August 13, 2004

Kick Chavez in the Ass. Please.

Tomorrow (Sunday) Venezuelans will vote whether or not to recall their brute-in-chief Hugo Chavez. For a brief period of time (long since lapsed) I thought Chavez might be the right guy for Venezuela. Somebody had to come along and challenge the oligarchy that insults the nation's children first by ripping them off and second by teaching them they live in a rich country even when they live in Dickensian shantytowns.

Boy did I goof that one. Chavez can't even pull a good imitation of his comrade Fidel let alone reform Venezuela in a way that is even remotely defensible. Venezuela is now the closest thing Latin America has to a dictatorship outside Cuba. And this in a country that managed to skate through the Cold War without one.

A lot people got the guy wrong and they know it. Plenty of them live in Venezuela. Here's hoping they can free themselves from the bastard and that he doesn't kill anyone on his way out the door.

See also Marc Cooper, who smacks Chavez and his idiotic apologists hard from the left.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2004 11:22 PM
Comments

"Alot of people got the guy wrong and they know it"...

Yep. Count me in. I wouldn't say he's been completely bad for the country. You can't deny that life has definitely improved for the most poor. You also can't deny, though, that it's come on the backs of just about everyone else there. Sometimes when you're unabashedly robbing from the rich (and middle class) to give to the poor, the bad outweighs the good. Typically, politically at least, sticking it to the middle-class is never a good idea. The rest of the center-left collectively figured this one out 10 or 15 years ago. Then again, Chavez is hardly a man of the center-left. Those of us who mistakenly saw any shade of moderation in the man are left to eat our words.

The New Republic Online has a pretty great article up right now, sizing up his political strengths and weaknesses heading into the vote. It's subscription only.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 14, 2004 12:22 AM

Who the hell his Marc Cooper to condemn Chavez? It is the left-wing utopian fantasies conjured up by Cooper and his ilk that pave the road to serfdom for the subjects of Chavez and Castro. These fantasies are the kool-aid that Marxist demagogues hand out in order to gain power. Cooper should condemn himself first.

Posted by: HA at August 14, 2004 05:50 AM

That's one of the problems in supporting leftists. More times than not, when empowered they get like this.

Posted by: Gerry at August 14, 2004 06:30 AM

Grant,

Can you show me some definitive proof (or even some compelling proof) to back your contention that life has improved for Venezuela's poor? You say it cannot be denied, and frankly I am unconvinced it is true no less undeniably so.

Gerry

Posted by: Gerry at August 14, 2004 06:32 AM

Is Carter going down to observe these elections?

I rather think he learned his lesson in El Salvador.

Posted by: TmjUtah at August 14, 2004 08:03 AM

Well, I think Chavez will win, by hook or by crook, mainly because he is playing the well-worn Latin American political tune: promise utopia for no effort (revolution), then blame failure on somebody else (the US). This will reap you much international support.

Most Latin American politics is of this nature. Most leaders however cannot act on it, since they need foreign investment. Hugo has oil and that makes all the difference in the world. (See the Middle East.)

Prediction: Long after Castro dies, people will still be making pilgramages to a socialist "paradise" under nuevo maximo lider Chavez.

Pessimistic, yup, but I have to teach recent Latin American history every year. No wonder I drink!

Posted by: lancer at August 14, 2004 08:26 AM

I'd be very surprised if he's voted down for 2 reasons.
1) They'll rig the elections
2) The guy in power, especially in a semi-dictatorship, find a way to stay in power.

Posted by: Mike at August 14, 2004 08:27 AM

HA: Cooper should condemn himself first.

Could you have tried to say anything more reactionary?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 09:20 AM

So many liberals in the U.S. and Europe are so easily conned by people who are nothing more than left wing dictators. It is good to see people waking up to Chavez. I hope that those who are awakened don't fall back to sleep and fall for the next thug wearing a false halo.

Posted by: thedragonflies at August 14, 2004 09:30 AM

MJT,

Could you have tried to say anything more reactionary?

What is "reactionary" about what I said? What point do YOU have to reach to recognize that condemning the likes of Chavez is no longer sufficient to absolve the likes of Cooper for providing the ideological weapons that people like Chavez exploit?

In nation after nation for decade after decade, people like Cooper have been selling the snake oil that socialist or at least redistributionist policies will solve people's problems. And time after time, these policies fail and and the result is someone like Chavez.

Posted by: HA at August 14, 2004 10:16 AM

HA,

What do you know about Marc Cooper? Anything? Ever read his books or articles? Or do you just have a hard time getting past the word left?

When Marc signed my copy of his book Pinochet and Me he wrote "Freedom, always first." Hence his take on Pinochet and Chavez.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 10:52 AM

I have to agree with Michael. It it entirely possible (indeed it is our responsibility) for those of us on the freedom-loving left to condemn the likes of Chávez and Castro.

However, merely condemning the likes of Chávez and Castro without condemning the social conditions in which they are created is a certain recipe for more of the same. Don't take my word for it. Consider what George H. W. Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Bernard Aronson said in today's New York Times:

A new agenda is needed that offers upward mobility and political empowerment to the hemisphere's poor. This would require not only a deepening of structural economic reforms and fiscal discipline, but a new focus on giving the poor title to their land, credits for microenterprise, easing the transition for small enterprises from the informal to the formal economy, cracking down on tax evasion and official corruption, and ending the subsidization of higher education at the expense of primary and secondary schooling. Sadly, the hemisphere's political leaders, north and south, have not found a language of political and economic reform that speaks to the region's impoverished masses - particularly the indigenous populations - to counteract the siren song of populism and demagoguery. Nor have they developed the political tools or the will to confront the slow strangulation of democratic liberties by elected leaders such as is now under way in Venezuela. If they don't do so soon, expect more leaders like Hugo Chávez: men who campaign to consolidate their power and inveigh against the oligarchs while their people descend deeper into poverty.
Posted by: Randy Paul at August 14, 2004 12:01 PM

Randy,

Yep. And I'm pleasantly surprised to read those words from a Bush appointee.

And as Marc said: I’m fully cognizant of the fact that Hugo Chavez is but a Frankenstein created by a failed political system.

But so what? He’s still a Frankenstein.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 12:54 PM

Michael, why on earth are you surprised to hear words like that coming from a Bush appointee? I'm not.

Posted by: lindenen at August 14, 2004 02:07 PM

Well, it was Bush the father . . .

Posted by: randy Paul at August 14, 2004 02:07 PM

Aaah, that makes much more sense. But still, what he is stating is common sense.

Posted by: lindenen at August 14, 2004 02:09 PM

Lindenen: Michael, why on earth are you surprised to hear words like that coming from a Bush appointee?

Because it's the sort of thing I'm used to hearing from the center-left. I'm not shocked or anything, it just wasn't quite what I would have expected.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 02:16 PM

The LA Times did an article a bit back on how the Chavez administration is sending literacy teachers into the various small villages of Venezuela which have largely been ignored by the government. Of course, it's taught using Cuban educational materials that preach on about the "glories of labor".

Personally, I hope the referendum keeps Chavez in power; not because I think he's a good president, but as a rebuke to the undemocratic putsch leaders and all their supporters, there and here. It's disgusting how many people are willing to throw democratic principles aside when the elections come up with the wrong answer.

Posted by: Anon at August 14, 2004 03:41 PM

Mr. Totten,

I too would like to say that that is the sort of things that people like me, who are on the right (not just the center-right) say and believe. I sure wish you could get past the Coulters of the world and see that the vast majority of the right takes freedom as seriously as the center-left.

Have you ever read Erik Von Keunneldt-Leddhin's book Leftism Revisited? He's very much a rightist, and you won't find anyone who was more enamored with freedom and liberty than he. I don't agree with every view of his (heck, he's a monarchist for goodness sake) but he is a good representative to my assertion that the right is not the enemy of freedom that the left portrays.

I know that I'm not.

Posted by: Gerry at August 14, 2004 03:45 PM

Gerry, he's a monarchist and a believer in freedom and liberty? An odd bird, I'd say.

I know Ann Coulter does not define the right. No one does, actually. No one defines the left, either. There are people I admire and learn from on both sides, just as there are people who never cease to annoy me on both sides.

I couldn't think of myself as an Independent or a Centrist if I dismissed the entire political right out of hand.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 04:17 PM

MJT,

What do you know about Marc Cooper?

I know that 30 years later, he still suggests that Allende was a democrat who upheld the rule of law rather than a usurper who destroyed it. I know that he still finds - and I quote - "redeeming qualities" in Castro. I know that he wrote a snivelling piece about Reagan after his death.

When Marc signed my copy of his book Pinochet and Me he wrote "Freedom, always first." Hence his take on Pinochet and Chavez.

Words are cheap, and at some point intentions don't matter. Thirty years ago, you could excuse someone like Cooper for being young and idealistic. But to support Allende all these years later indicates Cooper is either a utopian fool or a seductive manipulator. Cooper has been fanning the socialist flame for years. This flame consumes rather than warms and he should know this by now. It consumed Chile in some small way thanks to Cooper's efforts. There would not have been a Pinochet without an Allende first.

For a brief period of time (long since lapsed) I thought Chavez might be the right guy for Venezuela.

What did you THINK you knew about Chavez? Did he say the rights things? Did someone say the right things about him? Did he or they press the right buttons? Were you seduced into believing in a thug?

Posted by: HA at August 14, 2004 07:33 PM

I'm not discussing this with you, HA. It isn't possible. Find someone else to yell at.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 07:40 PM

Since I know so little about this topic, who is the other side? From the little I know, the "other side" in this case, were a bunch of oligarchic, corrupt businessmen, who really gave a sh#t about running the country into the ground - and have their own history of rigging elections.

Is this accurate? Is the opposition better than this?

It seems a bit one-sided to hope one guy is gone, if the opposition is worse.

Again, I have no idea, I'm asking.

Thanks

Posted by: JC at August 14, 2004 08:14 PM

Not sure who to believe when it comes to the situation in Venezuala. The corporate media outlets seem to be against him, while some of the more independent sources portray him very positively as a champion of the poor who is fighting US Imperialism and the oil-grabbing Bush admin. It certainly wouldn't be the first time the US has interferred in Central/South America (Remember Allende in Chile - Assasinated Septeber 11, 1970 in a plot concocted by the CIA).

Who are we to believe?

Posted by: Anon at August 14, 2004 08:23 PM

Anon: some of the more independent sources portray him very positively as a champion of the poor who is fighting US Imperialism

Whatever. Venezuela is not a U.S. colony or imperial satrapy any more than Canada is.

The Venezuelan oligarchy is a bunch of criminal bastards. But unlike Chavez when they ran the country they didn't turn it into a police state.

Pick your poison. Crony capitalist democrats or a left-wing dictatorship. You know which side I'm on. As Marc Cooper told me, "freedom, always first."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 08:45 PM

That's a good answer to the question I asked. Corrupt criminal bastards running things or police state. Assuming that is an accurate description of the situation, and of the choice, however horrible it is, then it seems to be the right one.

Posted by: JC at August 14, 2004 09:11 PM

JC,

That's how it looks from what I've read. The opposition to Chavez isn't much fun, but Latin American politics has never been very much fun.

The polarization down there is just incredible, and it makes this country look like a one-party state by comparison.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 09:48 PM

Pick your poison. Crony capitalist democrats or a left-wing dictatorship. You know which side I'm on. As Marc Cooper told me, "freedom, always first."

But again, what are your sources that say it's become a 'left-wing dictatorship'? How do we know this is true? I'm not trying to be a troll here, I really am interested in getting more info, preferrably from people (more than one group) on the ground in Venezuela. I'm just not sure we're getting an unskewed picture of what is really going on there. I'm hearing completely different views of the 'truth' from different sources (like 180 degrees different) so it's difficult for me to determine if Chavez really is a 'left-wing dictator' or if this is just what the Venezualen oligarchs are trying to smear him with.

I get very suspicious when I hear two completely differnt stories...

Whatever. Venezuela is not a U.S. colony or imperial satrapy any more than Canada is.

Not officially anyway, but you've got to admit that there are plenty of examples in recent history where we've treated countries in that region as if they were puppets on our string (the '80's alone are full of examples in places Nicaragua, Guatemala - illegal, clandestine funding of the contras, the Allende assasination... I could go on, but the history is well documented). While we may or may not be doing that this time, it certainly makes one suspicous of US actions, intentions and policy in the region. Add oil to the mix and it makes me doubly suspicious.

Posted by: Anon at August 14, 2004 09:54 PM

Anon: I get very suspicious when I hear two completely differnt stories...

Okay, as well you should be suspicious.

First of all, follow the link to Marc Cooper's place that I published in the main post. Then follow his links to Randy Paul's blog and follow Randy's links.

Then follow this link to Harry Hatchett's blog and read carefully. Follow his links too.

Every source cited here and linked-to is left-wing. None are right-wing or centrist. All are anti-Chavez.

If you could find any right-wing pro-Chavez viewpoints, that would be interesting.

Also, please understand that I've been following Chavez on and off for years, and changing my view of him in the process. I can't cite all my sources of information because I would not even know where to begin.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2004 10:34 PM

Off topic; for those of you Lefties out there who want us all to believe that the only thing poor victimized Al-Sadr wants is just to be part of the democratic process:

AL-SADR WANTS THE INTERIM GOVERNMENT TO QUIT

http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040814-061714-3823r.htm

Posted by: David at August 15, 2004 12:15 AM

Bernard Anderson is not a Bush II appointee, he's a Bush I appointee. Just extending and clarifying for MJT.

Posted by: Factcheck at August 15, 2004 12:36 AM

Well now I've read both you and Cooper and all I got from either of you were that you hate the guy, but no real facts there.

Gee, according to you two a coup is just the same thing as working within the electorial system. Isn't that what is going on today. How can the guy be a dictator if there is a national referendum going on here. Yes, of course if there is election fraud by the government, then the referendum means nothing, but Cooper certainly provides no evidence for such fraud.

Nor do you. Another one of our colonies not toeing the again. Damn.

Posted by: lawguy at August 15, 2004 12:46 AM

"Gerry, he's a monarchist and a believer in freedom and liberty? An odd bird, I'd say."

Yes, although to call him a believer in freedom and liberty is understating it a bit. Passionate would also be an understatement. Although an avowed rightist, he has considerable affinity and admiration for Prodhoun (excepting Prodhoun's embrace of socialism). He considers himself a "classical liberal" or a libertarian in most regards.

If you enjoy reading, and enjoy reading political philosophy, then I highly recommend "Leftism Revisited". Definitely by an odd bird, but an odd bird of the most impressive variety.

Posted by: Gerry at August 15, 2004 07:13 AM

"Gerry, he's a monarchist and a believer in freedom and liberty? An odd bird, I'd say."

Yes, although to call him a believer in freedom and liberty is understating it a bit. Passionate would also be an understatement. Although an avowed rightist, he has considerable affinity and admiration for Prodhoun (excepting Prodhoun's embrace of socialism). He considers himself a "classical liberal" or a libertarian in most regards.

If you enjoy reading, and enjoy reading political philosophy, then I highly recommend "Leftism Revisited". Definitely by an odd bird, but an odd bird of the most impressive variety.

Posted by: Gerry at August 15, 2004 07:13 AM

Factcheck,

I mentioned that about Aronson in my original post:

Consider what George H. W. Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Bernard Aronson said in today's New York Times

I also mentioned that it was Bush the father, not the son a coule of posts later.

Posted by: randy Paul at August 15, 2004 08:55 AM

High up in one of the shanty towns that overlook Caracas, Doris Mendez and her 10-year-old daughter Gidailis wait to see the local doctor. Gidailis is asthmatic.

In the past, the family could not always afford the drugs she needs, and when she had an attack, they struggled to get her to the hospital on time. Few ambulances ever make it up the narrow, winding streets.

"Now," says Doris, "I've got everything right here. If my daughter starts to get a chill or an allergy, I can get hold of the medicine she needs and give it to her straight away."

Nine months ago, there was no doctor here.

Now, Daisy Machado runs a brand new surgery, right in the heart of the community.

She is part of a programme which has brought thousands of doctors from Cuba to work in the most deprived areas. [Unlike America, Mr Totten, Cuba has a health care system it can be truely proud of.]

Indeed, it is in these areas that Hugo Chavez draws most of his support.

Walk around the barrios, as the shanty towns are known, and it is hard to find anybody who says they will not vote for the president in Sunday's referendum.

One elderly man said: "Mr Chavez is the only politician who has ever given a damn about us."

What has privileged American liberal Michael Totten got to say to Doris Mendez?

Posted by: Benjamin at August 15, 2004 11:57 AM

Benjamin,

My opposition to Chavez has absolutely nothing whatseover to do with whether or not I care about poor people and want to help them. Shove your guilt. This is about democracy and Venezuela's lurch toward dictatorship.

It's not easy to turn a democratic country into Cuba, but Chavez does what he can. Venezuelans are lucky they have the chance to remove Chavez without violence. I suggest they take it while they can. They can still elect a democratic candidate who might be willing to help Doris Mendez. This isn't an election between a left candidate and a right candidate, it's about Chavez versus "Anyone but Chavez." It's a recall. He is not by a long shot the only person who can or will help the poor.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 12:38 PM

Michael

So that's what you would say to Doris Mendez?

This is not about guilt. It's just I presume that you are some sort of progressive, right? So Doris Mendez is the type of person you would care about, right?

But no mention of them in your post. Odd that isn't it?

So you would tell Doris that there are other candidates that might be willing to help her and her kids. Might. That's weak stuff when compared to the real palpable bricks and mortar, the real treatment for her kids that she has right NOW.

So you telling me too, they might not help?

How ironic that this so called dictatator may go by dint of er... a constutional recall vote. Something that the American people, as far as I know, do not have the luxury of.

You detect the irony?

Posted by: Benjamin at August 15, 2004 12:56 PM

Benjamin,

What I detect is a person (that would be you) who cares more about alleviating poverty than he cares about freedom and democracy. You would get yourself suckered right into a police state. I don't have anything more to say to you about this. I can see which side you're on, and it is not mine.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 02:43 PM

Actually, Benjamin, I do have one other thing to say to you. You remind me precisely of the apologists for Gen. Augusto Pinochet who say, in effect, the following: "His economic policies were capilalist and not socialist, therefore, even though Salvador Allende was a democrat, the military dictatorship was justified."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 02:50 PM

For those who are ready to pounce on me again, let me just say that I do not endorse Salvador Allende or the Venezuelan oligarchy. Thank you for taking that into consideration.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 02:57 PM

Michael Totten

You gettting desperate now with you hyperbolical accusations and bizarre speculation.

Saying that I could be "suckered into a police state." Well I don't support the Patriot Act, Michael, and I don't think George W Bush was democratically elected.

The comparison with Pinochet is complete and utter nonsense after less than five seconds analysis. Pinochet came into power after a US instigated coup, was NOT elected twice by the people and had a completely different programme to Chavez's.

Chavez has submitted himself to be voted out by a direct vote of the people before the end of his term - this democratic act would NOT happen in America, Michael - and has been elected twice, held numerous other elections and has created a democratic constitution. He is NOT a dictator. That's a FACT, Michael.

A recall vote is part of the Venezuelan constitution, a consitution that Chavez help frame and which was democratically endorsed.

As for poverty. I care about poverty alleviation greatly, and unlike you, I believe its an integral part of a real democracy, a democracy thats about the welfare of real people and their families.

Its not a question of either/or, its a question of both - they are (or should be) interwoven.

Poverty alleviation is a huge problem than kills milllions of people per year and blights the lives of countless others, including many people in Venezuela. But they do not get even the briefest of mentions from you.

WHY?

Chavez is concerned about the poorest - a fact evidenced by his actions, not just words - and that should be acknowledged.

Posted by: Benjamin at August 15, 2004 03:49 PM

Benjamin,

Chavez tried to seize power in a military coup before he was elected. Not very democratic of him, was it? So there's one comparison with Pinochet.

And Pinochet was ousted when he lost a referendum vote. The US did not have a referendum option then, but anyone who would have dared to suggest that Pinochet's Chile was more democratic than the United States would have been instantly labelled an idiot or a fascist.

You'll notice that in my main post I said Venezuela has the closest thing to a dictatorship in Latin America outside Cuba. No, it is not a full-blown dictatorship. I never said that it was. Chavez has simply reogranized the Venezuelan state in such a way as to grant him the maximum amount of power possible and to weaken all opposition as much as humanly possible, and he has also used violence to do so. This is so well-documented and has been for so many years now that I really don't see the point in arguing about whether or not it is true. It's like arguing with a Castro apologist whether or not Cuba really has any problem with human rights. Come on.

No, Chavez is not as bad as Pinochet, but I never said he was. Your defense of him is simply logically similar to that used by those who defend Pinochet. That's why I made the comparison. Because he's on "your side" you don't care that he's an authoritarian megalomaniac. But you should because that is what is at issue here. The problems of poor people in Venezuela, which are vast, is not.

Whoever replaces Chavez will be decided in a separate election. Throw your weight behind the next left-wing candidate after Chavez if you want. I might. Who knows? But I'm not sticking up for this guy just because he represents the poor. Far more than merely that is required for good statesmanship.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 05:01 PM

EXCELLENT THREAD!!!

MICHAEL...
You mentioned something about the polarization of the politics down there making our political system look like a one-party State. In essence, it is. And it's a good thing. You've talked about this before, my friend: That in America, we have two liberal parties (in the broader classic sense of the word). There is no such thing in most of Latin America and that's why I really have mixed feelings about all of this. Chavez is an illiberal leftist bastard. But his oligarchic opposition is equally as illiberal.

BENJAMIN...
Michael mentioned something about your getting "suckered into a police state". I was actually considering defending you up until the point I saw you defend Chavez by citing evidence of what he's done for the poor. You see this as a proof positive sign that he really cares about his people and that that is what makes him a decent guy. Did it ever actually occur to you that maybe it's in his own self-interest as a quasi-dictatorial figure to do such things? It's classic dictatorial schtick, I'm afraid. He'll do just enough for them to keep a select few fiercely loyal and to pacify the rest from overthrowing his ass. I'm not a cynic, believe it or not, and if you look back to the very first message of this thread you'll see that I (unlike Michael) have credited him for actually improving the lives of the poorest in his country. But the bottom-line is this...if you could alleviate poverty in the United States, every ounce of it, but you had to be willing to live under a police state to do it, would you? I'm a liberal, Benjamin. I accept a certain amount of freedom-restricting welfare-redistributionism. But in a world of scarce resources, and given that human nature is what it is, you have to be willing to draw the line somewhere.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 15, 2004 07:05 PM

BENJAMIN...

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Maybe Chavez did actually care about the plight of the poor more than he cared about his own power at one point. Bet he doesn't now, though. Personally, I have a hard time accepting that he's ever been more than a demagogue using leftist rhetoric, the rhetoric of "the people", to advance his own status. I think it's that sort of thing that Michael was getting at when he mentioned your "suckering".

You see Chavez as a hero. I see Chavez as a Stalin in sheep's clothing. History will tell you I'm probably right on this one.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 15, 2004 07:16 PM

Fidel Castro did some good things for the poor. He gave them title to their land, for example.

And I say to that: so what? He only tyrannizes those very same people with his idiotic economics and his total surveillance police state.

You won't catch me quoting John Derbyshire very often, but I'll do it today because he gets this exactly right.

Wherever there is a jackboot stepping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled Western liberal there to assure us that the face enjoys free health care and a high degree of literacy.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 07:17 PM

ONE LAST THING...

And I don't think this comes down to freedom vs. poverty alleviation, you guys. It's way bigger than that. It's limited government vs. utopian dreaming and the centralization of power with all that comes with it. Let's get to the heart of the debate.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 15, 2004 07:20 PM

Oh my God, Derbyshire is such a douche!

He's actually right on this one, but let me add this: Whenever there's a right-wing authoritarian jackboot stepping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled American conservative there to assure us that the face enjoys a high level of stability and order and that it's in our national interests.

For every commie sympathizer on the Left, there'll be a Henry Kissenger on the Right.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 15, 2004 07:26 PM

Grant,

Yes, that is a great counter to Derbyshire. You and he are both correct.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 15, 2004 07:29 PM

Gives weight to the theory that the political spectrum is more of a ring than a line, doesn't Michael? That the further you go in either direction the more you abandon the principles of limited government and the more you are willing to turn a blind-eye to creeping authoritarianism?

In the end, I say again, I don't think this is really about poverty vs. freedom. It's not even left vs. right. There are those who believe in limited government and therefore oppose BOTH Chavez and his oligarchic predecessors, and there are those who don't and therefore defend them. Left and Right become pointless concepts between the likes of Stalin and Hitler. Fundamentally, it comes right down to limited government.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 15, 2004 07:38 PM

Aaah. First line should read, "doesn't it Michael." Sorry.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at August 15, 2004 07:39 PM

I lived in Venezuela in the 1950s (height of the Cold War, no?). The ruler was Marcos Perez Jimenez and he was definitely a dictator. You might want to correct your statement.
I hope Chavez loses this vote, but I forsee trouble no matter how it comes out.

Posted by: Mike Reynolds at August 15, 2004 11:46 PM

Mike Reynolds,

I hope Chavez loses this vote, but I forsee trouble no matter how it comes out.

You are correct. This is assured because of the moral and intellectual corruption of the academic and "intellectual" left. Venezuala is faced with the choice between feudalism and socialism because they are ignorant to any other way. Either way they are screwed.

Nobody is preaching to third world countries that the way out of their oppression and poverty is constitutional, free-market, liberal democracy with limited government that protects peoples rights to pursue happiness.

Instead, academics keep pushing socialism on these third world countries. Naturally, people are seduced by the easy solutions socialism offers. Academics seem to view these countries as guinea pigs. They hope to prove that socialism can be a success by point to examples in third world countries, and this success will prove that Amerikkka can therefore build socialism as well. When are people going to notice all the dead guinea pigs?

Posted by: HA at August 16, 2004 04:10 AM

You see Chavez as a hero.

Er....I don't actually. I just think some of the good stuff regarding poverty and health needs to be acknowledged. I've already got Totten's number already and his lack of acknowlegment in this regard reveals him for what he is.

He has got <em<nothing to say to Venezeula's poor. Chavez has, and has a proven record in helping them.

Some of us believe that that a good way of increasing peoples freedom is helping them get good healthcare, and other basics that mean they don't die early or lead narrow lives of misery and drudgery.

Not Totten. But his answer is this:

"Throw your weight behind the next left-wing candidate after Chavez if you want. I might. Who knows?"

He must know this is liberal fantasy. If Chavez and his movement goes the right wing will take over, predictably, and gradually all hope will be lost for the poor. That's just the basic reality. Chavez has a solid base - he is the only credible left wing party with a solid base. Its fantasy, and Michael must know it.

No doubt Michael Totten will want us to support some nice polite liberal, who may, sometime in the future, if successful, give a bit of breathing space to the poor, if given the green light by their American masters.

That is the extent of the "hope" Totten and his ilk offer the poor.

Like in Costa Rica, sometimes "compassion" prevailed. The US ambassador to Costa Rica recommended that the United Fruit Company, dominant in Costa Rica implement "a few relatively simple and superficial human-interest frills for the workers that may have a large psychological effect."

John Foster Dulles agreed. He told Eisenhower, concerning Latin Americans: "you have to pat them a little bit and make them think that you are fond of them."

That kind of stuff.

I note too that some here are having a philosophical discussion about limited government, with the inevitable references to bogeymen dictators Stalin and Hitler.

No specifics, no talk of the real situation in Venezeula, no mention of power, wealth, or any other number of hard realities.

That's fine, but just remember you are privileged enough to have such a discussion, and the result of your solutions based on your philosophy will be increased destitution, illness and poverty for many, and the destruction of hope.

That will be the inevitable result if Chavez loses and the opposition wins and get in govt. In other words the restitution of the status quo anti.

Posted by: Benjamin at August 16, 2004 05:10 AM

HA

Instead, academics keep pushing socialism on these third world countries. Naturally, people are seduced by the easy solutions socialism offers. Academics seem to view these countries as guinea pigs. They hope to prove that socialism can be a success by point to examples in third world countries, and this success will prove that Amerikkka can therefore build socialism as well. When are people going to notice all the dead guinea pigs?

Let me shred that (it's so easy.) The Americans are squealing about Cuba and Venezeula precisely because they are rare examples of their govts not towing the line.

As for dead guinea pigs - are the death rates in Venezuela and Cuba higher than anywhere else? Is socialism killing the population? No, so that's utter garbage. In fact Cuba has an internationally recognised health care system.

HA, you should really learn something about the IMF and World Bank. In the real world, the Bretton Woods institutions, dominated by America help run many Third World countries - not your left wing academic bogeymen. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Posted by: Benjamin at August 16, 2004 05:22 AM

Benjamin,

In fact Cuba has an internationally recognised health care system.

Maybe. But if Cuba is so great, why are people literally dying to escape?

Posted by: HA at August 16, 2004 09:37 AM

Benjamin. Have you been to Costa Rica? That's the country in Central America with the least number of problems. It's not your poster boy for Latin American poverty. Go visit sometime. Then go to Guatemala. See the world. Get a little perspective.

No doubt Michael Totten will want us to support some nice polite liberal, who may, sometime in the future, if successful, give a bit of breathing space to the poor, if given the green light by their American masters.

You don't have even the slightest idea what you're talking about, and what you're talking about is me. This ends our correspondence.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 16, 2004 10:09 AM

MJT

I'm off to Costa Rica then. I will mail you.

Posted by: Benjamin at August 16, 2004 12:16 PM
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