every time things go bad for Bush, Marc Cooper starts to harp on Castro. This is part of Marc’s strategy as an undercover agent for the Rove machine. I doubt that he’s spent a waking moment in the past six years not calculating how he could help Bush. The thing that’s so nefarious about him is the subtle, covert way he’s gone about it. It would be brilliant if it weren’t so damned evil.

    Now, about those aliens in Roswell…

  52. reg Says:

    Look for GOP apparatchik Cooper to be blogging about these issues in the coming months:

    Say, has anyone else noticed that if you use Reynolds Wrap it can give you a rash right around the ears…

  53. Virgil Johnson Says:

    It does not matter whether you look a Castro or Bush, either way you have two overarching principles at war with each other. To be really frank those who side with Castro cannot stand the thrust of western capitalism / imperialism / empire – with it’s classic destruction and exploitation of the people. On the other hand, you have those who embrace this capitalistic nightmare yet cannot fathom it’s wake of death and destruction of people both at home and abroad. I think everyone knows where I stand, I am a Marxist.

    To try to drive a wedge between the divide is at best disingenuous – unless your only object is to have dialogue, but it does not address the hard questions that face us today. Castro is mainly trying to protect his people from this deadly exploitation of private capital that has done nothing but make the world unstable. Historically the ruling class in America has decried some of the freedoms they see missing in Cuba – but their main goal is not to make Cuba a haven for people, but to exploit it’s people and resources, period. So, if you want to be part of that process by apeing what the ruling class has voiced, more power to you – but do not expect any good to come from it.

    It is good that Marc started out this entry with the horrible condition, three years later of Iraq. Many bemoan the fact that we are now going to be there a long time, but I maintain this has been the goal of this administration (and for that matter any capitalistic junta) and they just love it – no matter how much they say to the contrary in public. Let me direct you to a blog from a lady in Baghdad, see what her observations are:

    If you look carefully at her dismay you will find the real reason for the condition there today. Sadam when he was in power elevated the Bathist party, they were the ruling class there – he was a monster to say the least, but things are not as bad as they are today.

    This administration has employed classic colonial and neo-colonial divide and conquer actions. It has raised up the extreme elements and placed them in positions of power – they are accentuating the differences of religious practice, each wants to hold the reigns of power, and they are trying to gain such by differentiation. Of course, this creates chaos, and chaos is the stuff that requires an occupying power to stay put – period, end of story.

    Read carefully this girls writing, for that’s where you will find the truth:

    “the rift that has seemed to have worked it’s way into the very heart of the country….people pick up their things and move to the Sunni or Shia neighborhoods….people are being pushed into claiming to be this or that because POLITICAL PARTIES (emphasis mine) are promoting it with every speech and every newspaper – the whole us/them……And what role are the occupyings playing in all this? It’s very convenient for them, I believe. It’s all very good if Iraqis are abducting and killing each other – than they can have a neutral foreign party trying to promote peace between people who, up until the occupation, were very peaceful and understanding.”

    There you have it in a nutshell. So you want Castro to open his country when you see the pain and explotation taking place all over the world – sure, he is going to run right out and open the doors. I would feel a whole lot better if Castro employed more tolerance and did not so easily imprison dissenters – but never confuse that with the overall horrific picture of what is happening in the world today that does not have a damn thing to do with Cuba!

  54. reg Says:

    “Castro is mainly trying to protect his people from this deadly exploitation of private capital that has done nothing but make the world unstable.”

    Every dictator and tyrant starts out with a scheme for “protecting his people” from some or another debasement or dishonor. Frankly Virgil, I’m not sure what you mean when you say you’re a “marxist”, but I can’t find anything in the actual writings of Karl Marx that even begins to justify the kind of “rigidly paternalistic at its best and overtly tyrannical at its worst” calcified regime Castro has erected in Cuba. Castro has as much in common with Marx as Jerry Falwell has with Jesus. As far as what would make you “feel a whole lot better”, that’s not even remotely at issue as regards the political rights and human rights of the Cuban people. And no one who takes the generally insightful, albeit overly schematic, analysis of Karl Marx seriously beyond some catch phrases or the degenerate distortions of several generations of Stalinists and neo-Stalinists could possibly imagine that a small, underdeveloped agricultural country could unilaterally force march itself into the old man’s conception of socialism, much less “communism”.

  55. Mark A. York Says:

    “I think everyone knows where I stand, I am a Marxist.”

    Everyone knows just how successful this meme has been in application as reg said.

  56. Virgil Johnson Says:

    Reg, as you well know, in working out either socialism, capitalism, or communism there is the tendency to pervert through centralism. The only difference is that capitalistic centralism benefits the few. Nothing is perfect from conceptualization to enactment – nothing. As I said previously I would opt for tolerance regarding dissent. Do I think the Cuban regime is perfect – no, I never said that, in fact I said the opposite. However, when it comes to the central concern for the people – I will side with Cuba any time.

    Let me give you a case example, let’s look at the Katrina disaster compared to a hurricane hitting Cuba. The small island of Cuba has the care and systematic plan to move 2,000,000 people from it’s coast – it loses thousands of homes, but not a single human life is lost (they also have a distinct plan to rebuild so that no one is left out).

    Now, let’s compare what I will call “free market” care for the people – in America thousands of people are killed in the Katrina disaster(and thousands of children are STILL missing), while this administration sit’s on it’s ass doing simply – nothing! Now, you have them call on the “faith based” community which is both ill prepared and not equipped to maintain these people who have suffered tragedy. Free market concern for people.

    Currently, I have reports from all over the nation that people are being thrown out of their temporary housing with no remedy – not a peep out of this government regarding it, nor any news coverage (from that “free press” you talked about). However, there are plenty of robber barrons cashing in on the disaster as we speak. I think that obviously illustrates my point, in real time, what I am talking about (and there are hundreds of other illustrations, would you like me to cite them?).

  57. GM's Corner Says:

    Gulag Nation – Black Spring…

    Marc Cooper rightly takes the left leaning blogs to task for the lack of blogging about the 3rd anniversary of the arrest and subsequent trial/imprisonment of 75 “librarians” in Cuba. [...] More impotantly, this issue has also escaped much of the M…

  58. Mark A. York Says:

    “when it comes to the central concern for the people – I will side with Cuba any time.”

    This really simplifies things. Two totalitarians in a pod. But a couple of points are in order given the examples. First the flooding potential in Havana and NO are not comparable. This is natural and has nothing to do with human-created plans. Second, as for social disaparity, there’s the Castro family and the rest of Cuba. The latter live in a persistent state of squalor that dwarfs the low rent districts in the US. Christ, even the Finca Vigia is falling apart and they need outside help to fix it. They may even allow it. Talk about Big government.

  59. Virgil Johnson Says:

    Mark, really enlightening….I talk about the “response” to disaster, you talk about the difference in the terrain, man-made as opposed to natural. And the comparison between Fidel and the the rest of the Cuban populace, brilliant. I am sure that Hemminway is weeping….whatever.

  60. reg Says:

    “I’m probably going to be declared a heretic by my fellow conservatives, but I think that the way to bring Castro and his band of thugs down is to increase contact and trade with Cuba. Russia wasn’t changed by the ability of the Communist government to control it’s people, Russia was changed by the inability to keep up with the freedoms of the west. Likewise, the Cuban people if given free access to freedom as proposed by free trade, access to real information as opposed to contrived and controlled information of the Cuban government will opt for more freedom not less. In this, our refusal to deal with the people of Cuba has been a total failure. Cuba needs access to the benefits of a free society, and that and that alone will change the Cuban government”

    Bravo ! I’m always amazed at the folks who think we’ve got the greatest country on the face of the earth and then determine that the best way to keep it strong and safe is by cutting off contact with those societies that could most benefit from our influence. Boycotts and sanctions can have their place as diplomatic “weapons”, but if all they produce over the long term is a more rigid version of the same thing, it’s time to try something else. We’d do better rethinking our own internal tendencies that make us ridiculously dependent on potential bad actors through our energy and fiscal policies than continuing a fruitless attempt to isolate Cuba – especially when large numbers of Americans have direct family ties to that country. One thing that Virgil and I probably share is a desire not to see Cuba simply become a carbon copy of either the U.S. consumer culture or some of the countries in Latin America that are plagued by infant mortality and illiteracy. But whatever Cuba’s future, they’ll get nowhere worth going if the Cuban people aren’t free to assert themselves in an open society. As Argentine dissident Jacobo Timmerman noted, “What’s the point of having 99% literacy if the only newspaper you can read is Granma?”

  61. reg Says:

    Oh…that first quote above was from GMRoper’s blog. I have to admit that I was taken aback…

  62. Virgil Johnson Says:

    Excellent post Reg., I have little to no disagreement there.

  63. Virgil Johnson Says:

    I will toss out another thought, and than I have to go to a relatives birthday part (oh joy). An abundance of press does not necessarily mean that there is a “free press,” specifically when you are talking about corporate media. I do not think I have to elaborate on that point, with silence on issues, empahsis on spurious issues, and the specific bent of media exposure here in the states (that is, he who gets the platform gets a “free press,” and the only people who get a free press are those with the money, etc.).

  64. Woody Says:

    reg wrote: “Boycotts and sanctions can have their place as diplomatic ‘weapons’, but if all they produce over the long term is a more rigid version of the same thing, it’s time to try something else.”

    Yeah, we should follow the U.N.’s example and write more angry letters of condemnation–or, we could just invade the country and throw out the dictator. It worked in Iraq. Nothing else has worked in Cuba.

    Or, perhaps, we could trade with Cuba more, because look at all the freedoms and the open society that resulted in Red China from our dealing with them. People may learn to want freedoms when they see it on the outside, but dictators and communist governments tighten their grip when these people try to assert themselves and take away their control.

    How can citizens in Cuba even appreciate freedom of the press when our own free press is too cowardly or too much in agreement with dictators to condemn their abuses?

    Here’s one place where I have different views than G.M. and, surprisingly, reg.

    (What happened to the good ol’ days when the CIA could just assassinate a dictator?)

  65. Mark A. York Says:

    Actually it has lessened China’s stalinist grip. It’s called “made in China.”

    “I am sure that Hemminway [sic]is weeping….whatever”

    No Ernest is dead. Some say being run out of his home by Castro, they even killed his dog, was a big reason he couldn’t recover from a bout of mental illness at the end, so I doubt he wept for Castro in any way before he pulled the trigger.

    The response to Katrina was incompetent. But the flood from geographic feature failure and a below sea level location is a bigger factor than the topography of Havana. They’re different.

  66. Mark A. York Says:

    “Well, we’ll try these policies and if they don’t work we’ll try something else.”

    Harry S. Truman

  67. Mark A. York Says:

    Does the quote belong to Roper or Woody? Doesn’t seem like it by your description.

  68. Randy Paul Says:

    Yeah, we should follow the U.N.’s example and write more angry letters of condemnation–or, we could just invade the country and throw out the dictator. It worked in Iraq. Nothing else has worked in Cuba.

    Woody, your utter ignorance of history is showing. Are you that unaware of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion?

    Are you unaware that the US agreed in return for the USSR taking the missiles out of Cuba, we would not invade Cuba?

    Did you even give a second’s thoughts to the thousands of civilians who would be killed? Do you even care?

    What happened to the good ol’ days when the CIA could just assassinate a dictator?

    Probably because they were too busy supporting the likes of Pinochet, Videla, Suharto, Mobutu, Rios Montt, Stroessner, etc. All someone had to do was say that they were anti-communist and they were golden, never mind if they committed acts of mass murder, genocide or were kleptocrats.

  69. GM Roper Says:

    York, why don’t you go find out for yourself… but to save you the effort, I wrote it.

  70. J Cummings Says:

    What is missing here is a sense of tactics. I am not a supporter of the more authoritarian aspects of Cuba, but I think that no one would doubt Cuba’s positive influence and side as well, in Angola and South Africa when I don’t think any one would argue with the point that the US was supporting very bad “Bad Guys.” One doesn’t have to support the imprisonment of dissidents to recognize that a lot of people admire Castro in Latin America, including US favorites as well as “enemies” none of whom is imposing a Cuban model.

    The elephant in the room here – the sense of tactics – which Cuban dissidents can’t be blamed for, except perhaps a few Chalabi-like opportunists- is the open support the dissidents get from the CIA and the US government. Whether we like it or not, this discredits them in not just the government’s eyes – even if they were not unjustly imprisoned they would still be seen as traitors by many Cubans who have no respect for Castro’s government. A left critique of Cuba, from non-Cubans would start with a

  71. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    “House Republicans, for their part, intend to seek votes on measures such as the Bush-backed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a bill allowing more public expression of religion, another requiring parental consent for women under 18 to get an abortion, legislation to bar all federal courts except the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, a bill to outlaw human cloning, and another that would require doctors to consider fetal pain before performing an abortion.”

    “This administration has employed classic colonial and neo-colonial divide and conquer actions. It has raised up the extreme elements and placed them in positions of power – they are accentuating the differences of religious practice, each wants to hold the reigns of power, and they are trying to gain such by differentiation. Of course, this creates chaos, and chaos is the stuff that requires an occupying power to stay put – period, end of story.”

    Divide and conquer is a useful technique which psychologically always seems to work—creating little rival sub-groups that fight among themselves for tiny shreds of power, or hope that the ruling authority will be more magnanimous to their particular group and toss them a few more bones.

    In our culture when all else fails, this administration and their followers play the “religion” card—they divide groups based on an irrational system of values–good values vs. the group with questionable values.

    The practitioners of this political technique have an obnoxious kind of mentality, which view the citizenry in LOW regard, believing that they can control the population with manipulations of theological psychobabble.

    It would be so refreshing if they could act like “mentschs” and discuss real issues and implement significant decisions that have some “real value”—unfortunately, that’s too much to ask from politicians who are only capable of using insidious strategies to benefit themselves.

  72. J Cummings Says:

    Hit submit by accident – a left critique of Cuba from non-Cubans would start with a strong denunciation of US government agencies and quasi-NGOs – funding dissidents, which puts dissidents in harm’s way, and perhaps detracts from their authority among everyday Cubans.

  73. Wall Says:

    bunkerbuster is right on Cuba.

    Beyond that; this “liberal isolationists” stuff, cribbed off the neocon playbook, is getting a little old. Who are the liberals
    who want to shut down the U.N.? In this case, who are the
    librerals who have favored isolating Castro, which only justifies
    his worst actions in the eyes of his country?

    Clinton contiuned this shopworn policy, probably pure politics, but that doesn’t fit much with Cooper’s accusation of liberal reverse reflex. In 2000, some liberals (well, me anyway) were quietly optomistic that Bush might face up to reality, and discover a bit of humility, and thus get a thing or two right.

    It was simply not to be, he started right in paying off his benifactors and of course took it much further, boldly empowered by the fearful and stupid political bounce of 9-11.
    The perfect storm imagined by the most pesimistic Gore supporter blew right in, and it’s still raging.

    Which brings us to the next dumb bunny talking point, “Your so NEGITIVE, dude, don’t you have anything POSITIVE to offer on Iraq? As Marly said to Scrooge when he asked for comfort, I can only say “I have none to give.”
    The neocons and his useful idiots have forged our chain, and we all get to ware it. Cooper has figured it out, and puts it well.
    So you want the Dems to hurt themselves by EXPLAINING it to us? Rubbing it in Bush’s nose should be his job.
    As for the Dems talking to fair minded people, a simple “had enough?” should suffice.

  74. reg Says:

    “look at all the freedoms and the open society that resulted in Red China from our dealing with them”

    Jeez, Woody. Compare China today in the years since Nixon’s engagement (for which that old scoundrel deserves enormous credit), the death of Mao and the rise of “reformers” to the years when the country was a hardline Stalinist “paradise”. Far be it from me to argue that China is a “free society”, “democratic” or any such thing, but a degree of openess and dynamism has taken hold of China – based essentially on their recognition that their economic model was totally bankrupt and they needed to integrate into the world economy – that no one could have predicted and the genie is out of the bottle. Try to even imagine a Tianamen Square protest – tragic as it turned out – under the old days of hardcore Maoism. China has a long way to go – but they are on a radically different path than they were under Mao and there’s no way it can be turned around. It’s an example precisely of what GMR was suggesting as more hopeful than isolating those countries.

    Incidentally, the rise of some relatively militant, popularly elected “left-populist” – for lack of a better term – governments in Latin America means that Castro’s political capital (as noted in one of those Newsweek articles linked above) is being regenerated to some degree – at least at the level of rhetoric. What better timing for the U.S. to engage Cuba in trade and cultural relations. Also, why not try to begin to influence the course of Cuban society BEFORE an inevitable political struggle ensues at Castro’s demise. Why give the hardliners the “strangled by Yankee imperialism” card to play when the old man dies and relative liberals and reformers will inevitably see their opening to loosen up the system. Personally, I believe Gorbachev was more a product of the long-term policies of detente, trade and cultural exchange than of hardline Cold War policies and confrontation. Frankly, had the USSR been the monolithic “Evil Empire” that Reagan conjured up, Mikhail Gorbachev could never have existed – or at least not have risen to his level of influence within the decrepit bureaucracy. “Darth Vader” was more like Humpty Dumpty waiting for a fall, in my view. There’s an entire generation of Cubans – many of them no doubt active in Castro’s bureaucracy, the Communist Party, etc., not just the active and open dissidents – who are aching for the chance to shake up a stagnant, oppressive political system and a creaking economy. I don’t see how a continued boycott could possibly be helping them. Castro’s generation, be they his own old-school “revolutionary” circles or the bands of anti-Fidel hardliners gathered in Miami cafes reminiscing about the Bay of Pigs will both soon be irrelevant and engagement is more likely to hasten the day than not.

  75. reg Says:

    For anyone who missed the original comment, that quote from Woody was meant to be a sarcastic “NOT!” so far as I can tell.

  76. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    “Subsequent trial/imprisonment of 75 persons in Cuba. Arrested as anti-revolutionaries for handing out library books. Library books for Pete’s Sake!”

    There you go, someone is always picking on librarians!! Poor libraries and librarians; why are they always being attacked by the government—somebody must have been read “1984” too many times–George Orwell would have been flattered.

    I guess there must be some truth to the expression knowledge is power; better to keep the population stupid and half-witted on MSM propaganda.

    Let’s hear for the PATRIOT ACT!!!

  77. gmroper Says:

    J C: “Whether we like it or not, this discredits them in not just the government’s eyes – even if they were not unjustly imprisoned they would still be seen as traitors by many Cubans who have no respect for Castro’s government.”

    Blaming the victim? Surely not!

  78. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    China is not a communist country but a CAPITALISTIC DICTATORSHIP! Your’e living in the past–still looking for the little “Red Book.”

    When the Great Wall of China started to crumble by the SUNUMI CALLED U.S. CAPITALISM, politicians and CEOS said—this will make China more like the USA. But what happened was the REVERSE– Outsourcing has made the USA MORE LIKE CHINA! China without any doubt is a CAPITALISTIC/DICTATORSHIP!

    They have billionaires who live in palaces not “McMansions,” and there is NO POLITICAL FREEDOM! Recently Yahoo who works for China, handed over by request (not compelled) the computer files of someone who e-mailed criticism against the Chinese Government. This Chinese Citizen were arrested in China and given a 10 year prison sentence.




  79. Mark A. York Says:

    Yeah. End the boycott and see what happens. It seems we agree roper. That’s not a bad thing.

  80. Mark A. York Says:

    Eleanore nothing is perfect where people are concerned. It is different than it was before Nixon went, but yes a capitalistic dictatorship is what China is. They’re also patent pirates, and copyright infringers. They make a lot of things, but alas not very well. They just look like a real product that used to be made here, but now aren’t. A cheap imitation is not the real thing as any quality afficianado will tell you. Social evolution is a tough process.

  81. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Maybe, York is thinking about employment in Cuba–Hemmingway liked the island, until he became depressed and blew his brains out. If I’m correct, there is a little Hemmingway Museum in cuba, they probably have the typewriter he used to write “The Old Man and the Sea.”

  82. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    “Eleanore nothing is perfect where people are concerned”

    Very insightful, but why must every economic system be a carbon copy of US capitalism? If it is not a capitalistic economic system, but seems to successfully function we feel a compulsion to intervene.

  83. reg Says:

    China is capitalistic and Marx would have applauded…

    I have no idea whether his meta-theories have any validity in the topsy turvy modern world, but in Marxist shorthand : “no socialism without the productive base and social transformations that only capitalism is capable of creating.” I’ll take a the extremely problematic but relatively dynamic authoritarian capitalism of contemporary China to a maoist straitjacket any day of the week.

  84. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Socialism is a more benevolent form of capitalism–economic systems might all be a moot question; since we’re are all doomed by global warming–the petroleum industry is destined to kill us all!

  85. reg Says:

    They used to break people’s knuckles in China for playing “decadent music”, for Christ sake. Now we’re debating whether Google should or shouldn’t deal with them because of censorship and we’ve got great numbers of Chinese students and researchers spending time at our universities. Not perfection, but a radically different situation from the days when they would have been sent out to forced labor camps and there was no deviation allowed from the Red Book.

    Nixon was a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. He did a lot of things that are unforgiveable, but his China strategy was brilliant and it’s worked beyond anyone’s wildest dreams at the time.

  86. J Cummings Says:

    To Roper – I am not blaming the victims – in fact in another sentence I make that clear. I blame the US State Dept and interests section for publicly backing and manipulating them, thus putting them in harm’s way. I am in no way backing their treatment, and resent the insinuation.

  87. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Today in China they just throw you in jail for 10 years if they don’t like your e-mails–we don’t even know how many dissidents are rotting in their prisons.

    Criticism against the government is not tolerated.

    We don’t hear about the thousands of peasants demonstrating against the government’s of unfair agricultural policies.

    Google goes to China’s grad schools and sucks out the best minds for “free”–it’s cheaper than paying American computer scientists.

    MSM in the USA is an embarrasment, the public never really knows what’s going on–the front page of the Sunday NYT did not even mention yesterdays anti-war demonstrations.

  88. Marc Cooper Says:

    Y’know, Cummings, ur way out to lunch. And Im gonna pick another fight with you. I stumbled upon ur website the other night where you attack me. That’s fine– no problem. But as a guy who posts here quite a bit you might have let me and others know instead of posting all that crud behind my back. Shows a sort of a cowardice from where I sit.

    But that’s ok too. It’s also fine with me that you criticize me for not being as good a leftie as you are. Thanks, I’ll take the compliment. And that’s certainly what it is.

    But for you to say that I have been espousing “reactionary” views on immigration is plain out of this world! Man, you are living on Planet Chomsky… no… not true… I can actually sustain some good dialogues with him. You re much much more in the pure crank category.

    Reactionary on immigration? You’re out of your effin’ mind.

  89. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    And China which our government refers to as a communist country has become “UBER-CAPITALISTS.”

    In fact one Chinese businessman was selling a mansion in Manhattan for fifty five million dollars and a photo of a newly built palace in China owned by another Chinese billionaire was so lavish, the Palace of Versailles looked paltry.

    So what does it all mean? Perhaps, the Darwinian results of economic natural selection, caused by a competitive market system are destined to create immoral inequities. There will always be a few INDIVIDUALS that can navigate the system at the expense of others. These are the winners of the economic “Olympics.”

    But what about the billions of people who are not financial Olympic champions? Do they have to resign themselves to poverty?

  90. J Cummings Says:

    I didn’t attack anyone. I attacked views and political decisions, which for all I know can be (but have not been) defended on principle.

  91. GM Roper Says:

    York and I agree on something… world ends, women and minorities hardest hit. LOL

    JC, no bud, you ARE blaming the victim if you think they did what they did because they were “Manipulated” and didn’t know any better Horse feathers. They did what they did because they were patriots. They believed in what they were doing and I know of no evidence that the 75 were manipulated in the first place. Replace the word “Feathers” above with s—!

  92. GM Roper Says:

    and I really don’t give a hoot if you resent the insuination or not. Unlike the Euros, I don’t bow down to someone getting offended or their feelings hurt.

    Think of the 75 for Gods sake! That is what Coopers post (and mine) is about, not a chance for you left wingnuts to carp about the evil USA. Even if it does feel good to your pointy little ole heads.

  93. Woody Says:

    Randy, at this point, I don’t care for the U.S. to invade Cuba. Having said that, let me cover your points.


    (1) Kennedy’s plan and his horrible decision to withhold promised air support from the Cuban freedom fighters at the Bay of Pigs ( and ) was an embarrassment and a terrible and costly break of faith that would not be repeated by a decisive and committed administration. One military failure is not a reason to completely abandon future military action. (You would be saluting the Stars and Bars rather than the Stars and Stripes if the North just gave up after being routed at Manassas. I take that back. You probably don’t salute either one.)

    And, just because Jimmy Carter had a poorly planned and executed military mission in Iran shouldn’t give us such a sense of failure that we would never attempt another mission in the future if needed. (We better be ready if those guys go through with their nuclear weapons program.)

    Footnote for you Bush Bashers: Kennedy admitted it was his fault that the operation had been a disaster. Kennedy added: “In a parliamentary government, I’d have to resign. But in this government I can’t, so you (Richard Bissell) and Allen (Dulles) have to go.”

    (2) On the missile crisis, we should have known that the USSR was planning the missile installation in Cuba before it was actually implemented. There were intelligence failures back then, too.

    Regarding promises to the USSR over withdrawing their missiles, the “deal” bounced back-and-forth between a promise to not invade Cuba and an agreement to withdraw our missiles from Turkey that were aimed at the USSR. They “picked one” for public offering. However, such a “promise” did not represent a treaty ratified by the Senate and did not bind future Presidents for new situations. ( and )

    The USSR really cared more for their own security than in Cuba’s, and our missiles in Asia aimed at them were their main concern. If we invaded Cuba today for something like, say getting Elian Gonzalez back, Russia wouldn’t do anything about it.

    (3) On picking which leaders to support, sometimes you have to make alliances and hold your nose because none of the options are good. I’ll take a bad anti-communist over a communist, which by nature is bad. (Regarding picking and supporting our friends, how different would Iran have been and be today if Carter had propedn’t abandoned the Shah and allowed the Ayatollah to walk into Iran and take over the country–and our embassy?)

    In the Cold War, think how much leverage we gave up and how our hands were tied because LEFTISTS thought that they knew what was best for the world. Even though they were U.S. citizens, they became spies against us and gave our atomic secrets to the Soviet Union and put that country in a position to stalemate us. I would rather trust elected officials than unelected spies. BTW, despite all the outcries and protests, the Rosenbergs were proven guilty, and isn’t it appropriate that the KGB’s code name for Julius was “Liberal?” ( )


    To simply address your points, what happened in 1962 doesn’t have to limit what we do today.


    reg and Eleanore, you make China seem as benign as Disney World. I can almost hear “It’s a Small World” playing in the background of your comments. Maybe China should put speakers on their tanks and play that song as they run over, literally or figuratively, their citizens wanting freedom.

  94. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Maybe the 75 librarians will open up a branch library in the Cuban prison–the collection of materials might be limited, but they will have a captive audience.

  95. David Cummings Says:

    It is I think important to talk about “capitalist countries” in a relative sense.

  96. Woody Says:

    Did you catch the attack by one of Castro’s thugs against a protester at a baseball game in a U.S. territory? That’s some open and progressive government that feels threatened to that extent.
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying: “Down with Fidel,” sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with the velocity of a major league fastball.

    The image of the man holding the sign behind home plate was beamed live Thursday night to millions of TV viewers, including those in Cuba. The top Cuban official at the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan rushed to confront the man.

    Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban official — Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba’s National Institute of Sports — to a nearby police station where they lectured him about free speech.

    …The brouhaha gathered steam Friday when Cuba’s Communist Party newspaper, Granma, called the sign-waving “a cowardly incident.”

    Well, the guy seemed pretty brave to me.


    Do you want to know how “real Cubans” feel about Castro. Check this site: . This describes a terrible storm that ruined the country: .

  97. Dan O Says:

    Maybe they should be called hair-shirt leftists. No criticism can be levelled at anyone or any country without first explicating a full taxonomy of all of the sins of the United States dating back to about, oh, Hannibal’s march. I know…we’re a bunch of vicious dogs with no redeemng qualities, rapaciously destroying everything, dominating the world of thought (when we have any) one Cartman quip at a time, a country which will never rest until all of the world is enslaved.

    No criticism can ever, ever, ever be launched without first establishing your leftist credentials by a full mea culpa. And please don’t leave anything out or you’ll labelled an imperialist pig-dog Or worse yet, a liberal. *gasp* Purity of thought my friends, it’s all about purity of thought.

  98. Mark A. York Says:

    “Maybe, York is thinking about employment in Cuba”

    No but Ketchum I like. Castro ran him out and they barely got his papers out. They let Mary go back once and they had smuggle them out on a fishing boat.

    The restoration of the Finca Vigia is something a librarian should know about if her head wasn’t so far u… well, it’s about literature at any rate. I held the medal given EH by Coijimar the village in Old Man and the Sea.

  99. Jim Russell Says:

    “Castro has as much in common with Marx as Jerry Falwell has with Jesus.”

    Damn this is funny Reg, and true at the same time. LOL.

  100. Jim Russell Says:

    Well at least the Falwell Jesus comparison. I don’t know to much about the other two.

  101. Mark A. York Says:

    “If it is not a capitalistic economic system, but seems to successfully function”

    What would be an example of this successful functioning?

  102. reg Says:

    “We don’t hear about the thousands of peasants demonstrating against the government’s of unfair agricultural policies.”

    I wouldn’t argue that the “system” that exists in China is fair or free – and I’m not even sure exactly what it is. It may be that an extreme Stalinism has mutated into a form of moderate fascism. I’ll leave that to wiser folk. But there is clearly a ferment in that country that wasn’t allowed to exist at all just three decades ago. There’s far more diffusion of information and far more space for nascent civil society. Of course we hear about the persistent demonstrations of peasants against the government. Not as much as we should – but you wouldn’t be writing about it if it wasn’t reported. The difference is that under Mao peasant demonstrations that weren’t orchestrated by one or another faction of the government – as in the “Cultural Revolution” – would have been unthinkable.

  103. bunkerbuster Says:

    A couple of Zippo flames for a couple of straw men that keep popping up around here:

    Strawman No. 1: “People who accuse Bill Clinton and George Bush of war crimes are asserting a moral equivalence between them and people like Saddam Hussein.”

    Zippo: Their relative moral standing is academic. The scale of Saddam’s crimes, however greater, does nothing whatsoever to diminish those of Bush or Clinton.

    Strawman No. 2 (a close cousin of No. 1): “Maybe they should be called hair-shirt leftists. No criticism can be leveled at anyone or any country without first explicating a full taxonomy of all of the sins of the United States dating back to about, oh, Hannibal’s march.”

    Zippo: It’s not that criticism can’t be leveled, but that its less relevant and tends to carry with it the danger of deepening demonization. What is the point of being the 10 millionth American to damn Saddam Hussein? Because he was so demonized, a lot of otherwise well-meaning people readily accepted the idea that he was involved in 9/11, had WMDs and was “linked” to al Qaeda. All those propositions were dubious on their face, but the quantity, vehemence and ubiquity of Saddam-bashing prevented rationale discourse. While there is some history on the American left of responding to tyranny with denial or apology, it is overwhelmed by the history of demonizing tyrants, nations and races that oppose U.S. military aggression.

  104. John Ruberry Says:

    I’m surprised by the lack of posts, too. Then again, Fidel likely grabbed the dissidents when he did because he knew the media would be focusing on the Iraq invasion.

  105. reg Says:

    3 years in…

  106. Randy Paul Says:

    Tried sending a trackback here, Marc, but was unsuccessful. I responded here.

  107. Mark A. York Says:

    “While there is some history on the American left of responding to tyranny with denial or apology, it is overwhelmed by the history of demonizing tyrants, nations and races that oppose U.S. military aggression.”

    This is the same cheap ad poplum up-is-downism. The false conclusion is the tyrants pale in comparison to the US a naked aggressor. It’s a false analogy on its face, and Ad Nauseam to boot.

  108. boz Says:

    Today (March 20), you failed to note the anniversaries of the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), the publication of Einstein’s theory of relativity (1916), Tunisia’s independence from France (1956), the stealing of the World Cup (1966) and the sarin gas attack in Japan (1995). Therefore, you must not care about slavery, science, Africa, soccer or terrorism. Can we blame your liberal bias?

  109. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    It’s not that complex or abstract–Wal Mart and similar schlock merchants manufacture their crap in China and pay the Chinese workers a few bucks an hour.

    In fact, their economic mentality is similar to ours—exploitation is a cross-cultural phenomena—China just seems to be more industrious.

    RECENT REPORTS INDICATE THAT BY 2015 the acceleration of outsourcing will result in 3.3 MILLION AMERICAN JOBS MOVING OFFSHORE.



    “If it is not a capitalistic economic system, but seems to successfully function”

    What would be an example of this successful functioning?”

    Pick any of the following countries:
    Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
    Guatemala 1954
    Indonesia 1958
    Cuba 1959-1961
    Guatemala 1960
    Congo 1964
    Laos 1964-73
    Vietnam 1961-73
    Cambodia 1969-70
    Guatemala 1967-69
    Grenada 1983
    Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
    Libya 1986
    El Salvador 1980s
    Nicaragua 1980s
    Iran 1987
    Panama 1989
    Iraq 191 (Persian Gulf War)
    Kuwait 1991
    Somalia 1993
    Bosnia 1994, 1995
    Sudan 1998
    Afghanistan 1998
    Yugoslavia 1999
    Yemen 2002
    Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
    Iraq 2003-
    Afghanistan 2001-

  110. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    I thought you might find this NYT article interesting.

    Joseph Kahn, “Chinese Girls’ Toil Brings Pain, Not Riches,” New York Times, 2 October 2003


    ANSHAN, China — Each eyelash was assembled from 464 inch-long strands of human hair, delicately placed in a crisscross pattern on a thin strip of transparent glue. Completing a pair often took an hour. Even with 14-hour shifts most girls could not produce enough for a modest bonus.

    “When we started to work, we realized there was no way to make money,” said Ma Pinghui, 16. “They were trying to cheat us.”

    She and her friend Wei Qi, also 16 and also a Chinese farm girl barely out of junior high school, had been lured here by a South Korean boss who said he was prepared to pay $120 a month, a princely sum for unskilled peasants, to make false eyelashes.

    Their local government labor bureau lent its support, recruiting workers and arranging a bus to take them to the big city of Anshan in northeastern China.

    Two months later, bitter that the pay turned out to be much lower, exhausted by eye-straining and wrist-wrenching work, and too poor to pay the exit fee the boss demanded of anyone who wanted out, they decided to escape. But that was not easy. The metal doors of their third-floor factory were kept locked and its windows — all but one — were enclosed in iron cages.

    These girls’ ill-fated foray to work at Daxu Cosmetics and their attempt to flee one moonless night in May illustrate how even rudimentary workers’ rights lag far behind job creation and profits in China’s surging economy.

    While multinational corporations like Motorola and Intel pay employees middle-class wages to work in world-class factories in this country, the sizzling export sector still relies heavily on smaller operations, both locally and foreign-owned, that assemble toys, clothes, shoes, tools, electronics, decorative items and cosmetic goods. Many measure profits in pennies on the dollar and squeeze workers to make their margins.

    Lee Yo Han, the South Korean entrepreneur who runs Daxu, says he came to China about a decade ago mainly because Korean companies could no longer compete in the market for false eyelashes, which sell for as little as 50 cents a set in Asia and the United States.

    Mr. Lee, who is 39 years old and speaks only Korean, keeps costs down by finding cheap rental space for his 12 production lines. The plant where Ms. Wei and Ms. Ma worked, along with 100 other young workers from rural Liaoning and Inner Mongolia, occupied the third floor of an old mental hospital.

    While he acknowledged the cost pressures, Mr. Lee said he provided a good work environment. In faxed replies to questions about Ms. Ma and Ms. Wei, Mr. Lee described them as callow girls who tried to slip out of a work contract they had signed voluntarily.

    “I treat my workers like I treat my own brothers and sisters,” Mr. Lee said. “My company is a small one, and the welfare can’t compare to a big company’s, but I tried my very best.”

    That is not the view of Ms. Wei, who has since returned penniless to her home village in rural Liaoning Province. “What they called a company was really a prison.”

    She is a stringy girl with a nervous giggle. Ms. Ma is corn-fed and prone to tears. But they grew up in nearly identical circumstances. Their families live in neighboring villages near China’s border with North Korea, where green mountains, crisp fall air and scattered dairy farms are reminiscent of the New England countryside, though far poorer.

    They first heard about the job offer in Anshan from an advertisement on local television. Salaries of $120 a month seemed high for farm girls, but the ad was sponsored by the Labor Bureau of Huairen County. The bureau contracted with Mr. Lee to find rural workers and charged a $6 application fee.

    “If this had not been arranged through official channels, we would not have let such a young girl go,” said Wei Zhixing, Ms. Wei’s father.

    As soon as they arrived in Anshan, however, the problems began. They were asked to sign a contract that offered monthly pay far below the advertised level, initially just $24, minus a $13 charge for room and board. Bonuses were promised, but only for those who produced eyelashes above quotas.

    The contract also demanded that workers pay the boss $58 if they left before the end of the yearlong contract, and $2,400 if they “stole intellectual property” by defecting to a rival eyelash maker.

    Such terms are not unusual. Court cases involving unpaid wages, illegal contracts and life-threatening working conditions are common even as China becomes richer, suggesting that cut-throat capitalism and sweatshop factories are as much a part of China’s economic revolution today as they were the early days of industrialization in the West.

    Beijing often looks the other way. Despite a long streak of fast growth, generating jobs for the country’s 350 million peasants remains urgent. At least 150 million rural laborers have no steady income, according to government estimates. They are viewed as a source of unrest that could threaten the Communist Party’s power.

    Making sure the jobs created meet China’s own standards for safety and fairness is a lower priority. Officials rarely punish factory owners for labor abuses, and workers, restricted by laws against forming unions, rarely press for better conditions.

    Ms. Wei and Ms. Ma, eager to prove themselves in their first jobs, accepted the contract terms. They said they hoped they could still earn good money if they could make enough eyelashes to earn bonuses. That was what they thought until they finished their first full day on the assembly line.

    Using tweezers to lay hairs in an intricate pattern was exacting enough, but the boss also fussily threw away eyelashes they did not meet his standard. Bonuses kicked in only after the girls made enough eyelashes, which the boss valued at one-half of one Chinese cent each, to cover base salaries. In the first month, that meant producing at least 400 eyelashes. Everyone fell short.

    Off-work hours provided little relief. The girls were occasionally allowed supervised play time on the mental hospital’s grounds. Otherwise, the factory doors stayed bolted and the windows were barred, ostensibly to protect the workers from mental patients.

    The workers were permitted one shower a week, on Tuesday mornings. Ms. Ma and Ms. Wei said the factory canteen served the same porridge of cabbage and potatoes at every meal.

    Mr. Lee denied that the girls were locked inside the factory, saying such treatment would have been illegal. He also said living conditions, including the food, “were better than what they were used to at home.”

    Whatever the truth, Ms. Wei and Ms. Ma said they told the Chinese boss at the site, Lu Shijun, that they were resigning. But Mr. Lu reminded them that they would have to pay the $58 fee to end the contract. After room and board were subtracted, they would need to work three more months to afford to quit.

    Ms. Ma and Ms. Wei said they called the county labor bureau that arranged their jobs to ask for help. They said they were told someone would be sent to deal with the problem. Weeks went by and no one came.

    As they approached the end of their second month, they said a furtive escape seemed like the only option.

    Late at night, Ms. Ma, Ms. Wei and four other girls who shared their dorm room plotted the details. They would bind their sheets into a long braid, climb out a hallway window, the only one without bars, then rappel three stories to freedom.

    On the chosen evening, the girls slipped off the production line early. They frantically tied bedding together, playing tug-of-war to tighten the knots. They secured one end inside and hurled the rest to the yard below.

    Ms. Ma climbed out first. But she had not considered what it would be like to hang in the air, feet flailing, hands straining to keep a grip. First she slid, fireman style. Then she lost control and crashed to the ground.

    The other girls had no idea what happened until Ms. Wei followed suit. When she lost her grip and plunged, she shrieked. Both she and Ms. Ma sat on the ground crying until the others panicked and called Mr. Lu.

    The boss sent them to the hospital, where Ms. Ma and Ms. Wei were both diagnosed with broken legs and displaced vertebrae. Even then, they described Mr. Lu as bitter.

    When he left them that night in their hospital beds, they recalled him saying: “We’re on the seventh floor. I suggest that you use the stairs, not the window, when you leave.”

    Mr. Lu could not be reached for comment. But Mr. Lee said his company provided good medical care for Ms. Ma and Ms. Wei. The two girls described the company as stingy and said their families borrowed money to pay their medical expenses.

    Their case generated local publicity and prompted some official scrutiny. The assembly line at the mental hospital eventually shut down, with production consolidated in Mr. Lee’s other plants. Mr. Lee declined to give a reason for closing the factory.

    One Anshan labor department official, who spoke on condition his name would not be used, said the factory violated child labor laws. While the official did not elaborate, China’s labor law bars minors between the ages of 16 and 18 from doing jobs “that require them to keep their heads down or to maintain unnatural postures.”

    Relatives of Ms. Wei and Ms. Ma said they were never contacted by authorities and were rebuffed when they asked Anshan government and police officials to investigate the case.

    “My view is that Daxu was a black society set up to cheat people,” said Ms. Ma, who now walks with a heavy limp as she helps care for the ducks and pigs that live in her front yard. “It would still be going on today if we hadn’t jumped.”

  111. Mark A. York Says:

    It’s not just crap either. It’s a upscale clothing comapnies still charging top dollar for the products while making them with this cheap labor so what are we saving?

  112. Mark A. York Says:

    “Afghanistan 2001-”

    You can’t serious. This is a functioning country in your view? It was in the stone age run by the Taliban herding women around in burka brigades. Your assertion is fallacious.

  113. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Prior to 1979 Afghanistan had a history as a moderate Islamic state that enshrined women’s rights in their 1964 constitution. Extremist Islamists were in the minority. But the international community has often disregarded this long history of this unique social progress when choosing which political force to support.

    One of the most notorious extremist warlord’s today, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was driven out of Afghanistan in the early 1970′s for having his followers throw acid in the face of women not wearing the chadori. He found safe haven in Pakistan.

    During the Soviet occupation Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i Islami movement, received 90% the CIA supplied funds through Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence. These funds have been estimated to have topped a half a billion dollars per year throughout the 1980s making Hekmatyar one of the wealthiest men in world. Even though Afghans today seek to rebuild, incorporating progressive democratic elements, support for extremists like Hekmatyar throughout the 1980′s has created the modern dilemma of warlordism that still haunts the Afghan people.

  114. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Afghans today are pitted against the undo influence of warlords in the current political process without precedence. Regardless, by day the warlords function as allies of the US while leaving many Afghans terrorized by these same brutish forces who rape and pillage by night. In the eyes of many Afghans the Bush administration’s continued support for warlords has positioned the American effort as a virtual enemy of civil society.

    Human rights expert Sima Wali’s recently returned to Kabul since her exile in 1978. As President of Refugee Women in Development Wali went to run a workshop for indigenous Afghan women-led organizations. As a woman in exile herself, Wali also went to reconnect to the ground of her own empowerment as a young women growing up in Afghanistan. She discovered that 75% of Kabul was in ruins with most of the destruction occurring when the US backed Mujihaddin turned their weapons on the Afghan people from 1992-96. The “Holy Warriors” from the 1980′s, are returning with remnants of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban mentality to terrorize again. Nobody can figure out why the roads aren’t getting fixed or the electrical generating facilities aren’t brought back on line. But warlords are getting richer.

  115. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    The Afghan tragedy is the result of a long history of interventions culminating with the American Cold Warriors failure to re-stabilize Afghanistan by de-commissioning the warlords once the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

    Selig Harrison, a leading US expert on South Asia, was told by CIA leaders in the 1980′s they had encouraged the MOST fanatical Islamists from around the world to come to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.

  116. Mark A. York Says:

    I don’t believe it. Warlordism is as ancient form of dividing territories. The place has been ruled by it for thousands of years repelling all invaders. It’s nonsensical to claim, and apparently the Soviets get a pass here, that this didn’t exist until we tried to help Massoud and the Mujahadeen.

    You have command of a lot of historical events I’ll give you that, but they are columned to add up to one predetermined conclusion: the US did it, and before these dates we had idyllic Noble Savages, living in peace and harmony. It’s false on its face. I feel sorry for someone this biased.

  117. Eleanore kjellberg Says:

    Stay deluded and walk around like a fool! Be a sucker to MSM–do some research, you have the time.

  118. Mark A. York Says:

    One visit to Wikipedia is all it takes. Been there done that. I found a long history you left out deliberately. Hindsight makes nice insight looking backward. It’s a different matter at the time. Sebastian Junger would disagree with you too.

  119. Rafique Tucker Says:

    Bravo, Marc. I’ve alwas been distressed at the Buchananite isolationism that the Left now seems to embrace. Sadly it seems that too many of the Left elite nowadays have lost their priorities, their focus, and their moorings. As a center-Left liberal, I’m no fan of the Bush Adminstration. But you know what? I’ll not let Bush prevent me from standing up for freedom. Sites like yours and others prove that there is a righteous remnant of liberals with clarity, but sadly, there aren’t enough of us.

    It’s a real shame some of us can’t move beyond Bush hatred, and focus on the issues that matter.

  120. Mark A. York Says:

    Cultural relativism makes this impossible in today’s environment I’m afraid.

  121. bunkerbuster Says:

    Wikipedia says: Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human’s beliefs and activities make sense in terms of his or her own culture. This principle was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the 20th century and later popularized by Boas’ students. Boas himself did not use the term as such, but the term became common among anthropologists after Boas’ death in 1942. The first use of the term was in the journal American Anthropologist in 1948; the term itself represents how Boas’ students summarized their own synthesis of many of the principles Boas taught.

    Cultural relativism involves specific epistemological and methodological claims. Whether or not these claims necessitate a specific ethical stance is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, this principle should not be confused with moral relativism.

    How’s this a problem for you, Mark?

  122. Mark A. York Says:

    Reason operates independently of culture. Truth knows no culture. It just is regardless of cultural biases. The moral relativism isn’t culture-centric per se. Cultural relativism can say it’s OK to eat other humans because it’s something peculiar to our culture. And we relish it despite what the rest of the world thinks. In this world all cultures are separate paradigms. I don’t buy that concept.

  123. Mark A. York Says:

    “Cultural relativity means, on the contrary, that the appropriateness of any positive or negative custom [must be evaluated with regard to how this habit fits with other group habits.]

    And there you have it.

    “Having several wives makes economic sense among herders, not among hunters. While breeding a healthy skepticism as to the eternity of any value prized by a particular people, anthropology does not as a matter of theory deny the existence of moral absolutes. Rather, the use of the comparative method provides a scientific means of discovering such absolutes. If all surviving societies have found it necessary to impose some of the same restrictions upon the behavior of their members, this makes a strong argument that these aspects of the moral code are indispensable. ”

    Having 50 kids is a pefectly fine for the Bin Ladens, but others doing it are still poor and thus a burden on the world yet imaginary cultural justification allows it. Yet it defies objective reason when removed from culture. I’m against this cultural license to be stupid.

  124. bunkerbuster Says:

    Should I have been hoping you’d provide some examples that are relevant to U.S. geopolitics, or betting that you wouldn’t?

  125. bunkerbuster Says:

    The point of cultural relativism is to understand cultures within their own context, rather than outside it. It has nothing to do with whether one feels a particular culture or culturally derived behavior is good or bad.

    Why does the right insist on pretending that understanding something is the same as accepting it or, even, approving of it?

  126. Mark A. York Says:

    Well I’m not “the right” for one thing. I understand these contexts perfectly and don’t accept the walls against thought they impose. I’m the middle where elections are won. Understanding is one thing and approval is another when outsiders are affected. What about that can’t you see?

  127. Mark A. York Says:

    In relating geopolitics, stuck in 19th century imperialism meme is a tired approach. I can both understand a failed state and not support it at the same time. Whether I want to actually buy it in order to change it is another matter. I prefer not if other ways of getting them to quit killing themselves are avialable. Sudan comes to mind.

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    I don’t believe it. Warlordism is as ancient form of dividing territories. The place has been ruled by it for thousands of years repelling all invaders. It’s nonsensical to claim, and apparently the Soviets get a pass here, that this didn’t exist until we tried to help Massoud and the Mujahadeen.

    You have command of a lot of historical events I’ll give you that, but they are columned to add up to one predetermined conclusion: the US did it, and before these dates we had idyllic Noble Savages, living in peace and harmony. It’s false on its face. I feel sorry for someone this biased.

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