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January 8, 2007

“I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means”

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The Associated Press has righted a historic wrong. A while back, President Chavez called President Bush a “pendejo.” Now, depending on what country you live in, that word takes on a variety of meanings. In some countries, like Mexico, it’s pretty harsh. You could translate it to, say, “asshole.” In other countries, like Venezuela, it is much softer. It’s still not a compliment, but the translation is closer to “fool,” or “jerk,” or “idiot.”

At the time, the press was all atwitter after Reuters reported that Chavez had called the President of the United States an asshole. On the wires, the story was headed by the warning:

“Please note that paragraph 7 contains language that may be offensive to some readers."

I mean, really.

But Venezuelans, who take great pride in their language, were sort of ticked that the translation was so unfair. They pled with Reuters, and the reporters who followed up on the original story, to get it right.

Eighteen months later, Chavez took the opportunity to set the record straight by using the word once more. Referring to OAS President Jose Miguel Insulza (pictured above), AP reports that the president “used a vulgar word roughly meaning “idiot’.”

Our long linguistic nightmare is over. Anybody got a peanut?

January 9, 2007

Pendejo Watch

Break out your translation dictionaries. Yesterday we reported that the Associated Press finally put an end to an 18-month controversy over the correct translation of the Spanish word “pendejo.” In the summer of 2004, a Reuters story started a rumor that Chavez had employed profanity in a public speech, saying he’d used a word that translates to “asshole” when referring to President Bush. Venezuelans were puzzled, since the term is fairly soft, more accurately translating to “fool,” or “idiot". In a story that hit the wires last night, Chavez again used the word, but this time AP translated it to “idiot,” and the gods of semantics were pleased.

The rest of the major press outlets seem to be in agreement. Covering the same speech, the New York Times and the BBC employed the AP translation.

But writing for Reuters, reporters Brian Ellsworth & Christian Oliver refuse to let Pendejogate die. Today they write, “Chavez called Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, an ‘asshole.’”

While we worry about a pair of writers who don’t seem to know their arse from their elbows, we concede that in reference to Bush, either translation is acceptable.

February 4, 2007

Paging Gordon Gekko

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

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

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

February 16, 2007

Whip Inflation Now!

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

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

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

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

February 18, 2007

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 2, 2007

Praise Jesus and Pass the Whiskey

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It’s Holy Week! Down Venezuela way that means a Bacchanal vomit-spewed street orgy in honor of the man-god who did away once and for all with debaucherous pagan rites of spring. Point, monotheism!

But in recent years, these little gatherings have gotten slightly out of hand. As the Associated Press notes, the country averages a hundred alcohol-related deaths and “thousands of injuries” each year in the name of the Risen Christ. This year, the government has stepped in and prohibited alcohol sales over the weekend.

But this is Venezuela, so the international press is obligated to portray every government move as evidence of Chavez’s power-mad grip over public life, and they don’t disappoint. Follow us into the rumor mill, after the jump.

Continue reading "Praise Jesus and Pass the Whiskey" »

April 4, 2007

A Very Special Ethanol Story

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Oh joy. Today we get another “Special to the Miami Herald” piece by Phil Gunson. For those familiar with Gunson, you know that “special” doesn’t even begin to describe his work. If the Herald is the short bus of journalistic integrity, Gunson is the special-est kid ever in the back row.

Anyway, today’s special article is about how Chavez is a big ol’ flip flopping reactionary hypocrite. You see, he used to be for ethanol and now he’s against it. And he’s only against it because Bush is for it. Stupid fatty commie!

You can practically see our reporter friend rocking back and forth with glee as he opens his story, “Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was on the ethanol bandwagon. Until, that is, President Bush jumped aboard. Now, it seems, ethanol is a threat to the poor.” Zing! Snap! You tell him, Gunsy! Don’t wet yourself, now.

Ha ha kidding! Gunson wouldn’t actually pee his pants. He's just full of shit. Venezuela’s ethanol policy hasn’t changed. Remember that famous February phone call from Castro to Chavez that was broadcast all over the world? The one that happened before Bush even announced his plans to visit Latin America? Guess what they talked about.

A full month before that, Chavez had a press conference where he laid out the administration’s position. In a nutshell, the Venezuelans weren’t/aren’t anti-ethanol, but they are/were opposed to the mass production of food crops for fuel, particularly corn, and particularly in a region where hunger is still a big problem. It takes a very special mind to not get the difference.


UPDATE: A reader informs me that PDVSA laid out their plan for ethanol back in 2005, when the country (finally) banned the use of leaded gasoline. Then, as now, it was intended as an additive to, not a substitute for, gasoline. If you read Spanish, the press release is available here. Now isn’t that special?

April 26, 2007

Helpless, Kitten-Like Oil Executives Brutally Crushed by Capricious Whim of Rogue Dictator, Who Is Crazy and Mean.

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So yesterday, four oil companies agreed to enter into public-private partnerships with the Venezuelan government, and today, the headline writers are earning their pay.

Some quickie background: The Venezuelan oil industry was nationalized in 1976, and the requirement for these joint partnerships was signed into law in 1990—eight years before the Chavez presidency. The only holdouts were projects in the Orinoco belt where politicians had come up with an ingenious scheme to help out their buddies in the oil biz. They declared that the heavy Orinoco crude wasn’t oil it all—it was coal. Problem solved!

Anyway, the headlines that came out yesterday afternoon—“Oil companies, Venezuela sign agreements” ran the AP title—were accurate, but apparently too ho-hum for scrappy editors. They sent their minions back to the drawing board to come up with something more punchy. So, news sites that posted the story this morning had an awesome array hyperbole to choose from. Fer instance:

>>> "Five oil majors agree to give in to Venezuela"
[The Underdog Oil Execs Lose story], and...

>>> “Four oil firms cede control to Venezuela's Chávez”
[The Plucky Companies Destroyed by One Man’s Whim story], and...

>>> "Oil companies bow to Venezuela's demands for state control"
[My personal favorite: The Wimpy Execs Appease the Iron Grip of a Power-Mad Rogue State Just like the French in WWII story].

That, my friends, is how news is made!

September 21, 2007

Bill Frist Wasn’t Available for Comment

Let’s hear it for taboo-busting Miami Herald reporter Steven Dudley! In his never-ending quest to get the full story behind this Hugo Chavez person, Dudley literally blows away old fashioned newspapery ideals like “journalistic standards,” “professional ethics,” and even the once-inviolate “laff test.”

Awesomely, Dudley doesn’t limit his iconoclasm to his own profession. He’s brought in a posse of shrinks, analysts and, uh, writers, to medically diagnose the mental state of the Venezuelan president. Among the totally accurate and not at all propagandizing professionals, we encounter:

>>> A CIA-trained “political psychologist” whose medical opinion is that Chavez “is capable of seeking nuclear weapons.” Doctor brainy recommends “that attention be continuously focused on Chávez and Venezuela as a possible source of terrorist organizational support;”

>>> A tabloid writer who might have interviewed the president’s personal psychiatrist and former girlfriend and found that the president “is bipolar and takes Prozac.” Of course the ex-lover says its “a lie” and the shrink wouldn’t return Dudley’s calls;

>>> A survey of 16 Venezuelan psychologists who have observed Chavez “from a distance,” in which many claim Chavez exhibits “antisocial and psychopathic behavior” based on their professional analysis of “long-circulating rumors;”

Oh and all these psychiatric opinions of Chavez “depended more on their own political tendencies than their specialty, professional profile, academic level or years of experience.” But whatever. It’s a great story. It’s not like you can revoke a reporter’s license for malpractice or anything.

January 3, 2008

Hugo Chavez: Big Brown Voodoo Monkey

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Just in case you had forgotten exactly how retarded the press is, tonight HD Net (it’s a channel) wants to remind you with a totally not racist in-depth look at “how Hugo Chavez invokes black magic to extend his anti-U.S. influence throughout Latin America.” Ooga booga.

January 7, 2008

Just Keep the NED Money Coming, People!

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Picture it: January 2002. Caracas. The pot banging, the pepper spray, the harebrained schemes that just might work, until, like, they don’t. You could smell the half-assed counterrevolution in the air back then, and it was all… is “led” the right word?…by a political party called Accion Democratica.

Well, dear readers, I am delighted to announce that AD is back, baby! And they are in it to win it! Everything is in order for their historic preordained comeback, which is totally inevitable, because they’ve got a plan. And here it is: they are “seeking legal action in an effort to prove that President Hugo Chavez is insane and unfit to govern.” Also: “the group will seek the support of other opposition organizations and will also campaign across the country to request Chavez's resignation.”

See, all they have to do is get the president to resign and then they’ll take over again! And everything will go back to like before when the maids weren’t so uppity! Clearly the strategy is going to work better than the last time they tried it (in 2002, natch), so AD spokesman Henry Ramos Allup didn’t even bother explaining how it would play out at his press conference today because it’s like, so totally obvious:

“There is no need to prove facts that are publicly known. That this a bad government is as certain as it is that fire burns or that water gets things wet.”
Wow. Pretty fucking sane, Henry! Or should we say, “President Ramos”? I’d wish you good luck in this endeavor, but really, what could possibly go wrong?


January 24, 2010

Venezuela Rocked By 7.2 Magnitude Rumor!

Tsunami.jpgHey here is something that only happens every other week or so! The news is reporting on something maddeningly crazy that Hugo Chavez has said, only when you conduct your own independent investigation involving sophisticated journalistic techniques (Google) you find out that it is all, in fact, complete bullshit. Here's how it worked this time, pretty much exactly like it works every other time:

1. Some Venezuelan blogger wrote a weird story about the U.S. causing the Haiti earthquake with some sort of earthquake weapon.

2. A website operated by a Venezuelan state TV channel included a link to the post in their roundup of Haiti coverage from all over the country.

3. Some right-wing newspaper in Spain published a story about the link, referring to it as a Venezuelan state "press release."

4. Fox News reports the Spanish story, saying the earthquake weapon claim comes from "Hugo Chavez' mouthpiece."

5. Randomly, Vladimir Putin's English language teevee channel Russia Today claims that Chavez himself made the statement. This video report is picked up all over the fucking place, Drudge sirens!!

6. Right wing news "analysts" opine about what level of threat this represents to the United States.

Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb etc. etc. Repeat.

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