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Friday, January 28, 2005



An interesting note. My uncle, (whom I love dearly even if he is a self proclaimed liberal Democrat) who says he "hates Bush" thought the '73 overthrow of Allende was a good thing in as much as Dow Chemical (where he worked from just after WWII to his retirement) was returned to Dow and the Chilean economy slide into nothingness was halted by Pinochet. And here I am as a dyed in the wool conservative who thinks Pinochet was an ass and was put there by a couple of other asses. Whoda thunk it?

At any rate, I'm glad the good general is going to jail. May he be the first of many many many of that ilk.


If you want to see the video, check out this link with realplayer

Apparently the police had to "negotiate" with him for 2 hours, and led Contreras to believe that they would be bringing over a high-level government minister to meet with him. It was during all this that Contreras pulled his gun, at which point several police sacked him and handcuffed him; all the while with his two daughters screaming (oh, the injustice they've suffered). Then they sent in a team to take him to the car, at which point he probably realized he was out of cards.

I guess it's hard to let go of that above-the-law feeling.

The TVN clip also has an interview with Contreras from early that morning.


Este trámite puso fin a la libertad de Contreras, ya que fue trasladado a un recinto penal para cumplir su condena. If my very poor Spanish is correct, he was transferred to a penal institution to complete his sentence. How delightful! Pinochet is next.

Marc Davidson

What goes on in a person's head that allows him to cross over to such a dark side of human existence? The irony of it is that he was probably a kind and loving father and maybe even a regular church-going Christian. He surely knew exactly what he was doing down to the ugly details. I think it goes to show the monstrous potential of the human psyche, which most of us thankfully never fulfill.


GM, that's utterly contradictory, not a one of the conservative politicians you voted for in your life thought that way in 1973. No?

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Well, at least the left gets to pat itself on the back and feel good. Marc, due to his unusual personal experiences, is justified in celebrating this.


What about the millions of the butchers of the communist world? There were many, many more than in right wing dictatorships. When are you guys going to get around to generating any righteous indignation about that. How about all the former Stasi in Germany? The Nazi's were hunted down to the man (except for useful scientists), but few of the communist Stasi butchers were. They are still there, ready to be captured, but leftist Germany is too busy lecturing us on human rights to bother.

I want to hear the left specifically call for human rights laws to be applied to those who ran the gulags, those who are still running the concentration camps in Vietnam, North Korea and China, those who executed tens of millions in China and Russia, and the many other dark villains of communism. The list could get a lot longer - the "Black Book of Communism" is huge: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674076087/qid=1106963377/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/002-8592388-6940838

When I hear the left pat itself on the back about human rights, I want to retch. The western left actively denied the crimes of the communist world until it was impossible to continue, at which point they just ignored them. How many people on this board can honestly say they objected to the USSR's butchery? China's? Cuba's? How many tried to do anything about it?

The left of the 20th century caused more loss of freedom, torture, horrible imprisonment and death than any movement in the history of man, and it still isn't done. Cuba holds prisoners in terrible conditions. The Laotian government is practicing Genocide against the Hmong. The left in the west, blinded by ideology were and still are the "Useful Idiots" serving these butchers, many without knowing it.

I'm not going to celebrate given the utter hypocrisy of all of this. Only Marc, due to his special experiences, deserves to celebrate these events.


"The Nazi's were hunted down to the man (except for useful scientists), but few of the communist Stasi butchers were."

As I recall the Stasi and their kin faced a whole lot worse fate than Pinochet's secret service of torturers, not to mention of Pinochet. Exile, disgrace, loss of status, jail,...
But what is really wierd is your apparent equation of E. Germany's Stasi with the Nazis. That is a real piece of original mythology you've come up with there.


An, this is sweeeeeeeeeeeet, sweeeeeeeeeeeet news! COntreras was something like Pinochet's capo -- if there's a better analogy Marc tell me -- and to see him do time is blissful. I can just remember all the Chileans we put up in our house in Portsmouth (UK) after the coup and this must be great news to them.

By the way, the geezer above who say the Western left denied Communism's crimes. DO me a bloody favor? DOn't conflate us with the likes of the Western CPs and their braindead, Lada-loving fellow travellers, old boy. I heard from the mouth of the great Robert Conquest himself that leftists were some of the first people to expose Stalin's crimes. Social democrats, anarchists, Trotskyists, Tribunites. Read some Victor Serge, mate. Read Orwell. And then go onto the Nation's website and read through Daniel Singer's writings. On the other hand, I do like you quoting Lenin to make your case...


Steve - the only way "conservatism" can lay any claim on the present is by a constant process of revisionism, discarding the baggage that's no longer socially acceptable due to the past efforts of liberals and radicals. The trick, and it's a neat one, is to always rhetorically appropriate the liberal high ground that's been lost irretreviably by conservatives in the past, acknowledge the new reality as the baseline of the "new" conservatism and then try to reconfigure it to benefit their base as much as possible. The current Social Security embroglio is a good example - only a lunatic would run against Social Security, so why not try to grab off a chunk for Wall Street under the guise of "empowering individuals".

It will ever be thus...liberals dragging conservatives kicking and screaming into reality. We did it with Social Security, we did it with protective and regulatory legislation, we did it with civil rights, we did it with environmentalism, we did it with women's rights, we did it with Keynesianism, we did it with global human rights, we're doing it with gay rights, we'll do it with health care. But, since there's no such thing as a coherent conservative ideology anymore - only political opportunism of various stripes with a dose of fundamentalist looney tunes thrown in for good measure because that's the only way they can cobble together an electoral majority - they'll always cook up some new guise for schemes that benefit the usual suspects on their side of the aisle. I find it interesting that the entire agenda of libertarian think tanks these days is to figure out ways to apply "free market solutions" to problems that free market types wouldn't even acknowledge were legitimate issues not so long ago - public education, pollution control, comprehensive health coverage, etc. etc. It's their grasp at relevance, but to me it feels like having the blind man offer to help you across the street.


"When I hear the left pat itself on the back about human rights, I want to retch."

Funny, that's exactly how I feel when your foul brethren raise that flag, in their rhetorical spasms of hypocrisy. Don't lecture liberals about human rights vis. communism. Not for one minute, buddy. First of all, liberals have historically had an excellent record in opposing human rights violations in communist countries, and to argue otherwise is a Big Lie (but don't let that stop you.) Second, the human rights record of the right in places where we could actually do something about it because we had influence is abysmal.

I'll also remind you that the only American I know of who stood before the world and defended the legitimacy of the Pol Pot regime was Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the Reaganite wench who shamed her country at the UN at the behest of the Gipper's boys. (I don't blame Reagan, because I'm not sure he understood the details and was probably taking a nap at the time.)

The Black Book of Communism was a johnny-come-lately operation by a bunch of morons who had previously espoused maoism. Where the hell a bunch of ex-maoists get off lecturing liberals about not paying enough attention to the crimes of Stalinism is beyond me. But they've obviously handed you something you think you can throw in our direction. Sorry...the shame of the French ultra-left isn't a place I feel I need to go to "rehabilitate" liberalism. For you to suggest a connection is preposterous.


Note: I don't think all of the "Black Book" authors were full-tilt maoists - I believe some were mainstream European Stalinists in previous incarnations. And I don't think they were morons because of what they wrote in the Black Book, per se, just insofar as it was a ritual purging of their past beliefs which were indeed moronic, among other things.

One can only hope Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzalez live long enough until America becomes so enlightened.

Of course the way we're going they may have to survive several more centuries before said enlightened time begins in this country.

Marc Cooper

Commenters" Dont even think turning this thread into one more personality based spitting match. As I have warned, that will not be tolerated here any longer. Stick to contesting ideas and refrain from questioning the motives of any individual commenter.

Carlito: Yes, General Contreras was Pinochet's "capo" -- his chief executioner and organizer of state terrorism.

John Moore: My friend, you are whistling in the wind. Any intelligent person can chew gum and walk at the same time, but doesnt necessarily have to do both each time he does one or the other. Everytime abuse on the Right is denounced, it is NOT necessary to preface the remarks with a ritualistic denunciation of Leftist abuse. You, for sure, would protest quite loudly if the reverse were imposed on you.
We have every right in the world to celebrate the punishment handed out to Pinochet and his thugs without compromising our denunciation of torture, murder and abuse by anyone. Nor does criticizing one set of torturers automatically create a moral symmetry with other torturers. There is a question of degree. Stalin, or Hitler, or Pol Pot were bigger torturers than General Pinochet. General Pinochet is a bigger torturer than Alberto Gonzalez. Yet, they are all complicit with torture.
You also have a monochromatic view of what "the left" is. I have been on the left my entire life and I have always condemend the murder and torture in China, Vietnam, Cuba and the entire Soviet Bloc. In general, it is true, however, that leftists are more reticent to condemn abusers on the left. It is likewise true that people on the Right are hesitant to condemn torturers on the Right. You have just helped prove that axiom because it seems difficult for you to acknowledge the crimes of fascists like Pinochet with an equivocal "yes.. but" Yes, but the Left is worse. I have this my entire from many on the Left. Cuba? Oh yes,,, but... teh Right is worse.
The abuse game is a moral dead-end whether played by right or left. Abuse and torture deserve no modifiers or qualifiers. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: Torture is torture is torture. Its victims make no gradations or distinctions.

jim hitchcock

Please, PLEASE show Marc the respect he deserves by honoring his wishes. I am nobody, but I'm asking you.

Green Dem

I'll bet they don't serve that delicious sea bass in Chilean jails.

And I'll bet inmates are forbidden from throwing other inmates who they find disagreeable out of airplanes, although that may be more of a problem for Mr. Pinochet than this fella.

PS Hope he likes sodomy.

Jaime Olivares

Marc, as always your site give us good news. In my opinion, the best coverage about Contreras' arrest can be found at http://www.lanacion.cl
It has another excellent report on...

El ministro en visita Hugo Dolmestch condenó en primera instancia a cadena perpetua al ex director de la CNI Hugo Salas Wenzel, por los asesinatos de doce militantes de Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez, perpetrados entre el 15 y 16 de junio de 1987 en la llamada Operación Albania.


You know, I have to be honest here: I loved this thread until I read Mr. Moore's catty posting. Why does this keep happening?

Marc Cooper

NOTE: I have deleted about ten comments from this thread because they are too personal and too provocative without much redeeming substance.
Believe me this is not what I want to do. But nnyone bitch about censorship and I will just permanently cut you. Im not your mommy or ur daddy so no appeals will be heard.

IN THE MEANTIME, EVERYONE please cool down. All we are using on this blog are words and everyone here should be able to handle anything that is said without resorting to personal attacks. I disagree with plenty of what is said here but see no reason to call people names, use profanity, or impugn their personal integrity and sanity. Except for the 2 or 3 of you I know personally, you might all be serial axe murderers using the public computer inside the state pen.

So no more outburts please. I'm a blogger and a journalist... not a cop. But it is not my intent to create a blog that is used as an instrument to beat up on other readers.

Everybody calm down..

And John Moore... I totally disagree with you but I like you and find you a person of principle... completely wrong ones, but so what? HOWEVER, there is a general consensus that your posts are often about 5 times longer than they should be... So try some editing!

No more mud wrestling. It's plattering all over my nice oak desk. So stop it.


Whatever it was about the last thread--"Fear and Loathing Among the Democrats"--that is lacking (or was lacking and is now present) here, find some way to carbon copy it. That thread was very diverse and full of good ideas, and gave my tiresome Friday a needed energy boost. I hope to read more like it!

too many steves

The perpetration of evil is not ideological it is the natural product of human institutions. The less human contact we have the easier it is to dehumanize those we oppose or who oppose us. Notice how easy it is here to hurl insults at those with whom we disagree? Doing so is not evil but it illustrates that the less we know each other the easier it is to demonize and justify otherwise objectionable behavior.

Can't we all just take a moment and enjoy the fact that some very nasty people (does anyone here argue that point) have been brought to justice and made to pay for their transgressions?

jim hitchcock

Absolutely right on target, too many. Isn't it a sad comment on human nature that politics (and often times religion) are used by those in power as an effective means to divide, and thereby control?


I'm ashamed to say I know very little about the circumstances surrounding Pinochet, other than the standard 'sound bites' of right and left (one of the reasons I am fascinated by this blog - I like to hear about events from people who were actually involved in them).

Good suggestions for reading? And yes, I know requests are lazy, but then I am just a little bit lazy (From John Moore, also, please? :) I want to read from both sides of the 'divide').

Anyhow, dictators of all political stripes are asses - be they communist or otherwise (can I say asses on this blog? Because, really, they are. And Marc Davidson had a good point too about the complications of the psyche. How do some people slip into evil? I rotated through Cook County Medical Center during my pathology residency and the things you saw...you would see the dead bodies and what had been done to them, since obviously the job of that place was to document them. I'm sorry to say that the straightforward shootings were the least of it. How do you do that to another human being?)


First, allow me to apologize to all in this thread, and on this blog. My comments (one of the 10 or so deleted) were both intemperate and not like me in general. I do not apologize for what I said, but for how I said it. It was childish, immature, displaced anger, and not at all like my usually roly-poly, cheerful self.

Having said that, I have lived near many dictatorships in my 55+ years and I have always wondered how the ostensibly "good" human psyche can devolve into an inhuman evil one; as Marc Davidson implied - it is a mystery.

Again, I apologize for how I termed my rant and my posting here should indicate that my "outta here" was for the evening only - mostly because Marc threatened to come down and "slap you around." Actually, I am not afraid of that at all. What I am afraid of is that he will come down and subject me to the torture of a leftist rant for hour on hour on hour. That being the case I relent. ;-)


Uh, that should be Cook County Medical *Examiner's office* - most of the pathology residents in the Chicago area go through that site for their forensics rotation.

jim hitchcock

Glad you're back, GM. Note that I used my third and final shot on this thread to say that, if you question my sincerity.

MD, I can't say that I actually recommend the book shown top right (written by some hack called Cooper), as it's the one of three I haven't gotten around to ordering yet, but who knows? It might be a good place to start.

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