Wednesday, August 24, 2005

American Extremist Christian Cleric Fallout. Early Softball Playoff Exit.

American Extremist Christian Cleric Fallout

I present an article from the Independent UK that describes, in rich detail, the hypocrisy of the United States in it's dealings with South American countries like Venezuela and Chile. Excerpt:

Venezuela is living in the shadow of the other 11 September. In 1972, on a day synonymous with death, Salvador Allende - the democratically elected left-wing President of Chile - was bombed and blasted from power.

The CIA and the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had decided the "irresponsibility" of the Chilean people at the ballot box needed to be "rectified" - so they installed a fascist general, Augusto Pinochet. He "disappeared" at least 3,000 people and tortured 27,000 more as he clung to power right up to 1990. Since the Venezuelans elected Hugo Chavez, their own left-wing democrat, in a 1998 landslide, they have been waiting for their 11 September. That's why it did not surprise anyone here this week when Pat Robertson - one of America's leading evangelicals and a friend of George Bush - openly called for a US-backed murder of their President.

Laydez Primera, 34, has been doing an eight-hour shift. He explains: " Los esqualidos [the squalid ones, as the opposition is often called] and Bush have tried everything to get rid of Chavez. They know we have elected him in totally open elections, but they don't care. They have tried forcing a recall referendum in the middle of Chavez's term, but the President won by 60 per cent. They have tried saying the elections were rigged, but the opposition asked Jimmy Carter to come and watch the elections, and he said they were totally free. He didn't say that about the election of Bush in Florida! And they even tried staging a coup. We will never, never forget that."

The coup, the coup. Everybody here has their stories about the 2002 coup d'Etat, and the strange 47-hour Presidency of Pedro Carmona Estanga, the head of Venezuela's equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry. (Pat Robertson's call caused a cascade of memories to burst across the streets of Caracas.) That April, Chavez was kidnapped and removed from power in a decapitation of democracy orchestrated by the media, a few generals and the wealthy. Carmona dissolved the Supreme Court, the Constitution and the elected National Assembly and assumed control of the country. This was immediately welcomed by the Bush administration.

But wait. I don't understand. How can George "Freedom Is God's Gift To Everyone" Bush have welcomed such a blatant disregard for the democratic process? Read on...

Washington was eager to ensure the largest pot of oil outside the Middle East - providing 10 per cent of US domestic imports - was placed back under the control of US corporations, rather than a left-winger with his own ideas about oil revenue. It later emerged the US had been funding the coup leaders. Only the story didn't end there. Venezuela refused to be Chile.

Judith Patino, a 57-year-old grandmother and street-seller who lives in one of the shanty-towns in the west of Caracas, explains: "We would not let our democracy be destroyed. We refused. Everybody from this barrio [district], everybody from all the barrios, went on to the streets of Caracas. We were afraid, we thought there would be massacres, but we had chosen our President and we were governing our own country and we would not surrender." More than a million people took to the streets, surrounding the Miraflores Palace - the President's residence - and calling for Chavez to return.

Los Esqualidos scurried away; Chavez returned to the Miraflores by helicopter, and Caracas erupted into what one young woman told me was "the biggest, maddest party Venezuela has ever seen". Yet, three years on, the country is still split. There is the rich 20 per cent, who for more than a century received all the oil profits - until Chavez came to power and began to distribute them more widely. They welcomed the coup and rejoiced at Robertson's comments. And, glaring at them across a chasm of incomprehension, there is the poor 80 per cent, who defended Chavez.

Full Story

Does this really surprise anyone who has been even halfway aware of what The United States has done in Central and South America for decades? Unfortunately, Robertson, who can correctly be called an American Extremist Christian Cleric, merely said the things he said about calling for Chavez's assassination knowing that there are a lot of people in this country who would say: "Hey, that's not a bad idea."

Just in case Mr. Bush is thinking about taking Mr. Robertson's advice, let's look at a couple of key numbers:

* Result of presidential election in 1998: 56.2 per cent for Chavez
* Result of 2004 referendum on whether Chavez should stay in power: 58.3 per cent vote in his favour

To put those figures in context, President "I Have To Live My Life" Bush's present popularity rating is below 40%. I wonder how he'd do if the Democrats had the vision, numbers and balls to call for a referendum on his performance. Oh wait, that's right. He has the Diebold voting machines. Never mind...

Early Softball Playoff Exit

Last night saw the early exit from the playoffs for my softball team. After having a 7-1 lead at the end of three innings, we lost by a disgusting 24-14. After grabbing the early lead, it was as if a switch had been flipped to reverse everything we had done well up to that point. The main problem was shoddy defense. In particular, our third baseman, shortstop and left fielder began to play as if they'd never caught a ball in their entire lives as we gave outs away by the truckload over the final four innings.

One interesting thing happened that you rarely see. The situation: We have a runner on first base with one out and a power-hitting lefty at the plate. Said batter lofted a deep fly to right-center field where, after a momentary bobble, the outfielder maintained control and made the catch for the out. However, the second the ball touched the outfielder's glove, our runner, who had tagged up, sprinted for second, then, because of the bobble, made it all the way to third. The opposition, thinking that our guy left early, relayed the ball back to first base, at which point the umpire correctly called our man safe. This lead to a semi-heated discussion, but the umpire calmly explained the rule which says that a baserunner doesn't have to wait until a fielder has total control of the ball to tag and advance, because advancement is triggered on "first contact" with the ball. I can't recall ever seeing this played out at any level of ball in which I've played, or watched, but I had been aware of this provision, so it was good to see that this umpire knew the rule. After the clarification, yours truly then drove the man in from third with a single to right, which gave us the 7-1 lead. Little did we know that this play would be the highlight of our evening. Oh well, there's always next season!

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