Department

Ranticles: “Mind Bending”

By Canticle

RanticlesI've avoided commenting on the Pat Robertson issue because it's just so blatantly stupid. But on it goes, and takes on an even more circus-like atmosphere, and I find it unavoidable.

Were he an Islamic preacher, calling for the assassination of President Bush, he would be deported, disappeared to Guantanamo, arrested, or at the least censured. But as a loyal confidant of the President, a man who is brought to the White House on the eve of war, he's a 'private citizen entitled to his opinion.' He is a man now comparing Hugo Chavez to Hitler and Saddam Hussein.

The simple fact is, Hugo Chavez despises the Bush Regime as millions worldwide do. He's more than a little paranoid, to be sure, but when you've got a nuclear nation whose leader talks about his divinely inspired mission to spread US branded democracy and freedom and is willing to lie to allies, go back on treaties signed in good faith, deport citizens of other nations to be tortured without due process or recourse, and generally behave as one would expect of a banana republic despot, I'd say his paranoia is more than a little well founded.

Never mind the fact the Bush Regime has already tacitly supported one failed attempt at his violent overthrow. For Rumsfeld to then comment that 'to assassinate someone would be illegal, and we don't do that' is absurd in the extreme. Maybe the adherents of Fox Television still buy that tripe, stuck as they are before their altar with a patriotic IV, but the world sees it for what it is, the patently false statements of a regime that feels it can do what it wants, when it wants, to who it wants.

Is Hugo Chavez a dictator? He's no democrat, but he's hardly a despot. Americans may not like this little fact, but the vast majority of Venezuelans are desperately poor in a nation swimming in oil, and Hugo Chavez was elected by those Venezuelans to bring them out of that poverty. And so far, he's been succeeding. Oh, it's upset a lot of people, sometimes violently so. The upper class in Venezuela is not happy. But they had their chance, three times now, to oust him in elections and the simple fact is there aren't enough rich people in the country to do it democratically. So now his reforms, aimed directly at improving the lot of the impoverished, are causing the small middle and upper class some discomfort. Sorry folks, your actions caused a LOT of discomfort to your nation over the years, and now that someone's trying to put a little equality into the picture, you're banging pots and pans and calling for revolution.

Is Hugo Chavez a good man? I think he's done some pretty dumb ass things. I think some of his blindingly stupid decisions should be rescinded or done away with. As a leader, I think he's only moderately worth the title. His rhetoric, rather than being inclusive to Venezuelans, emphasizes the divide between rich and poor (and while it is wide, he could at least acknowledge the middle and upper class as having merit). Rather than promote unity in his country, he'd rather pander to his base while ignoring his critics. Of course, all of that applies to President Bush as well. Economically, Venezuela's historical dependence on oil revenue continues, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing with oil being where it is today, an economy dependent on one product is not sustainable.

He also takes phone calls from citizens on a TV show and has faced criticism on that show. Try to imagine that smirking chimp in the White House fielding calls from the populace. He has been responsible for starting massive literacy programs that have been praised by the World Health Organization (and predictably condemned by the middle and upper class in Venezuela, which makes sense when you consider that 60% of Venezuela's population lives in abject poverty). He has initiated a program to try and make Venezuela self sufficient in food production through micro loans to small, local producers.

In short, he's trying to improve the lot of life of people in his nation while protecting them from what he sees as external threats. That puts him light years ahead of President George W. Bush. The real threat Hugo Chavez poses to the US is if he succeeds. It would demonstrate to the world that there are alternatives to the spend yourself into a hole and pray no one ever tries to collect on what they are owed economic policies of the United States. Do I think he'll succeed? Probably not, nations require leaders who unify, not divide. That doesn't mean I don't think the attempt shouldn't be made. And Venezuela is a democracy, whatever the Bush Regime might say otherwise. If a majority of Venezuelans want Chavez gone, he'll be gone. They don't need the United States or its religious zealots to tell them what to do.

Canticle on August 24, 2005.