At Least He’s Not Your President




53 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. EMRosa says:

    Love ya man, but I think you’re completely wrong on this. Whether or not you agree with the decision to move forward with the vote after the supreme court decision there, there is no denying that Zelaya is, as you said, a democratically-elected president and what we are witnessing right now is a military coup by a the country’s oligarchy. They kidnapped the president, and even Obama has condemned this. (Boneheaded move by the oligarchy, considering this is not a U.S. backed event like previous other coups in Latin America.)

    This is in no way a preservation of democracy. has done excellent reporting on what’s really going on over there.  

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      Presidents aren’t kings. Democratically elected or not, Zelaya actively worked to undermine his nation’s constitution. I’m reminded of Nixon’s line, “If the president does it, it’s not illegal.” While the military likely overstepped its bounds by arresting him, I think it far more likely that the head of the military, Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, will listen to the Supreme Court or Congress if they tell him to back down.

      Additionally, the Honduras Congress – not military leadership – has named the president’s provisional replacement.

      When politicians start leading marches on military bases in opposition to rulings by a nation’s supreme court, there’s not going to be a happy ending for anyone. As it stands, the military’s actions so far seem like one of the least worst paths out of this disaster.

      • EMRosa says:

        To quote investigative journalist Bill Conroy at

        “Now, why would you need a military-enforced kidnapping of a sitting president if that president had, in fact, voluntarily resigned and the nation’s Congress had acted justly under law in appointing a replacement?

        The lie is that blatant.”

        He didn’t work to “undermine” the constitution as you state, he was working to run for another term. In Latin America, as I saw in Bolivia when I traveled there in January (to report for Narco News), the idea of a constitutional assembly is pretty common, and they do usually include changes to the country’s term limit laws, along with a wide variety of other things.

        Was Evo Morales somehow undermining his democratically-elected government in Bolivia when he worked and compromised to change the country’s constitution in favor of indigenous rights, while the white oligarchy complained of “racism?” The answer is no, and the people agreed, approving the new condition by more than 60 percent.

        As the OAS and Secretary Clinton have now said, this is an undemocratic coup that should be condemned, and the only government the Obama administration recognizes right now is the former president. And good for them for doing so.

        • Canines says:

          They do some solid reporting, from time to time:

        • Jeff Bridges says:

          First of all, the President obviously didn’t resign. Whoever thought up that bit of spin should get their ass handed to them.

          But more to the point, President Zelaya put himself above the law when he ignored the Supreme Court, period, end of story. I’m not all that familiar with Evo Morales, but from what I’ve read he’s accomplished his aims legally. There’s a pretty huge difference there. You would know far more about that than I would, though.

          Constitutional assemblies are fine – when the Supreme Court, Congress, and the country’s Attorney General don’t declare the vote to have one illegal. It’s not about some evil oligarchy trying to take over, it’s about the rule of law. More interestingly, it’s a classic separation of powers dispute (Federalist #47) that Zelaya thought he could simply ignore.

          Is it a complete mess over there right now? Sure. Could the situation have been handled differently? Of course. But the military was stuck between a rock and a hard place. They could have violated the country’s constitution by helping to carry out an illegal poll as ordered to by the President, but that would have been illegal as well. Instead they decided to break the law in a different way by deposing the President and turning power over to folks who have so far shown much more respect for the constitution.

          I just don’t have all that much sympathy for politicians who ignore supreme court rulings and march on military bases, no matter how much of the popular vote the win by. (49.9% to 46.2% in the last election, by the way.)

          Is it undemocratic? Certainly. Is it illegal? Most likely. Did Zelaya bring it on himself by flagrantly breaking the law? You betcha.

      • BlueCat says:

        I tend to agree that this is a case of nobody respecting democratic institutions very much.  In Honduras?  What a surprise.  

        The Honduran president is guilty of refusing to recognize the decision of the Supreme Court and insisting on an election process ruled illegal.   It’s as if Clinton had ignored the Supreme Court decision to end the 2000 election recount in Florida and demanded a new election then tried to get the military involved in the illegal proceedings.

        Much as I would have liked the Supreme Court’s decision to have been different (apparently even they knew it was bull and took the wacky step of stipulating it should not be seen as setting any precedent for future elections), I also believe that presidents are not above the law and can’t just say, I don’t like the Supreme Court decision so I can ignore it.  Especially on their way to changing the constitution so they can be, again surprise, President for life.  Here’s the e-mail I received urging me to nag President Obama to renounce this more strongly.  Think I’ll pass:

        Military Coup in Honduras

        A military coup has taken place in Honduras this morning (Sunday, June 28), led by SOA graduate Romeo Vasquez. In the early hours of the day, members of the Honduran military surrounded the presidential palace and forced the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, into custody. He was immediately flown to Costa Rica.

        A national vote had been scheduled to take place today in Honduras to consult the electorate on a proposal of holding a Constitutional Assembly in November. General Vasquez had refused to comply with this vote and was deposed by the president, only to later be reinstated by the Congress and Supreme Court.

        The Honduran state television was taken off the air. The electricity supply to the capital Tegucigalpa, as well telephone and cellphone lines were cut. Government institutions were taken over by the military. While the traditional political parties, Catholic church and military have not issued any statements, the people of Honduras are going into the streets, in spite of the fact that the streets are militarized. From Costa Rica, President Zelaya has called for a non-violent response from the people of Honduras, and for international solidarity for the Honduran democracy.

        While the European Union and several Latin American governments just came out in support of President Zelaya and spoke out against the coup, a statement that was just issued by Barack Obama fell short of calling for the reinstatement of Zelaya as the legitimate president.

        Call the State Department and the White House

        Demand that they call for the immediate reinstatement of Honduran President Zelaya.

        State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339

        White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414

        Visit and for articles and updated information.

        Click here to watch TeleSur (in Spanish) for live updates

        • sxp151 says:

          Is that from Jeff? Because he just made it up based on, I guess, a movie he saw in the 80s.

          • BlueCat says:

            the chances are good a guy who insists on an election to change the constitution contrary to the ruling of his Supreme Court and AG so that he can serve beyond his alloted time is headed in that direction like so many “presidents” of tin pot “democracies” before him.

            And, by the way, the Obama administration did try to head this off.  It didn’t take.  You can’t impose a US style social contract between, president, citizens, legislative bodies, courts and military, the only real way to avoid  the kind of institutional fragility that makes for bloody coups in so many of the world’s so-called democracies, from  the outside.

            So I’m not going to be calling to nag Obama to ….do what exactly?


      • sxp151 says:

        is a familiar phrase, used by people who were wrong to absolve themselves of personal responsibility for it.

  2. EMRosa says:

    Major kudos to the banner in the top right corner, saying “More people read Colorado Pols than The Denver Post’s political section.”

    It’s funny because it’s true! 🙂

  3. sxp151 says:

    Sometimes an apparent contradiction (“to depose a democratically elected president to preserve democracy”) is an actual contradiction.

    Re-electing a President is not the same as having an emperor-for-life. Real actual functioning democracies re-elect leaders all the time. They also change their constitution all the time.

    So if the National Guard marched into Manhattan and arrested Mike Bloomberg, who also changed New York City’s constitution to get himself another term, that’d be quite all right? If not, you have to realize just how monumentally stupid is this entire diary.

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      He followed the constitutional process to legally change the constitution to give himself another term. If the NY Supreme Court (or rather the “Court of Appeals,” as the highest court in the state of New York) had ruled Bloomberg’s actions illegal, I doubt he would have continued with his efforts. If he had, the NYC police probably would have arrested him for, you know, breaking the law. Especially if he’d led a march on police HQ to “liberate” the illegal ballots.

      Again, presidents aren’t kings. If they want to remain in office past their legally allowable term, they have to follow a legal process to make that happen. Zelaya didn’t. And while the military’s actions likely weren’t legal either, by allowing Congress to appointment a provisional president they’ve already shown a greater commitment to the rule of law than Zelaya did.

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      Back when Alabama’s Governor Wallace tried to keep black kids from going to a white school, President Kennedy did use the national guard to uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling.

      Now in that case the national guard followed the orders of a democratically elected Commander in Chief, but what would have happened if President Clinton had decided to turn over power to Al Gore instead of George Bush after our Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2000 election? Gore won the popular vote after all. (I’m sure some readers are thinking, “Yeah! That’s exactly what should have happened!”) What if Norm Coleman decides to keep showing up and voting in the Senate? Would the Capitol Police be within their rights to arrest him?

      Luckily, in our country politicians actually follow the rule of law and decisions made by the supreme court. In Honduras, their president clearly didn’t.

      • EMRosa says:

        Baring black children from schools was in clear violation of our country’s constitution, the highest law of the land next to treaties. But in Honduras, as is in the United States, it’s not unconstitutional to change the constitution. The difference is that Congress does that here, and the people vote on it over in Honduras, just like in many places in Latin America. In Honduras, the supreme court is not considered the highest law of the land, and like Bolivia, is rife with reports corruption at times.

        When you have routine coup attempts happening as they do in that region, it’s not crazy to understand why the president would want to prevent a military coup against him by trying to commender his military Again, things are very different in Honduras than in the U.S.  

  4. EMRosa says:

    there are reports that Congressman Cesar Ham, who was a Zelaya ally, as been murdered by the military. Let’s get real here and stop trying to justify this deadly and undemocratic coup.

    • BlueCat says:

      an illegal election in order to remain in power nor the military coup is justified by our standards.  That’s why elections alone do not make stable democratic states.  Strong constitutions and democratic institutions coupled with a strong tradition of respecting them do.

      After all, the President here is Commander in Chief.  The only thing stopping an American President from using our military to impose his will when he can’t get what he wants via the legislature or the courts is the strength of our commitment, including the military’s commitment, to our institutions. Without an essentially voluntary agreement for elected officials, courts and military to all operate within the parameters established by our institutions, we’d be having coups all the time, too.

      Let the Hondurans sort this one out. They need to strengthen their democratic institutions. It’s not our job, nor could we accomplish it if we wanted to.

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      Rather significantly, I’d say.

      But if these Central and South American presidents would stop trying to become dictators for life and just follow their darn constitutional limits none of this would happen!

      • sxp151 says:

        He tried to change the constitution. He had protesters on his side. He didn’t kill anyone. But a military dictatorship kills someone, and that’s his fault?

        What is it about the Rio Grande that makes people turn stupid whenever they even think about anyone south of it? Is it a magical river?

        • Jeff Bridges says:

          When you’re just a complete jackass?

          Seriously, I don’t know what your parents did to you as a child, but you don’t have to take it out here.

          As for whatever point you’re trying to make here, when political leaders do stupid things in developing nations – like trying to conduct an illegal poll to hold on to power just a little bit longer – people often get killed. And a military dictatorship? How is it a military dictatorship if Congress is running things?

          A few people may have been killed, which is a tragedy, but democratically elected politicians are still in charge, just not the one who was willing to break the law to stay in office.

          • parsingreality says:

            We’ve had our differences but mostly he is a great POLster.

            As to his comments about south of the Rio Grande, is he wrong?  Every country south of the RG has had military takeovers, revolutions, presidents solidifying their powers, etc.  I might be wrong about Paraguay or something, but it’s generally true.

            Don’t shoot the messenger.  

            • Jeff Bridges says:

              I think you actually just went the opposite direction of sxp on that one. I believe he meant to imply that my thinking about people south of the “magical” Rio was “stupid,” not that Central and South American leadership has a history of military takeovers – which is what I had implied and you and I agree on.

              I’ve dealt with sxp on numerous issues on this site, and he always comes across to me as an angry 8th grader; albeit with a slightly wider world view.

          • Middle of the Road says:

            Educate yourself.

            I mean, are you serious here?

            How is it a military dictatorship if Congress is running things?

            It’s a military dictatorship if the military kidnaps the legally elected President of the country, creates a power vacuum and allows the President to be deposed so that the head of Congress (the next in line) can ascend to power. Yes, the President’s attempt to get around the election laws of one term by creating a referendum that was clearly illegal. But how in God’s name does a military coup somehow make that better?

            This man was directly elected by the vote of the people. The people did not vote to give the military the power to kidnap the President of Honduras because they disagree with his referendum. The referendum would have most likely been overturned in the Courts. There was no need for this power grab and to call it anything other than a miltary coup shows an incredible ignorance of SA politics, on your part, not sxp.

          • sxp151 says:

            so I wouldn’t expect you to take me seriously either.

            You advocate killing people because you didn’t get your way in a dispute you didn’t know or care about two days ago. I think this very silly dispute was not worth anyone losing their lives over, and like just about everyone in Latin America, I think a military coup is an awful, awful thing.

            You seem to be having a great time living out some kind of Rambo fantasy vicariously. And you get offended when someone calls you out on it, as if your advocacy of fascism is not inherently uncivil.

  5. Canines says:

    I’ve never heard of a judicial body ruling a non-binding resolution “unconstitutional” before.

  6. sxp151 says:

    Bet the Supreme Court is not happy about that!

    I guess that means the Joint Chiefs of Staff should overthrow him, force his resignation, send him into exile, and assassinate Barney Frank. All to save democracy.

    • Canines says:

      I simply think the analogy works better using Bernie Sanders of Vermont rather than Barney Frank of Massachusetts, though, since Sanders (Independent, democratic socialist) and President Obama (Democrat) don’t technically belong to the same party.

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      Try the 2000 election for a more realistic comparison. What would have happened if Clinton had handed power over to Gore instead? A freakin’ mess, that’s what. Hopefully not one that resulted in marines storming the White House, but anything can happen when politicians start putting themselves above the rule of law.

      • Canines says:

        No power would have been automatically handed over in Honduras had the vote actually taken place, nor would the vote have made Zelaya an automatic ruler for life.

  7. sxp151 says:

    “Rare Hemisphere Unity in Assailing Honduran Coup”

    With their condemnation on Sunday of the coup ousting President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, governments in the Western Hemisphere from across the ideological spectrum found a rare issue around which they could swiftly arrive at unity.

    But such legalistic arguments failed to dissuade governments from condemning the coup, particularly in countries like Chile, Argentina and Brazil, where bitter memories linger over human rights abuses by military officials that toppled civilian rulers in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Condemnations of the coup quickly united governments as ideologically disparate as Havana’s Communist rulers and conservative Colombia, a close ally of the United States. “It is a legal obligation to defend democracy in Honduras,” said Augusto RamГ­rez Ocampo, a former foreign minister of Colombia.

  8. Jambalaya says:

    ..happens to everyone, Jeff (not me, of course, but I’m trying to be nice and shit)

    • Jeff Bridges says:

      That’s actually my name, so unlike most everyone else on here I’ve got to stand by what I say in the real world, too. 🙂

      And it looks like sxp151, who’s a total prick no matter who (s)he’s responding to, and EMRosa are the main opposition. EMRosa actually knows what she’s talking about, but I can still respectfully disagree with her – and I guess the rest of the Western world on this one…

      Seriously, what did the President expect when he went against Congress, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court, AND the military? That’s just completely idiotic – and unconstitutional – and it would have been just as much a “coup” if he’d conducted an illegal poll that led to another term as President, no matter how much support the measure received. It wouldn’t have been a military one, but still a coup nonetheless.

      • Jambalaya says:

        …to your points were most governments of the western hemisphere, including our own.  Haven’t they all condemned the military coup?  Did sxp put them up to it?  He’s a slyyyyy one.

        Plus, sxp is not a total prick to me…..maybe you’re special?

        • Jeff Bridges says:

          Yeah, pretty much everyone in power anywhere (except Honduras) disagrees with me on this one. But when politicians – especially in Central America – start ignoring the constitution, shit’s going to go down. Especially when you mess with the military. Did Zelaya really expect everyone else to respect the rule of law while he didn’t?

          As for spx, I must be SUPER special! (Or maybe just, as he put it, “monumentally stupid?”)

          • ClubTwitty says:

            was trained in Georgia (Ft. Benning) School of the Assassins Americas.  Honduras has long been a staging grounds for secret and dirty wars across Central Americas, including Guatemala 1954, Nicaragua (1980s), and remains a base of some, including clandestine, operations today.

            It is unacceptable for an army to march into the presidential palace, seize the democratically elected preseidnet (regardless of whether he wanted to change the COnstitution or not) and exile him to Costa Rica.

            I am guessing that the campesinos, school teachers, and las genta otras  are not quite as happy about this coup as the banana plantation owners, coffee finca lords, and other old-school corporate/land owning interests (many foreign).  Color me skeptical… There is more to this story than we have read so far.  

      • sxp151 says:

        maybe it’s something unique about you? The only time I actually get nasty is when people think they’re much smarter than they actually are, and therefore ascribe deep wisdom to stupid opinions. I do this because I used to suffer from the same affliction (thinking I was much smarter than I really was), so I recognize it better than many.

        As for “the main opposition,” that’s just about everyone in the free world. You picked the bad guys to support on this one. Which should have been obvious, as it was a military dictatorship, but somehow you thought it would be OK.

        • Middle of the Road says:

          but I can’t recall you ever being a prick to me, either and I’m pretty awful sometimes and probably have it coming. I’m starting to think it really is just Jeff.  

          • sxp151 says:

            but sometimes I’m unsuccessful.

          • Jeff Bridges says:

            It must just be a massive personality conflict. I don’t have this issue with anyone else on here, and apparently spx doesn’t have a problem with anyone, either.

            Or maybe I just really do think I’m much smarter than I actually am? Quite possible, really. I’m sure you could find other Pollsters who agree. (Some of them are my best friends!) In which case I should thank spx for taking me down a few notches.

            Thank you, whoever you are!

            Although, for the record, I don’t think my post implied “deep wisdom” about anything. If so, I sincerely apologize. My wisdom is more like a murky pond. I just couldn’t believe some guy thought he could get away with ignoring the constitution and pissing off the military. It’s common sense, not deep political theory.

            • Canines says:

              I just couldn’t believe some guy thought he could get away with ignoring the constitution and pissing off the military. It’s common sense, not deep political theory.

              That may be exactly what Zelaya set out to prove. He proved that if he did do what he did, the Congress and Supreme Court of Honduras wouldn’t act constitutionally in removing him. And he was right.

              Sometimes, we all try to project our experience as Americans onto other countries whose Revolutionary Wars were fought a hell of a lot later than 1776.

  9. Canines says:

    The Honduran Coup: How Should the U.S. Respond?

    Check out the overview provided at the URL above for more details on the situation, especially what it means for US foreign relations. I was surprised at the nuanced discussion Time magazine provided:

    In the end, though, it was Zelaya’s opponents who appear to have become unhinged. Technically – before Sunday, anyway – Honduras’ Justices and generals could claim they held the legal high ground: Zelaya was, after all, blatantly defying a high-court ruling, as well as his legislature and attorney general. He was, they could argue, behaving like the populist caudillo his opponents warned he wanted to be. But their violent Sunday-morning response has made them look like the Latin oligarch lackeys of old – and has in fact lent credence to Zelaya’s suggestion that they were indeed just defending a constitution fashioned exclusively for the haves of Honduras. In a move reminiscent of the 2002 Venezuela coup, congressional leaders claimed that Zelaya had signed a resignation letter before being flown out of the country, and they voted on Sunday to install Congress President Roberto Micheletti as President. Speaking from Costa Rica, however, Zelaya strongly denied that he had signed any such thing and insisted he was still head of state.

    What underlies this crisis, however, is a sort of Cold War reprise vexing the start of Latin America’s 21st century. The ChГЎvez-led, anti-U.S. group came to power because Washington-backed capitalist reforms so often simply widened the region’s epic gap between rich and poor. But the bloc’s socialist ideology, which critics say is a throwback to the authoritarian leftism of a bygone era, has Г©lites across Latin America spooked in ways their parents and grandparents were when Fidel Castro still had influence in the hemisphere.

  10. sxp151 says:

    Anyone know? It’s not like it’s never come up before, but AFAIK Congress has the power to impeach and remove a President who commits some kind of crime, and really nothing else. Typically Supreme Court decisions don’t come with jail time. In fact typically the Supreme Court does not intervene in disputes between the legislative and executive branches.

    What would be much awesomer though is if we gave the Supreme Court control of the Army, the President control of the Marines, and the Congress control of the Air Force, and every time there was a disagreement they all killed each other up.

    • RedGreen says:

      at the height of the Watergate crisis over whether Nixon would relinquish the tapes. Briefly, Nixon considered basically daring the court to enforce its ruling on him.

      But something tells me if the military had removed Nixon from power that would be the travesty we remember even more than Nixon refusing to comply with the court. Defying a court order is one thing, a military coup is quite another.

    • Danny the Red (hair) says:

      “John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can.”

      In the end though, he found a way around directly violating a Supreme Court order.

      In Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia (1831), the Supreme Court refused to hear the case on the basis that the Cherokee Nation did not represent a sovereign nation. However, in the case of Worcester vs. Georgia (1832) the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee. The Supreme Court this time ruled that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, thus making the removal laws invalid. The decision, rendered by Justice John Marshall, declared the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation to be illegal, unconstitutional, and against treaties made. President Andrew Jackson, who had the executive responsibility of enforcement of the laws, stated, “John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can.”

      Andrew Jackson was clearly unhappy with the Supreme Court ruling. In order for Jackson to remove the Cherokee he would need for the Cherokee to agree to removal in a treaty. In 1835 Jackson got what he wanted. The Treaty Party, a small faction of the Cherokee Nation led by Major Ridge, his son John, and Elias Boudinot, signed the Treaty of New Echota. The Treaty violated Cherokee law. Chief John Ross gathered 16,000 signatures of Cherokees who opposed removal. However, once the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate it was official: the Cherokee could now be removed.

  11. Jeff Bridges says:

    Via The Voice Magazine:

    I am a missionary here in Honduras for the past 13 years.  I am also a retired Air Force Master Sergeant of 22 years.  My pride and devotion to our country, I believe, is unquestionable.  However, you have made me ashamed, not of my country, but of its leaders, specifically you.  How could you possibly make such a rash and irresponsible decision to support a “would be” dictator and Hugo Chavez follower without taking even a moment to investigate the overwhelming evidence that repudiates his lies?

    You are, by your irresponsible statements of support for this man, bringing the whole world against a country that has modeled itself after the United States and is doing everything it can to prevent Mr. Chavez from having another foothold in Latin America.  It seems as though you want to help a dictator instead of a lawful, democratic government that has been a US ally for generations.  What are you thinking?

    Looks like the entire world isn’t against me.

    • sxp151 says:

      none of this would ever have happened!

      If you will take a moment and look you will see that Mr. Zelaya was given the opportunity to face his accusers in court, but he chose to resign and go to Costa Rica.  He was not sequestered!  Most of the “rioters” that have been seen on the news are not Hondurans, but people coming in from Nicaragua to stage things for the cameras.

      Sorry, no.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        Those are probably Hondurans.

        • sxp151 says:

          That’s not particularly surprising, given Latin American history, as well as class divisions. There are plenty of Hondurans against the coup as well. And Zelaya didn’t “resign” and “flee,” he was ousted and exiled. Not even the Honduran military disputes this.

          The most important thing, though, is that I’m not particularly concerned with what an American missionary/Marine living in Honduras thinks. Of course he’ll support the most right-wing solution, even if he has to venture into fascism to get what he wants.

          Side note: let’s say you were supporting the American government at a rally and unhappy with, say, France. Would you wave a French flag? People waving American flags look like Americans to me. Especially that guy underneath the stars, who looks like Kenneth the Page.

    • Canines says:

      That’s from something titled “An Open Letter to President Obama and Mrs. Clinton from Honduras.” (Mrs. Clinton? Technically correct, I suppose.)

      I couldn’t resist clicking on one of the opinion piece URLs that ran alongside this one:

      Sure, Obama is the first black President in appearance, but in my opinion the one who bears that title is President Bill Clinton. Politically, Clinton did more for African-Americans (like myself) than any other president in my lifetime. No, President Obama appears more and more to be America’s first gay president.

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