The "liberty cap" in the center of the Nicaraguan coat of arms comes from the American Revolution, which inspired countries all over the world to adopt the now-forgotten symbol of American Independence.

Well, Ronald Reagan’s administration used arms money from sales to our enemy, Iran, laundered through Swiss bank accounts to try and stop him.

Spreading freedom

We shipped cocaine up from South America, tranferring it in Panama (which would cause us a quick, Christmas war to arrest and silence Noriega), glutted the market and midwifed the birth of crack cocaine (which brought the black market back to robust sales and a rosy future). We armed mercenaries and “freedom fighters” — which we would have called “leftist guerillas” had they been trying to bring down a dictator we backed), and sent them into the country to murder and sabotage — even after Congress explicitly cut off funds for so doing.

And it seems it was all for naught. The Christian Science Monitor tells us:

Daniel Ortega appears set to win presidential election in Nicaragua

But, as you will see in virtually ALL US media outlets, nobody wants you to think that this is a GOOD thing. The sub-head immediately following the headline makes that explicitly clear [emphasis added]:

But critics say that Daniel Ortega’s overwhelming electoral win, of dubious constitutionality and marred by irregularities, will only serve to underscore Nicaragua’s autocratic government.

By Tim Rogers, Correspondent / November 7, 2011

Sandinistas took to the streets jubilantly in the early morning hours Monday to celebrate what appears to be a resounding victory in the legally questionable reelection campaign of President Daniel Ortega.

A preliminary vote count announced Monday morning at 2 a.m., with 16 percent of the ballots tallied, shows the Sandinista strongman leading with 63 percent, followed by octogenarian radio producer Fabio Gadea, with 29 percent. Former President Arnoldo Alemán is in third place, with 6 percent. A final vote count will be announced today at noon.

The preliminary results for National Assembly are similar, meaning that, if the numbers hold, Mr. Ortega will win a majority in the legislature and essentially take full control over all branches of Nicaragua’s government – despite ongoing doubts that his election to a third term is legal under Nicaragua’s Constitution….

Old-line Reagan “Revolution” enabler The Heritage Foundation is suitably angry about the horrific tragedy they think that this represents:

Evil Communist Sandinista!

Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua and Democracy in the Americas
Ray Walser
November 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm

The Economist captures the tone of the elections quite accurately: “Buoyed by a growing economy and Venezuelan cash, the Sandinista leader who toppled a dictator is set to win an unconstitutional third term.”

A win for Ortega would be bad news for Nicaragua, the U.S., and friends of democracy around the world.

A recent Heritage WebMemo by former Ambassador Robert Callahan and Heritage senior policy analyst Ray Walser accurately described the subversion of democracy in Nicaragua.

Ortega, an adversary and revolutionary once called the “little dictator” by President Ronald Reagan, has after 30-plus years at the center of Nicaraguan politics become a formidable operator and dynasty builder. He has gamed the political system to lower electoral thresholds, co-opted the Supreme Court and Electoral Council, dodged serious allegations of sexual abuse, escaped normal checks and balances, robbed municipal elections, and constructed a personal power and wealth base.

Reagan-backed Nicaraguan “Contra”
(“Freedom Fighter”) !

See? Even if the entire country votes overwhelmingly to return Ortega to power — he, whose deposition by bullet the Reaganistas so strenuously pursued, was “deposed” via the ballot a few years later, by the same voters whose decision to ignore THEIR ‘term limits’ laws —  is seen as illegitimate by American hubris, and its voters are not seen as competent or qualified to choose their own leader.

Of course we have a problem with
honoring our OWN electoral outcomes …

Because, as we know, any blogger with quick fingers and a philosophy xeroxed from an old mimeographed copy of the Young Republicans’ “Ronald Reagan, The Savior of America,” (which is fictional in this posting, but may well be reality somewhere) — any such blogger KNOWS more about Nicaraguan governance than the Nicaraguan electorate.

Was convicted of felonies
for his role in Iran-Contra and
got off on a technicality about
his “immunity” for testimony
given to Congress. Guilty as sin.

We are always in favor of elections whose outcome we agree with, but seldom believers in any process that produces results not to our liking.

Therefore: Daniel Ortega’s re-election to the presidency is illegitimate in American eyes, and every article will make sure that you know it.

Because landslides only confer legitimacy when they are Republican-approved landslides.

And besides, Americans are deeply troubled by the concept of “majority rule,” as evidenced by the fact that nary a peep was heard last week when a 51-49 vote in the United States Senate was INSUFFICIENT to pass an infrastructure construction bill, and was labelled by nearly all news media as a “defeat” for President Obama’s jobs proposal, with little  further explanation.

Jobs policy deadlock remains in Washington

By Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
The San Bernadino (Calif.) Sun
Posted: 11/04/2011 05:26:18 PM PDT

Obama’s jobs plan hasn’t found much success in Congress with Republicans succeeding in opposing his stimulus proposals.

A $60 billion measure for building and repairing infrastructure, such as roads and railways, was defeated in a 51-49 Senate vote on Thursday – short of 60 voted [sic] needed to start work on the bill.

Supporters of the failed measure said …

And witness the wholesale movement across the land to make sure that as few voters are qualified to vote as possible.

No: we deeply distrust this notion of majority rule. Instead, we place our faith in the Golden Rule:

Who has the gold makes the rules.

But, lest you think this cynical and depressing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel-vision. It’s OK: The Meese Commission strove to end all pornography in the USA and carried its dog and pony show across the breadth and lack-of-depth of our Great County, and just look at how successful THAT turned out to be.

Daniel Ortega elected to the Presidency of Nicaragua in a ‘legally questionable’ election.

Reminds me of the old Soviet-era joke about the dual track meet.

U.S. wins.

Next day in Pravda, the headline reads:

Glorious Soviet Track Team comes in Second; Imperialist Americans come in next to last.

The “liberty cap” in the center of the
Nicaraguan coat of arms comes from
the American Revolution, which inspired
countries all over the world to adopt the
now-forgotten symbol of American Independence.

Who knows? It might have happened without crack cocaine. And maybe Gary Webb wouldn’t have blown his brains out.

In retrospect, Webb’s suicide could be viewed as an exclamation point on that sorry era, which had begun a quarter century earlier with the rise of Ronald Reagan and the gradual retreat – under right-wing fire – of what had once been Washington’s Watergate/Pentagon Papers watchdog press corps.

We’ll never know.

But perhaps this is a salutary moment to reflect that encouraging democracy ofttimes produces democracies that are not to “our” taste or liking.

Foolishly liberal perception that I have, of course, is that the right to self-determination by sovereign peoples is (within rational bounds) absolute.

No matter how much I might personally disapprove.

Too bad Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy boys didn’t think the same way.

‘No self-determination now, no self-determination forever!’

Congratulations on your electoral win, Mr. Ortega! Sorry, Ronnie.


UPDATE Reuters makes it official:

Nicaragua’s Ortega wins landslide re-election
By Miguel Angel Gutierrez and Ivan Castro
MANAGUA | Mon Nov 7, 2011 3:52pm EST

(Reuters) – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a socialist former guerrilla leader, cruised to a landslide re-election victory after drawing broad support for his anti-poverty programs.

Ortega had 62.7 percent of the vote with returns in from 86 percent of polling stations in Sunday’s presidential election. That was more than double the tally for his closest rival, conservative radio personality Fabio Gadea.

Ortega’s supporters poured into the streets of Managua to celebrate….


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • dduck

    As usual, great graphics and attention to paragraphing.

  • John Johnson

    You live in Oregon, right, Mr. Williams? An absolutely beautiful state. I spent time as a kid on a small farm near Medford during a couple of summers. No mary jane back then. That’s what your state is primarily known for now, I believe…great bud. Isn’t that what drives your economy?

    Do you smoke a lot of that stuff? I only ask because I find your writing style a bit disjointed and difficult to follow. It’s probably just me. As you know, I’m one of those Neanderthal’s from Texas…the place you were so fortunate to escape from. I think this was probably a good move for you…and for Texas.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I thought it was pretty good, Hart.

    But, hey, what do I know. I am just a Neanderthal from Texas, too. So, what do I know!

    And, yes I have lived in the beautiful Willamette Valley, serving my country at a small Air Force Station by Corvalis, and LOVED IT, and anyone who runs it or its people down either doesn’t know what he or she is talking about or is just plain jealous…

    Great post, thank you.

  • Thanks, Dorian.

    The WV’s kind of overcast and blustery this week, though. 😉

    And, living over the border from California, we’re used to clueless japes. But then, not everybody gets to live in a picture postcardy kind of spot. So, we cut ’em some slack.

  • SteveK

    I’m with Dorian (and dduck I think) on this one Hart it’s nice to see someone write on the realities of past (and current) US positions in the Americas and how we try to influence (intimidate?) our ‘neighbors.’

    It’s obvious from JJ’s comment that it’s a topic many of the “my mother drunk or sober” crowd would rather we not talk about.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    “The WV’s kind of overcast and blustery this week, though.”

    Had plenty of those days (and weeks) over there, but still loved it.

    Would trade that weather anytime for the blistering, searing heat of Texas.

    And, no, I am not going to “love it or leave it,” Texas, that is.

  • dduck

    “Nicaragua’s constitution bars presidents from being re-elected,”
    “Ortega is known as an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez” Two good reasons this was a broad-daylight travesty.
    Bloomberg is another law breaker with a high percentage of the vote, but he still stole the election.
    Sorry, to those of you that don’t mind those jumping the line and illegally getting reelected.
    I bet you wouldn’t have objected to Bush getting in a third term, either.
    [i]Oh, that’s different you are screaming as your panties bunch up.[/i]

  • Calm down, duck. I don’t know how Nicaragua’s constitution is set up — and neither do you.

    Maybe they’re right; maybe they’re wrong, but in ANY democratic form of government, the BALLOT is the final arbiter. Had NYC voters decided what Bloomberg was doing was illegitimate, they’d have taken him out. They didn’t. And, since I don’t live there, or under his clueless thumb, it’s not my concern.

    Nonetheless, it really isn’t our affair. If the people of Nicaragua wanted Ortega out of office, they’d have said so with the ballot or the bullet.

    It takes all my time just playing Tin God in Oregon, and I don’t have a lot of time to meddle in the affairs of other countries, or sell weapons to our sworn enemies and transport cocaine to poison our own people to raise the cash to do it.

    Or did you miss THAT part of the blog posting?

  • Hart,

    I 100% agree with you that the Reagan administration was wrong to conduct its propaganda campaign that figured the Contras as “freedom fighter” and that it was absolutely wrong for the Reagan administration to violate the Boland Amendment to sell arms to Iran and use the proceeds to fund the Contras.

    However, it defies all logical reasoning to argue that because one group is wrong, the “other” group must therefore be right.

    From what I understand, the presidential elections of 1984 and 2006 were monitored by several different independent observers–including the Human Rights Commission–who concluded that the election was both free and fair.

    Since then, however, Ortega’s administration has been caught up in some rather serious abuse of power controversies. In 2008, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court Council disqualified both the Movement for Sandanista Renewal Party (made up of dissidents of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front) and the Conservative Party from participation. Moreover, during the 2008 municipal elections, the council barred both national and international observers from witnessing the election. Instances of intimidation, violence, and harrassment of the opposition prompted condemnation from international community.

    Despite being constitutionally barred from running for a third term, Ortega had the Supreme Court of Justice declare the relevant portions of the Constitution inapplicable. This was done after the Sandanista magistrates excluded opposition magistrates and replaced them with Sandanista magistrates, violating the Constitution.

    Despite your implication that criticism of Ortega is coming solely from Reagan apologists and right wing outlets such as the Hertitage Foundation, a substantial amount of criticism has actually come from the political “left”, especially from members of the Movement for Sandanista Renewal Party, who feel betrayed from Ortega.

    You write:

    in ANY democratic form of government, the BALLOT is the final arbiter.

    However, there is absolutely nothing “democratic” about a political party systematically excluding members of the opposition from the electoral council or by illegally replacing members of the opposition from critical votes.

    Speaking out against the United States government propping up right-wing dictators and/or militias does not mean that we should automatically support any foreign left-wing politician who defied these right-wing dictators/militias. Fraud and abuse of power are wrong regardless of whether it is being perpetrated by the political “left” or political “right.”

  • sentry

    It’s those “meeces,” with a C. (I won’t bother addressing other “ills.”)

  • Rcoutme

    I agree with Nick that ‘the ballot box’ is not always the legitimate determiner of the will of the people. Saddam Hussein received 100% of the vote from his people just a short time before we took him out. Those people then executed the bugger for his crimes against his country. Hmm…seems that the ballots in the box ‘might’ have been tampered with?

    I was in the army when the entire Iran-Contra affair was unfolding. My unit was put on notice to go to Honduras to prevent Nicaragua from invading. Later, Ortega was voted out…and stayed that way for a while. However, money goes a long way–and Chavez has a lot of it after he stole the property from oil companies.

    As Nick said, just because one side was wrong does not mean the other side was right. Btw, I personally think that Oliver North was not tried on the most important charge–treason. When I took my oath of office, I promised to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. Last I remember, laws passed by Congress are, in effect, backed by the Constitution. Subverting and thwarting the intent of Congress (no matter the benefits one sees being gained) would have to constitute treason. Instead of being labeled a traitor, North was given a show on Fox News.

  • dduck

    “Or did you miss THAT part of the blog posting?”
    I call that the fog in the blog.
    This was about an illegal election. Your throwing in other “information” doesn’t nullify their constitution.
    And, yes Bloomberg happens to be a good mayor, but his third term was a slimy “legal” fix.
    Now, go chop down a tree and see if makes a noise.

  • jon

    It is clear that many electorates do not know what constitutes a proper legitimate election. That the Nicaraguan people ignore their constitution’s limits on power and checks and balances is no different from the people of the US and the Congress of the US. Uphold WHAT Constitution?
    No, the people are not the final arbiters of legitimacy, unless the law of the land is to be ignored.
    The PROPER procedure is to change the constitutional provisions or limitations and THEN hold the election. Ass-backwards is the way of poorly governed republics these days (like ours), so what the hey. To hell with order or legitimacy or constitutions, right?
    Ignorance reigns supreme.

  • Nick:

    You’re allegedly a ‘libertarian.’

    What’s so offensive about the proposition that sovereign peoples have a right to choose bad leaders?

    We sure as heck zealously safeguard our inalienable right to do so.

    I don’t endorse Ortega. I merely congratulated him as a normal measure of politeness. It’s NOT my affair.

    Sort of like a woman’s right to choose.

  • Funny how y’all seem so concerned about illegal elections in other countries and not at all pissed off at the years of blood, debt, and retrograde motion that the 2000 election gave us.

    I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

    Iran-Contra represented T-R-E-A-S-O-N in every sensible meaning of the term. You’re welcome, Iran.

  • SteveK

    Hart Williams says:
    You’re allegedly a ‘libertarian.’

    Hart Williams says:
    Funny how y’all seem so concerned about illegal elections in other countries and not at all pissed off at the years of blood, debt, and retrograde motion that the 2000 election gave us.

    SteveK says: “Yep!”

  • Antonio_Weaver

    That’s because the American public is “Dumbed down” and brain washed by the corporate controlled media and government to “ignore” and “forget” that when it comes to murder and corruption, greed and power
    WE ARE K I N G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hart Williams wrote:


    You’re allegedly a ‘libertarian.’

    Actually, I’m a libertarian-liberal (as my profile points out), but you are correct that my political views tend to lean libertarian.

    What’s so offensive about the proposition that sovereign peoples have a right to choose bad leaders?

    I find nothing “offensive” about the proposition that sovereign peoples have the right to choose bad leaders. In fact, if I understand your own views correctly, then I tend to agree with you that the United States government should mind its own business and stop trying to impose U.S. friendly dictators and/or regimes on sovereign nations.

    What I find “offensive” is the idea that someone would use the “it’s okay if the majority agrees with it” argument to defend a politician who has violated a constitution that he/she has pledged to defend.

    Constitutions obviously vary from country to country, and some constitutions are better than others. Some of the benefits that most constitutions share is that they recognize certain rights held by the people and limit the power of the government. Using the “it’s okay if the majority agrees with it” argument, one could justify the suspension of the most basic civil liberties (i.e. freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion) or the accruement of virtually unlimited power by the government.

    I think it’s bad enough that politicians seek to tell others (including those who did not vote for them) how to run their lives. But when politicians refuse to honor a constitution that they’ve sworn to defend–it’s at that point that I question the very legitimacy of that politician.

    In other words, if a politician violates the very Constitution that gives him/her the power to hold office in the first place, then what legitimacy does that politician really have?

  • Hart Williams wrote:

    Funny how y’all seem so concerned about illegal elections in other countries and not at all pissed off at the years of blood, debt, and retrograde motion that the 2000 election gave us.

    I can only hope that comment wasn’t directed at me.

    I voted against George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and was criticizing his administration’s illegal actions (i.e. the USA PATRIOT Act, going to war in Iraq without an official declaration of war, sending DEA agents and federal prosecutors to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana users in states in which medical marijuana is legal) here at TMV long before any of your articles showed up at TMV.

    I suspect–based upon the comments above–that several other TMV commenters are in a similar situation.

    I obviously cannot defend (and have no desire to defend) partisan Republicans who think that Ronnie Reagan could do no wrong or that the Iran-Contra scandal was somehow justified or that Ollie North was some kind of “hero.”

    Neither the existence of these partisans nor the abuses of power by previous Republican administrations, however, have any bearing on my above arguments.

  • dduck

    “Neither the existence of these partisans nor the abuses of power by previous Republican administrations, however, have any bearing on my above arguments.”
    Me, too, and I DID vote for Bush.