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September 21, 2006

A Darling of the Left Makes Them Proud

Hugo Chavez, a man embraced by Cindy Sheehan and Harry Belafonte, and who gives free PR to Noam Chomsky, spoke before the United Nations yesterday. His words, both then and later, ought to give pause to those who make common cause with him. They also ought to give pause to those who vote for people who have made common cause with Chavez.

"The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said, gesturing to where Bush had stood during his speech on Tuesday. "He came here talking as if he were the owner of the world." He later said he was referring to President Bush when he spoke of the devil.

Chavez said it still smelled like sulfur. Well, as James Taranto notes, he who smelt it....

Chavez then made the sign of the cross and appeared to pray for a moment. Where is the American Left on this? If Bush had some something like this, even in jest, they would be outraged over it. Either they would decry his outward religiosity, or complain that he was using it to make a joke. As far as I know, though, this little demonstration has passed without serious comment by Chavez supporters here.

Rep. Charlie Rangel did come out against Chavez's remarks in general when he said,

You don't come into my country, you don't come into my congressional district, and you don't condemn my president. If there's any criticism of President Bush, it should be restricted to Americans - whether we voted for him or not.

That was great of him to say, and I'm glad to hear this come from across the aisle. I don't think Rangel would have said he was a "supporter" of Chavez before this.

It is interesting to note, though, that, before this statement, Rangel thanked him for the low-cost heating oil program that Chavez was running. Given Chavez's motives for doing this, it's basically saying, "Thanks for the bribes, and keep 'em coming." See, Chavez is looking for a shot at a rotating seat on the security council, and has been lobbying hard for it.

In the past few months, Chavez has crisscrossed the globe collecting promises of support, visiting about a dozen countries including Russia, Belarus, Iran, Vietnam, Qatar, Mali, Benin, China, Malaysia and Syria. His diplomats also have been busy, while top Guatemalan officials and U.S. diplomats also have been doing their own lobbying.

Chavez said he has the solid backing of the Caribbean Community, the Arab League, Russia, China and much of Africa, in addition to his allies across South America.

And it really is a bribe. While speaking last May about expanding the program to Europe, Chavez tipped his hand.
Flanked by Bolivian President Evo Morales, Chavez heaped insults on the government of President George W. Bush, saying Americans were living under a dictatorship and that U.S. foreign policy could lead to another world war.

``We have to confront the empire and denounce it,'' he said. ``The U.S. empire is coming to an end.''

He renewed pledges to use cash reserves bolstered by high oil prices to help support other Latin American countries, including Bolivia, through cheap financing rather than investing it in U.S. or European banks.

This dictator is buying diplomacy, and as nice as low-cost heating oil is to the poor, their representatives ought to know better than encourage this type of tainted money.

Getting back to the UN, however, Chavez's words there were more than just jest. They showed just what it is that is wrong with the United Nations as it currently stands. Dictators like him get equal footing to spew their falsehoods and attempt to sway opinion, in order to simply consolidate their power. Mimicing Bush's form--directly speaking to the people of Iran and Syria--Chavez spoke to the American people.

"I'm not an enemy of the United States. I'm a friend of the United States ... the people of the United States," Chavez said during his speech to an audience including union organizers and professors. "They're two very different things — you the people of the United States, and the government that's installed there."

In this, he tries to conflate his dictatorial regime that he basically "installed" with a democratically elected government that does, indeed, represent its people. I'll note that I'd believe this even if a Democrat were in the White House. Any leader of the United States is far, far more representative of the people of the United States than Chavez is of the Venezuelan people.
He drew a standing ovation when he said Bush committed genocide during the war in Iraq.

"The president of the United States should go before an international tribunal," Chavez said as applause filled the hall at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He compared the Bush administration's actions to those of the Nazis.

Where was the standing "O" when Bush told the UN back in June of 2005 that they needed to do something about the actual genocide going on in Darfur? They hadn't even used the "G" word at the UN up until that point for the Darfur situation. Yet some dictator walks in and accuses the US of ostensibly targeting civilians on a massive scale, and the place erupts in applause! Where in the name of Diplomacy has the sense of these people gone? The United Nations is broken. It is not in need of fixing, it is in need of replacing.

And while his calls for changes there sounded vaguely conservative...

The Venezuelan leader, a close friend and admirer of Cuba's communist leader Fidel Castro, has sought to be a voice for poor countries and has warned that if the U.S. tries to block U.N. reform, Venezuela and others may eventually create a separate "United Nations of the south" to rival a body they no longer find democratic.

Chavez also said it might eventually be necessary to move the U.N. headquarters out of the United States.

...the changes that conservatives would like to make would probably not line up with his ideas. (Emphasis mine, to note the incredible irony.) A world body composed of the true republics of the world would exclude dictators like Chavez and would be more representative of the people of the world than socialist/communist/whatever-ist dictators that seek to buy their way into world politics.

Hugo Chavez has joined a long line of dictators that have predicted the end of the United States as we know it. The power-hungry of the world have to make the US a target as a matter of course. But they keep being shown wrong as both the shared morality of our country combined with a people- rather than state-run economy (for the most part) keep chugging along and leading the world. Complain all you want about the many ills the US has--and there are indeed many--the people of the world continue to flock here.

And yet those on the left continue to laud this dictator. Nancy Pelosi may call him a "thug" (again, good to hear from that side of the aisle), but the grassroots Left just love him.

Singer and activist Harry Belafonte introduced Chavez at the event, while former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark also attended, among supporters who waved Venezuelan flags and chanted Chavez's name. The Venezuelan leader signed autographs as a crowd rushed to him after the speech.

"We love ya', Huey! Just don't, y'know, make us look bad. Foreign leaders making inappropriate Devil and Nazi references don't play well in flyover country. Leave the inappropriate references to us."

Posted by Doug at September 21, 2006 02:34 PM

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Since I'm sure you don't want to be responsible for spreading false testimony, might I point you to some myths about Chavez?


In short, while Chavez isn't perfect, he's not a dictator and it remains questionable that he's oppressive in any serious way. Rather, it appears he's made great improvements in humanitarian conditions and in democracy in his country.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at September 25, 2006 01:47 PM

I will retract the term "dictator", but only in the technical sense of not being voted in. Rosy articles from the Venezuelan Information Office or lists from a site that, at the same time, redefines Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel statements and suggest that the beheading of Nick Berg was a US psyop can't really be taken at face value.

And please don't forget about previous issues with voter fraud in Venezuela, and a discussion between you and "bruce" about how wonderful (or not) it is in Venezuela under Chavez.

The Left just loves this guy, notwithstanding two public statements from Democrats--Rangel and Pelosi--that give one hope for the Democrat Party. But only if it's a trend, which it doesn't appear to be.

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 25, 2006 02:41 PM

I've still not read any definitive proofs dismissing Chavez. Most of what I've read has come from people with agendas (Left and Right), which makes it hard to sort out the truth from the chaff.

Much of what Chavez SAYS in his speeches rings true to the Gospel, to me (or at least more true than what I EVER hear from US Dems or Republicans). Until I've some authoritative word, I'll withhold judgement on his leadership, but I will judge what he's said, and there's not been much wrong with it and there's been a lot right with it.


We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world. (which echoes a lot of what the Bible has to say about the wealthy - "Woe to the rich, for you have already received your comfort" -Jesus "Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court?" -James)

Peoples of the Americas are rising once again, saying no to imperialism, saying no to fascism, saying no to intervention -- and saying no to death. (And well they should.)

No part of the human community can live entirely on its own planet, with its own laws of motion and cut off from the rest of humanity. (self-evident)

They do not walk in... the path of Christ.

Amen and amen.

He may well be a faker, but the actions that I've seen documented and the words that I've read speak well of the man.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at September 25, 2006 03:04 PM

I think you could cherry pick parts of this speech and have a few hearty Amens as well. Doesn't mean I'd like to live under his rule. How 'bout you? After all, we're just judging folks by what they say, right?

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 25, 2006 09:29 PM

I didn't say that, and you know it full well. I said, I've not seen anything conclusive about Chavez to indicate what Bush says is true. I think Ahmadinejad's actions AND words speak for themselves.

Do you have any authoritative source that says Chavez is violating human rights? He may well be, but then, so is Bush.

I'm not unreservedly endorsing Chavez, I'm saying he's apparently made great strides in human rights in a region with mixed human rights record. I'm saying it appears to me that the criticism of his administration is largely politically motivated by people who want us to be scared of commie boogiemen. And, again, at least his rhetoric is on the right track in many ways.

With Bush, not only is his rhetoric wrong but his policies are wrong. Ideally, I'd like a leader that talks the talk and walks the walk, but at least talking the talk is a starting point.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at September 25, 2006 11:16 PM

What you are doing is listening to nice words and ignoring the experiences of people who've been there who tell you different. Read Bruce's comments again and talk to me about "apparent" advancements. Read up on Chavez's love of Castro's regime and talk to me about "apparent" human rights.

And when you're afraid of voting because if you vote the wrong way you'll disappear, then let's talk about comparing Bush to Chavez.

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 26, 2006 10:08 AM

But I have also talked to other people besides Bruce who've been there who don't report things as Bruce has. These are friends of mine. Christian friends that I trust.

Nothing against Bruce but I don't know him and he appears to have an agenda different than mine, so I hold his opinion in suspect - not that I reject his input, but if I have conflicting reports, I'll go with the reporters I'm most able to validate.

Now Amnesty International is a source that I trust somewhat and they validate that there are problems with human rights and I would like to see those addressed. Just as I'd like to see human rights' violations addressed here in the US.

Again, it seems that they're at least heading in the right direction, even if they haven't arrived. When faced with conflicting reports, I'd hope you'll understand that it's not always easy to discern what the right position to hold is.

What I'm trying to get at here is not so much support for Chavez as it is a rejection of the attempts to demonize him using apparently false propaganda. He was legally elected three times. There is freedom of the press there. People aren't being "disappeared" in ways that have happened in the past (under US-supported regimes, oftentimes) and the violent clashes are apparently on the decline. So you'll excuse me if I don't accept one man's word for what conditions are there. I'd hope you wouldn't either.

Nor would you, I hope, take Bush's word alone for it, when he apparently wants to see him overthrown and doesn't appear to be concerned with using manipulation to do so.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at September 26, 2006 01:50 PM