Obama on Egypt; America’s History of Meddling

The massive protests in Egypt have dominated much of the news for the past week. Finally, President Obama himself spoke to the public on the issue.

“…It is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders…” (via Rueters)

I agree with his statement. It is true that sovereign nations have the right to choose their leaders and their style of government. However, where were these sentiments when we invaded Iraq? When we invaded Afghanistan? When the American CIA orchestrated a coup to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953 under President Dwight Eisenhower, another American-led coup in Chile in 1973… The list goes on and on.

The United States has in fact led several coups and plans to overthrow foreign governments. These facts aren’t secrets, even though you rarely hear them talked about in the classroom or in the mainstream media. Most Americans I’ve talked to were shocked when I mentioned US backed and supported missions to overthrow other governments – many people didn’t believe me.

Naomi Klein wrote a great book called The Shock Doctrine, which outlines how American neo-liberal economic policies, in the name of free market capitalism, have ravaged countries across the globe, from Poland to Brazil to South Africa.

A great website I found gives a list of nations that America has meddled in, removing and overthrowing governments around the world, many of which were democratically elected. As Americans, we like to believe that we are the forerunners of democracy and that we are upholders of democracy around the globe – but history tells us a very different story. It also explains one of the main reasons for so much anti-American sentiment around the world.

This website is Krysstal. The page I’m talking about is “Coups Arranged or Backed by the USA,” and the information is fascinating. Of course, like all information you find, both on paper and online, you have to make sure it is reliable and accurate. Anyone can find an outlet to rant and rave, spewing irrelevant information and telling likes. Look at Glenn Beck. But as far as I can tell, from my own research and reading, this information is historically accurate and based on historical fact.

Like I said, this information is not secret, no one can deny the American involvement in the coup against the Iranian government in the ’50’s, for example, although for the most part, it is not discussed. But it should be. How can we truly be a nation that promotes democracy if we actively crush democratic governments because of their stance on Palestine or American big business doesn’t like their economic policies? We can’t be, and if history has anything to tell us, we aren’t that kind of nation.

The United States and Egypt have been allies for a long time, which is our administration has not been stronger about taking a side on the issue until now. I can only imagine what would happen if Egypt was an American hot-button nation like Iran.

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The American Dream

A slight continuation from yesterdays post…

What is the American Dream? It is one of the things that American’s are always talking about, always bragging about. A cornerstone of our democracy, one of the things that sets us apart from everyone else in the world. Here is my definition of the American Dream. It is the ability for someone to come to this country, either born as a natural citizen or as an immigrant, to start out with nothing and through hard work and by playing by the rules is able to build a good life for themselves and their family. The idea is that each successive generation will build on that success and consecutively do better. This dream has been fulfilled by many, many people, but it is getting harder and harder.

There is a lot of talk about the idea of returning to the former glory of America. Activists on the right, notably the Tea Party movement, are bent on the idea that we are going in the wrong direction and that in order to correct this, we must somehow return to the values and believes of the Founders. Numerous Tea Party activists and politicians support and espouse these beliefs, including the infamous Sarah Palin.

The problem with the idea of this “return to glory” is that America was never the great, all mighty, all compassionate, glorious nation that they idealize. The United States was built on the backs of slaves and the ever expanding desecration and genocide of millions of Natives. The Founding Fathers were content to say that the Black slaves counted as only 3/5 of a person and denied women the right to vote. This country has a long, long history of suffering and intolerance and injustice. And that history is very recent, and in too many cases, still in the making. The civil rights movement isn’t ancient history, you don’t have to go back too far in time to find people lynching African Americans for no other reason than the color of their skin, it wasn’t that long ago when large groups of men and women marched in the streets with white robes and hoods, proclaiming their desire to “take back their country!”

Of course, the United States was able to overcome a lot of these issues. It took decades, even centuries, but we have arguably come a long way. But ignorance and intolerance is still rampant. There is still racism, there is fear and violence propagated out of the fear of Islam and Arab-Americans, there is hatred and violence born out of homophobia and immigration. We are far from perfect, and we have been a lot farther. We should not be looking back in time for some mythic American golden age, we should be looking to progress and become better people, we should be looking forward to making things better for everybody. We should want to make this a safer place to settle down and raise families, we should be disturbed by the fact that since the 1980’s the richest 1% of Americans control 42% of the nations wealth, we should be angered by the hideous torture and lies enacted by our government all over the world, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Guantanamo.

 

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Michelle Bachman – Tea Party Reponse?

Michelle Bachman gave a Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. Her speech was aired online at the Tea Party Express website and CNN; surprisingly, not on FOX. You can read her entire speech by clicking here.

Her message, as expected, consists of bashing the President – she declares the need to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting the amount corporations are allowed to pollute, to deregulate the businesses that caused the economic meltdown in the first place, and to roll back the health care bill. Routine Tea Party talk.

But even more disturbing were her comments five days ago.

Speaking to a group in Iowa, where she represents the 6th district in the House, she referenced the founding fathers, as many Tea Partiers are inclined to do. The Tea Party likes to conjure up the image that they are tried and true followers of the Constitution and that the Founders are infallible in their divine establishment of the United States. There is nothing wrong with talking about the Founders, with talking about the Constitution, but if you’re going to do that, you need to stick to history – real history, not some fantasy that is appealing to the masses. Representative Bachman says, speaking of the Europeans who settled the American colonies:

It didn’t matter the color of their skin, it didn’t matter their language, it didn’t matter their economic status… On­­ce you got here, we were all the same. Isn’t that remarkable­­?” (Michelle Bachman, 21 January 2011)

Taken on its own, this sounds good and it is going to be appealing to supporters of the Tea Party movement. But it is complete bull. There is no American golden age; this country is great because it was founded on the ideas of individual freedom and liberty and protection from an overbearing government, but the actual progress of freedom has been painstakingly slow. The fact that a group of people were able to come together with the vision of a free nation where people didn’t have to worry about being thrown into prison based on the whims of a monarch, a place where they could practice their religion freely and without government interference, a nation ruled by a government for and by the people – these are the incredible ideas that we as a nation have certainly established. We have accomplished a lot that we should be proud of.

My initial response to her audacious statement is: “Tell that to the African slaves who were the legal property of rich white men, tell that to the millions of Native peoples that were butchered and displaced for American expansion and because of their racial and cultural differences that were unacceptable by the first Americans.”

We cannot forget that this country was founded on the backs of slaves. Our entire economy was based on slave labor, which became strongly connected to a long history of explicit racism that continues today. In the Constitution, the holy text of the Tea Party, a Black slave was defined as only 3/5’s of a person and they were the legal property of their owner. They had no rights and were perpetually dehumanized and beaten. Following the Emancipation, they were still legally brutalized in the South with Jim Crow, and explicit racism still exists in every corner of our country today. How can we forget that the Civil Rights movement was only a few decades ago? To suggest that the early Americans were color blind is to desecrate the very history of our country.

It is also important to remember that the United States was also founded on and expanded upon the genocide of millions of Native Americans in every part the country. They were barbarically murdered by the thousands – men, women and children alike – forced out of their homes and eternally divorced from their rich languages and cultures – at the hands of the early American settlers. The same people constantly glorified by Bachman and the Tea Party.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating the good things about our country – but you cannot skip over so much terrible and bloody history that was fully sanctioned by this “Christian nation”. This is nothing more than Tea Party propaganda – using symbols and painting false histories that are inspiring, but completely based in ignorance and falsehoods. We need to look forward to progress, to making our country better and correcting the injustices that still exist. We need to move our country forward, not “take it back.”

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Why I Love Twitter

It took me awhile to jump onto the twitter bandwagon… It seemed kind of silly to me, most of the people I knew used twitter to talk about random stuff I didn’t care about (ex: “off to work now, I wish I was in bed” or “Pizza Hut for dinner!”) But for awhile now I’ve been using twitter to send political messages, and to tweet links to important articles, websites, discussions and videos that I think other people need to see.

And tonight, I’m using twitter to get live commentary on the State of the Union address by President Obama. Using the tag #SOTU, you can read people’s comments in near live-time while watching it on tv. Also check out #sotufacts. And, you can read the complete text of the address at the Huffington Post, by clicking here.

And my personal favorite…

Join us on twitter and share your comments about the State of the Union!

(follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/globewatching)

Also notable people worth following:

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Keeping Wikileaks Alive

Our last President and administration led us into a war based entirely on lies and fear mongering, illegally spying on citizens, arresting, detaining and TORTURING innocent citizens around the world without trials; big business has taken over government – raking in record profits at the same time middle and lower class… Americans are losing jobs and suffering from a recession directly caused by big banks and corruption at the same time the GOP is pushing for tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting unemployment benefits. The only thing wikileaks has done is prove what Progressives have been saying for years. Julian Assange is not the terrorist – Bush, Cheney and their accomplices are. 

http://mirror.wikileaks.info/

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Tea Party Senator Appoints Lobbyist as Chief of Staff

Newly elected Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah, a supporter of the Tea Party movement, has hired an energy sector lobbyist to be his chief of staff. Surprise? Well, no, considering all along the sane people of this great country have been pointing out that the Tea Party, and really, the entire Republican party exists to serve corporate interests at the major expense of Americans, especially the middle and working classes.

Read the article “Mike Lee Defends Hiring Lobbyist As Chief Of Staff” by Nick Wing here at the Huffington Post, with a transcript and video clip of an interview from FOX News (where else?).

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An Outsourced Economy Invites Unemployment

“‘President Obama has said, “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.” He is right. But finding consumers somewhere else is easier said than done. For thirty years, the United States has been outsourcing production and buying more from the rest of the world than it is selling. We have financed the resulting trade deficit by borrowing to the point where we are the world’s largest debtor nation. The list of products we no longer make in this country is a mile long.”  –Dissent Magazine

Since the Reagan Era, neo-conservative economic policies have worked to the explicit advantages of the rich. The sacred goal in capitalism is to expand, to make money, to be profitable. As a result, corporate policy has been to outsource all kinds of jobs and services to foreign countries, selling away American jobs and decreasing production and exports in the United States.

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Sarah Palin – A National Embarrassment

I really hate to give Sarah Palin attention, because she is so ridiculous and unbelievably ignorant, but I feel it is necessary to comment on her because she does get so much media attention and has a sizable group of supporters. As of right now she has 1.8 million fans on facebook. And that honestly scares me because of the things that she says and advocates. Either people aren’t really listening to what she is saying, or her “traditional” and “moral” supporters are really Nazis.

Part of the reason she is so popular I would imagine is because she is one of the faces of a group of Americans who resent the current administration, most notably the so-called Tea Party Patriots. No other group advocates their strong, traditional conservative moral values yet continually uses violent and racist rhetoric and demonstrations. There is no need to give examples, fear mongering against Blacks, Mexicans and other immigrants and especially Arabs and Muslims is a Neo-Conservative legacy.

Palin never ceases to shock me with her arrogance and blind stupidity, but here is one comment she made on her facebook recently that really made my jaw drop.

“We’ve all lived and worked through the Exxon-Valdez spill. They can help you. Give them a call. Or, what the heck, give me a call.” -Sarah Palin

We all know how disastrous the BP oil spill is – oil is still gushing into our oceans, polluting countless miles of coast and the habitats of hundreds of animals, untold damages and billions of dollars in clean up, called the worst oil spill in recent history. And Sarah Palin waves it off, not a big deal, hell, “give me a call” she says. It’s nothing short of arrogant and shows a complete disregard and disconnect to any American who has or will suffer because of the spill.

What are some of the effects we are seeing from this man-caused disaster?

“The spill is going to cause various kinds of environmental disasters like Petroleum Toxicity and Oxygen Depletion, causing life threat to about 400 different species of animals and birds including the endangered species of the Ridley Turtles that live on the marshlands. Till now almost 500 of dead birds, 250 dead turtles and 27 mammals including Dolphins have been recovered from the spill zone. The spill has caused a great disturbance to the ecosystem which would take decades to recover from this intrusion.”

photo credit: CHARLIE RIEDEL / AP

“Many foreign tourists have canceled their trips to coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama fearing the arrival of oil on the beaches. These activities have caused heavy loss to the Tourism Industry. Thus dropping the amount of tourists up to 70 Percent of the expected arrivals.”

(From iretireearly.com, read the full story here)

Sarah Palin: The gulf oil disaster is a huge deal to millions of Americans, thousands of small business owners and middle class families who face property damage, loss of business and employment, and to the untold numbers of wildlife and American citizens who will suffer health problems because of the massive amounts of toxic oil that is dumping into our water and our beaches. You should be ashamed of yourself for being so ignorant and out of touch with reality.

Links:

The Health Effects of Oil Spills

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