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Richard Fernandez

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The Return of the Ideological Street Brawler

Sunday, May 20th, 2012 - by Richard Fernandez

Who were the White Supremacists who were attacked at a Tinley Park restaurant in Chicago? The Sun Times reported that in the middle of the lunch on rush Saturday “a waitress screamed a fight had broken out in the dining room.”

Police call the melee at the restaurant a targeted assault by a mob that Winston said wielded metal batons and hammers. Ten diners were hurt in the attack, and three of those were hospitalized …

Tinley Park police had five suspected assailants in custody, and Winston said 18 young men, all wearing hooded jackets and obscuring their faces with scarves and other coverings, stormed into the restaurant.

The Chicago Tribune now says that the targeted group were “white supremacists”.

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The Essence of the Tea Party

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

I have just published short a pamphlet on the genesis of Tea Party movement entitled Storming the Castle,  available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99.  It tries to tell the story from two points of view: the history of the incumbent’s relationship with the voting public and second, from the experience of those who joined or were caught up in it. The Tea Party is one of the most misunderstood phenomena of recent times. What is startling is why: many of the Tea Party’s espoused principles are simply restatements of foundational American ideas.

But in fact those ideas are now indeed subversive. The rate of turnover among incumbents in Congress today approaches that party officials in North Korea. They are a nomenklatura in all but name.  That change has made the “normative America” of yesteryear almost an anachronistic fairy-tale. Yet only a few of the characters whose experiences I followed through the Tea-Party saga quite understood how fundamentally things had changed until September 11 and the 2008 economic crisis. Those events made it clear that the “old America” had gone, possibly forever. It was a profound shock to them. Time and again the individual actors independently express the feeling that the country had been switched out on them.

The pervasiveness of this experience is illustrated by the curious common reaction to the famous Rick Santelli rant, which struck such a chord in so many of the listeners it can only be explained as the result of the political dry tinder lying around. What Santelli had done, in his rough and ready way, was simply give voice to what millions were already thinking; a phenomenon so striking I could not help but think of John Adam’s words on the American revolution.

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as ministers ordained of God for their good; but when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen State congresses.

But how can such a momentous event take place silently? Perhaps the understanding will come later. My pamphlet certainly makes no attempts to comprehensively explain it. It doesn’t explain who its leaders are, how many of them are good, how many important. It doesn’t touch on what its electoral strategy in 2012 will be. It doesn’t mention Sarah Palin. What it talks about is talk about the genesis of an idea and how people were jolted into mutual discovery and into joining it.

A discussion of greater scope should have gone into a book. But there was only time enough for a pamphlet. And within the limits of ambitions, readers may find “Storming the Castle” an interesting read.

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Target: Joe Camel

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The International Society of Camelid Research and Development, which studies camels, objected to proposals to cull thousands of wild, farting camels in Australia’s outback to prevent an increase in Greenhouse Gases.

PARIS — The world’s association of camel scientists fought back angrily on Monday over Australian plans to kill wild dromedaries on the grounds that their flatulence adds to global warming. … The kill-a-camel suggestion is floated in a paper distributed by Australia’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, as part of consultations for reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

There are about 1.2 million wild camels in Australia.

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Visualizing State Budget Deficits

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

What do State Budget deficits look like on a per capita basis? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has the dry tables. The figures are more striking when visualized using graphing tools. Here is the per capita state budget deficit for 2010.

State Deficit Per Capita Bubble Chart

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Syria online feeds

Friday, March 25th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Lebanon Now has live coverage in English of breaking  events in Syria. “It has news, videos, and translation of updates from the main facebook groups in Syria.”

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Zimbabwe To Sell Uranium to Iran?

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

All Headline News says that Zimbabwe is considering selling uranium to Iran in defiance of a UN ban. In exchange for hard cash, Zimbabwe is willing to supply the proscribed mineral.

Criticizing the sanctions on Iran, Mumbengegwi said, “Those making claims on Iran’s enrichment work themselves hold nuclear weapons and hostile nuclear program.” He added that “Any country has the right to use peaceful nuclear energy based on international rules,” and described the UN sanctions as unfair and hypocritical.

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Go Ugly Early

Saturday, February 12th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Algerian authorities have sent out riot squads armed to the teeth and have shut down the Internet in an effort to avoid repeating the actions of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Daily Telegraph reported.

There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.

But it was the government attack on the internet which was of particular significance to those calling for an end to President Abdelaziz Boutifleka’s repressive regime.

Protesters mobilising through the internet were largely credited with bringing about revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

“The government doesn’t want us forming crowds through the internet,” said Rachid Salem, of Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria.

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Iranian Tries to Walk Like an Egyptian

Friday, February 11th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The BBC reports that “Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has been put under house arrest.” His arrest was reported on his official website. “Mr Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, another opposition leader, had called for a rally on Monday to support the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.”

A genuine Democracy agenda would not differentiate between Mubarak and Castro, or Mubarak and Ahmadinejad. Or should it?

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A Tale of Two Cities

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Cairo, where a reporter is given the treatment under Mubarak, and Chicago, where a law school fellow is given the treatment under Daley. Bonus question: guess in which city the following incident happened?

The same woman reappeared, this time signaling to two plainclothes men to come up behind me where I was seated. The woman stated that only the press were allowed to ask questions and that I would have to leave. While she was speaking to me, one of the men gave me a couple of solid hits in my back and then pushed me hard on my shoulder, almost knocking me out of my chair.

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Jimmy Carter Weighs In

Sunday, January 30th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Jimmy Carter, reacting to events in Egypt, said recent developments were an “earth-shaking event” and that Hosni Mubarak “will have to leave.” He also claimed the Muslim Brotherhood “has stayed out of it”.

Carter’s remarks came at Maranatha Baptist Church, where he regularly teaches a Sunday School class to visitors from across the country and globe. …

“This is the most profound situation in the Middle East since I left office,” Carter said Sunday to the nearly 300 people packed into the small sanctuary about a half mile from downtown Plains. …

Carter described his relationship with Mubarak, whom protesters want ousted from power.

“I know Mubarak quite well,” Carter said. “If Sadat had a message, he would send Mubarak.” …

As the unrest raged and escalated, Mubarak appointed Omar Suleiman, the country’s intelligence chief, as vice president.

“He’s an intelligent man whom I like very much,” Carter said.

Carter has maintained a relationship with Suleiman over the years.

“In the last four or five years when I go to Egypt, I don’t go to talk to Mubarak, who talks like a politician,” Carter said. “If I want to know what is going on in the Middle East, I talk to Suleiman. And as far as I know, he has always told me the truth.”

The former president, who performs work throughout the world for fair elections through The Carter Center in Atlanta, said this was not a revolution “orchestrated by extremists Muslims.

“The Muslim brotherhood has stayed out it,” Carter said.

Well that’s good to know. Things were worrying for a time. It’s interesting to speculate how much of Carter’s thinking reflects the appreciation within the Obama Administration. But although Carter may prove right about the non-involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood in the biggest political opportunity since Jimmy left office, would it be wise to bet the farm on it? What does this mean about the urgency of securing intelligence assets that may fall into the hands of the successor regime? Or is it wiser to transfer the assets and start building relationships with whoever comes after?

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On YouTube

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The Christian Science Monitor says that “at his third YouTube forum, President Obama spoke for the first time about the anti-government protests in Egypt, and finally gave a detailed answer to legalizing marijuana.” Before turning to the issue of marijuana the President said:

“I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform – political reform, economic reform – is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt,” Obama said. “And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets.

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The Wrong Horse

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The New York Times now says the administration’s policies are ‘scrambled’ in the Middle East.  Even the precious Middle East Peace Process has been deep-sixed by leaks. Ironic, coming from a paper which made arrangements with Julian Assange and the Guardian, to publish classified material. With Tunisia in turmoil, Lebanon now on the brink of a Hezbollah government and now riots in Egypt, US policy is not only ‘scrambled’ but in the air.  By choosing not be the Strong Horse and backing whatever despot would treat with it, the US may have backed the Wrong Horse.

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So Sorry

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The Corner says that Al-Azhar suspended dialogue with the Vatican after the Pope expressed objections to the massacre of Christians in Iraq and Egypt.

“[Al-Azhar’s] Islamic Research Council reviewed in an emergency meeting Thursday the repeatedly insulting remarks issued by the Vatican Pope toward Islam and his statement that Muslims are discriminating against others who live with them in the Middle East. . . . The council decided to freeze dialogue between al-Azhar and the Vatican for an indefinite period.”

Here’s an idea. The Pope can publicly apologize to Al-Azhar for suggesting that Christians are discriminated against in remarks televised from the largest church in Saudi Arabia.

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Saudis Give Up Mediation Efforts in Lebanon

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The Saudis have given up their mediation efforts in Lebanon and have described the situation there as “dangerous”.  A delegation from Qatar and Turkey has arrived to try a mediation effort of their own. Meanwhile, hundreds of unarmed men from Amal and Hezbollah have marched through downtown Beirut.

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Boehner Not Attending Dinner

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

The Washington Post’s Reliable Source says the House Speaker is not attending the State Dinner in honor of President Hu. “Who’s on the guest list for tomorrow’s state dinner for Chinese president Hu Jintao? The White House is keeping a tight lid on all details of the black-tie party, but a few names have leaked out. The biggest surprise? Speaker John Boehner has declined — once again — to attend a state dinner. Boehner said no thanks to the president’s invitation for his previous two state dinners, too. “

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By Invitation Only Meeting to Associate With Wikileaks

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

“Because information wants to be free.” The announcement at the Frontline journalists’ club says “following the Frontline Club’s involvement with WikiLeaks we would like to invite our members (only those that are paid-up) to join us  … with the chairman of the board of trustees John Owen … [to] explain the decision-making process behind the Frontline Club’s association with WikiLeaks.” But in the Club’s homepage they say, “all events are open to the public”.  The basic contradiction of the modern age is the small print under “information wants to be free”. It reads “pay to see more”.

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The Return of the Dragon Lady

Sunday, January 16th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

How much of the fascination of Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a mutation of the earlier idea of the Dragon Lady,  with the beautiful, bead-curtain parting, lacquered-fingernail femme replaced by the iron-willed, clenched-tooth and inhumanly overachieving counterpart? With fears over Chinese economic world dominance running high, even the Boston Globe cannot resist examining the “Chinese parenting style” whose motto is said to be “if the next time’s not PERFECT, I’m going to TAKE ALL YOUR STUFFED ANIMALS AND BURN THEM!’’

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Obama: we’ve got Hezbollah on the run

Thursday, January 13th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

President Obama said that “The efforts by the Hezbollah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to block the government’s ability to conduct its business and advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people”. Does he really believe that? Has he dismissed the possibility that Hezbollah thinks it is now about to take over Lebanon without firing a shot?

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Mental influences

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

According to published reports Jared Loughner was deeply influenced by Zeitgeist, the Movie.  The ideas in the movie are associated with something called the Venus Project. What is the Venus Project and what does it believe in? One hesitates to characterize it as right wing. In fact, one hesitates to characterize it at all. But to judge for yourself, click here.

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Senores Y Campesinos

Monday, January 10th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Victor Davis Hanson describes the emergence of two Californias, one living at Third World standards, the other obsessed with its effete cares. Actually that would exactly describe what any Third World country – not split, but whole – would look like. The poverty and elitism are flip sides of each other, one society split in two in a dysfunctional co-dependency.

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It’s Only Words

Monday, January 10th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Mother Jones has an interview with Loughner classmate Bryce Tierney who says he’d been thinking about offing the “fake” Gifford for a long time. When he heard the news Tierney knew at once who the shooter was. Loughner recorded the progress of his thoughts in a “dream journal”, the touchstone for someone who believed that most people were asleep; and that only people like himself were fully awake.  He told his friend, “life means nothing.” Shortly before he went on his rampage, Loughner left a message for Tierney. “Hey man, it’s Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later.”

Later? When’s that?

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The Eagles Fly

Monday, January 10th, 2011 - by Richard Fernandez

Major Dick Winters, who led Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, died  at 92.  He was buried yesterday. His portrayal in HBO’s “Band of Brothers” made him the public face of the World War 2 generation, and his death the symbol of their passing. Of their fame one commenter remarked that “when they first proposed a WWII Monument in DC my thought was ‘why?’ After all, the whole world is their monument.”

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