You would think… you would just think that the EPRDF’s oddly unappealing ambassador to these
Okay. I know it’s the EPRDF and the most we can expect from its disciples is that they wipe their mouths after they projectile vomit their hackneyed talking points on innocent bystanders.
But… but… it’s DC, people! Couldn’t the Meles government scrounge up just one able person to rep-ree-zent other than the present alpha male wannabe they plunked down on
It took a while, but I finally listened to the ambassador’s interview on Chicago Public Radio in its entirety. Yes, the one where he traded words with curmudgeon-in-chief Professor Donald Levine, who was at one point breathing fire about having his intelligence insulted ostensibly after being duped into serving as an "observer" at the 1992 “democratic” Ethiopian elections. Miskeeeen! The professor is obviously still very emotionally scarred by that indignity. Oh, Professor Levine. Welcome to the club. Try repressed memory therapy… that's where you actually repress memories. That’s how most of us have survived the EPRDF.
So when your top ambassador can’t defend your government from the verbal whiplash of sociologist Donald Levine, or is even mildly flustered by him, do you think it’s time to step back and... I dunno, reflect? Something like, “Why are all the morons on our side?”
True to form, Mr. Ambassador-Lite totally parroted Prime Minister Meles’ now-certified “Gee, you think he wrote it under the influence of Benadryl?” response to the preliminary EU report. Almost verbatim. I mean, after all the ridicule Ato Meles’ “my temper tantrum in 14,000 words or less” received, wouldn’t you think that someone in the EPRDF Department of Bullshit would have come up with a new spin? You’d think that, wudn’ja? You would be sadly mistaken, my friend.
The ambassador ended up referring to Ato Meles’ long-windedness as “detailed” and “exhaustive”… okay so far… I mean, he is the Ambassador, after all. What's he gonna say? “It shortened my growth spurt”? “It made me want to have the mother of all bowl movements”? But then… then comes the nauseatingly obsequious “well argued” and “based on facts” nonsense. Eeesh. [edited ]
Anyway, so what’s wrong with this picture, boys and girls?
I have heard that [The Carter Center] has submitted their report yesterday or today. I haven’t… uh, gone through it.
Now, I'm probably being picky about these things, but wouldn’t you think that the Ambassador of Ethiopia would actually have, let’s say, read an important document like the Carter Center report on the Ethiopian elections before he sat down to an interview about the Ethiopian elections? Especially when the report was released a full day prior to his interview? Is that still within the job description of an ambassador these days? Reading a report?
With the predictability of a tightly wound nymphomaniac let loose on Fleet Week, the ambassador then goes on to try to persuade us that the EPRDF is not Marxist and that it has been following a “completely different policy” from “day one” of its rule. Youuuu crazy ambassador, you! C’mere!
And God bless
Surprise, surprise the EU report is “full of bias” as is the professor’s point of view: “full of bias.” Many things and people are “full of bias.”
There are several “no, he did’n!” moments, one being when the good ambassador-man remarks about past, um, Ethiopian elections… you know, the ones where the EPRDF won by 99%.
This last election was the third ever. In this election there have been a marked progress. You have referred to the 1992 election. I wouldn’t be surprised! The people did not even have any experience, any exposure to elect their leaders. They did not even know that leaders could be challenged. So this has to come gradually. This is an emerging democracy.
Yeeeah. So the only thing wrong with the 1992 elections were that people just didn’t know... how to vote? Oookay.
Remember the hearty laugh we shared when Ato Meles tried to lecture us on how the government of
The government, and I am not talking about the ruling party, but I am talking about the government, the government is not saying that this election is pure and clean. There are irregularities...
Uh-oh. Someone’s not been reading their talking points either. Um, Mr. Ambassador, when it has time, could the government please break the news to the EPRDF that this election was not… pure and (cough!) clean because, um, the EPRDF kinda seems to think that it... it is pure and clean. Just like a virgin. Forget it. Mr. Ambassador, who do we talk to in the government to straighten up this baby? Maybe this is just a matter of the people in the government and the people in the EPRDF not having met each other.
I have a quick question: does the EPRDF think that there is “stupid” written on all our faces or just on the faces of people who listen to public radio?
Oh, and by the way, the Prime Minister did not mean to insult anybody with that whole “garbage” thing. It was a matter of semantics. Mr. Prime Minister is not that fluent in English. (“Self-appointed colonial viceroy”? He must have meant that in the nicest way possible.)
The haze of bullshit pollution around the ambassador’s personal space soon thickened… yes, yes… the ambassador will be “sad” if the opposition doesn’t join the parliament to “challenge” the government. Ohhhh…and the ambassador will thank you not to be going around day dreaming about no coalition government... for it is written in the Constitution. So, ixnay on any oo-ni-tay government-tay talk. Yes, our sacred constitution. The same constitution that the EPRDF holds in such reverence that it thinks it is tantamount to an insult to follow all its articles... especially the one about the right to assemble freely. And the one about the right not to be shot in the head.
In case you wondered, the ambassador thinks democracy should be strengthened, details on how to be hammered out soonish. Sure, why not?And, no, Ato Meles never said, heck would never dream of saying (even in 1992), “If the opposition wants power, let them do what we did.” The professor insisted otherwise, pointing out that he was in the actual room when Ato Meles said it, but the ambassador was having none of that crapola in any language. "No.. no.. no... he didn't say that. No... No...No!" I think I heard Levine grit his teeth. I am sure the ambassador is kneenly aware of all of the prime minister's utterances, so let's not quibble. And very much no, no, heavens to Betsey a thousand times no, Ato Meles is not a dictator. All allegations of intimidations and abuse are “all allegations.” There have been no intimidations. What initimidations? You call a few assasinations intimidations? What are you, a fascist? No, no, no. Most people are bias. Personally bias against the prime minister. Thank you, good night, please tip your waiter.
The best part came towards the end. Speaking about those who were killed on June 8, the ambassador predictably whips out his laser-guided, EPRDF-sanctioned, super oafish cliché saber. He tries to belch out the customary bullshit that the people killed were those who were caught trying to usurp the constitution, and that the government bears the responsibility of “preserving the peace.”
Does no one at the EPRDF get it? A government which cannot control an unarmed crowd without killing 42 unarmed people is, by definition, a government that is not fit to govern. Say it with me, people: only thugs respond to stone throwing with live bullets. What part of that is not clear?
Uff. Ethiopundit was right. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how statesman-like the ambassador tried to come off, in the end, justifying the deaths of 42 people, some of whom were shot in the head multiple times, some of whom as young as 14-years old… justifying this thugishness by saying that the government was protecting the constitution exposes the ambassador as having the political sophistication of a gussied up guerilla fighter with the analytical competence of a two-bit gangster. Hel-lo! What part of that is not clear? An AK-47 mentality is an AK-47 mentality, even in zip code 20008.
“My role is not to blindly support the government,” the ambassador tells us. “My role is to learn from really concerned people.”
Oh, pul-lease. Different shade of lipstick, same pig. This is a government and a party that has been unmerciful in its brutality. It continues to zombie-like defend its behavior on June 8, going as far as calling the victims “hooligans.” It has not bothered to investigate the deaths, yet the ambassador tells us verrrryy saccharinely how it was all soooo "regrettable" and that there “should” be an investigation. Oh yeah? Well, there should be a low-fat bacon triple cheeseburger, too. But guess what, sunshine?
I lost count at how many times the ambassador dips his head deep into the septic tank that is the EPRDF's blatant hypocrisy, only to then come up and douse himself with dime- store cologne in a childish attempt to hide the distinct stench of eau de bullshit. Ah, poor thing. That’s the problem with spewing out spoon-fed propaganda: you never come out smelling like a rose.
Interestingly, the professor then gets on the defensive, assuring the ambassador several times that once upon a time he himself had written glowing love letters to and about Ato Meles. This pleased the ambassador. Not sure what made the proffessor change his mind in subsequent years, but he shore sounded decidedly more pissed off at Ato Meles in his June interview.
Then... did I hear right? Did the professor say something like how he agrees with the ambassador on about 99% of the issues? Uh-oh. Methinks the professor was momentarily pussified right in front of our very ears. Me really thinks that. Ohhhh… so that’s how Ato Meles managed to find Tony Blair’s G-spot and convince him about the whole "new breed of Africans" lump of garbage? I am beginning to see the method behind the madness.
Incidentally, here’s the problem plauging the ambassador and the EPRDF: they both insist on measuring their government's success and gauging its progress against the Mengistu regime. The ambassador kept crowing (“Here. I have figures,” he tells us breathlessly at one point) about how many people did not die of starvation in the Meles regime as opposed to how many died in the Mengistu regime.
Oh, yeah, baby. Tell me more! Did your government also not gas people? Hmm? Oohh. That is so sex-aye. And I bet you your government never ran a terror campaign named after a primary color, has it? Oh, yeah, sweetie, right there. And… and your government never land locked your 71 million people because it was involved in a gluttonous, deliciously avaricious orgy with its guerilla friend, did it, babe? Umm. Yeah, that's it... Um, babe? Babe? Oh. It did landlock 71 million people because it was involved in a gluttonous, deliciously avaricious orgy with its guerilla friend! Hmm. What about not used a draconian resettlement policy to combat starvation? Okay. Never-mmmmind!
It is the most retarded reasoning, eve-er!
The EPRDF also computes its contribution to humanity in terms of the roads it has built and how many shiny buildings sparkle in the
Seriously, what the fuck?
This government can’t even face a demonstration from its people, let alone investigate their death. Asking us to give it credit for building roads and cleaning up Addis (which the EPRDF would be surprised to find out is what governments actually do... sort of like reading reports) while telling us to ignore all its other traits is lunacy. Is that in any way ambiguous, 'coz I can ellaborate 'till the cows come home.
This is what passes for intelligence in the EPRDF circle. You go, boys!
Prime Minister Meles is a child of revolution, a stepchild of group think and is not even distantly related by marriage to free thought. These are the traits of a tyrant. In order to rule, tyrants have to discourage free thought and dissent. They surround themselves with android yes-men who are little more than groupies with benefits. That would explain Ambassador Kassahun Ayele, who is neither a kassa nor hayal… discuss amongst yourselves. He is alas another castrated cadre who does not possess neither the ability nor the wherewithal to stand up and say, “enough!”
Meanwhile at the palace, Prime Minister Meles has the balls to sputter ad hominem crap about violators of the sacred Ethiopian constitution even as he is gang bangs the constitution. His little men surround him, nodding in perfect harmony and venerating his prowess.
Leaders who are afraid of dissenters are cowards, tyrants or both. They know that their ideology is not stable without leaning it heavily on a sub-machine gun. This was none clearer than when Ato Meles and his party were magnificently humiliated during the debates in the days before the election. (Does someone have the video of that they can link online?) In the mano-a-mano, no holds barred cerebral warfare, they were left naked and disgraced. Remember the Hardtalk interview with the BBC? Prime Minister Meles was so used to spewing non sequitur drivel which is swiftly accepted with “amens” and hallelujah”s, that at the slightest challenge he ended up sweaty and stuttering like a schoolboy who had just seen his first pair of grown up breasts. It was like watching a small-time street bully being knocked around by the bigger boys. So sad, yet compelling to watch. It also had a nice beat and you could dance to it. I give that inteview an eight.
As someone in the comment section said, “The EPRDF is stuck on stupid.”
Ethiopundit, the Altoids of political discourse in the halitosis that is innernetz Ethiopian politics once again radiantly breaks down the splendid inanity of the EPRDF and how it almost anal about confusing the line between normal idiocy and mental retardation. Read Caravan Redux.
I am sick and tired, ladies and gentlemen. I am sick and tired of stupidity. I don’t care where it comes from, the EPRDF, the opposition… I have decreed a fatwah on stupidity.
Someone, please press stop.
Okay, now that we’ve covered that…
So here’s why I am liking über-geek, get-the-man-a-pocket-protector Berhanu Nega, and why I was initially impressed with how he handled that whole thing with hot tamale Lidetu and the disagreement on the talks with the EPRDF. Listen to his arguments and response to questions. And then listen to any speech by Ato Meles. I mean the difference in logic and style is so cosmic that Ato Meles, without exception, betrays his jungle-ly, insolent roots.
To most intelligent people, dissent is not dysfunction. EPRDF devotees, who are not allowed to think outside the very inner box, were gleeful at the Berhanu/Lidetu fracture. Um, dissenting views at the EPRDF are dealt with…what’s it called, death and/or lifetime imprisonment .
But there were also a lot of people on the side of the opposition who thought that these kinds of disagreements should be dealt with in-house. Don't ask me why. But to me, this was a watershed event. It set precedent. It was tremendous. This was huge for Ethiopian politics and I don’t think it has been written about enough.
Part of the handicap of the opposition is that is it not just endeavoring to change Ethiopian politics, it is trying to change behavior; and not just any ol’ behavior, political behavior. It is a colossal responsibility… especially when you are doing it without the aide of a specially trained killing posse. Changing behavior is lugubrious and painstaking systematic. It is a process, not a laxative. That’s why people who need therapy the most (um… does Ato Meles have a good PPO?) don’t believe in therapy. They want fast-acting blue pills. That’s why Jeffrey Sachs thinks dumping money on
Great thinkers are rarely appreciated in their time, and econ maharishi Berhanu shows signs of being a great thinker. Maybe it is his academic background that obligates him to use logic to emaciate his opponents rather than boisterous but banal gibberish. (By the way---and I don’t necessarily mean “by the way” in a “speaking of which” way--- I attended a Hailu Shawel speech this past weekend. Okay. Short end of it: we need to get Very Engineer Hailu Shawel a hobby other than the CUD. I’m sending him my knitting needles. No. No. He might poke his eyes out with them and call the whole thing “highway robbery.” Okay, let’s all think of a hobby for him.)
I have a great weakness and profound esteem for people who have the ability and gift to be great thinkers; these people are methodical in their analysis and unconcerned about counterfeit bravado. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing logic shatter brutality. It is nirvana. Yet we Ethiopians are yet again seduced by situations and people who make us feel better rather than someone who forces us to think better.
For example, when the EPRDF came up with its asinine ethnic policy which it wrappedloosely in thin layers of tattered logic, many people rushed to it as if it were the last doughnut on a fat farm. Few people stopped to examine its real intent because even a cursory look would have revealed that this was not about getting rid of oppression, my friends. So all of a sudden, otherwise previously normal people (even those who grew up in the melting pot that is Addis Abeba) started affiliating themselves ethnically. And now, when things are rough, the TPLF turds are murmuring about ethnic cleansing. Someone from the TPLF will soon start reverting to a liberation movement, because that’s the last desperate move to hang on to power. Talk about stuck on stupid.
Similarly, Eritreans were told that they were not Ethiopians, but a super-race with a super DNA structure, so they lobotomized themselves and canonized a psychopath to sainthood. After all, they had "won a war against Africa's biggest army". Yeeeah. Turns out, they are mere mortals. Total buzz kill. A few years later, mothers would question why they gave up their children for an independence that is now claiming their grandchildren. Now that’s what they call a socially engineered mind-fuck.
Same thing with Mengistu. He ratcheted up a scheme that convinced a few village idiots and disgruntled petty officers that there is an oppressed mass in desperate need of a bloody revolution, and soon young people, without questioning that logic, starting killing their own brothers and sisters as a sacrifice for the Communist Revolutionary Gods.
I see a trend here, and hopefully leaders like Berhanu and Beyene Petros and their kind can help us break that cycle. Sadly, a whole new generation of Ethiopians is about to be made uncomfortable with the concept of peace and rational thinking. Ato Meles and Co. are programming people so that soon, violence will be on auto-pilot , and people will press their own buttons to destruct themselves and anyone near them.
Leaders like Meles and Mengistu appeal to the lowest common denominator. Instead of addressing our grievance, be it ethnicity or class, they expertly manipulate our national vulnerability until we become hopelessly addicted to pain--feeling it as well as inflicting it. That's why Ambassador Kassahun and countless EPRDF apprentices cannot for the life of them understand our sheer horror at their defense that killings ensure "law and order." They can't inherently understand the contradiction in that, nor can they imagine what all the fuss is about there have not being the slightest attempt to "investigate" the killings. Because to them, June 8 was nothing more than collateral damage. No big whoop. They have been vitually numbed to the sanctity of human life. Their default setting is stuck on violence. They can wear expensive clothes and hobnob with Tony Blair and Jeffrey Sachs, but when push comes to shove, their default is stuck on brutality.
What do you think it would take for you to kill, dear reader? Imagine picking up a gun and shooting someone dead because that person does not agree with you, or you feel like that person is trying to take away your power. What will it take for you to pick up a gun and kill a human being over an ideologial difference?
Leaders like Berhanu, at least so far, not only want us to aim higher, they expect us to aim higher. But it’s so much more easier to aim low.
There is a lot of nerve-racking chatter in the ET cyberspace pontificating about whether the opposition should join the parliament or not. As always, because there is little introspection, matters are discussed in binary format… yes/no, black/white, do/die. People translate the mere discussion of joining the parliament as legitimizing "the weyane."Next question. "Mommy should the CUD join the parliamnet, yes or no? Do people think that Isreal left the Gaza Strip because it was feeling generous? Did it sit back and watch synagogues being burnt because it really believed that Palestinians truly belonged there?
As the philosopher and self-appointed poverty viceroy and one time God awful musician Sir Bob Geldolf put it succinctly, grow up! Reducing the complexity of the Ethiopian election and its aftermath into a yes/no configuration is appallingly reductionist.
Only children like things put in binary mode. “Mommy, can I have a cookie, yes or no?” “No!” Beqa. There is also a lot of hand-wringing about the upcoming rally called by the opposition on October 2. It’s presented in a “do or die” paradigm, as if, if for one reason or another, the rally is canceled or delayed it’s over for the opposition. Please.
What the opposition has been very adept at so far has been changing behavior. It’s not a matter of winning the election or not (and I believe it has), or sitting in parliament or not. It’s about the process of democracy being honored. People going apoplectic about “to parliament or not to parliament”, or getting ulcers about the number of people who’ll show up at the demonstration seems a little politically immature to me. But that’s just me, and I ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Changing behavior and engaging in a process is like drinking instant coffee… yeah, technically it’s coffee, but grown ups wait for the real brew to brew.
So far, the opposition has managed to riddle the EPRDF’s armor by strategy and wit. It is breathtaking to be witness to. Hopefully, it will continue doing so, drowning out the cacophony of pseudo-intellectuals and Starbucks warriors… and know it all wonqettes. To me, the opposition winning the elections is a lesser priority than the fostering of the process and culture of democracy. Power is ephemeral. Culture is permanent. The EPRDF is a dead entity. It's finished. But replacing it with another EPRDF-style “if you are not with us, you are against us” regime that believes in the means justifying the end is careless. I don’t believe in the idiom, “He may be a bastard, but he is our bastard.” I think we should aspire to a general level of non-bastardiness.
A lot of people have been asking me if I think the opposition should or should not join parliament. Here is my honest answer: I don’t know. That’s up to them and the people who elected them. LijE, I have my hands full dealing with another totalitarian regime: a PTA run by MILF fascists in Chanel pumps who want to make me chair the next mother-son dance. Sheeet. You wanna talk about dealing with a tyranny.
Listen to Berhanu’s latest VOA interview here.