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February 2007 Archives

February 1, 2007

Bush, Chavez, and the Slur de Jour

Those industrious little couch potatoes over at News Hounds turn up the darndest crap. Remember yesterday when Bush went on Fox News and offered to “help” Venezuelans keep their government institutions strong (by the way: eek)?

Well during that conversation, the Decider got mixed up over the latest right wing slur campaign, and sh*t like this starting falling out his pie hole:

"And, so I am concerned about undermining of democrat institutions and we're working hard to help, you know, prevent that from happening and strengthening democrat institutions."
Honestly, sometimes I think “pendejo” is too generous a word.

[Confidential to GWB: the game goes like this--you use "democrat" as an adjective when you're referring to "big d" Democrats. That's the joke part. When you're talking about "democratic institutions" you can still go ahead and use the "ic." It's confusing, but with some practice..]

Cool Heads Prevail in Land Across the Sea

Thinking more about this posting from yesterday, how crazy bad is the press coverage of Venezuela when the State Department emerges as the voice of reason in this debate? Crazy-crazy bad.

Well thank God for the Guardian. This venerable British standard bearer runs a reasonable and illuminating column on the whole “Rule By Decree” deal. And with a headline that slyly alludes to the great Scott Baio, well, what more could you ask for?

"Mr. Bush, If You Had Any Self-Respect You Would Resign"

Finally, somebody has the balls to say what you've been thinking.

Update: The Cubans have graciously provided an English translation.

February 2, 2007

The Counter Spin Zone

My mama always said I had a face for radio! My Counter Spin interview will be broadcast next week on over 100 stations across the US and Canada. We discuss Venezuela and the mixed up media messages here in the U.S. You can see if when and where it will be airing in your hometown here. Or if you are an impatient type, you can listen to it right now, here.

The Venezuela discussion starts at the 20-minute mark. But the first half of the show is a tribute to the great Molly Ivins, so check out the whole thing if you can.

Ego-Googling, the BoRev, and the Internets

It’s been a fun week for BoRev.Net throughout the worldwide series of tubes.
It’s Friday, so here’s some of the fun ones:

The Financial Times finds us linkable.

Marc Cooper calls us “slavish,” but we’re totally certain he means it in the nicest way possible.

The New Standard thinks we’re “keen,” and the feeling is mutual.

The Venezuelan oppos call us “sycophants” and a “shills,” take yer pick. (They even label us with a little red fish, presumably implying that we smell. They’re so clever.)

A Swedish website says this about us: “Av utländska bloggar kan jag starkt rekommendera den här från USA för den som vill hålla sig updaterad och få en motvikt mot den dominerande borgerliga mediebilden.” What’s it mean? Who the hell knows? But we’re grateful.

By the way, we are getting a ton (a metric ton) of Swedish traffic to the site, so I’d like to take a moment to give a big Bolivarian välkomnande to our friends from the land of Death Metal and Sugar Pop. Tack! And skål! And Jag skulle lik till göra tokig passionerad djur älska till var en av du!!

How’s our Swedish? Write www dot BoRev dot net. We’ll publish the most libelous translations soon!

Left(ist) Behind!


Hal Lindsey is the Conway Twitty of the end-days set. Growing up you’d always see commercials for Twitty on the teevee, billed as the “biggest selling recording artist of all time,” and you thought, “I’ve never heard these songs before and they all sort of suck.”

Anyway, Hal, the “best selling non-fiction writer alive today” (author of “Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth,” “Apocalypse Code,” and “The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon”) has an article on some marginal schlocksite today where he explains that the rise of the left Venezuela is prophesied in the bible as a marker of the End of the World.

But! There’s an upside! An oil company (owned by his family) has “has sunk eight exploratory wells” in some patch of land in Israel, “all of which have shown signs of oil and gas,” and may be able to stave off the Apocalypse. Whew. Invest now! The World is at Stake.

February 3, 2007

That Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy


So yesterday, in a speech before the DNC, Hillary Clinton proposed that we tax record-high oil profits and put them into an alternative energy fund. The right-wing blogosphere immediately, inexplicably, and no doubt organically all made the exact same comparison: that she was announcing her engagement to Hugo Chavez or something. Apparently in their circles this is meant to be a slur.

Anyway, we were struck by the exceptional consistency between a zillion different mind-meld blog postings in the last 24 hours. Read the uncanny listing after the jump.

Continue reading "That Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" »

Breaking News: Venezuela Run By Spanish Speaking Brown Man

We’ve long been a fan of right-wing columnist Georgie Anne Geyer. She doesn’t wrap up her distaste for Leftists In Our Backyard in bogus concerns for “democracy” or “the economic well-being of the people.” Unlike other neocons with ink (we’re talking to you, Jackson Diehl), Geyer has the ovaries to write what she believes, however loco in the coco she may be.

Back in the 90s, she famously gushed about Peruvian Dictator Alberto Fujimori. As hundreds of Peruvians were disappearing without a trace, and after el chino dissolved the Peruvian Congress and Supreme Court, Geyer wrote a whack-tastic column explaining that “Authoritarian democracy works for Peru." You go, crazy lady!

Anyway, you can imagine we were delighted to see that Geyer is focusing today on Chavez, whom she describes as “hawk nosed.” True to form, she doesn’t get all fake-misty-eyed about the Venezuelan people. Instead, she explains, this is about power. She simply laments the “defection of Hugo Chavez and his buddies from American hegemony,” because it means the end of U.S. reign as the “dominant power” in the hemisphere.

And then there’s this:

After years of American neglect of the hemisphere and four unpopular years of American adventuring in Iraq, there is little left of the historic Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which was designed to keep foreign powers out of "our" hemisphere.
So that’s what this is about. Venezuela is run by foreigners. Hawk-nosed foreigners.

February 4, 2007

I’m At W-KRAZY in Miami


Because the press in Miami is just too balanced, Venezuelan and Cuban ex-pats have teamed up in a radio scheme to further polarize, oops, “unify,” their community. This should make for some hee-larious listening. But one paragraph gives us pause:

Venezuelan exiles say they want to use talk radio much in the same way Cuban-Americans have for decades. Many also hope the U.S. government eventually will finance a Radio Marti-style station for their country.

Um…a couple of things here:

>> “Exile” is a real word with an actual definition, and it doesn’t mean “one who dislikes his president,” or “someone who moves to her vacation home for the shopping opportunities.”

>> Radio. Freaking. Marti. To beam anti-Chavez propaganda to the Venezuelans who voted for him. Sounds like a good use of your tax dollars. Of course it might face some competition, like from the dozens of anti-Chavez radio stations that already fill the Venezuelan airwaves.

What other crazy-ass schemes will they come up with? I just pray they broadcast online so we can listen in.

Help Alek Boyd Get a Book Deal!

Over at the Blog that refuses to retire, right-wing funnyman Alek Boyd publishes the first draft chapter of his treatise on Venezuelan politics. The point, you see, is to “unravel” whether “Chavez is the most successful politico the modern world has seen or that his electoral victories are direct consequence of a power-hoarding model of governance similar to those encountered in dictatorships.”

I wonder which side he’s going to come down on?

Alek is asking his fans to advise him whether he should finish the manuscript. What do you think? Does America Need To Read his riveting prose/historic documentation/Freudian exploration?

Our answer: Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes. Send him a word of encouragement!

Paging Gordon Gekko


Speaking of totally objective writers seeking to carefully “unravel” complex topics, Forbes Magazine today publishes a deep exploration of morality and greed. The results? Surprise:

“Money is good, therefore, because capitalism is good. It delivers the goods, literally, and better--broadly and individually--than does any other system. Hugo Chavez would argue that point, but he's nuts.”

You notice how mentions the viewpoint of the other side of the discussion? That’s called balance. Get this man a job at the Financial Times!

Editing by Numbers

Lord knows you’ve read enough articles on Venezuela to know how they are written.

Step 1: Open with one paragraph on something newsworthy that Hugo Chavez says or does, the more vague or ominous the better.

Step 2: Cut straight to the criticism from opposition to show how what he’s said/done is evil, hypocritical, or just plain stupid.

Step 3: Sprinkle liberally with the standard reminders that Chavez is a cynical opportunist who is tight with Castro and totally opposed to America and your Way Of Life.

Step 4: Cycle back to the original news hook, and maybe, space available, add a pertinent detail or two.

Well the AP’s Ian James flouted these rules today He brazenly opened his story with two paragraphs on Venezuela’s new environmental initiatives, and offers space for Chavez to rebut critics with pertinent details.

Fortunately, a diligent editor was on duty, and was able to trim the article down to a more recognizable storyline. Unfortunately, the article no longer makes any sense.

Continue reading "Editing by Numbers" »

February 5, 2007

The Ass Bead Game

Regular readers of the Miami Herald will be surprised to hear that columnist Andres Oppenheimer is ranting against Venezuela. Haha!

Today he waxes hyperbolic about Hugo Chavez (really!), calling him a “narcissist-Leninist elected dictator,” in his super non-narcissistically-titled Oppenheimer Report.

But his essay makes a big non-narcissistic error by saying that the so-called “Rule By Decree” law will enable Venezuela’s president “to sign sweeping economic and political laws, including one allowing for his indefinite reelection.” Not to sound all narcissistically knowledgeable or anything, but that ain’t the case.

For the record, an end to term limits in Venezuela is prohibited under the law. If Venezuelans want to do this, they have to vote on it in a national referendum.

We’re not sure if this knowledge would bring the author pain or happiness, but that sort of worldly introspection is better left to the Goldmund-Leninist types anyway.

Department of Credit Where Credit is Due

Yeah, he’s made some inaccurate statements, but we have to give Andres Oppenheimer some props for pointing out a long-missed fact:

In Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe got extraordinary powers from Congress in 2001 to expand his military powers in 2002 to negotiate with paramilitary groups, and in 2004 to sign decrees with the rank of laws to rule on administrative matters. Critics say Uribe is the strongest president Colombia has had in recent history.

Holy crap! America’s bestest ally in South America has been Ruling by Decree throughout the 21st century. Who knew? I mean, besides the Colombians, who’ve long had to live with Latin America’s worst murder rate and human rights record, and now, it turns out, with its most authoritarian government, too.

I must have been drunk in the early ‘00s to have missed all the reports of the Colombian dictatorship/terrorist state in the making.

February 6, 2007

What’s the Frequency, Hugo?


Venezuela just got a new radio station! The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors announced yesterday that it plans to start beaming the Voice of America daily to the Bolivarian Republic.

But you know, propaganda don’t come cheap. With two wars and the largest budget deficit in U.S. history, we can’t inform everybody of our dear leader’s benevolent message. So we’re trimming a bit here and there. Who’s missing out?

>> China. Sixty-five million Cantonese speakers living in the world’s most oppressive media environment have been cut from the priority list. But they’re probably too busy working their sweatshops to listen to the radio anyway.

>> Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan. Borat and the country he loves to hate are no longer deemed VOA-worthy, despite such heavy-handed government craziness like forbidding “mentioning of St. Valentine’s day” on the airwaves.

>> Tibet. That symbol of tyrannical repression popularized by the Beastie Boys. Cut.

But we’ll always have Venezuela, where we’ll almost certainly be greeted as liberators. Of course, since the vast majority of the Venezuelan airwaves continue to be dominated by extreme anti-Chavez propaganda, we just hope the average radio listener will understand the difference, let alone how much we’re sacrificing to be there.

February 7, 2007

Slipping Past the Censors


I imagine these are hectic days over at the Houston Chronicle, what with their diaper-wearing rabbit-boiling bitch-slapping space daughter returning to town and all. But shepherding history requires constant vigilance. Turn your back for just one moment, and suddenly your opinion page gets littered with reason.

How else to explain this piece from former Associated Press correspondent Bart Jones? Dude deftly puts the “Op” back into “Op-Ed,” and defies the conventional media take on Venezuela.

On the press: “Venezuela's media, owned largely by the country's wealthy elites, are arguably the most rabidly antigovernment media in the world.”

On the “muzzling” of a TV station: “If RCTV were operating in the United States, it's doubtful its actions would last more than a few minutes with the FCC.”

On the lurch toward one-party rule: “Chavez is not creating a single-party state as widely reported but is melding together an amorphous array of parties that support him. He is not outlawing opposition parties.”

On commie-style property takeovers:
“Chavez also is not nationalizing the entire economy without compensation to companies, as Castro did in the early days of the Cuban revolution, but rather is buying back a few key strategic utilities such as the CANTV telecommunications company…”

Sure, all this is “accurate.” Sure, it’s all backed up by “facts.” Sure, the author “knows” Venezuela in the sense that he lived and worked there for years. But he certainly doesn’t know what he’s supposed to know about Venezuela.

Every newspaper in America should be on guard. In a sense we’re all just one incontinent rocket vixen away from total message meltdown.

Why the US Wants Chavez Gone, Reason # 4,359,291

Reuters writes:

Venezuela has emerged as a ready source of financing in Latin America, displacing the International Monetary Fund and causing repercussions in bond prices and credit ratings, Fitch Ratings said on Tuesday.

The shift toward Venezuela's oil money -- which has become a ready source of financing without any stated conditions -- has been supported by the general sense of discontent with the progress of living standards under neo-liberal policies recommended by the IMF, Fitch analyst Morgan Harting told investors in New York.

Countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have rushed to pay back their debt and "rid themselves of the stigma of IMF conditionality," while accepting substantial investments and grants from Venezuela, Harting said.

The Economic hit men have taken a hit.

We Want Pre-Empt!


We can’t get Kanye West out of our head today after listening to Condoleeza’s latest tirade in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The administration that brought you such hits as “Hurricane Katrina,” “Extraordinary Rendition,” and “Abu Ghraib,” gets all claws-out on Hugo Chavez:

"I do believe that the president of Venezuela is really, really destroying his own country, economically, politically."

Amazingly, she doesn’t get worked up countries that actually have crises in constitutional democracy, say, like, Belarus, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, Russia, Uganda, Burma, Cameroon, Guinea (either of ‘em), Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Transnistria (look it up), Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Sudan, Romania, East Timor, Turkmenistan, Chad, Angola, Libya, or Pakistan. And we've gotta wonder…why?

February 8, 2007

We Don’t Need Your Stinking Drug Money

Just how bad can the Bush Administration screw up the drug war? About as colossally as it can screw up anything else it touches. And that’s saying something. (Didn’t we used to have a city where the Mississippi meets the Gulf?)

So when the Bushies announced yesterday that they were cutting off 2.2 million dollars in anti-drug “aid” to Venezuela, the response from the Chavez administration was downright restrained. At least they kept a straight face.

"Venezuela is a sovereign country. [U.S. officials] can take their resources and do whatever they think they need to do," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told reporters Tuesday. "We will continue fighting against drug trafficking."

Nice. I probably would have thrown in something about “where the sun don’t shine.” But that’s just me.

Fun Fact #1: Since the Veno-merican anti-drug relations broke down 18 months ago, Venezuela’s government says drug arrests increased threefold.

Fun Fact #2: Over in Colombia, where the U.S. has pumped more than 4 billion dollars into supposed anti-drug efforts since 2000, cocaine production is on the rise.

“I’m a Prick, and My Editor Made Me Do This”

You can tell a lot about the character of a journalist by the way they correct their own errors.

Apparently the VIO requested a correction of Andres Oppenheimer’s allegation the other day that the so-called “Rule By Decree” law allows Chavez “to sign sweeping economic and political laws, including one allowing for his indefinite reelection.” And so, today we get this:

Post script: The Venezuela Information Office, which according to its website is funded by the Venezuelan government, says I incorrectly stated in my last column that a new ''enabling law'' will allow President Hugo Chávez to, among other things, call a referendum to change the Constitution and allow his indefinite reelection. Indeed, Chávez has repeatedly said he will do that, but this is unrelated to the new law.

So, he uses his retraction to get a little dig in against those who pointed it out. And, he totally misrepresents his original statement. If he’d mentioned the referendum in the first place, nobody would have been asking for a retraction. Now, I’m no psychoanalyst, but this “correction” sheds a little light on Mr. Oppenheimer’s personality.

How old are we, dude, twelve?

Mentirosa! Condi Stirs Up Catholic Catfight


Well, well. We weren’t the only ones who though Condoleeza’s little diatribe in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs was inappropriate.

Today, the always-subtle President of Venezuela’s Bishop’s Conference called her a big, fat liar. As part of her laundry list of accusations against Chavez, she’d said that U.S. officials had met with the Catholic hierarchy and learned that the Church was “under fire” in Venezuela. But Archbishop Roberto Lückert, no fan of Chavez, called her BS for what it was:

This lady was way out of line when she said such things that are not true. This is a lie.

The Bush Administration would sink so low as to lie to Congress to drum up opposition to Venezuela? We’re as surprised as you are!

Hilariously, the Monsignor made his comments on Union Radio, the very station that US officials struck a deal with earlier this week to broadcast Bush Administration propaganda to the Venezuelan masses.

Investors Heart the BoRev

A reader writes:

Man, you should be paying more attention to us financial guys. What money sez is "f--k the politikos, can we turn a profit" . . .Moody's are the numero unos in ratings (well, equal with fitch and SP). They say PdVSA debt is B1..that's a really good score for anywhere South. They also give "stable" rating. That's very very cool.

PdVSA are about to issue $3.5Bn in bonds...they'll pay 1.15% more than the Federal Reserve minimum lending rate. That's around 1% less than the rest of VZ, and way down on the rest of latam. This is a very neat way the economy ministry of VZ has found of cutting the inflation rate...and it'll work (in the Short term anyway). While oil is $50+, they're laughing. Bottom line: VZ is a good place to do biz.

Yeah, we had no idea what all that meant, either. But through the miracle of Google, we find that Moody’s just ranked Venezuela’s state oil company as a “stable” investment risk, which is pretty remarkable for a Latin American firm. The ranking depends in part on oil prices staying high, but this is far, far away from the “sky is falling” reports that you get from the disgruntled former PDVSA executives who are working the lecture circuit these days.

Of course, there’s not one report on this in the US press. El Universal has the scoop.

February 9, 2007

Electrical “Expropriation” Ends in Corporate Photo-Op


I don’t want to get all heavy on you, but today we have an Important Media Lesson for you. Like an NBC public service announcement, we all learn something and come away better people.

All that huffing and puffing over Venezuela’s imminent commie takeover of the Caracas electrical sector ended in an all-smiles photo-op today, as the majority stakeholder AES Corporation was paid fair market value (739.3 million smackers) for their share in the company. As the company CEO put it, “Of all the business we have done in 62 countries, this turns out to be the most beneficial."

Of course, all along the Venezuelan government had said they planned to do it this way, although the US media vigorously refused to belive it. CNN said it would probably be an expropriation “very similar to those taken in the early years of the Cuban Revolution,” and the Washington Post editorial page argued it would be a giant “leap backward" for the region. Over at the Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastacia O’Grady went all blah blah blah pinko baiting about it, while the Florida papers said Chavez had “finally revealed his true colors…a bright, bold communist red.” All bullshit.

The Important Lesson here is that there are going to be many more speculative media freakouts in the months and years ahead. As with the expropriation storyline (like the elections, like the terrorism ties, like the Rule By Decree meme, like the oil sector decline, like the impending economic catastrophe, like the “one party rule,” like the anti-Semitism BS…), the press will pump up the worst possible scenario for weeks, and then one or two articles will quietly note it didn’t play out that way. Read with care.

And that’s one to grow on.

Covering Our Collective Culo

I’ll bet you were dying to see how the press would frame the day-after stories of the Caracas electrical nationalization. I mean, Chavez defied their dire predictions, kept his word and paid fair market value. Here’s how: the “markets” are pleasantly surprised, but investors are not convinced that it will ever happen again. Oh, and this is a victory for international pressure.

Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap!

Isn’t the Washington Post Supposed to be Doing This Sort of Thing?

This week, Gregory Wilpert published the first in a series of nuanced analyses of the major press storylines on Venezuela. He bites off a big topic--the so-called “Rule by Decree” law--and chews it to its tootsie-roll center. This is a must-read for anyone interested in what’s really happening in the BoRev.

Viva Suecia!

So, last week we gave a shout-out to our surprisingly large Swedish readership. We said:

. . . we are getting a ton (a metric ton) of Swedish traffic to the site, so I’d like to take a moment to give a big Bolivarian välkomnande to our friends from the land of Death Metal and Sugar Pop. Tack! And skål! And Jag skulle lik till göra tokig passionerad djur älska till var en av du!!

We also invited our friends to Email us with a tranlation of the above. Who knew Sweden was such a country of smartasses? Here we go:
I think you are trying to say, “I rely way too much on internet translation devices.”

Haha! Close! But not quite.

Your sentence translates to “I like to dress in woman’s clothing”

How did you know? But no! Another writes:
Man your Swedish is terrible

True. But finally, One Mr. Anders Johannson writes:
[the sentence] makes no sense at all. It reads "I would corpse to make crazy passionate animal love to each one of you".

Yes! That was the message we were trying to get across! Congratulations, Anders: You Speak Excellent Swedish! And for our non-Viking readers, please know that we would corpse to do the same for you, too!

Our Top Diplomat

She’s got a certain je ne sais what. When Secretary Rice appeared on the teevee in Venezuela’s most anti-Chavez town, “the buffet line just froze.” As she began to speak, even the most acrimonious oppos feared what sort of crazy-ass corkers would come out. As we reported earlier, even Venezuela’s Archbishop eventually called her rambles “a lie.”

PBS’s NewsHour chronicles the shoe-drop. Read the transcript or listen to the audio at the same convenient link.

Editors Note: after careful review of reader feedback, we have implemented a one-week moratorium on unfortunate SecState photos (“CondiNasty”, as one reader described them), effective immediately.

February 10, 2007

Bush To Use Snappy Nicknames, Bedroom Eyes to Fool Stupid Latins


Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Monologue is the epitome of DC-based conventional wisdom on Latin America. So it’s no surprise that he’s a big cheerleader for Bush’s lame LatAm charm offensive scheduled for next week. Shifter’s answer to just about all of Latin America’s woes is that the U.S. simply must “engage” the region. Apparently, if they only knew how pure our intentions are, they wouldn’t worry their silly little heads about our Divine role steering them toward peace, prosperity, and Protestantism.

Today, Shifter explains that the Bush Administration is finally “attempting to make up for a long stretch of neglect.” At long last! So what’s wrong with this reasoning? A few things jump to mind:

>>> After 60 years of bloody U.S. “engagement” (Guatemala ’54, Panama ’58, Cuba ’61, Panama ’64, Dominican Republic ’65, Guatemala ’66, Chile ’73, El Salvador, Nicaragua & Guatemala throughout the entire freaking 1980s, Grenada ’84, Bolivia ’87, Panama ’89, Venezuela ’02, and Haiti ‘04), the good people of Latin America might just be content with a merciful period of “neglect.” Helps you catch your breath and, you know, hold proper funerals.

>>> Considering that Washington Consensus forced-reforms of the 80s & 90s led to Latin America’s worst period of economic stagnation in history, perhaps its time to condescend to allow the region to solve it’s problems their way. They couldn’t possibly do it any worse.

>>> If yesterday’s buffet-freezing, priest-pissing, bull-in-china shop blundering stab at diplomacy is any indication, this ain’t the administration to be going anywhere near “engagement” with a justifiably torked-off region.

Let the “dialogue” begin. I think Bush is going to get an earful.

February 11, 2007

Springtime for Pinochet

So the Baltimore Sun today publishes an Op-Ed on Venezuela written by an Australian Middle-East expert. Random.

Even more random is the tack of this dude's thesis. In comparing Hugo Chavez to Salvador Allende, Daniel Mandel trots out a number of chestnuts about the life and times of the Chilean president that have been long since debunked by our own government as cold-war-era CIA propaganda. Readers will remember that when military leaders assassinated Allende, they promptly installed the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Ah, the good old days.

Calling Allende’s democratically elected government a “Marxist dictatorship,” Mandel gets into a laundry list of 70’s-era Chilean property expropriation (“often at gunpoint”), and makes a limp comparison to Caracas’ electric company, which was bought out this week with market-value compensation (or, in Mandel’s worlds, was “taken over by stealth and political pressure”).

Insanely, Mandel laments that Venezuela’s military has been “purged” of “anyone who might oppose [Chavez].” Uh, yeah. The officers “purged” had actually planned and carried out a bloody Allende-style coup attempt against Chavez in 2002. But in a sense that’s Mandel’s point: He concludes by complaining that Venezuela’s military is not sufficiently “non-politicized”, a condition “that enabled Chile to extricate itself from Mr. Allende.”

Finally! An “alternative” perspective on Venezuela made it into the dailies. One can only look forward to what’s next, perhaps a nostalgic remembrance of Franco’s Spain, or an intimate profile of Idi Amin by those who loved him most? The mind reels.

Which Side Are We Supposed to Root For?

You know the Venezuelan press is terrible when even Halliburton is complaining about it. Normally, Dick Cheney’s former business empire likes nothing more than agitating the third-world for fun and profit. But this time, the V-media’s attempt to zing Chavez has the potential to cut into profits.

I know I can’t be the only one to be sketched out to hear that The Firm “is committed to continuing to build upon a strong reputation and operations in the country.” Eeesh.

February 12, 2007

Math is Hard!


Yesterday the LA Times reported that Venezuela's “inflation rose in January to an annual rate of more than 25%," which mirrored a Financial Times report from last week that “Venezuela's inflation rate is already running at close to 25 per cent per annum.” Except that it's not. In a mind-blowing cowinkidink, both papers made the exact same math error.

Sure, inflation is on the rise. It might even have something to do with the little fact that Venezuela’s economy is the fastest growing in Latin America, a point neither article acknowledges. But the annual rate is nowhere near 25%. January’s inflation rate was 18%, and the rate for all of 2006 was 13.7%. To jack it up to 25%, both papers took one month’s rate and extrapolated it out. Problem is, that’s not how you calculate “per annum” inflation.

You can sort of accept that the LA Times might make a stupid math mistake, but the Financial Times? Surely they are supposed know something about…uh…financial reporting.

The Hypocritical Oath

Remember that hee-larious Woody Allen joke?

Two bitchy old Venezuelans are at a Catskills resort. One of them says, "Boy, the doctors here are really terrible." The other one says, "I know, and in such small portions!"

Or something like that. Well today the Miami Herald tracks down the old crones and builds an entire story around their schtick. Last seen, the upper crust Venezuelan Medical Association was griping about how Cuban doctors were destroying the country. Today, they express their heartfelt “concern” that there is a shortage of 'em.

Apparently a quarter of the 20,000 Cuban doctors that treat Venezuela’s neediest citizens have satisfied their three-year commitment and are returning home, and there will be some down time before their replacements arrive. The VMA is simply distraught over the void, apparently coming around after years of fighting the program tooth and nail.

Hey, here’s an idea! Maybe some of their members could pick up the slack in the meantime. Haha! We’re just full of jokes today.

February 13, 2007

Connie Mack: Shiver if You’re Patriotic


With a name like Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy IV, you just know he’s going to care about poor people, right? Operating under the pseudonym, “Connie Mack,” this Florida republican hails from a political dynasty that makes the House of Bush look like bootstrappers,

So Little Lord Connie was positively giddy to spout off against Hugo Chavez on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto Show yesterday, especially because it meant getting in a dig on his family’s arch nemeses: the Kennedys. According to NewsHounds, “Mack” called Joe Kennedy “crazy,” and demanded that he apologize for working with Venezuela to provide reduced cost heating oil deals for low-income Americans.

McGillicuddy, or whatever his name is, made all kinds of bizarre claims (he stated that Chavez “calls himself a dictator”). But the strange part came when he explained that overall, America needs Venezuelan oil: “I don't think we can turn it away." No, but we sure as hell can demonize poor people!

BTW: Keep up with the Little Prince using the internets! Its fun! We ain’t one to gossip, but try googling some variation of “Connie Mack” “Mary Bono,” and “left his wife and kids for her” and see what you come up with! Also, here’s a fun little story on Lord Connie’s “two road-rage incidents involving police,” and his “series of much-publicized barroom brawls.” Sure, he was born with a silver spoon up his butt, but as Johnny Cash pointed out, life can’t be easy for a boy named Connie.

Freedom Is Not Free. Sometimes it Doesn't Even Pretend to Be

And here we thought that Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy IV was going to be a shoo-in for our Super Duper Patriot of the Day award, but now it looks like Rep. Tom Coburn may give him a run for his money. Just as Voice of America prepares to show the Venezuelans a thing or two about journalistic excellence, Coburn fires off an angry letter to the White House explaining that VOA is not patriotic enough. But! He’s got a solution, as Wonkette reports:

Coburn wants Bush to throw out the VOA board of governors and just turn VOA into a straight-up Nazi propaganda broadcaster. That’ll learn ‘em about our precious freedoms!

An’ how!

You Too Can Become a Hack Blogger in 6 Easy Steps

Colin Delany’s blog, e.politics, is usually a font of cogent, insightful commentary. Not so today. He’s gone off the deep end by profiling BoRev.net as an example. Clearly, the blogosphere is in deep trouble.

Call 1-877-JOE-4WHUPASS

Joe Kennedy appeared on Fox News tonight to rebut the crazy-talk of the mad lord/millionaire playboy Connie Mack (née Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy IV, and we only wish we were making that up). NewsHounds was taking notes:

“…it's interesting that the one organization that he's chosen to put in his gun sights is a little non-profit that is helping some low income people...get some badly needed heating aid. Heating aid," he added, which Mack, "voted ...a 44% cut in the U.S. federal government's program to assist poor people this last year."

“you can't have it both ways. So you can't just say that one non-profit...should stop taking that [Venezuelan] oil, but ExxonMobil, Shell, or BP or Halliburton...should be able to continue to operate because they're making money.”

Host Neil Cavuto, for perhaps the first time ever, had no argument. Point, Kennedy.

You can watch both segments: Kennedy, and McGillicuddy. You have to sit through a lame add to watch either one. Apologies in advance.

February 14, 2007

Investors to Media: Cool Your Jets on Venezuela

So how does the finance world view Venezuela’s recent (re) nationalizations? As Hallgarten & Co. reports, things are all very “investor-friendly” in the Bolivarian Republic. Company spokesman Mark Turner takes aim at the US press for whipping a potentially damaging frenzy with “politically tinged news reports that ignore basic facts.”

Apparently, reporters ready to hate on Hugo Chavez “for his politics made the mistake of not looking at economic evidence. It would seem that an attempt to stay politically neutral and concentrate on financial realities is more rewarding.” Indeed.

As it turns out, “The agreement between AES and the Venezuelan government for AES’s 82% stake in Electricidad de Caracas brought a much-needed dose of sanity to the over hyped and misunderstood Venezuela situation. Far from forcing AES into a bad deal, Venezuela paid 20% above the market price for their share of the company that Chavez wanted to nationalize.”

Or, to put it another way, why does CNN want to destroy our way of life?

Department of Corrections: LA Times

Are you paying attention, Miami Herald? Today the LA Times shows the State Department’s favorite newspaper how to write a correction:

Venezuela: An editorial Saturday said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was expected to use his newly granted powers to make law by decree to abolish presidential term limits. Although Chavez has stated his intention to seek an end to term limits, he does not have the power to do so on his own; such a change would require a national referendum.

February 15, 2007

Humanism, Hugo-ism, Hypocrisy & Hormones: DC Holds a Conference!


The Washington Office on Latin America hosted a big ol’ Venezuela conference yesterday, assembling a diverse assortment of academics, government officials, human rights workers, and Venezuela experts on all sides of the political spectrum. All very DC-proper, right? But it was not without it’s moments of hilarity. Here are a few highlights:

* Michael Shifter of the Inter-American “Dialogue” stayed true to form by bailing as soon as his panel, the first of the day, was over. Frozen pipes at home or something. Once again, Shifter redefines the meaning of the word “dialogue.”

* Speaking of redefinition, Venezuelan lawyer Carlos Ayala (second from right), whose firm famously “consulted” on the Carmona Decree that dissolved Venezuela’s judicial and legislative branches of government during the 2-day coup against Hugo Chavez a few years back, doubles as a “Human Rights Activist.” He’s concerned, concerned I tell you, about security and individual liberties.

* Development specialist and visiting Georgetown professor Julia Buxton (pictured) was a goddamned Ginsu knife, slicing and dicing the ideologues with cold, hard facts. She implored other academics to get past the politics and look at the numbers, and will no doubt be drummed out of academia for her clarity.

* Republican Hill Staffer Carl Meacham proved that more than just his politics are sleazy by hitting on Dr. Buxton from the podium before explaining to the stupid Venezuelans how they should run their country. One of his benevolent ideas: “You’ve got all this oil money, why not spend it on health care and education?” Will do, asshole!

* Audience member, blogger, and anti-Chavez gadfly Gustavo Coronel inserted himself as the fourth panelist in each session by hijacking the Q&A periods with increasing tedious diatribes. By his third time at bat, even the State Department monitors in the back were rolling their eyes.

* And my favorite moment of the day: some guy from the International Republican Institute, which famously funded and praised the coup against Chavez, awesomely complained that Chavez was “interfering” with other countries’ sovereignty.

Don’t you wish you coulda been there?

Holy Moises! The Semantics of Foreign Aid

Here’s how language works, class:

When the U.S. gives foreign aid to the wretched refuse of the world, it is to help them “improve” their miserable lot. We do it because we love them despite their ridiculous customs and heathen religions. If U.S. firms make millions on the projects, it’s just a happy coincidence, and further evidence that we are blessed by the invisible hand of Jesus—oops!—the Free Market.

When China, or God forbid, Venezuela, spreads it around a little, it is called “rogue aid.” You see, “the goal of these donors is not to help other countries develop. Rather, they seek to further their own national interests, advance an ideological agenda or even line their own pockets.”

The New York Times is brimming with Moises Naim’s illuminating, if Orwellian, nuggets of imperial knowledge today. Don’t read it if you just ate.

BTW: Naim knows a thing or two about responsible lending, with just a couple of strings attached in the fine print. Back in the 80’s, he helped shepherd through an economic “shock therapy” package that sent the Venezuelan masses to the streets, where they were promptly gunned down by the thousands in Venezuela’s worst modern massacre. But it was probably for their own good, or something. We're to ignorant to know the difference.

Slipping Past The Censors II. And III.

We were shocked last week when Bart Jones’ excellent Op-Ed was printed in the Houston Chronicle. Doubly-so today to see it picked up by the Providence Journal and in longer form in the National Catholic Reporter (the latter is subscription-required. Sorry).

What’s gotten into these editors?

February 16, 2007

We’ve Been Here Before

I can’t decide whether it is comforting or depressing to note that the astoundingly lopsided Venezuela coverage in the major US dailies is part of a time-honored tradition. In a 1986 article, Noam Chomsky laid out the history. Toward the bottom, he includes a discussion of Latin America. Just substitute “Venezuela” for “Nicaragua,” and say, “Colombia,” for “El Salvador” and feel your skin crawl.

Why Does Everybody Hate Us?

Since the US government is AWESOME at creating democracy, Congressman Tom Lantos is stoked to build on all our recent successes by requiring U.S. embassy officials everywhere to “engage robustly” with local heads of state, while at the same time financing political operatives to undermine existing governments. It’s got a catchy name, “A.D.V.A.N.C.E. Democracy,” which is sure to balance out its only foreseeable downside: that its going to piss off every freaking government on earth.

Now I’m no psychic, but I’ll bet you all a dollar that we’re going to see more of this “democracy advancing” in places like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, than in countries that don’t actually have democracies, like say, Burma, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan.

Read how Lantos describes this remarkably stupid bill, after the jump.

Continue reading "Why Does Everybody Hate Us?" »

Message In a Bottle: WSJ Reporter Needs Your Help

Do you ever get the impression that some journalists have been kidnapped and held prisoner by evil editors who make them write crazy crap for public dissemination and that the only way they can get the truth out is to sneak in a line here and there and pray that their captors don’t notice and that somebody out there will read it and call the police or something?

I guess my point is that somebody should call Peter Millard’s family and make sure they’ve seen him lately. His Wall Street Journal story today runs under the headline, “Professionals Exit Venezuela,” and goes through the same tired motions that the Miami Herald did on this a couple weeks ago. But then! The last paragraph reads:

According to Datanalisis, the number of Venezuelans who said they were interested in emigrating peaked at around 44% during the 2002-2003 political crisis, which saw the country run out of gasoline for two months. Interest in emigration started declining as the economy rebounded.

So Venezuelans are actually less likely to leave today than before. Good to know.

Confidential to Millard:
10-4. Sending two mice and a dragonfly.

Whip Inflation Now!


Bloomberg says Hugo Chavez is sooo retarded he thinks you can just take the zeros off the currency to cut inflation overnight. And then they go interview a few economists and ask, “how stupid do you have to be to think you can just take the zeros off the money to cut inflation?” and the economists answer, “Way stupid.” Cut. Print. These stories write themselves!

Unfortunately, the Venezuelan anti-inflation plan is slightly more complicated than that, and even Chavez noted that getting rid of the zeros would only have a “psychological effect.” The rest of the plan is concrete, and may just prove pretty darn effective.

In a nutshell, Venezuela’s inflation is high right now because the Venezuelan economy is through the roof. There’s just tons of money in circulation, which causes the value of the bolivar to go down. The centerpiece of the government’s plan, which isn’t even given a glancing mention in the Bloomberg piece, is to take a good-sized chunk of money out of circulation by selling 5 billion dollars in bonds to local banks, which keeps it in the country (win) and gets inflation under control (win-win).

So my question to the economists is: “how stupid is it that you have to rely on a smartass blog for your V-finance information because you can’t get reliable data from the financial news wires?” Way.

No 12-Step Program For “Nuts”

Now I have nothing but respect for those who have given up a destructive habit. I’m sure it’s tough and I intend to try it someday. But we all know somebody who quits drinking and can’t stop talking about how they quit drinking and sees a little bit of addict in everyone. It’s really annoying, and now it has a blog!

The Thorburn Addiction Report comes from the Bill Frist school of diagnosis-by-whatever. Each month, Doug Thorburn selects a celebrity and obsessively documents how they are 100% maybe an alcoholic. This month, Thorburn take on our own (famously teetotaling) Hugo Chavez, who narrowly edges out jailbird Bob Ney, hunky mayor Gavin Newsom, and one of the Mamas and the Papas. Here’s why:

… Chavez is described as paranoid and fears assassination plots. While paranoia is a common symptom of cocaine and amphetamine addiction, Chavez appears too bloated to be addicted to anything other than alcohol and, perhaps, pharmaceuticals such as barbiturates to offset his copious caffeine intake (Chavez is reported to drink as many as 30 demitasses of coffee a day and could be replicating Hitler’s caffeine/barbiturate use). On the other hand, the site recalls a Cuban defector who in 2002 said that Castro’s men consider Chavez and many of his inner circle to be “drug addicts.” A private correspondent, who has long suspected Chavez is on something, points out that his pupil size and puffy face vary considerably and early in his career a complacent shrink medicated both him and his wife. Another correspondent says he uses his wife as a punching bag. One of the lesser-known indications of alcoholism is what Lucy Barry Robe in Co-Starring Famous Women and Alcohol called “telephonitis,” or “drunk dialing.” Chavez is known for calling friends late at night, with no particular agenda.

Sometimes blogging is a cry for help. But often, it’s a hilarious cry for help.

“Under-exercised Pre-diabetic Flabby Blobs”

The Oil Wars Blog is all snarky today, and we love it. Check out their take on the over-hyped Venezuelan food “shortages” and what may be a heavier problem.

February 17, 2007

Enough Already with the “Food Shortage” Stories

There are parts of the world that have serious food shortages, but Venezuela ain’t one of ‘em. To read the breathless stories this week about Venezuela’s supermarkets, it all sounds positively Soviet. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Venezuelans are starving in the streets or something.

Today’s New York Times doesn’t help matters. You shouldn’t have to read a story three times to figure out what’s going on. It’s ok, though, ‘cause we did. Here’s what’s what:

>> Venezuela has seen a big increase in inflation in the last couple of months. This happens when the economy grows fast, and Venezuela’s economy has been the fastest growing in Latin America for the last few years.

>> The government plans to implement a series of anti-inflation measures that will drive this trend down in the upcoming weeks and months. Overall, it’s a sensible package that goes far beyond “taking zeros off the currency” or whatever BS Bloomberg is reporting.

>> In the meantime, the country has an interest on capping the prices on staple food items to ensure that the poor aren’t priced out of the supermarket.

>> Some supermarkets are retaliating. Some may have legitimate concerns that they won’t make a profit on certain items, but if the past is any predictor, many are trying to stir up controversy (and drive up prices) by hording staple items in warehouses or selling them on the black market.

>> The government is telling horders that what they are doing is illegal. As one reader wrote, you don’t see headlines like “Bush threatens to jail people that steal milk."

>> We’re only talking about certain items that are affected. Although you have to read between the lines to find it, the Times describes these as the best cuts of meat, bags of sugar, and beans. Other items are as available as they always were.

>> This is what the NYT describes as a sugar shortage: “With shoppers limited to just two large packages of sugar, a black market in sugar has developed among street vendors in parts of Caracas.” Two large packages. A Day. That’s a lot of cookies.

Excuse us for not joining the freakout brigade.

February 18, 2007

Hugo Chavez Claims He’s Anna Nicole’s Baby Daddy!


We wish, but no. Simon Romero may have cat-scratch fever, but unfortunately, his trip to Hugo Chavez’s hometown to dig the dish isn’t likely win him the notice of US Weekly editors. Those people have standards. In a “am I reading the New York Times or a really boring version of the New York Post” moment, Romero’s uncovers the following escandalitos:

>> Chavez’s mother wears gold jewelry and owns a poodle! (A sure sign of “the family’s rise to the nouveau riche class”).

>> Chavez’s father is a state governor, and his brother is a small town mayor! (A vaguely-clear sign of “the power amassed by Mr. Chávez’s family”).

>> Another brother lost a bid for the mayorship of a nearby small town! (A sure sign of “whatever”).

>> Opposition politicians call the Chavezes “the Royal Family of Barinas”! (A sure sign of small-town bitchiness).

>> Chavez’s dad travels with a “caravan of sport-utility vehicles led by a police escort”! (A sure sign of “being the father of the President”).

>> One Chavez brother “came into possession of” a Hummer! (“Came into possession”?)

>> Another brother wants a museum to be built on “the trash-strewn lot where the family’s adobe house once stood”! (A sure sign of egomania).

>> Chavez declined to turn the site into a museum! (A sure sign of not-egomania).

>> Some guy in his hometown was involved in an embezzlement scandal! (A sure sign of journalistic overreaching).

Simon, dude. You want revel in the muck and sling half-assed V-snark? Get a blog like the rest of us.

Kinda-Sorta Balance

The Los Angels Times condescends to allow the Venezuelan government tell its side of the story. But only in the online edition.

February 19, 2007

Chavez “A Secret Connoisseur of Lightly Poached Baby Flesh”

Of course it was up to a UK publication to bring to light the Venezuelan nightmare that the liberal media establishment here won’t let you see. In our opinion, if you can’t come down against government-sponsored cannibalism, you’re just not a patriotic American.

A Journalist’s Half-Assed Clarification on RCTV

This month The Nation publishes a piece by Victor Navasky, who participated in a recent Committee to Protect Journalists delegation to Venezuela. The group was there to examine the government’s decision not to renew the license of the RCTV television station, which participated in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.

Navasky seems to understand just how crazy bad RCTV and other Venezuelan outlets are. Going in, he writes, “I shared Naomi Klein's view that it was ‘absurd to treat Chávez as the principal threat to a free press in Venezuela. That honor clearly goes to the media owners themselves.’”

Which is why it’s so maddening that those views never made it into the CPJ report. According to Navasky, here’s why:

Were they [RCTV] involved in the coup against Chávez? Probably. However, was that grounds for revocation of a license or grounds for prosecuting them as coupsters when it happened? Did they break the law of social responsibility? Probably. . .But we also decided that we did have enough facts to sound the alarm on the lack of transparency surrounding the decision not to renew RCTV's concession.

Ok…so the CPJ report simply fails to note that the station was “probably” involved in the violent overthrow of the state, instead saying that RCTV “is known for its ardent opposition views”? Call me crazy, but those are two very different things, no?

One week later, CPJ put out another release coining a lame term, “democratator,” defined as “popularly elected autocrats,” to describe Chavez and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Uh huh. These guys have a political agenda. Victor Navasky was used.

A Pop Quiz

Question: Which South American president gags newspapers from reporting on corruption, jails journalists without trial, gives himself the power to rule by decree, overrides Supreme Court decisions by fiat, refers to human rights monitors as “political agitators in the service of terrorism,” and amends the Constitution to allow himself a new term?

Answer: Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe. Last week Condoleezza Rice praised Uribe’s “commitment to social, economic and judicial reform that she hoped would improve the lives of all Colombians” as the U.S. pledged an additional 3.9 billion dollars in “aid” to South America’s most repressive regime.

Just sayin'.

An Open Letter to the Good People of Ecuador

We here at BoRev.Net love so many things about your country. We love your Olympic champions, even though they excel in sports we’ve never heard of. We love your pop divas, even though they’re kind of skanky. We love your boobies, even though they they've got funny looking feet. But most of all, we have this inexplicable crazy-mad crush on your president.

A few days ago, President Correa suggested that he might step down if the Ecuadorian opposition is allowed to hijack the newly-formed Constitutional assembly.

"My heart is not in power, it's in service," Correa said. "If I am not going to be able to do that ... and be one more of a ton of traitors and impostors that we have had in the presidency, believe me, I would rather go home."

We would never presume to tell you how to vote in this important referendum. But I’m sure you can understand that here in the United States, it’s been a long long time since we’ve had a president that made our hearts race with the gift of hope, let alone one who made our palms sweat and got the blood flowing to all the right places. We only ask that when you cast your ballot on April 15, you keep in mind all the lonely bloggers out there. You are our voice.

Colombian Cabinet Official Resigns Because They're All A Bunch of Goddamned Terrorists

Just a few short hours ago we were pointing out the crazy human rights abuses of the Bush Admin’s favorite South American country, and already Uribe’s top cabinet officials are resigning. Coincidence?

But seriously, can you imagine the media orgy if this shit happened in Venezuela?

>> The equivalent of Colombia’s secretary of state is forced to resign after her brother was arrested “on charges of colluding with paramilitary leaders who are accused of killing thousands.” Not a typo: thousands.

>> The brother, a Senator, was also “possibly involved in the kidnapping of a political rival.”

>> Today’s arrest was part of a sweep of four of Uribe’s legislative cronies, in addition to the “eight pro-Uribe lawmakers” that are already in jail and one more who is “on the run.”

>> Oh, and their dad is under investigation, too.

To think we might have had some sense of what what bubbling under surface if the press hadn't been so darn busy covering Hugo Chavez's mother's poodle. I'm sure they've all learned their lesson now though...

To confuse the hell out of us, President Uribe just named a new Foreign Minister with the same last name as the old one. No relation, says the BBC.

February 20, 2007

Keeping Up With Doug Schoen


We were wondering what he’d been up too. You may recall that when we last left our hero, it was the middle of the night before Venezuela’s presidential election, and the poor guy had just been sacked by his U.S. polling firm for embarrassing their reputation with phony poll results. The firm’s president (and top Hillary Clinton advisor) Mark Penn was forced to fly to Caracas to relieve Schoen of his responsibilities and take over the day’s operations.

Apparently, Schoen stayed on in Venezuela to freebase bitterness with the craziest of the Caracas glitterati. And today, he’s made his triumphant public return by co-authoring a delusional Op-Ed in the fourth-rate New York Sun. It’s quite a piece. It reads like a high-school essay, but without all the required documentation.

Schoen opens with a claim that Chavez never won the 2006 elections at all. You see, a new “study” from Caracas showed “fraud” in the voter registry, where Hugo Chavez single-handedly “added 4.4 million favorable names to the voter list and ‘migrated’ 2.6 million unfavorable voters to places where it was difficult or impossible for them to vote.” Wowza. That would have been quite the trail of tears. You’d think somebody would have noticed this in the middle of the most heavily monitored election in Latin American history.

It gets weirder from there. Eschewing prose, the Op Ed devolves into a list of twenty-three bullet pointed facts about Venezuela, about half of which are half-truths and the rest pulled straight from his heiny. Some are priceless, (Chavez is “considering declaring a national religion with him as its spiritual leader”), while others are just demonstrably false (Chavez “decreed … that he can run for re-election to the presidency for life”—the same “fact” that has already prompted retractions by the Miami Herald and the LA Times).

So don’t cry for Doug, Venezuela. He may not have many marketable skills, but he’s clearly been picked up by the State Department.

UPDATE: Of course! Why didn't we think of it before? There is a perfect job out there for Doug Schoen. He just went to work for Fox News.

The UK Gets Down With The BoRev


Those double-decker busses are looking redder than ever. Roja rojita, y’might say. This morning London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced a deal with Venezuela that will provide cut-rate fuel to the city’s public transportation system, with the requirement that the savings be passed on to low-income riders. In return, London technocrats will provide their expertise at improving the urban design quality of the city of Caracas.

And! Apparently tomorrow world-renowned Bush poodle Tony Blair is planning to announce that they’re getting their troops out of Iraq. For real. And the Axis of Evo expands.

Oh! And I just love that the article dug up this old quote by smartypants Livingstone. Back in ’04, he said that Bush was “`the most corrupt American president since Harding,'' proving that he knows more about American history than, well…me.

But I looked it up.

February 21, 2007

Analyze This!

Honestly, we don’t even know why we bother with the Miami Herald, the only newspaper in America that proudly notes that half of its Latin America staff is on the Bush Administration payroll. But like Sisyphus, we’ll keep pushing this stupid rock until we get results. Which is to say, forever.

Anyway, Steven Dudley serves up this steaming plate of journalistic integrity today. Quoting four “analysits”—three of whom are active members of the Venezuelan opposition—Dudley explains that Venezuela is a totalitarian dictatorship, except that its not because Chavez is incompetent, and the valiant opposition—while remaining totally powerless—have single-handedly prevented that from happening.

This all must be true, because “analysts” say it:

“Analysts believe that Chávez's intention is similar to Castro's, in that he seeks to create a single-party state where he has total control.”

“Analysts say the question isn't whether Chávez is emulating longtime mentor Castro, but exactly what pieces of Castro's regime is Chávez trying to reproduce in Venezuela”

“Analysts fear [giving power to community councils] would eliminate the need for mayors and governors and give Chávez more overall control -- à la Castro.”

Get the point? If not, Dudley condescends to actually quote the analysts directly, and they’ve got all kinds of analytical insights, like:

“The model is totalitarian, headed by one person,''

''This is a type of caudillo politics, and you see it in Fidel as well,''

"He's bent on doing away with representative democracy.”

So there you go. It’s totalitarianism. But it’s not. But it really wants to be. It’s super undemocratic, especially when it empowers local communities. It’s all so brilliantly complicated, but of course bumbling and incompetent.

Actually, analysts tell me that last sentence applies equally to Dudley’s writing.

February 22, 2007

Even Manuel Rosales Won’t Meet with The Crazies in Miami

Manuel Rosales is on U.S. soil. Last year’s darling of the Venezuelan opposition (and the U.S. media) is here to accept a democracy award from the American Association of Political Consultants. In a nice move, they are honoring the former presidential candidate for conceding quickly and refusing to spiral his country into chaos and instability. In a stupid move, they are holding their little ceremony in Miami, where the local Venezuelan community had been counting on him to spiral their country into chaos and instability.

They are “offended.” They feel “betrayed.” They say they’ve been “sold out.” They’ve been talking so much smack about Rosales that he’s refusing to meet with them.

Oh, that’ll calm them down. Let’s hope he’s wearing Kevlar.

The Great Uniter


So this is what happens when the Bush administration “engages” Latin America. Maybe Michael Shifter is onto something

Sure, their little charm offensive is moving along about as clunkily as you would expect. But it’s already had some fun results. Argentina told the Bushies to suck it yesterday as presidents Kirchner and Chavez vowed solidarity at a press conference. Awesomely, they are sending a vial of sulphur to Brasilia for President Lula to keep on hand when Bush visits next month.

At this rate, Bolivar’s hundred-year-old dream of a united South America will be realized by mid-March.

February 23, 2007

Sheila Jackson Lee Turns the Tables

You have to hand it to Houston’s ass-kicking-est Congresswoman. The lady is fierce. You may have read that she let loose with at an unprecedented barrage of reason at a Caracas press conference on Wednesday. As AP reported, she called for “an immediate repairing of the relations between the United States and Venezuela,” and trashed the retarded US military sanctions against Venezuela.

All very nice, but it’s particularly awesome when you realize that the presser was held inside the US Embassy. Props lady: that takes some balls. Not reported anywhere, but available for download here, is her official statement on Venezuela, where she takes it one step further:

The lives of millions of Venezuelans are improving as historic wrongs are being righted. . . Now, for the first time, millions of Venezuelans have access to education, job training, housing, land, clean water, health care, and something maybe even more precious: dignity.

Our man in Caracas, Ambassador William Brownfield, must have been peeing in his pantalones, especially considering the background on all this:

According to sources, the whole trip was organized by the U.S. embassy in Venezuela, and was supposed to result in a carefully stage-managed smear-from-the-left against the Bolivarian government. But when the Congresswoman realized her itinerary was going to be a one-sided propagandafest, she started making phone calls and setting up meetings of her own. Sheila Jackson Lee is nobody’s dupe.

Why We Fight: The Soul of Bolivia

Holy Mac! Nine out of ten Bolivians prefer borrowing money from countries that don’t force them to live in abject squalor and destroy their culture for the privilege. They’re on to us.

My Patriotism is Two Inches Longer than Your Patriotism

The internets are one weird place, to be sure. It’s not the pervy pedophillic Congressmen that freak us out so much as the mind-meld cult of the burn books for Jesus and Robert E. Lee crowd.

Por ejemplo: for once, somebody says something normal about Venezuela, and clickity clack go the tubes as the Shepherds of History furiously explain how you feel about Sheila Jackson Lee. If you’ve got the stomach for it, join us for the review:

Apparently, J-Lee is a “nutcase” “in league with our foreign enemies. A veritable card-carrying member of the “world communist conspiracy." This “ignorant twit” “should be deported”. After all, "It wasn't that long ago, we would have called this 'TREASON'." Her “Marxist roots run deep,” and “Democrats like her do everything they can to make it impossible for the US to win the wars it fights.”

Queen Shelia” “should loosen the Velcro on her tutu a notch” because “Getting Cozy” with the “Communist genocidal dictator Hugo Chavez of Venezuela” is “postively reprehensible, even for a piece of garbage like Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.”

To conclude: “Is there no gutter in which you will not crawl for votes, Madam Representative?”

There’s crazy people out there. Parents, please. Monitor what your kids are reading.

That Moribund Economy

Remember that Venezuelan economy that Condoleezza Rice was all upset about? It grew just grew again. Almost 12% in the last quarter. Yes, after 3+ years, it’s still the fastest growing in all Latin America. I guess we can all quit worrying now, right?

Well, there are still some wet blankets out there. “Management strategy” assistant professor Michael Penfold argues that “These economic policies don't work” Ok, nerdo.

February 24, 2007

'Indisputable': EU Reports Venezuelan Elections Free & Fair

Blah blah blah. As everyone expected, the European Union’s final report on Chavez’s landslide electoral victory says that all was free and fair. Their report mirrors earlier findings from the Organization of American States.

But that won’t stop hacks like Doug Schoen from trying to pretend that it wasn’t, nor will it stop two-bit rags like the New York Sun from publishing his crap. It’ll be fun to see which Bush Administration official will be the first to publicly question the results. Watch this space!

February 25, 2007

Everybody Panic! Venezuela has a Military

The New York Times gets unhinged today over Venezuela’s reported increase in military spending last year. As usual, you have to read Simon Romero’s story carefully to figure out what’s really going on.

First of all, the spending increase estimates come from the Pentagon, which severed military relations with Venezuela a couple years back. So the numbers come from Bush Administration “intelligence.” Yeesh. I mean we know they’re super-duper careful at analyzing things like arms purchases, WMD and yellowcake, so they’ve got to be accurate and not exaggerated or politicized on this one, right? But let’s assume for the sake of argument that they are spot on.

Romero says that the Venezuela’s military spending was “up 12.5 percent in 2006.” Fascinatingly, that’s almost exactly equal to last years 12% increase in GDP. So as a percentage of the overall economy—you know, the way you actually measure the size of a military—Venezuela’s budget hasn’t really increased much at all.

But here’s where it goes from schlock reporting to outright crazy-panic: Romero writes that Venezuela’s spending puts it “ahead of other major purchasers in international arms markets like Pakistan and Iran.” You know, because those are the countries you are supposed to think about when you get nervous about the state of the world. Of course, when you make a relevant comparison, like to other Latin American countries, Venezuela’s spending (as a percent of GDP) remains lower than Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia (!), Uruguay, Brazil and Peru. The VIO has done a couple of nice charts on this.

Of course, this was a Big New York Times Story, so the content, mistakes and all, are going to dominate the Venezuela discussion, like forever. And of course the New York Times syndicates crap like this and sends it to smaller papers around the country. Already today, there is a telling version of the story in Vermont’s tiny Barre Montpelier Times Argus. It’s got a spiffy new headline (“Venezuela arms spending highest in Latin America”), which is simply false, but the funny part is that they forgot to delete the NYT’s “trimming” notes, which explain to local editors what to cut when pressed for space. Take a look at the recommend trims: Leave in all the panic, fellas, but feel free to delete any of the context.

Meanwhile, in Colombia

The government we really need to be worrying about. This is from today’s Boston Globe:

On Thursday came the worst blow. Jorge Noguera, who served as Uribe's campaign manager and later as head of Colombia's secret police, was arrested by the attorney general. Noguera is accused of giving a hit list of trade unionists and activists to paramilitaries, who then killed them.


One Crisis at a Time

The International Crisis Group has one major lesson for Latin America: If you want to do things in an un-democratic way, do it big. Make it so huge and mind-blowingly horrifying that they will be forced to ignore you.

How else to interpret this 40-page analysis of the “stability” of Venezuela? Just about every major concern they raise is happening elsewhere in Latin America, only in exponentially more blatant and brutal ways. A few examples:

Judicial Independence: The ICG report is concerned because three years ago, Venezuela’s National Assembly increased the number of seats on the Supreme Court. This was all carried out through a months-long debate, vigorous press discussion and a transparent vote.

Is their concern legit? Mabye, but you’d think they would have been downright appalled when the following year then-President of Ecuador Lucio Guitierez unceremoniously sacked his entire Supreme Court--without debate, in the middle of the night--and replaced them with his own cronies, with nary a peep from the press, much less any “concern” from the ICG.

Continue reading "One Crisis at a Time" »

February 26, 2007

Two Birds, One Stone, and a Loudmouth

The Financial Times cracked me up today. In a little column about the joint Venezuelan-Argentine bond deal, they sort-of half-heartedly criticize it as “clunky,” “Heath-Robinsoneque” (that’s clunky-talk for “complicated”) and not-“new-fangled” enough for their taste. This, from a newspaper that dyes itself pink.

Anyway, these jablets were more out of habit than anything, because the column goes on to describe how brilliant the plan is: it may just drive down Venezuela’s inflation AND increase the BoRev’s influence in the region.

Oh! And don't miss second part, where the FT tells Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to shut up and stop being such a dickhead.

Why the U.S. Is Going After Hugo Chavez


It’s because of this.

Money quote:

"Venezuela has added an alternative source of financing without policy conditions," [Economist Mark] Weisbrot said. "This has given governments wanting to avoid IMF conditions another option, as well as increased bargaining power with international financial institutions."

This is about power.

Don’t Hate the Game. Hate the Players.

Primero Justicia, for those that don’t know, is/was the premier political party for the Venezuelan country club set. It was/is financed by your tax dollars in order to promote post-pubescent blue eyed 90210 kids as the future leaders of Venezuela. You can imagine its influence in a couple of Caracas zip codes.

Sadly, the organization split last week. Fabulously, they ain’t going down quietly.

In a nutshell, the two factions fought over whether such bourgeois concepts as “elections” or “democracy” were the way to defeat Hugo Chavez. One camp wanted to wanted to take the high road, while the other was hell-bent on holding on to their entitlement by any means necessary.

Venezuela watchers won’t be surprised to know that the wingnut faction was “advised” by deranged blogger Alek Boyd. You can read his account here. Apologies in advance for the grammatical, syntactical, and punctuation errors. And the run-on sentences. And the craziness.

BoRev Bonus! Read Alek Boyd’s autobio. Pure, palpitating pathos.

February 27, 2007

It Doesn’t Take a Chemist to Figure it Out


The headline writers let their freak flag fly today. The same Associated Press story generated these headers: “Chavez Nationalizes Orinoco Oil Fields” “Venezuela Takes Control of Foreign Oil Projects,” and this heart-pounder: “Venezuela to Seize Foreign Oil Projects.” Christ. Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

So what’s wrong with the descriptions?

>> For one, Venezuela’s oil was “nationalized” back in 1976.

>> For two, the government is not “taking over” any foreign companies. They are buying out their shares and getting a controlling stake in the development of the Orinoco basin.

>> For three, foreign companies will still be operating in the region and generating enormous profits. This is far more business friendly than countries like, say Mexico or Saudi Arabia, who don’t allow foreign investment in their oil sector at all.

>> For four, the only reason the Orinoco oil hadn’t been operating under these terms in years past is because, back in the 1990s some politicians with ties to oil interests made the ridiculous determination that the heavy crude in the Orinoco wasn’t oil at all. According to them, it was coal, and had been regulated as such until now.

So to paraphrase the bumper sticker: Nationalization is the Radical Notion that Oil is Not Coal.

Stick that on your Volvo.

Apropos of Nothing

Well, since there have been all those bogus comparisons to nationalization and the Mexican Revolution on the internet today, and because Swedes are sort of a running theme on this blog, I thought you might enjoy this tribute to the little-known role of Swedish revolutionaries in Pancho Villa’s army. Or something.

February 28, 2007

The Empire in Decline

Well well. the International Monetary Fund is falling on “hard times.” According to Bloomberg, the ultimate predatory lender has virtually closed up shop in Latin America, as nation by nation has chosen to do business with Venezuela instead. The change has been extreme:

IMF lending in the area has fallen to $50 million, or less than 1 percent of its global portfolio, compared with 80 percent in 2005.

For Venezuela, this has been a cash windfall, as its neighbors are actually paying a higher interest rate than they would have to the IMF. The difference is, Venezuelan loans don’t come with all the crazy strings and harebrained schemes attached. like for example, forcing a country to sell its water to US companies, who then sell it back to poor people at jacked up prices.

How’s it going for the evil geniuses worldwide?

The international lender's worldwide portfolio has shriveled to $11.8 billion from a peak of $81 billion in 2004, and a single nation, Turkey, now accounts for about 75 percent. As its lending wanes, so does the fund's ability to influence government policies.

I guess we’ll have to go back to that old-fashioned “democracy” system now. How quaint.

Dude, You're a Spy. Discretion Please.

Is it just me, or are the Bush appointees getting more vaudevillian every day?

So the State Department sacked its top anti-Cuba anti-Venezuela espionage official yesterday (yes, this office exists. Officially, even). So the guy tries to save a little face to his friends by sending around a personal message explaining that he wasn't fired, exactly, it's just that the State Department was doing a little downsizing. Somebody leaks this dingdong's email to the Miami Herald, and the Department is forced to release a statement saying, "Hey dipshit, we're keeping the post. It's you we don't like."

All in all, an embarrassing morning for Stormin' Norman Bailey. Isn't semi-competent lying sort of a prerequisite for the spy biz?

The Old Boy Has Still Got Some Vinegar In Him

I’ve been doing lots of radio interviews lately, and my big fear is getting stumped by a totally random question from left field. Like, for instance, “Do you know how many hectares of corn are needed to produce one million barrels of ethanol?” But Fidel wasn’t thrown for a loop. He actually knew the answer.

Castro called in to Hugo Chavez’s “Alo Presidente” show yesterday. It was strange and fascinating, and the Beeb has the transcript.

About February 2007

This page contains all entries posted to BoRev.Net in February 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

March 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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