Tuesday, June 30, 2009

we interrupt this broadcast...

It's been busier than usual at Chez Shelf, what with teach two courses now in addition to everything else. So that may explain some of the light posting around here. That doesn't mean I am not paying attention to things- including the passing of several celebrities and the whole Sanford debacle. I know, because I've read them, that many other fellow bloggers have been keeping teh interwebs informed and topics thoroughly discussed. However, the things that have concerned me the most are things that we don't often discussed here on The Shelf, and like my friend Laura, we haven't focused on politics at all, as it seems so dark and discouraging of late. We do try to focus on Classic films, culture and history on The Shelf, but we do like to take a general congenial tone, as you can encounter bluster and doom elsewhere. However in the last few days, indeed weeks, things have occurred that concern me- and what is most troubling is the inattention being given to these topics; Iran, Honduras and North Korea.

Sure- you can definitely see it on news sites and the regular political sites- but what about the general public? We are plastered by MJ tributes, Spencer and Heidi (god, I wish I had never found out who those two were), wall to wall celebrity death watch, and Sanford peccadillo debates. I conducted a casual poll among students, not asking or giving opinion- but more asking about general recognition. Out of the 35 students asked, 2/3rds of them knew more or less "something" was happening in Iran, 2 of them knew just what that something was. The rest "hadn't heard." (Again- this is very unscientific- just a casually polling) None of the students asked knew anything about North Korea missile tests aimed at Hawaii or our following their shipping boat and had no clue about Honduras. Sad to say, several students didn't know Honduras was a country. In fact one person was sure she went there on a student trip to Europe during High School. Sigh. Geography issues aside (and I did correct them), this illustrates several things, but chief among them is that despite this being the most tech and internet-savvy generation, people still either don't seek out information or facts, or still rely on television to provide them with news. If they don't pick it up in passing on CNN on their way to E! Entertainment Network or as a scrolling blurb during some Reality show, they may not pick it up at all.

I think the topics of North Korea and Iran are very troubling and we should all pay attention. We should be mourning the loss of freedoms and the death of protesters in Iran. We, and by we I mean our Leaders, should have taken a strong position from the get go- not a wait and see who will win attitude. The most recent item that has me paying rapt attention is the issue of Honduras and their Constitutional and legal excise of power in depowering their former President. If you haven't been paying attention, Mel Zelaya was attempting to micromanage and push through a referendum to ensure eliminating the Constitutional term limits law, which would allow him to pull a "Hugo" and basically become yet another tin-pot dictator. Hugo Chavez was even "helping" by providing the ballots and promising to make sure things went "smoothly."

So what happened? Well, allow me to quote Mary O'Grady in her piece in the Wall Street Journal:
"The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica."
(O'Grady, Honduras Defends Its Democracy, The Wall Street Journal)

OK- first thing to understand- this is the Honduran Constitution, laws and process. Second thing is: THIS WAS NOT A COUP. This was how their government dealt with an elected official seeking to grab power and considering himself above the law, and perhaps engaging the assistance of a foreign power to do so. The other branches of the Honduran government followed the constitution to the letter, and even people in his own party were telling him not to try and circumvent their constitution. This is what our own Founders themselves were talking about in terms of where the power resides, and laying down rules and laws and ways to remove those who would circumvent them from office. There was no "military coup" like the press and the other leftist thugs like Chavez and Fidel would want to make it out to be. The Legislature and Supreme Court of Honduras instructed the military in what they are to do and instituted an interim President.

Now- here is the kicker: our fearless Leader- he who shall be OBAyed, has now gone on record to defend Zelaya and say there was a coup. Our own President is taking the side of these leaders- guys who were in the vein of say, leaders from the era of the 80s in Chile for example. So let me get this straight: when hundreds of people fighting for their freedoms, that our country emulates, you can't make a statement or take a position of strong support- that's meddling. But when a leader is circumventing the supreme court, people, legislature, and constitution to ensure lifetime rule like Hugo Chavez - we've got to step right in and make sure that leader doesn't get LEGALLY ousted by his government- That's statesmanship. OK- I've got it now. Do you?Why is that other countries of the world are now better at demonstrating the freedoms and Constitutional ideals that we claim to cherish?

And today the story has taken a further turn: The UN is demanding that Zelaya be restored. In fact President Obama is quoted in the story also as saying: "It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections." While on the face of the statement, it seems reasonable, however he is utterly and completely wrong about one thing- there was no military coup as such. This was a Constitutional means of ousting an over-reaching politician. the Honduran people and their representative legislature and their Supreme Court displayed the whole checks and balances thing in action. They are the ones who directed the military to act or not act. There is no military leader in charge, nor was there ever one in charge- they've elected an interim President.

But why should we be surprised? Leftists not only have a fondness for power, but also for overlooking it's own over-reaching politicians and leaving them right where they are as to not loose power. But this is getting ridiculous. So now it's ok for the UN to tell a democracy that their Constitution needs to be circumvented? So if Zelaya goes back- does that mean that the UN or Castro and Chavez will "enforce" his return? Or worse- "enforce" his bypass of their constitution to eliminate the constitutionally imposed term limits? Now the UN is in the position of promoting "hyper-presidencies" as the left is beginning to call democratically elected leaders who get into power and then do everything, legal or illegal, to stay in power. Again- in a Democracy- does the power reside with the people or the Executive? Since he was removed by Constitutional means, by another of the Constitutional branches of government and according to their law and process- he no longer holds any power. I am so sick of the idiots in the world who pass off their raw grabs for power under the guise of populism. And even more, I am sickened by the naked ambition of our own leader who is aligning himself with the thugs of the world and thereby opposing the freedoms and the peoples of the world.

But what do you think? I suppose after a break here at The Shelf, it may have been coming on strong to rant this way, but I decided to no longer be silent. Years ago, when Wolf and I started - we had a simple motto: Think for yourself. It's time to remind myself and others of that motto that has never changed here. Perhaps it's time to speak up about these things again when occasion warrants and to ask questions. Oh, we'll continue to have fun and focus on Classic films and culture and history, but we can't forget that sometimes politics needs to take a back seat to our own basic freedoms and the laws and principles that we, as Americans, say we emulate and cherish. Freedom, as I believe and as our Founders verbalized is not a particular thing only allowed to those ready for it, culturally conditioned for it or given by a government. Rather it is a basic Human right, or as someone else better expressed it:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Do we believe those words? I do. And no amount of economic disaster, leftist chic populism, fear, or trendy socialistic policy will EVER change that. SO why do we decide to adapt or reverse engineer these rights to fit someone else's idea of power or public policy. The Founders may have lived several hundred years ago, but if you know anything about them, you know they reached far back into history and weighed out the best and worst of civilizations and governments to provide us with not only the farsighted enumeration of rights we have today, but the means to continue to right wrongs against the rights of our citizens. And in the case of our nations history, make sure that those rights should not be abridged by slavery, gender or race.

So tell us what you think in the comments thread and forgive the rant. We return you to regularly scheduled episode of "So You Think my Fat Ass can Groom Dogs, Dance, Date, Lose Weight have Talent and Survive the Jungle," already in progress.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.


Retro Hound said...

This is why we should still have newspapers and require students to read them. Even a small newspaper read daily (even weekly) would keep a person up on all kinds of things. Not just politics either, but broadens one's general knowledge base. And how does a person graduate high school and not know where Honduras is? At least the general proximity? This is why we homeschool.

J.C. Loophole said...

I sympathize- newspapers are killing themselves I think, partly because of what they parade around as news. I hate to get all "in my day" on ya, but in HS and Middle School I had several classes where a weekly assignment was to read the paper and bring in a current event for discussion.
The thing that has me worried right now in regards to education, is how students have a propensity to only look online for information and I'm talking mainly about wikis and yahoo.com and answers.com etc. Using brick and mortar libraries seem to be an anomaly to them. And when they arrive in my classes and find out they actually have to use scholarly articles and books as sources for papers, they protest and/or complain. I've even had one student drop my course because they said they never had a teacher require them to use anything but the internet. Sad.

Laura said...

This is a superb commentary, J.C. It seems like things have been coming to a head lately, where it's hard to continue being quiet...the current President's attitudes toward Great Britain, Israel, Iran, and Honduras have proven to be...unusual, to say the least.

I have read a couple of articles recently going over Obama's upbringing which theorize that culturally, he really isn't "American." He certainly approaches the world with a disturbing tolerance of dictators and increasingly apparent Marxist worldview.

We can only hope that in due course he will be rejected by a majority of American citizens. However, the lack of an informed populace -- such as you are discovering in your classes -- is is a real problem...especially when much of what news they do get is so skewed by the MSM.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it is comforting sometimes to read the impressions of like-minded people. I will be praying for our nation on Independence Day like never before.

Best wishes,


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