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March 2007 Archives

March 1, 2007

At Least One Journalist Takes His Job Seriously

I think I just read the most interesting and profound analysis of Venezuela’s gaping class divide ever published in the U.S. media. The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald all have reporters that cover Venezuela nearly full-time, so of course this comes from a movie review on a pop culture website.

Bonds on Steroids


If your eyes, like ours, glaze over at the mention of “joint bond issues” and “inflationary pressure,” don’t worry. We’ll keep this short. And we'll post a funny bad-pun picture to distract you.

But we can’t ignore the fact that the joint Venezuela-Argentina bonds are getting snatched up like a pre-Christmas Wii. Great, right? Well, the glass is half empty over at Bloomberg today (shocking, I know), where they’re bitching that there aren’t enough to make all the investors happy. You see, there is “concern” among traders that the $1.5 Billion (with a B) sale is “inadequate to meet surging demand.”

It’s always a no-win game. How negative would those stories have been if demand had been low?

Barry. Hahahahaha.

March 2, 2007

One Big Drug Fueled Merry-Go-Round of Crazy

Uh oh. The State Department and Hill Republicans are talking about the drug war again. Expect the body bags to start piling up. As usual, they are torked that Venezuela (and now, Bolivia) are not “cooperating” with them the way that Colombia-- that model democracy from hell--cooperates. And by “cooperate,” they mean allowing the U.S. military to terrorize your countrymen with a never-ending campaign to fumigate food crops, perpetuate a 60-year civil war, assassinate union leaders by the thousands, and, ultimately, drive up drug production. Success!

Of course, there are penalties for not “cooperating,” including military sanctions so that you can’t adequately protect your border with your drug producing neighbors, which drives more coke into your country and singles you out as a “significant player in the flow of cocaine from Colombia.” Which leads to additional denunciations and sanctions and threats and all around insanity.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the kids just keep snorting and snorting and snorting.

UPDATE: ...and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting and snorting. And these are just the domestic headlines from the past hour.

Finally, Some Sense from the Washington Post

Unfortunately it was just a letter to the editor. And it was ours. But it’s a start.

Confidential to Alek Boyd: I’ll save you the trouble. The letters editor is Josephine Flanders, and she can be reached at LettersReply (at) washpost.com. Go ahead and send them your inevitalbe commentary. In fact, they’re waiting for it. The newsroom guys tell me that your grammar insight always makes them laugh think. Don’t disappoint 'em.

March 4, 2007

Opposition Moves to Create One-Party State

Among the most ridiculous rumors about Venezuela is that Chavez is attempting to create a “one-party state” within the country. As we’ve noted over and over again, there is a movement to consolidate a number of Chavista parties into one umbrella party. But of course this movement is voluntary and certainly doesn’t affect opposition parties. They can do whatever the hell they want. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the totalitarian-sounding one-party-rule meme from being spread in the L.A. Times and on Capitol Hill.

The funny thing is, today we learn the opposition’s next big move: to consolidate themselves into one unified anti-Chavez party. Keep this up, and Venezuela will be as democratically inept as the Democrats & Republicans.

March 5, 2007

An Offer He Can’t Refuse

The role of the State Department is to advance the interests of the United States throughout the world. Or the interests of multinational corporations. Sometimes we get confused.

Over the weekend, Deputy Undersecretary Tom Shannon (R-The Company) made a heartfelt plea on behalf of the long neglected oil CEOs, who toil away each day in a charitable mission to help the Venezuelans improve their little backwater.

“It's just our hope that as the Venezuelan government considers its steps, it understands these companies entered Venezuela in partnership," Shannon said. "They almost certainly hope to stay in Venezuela in partnership, but the degree to which the government of Venezuela ... can speak clearly to the companies ... is going to be very important.”

But before you get too choked up, he quickly gets all Michael Corleone on us.

“Whether President Chavez likes it or not, Venezuela is joined to the hip with the United states,” he said. Noting that if the Chavez administration sought increase oil sales to China or India, well…Shannon “suggested Venezuela would have the most to lose with such a move.”

Nice little country you got there. Sure would hate to see something happen to it.

Are the Interns Making Policy Now or What?

Well, the Americans are “engaging” Latin America, and the results are going to be even weirder than we imagined. As Bush gears up for his big Latin Love Fest this week, his administration has announced an unfathomably moronic package of goodies to placate the region’s poor, including:

* A floating cruise ship of condescension comfort, which will periodically dock in various countries so that the masses can line up for health care services. If abuelita can hold on for just three more weeks, she might be able to get that gall stone removed;

* Literacy classes for the poverty-stricken. In English. Since, you know, learning to read and write in one’s own language is a demonstrably lower priority; and

* A conference! Yes, the White House will hold a “Fertilizing Our Back Yard” conference later in ’07 to figure out how they can inoculate and insult Latin America more efficiently. (Ok, we made the title up, but still…)

March 6, 2007

Remember the Maine?


Back in the olden days, a good old American agit-prop campaign was a force to be reckoned with. Today…eh, not so much. After years of a full-force demonization effort, world opinion of Venezuela is…indeterminate. According to a BBC World Service poll released today, “Equal numbers say Venezuela’s global influence is negative and positive (27% each). Nearly half (46%), however, decline to offer an opinion.”

Our ability to win hearts and minds may have something to do with our own global cache, which blows. The world gives us 51% “bad influence” ranking, putting us right behind Israel and Iran in the Axis of Assholary.

NYT Story Doesn’t Make Sense On the Second Read, Either

When you cover the press on Venezuela, you develop a tolerance for the absurd amount of bias casually tossed in, or the odd quote that doesn’t seem to fit the theme. But there must be a special anti-Pulitzer out there for the NYT’s Larry Rohter, who manages to juxtapose the following two paragraphs. Apparently he couldn’t find any Brazilian official to say what he wanted them to say about Venezuela. So he said it himself. And then bizarrely follows up with a quote that sort of undermines his whole point.

Brazil fancies itself, not Venezuela, as South America’s natural leader. It has also recently shown signs of alarm at Mr. Chávez’s substantial arms purchases and irritation with his involvement in neighboring Bolivia, including providing military assistance and support for the nationalization of Brazilian-held energy assets there.
“I don’t think Brazil will accept the idea of being any type of American surrogate in the region, or to moderate or contain Chávez,” said Felipe Lampreia, Brazil’s foreign minister from 1995 to 2001. “But the United States wants to bolster Lula as a counterweight, to show that you can have a leftist government with a strong focus on social issues, income distribution and poverty reduction, without being radical.”

Jeez Mr. New York Times guy. Projecting?

March 7, 2007

Washington Post Gives Thumbs Up to Stupidest Bush Proposal Ever


Know what’s weird? The same newspaper that derides Venezuela’s massive investment in community health clinics as a cynical vote-buying gambit is all jazzed about Bush’s differently-abled proposal to send a floating VA clinic to Latin American ports of call.

Sure! What could possibly be wrong with the plan? A few thoughts spring to mind:

>> Most Latin Americans don’t actually live in a “port,” and dragging your sickly granny cross-country or over the Andes or through guerilla-occupied territory is probably not in the best interests of her health.

>> One useful thing about a hospital is that it is presumably there when you need it. I mean, it’s bad enough when your doctor is in Barbados the day your spleen decides to rupture, but your entire freaking primary care facility? Not helpful.

>> If the U.S. oversees its scalpel barge with the same painstaking attention to hygiene and sanitation that it shows its flagship veteran’s hospital, the U.S.S. Comfort has the potential to become the Typhoid Mary of the Seven Seas.

But not to worry, just like “moon colonization,” “switchgrass biofuel,” and “Harriet Miers,” Operation Edmund Fitzgerald is destined to join the ranks of Bush proposals so embarrassingly lame that we scratch our heads over them for a week and never hear their names mentioned aloud again.

Latin America is as Excited As We Are

Bush’s Magical Mystery Tour stars tomorrow, and as AP photographers document, the welcome wagons are already rolling into high gear. U.S. social movements can learn a little something about “message consistency” from our neighbors to the South.

Sao Paulo, Brazil
“Get Out Bush”

Montevideo, Uruguay

“Get Out Bush, Murderer!”

Guatemala City, Guatemala

You get the picture.

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

In case you were wondering, the State Department’s top Latin America guy clarifies exactly why we’re suddenly stepping up funding for Latin American social programs.

"What we are attempting to do with our assistance and aid is not buy favor and create a dependence relationship which is what Chavez wants to do."

So there!

Bush Gets into the Dress Up Closet!

One of the most important things a Big World Leader like George Bush can do before he ventures out among the hostiles to is test run his identity and talking points. You can almost picture him practicing in different costumes in front of a mirror.

Monday! He’s channeling the no-doubt annoyed ghosts of George Washington and Simon Bolivar: “it is our mission to complete the revolution they began on our two continents. The millions across our hemisphere who every day suffer the degradations of poverty and hunger have a right to be impatient.”

Tuesday! He’s the consummate pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps political outsider. Criticizing the rise of Raul Castro, our irony deficient leader is concerned that Cuba’s leadership is determined when "somebody is somebody's brother."

Wednesday! He’s …um…a five-year-old whining: “"The American taxpayer has been very generous about providing aid in our neighborhood…And yet we don't get much credit for it."

Whichever drag persona he decides to take on, let’s remember that he’s our president and we support him no matter what!!!

For Added Fun: Press play and sing along. You can change the lyrics slightly for relevance. We recommend exchanging “she” with “he” and “woman” with “dickhead”.

March 8, 2007

Great Moments In Diplomacy

Today’s the big day! Air Force One is getting fueled up, and our president will soon be on Latin soil. Seems like an appropriate time to remember how things played out the last time Bush was allowed to open his mouth in front of Brazilian officials. From the May 19, 2002 issue of the German daily Der Spiegel:

Now the president of the world's most powerful nation has put his foot in his mouth yet again. It was Condoleezza Rice, his national security advisor who had to rescue the situation. When talking with Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 71, Bush surprisingly asked: "Do you have Blacks too?" Ms. Rice noticed how stunned and surprised Cardoso looked and quickly told Bush that Brazil likely has more blacks than the US and that outside of Africa it was the place with the highest number of blacks. The Brazilian president remarked later that Bush was "still in a learning-phase" when it came to South America."

Maybe We Should Have Sent Condi

As our president likes to point out, he’s the “soft bigot of low expectations” or something. And since his plane is directly over the Bermuda Triangle right now, it seems like a good a time for a little roundup of just how low America’s expectations are for this little Latin American junket.

* TomPaine.com frames the whole thing nicely with a question: “What are the odds that his travels will do anything to reverse anti-yanqui sentiment? Not good.”

* The Washington Post, generously, says that Bush “faces an enormous gulf between ambition and reality.”

* The WaPo Online’s Dan Froomkin is more blunt: “Let there be no doubt about this: Bush's attempt to persuade Latin Americans that he is the champion of the poor …is utterly doomed. Almost laughably so.”

* AP’s Deb Riechmann notes that Bush has “a weak hand,” considering that “Anti-Americanism and Bush's poor image, tainted by the war in Iraq, have only fueled Chavez's influence in the region and beyond.”

* The Financial Times agrees, “The administration's apparent indifference to Argentina's financial collapse…, its bungled response a few months later to a Venezuelan coup and, above all, its invasion of Iraq made Mr Bush a deeply unpopular figure.”

* The New York Times writes that “promises of American support and assistance are likely to fall short of what Mr. Chavez, with his oil wealth, has been delivering recently."

* And Mark Weisbrot notes in AlterNet that the prez is in “a state of denial” if he thinks that anyone but terrorist collaborators will join with him against Venezuela.

So at this point, Bush will be able to declare victory if he doesn’t throw up in somebody’s lap or accidentally shoot a government minister. Go America!

P.S.: Awesomely, the Los Angeles Times is already starting to refer to South America as "Chavez’s backyard."

P.P.S.: Wow. No sooner did we hit "publish" than the Council on Hemispheric Affairs put out this analysis with the super-catchy title, "The President's Latin American Journey: A Matter of Low Expectations and Utter Despair." Swear to God.

March 9, 2007

“Serious, Serious Money”

This week’s issue of The Banker goes a long way toward setting the record straight on Venezuela’s economy. As a reader writes, “The Financial Times is read by the people who think they run the biz world. The Banker is read by serious, serious money who really run the biz world.”

And here’s what the serious, serious money has to say:

>> Venezuela is “enjoying a boom without equal.”

>> The boom is not confined to the oil sector: “the rank-and-file are also reaping benefits.”

>> Poverty levels are way down: “In 2002 the World Bank reported 47% of the population was below the poverty line; in 2005 it was 34%.”

>> Venezuela’s investment potential is “the envy of the banking world.”

>> The real story of Venezuela “has been misinterpreted in the English speaking media.”

Now here’s the fascinating part: the Financial Times reporting has long been a part of this media “misinterpretation.” But The Banker is put out by the same publishers. They know what’s up. They just choose not to print it.

You need to pay a buttload of money to access The Banker online. But you download the pdf version here.

Department of Corrections: That Venezuelan ‘Arms Race’

Remember NYT story from a week ago about the Venezuelan arms race that was so scary it prompted CNN to do a special segment on it? Full of crap, as it turns out. The Times ran a correction today:

An article on Feb. 25 about an escalation in Venezuela’s arms spending referred incorrectly to a statistic cited by the Defense Intelligence Agency of the United States as evidence of a rapid arms buildup. It was a 12.5 percent increase in Venezuela’s 2006 defense budget, not an increase in the value of arms purchased by Venezuela last year.

In other words, the military budget grew exactly in proportion to the economy last year. We can all stop hording non-perishables now.

Lula Gutpunches Bush; US Wires Pretend Not to Notice


Brazil’s not going to be the U.S. stooge in Latin America. Standing next to President Bush at a Sao Paulo press conference today, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on the U.S. to respect all of Latin America’s democracies. And by “all,” he meant “Venezuela.”

Of course, so far you can only read about it in the German wires. The Associated Press and Bloomberg have already filed their stories on the press conference and somehow forgot to mention the historic smackdown.

UPDATE 1: The LA Times has filed it's story. No mention of it either.
UPDATE 2: Same with the New York Times.
UPDATE 3: Ditto the Washington Post and Reuters. It's a shutout!

Brazilians Do It Better


So you could read the stupid mainstream media coverage of the welcome our dear leader received in Brazil, or you can read Wonkette’s, complete with historic insight, fashion coverage, and sexy pictures.

March 10, 2007

Today Uruguay, Tomorrow Andorra

Uruguay is going really well! President Tabare Vasquez kept the peace by refusing to discuss the politics, and the Associated Press managed to find one woman unwilling to burn her American flag. Sure, about 5,000 Uruguayans held a raucous protest in Montevideo, but that’s less than 25% of the country’s population.

We’ve got a friend in South America’s smallest country, and Bush acknowledged their civility by inviting them all to come live in the States.

March 11, 2007

Crappy Headline Watch

No doubt, headline writing is a pain in the patoot. Your job is to encapsulate a complex story into snappy vernacular and not totally mislead your readers in the process. Fortunately, when you cover Hugo Chavez, the job is way easier, because there’s not all that “pressure” to capture “nuance.” Apparently, you’re not even required to accurately portray the main idea, as long as you get a little V-bashing in.

So we’re amused, not shocked, that AP’s fascinating story about corrupt local officials in Bolivia, who are hording international aid money meant to help the thousands of Bolivians suffering the affects of devastating flooding, runs under the headline “Chavez Gets a Cool Reception in Bolivia.” The “cool reception,” it turns out, comes from a few corrupt local officials, while “thousands” of locals “greeted Chavez at the airport.”

But hey, Bush is in South America, and it would be unseemly to point out that the U.S. has only pledged a tiny fraction of the aid money sent by Venezuela, or that we don’t actually care it reaches its intended recipients. Sometimes patriotism requires that we miss the point.

Update--Same story, alternate headline: "Bolivia Not Fans of Hugo Chavez." I mean, really.

"Oh Stewardess! I speak Jive": Translating US Press Coverage of Colombia

Pardon me for sounding dramatic, but when Air Force One lands smack dab in the blood drenched post-apocalyptic nightmare world of Colombia this afternoon, I’m going to be real interested in reading how our patriotic reporters cover the whole dealio. Chances are, they may just gloss over some of the more problematic details of Bush’s only real ally in South America. So, we’ve put together a little at-a-glance English to Crazytalk translation sheet to help you figure out what’s going on beyond Thunderdome.

When they say, “President Uribe is strongly pro-U.S.A.”
They mean: “Colombia is the only country in South America that endorsed the invasion of Iraq. As always, ‘pro-U.S.’ and ‘pro-dumbass Bush Administration policy’ are interchangeable terms.”

When they say, “Colombia is a strong proponent of free markets”
They mean: “Uribe is such a believer in laissez faire market politics that all impediments to development, including labor movements, environmentalists and indigenous rights activists, are put down, permanently.”

When they say “Much US foreign aid goes to Colombia,”
They mean: “Well over half of your tax dollars earmarked for Latin America are diverted to a military campaign to kill peasant farmers, “fumigate” food crops, and exterminate those who hold leftist opinions. Lots of this money is funneled through U.S. corporations, enriching the paid mercenaries who have spiraled this country into untold violence, while doing nothing to control the levels of cocaine entering the United States/your daughter’s nose.”

When they say, “Uribe has taken a hard line against violence”
They mean: “Middle and upper class urban-living Colombians are less affected by crime than in years past. If you are poor or live in rural areas, you can’t vocally oppose the government or business interests without facing storm troopers who will kidnap, torture and kill you and your family in the name of crime prevention.”

When they say, “President Uribe’s administration has been linked to scandal recently”
They mean: “And we ain't talking blowjobs. Eight of Uribe’s Congressional allies are in jail for colluding with death squads to assassinate his enemies; his top cabinet official was forced to resign because her family participated in election rigging as well as the kidnapping and torture of an opposition leader; and the head of his secret police is imprisoned for ordering the massacre of hundreds of union organizers and college professors who challenged the status quo.”

When they say, “Colombia is considered a model democracy in the region.”
They mean: “We don’t even take ourselves seriously as journalists. Call our subscriptions department to cancel today. If we had any self-respect, we would quit our jobs and open up a smoothie bar or something.”

Life’s Tough for a Toady

Say you’re America’s best friend in South America, and the president decides to visit. It’s bad enough that you’re forced to shut down every road in your biggest city and close the airspace over the capitol, but when you have to put a 24-hour ban on alcohol sales to your own citizens and throw a whole bunch of poor people in jail and his chicken shit security detail still won’t let him spend the night, you’ve gotta start wondering whether your friend is a little high maintenance and maybe you should start hanging out with Ecuador more.

March 12, 2007

Latins Love Cool George


I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Bush handlers think you’re all a bunch of stinking idiots. You know all those riots that greeted your president in Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Bogotá and Guatemala City? Apparently, they were fake, because the Latins LOVE him.

The Bushinskis took a lame stab at a whisper campaign over the weekend, only their intended dupes weren’t playing. CNN reporter Ed Henry could barely suppress a smirk as he explained it to Lou Dobbs:

“U.S. officials are now privately charging that all of these protests are not happening spontaneously. They charge that Chavez has been paying people to show up in order to bolster the crowds and try to show up Mr. Bush.”

And CNN White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano got the same bzz bzz bzz:

“And with demonstrations taking place across Latin America, President Bush's aides privately suggest Chavez is paying people to stage some of it.”

Of Course! That totally explains it.

No Loyalty Down Me-hee-co Way

Crimany. If you can’t buy loyalty by rigging a guy’s election for him, what can you believe in anymore?

March 13, 2007

Don’t Think of an Elephant, Dipwad


So Bush sat down with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in Uruguay for a primary-school-style recitation of All the Important Things he’s learning on his trip. It’s funny/scary to watch him make a big production over tough words like “cellulosic ethanol” and “lithium ionic batteries”

But as you know, his handlers forbade him from mentioning Venezuela in public. (“Taking the high road” or some such nonsense). Of course, Bush is an idiot, and he clearly can’t get Venezuela out of his noggin. The results are cringe inducing.

When asked how he likes Uruguay, he answers, “Venezuela’s got fantastic meats,” and quickly corrects himself. Talking about energy independence, he almost lets the V word slip out, and then awkwardly changes the subject. Finally, after naming every other source of oil to the U.S., our intrepid journalist has to interrupt him and ask him if we maybe get oil from Venezuela too, which inspires a nervous laugh and a reminder that Citgo is an American company that just happens to be owned by Venezuela.

It’s totally weird, and you can watch it here.

We Love Canada!


Health Care, Leonard Cohen, AND media accountability? If it weren’t for their little weather problem (and we hear that’s changing!) Canada would be a gawl-derned Utopia.

The Ontario Press Council just ruled that the Toronto Star, the country’s largest-circulation daily newspapers, “lacked balance” in a series of articles on Venezuela. The paper apparently parroted rumors from the Venezuelan opposition without providing opposing views. In Canadian journalism, this is apparently “a significant deficiency.” Go figure.

Note to Canada: Well done! We totally forgive you for Celine Dion, sort of.

Fred Barnes’ Pants are on Fire

The folks over at Newshounds (dot yoo-ess) are media martyrs. They watch Fox News all day, which has to suck. But then they report on it, and we are grateful.

They caught …ahem…“journalist” Fred Barnes in a little truthiness problem today, as he tried to make the case that Bush was more popular than Chavez in South America. Not. Of course, Barnes went on to spout the Administration’s bizarre talking point of the week that Chavez “probably paid” protesters to turn out against Bush.

March 14, 2007

Why Venezuela is a Target, Volume 237

The National Black Chamber of Commerce wants oil rich African nations to shake corruption, learn from Venezuela and send a fuck you card to the World Bank.

Our American Values


Former mayor, part-time drag queen and current Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani sort of liked Citgo better when it was just a greedy oil company rather than a humanitarian conduit for cheap heating oil to poor New Yorkers. But he’ll still take a couple hundred thousand dollars from it for himself.

My Populism Can Kick Your Populism’s Butt

National Review takes a stab at a jab against Hugo Chavez:

“Chavez went on to remark that [Bush] comparing George Washington to Simon Bolivar is an insult to Bolivar, because George Washington massacred native Americans, defended slavery, and died rich.”

Umm...Didn’t he? Apparently to National Review, this kind of talk is “vulgar,” and is “authentically populist it is in the worst way.” Because when we instinctively defend our national heroes, we’re authentically populist in the best way.

March 15, 2007

It Had to Happen

Figure out how that Tivo works, people. Tomorrow night. 10 p.m. Hugo Chavez sits down for the …Barbara. Walters. Interview.

Because ABC News has to compete with Bravo or something, they’ve also tracked down his (alleged) “psychologist” and “a former lover” to degrade themselves for our amusement. Spoiler alert: Chavez takes Prozac.

It's going to be nasty, and I want to be outraged. But I’m sort of looking forward to it too much.

21st Century Socialism, Baby

For you econ nerds, the Venezuelan government might just be offering the best of all worlds. The energy sector is nationalized, and/but they’re offering Venezuelans the ability to buy a piece. The cash stays in-country and the whole thing is investment worthy. So suck it, IMF, and privatize yo’ mama.

March 16, 2007

Im’a Pinko and Im’a Grinnin’

Some dude who has the balls to call himself a “Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow” with a straight face thinks Barbara Walters is a commie. And it must be true, because “she offered the dictator her own cup” of coffee or something. From each according to his ability…

Oh, and Grinn Pickensfellow didn’t even mention that she talked to some poor kids in Caracas, which totally proves that she hates America even worse than Khalid Sheikh Obama does.

Anyway, just a few short hours till Hugopalooza hits the airwaves, and we are beside ourselves with anticipation. You can get a little taste from this teaser that ran on Good Morning America this morning (You have to scroll down to the box marked “video”). Go ahead. Let corporate synergy work for you for a change.

Note to Mr. Nose Pickens: Words like “dictator” have actual definitions, homeboy. Dictionaries can help.

Even Paraguay Thinks Bush Is a Dick

When you’ve lost right-wing Paraguay, you’ve lost Latin America. President Nicanor Duarte thinks Dubya is a faker with his newfound “compassion” for “poor people.” Turns out they’ve seen the Katrina videos too! And how does he feel about the BoRev?

“Venezuela has an overdose of democracy, with one election after the other. It is the only country where the Constitution provides for a (presidential recall) referendum in the middle of the presidential term.”

Looks like the Bush family will have to find a new country to retire/escape the War Crimes Tribunal.

March 17, 2007

Wanna See Some Propaganda?

Fox News. Florida. A perfect storm of crazy.

Watch this video. This is an actual news broadcast.

Note that they don’t tell you that the “organization” just trying to help Venezuelans in the US is the premier opposition political party in Venezuela. This is one for the books.

Our American Zeitgeist


The Chavez interview is today’s second most-watched video on the ABC News website. Americans really really care sort of!

It’s just behind “Porn Star Dad: ‘Dreams Do Come True’” and ahead of “How Did Starr Jones Lose the Weight?”

Situation Normal: A.F.U.

Did Barbara Walters open the floodgates? Is it ok to talk normal-talk about Venezuela now (at least outside of Florida)?

-The New York Times published an Op-Ed today on the “hope” Chavez brings to Argentina.

-The Huffington Post covers the Venezuela-Native American-Heating Oil axis.

-Even a paper central Georgia runs a pro-Citgo piece.

Thank goodness we’ve still got the Houston Chronicle for our daily dose of “whaa?” They teeter on the edge of the crazy limb to proclaim Bush’s Latin America tour a legacy-saving success . Cause you know in 50 years the world will remember Bush for his love of Uruguayan beef instead of, say, New Orleans, Iraq, Rove, habeas corpus, Jeff Gannon, Afghanistan, Harriet Miers, domestic spying, extraordinary rendition, Abramoff, buying journalists, Abu Ghraihb, Alberto Gonzalez, My Pet Goat, Walter Reed, Valerie Plame, The Wall, Donald Rumsfeld or Dick freaking Cheney.

What? You Had Something Better To Do at 10 O'Clock on a Friday Night?

The 20/20 interview, in case you missed it. Through the miracle of YouTube. Watch it now, before Viacom kills us all.

March 18, 2007

Another Story Too Good To Check

One month ago, we wrote:

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!

Today, you can replace “Bloomberg” with “New York Times.” Cut. Print. These blog posts write themselves!

Sigh. Same response applies:

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).

Only Simon Romero’s piece is even lamer, because in the past month one half of that bond sale already went through and did its job. The other half was announced last week, and expanded three days ago. The mere mention of it has already strengthened the local currency.

While I’m sure it’s more fun to paint an impression of a schizoid economy driven at the whim of an incompetent president, sometimes actual facts need to be looked at and reported, too.

March 19, 2007

View, Interrupted

Time sure does fly! It’s the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, everybody! And our dumbass president celebrated by breaking up perhaps the first and only interesting episode of The View. Just back from Venezuela, Barbara Walters was busting out some awesome souvenirs, including this kick-ass talking Hugo Chavez doll/vibrator for Rosie.

Clearly panicked, the Bushies interrupted the show with a super important national cadena explaining how we’re all a bunch of libtard terrorist huggers who need to get used to the fact that we’re still in the “beginning stages” of this mess.

Eek. Four More Years. I’m going to need a talking Hugo Chavez Quaalude dispenser.

Revolutionary, Sure, But It’s Still Venezuela


Important Data from the Associated Press:

A record 30,000 Venezuelan women out of a national population of 26 million underwent breast augmentation surgery last year, an increase of nearly 80 per cent over the previous year.

The times, they are a-changing, but the worlds #1 source of beauty queens still loves that jiggle.

March 20, 2007

“I Tell You, We’re Gonna Be Popular This Year if It Kills Us”


I'm a bit mystified over the New York Times’ gushy little story this weekend about Mexico’s Felipe Calderon. Under the headline “Mexico’s President Rides Popularity Wave,” where the probably-not-actually-elected prez is fellated by reporter James McKinley for finally being “legitimized” and “on a roll,” and “more effective than his predecessor.”

Why? Because as “recent polls show, Mr. Calderón’s approval ratings are above 50 percent.” Umm...that's not technically "popular." Even nerdy 15-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker wasn't actually despised by half her class.

And man, I must have been passed out the week the New York Times ran a similar Oh Baby piece on Hugo Chavez, whose popularity is like 20% higher.

March 21, 2007

I’m From the U.S. Government and I’m Here to Help You

Y'all remember the Washington Consensus? That amazing plan that was all the rage in the 90s where Latin America was supposed to stop investing in “education” and “health care” and "clean water" and other handouts for the lazy poor people and just sell off all their assets to U.S. corporations who would then eliminate poverty for them? Well it didn’t work, and I’m just as surprised as you are!

According to our benevolent Treasury Secretary, who is on a humble listening tour in Peru today, the wealth just didn’t trickle down, like, at all.

Oops, he says. Sorry about that entire generation, he says. But don’t worry, America will come up with another plan to save you so you don’t have to worry your greasy little heads over it, he says. And if you do, in fact, come up with an idea of your own and try and pursue it, we will use the full might of the U.S. of A. to squash you and your family like a goddamned hammer to a stinking cockroach.

Well, we’re paraphrasing. But according to Bloomberg, Henry Paulson’s latest-greatest ideas involve:

> Pressuring the Peruvians to let “investors” build their roads and infrastructure for them;

> Encouraging Guatemalans to read more poetry and less business textbooks;

> Fighting the Bank of the South and other exercises in regional self-sufficiency;

> Promoting the IMF & IDB and other U.S. controlled lending institutions; and of course,

> More listening!

Terrif! Sounds like a swell plan that’s sure to make Halliburton everyone rich!

Por Fin! Miami Cubans Find A Candidate They Can Relate To

In a surprising turn, shellshocked slightly-off-kilter violent old dudes with a chip on their shoulder are starting to rally around… John McCain. For realsies!

Today, McCain pledged that if elected president, his first international trip would be to Canada, Mexico, and a third country called “Latin America.” Speaking in Florida before—seriously—survivors of “the ill-fated, CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion,” he promised to single-handedly destroy socialism in the region, and promote democracy, no matter who the stoopid Latinos voted for in the first place. And the Miami Cubans cheered, because they’ve been blowing up shit for this kind of democracy for a long, long time.

Hugo Chavez Forces Venezuelans To Eat Rats

Because there’s no "news" coming out of Venezuela these days, the New York Times investigates this important story.

Rick Santorum & Family are Sad Over Terrorism


Not too long ago, this dillweed claimed to have personally found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Today he’s found Hezbollah training camps. In Venezuela. He also spouts off against the “This radical Islamic alliance with folks like Hugo Chavez.” He also waxes nostalgic over the Crusades.

The state of right-wing radio. Listen if you must.

March 23, 2007

Fire Schlock With Me

Since people stopped watching his movies back in the 90s, director David Lynch has been at a loss. I mean, what do you do when your skills tend toward visually engaging but cognitively baffling works? Duh. You go to work for USA Today as an investigative reporter!

Mr. Lynch traveled to Venezuela to uncover the dark mysteries behind “Latin wild man” Hugo Chavez and explores the themes you’ve come to expect from a David Lynch piece:

>> Outwardly respectable bourgeois mall-goers whose smiles barely conceal a deep simmering resentment;

>> A cult of creepy idol worshipers who publicly adore their leader but privately despise him;

>> Power games whose corruptive influence threaten to bring down entire communities.

>> A missing ear, a one-armed man, and Isabella Rossallini.

Ok we made that last one up. And it’s probably a different David Lynch. But you have to admit, this story is at least as surreal and paradoxical as Mulholland Drive.

A Day Late and 1,000 Bolivars Short

The New York Times really really wants you to believe that Venezuela’s currency policy is a one-trick pony. Today’s editorial is especially stupid coming the day after the details of PDVSA’s bond deal—you know, the actual plan to reduce inflation—was announced. But if they’d acknowledged that, they’d have had to scrap their whole hardy-har “Coin of the Realm” headline, which was a priority.

Oh, and by the way the value of the bolivar is “surging” today. Up 10 percent. Which totally undermines the whole point of the NYT editorial. Can’t wait to read their courtly correction.

All Tweaked Out on the Checks and Balances

Paraguay’s president said that Venezuela had an overdose of democracy and I’m starting to think he was understating the case.

March 25, 2007

Why They Fight

The major dailies have at least six full time Caracas correspondents, but you have to get your global context from a quiz in the Boston Globe:

The United States, Mexico, Canada and Western Europe have a combined total of 75.7 billion barrels of oil reserves (6.3 percent of the global total). Together, their reserves are nearly as large as Venezuela's 79 billion.

What's more, Venezuela is estimated to have reserves of perhaps as many as 270 billion barrels of so-called extra-heavy oil. While that oil must be substantially upgraded before it can be refined, if the estimates are correct Venezuela would rank ahead of Saudi Arabia in reserves and could eventually shift the global balance of power.

And Latin America Thinks We Don’t Take Them Seriously


The next phase of the Bush charm offensive in LatAm: deploy a cabinet C-lister to take on the region’s most heinous problem: Cavity Creeps. Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt announced his ambitious agenda to “strengthen our friendship” by promoting “oral health care.”

Flash your boobs at that, hot Brazilian protestor lady!

Obsessions of an Economic Hit Piece

We’re sure that the Venezuelans are pleased as punch that the New York Times has taken such a fanatical interest in their inflation rate lately, although they may be scratching their heads over why nobody seemed to care about it in the pre-Chavez days, when it was many, many times worse. The Oil Wars blog puts it all in context.

Your Taxes At Work: International Terrorism Department


If our tax dollars directly sponsor known terrorists, do we have to freeze our own funds? Detain ourselves? Extraordinarily rendit our collective ass to Poland via Italy? What’s the procedure here?

We only ask because we learn today that the biggest link (so far!) between Colombia’s government and our terrorist enemy is our own highly-funded Colombian BFF —Army Chief General Mario Montoya. He joins the recently-former Colombian foreign minister, the now-in-jail national police chief and eight Uribe-hugging members of Congress as a documented terrorist collaborator. We ain’t one to speculate, but Montoya’s super intimate relationship with our own beloved Brigadier General Michael Pace, their shared fondness for dungeon-y torture apparatus and conveniently public homophobic statements makes us wonder.

Naturally, this new information became public through a CIA leak. And naturally, the White House response is to attack the Los Angeles Times for reporting it. And naturally the US press will imply that Hugo Chavez is talking crazy-talk when he inevitably notes that the U.S. funds terrorism on his border. But we thought we’d help connect some dots. At the very least we can use it in our own defense before the International Criminal Court.

BTW: Did you know that President Uribe (that's him in Dubya's SUV in the picture) used to be an employee and “close personal friend” of infamous Colombian drug kingpin/mob boss Pablo Escobar? That explains a few things about his little racketeering ring political scandal.

March 26, 2007

Achtung, Mothafucka! Bush & Bono Plot to Blow Up Venezuelan Babies


I was wondering what all those White House meetings were about. Turns out that the pompous Irish plastic bracelet mogul/part time singer has been working mighty closely with the Bush Administration lately.

Activists discovered last year that Bono is connected with Pandemic Studios, creator of a hyper-violent video game set in Venezuela, where you take on the role of a paid U.S. mercenary sent in to overthrow the president and steal the oil. USA! USA!

Anyway, this one distinguishes itself from other cock-rocking commie-killing good-time toys by having realistic street scenes taken from photos and street maps. It’s like you’re really there, blowing shit up!

This whole thing wouldn’t seem nearly so creepy if it weren’t for this: according to the Boston Globe, video games are just a side project for Pandemic. They make their real money designing invasion simulation software for the Army.

At the School of the Americas.

How's that Nobel campaign lookin' now, Hewson?

Everything’s Coming Up Roses!

As the sharp-eyed, slightly horny reader who sent me the following link writes, “I want to see more tits on BoRev, but it looks like we'll have to settle for just another asshole…”

Indeed. The State Department has its own news wire! Read Nick Burns' super-optimistic take on U.S.-Latin American relations here. In the ‘80s they were just selling drugs to fund secret wars. Today I think they’re keeping some for themselves.

The "progress in Colombia" section is especially surreal.

March 27, 2007

Elian II


Here’s an interesting turn in the immigration debate: Florida Republicans want to eliminate that pesky provision in U.S. asylum law that says you have to actually face political persecution back home in order to be allowed to stay here forever and ever. The proposal would only apply to Venezuelans, natch.

The proponents—Miami-area Cubans, as if you need to ask—acknowledge that the proposal is meant to be “a diplomatic jab at Chavez,” and figure that the tens of thousands of new immigrants who would presumably displace people who really do have cause to fear deportation, is a small price to pay for the erotic joy they get from pretending that the fastest growing economy in our hemisphere is actually an unlivable communist dictatorship.

So to all you child-slaves, torture survivors, religious minorities, war refugees, Colombian trade unionists and huddled masses yearning to breathe free: Suck it! We’ve got priorities.

Men of Letters: Fourth Rate Banana Nations Dept.

One of my favorite things about the American media is the hometown letters-to-the-editor page, where any old coot with an extra stamp gets to play Tom Paine for a day.

Anyway, I got all misty-eyed on account of our precious freedoms as I was thumbing through the Winston Salem Journal today:

Look around; we are no longer a world power. We are being dictated to by fourth-rate banana nations. Unfortunately, our leader turned out to be a weak leader. President Bush visits countries and is publicly ridiculed by the likes of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Prayer and the belief in our Lord are the only remedy to solidify this country.

Because Jesus would totally kick Chavez’ ass.

March 28, 2007

Profits of Doom. And Gloom.

The Associated Press is reporting that profits from Venezuela’s state oil company declined by a quarter last year. That would be a bummer, if it weren’t just plain wrong. Although to be sure, this is PDVSAs bad. As our own venerable former president would say, it really does depend on what the meaning of “profit” is.

Just a quick look at PDVSA’s actual report (you can read it here if you understand the Spanish), shows that:

>> Revenue was up up up: almost 20% from the year before;
>> “Gross Profit” is going gangbusters: a 15% increase; and
>> Social spending based on these revenues increased a whopping 50%.

But PDVSA is a state oil company, and so the only shareholders are the Venezuelan public. PDVSA is reporting “social spending” in the form of schools, hospitals and the famous misiones as a business expense. But in reality, the profits are in, and the social investments are simply how the state chooses to spend its profits.

So breathe easy, people. Take a lude. PDVSA’s profits were high last year. They’re just distributing it to the shareholders. Novel concept.

Et Tu, Berkeley?


It’s not your parents' patchouli-smelling clothing optional hippie campus, that’s for sure. As the New York Times reports today, U.C. Berkeley will let you hold an art show on Venezuela, so long as you are "concerned" about but not actually "in solidarity" with the BoRev.

March 29, 2007

Communism On the March

Venezuela continued to chip away at the God-given right to property ownership yesterday. Apparently, under Chavez, even if your servants steal from you, even if they get totally drunk in your back yard, even if they use your swimming pool without permission, you are no longer allowed to defend yourself in the most reasonable way possible: rounding them up, attacking them with machetes, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire. This “rule” applies even if you are a famous Major League Baseball star.

Ugueth Urbina’s lawyer complained that the former Phillies pitcher’s fourteen-year sentence for five counts of attempted murder was “too severe.” Indeed. According to our research, property rights the way our founding fathers intended are now only applicable in Texas, Sadr City, and certain regions of Uganda.

There’s Micro-Credit Available at Low Rates in Them Thar Hills


The Great Venezuelan Gold Rush is on! Sadly, it’s turning out to be a far more civilized affair than earlier exercises in California or Alaska, which defined the iconic booze-filled, stink-breathed, sodomite-in-a-pinch can do spirit of the Great American West.

Part of the problem this time around is that the 49ers hail from Canada, a country with CEOs that make “rigorous commitments” to hire locals and invest in the community “long after the mine is exhausted” And because the mines are in Venezuela, a country that wants its citizens “participating more in the benefits that are generated by his rich natural resources.” Blah blah blah.

Even the goddamned international business analysts are saying the deal “has proven once and for all that the Venezuelan government are as good as their word and that they do indeed welcome investment from foreign companies.” Yeah, hippie companies, maybe. Read all the boring details here.

Hoochie Coup-chie!

I know what you’re thinking. Three months writing this tired blog and no word on Maria Conchita Alonso? WTF? Well, finally, our patron saint of silicone, this poster child of the Venezuelan elite, is in the news again! And from the looks of it, she’s going to become a regular feature.

The beloved boobilisous actress, billed as the “Venezuelan Charo,” is not just starring in, but writing and producing (!) a new movie about the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez. [Sorry the link is in Spanish, but trust us on this one].

The catch is, it’s going to come from the perspective of a rag-tag group of Venezuelan billionaires who just wanted to peaceably march in the streets one day and accidentally end up disappearing their president and installing a dictatorship. Maria Conchita wants the world to know the truth about her people, dammit! We’re talking Fried Green Magnolias here!! She’s threatening to come to theaters and individually extract the tears from your skull with her very own intricately painted fingernails.

There is so much to love about Maria Conchita. From her so-bad-they’re-good cable movies to her storied coke habit. Oh, and her brother is a terrorist! You can be sure we will follow every micro-detail of this story.

March 30, 2007

Curses! They’re On To Us


And we would've gotten away with it too! If it wasn't for those meddling kids and their pesky dog.

We thought we’d done everything right. We thought we’d covered our tracks. But we were no match for one tireless blogger who successfully combined the mighty powers of Google with that cool Power Point flow-chart function. In retrospect we were such fools to think we could keep up the charade forever.

Now the world knows: BoRev.Net is a sophisticated plot hatched by high-ranking officials at the University of Michigan. Please, though, don’t be too hard on Arianna Huffington. Was she in on it? Sure, but to be honest we got to her while she was going through a very public divorce with her gay Republican husband. She was vulnerable, and we took advantage of that. Bless you, Huff. I never meant to hurt you.

About March 2007

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

February 2007 is the previous archive.

April 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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