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Does anyone know what a coup even is?

So now that both the United Nations and the Organization of American States have voted to condemn the "coup" in Honduras, could we spend a few minutes and review just what a coup actually is?

A coup d'etat is generally recognized as a military overthrow of a civilian government.

Honduras Which never happened in Honduras. Instead, acting on an order from the Supreme Court – issued on a request from Congress – the Honduran military removed the president after he ignored both Congress and the Supreme Court and scheduled a referendum designed to make him president for life.

It might also be noted that the ballots for said referendum were being distributed and tabulated by the president's supporters, not by Honduras' electoral officials.

To have anti-democratic thugs like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro condemn the apparently legal ouster of an out-of-control president is one thing; to have the United States do so is a bit disappointing.

If Richard Nixon had refused to resign and instead faced certain impeachment, and almost as certain conviction in the Senate, what would Americans have thought if other nations condemned his removal from office?

Yes, former Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya was elected by the people of his nation (just as Nixon was elected by the people of his). But those same people also elected the Congress (which has a majority controlled by Zelaya's own party), which appointed the members of the Supreme Court.

And the military never took control – they simply arrested and deported Zelaya, and returned to their barracks. The democratically elected Congress then selected a replacment for Zelaya – also a member of his party. And the regularly scheduled elections to choose a new president are moving forward as planned.

There was no coup; there was a small country ousting an elected official who defied his nation's laws and tried to illegally seize power.

Presumably whomever the Hondurans elect in November will accept that fact that you're limited to one term in office as president, and won't try an end-around on the people he or she represents.

And next time the U.N. and OAS hold votes to condemn a supposed coup, perhaps they could take the time to learn what a coup is – and limit voting to those countries that practice fair and open elections of their leaders themselves. Allowing Iran (much less Syria and North Korea) to vote to condemn Honduras' leadership woes doesn't really do much to advance the cause of democracy.

In the meantime, the OAS should quit trying to reinstall Zelaya over the objections of the legitimate, elected government of Honduras – which as this is written are telling the OAS and U.N. to butt out. And of the OAS goes through with its threats and expels Honduras for the non-coup? Well, if they follow that up by admitting Cuba, the farce will be complete.

Posted July 4, 2009

Master stylist, not an innovator

Michael Jackson's gloveMichael Jackson's unexpected death at age 50 caught nearly everyone but surprise, and Turbula nation was no exception.

But in trying to absorb the round-the-clock coverage of his untimely passing, it seems to us that he's being given far more attention than his music career warranted.

Yes, Jackson was talented, and turned in two classic albums in his 20s on top of a body of stellar work as the face of the Jackson 5 as a kid.

But when Jackson's life and career get exponentially more coverage than did those of, say, Johnny Cash, James Brown or Frank Sinatra when they passed, you have to wonder if our culture of celebrity worship hasn't gotten out of hand.

Because while Jackson was a superbly gifted singer, and a master stylist, he was not an innovator. He turned out some of the best soul and R&B and pop of the 1970s and early '80s, but it seems worth pointing out that he did not change the music. Certainly not the way Cash, Brown or Sinatra did – all of whom profoundly and directly altered the course of American popular music.

Then again, none of those three married Elvis' daughter or became a one-man sideshow the way Jackson did, either ...

Posted July 1, 2009

None so blind

Cuban women's prison Cindy Sheehan goes to Cuba to protest prison abuse, and all she can be bothered with is Guantanamo?

Look, Turbula's contributors take in a broad swath of the political spectrum, yet it's hard to imagine any of those who make Turbula what it is getting in a frenzy to defend the detention facilities at Guantanamo.

Still, compared to the Cuban prisons, Guantanamo suddenly doesn't look so bad.

Sheehan wants to protest imprisonment without right to appeal? To speedy trial? To regular, private meetings with an attorney?

All and well, and most of Turbula Nation would probably share those aims.

But Guantanamo isn't the only prison on that island with the above conditions.

We realize that Sheehan is very busy in her professional duties, but perhaps she could spare some time to visit the Cubans sitting in prison for the "crimes" of opening private libraries without the government's permission, for trying to organize political parties without the government's permission, for speaking their minds – again, without the government's permission.

Or perhaps instead of talking about how brave she is (a point that seems to come up in more and more of her interviews with reporters) she could actually risk angering her Cuban hosts (who are, after all, only too eager to embarrass the U.S. government) and visit some of the many thousands of Cubans who sit in prison without trial, without charge, without hope of reprieve, guilty of the "crime" of homosexuality.

But we'll not hold our breath, for the willingness of the West's self-proclaimed "progressives" to overlook the fascistic tendencies of Cuba's totalitarian dictatorship is truly remarkable ...

Posted January 7, 2007

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