Jim DeMint, Honduras, and Waterloo

Sen. Jim DeMint (center) - acting in contravention to his own government on foreign soil?

Sen. Jim DeMint (center) - acting in contravention to his own government on foreign soil?

If you are of the belief that the extreme right wing in this country is now in open and perilously close to treasonous rebellion against the sitting government of the United States, having essentially admitted that their patriotism is limited to the periods in American history when a Republican happens to be president (something which, by the way, is fundamentally incompatible with patriotism) this story will not dissuade you from that notion, particularly since it comes on the heels of a prominent, “regular columnist” of the conservative right (since demoted by NewsMax to an “unpaid blogger,” but with his own byline on the site…) writing this:

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont.

Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

… and not being chastised for it by his fellow travelers on the right, except for a Senator from the former Confederacy, of all people (the increasingly lonely in his sanity, Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham.) With that as the backdrop, the news that Graham’s fellow Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, is traveling this weekend to Honduras, on a “fact finding trip” that’s actually a thinly disguised mission to support the beneficiary and financiers of a real military coup is chilling, to say the least.  From Steve Clemons, via TPMC:

Jim DeMint’s Coup?

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has announced that he is heading down to Honduras to encourage those who helped fund and supported the coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to resist American pressure to return Zelaya to office.

The US Department of State has begun to revoke the visas of wealthy supporters of the military coup.

In other words, Jim DeMint is acting on behalf of, in cahoots with, and against the foreign policy of the United States of America in encouraging post-coup Honduran government officials defy the United States. He is encouraging a political leadership which has no legitimacy and which not recognized by other democracies in the region — while the ousted President makes cell phone UN General Assembly statements from a couch-bed in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

A US Senator alone does not make the America’s foreign policy, and working against the policies of the United States in collaboration with foreign officials. . .well. . .there are words that come to mind to describe this behavior, but I want to be civil towards the Senator.

But let me be less blunt. Should we require Senator DeMint to register with the Foreign Agents Registration office at the Department of Justice?

The answer, of course, is yes, for reasons I’ll explain at the end of this post. And in addition, someone in the media should inquire as to whether the Senator associates himself with the rhetoric of John L. Perry, the right wing (fifth) columnist who wrote the above-referenced outline for a military overthrow of the United States government. Sadly, it seems not unreasonable to wonder whether DeMint shares Perry’s sentiments, and whether he might be heading to Honduras searching not for facts, but for advice. That’s how poisonous the political atmosphere in this country has become.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has tried to portray attempts by Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to block the DeMint road show as the frothing of a running policy dispute over the approval of diplomats. (DeMint went around the blocks by getting clearance form the Defense Department, with the help of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.) But keep in mind that this trip, and the open support for a coup government is coming at a time when for all intents and purposes, a segment of the political and media establishment in this country is wantonly stoking an atmosphere of sedition; challenging the legitimacy of the president, brandishing weapons at public meetings, including when the president is nearby, raving about “Nazis” and “Marxists,” red baiting on a level we haven’t seen since the 1950s, inveighing against American interests (in the case of the U.S. Olympic bid, something no American I can think of has ever done) and worst of all, openly pondering a military overthrow of President Obama. It’s unprecedented behavior that I think, demands unprecedented attention.

Now, those on the right who will claim that DeMint is no worse than the Congressional Black Caucus delegation that tromped down to Cuba and met with the Castro brothers back in April should note that I was critical of that trip, too, and particularly of the statements made by some of the returning CBC members. But there’s a big difference between the two. The CBC trip was not in contravention to U.S. policy, which under the present administration is one of increased engagement with Cuba. The DeMint trip is exactly the opposite, designed to directly challenge the foreign policy of the United States on foreign soil. It’s a move that if it’s not unprecedented in U.S. history, should be. (the late Prescott Bush’s unseemly, and illegal, trading with the Nazi regime in Germany well into World War II comes to mind, as does Halliburton’s shady, but lucrative trading with Iran when Dick Cheney was CEO, but even in those cases, the business was done in secret, and not with the kind of brazen, open advocacy DeMint is engaged in.)

And since DeMint and his delegation (Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen joins the pro-coup parade on Monday, and will openly defy U.S. policy by meeting with the illegitimate right wing “leader” of that country, Roberto Micheletti — no word on whether she will comment on his government’s Iran-style crackdown on dissent… more on Ros Lehtinen’s dictatorial footsy here) are expressly traveling to meet with the wealthy interests who financed the Honduran coup, shouldn’t questions be asked? Some are already speculating that the trip may violate the Logan Act, which prohibits unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments (something DeMint denies he’s doing.) But there may be more too it than that, and since in politics, you almost always get answers by “following the money,” I’m curious whether there are, in fact, major corporate interests involved in the Zelaya coup itself, and what leverage those interests might have over Jim DeMint. You don’t have to be from the Glenn Beck school of paranoid dot connecting to wonder what is at work in the right’s zealous support for the overthrow of Latin American governments (recall that the right, including then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice, immediately backed the ill-fated coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in 2002, which was funded by wealthy corporate interests in that country.) At the end of the day, all politicians prattle on about loving democracy. Coups, including all of those shepherded by us, in Iran during the 1950s, or in Africa during the 60s, or across Latin America (hello, Henry Kissinger!) have to do, not with concerns about democracy, but with the cold calculus of corporate profit and loss.

To that point, I stumbled upon an interesting column, in which author Nicolos Kozloff mapped the curious case of Otto Reich, Zelaya, the coup, John McCain, and AT&T

… AT&T has donated handsomely to McCain’s International Republican Institute (IRI). McCain chairs this group and though he seldom talks about it, he has gotten much of his foreign policy experience working with the operation that is funded by the U.S. government and private money. The IRI, which receives tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, claims to promote democracy worldwide. In 2006, AT&T gave the IRI $200,000. AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris declined to elaborate on why the international telecommunications provider wrote a big check. “AT&T contributes to a variety of charitable organizations,” he said flippantly.

IRI and Telecom Agenda in Latin America

The IRI has fought against regimes in Latin America that resist privatization of the telecom industry. In Venezuela, where the government nationalized the telecom firm CANTV, IRI generously funded anti-Chávez civil society groups that were opposed to the regime. Starting in 1998, the year Chávez was elected, IRI worked with Venezuelan organizations to produce anti-Chávez media campaigns, including newspaper, television, and radio ads.

Additionally, when politicians, union and civil society leaders went to Washington to meet with U.S. officials just one month before the April 2002 coup, IRI picked up the bill. The IRI also helped to fund the corrupt Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (which played a major role in the anti-Chávez destabilization campaign leading up to the coup) and Súmate, an organization involved in a signature-gathering campaign to present a petition calling for Chávez’s recall.

Like Hugo Chávez, Honduran President Zelaya was known to be as a fierce critic of telecommunications privatization. In this sense, he was at odds with the current coup president Roberto Micheletti as well as right-wing interests in the U.S. such as McCain’s IRI, Arcadia, and Otto Reich Associates that push for the free trade agenda and privatization.

… For evidence of further U.S. corporate and right-wing ties to the Honduran imbroglio, one need look no farther than PR Newswire for last Monday, July 6. In an article headlined “Honduran Congressional, Business Leaders to Hold Washington, D.C., Press Conference,” we learn that a delegation sought “several days of meetings with United States policymakers to clarify any misunderstandings about Honduras’ constitutional process and to discuss next steps to ensure the preservation of the country’s democratic institutions.”

Founded in March 2001, the Cormac Group is a “strategic consulting and lobbying firm” advocating “open and fair markets.” Cormac works in the telecommunications sector and seeks to construct “a barrier-free regulatory structure that enhances competition.” Cormac’s Founding Partner John Timmons was a fundraiser for McCain and former Senate aide and has represented AT&T. Another partner at Cormac, Jonathan Slade, “has developed a well-known reputation from helping American and foreign companies impact the U.S. foreign policy process, particularly related to Latin America.”

And just for fun, I surfed on over to OpenSecrets.org, to find out who Jim DeMint’s top contributors might happen to be:

 

Top 5 Contributors, 2005-2010, Campaign Cmte

 

Rank Contributor Total Indivs PACs
1 Club for Growth $132,317 $129,600 $2,717
2 Scana Corp $53,975 $43,975 $10,000
3 AT&T Inc $35,750 $13,750 $22,000
4 Nelson, Mullins et al $32,450 $19,950 $12,500
5 Edens & Avant $19,750 $19,750 $0

 

And if you combine contributions to DeMint’s leadership PAC and his campaign committee through 2010, AT&T does even better:

 

Rank Contributor Total Indivs PACs
1 Club for Growth $132,317 $129,600 $2,717
2 AT&T Inc $63,750 $13,750 $50,000
3 Scana Corp $53,975 $43,975 $10,000
4 Slatecard.com $43,050 $43,050 $0
5 Koch Industries $35,000 $0 $35,000

 

So to answer Steve Clemons’ question: should DeMint be registered as an agent of a foreign power? Perhaps. Could he also be interceding on behalf of a major, corporate contributor by defying U.S. foreign policy on foreign soil? It’s a chilling, sobering thought, but in the present climate, sadly not unthinkable.

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7 Responses to Jim DeMint, Honduras, and Waterloo

  1. Tim McCraw says:

    Dear Ms. Reid:

    Here is my logical progression on this issue:

    Zelaya is a Marxist.

    Barack Obama wants Zelaya back in power.

    Therefore, Barack Obama is a Marxist.

    You want Senator DeMint to ignore what the Marxist Obama is trying to do, therefore either:

    1. You are a misinformed Obama supporter, or

    2. You have a little bit of Marxist in you as well.

    Which is it?

    Tim McCraw

  2. jreid says:

    Tim,

    Here’s my logical progression on this issue:

    Like him or not, Mr. Zelaya was the democratically elected president of Honduras and was ousted in a military coup. No legitimate organization, not the UN, the EU, or the OAS, and no legitimate government, including in South America, recognizes the military coup-installed current “government” of Honduras as legitimate, nor does the U.S. government. Jim DeMint and brownshirts like you are sympatico with military coups, both in Honduras, and in the U.S., mainly because such coups seek to reinforce the unexpurgated power of corporations. And since the definition of fascism is the marriage of military rule and corporate power, therefore either

    1. You. sir, are a fascist, who believes in “regime change” by military coup, including in your own country, and so you are also a fifth columnist, fellow traveler to treason, or…

    2. You are a misinformed, Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh kool-aid chugging, ignorant right wing blowhard who is so painfully misinformed on this and likely every other issue that it’s really not worth my time responding to you.

    or both, which would explain why you apparently think EVERYONE who isn’t a corporate-sponsored, lobbyist felating, teabagging, right wing Republican is a Marxist. Oh, and let me guess: you were one of those wingers who engaged in eight years of idolatrous worship of George W. Bush, right?

    Perhaps you should move to Honduras.

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