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November 2007 Archives

November 1, 2007

Brains

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Like many developing nations, Venezuela continues to struggle with the heart-wrenching problems that have plagued our human existence for millennia: poverty, hunger, inequa—OMG NAOMI CAMPBELL IS HERE!!!!

Yeah. You may have read that Venezuela’s president got a visit from a famous leggy Brit yesterday. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the cult of the supermodel. I think they tend to be vapid and inarticulate and frankly, not representative of the real world. Which is why it was refreshing to see an American TV channel use the visit as a “hook” to discuss some of the compelling political topics relevant to contemporary Venezuela. The channel was Fox News of course, and so the analyst was FORMER MISS VENEZUELA MARIA CONCHITA ALONSO!!! She wore clothes and everything, signally her seriousness and willingness to talk about the issues. Like:

Constitutional Democracy: “Last week, we have a huge march that the students organized, but not all the students went into the march. Hundreds of thousands of people against the constitution.”

Education: “They don't know that. In a country that exports gas, oil, one of the biggest in the world. For people to have a hard time finding gas themselves in the gas stations.”

Children’s Rights
: “I don't think that in the new constitution they know that the children below 18 years old are going to be owned by the government.”

Anger Managemen
t: “I'm in such a — I'm so angry right now that I'm trying to control myself, because his point is to grab these ignorant people, really, that have no idea what is going on right now in the country, to have them as his allies to show the world that he is a good man. You know?”

Thanks, Conchita! Thanks, Fox News! You portrayal of the Venezuelan ex-pat opposition is about as spot on accurate as it is articulate.


Títulares & Asininity: Deep Thoughts

>>> Revolutionary Venezuelans recruit Hollywood to remind Venezuelans that Hollywood made them forget Revolution.

>>> Venezuela’s Catholic hierarchy hate that Chavez may be “elected indefinitely” but won’t say which of those two words is offensive.

>>> “How ironic is it that such an institution would be called ‘Chavez's bank,’ while nobody calls the IMF or the World Bank ‘Bush's bank?’”

>>> That Pittsburgh story we hated on yesterday, is equally-but-oppositely hated on by the right.

It’s Blogstock, Bitches

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Unlike say, YearlyKos, Venezuela’s annual tribute to free speech was actually, like, fun.

November 2, 2007

Compelling Methodologies

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If you’ve watched Fox News lately (of course you have!) you’ve probably seen pasty-faced fucknut Aaron Klein (not pictured) articulate his fascinating theories about Hollywood and how it’s always going around emboldening the terrorists.

His shtick is to question real live enemies of America on their opinions of U.S. celebrities. So if, for example, Scott Baio (pictured) says that he thinks it’s wrong for us to anally rape Somali street kids for intelligence purposes, Jim will get on the horn to Mogadishu for some expert dead-ender opinion. Dude will be like, “Mr. Baio has a point there and I remain a fan of Joanie Loves Chachi” and Klein will be all “voila: irrefutable evidence that Scott Baio abets terrorism.” He’s got a book out on this crap and everything.

Anyway he just worked his logical magic around the Naomi Campbell-Hugo Chavez Summit. Enjoy.

“End of the World as We Know It” Watch

Ok, one: the World Bank has a “private sector development blog”, which is retarded. And two: they seem pretty happy to hear that the opening of the Bank of the South has been postponed a month. As our reader-contact writes, “No, they’re not threatened or anything.”


November 4, 2007

Totally Useless Idiots

Because it can be so hard to figure out in this crazy conglomerated world of media ownership, here are five clues that Rupert Murdoch owns your newspaper:

1. It analyzes U.S. Foreign Policy through the prism of celebrities.

2. It still uses the term “useful idiot” in the cold war sense and (falsely) attributes the phrase to Lenin.

3. It refers to terrorist-sympathizing middle-aged vagina-flasher Maria Conchita Alonso as a “human rights campaigner”

4. It takes Alonso’s quotes from a Fox News broadcast and adopts them as its own, without attribution.

5. It actually edits her incoherent blather into marginally more accurate, grammatical and sensible statements.

And all this from the high water mark of Murdochia—the still sorta venerable Sunday Times. So you may want to take a wait and see approach to your Wall Street Journal subscription renewal.

Protecting Our Way of Life

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You could give Dick Cheney a blowjob and he’d still wring your neck for sport and probably burn that stupid flannel shirt you were wearing, too. Anyway Peru is about to learn this lessen the hard way. They went through all the trouble of electing a hugely unpopular rightwing jerk and we’re going to bomb them anyway, “by mistake”.

Because the Poor People Aren’t All Dead Yet

Guess who’s on the verge of amending his Constitution for the second time so that he can stay in office indefinitely ? Seriously just guess.

November 5, 2007

Our Brave New Media World

The great thing about repetition is that even the craziest wingnuttery can become the godshonest truth over time. Sometimes, if it’s really loopy, this can happen over the course of a weekend. Was it just Friday that we were having a nice little chuckle over that silly little Aaron Klein person and his mission to link Naomi Campbell to global terrorists cells using nothing more than the sheer power of brazen bullshit?

Well, “ha ha.” The joke is on the sane people once again. The supermodel-jihadi support pipeline has been a hot topic today in gossip sites TMZ, Jossip and Entertainment Weekly, as well as, um, the New York Daily News. Jesus wept.

On the bright side, if Ms. Campbell were to marry Aaron Klein, she would become “Naomi Klein,” which is kind of neat. Although I imagine he would probably still be a douche.


“Jiggle Revolution” Fails to Catch On

Voice of America, which is funded by our State Department, is sort of shocked that Venezuela’s “student protests,” which are, like, funded by our state department too, aren’t creating some bogus-but-funny-named counter revolution the way they were supposed to.

Who Knew?

Apparently, there is a New York Times reporter even lazier than Simon Romero. Oil Wars has the full analysis.

November 6, 2007

Anne Applebaum’s Useless Idiocies

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For starters, there must be a rule that we all set our Armageddon clock forward a minute or two when the Washington Post’s very own in-house communist-slayer reflects on the 90th anniversary of the Russian revolution from a celebrity perspective:

In honor of the anniversary, I reread " Ten Days That Shook the World," the famed account of the revolution by John Reed, the American journalist and fellow traveler. Then I reread last week's press reports of the recent encounter between Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president, and Naomi Campbell, the British supermodel.
Yeah, hi. Anne Applebaum has come to this. What bothers me isn’t so much that the comparison is off base. I mean nobody actually doubts that Venezuela’s political process has about as much in common with Bolshevik-era Russia as a long-dead revolutionary historian has with “British supermodel Naomi Campbell.” So kudos, Anne, for your PoMo “look at us; we are the art” funhouse mirror jab at the foreign policy reporting world or whatever the hell you were trying to do there.

No, dear readers, the problem is that Anne fucking Applebaum, who has published two books and seventeen kazillion columns this topic—her only topic—“the Soviet Union,” restates the myth that “useful idiot” was somehow coined, frequently stated, or even once uttered by Vlad Lenin. Which anyone with access to Google knows is bullshit. And she surely knows it and wrote it anyway. Which makes her a hack. Which is why I barely even read the paragraph that hilariously psychoanalyzes celebrities like Sean Penn or the one where she makes fun of all of us for thinking about the world from a non-Cold War prism because that’s what she studied. God she’s a twat.

November 7, 2007

An Army of Jose

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You may have heard, but Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy IV got his first big boy resolution passed in Congress yesterday! It was a “voice vote” or something but apparently it counts I guess. McGillicuddy successfully condemned “Latin America” for not being appropriately down with the whole Bomb Iran program, and in doing so finally followed in the big-time legislator footsteps of his dad, his great-grandpa, his step-great grandpa, and his great-great grandpa. And so the circle of privilege service remains unbroken. Hooray!

Unfortunately, little lord Connie’s Freudian victory was quickly ruined as the unmitigated Latin gall of Congressman Jose “The Fightin’ Pepper of 156th Street” Serrano was unleashed on the Capitol floor. Honestly, the Boisterous Boricua made the best foreign policy speech I’ve ever heard. It lasted the better part of an hour, and we’ve got the full transcript after the jump. Just for you. Grab a beer. It's long and amazing and worth it...

Continue reading "An Army of Jose" »

November 8, 2007

“Oh, Yeah. That Must be Why.”

Instawhatsit asks:

WHY IS THE WORLD MORE CONCERNED with Musharraf's coup than with Hugo Chavez's emerging dicatatorship? Because enemies of the United States, like Chavez, get a pass.
Welcome to your United States. Because military dictatorships that jail thousands of dissenters in a week are somehow more ‘American’ than democracies that don’t.

Yesterday's Post, Improved for the Special Ed Set

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Ok, I'm the first to admit that "The speech lasted an hour! And here's the whole transcript!" may not have been the world's greatest pitch. Or maybe you guys took my advice and got a beer and the whole thing went downhill from there (happens to the best of us!), but apparently only a handful of readers actually clicked to read Spicy Jose Serrano's floor speech yesterday, even after I spent an hour cutting and pasting and reformatting it.

Just to show that I'm not bitter or anything, I'm taking the time to condense it for you, my beloved but lazy little readers. Because that speech was really something awesome. So for reals this time, join us after the jump, k?

Continue reading "Yesterday's Post, Improved for the Special Ed Set" »

Hugo Chavez: Hot, For a Negro

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Actual headline from today: “’Ugly’ Chavez among Venezuela's Sexiest Men”

The point of the article is that some Venezuelans actually find their president attractive even, as our ace reporter is quick to point out, he’s got a “large nose, protruding lips, forehead mole and [a] gap in his front teeth.” No mention of his kinky hair, killer instincts or foot-long cock, tho. Bloomberg’s got standards, y'know.

UPDATE: That should read "Reuters", not "Bloomberg." My bad.

November 11, 2007

Don’t F*ck With the M*rigold, B*tches

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UPDATE: A Reader pointed out that the "trained in Belgrade" link below now takes you to a permission only page. Forturnately, and randomly, the same story was reprinted in the Kuwaiti Times. Here.

Have you been following the “Marigold Revolution?” Honest to god, that’s what they’re calling Venezuela’s opposition student protests. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a stupider sounding name, and not just because marigolds don’t have anything to do with Venezuela but also because it just sounds sort of gay. The gun-packing frat boys in the streets have got to be dying a little death inside each time they have to use it. Seriously, why not just call it the “Petunia Revolution” or the “I’ve Got a Dildo up My Butt Revolution”?

This is what happens when you outsource your political discourse. Love Chavez or hate him, at least he gives his campaigns names that imply that he’s been to Venezuela before and is familiar with its customs. This current “student movement,” brainstormed in Washington and trained in Belgrade, makes no such pretensions to being homegrown.

So how does it work? At their core, these “movements” rely on journalists being lazy little scribes with no sense of context or history. In other words, you could pretty much launch one in your bathtub. Here’s How:

Continue reading "Don’t F*ck With the M*rigold, B*tches" »

You’ve Got To Respect Their Honesty

Remember how National Geographic used to have that How We Got That Photo section for the story behind those close-ups of wildebeests and warlords and whatnot? Well other magazines do it too, apparently, and more and more often, the answer is “Photoshop.” Fellow blogger Sabina Becker over at News of the Restless discovered, translated and posted this funny/scary confession from the Brazilian magazine Epoca. It begins:

“For this week's cover, we had to make a very specific image choice. The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, had to appear with a menacing face. It was very difficult, because he has a chubby, sympathetic face that wouldn't scare anyone…”
More, chubby, sympathetic, weirdness. With photos.

Modern Maturity

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By now you’ve heard that the King of Spain told Chavez to shut up at the Ibero-American Summit yesterday. Which of course brings up the logical question—WTF is the King of Spain doing at this thing anyway? The revolution was like 150 years ago. Anyway, here’s a picture of him in a stupid hat. And a link to Latin America News Review, which gives us the context that AP, naturally, left out of the story.

November 12, 2007

Journalistic Excellence, UCV Shooting Department


The first reports said somebody was killed. Then they said eight had been shot. Then one. Then it turns out that most of the injuries came from smoke inhalation from a fire the injured had started themselves. And the shooting may have been in self-defense. Yes folks, the International press has covered a Venezuelan school shooting with the same level of precision they cover Venezuelan politics. Oil Wars has a fuller picture, including video.

November 13, 2007

Form of: Whacked Out Conspiracy Theories. Shape of: Horrendous Prose

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Readers will remember Doug Schoen as the loveable douche who failed so miserably at rigging exit polls in Venezuela’s last Presidential election that his boss had to fire him in the middle of the night, just hours before polls opened, and fly down to Caracas to take care of bidness himself. Naturally, he got a gig as a Fox News bloviator and once in a while a newspaper will pay him for his poorly organized “thoughts.”

Today, Schoen he and his pal Michael Rowen have written a very important column about a heretofore-unknown Venezuelan conspiracy to oversee “a world economic crisis.” Apparently, Hugo Chavez is prepared to destroy the entire world in order to “prove that capitalism is a failure” and usher in his “Bolivarian socialist economic order.” And the really sinister part is that he’s brought in a supermodel, an Oscar-wining actor/director, and a former U.S. president to help bring the world to its knees.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it was basically the plot of The Superfriends every week growing up, but sadly Schoen and Rowen aren’t exactly the Wonder Twins of the written word. I quote: “The U.S. has been searching in vain for Osama bin Laden and weapons of mass destruction while another threat has been lurking in our backyard for years….” Did I mention that this was published in the Los Angeles Times and not Redstate or something?

Awesomely, these half-literate cranks now have some sort of joint book deal, too. “They are the authors of ‘The Threat Closer to Home,’ to be published in 2008,” presumably not about Osama. Gleek gleek, indeed.


November 14, 2007

Porque No Te Fuckyourself?

King Juan Carlos was all “Snap, Zing, Bitch!” And Chavez was like “No, seriously, ‘fascist’ is actually a word with a definition and not just a random insult and it totally applies in this case.” And as it turns out, the big guy was right.

Preemptive Strike 2.0

Colombia’s President continues to be a whack job. As AP reports:

President Alvaro Uribe said Tuesday his armed forces will kill the commander of Colombia's largest rebel group if the octogenarian leader emerges from the jungles to negotiate a swap of rebel-held hostages for jailed guerrillas.

Uribe, in a fiery speech to graduating police cadets, said Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia commander Manuel Marulanda "sends messages that he can't attend meetings because if he comes out of hiding he'll be killed. Well, he guesses correctly."

Now I’ll admit it’s been years since my last major hostage negotiation, but this strikes me as a loser of a strategy to get your adversary to the table. But! You’re probably asking yourself, how might this possibly be Chavez’s fault?
The president's speech was the clearest indication to date that he believes attempts by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to broker a deal to release 45 high-profile rebel-held hostages, including three Americans, are doomed to failure.
Seriously, what?

November 15, 2007

Because Really, Who’s Standing up For the CEOs?

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Sometimes I’m such a crappy leftist. I mean, sure, I support the bread and butter issues like “peace” and “civil rights” and “assfucking” and such, but then you go to a party and get cornered by the guy who’s just a little bit off and talking about the Multinationals and the Media and the United Nations making a global conspiracy to protect the Fat Cat Status Quo, Man, and your inner voice is all Back off hippie—the UN totally almost stopped the Iraq War sort of and so you pretend you need to go and pee.

Anyway, I just learned that the UN has an “International Labour Organisation” and that this ILO has a “key committee” known as the “International Organisation of Employers” whose sole purpose is to ensure that the rights of corporate management are respected as a part of the “labour mouvment” or however they spell it in Geneva.

Today this IOE of the ILO voted to censure Venezuela on account of the “hostile speeches” that Chavez has made against multinational corporations, and the “pro-governmental mobs” that make life difficult for big business. Ok, whatever.

But then you find out that this complaint was brought out by Fedecamaras, a business confederation whose top leader, after the 2002 coup, actually became the unelected “president” of Venezuela, and in two short days managed to dissolve the legislative and judiciary branches and declare himself the Supreme Ruler of All He Surveyed.

And then you read the Reuters version of the story, which refers vaguely of the censure of Venezuela by a “body” of the International Labour Organisation and omits all of the context, and you start to worry about what you’ll have to talk about at the next party.

Ayn Rand Loses Another Political Point

Remember how earlier this year the U.S. press was up in arms that Venezuela had “nationalized” oil drilling in the Orinoco Delta even though Venezuelan oil had been nationalized 20 years earlier and everyone was compensated at market value?

Well something else happened today. And it involved “a deal with the holder of approximately 79 percent of the aggregate principal of the Cerro Negro bonds” and “a purchase price equal to par plus accrued and unpaid interest blah blah blah…”

What does it all mean? Who the hell knows! But it’s not the nationalization of the Mexican Railroads, is all.

Unconventional Wisdom

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>>> That whole “Chavista Gunmen Shoot on Protesters” story is sort of a lie.

>>> Venezuela’s latest hippie- dippy social mission for the poor is called “OPEC”.

>>> If you give at the fifty-dollar Level, Greg Palast will assassinate Chavez and send you a DVD.

>>> The Spanish remain happy with their King even though everyone else thinks he’s a prissy little dickhead.

>>> Venezuela’s unprecedented economic growth totally unsustainable and can’t go on another day for reals this time

November 17, 2007

Feast or….

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This week is Thanksgiving, a time when every patriotic American naturally turns his thoughts to our collective “bounty” and marvels at how big it’s gotten. Everyone knows that Americans have the largest bounties on the planet--personally I can barely squeeze mine into last year’s jeans! Frankly we’ve earned the right to pity the rest of the world, with a special smarmy emphasis on “the third.”

This year, I was planning to channel my heartburst toward Venezuela, because it’s good to focus and because apparently they’ve run out of food entirely. As this shocking exposé in Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian explains, the Venezuelan public is now forced to “scramble” for “food” on account of the “socialist policies” of the government. Holy Crap, they’re STARVING DOWN THERE! You’d think you would’ve heard about it earlier. Where are the telethons? Where is Sally Struthers?

Oh wait. Reading down, you find out that there are only a couple of kinds of foods that are in short supply. And that’s pretty much because poor people have some walking around money for the first time and are actually competing for the milk, eggs and sugar with everyone else. Whew. No need to mail your leftovers to Caracas. Which is good because Tofurkey starts to smell after a day or two.

UPDATE: Right on cue, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review used the Guardian story as the basis for its editorial on the "famished Venezuelans" and the dangers of socialism.

Because Our Constitution Is Perfect Is Why

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Did you know that the United States of America was a DICTATORHSIP for the first 175 years of its existence? It’s a shameful, embarrassing part of our history that our civics teachers understandably de-emphasize. But it’s true: it wasn’t until February 1951, when Minnesota became the 36th state to ratify the Glorious Twenty Second Amendment that our great nation became a real democracy with presidential term limits the way Jesus intended.

Apparently the knowledge of our terrible history has been passed down through secret societies of editorial board writers ever since, to be shared only when global democracy is in grave danger. Friends, that time is now. You see, there is this country, “Venezuela,” that is holding a national referendum in two short weeks that could potentially end presidential term limits, the central underpinning of all true democracies (Sorry, France!).

Sure, the whole thing would happen with a “vote,” which is technically one of the “trappings” of democracy, but the Washington Post knows that if the Venezuelans vote the wrong way, it will be nothing short of “a coup” that would “complete Venezuela's transformation into a dictatorship.” And also the vote outcome would somehow be “a fraud” that would “confirm [Chavez] as de facto president for life,” and would prove once and for all that he is “an autocrat,” who will “isolate and retard the country.” I don't know about you, but I’m feeling isolated and retarded just thinking about it!

As (north) Americans, we have suffered under the brutal dictatorships of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and others too terrible to mention (rhymes with "Malivn Moolidge"). We, more than anyone, know that nothing good can possibly come of a President--or someone who has acted as President for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President--being re-elected more than one more time. And so it is our solemn duty to act as a beacon, a living breathing example to the rest of the world. Well, that and ‘cause we’re snotty little know-it-alls.

If Venezuela is allowed to vote the way it wants to on December 2nd, then the lives of all who died to bring us the twenty-second amendment will have been in vain. Think about it. Never Forget™!

November 18, 2007

Be Nice to Me, Pls.

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I have a really bad anus.

“We’re Number 2!” And Other Stories You’ll Never Read About Venezuela

Every year, the Chilean polling firm Latinobarómetro releases a giant report on what the Latin Americans are thinking, and every year this report confuses the crap out of the English language press, who can’t seem to understand why it contradicts everything they’ve ever written about the region. The fun part comes in watching them twist some fairly straightforward numbers into bizarre and complex algorithms to make them line up with the worldview they helped create.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; that’s next weeks’ parlor game. These numbers are hot off the press, so we have a rare opportunity to look at them before they turn into sideshow freaks. You can check them out for yourself if you are proficient in Spanish and Adobe Acrobat. Everyone else, join us after the jump.

Continue reading "“We’re Number 2!” And Other Stories You’ll Never Read About Venezuela" »

November 19, 2007

Jackson Diehl Greets You As A Liberator!

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As everyone knows, “Action” Jackson Diehl is one of journalism’s biggest dickwads, but he’s got a seriously good gig. Technically, he’s the “deputy” editor of the Washington Post’s editorial board, but in practice, he runs the show when it comes to the international opinionating.

Like the half-jaded, half-starstruck, all-schmucky Simon Cowell, Jackie-D is always on the lookout for America’s Next Ahmad Chalabi to explain to him—so that he can explain to us!—exactly how staying in the good graces of the global elite is also in the best interests of “democracy.” As Harper’s magazine awesomely put it, Diehl is “relentless in pursuit of the conventional wisdom.”

But sometimes the Diehl can get a bit too raw, if you know what I mean. And lord knows Post has standards to maintain. (Kidding! Watergate was a long time ago, people!) These days if the full Ed board doesn’t agree with everything he has to say, they push his work to the right hand side of the page.

Sometimes we get a real live case study, though. This occurs when a Jackson Diehl Editorial runs coincidently with a Jackson Diehl Op-Ed, and you get to see exactly how much is too much for the Post’s full-on editorial board. Scientists refer to this sort of thing as a “control group.” Join us in the laboratory, after the jump.

Continue reading "Jackson Diehl Greets You As A Liberator!" »

November 20, 2007

Democracy Watch: His Royal Anus Dept.

In case you’re planning a trip to Spain, keep in mind that it remains illegal to burn a picture of the King, because that constitutes a “grave insult to the Spanish crown.” Also, refrain for drawing cartoons depicting “crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife,” because that’s a criminal offense, too. Seriously with skin this thin, every annus must be horriblus.


The Last Temptation of the Passion, Superstar!

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>>> Hugo Chavez takes a stand for Jesus in Riyadh, where “under Saudi law, the act of practising a religion other than Islam in public and non-Islamic religious symbols are forbidden.”

>>> Those kid diddlin’ dandies the Vatican sends to Latin America aren’t winning the hearts and minds the nuns and priests who have to actually work with the poor people.

>>> The Catholic hierarchy remains outspoken against Venezuela’s government, mostly because Chavez “slashed state subsidies to the Catholic Church -- by up to 80 percent, according to some estimates.”

>>> Oh and also, evangelical Venezuelans say, "There is more freedom now for [protestant] Christians than ever before."


November 22, 2007

Does Anyone Know Where Bill O’Reilly Tapes His Show?

Sure, in Mexico and Colombia reporters get killed all the time for reporting on “drug cartels” or “election rigging,” but we really need to paying attention to the “uneasy climate for free speech” in Venezuela, mostly because it’s really, really funny.

The reporter above had mocked the Congresswoman’s dead infant son, so she showed up on the set of his show and slapped him, which sounds like a reasonable response to me.

Today We Give Thanks for Hundred-Year-Old British Publications Not Yet Owned By Rupert Murdoch. And Tofurkey.

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Don’t look now, but Venezuela is still a democracy. Money quote from the Staggers:

President Lula da Silva of Brazil defended Venezuela last week, asking why "people did not complain when Margaret Thatcher spent so many years in power". He added: "You can invent anything you want to criticise Chavez, but not for lack of democracy." Lula has repeatedly defended Venezuela's government as democratic, but these comments are never reported in the English language media.
Sorry for stating the obvs, but here in the U.S. we have to remind ourselves of reality from time to time what with the state of the journalism. And on a related note, the Washington Times is reporting that Hugo Chavez is exactly like Hitler and Communism rolled up in one only worse. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2007

Chavez Can’t Do Anything Right…Or Else

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You know how Americans are supposed to eliminate all our environmental and labor standards and send our jobs to Peru or else Hugo Chavez will have won? That’s our “trade policy,” and it’s founded on the timeless American values of “extreme self-sacrifice” and “rhetorical victory.” And now it’s our foreign policy, too!

You may have heard that back in August, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe asked Chavez to help negotiate the first steps toward peace in his country’s bloody civil war, including a hostage swap involving three kidnapped Americans, one famous Frenchie, and dozens of brown skinned “Colombians” who don’t actually merit a mention in the English language press, much less a headcount. Anyway, things were moving along until last Wednesday, when weirdness ensued.

>>> That morning, Uribe made a speech praising Chavez as the only hope for a crucial hostage negotiation

>>> In the afternoon, Uribe was contradicted by the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, who declared Chavez’s help wasn’t working because the 40-year standoff hadn’t been resolved in three months.

>>> By evening, Uribe was like “Yeah, right. Sorry,” and told Chavez his services were no longer required. The peace talks were off, and chaos had been restored to the land.


Ok. To borrow a journalistic technique from Simon Romero: “some say” this all sounds pretty fucking suspicious if you ask me. And when you read Uribe’s reasoning—that Chavez had “violated protocol” by “speaking directly” to the Colombian military—a few things sort of don’t compute, like:
· Protocol? Yeah, um, nobody with protocols on the mind calls in Hugo Chavez as a hostage negotiator, k? Hugo Chavez is like Chuck Norris: he’s the last freaking resort, and you bring him in because your stinking protocols aren’t working.

· The fact Chavez never actually contacted the Colombian military chief—at least not directly—might be worth noting. He was patched in by a Colombian Senator assigned to the case, and the Senator says it was her decision.

· The 30 second call that scuttled the whole deal consisted of Chavez asking the Colombian military how many Colombian soldiers are actually in captivity. Yes, three months in and the Colombians had never shared this type of information with their negotiator.

You might conclude that their hearts were never in this peace thing from the get-go, especially considering that Alvaro Uribe was practically raised by drug lords and that just about every prominent member of his administration (and family!) are facing charges of colluding with death squads. And lord knows the Bush administration’s multi-billion dollar investment in the never-ending cycle of violence trumps three little old American lives in this profitable global bloodbath.

Thank God we’ve got a diligent press core down there to bring investigative perspective and context to this story so we’re getting more than just the ridiculous Bush Administration line that everything was just fine until Chavez opened his big fat mouth. Haha just kidding.

November 25, 2007

Venezuelan Dictatorship: Still Just Around the Corner, Again!

Just one week from today, Venezuelans will vote on a wide array of amendments to their Constitution, which will include everything from a shorter workweek to protections for gay & lesbian citizens. It will also increase the power of the executive branch and eliminate term limits for the president, potentially making Chavez as powerful as FDR almost.

Naturally the U.S. media establishment is up in arms. According to the New York Times, the plebiscite might turn Chavez into “an all-powerful strongman,” while the Washington Post explains that the vote (the VOTE!) would “complete Venezuela's transformation into a dictatorship.” Powerful words, no? These people are really concerned about the wording of this particular referendum, aren’t they? Haha. Actually, they’ve been saying the same thing for the past 8 years. Whatever Chavez was about to do next was going to lead to autocracy. It doesn’t actually matter that it never happened.—you just keep pushing the old goal posts back another few yards.

It’s really quite mind boggling when you add it all up. Join us on a head-slapping trip down memory lane, after the jump.

Continue reading "Venezuelan Dictatorship: Still Just Around the Corner, Again!" »

November 26, 2007

Picture Paints Multiple Thousand Word Sets

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One of the funnier parts about reading the press coverage of Venezuela every day is you get to watch how newspapers subtly “correct” past BS without actually printing a retraction. This week, we're treated to a real doozy.

Remember two weeks ago there was this huge scandal about “pro-Chavez gunmen opening fire on innocent unarmed students?” And how the AP circulated the photo above with the sort of one-sided caption “A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez points a pistol toward two opponents of Chavez?” And how even after the blogosphere started posting video that showed they might have been acting in self-defense, no major news outlet would investigate or print a correction? And how the Washington Post took it to a whole new level when it started referring to “government-sponsored paramilitary groups?” Those were the days, weren’t they?

But that was then, this is now. In some ways you’ve got to pity the poor reporters on the Venezuela beat. There’s so much baseless innuendo to sling that it must be hard to stay consistent from week to week. So you can forgive them when, all giddy about this week’s front page profile of student opposition leaders, the Wall Street Journal slips up and publishes this:

The law school's student-center room, a base for Chávez supporters, still smells of charred wood and plastic from a fire that recently destroyed it. Workmen are still cleaning up the School of Social Work. There, pro-Chávez students barricaded themselves for several hours during a standoff with a crowd of students, until a group of armed civilians on motorcycles intervened to allow the Chávez supporters to escape.
Umm..holy mac. The “pro-Chavez gunmen” were...busting kids out a burning building? Apparently the Chavista students been locked inside while the “unarmed student protesters” torched the place. Look at the photo again. It sort of takes on a new interpretation when you know that the building was on fire at the time, doesn’t it? The fact that they were escaping a politically-motivated arson might have been some useful information to get put in that photo caption, don’t you think? Perhaps even more pertinent than the presumed political persuasions of the protagonists, wouldn’t you say? Seriously, AP photo editors. I’ve seen a lot of craptastic reporting from Caracas, but this is a strong candidate to sweep the anti-Pulitzers this year.

NOTE: The WSJ link won’t work in a day or two, so I’m posting the full text of the article after the jump.


Continue reading "Picture Paints Multiple Thousand Word Sets" »

Freakanomics: Venezuela v. Chile

Forget what you thought you knew, bitches. While both countries are (equally) over-reliant on a single commodity, only Venezuelan salaries keep up with inflation and have appropriately addressed unemployment. And of course, Venezuelan reserves are far better prepared for the future. Apparently Latin America’s “good” economy is only better at making foreign company’s richer, which is what makes it “stable,” international rankings-wise.


Credible Source Watch

There should be a rule that any journalist citing polls from the Venezuelan firm Datanalysis make note of the following quote from the company’s president five years ago:


The Los Angeles Times quoted [José Antonio] Gil on what to do: "And he can see only one way out of the political crisis surrounding President Hugo Chávez. 'He has to be killed,' he said, using his finger to stab the table in his office far above this capital's filthy streets. 'He has to be killed.'"

UPDATE: Some people were having trouble accessing the link above. You can also find the story here.

November 27, 2007

A Man After Our Own Hearts

Looking ahead to this weekend’s referendum, Hugh O’Shaughnessy takes a look at the U.S. political and press reactions and finds them a bit…hypocritical:


Now those who have fawned on Saudi Arabian kings, indulged the Israelis’ atom bomb and their criminal mistreatment of Palestinians, and quietly backed every Latin American dictator from Somoza and Pinochet to the Argentine and Brazilian generals will attempt to portray the Venezuelan leader as anti-democratic.
And then he just gets saucy:

Meanwhile at the top end The Economist, which has for long made money out of laughing at poor people, forms a plangent Greek chorus who forlornly hope that wicked Venezuela’s oil, the country’s prop, will run out or the price collapse. But with Venezuela’s growing reserves the magazine’s writers might as well dream Osama bin Laden will become the next editor of Vogue.
The piercing insight, the sneering prose. Hugh, whenever you’re inevitably fired from your current, gig, you’ll always have a home here.

At Least They Didn’t Totally Ignore the Story

Tragically, nineteen-year old Jose Oliveros was shot to death yesterday in Venezuela. He was just trying to get to work in the state of Carabobo, but came up on the wrong side those peaceful, unarmed opposition demonstrators we keep hearing about, who shot him in the back three times. Oil Wars has more on the tragedy and Spanish speakers can find video of interviews with his family friends here.

Ok, this might sound cold but: So how’s it playing? Glad you asked! Turns out that unlike that self-defensey non-fatal shooting two weeks ago, the press are all of the sudden reluctant to talk about the political perspective of either the shooter or the victim, out of “respect’ or something.

Reuters at least admits that the demonstration where the shooting occurred was “anti-Chavez”, but hesitates to shed any insight into who may have shot him, only saying that there has been a “spate of campaign violence” lately.

But then there was this story from “citizen journalist” cyber-rag Spero News, which provides you with all of the pertinent details, only in reverse:

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See, the problem with “citizen journalism” in this country is that it’s compiled by the same dumbass “citizens” you run into around town every day. And in that sense, they are unnervingly similar to the “regular journalists” who kind of drove us up the wall to begin with.

November 28, 2007

Because Why Check These Things?

Über-dubious Venezulean polling firm Datanalisis made headlines in all the major outlets this week with their Chavez-is-going-down results—don’t miss the fawning coverage from AP, Reuters, The Miami Herald (natch) and The Guardian (sigh).

Apparently, though, they were just kidding.

UPDATE: U.S. watchdogs are finally starting to warn of "fraudulent polls and other deceptions [that]will be used to challenge the results of Venezuela's referendum.

That Peaceful Opposition Movement

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The AP caption reads: An opponent to President Hugo Chavez, left, uses an iron stick to hit a Chavez supporter during a rally against the reforms to the nation's constitution proposed by the president in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007.

An "iron stick." Well, they didn't kill anybody this time.

November 29, 2007

Poll Positioning

As tons of readers were quick to email us (Thanks! You can totally stop now!), Reuters sort of mischaracterized the result of a poll from the firm Consultores today, erring—get this—on the side most favorable to the opposition. Shocking, I know. The headline gives Venezuela’s’ constitutional reforms a seven-point lead in this Sunday’s referendum, but when you scroll down you find that that’s only the most conservative estimate. “Likely voters” give the package a 16-point victory.

Of course, that’s still one huge step up from other outlets that continue to rely solely on surveys whose own sponsors admit is bullshit. Which itself is a giant step up from reporters who cite the BS survey and additionally quote spokesman from Cosultores to pretend that its survey backs up what the bullshit survey says.

Confused? I think that’s actually the point. Soothe yourself with the full Consultores poll results. It’s got charts and everything.


WTF? Here’s How!

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Who will win? How will it be spun? How many fake Súmate exit pollsters can dance on the head of a pin?

If you care about Venezuela and happen to speak English or French or Portuguese, you can check out radio coverage of this weekend’s referendum over at Radio Venezuela En Vivo. “Periodic broadcast” began today, and 24-hour coverage kicks into gear when the polls open Sunday morning, lasting until it’s over or the CIA pulls the plug, whichever comes first!

About November 2007

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

October 2007 is the previous archive.

December 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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