ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hugo Gets a Round of Applause from DUers

For doing something that would make most DUers riot in the streets and slit their own throats.

He's going to eliminate the constitutional prohibition on three terms for serving as Venezuela's President. The NYTimes provides the coverage:

August 15, 2007

Chávez to Propose Removing His Term Limits
By SIMON ROMERO

CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 14 — President Hugo Chávez will unveil a project to change the Constitution on Wednesday that is expected to allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, a move that would enhance his authority to accelerate a socialist-inspired transformation of Venezuelan society.

The removal of term limits for Mr. Chávez, which is at the heart of the proposal, is expected to be accompanied by measures circumscribing the authority of elected governors and mayors, who would be prevented from staying in power indefinitely, according to versions of the project leaked in recent weeks.

Willian Lara, the communications minister, said Mr. Chávez would announce the project before the National Assembly, where all 167 lawmakers support the president. Supporters of Mr. Chávez, who was re-elected last year with some 60 percent of the vote, also control the Supreme Court, the entire federal bureaucracy, public oil and infrastructure companies and every state government but two.

The aim of the overhaul is “to guarantee to the people the largest amount of happiness possible,” Mr. Lara said at a news conference on Tuesday.

And we all know that the definition of happiness for Venezuelans is the jack boot of Hugo right up their keister. At least, that's what Hugo keeps telling us...
The project has already led to fierce debate over Mr. Chávez’s expanding power. Critics in the Roman Catholic Church have been clashing with Mr. Chávez over the re-election proposals, with one cardinal, Rosalio José Castillo Lara, calling him a “paranoid dictator.”

Mr. Chávez’s proposals would centralize his control over political institutions even further, potentially weakening opponents like Manuel Rosales, the governor of Zulia State, who received nearly 40 percent of the vote in presidential elections in December, analysts said. Mr. Chávez’s current term expires in 2012.

“We are entering a new stage implying more intensive state control of society,” said Steve Ellner, a political scientist at Oriente University in eastern Venezuela.

While the proposal to be unveiled by Mr. Chávez may contain surprises, he recently said that “the Venezuelan people should be given the right to keep a president in power as long as they like, whether it be for 5 years, 12 years, 40 years.”

Mr. Chavez added that he would be the one counting the votes over the next 40 years... it was so.... efficient... last December
Since Mr. Chávez’s re-election to a third term in December, he has surprised many with the breadth of the changes in his political and economic policies.

He has nationalized telecommunications, electricity and oil companies; forged a single socialist party for his followers; deepened alliances with countries like Cuba and Iran; and sped the distribution of billions of dollars for local governing entities called communal councils.
Hate to say this, but if the Times thinks that what's going on in Venezuela is socialism (and not full-blown communism), I question their grasp of reality.
As Mr. Chávez, 53, settles into his ninth year in power, images of him have become impossible to avoid here. On billboards, posters and murals, he is seen hugging children, embracing old women, chanting slogans and plugging energy-saving Cuban light bulbs into sockets.

Must've gotten those marketing and PR ideas from Kim...
Still, Mr. Chávez has faced serious setbacks at home and abroad even as his approval ratings remain relatively strong in Venezuela. His decision forcing a major television network critical of him off the public airwaves triggered student protests across the country in May and June.

Dissent? I thought that was just a bunch of right-wing extremists paid off by Karl Rove to embarrass el Presidente?
[...]

But Mr. Chávez has signaled a desire to be president at least until 2021 as part of a project to reconfigure political power structures in Venezuela. A central feature of this plan is the president’s communal councils.

About 20,000 of the councils are expected to be created this year, with authority over issues like infrastructure and some social welfare projects transferred to them from municipal and state governments. Mr. Chávez’s critics say the councils must remain loyal to his political ideology to receive funding.

Centralized Command & Control of economic and social aspects of life. Hmmmmm.... has anything like that ever been tried before? What were the results? (I know, I know... it would've worked just great, if it hadn't of been for imperialist Amerkkka causing all kinds of problems.)
The president said one Sunday last month on his television program that the 1999 Constitution, which he fought for after his first election as president in 1998, has become vulnerable to “counterrevolution” and “infiltration” by reactionary elements.

A counter-revolution would require a revolution in the first place... I don't remember the Times reporting Hugo's election as a "revolution," so it must've just been an election.
Still, even some politicians within Mr. Chávez’s coalition have expressed concern that his proposals could weaken the authority of regional governments.

Hard-line supporters of Mr. Chávez say the project will win easy approval by the end of the year, though it remains to be seen if it will be subject to national referendum or a vote in the National Assembly.

Cilia Flores, president of the National Assembly, said Tuesday that she expected two to three months of discussion before a vote, which, if taken by lawmakers, would be approved by a “qualified majority.”

Of course, we would expect that those "progressives" would resoundingly attack Chavez for this power grab, since they've lectured us for years that:
  1. Bush/Rove stole the 2000 election;
  2. Bush/Rove either Made It [9/11] Happen on Purpose (MIHOP) or Let It [9/11] Happen On Purpose (LIHOP) as a reason for expanding executive power not dissimilar to Hitler's use of the Reichstag fire to implement emergency powers;
  3. Bush/Rove stole the 2002 election;
  4. Bush/Rove stole the 2004 election;
  5. Bush/Rove stole the 2006 election Wooops!!! That election was fair & square! My Bad!; and
  6. Bush/Rove will never step down from office and will instead declare himself Emperor for Life (Chimperor I think is the term they use...)
Ummm, no... instead we get these discussion threads where the Chavez critics are drowned out by his supporters.

Here are the words from your mainstream, Democratic Base:
Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Wed Aug-15-07 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #1

10. Yup, there are a lot of us at DU who know the facts and can spot propaganda

by our war profiteering corporate new monopolies real fast, and jump right in, to provide perspective on the latest Bush State Dept. "talking point" as they prepare for their second theater of war: The Andes region of South America, rich in oil, gas, minerals and leftist (majorityist) democracies.

We tend to write long, thoughtful pieces, though, full of information, while you anti-Chavez-thread spotters have many hit-and-run tactics but no information to offer. Like slaves, you believe every word about Chavez from the corporate news monopolies who brought us the Iraq War, the slaughter of half a million people to get their oil, the torture of prisoners, worldwide disrepute, two stolen elections, massive theft of our federal treasury, massive domestic spying without a warrant and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution, and told that it was all good, trust us.

You would have us not examine or understand the "framing" in corporate news monopoly stories about Chavez, the "black holes" where contextual information should be, and the REASONS for Chavez's vast popularity in Venezuela and throughout Latin America--why voters in Venezuela's transparent and highly monitored elections keep voting for Chavez and for Chavez allies in the national assembly, each time with bigger numbers, and why OTHER countries in South America are voting for presidents who declare their friendship with Chavez and Venezuela, and advocate similar policies. You would have us believe that Venezuelan voters are stupid sheep who would vote repeatedly to be tyrannized by a "dictator." You would have us believe that the "teeming" masses don't know what's good for them. You would rather we not look at the evil purposes behind this Bush State Dept./corporate predator campaign to demonize a popular and genuinely democratic leader, and keep us all real stupid about his policies, including his entirely lawful, non-corrupt, beneficial and wildly popular policies of social justice, sharing the oil wealth, maximum citizen participation in politics and government, and Latin American self-determination.

At one time in our history, we, too, lucked upon a president who served the interests of the people in a time of economic peril and vast impoverishment--poverty induced by the greed and irresponsibility of the rich--and we elected him four times, because that is who the majority wanted and needed in office. He died in office, in his fourth term. He was "president for life." And he, too, was called a "dictator" by the rightwing greedbags and fascists of that era. The "stupid sheeple" just kept electing him, no matter what the rightwing media and robber barons did to revile him. They said he overreached--and tried to "pack the Supreme Court." They called him a "communist" for advocating a national pension system--Social Security. They spit on him for providing government jobs, with millions out of work and starving.

Our war profiteering corporate news monopolies today, controlled by fascist billionaires, are no different than the forces who opposed FDR. The landscape of their disinformation campaigns is bigger--including the Middle East, South America and the world. They support fatcat sultans and despotic kings in the Middle East; they applaud lavishing billions of tax payer dollars in military aid on the most brutal and criminal governments in Latin America, and support Bushite efforts to topple the democratic ones, and they continually marginalize, trivialize or "black-hole" democratic movements that oppose U.S.-dominated "free trade" and U.S. military aggression, everywhere on earth--in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, and in the United States itself!

You would have us believe their so-called "news" articles about Chavez? If we did, then we really would be "stupid sheeple."

And, not to be outdone, the Kossacks at DailyKos (whose founding member was given legitimacy by NBC news last sunday) have this to say:
[...]
So Chavez might propose a referendum which would allow him the same freedom that U.S. Senators and Representatives currently enjoy, and which American Presidents enjoyed until 1951. The corporate press takes over from there, moving from reality into demagoguery. And even one of my favorite progressive bloggers fell for it.

P.S.: Not that Chavez is proposing a 25-year term, but what exactly is undemocratic about a 25-year term? Is there something magical about a 4-year term (American Presidents) or 6-year term (U.S. Senators, many Presidents including the Venezuelan President) that makes that "democratic"? How about eight years? Ten? Fifteen? When does a "democratic" term become an "undemocratic" one? Not that I support 25-year terms for anyone, mind you. Just askin'. I do think, by the way, that term limits of any kind are fundamentally undemocratic. People should have the right to choose whomever they want for an office. If that person has been in office for 25 years, but a majority still thinks he or she is the best person for the job, they should have the right to vote for that person.

No word on whether he'd let Bush compete for a 3rd election.

And I do love that the elimination of a constitutional term limit is viewed as comparable to our system pre-1951, ignoring the consolidation of power that Chavez is seeking at the same time through the implementation of his communal councils.

For the Left, it seems that some authoritarians are more desirable than others.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, August 13, 2007

The NYTimes Flip-Flops - Calls for Continued Efforts in Iraq

This editorial today is just idiotic in the back-handed way that they arrive at supporting our efforts in Iraq, but we're not surprised by anything from the Times these days:

August 13, 2007
Editorial

Wrong Way Out of Iraq


As Americans argue about how to bring the troops home from Iraq, British forces are already partway out the door. Four years ago, there were some 30,000 British ground troops in southern Iraq. By the end of this summer, there will be 5,000. None will be based in urban areas. Those who remain will instead be quartered at an airbase outside Basra. Rather than trying to calm Iraq’s civil war, their main mission will be training Iraqis to take over security responsibilities, while doing limited counterinsurgency operations.

The previous paragraph reads more accurately if you replace "Americans" with "Democractic Presidential Candidates and the Inside The Bubble Mainstream Media."

Also, it's interesting to see that the Times is fretting about the lack of military intervention into Iraq's "civil war" and limited counterinsurgency ops. Hmmmm... I thought that The SurgeTM had these very objectives?

Back to the op-ed:
That closely follows the script some Americans now advocate for American forces in Iraq: reduce the numbers — and urban exposure — but still maintain a significant presence for the next several years. It’s a tempting formula, reaping domestic political credit for withdrawal without acknowledging that the mission has failed.

Again, replace "some Americans" with "Democratic Presidential Candidates" and it's a bit more accurate.

I like how the Times just can't let this editorial continue with getting in a jab about how the mission has failed, but I do appreciate their restraint in not adding "despite Bush's Mission Accomplished banner."
If anyone outside the White House truly believes this can work — that the United States can simply stay in Iraq in reduced numbers, while ignoring the civil war and expecting Iraqi forces to impose order— the British experience demonstrates otherwise. There simply aren’t reliable, effective and impartial Iraqi forces ready to keep the cities safe, nor are they likely to exist any time soon. And insurgents are not going to stop attacking Americans just because the Americans announce that they’re out of the fight.

I don't recall the White House pushing for a reduction in forces, but an increase... Perhaps I'm detecting a slam on the WH when one wasn't intended, when they actually are attacking those outside of the White House (aka Democratic Presidential candidates).
In Basra — after four years of British tutelage — police forces are infiltrated by sectarian militias. The British departure will cede huge areas to criminal gangs and rival Shiite militias. Without Iraqis capable of taking over, the phased drawdown of British troops has turned ugly. The remaining British troops hunkered down in the city at Basra Palace are under fire from all directions. Those at the airbase are regularly bombarded.

And Basra should be easier than Baghdad. Most of the population is Shiite, and neither Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia nor other Sunni insurgent groups have a significant presence. Elsewhere in Iraq, where internal rivalries are overshadowed by the Sunni insurgency, sectarian civil war and rampant ethnic cleansing, a reduced American force might find itself in an even worse predicament. The clear lesson of the British experience is that going partway is not a realistic option.

The NYTimes finally realizes that you can't be halfway at war... nor can you be halfway pregnant. Welcome to reality, you twerps.

Here's the kicker:
The United States cannot walk away from the new international terrorist front it created in Iraq. It will need to keep sufficient forces and staging points in the region to strike effectively against terrorist sanctuaries there or a Qaeda bid to hijack control of a strife-torn Iraq.

But there should be no illusions about trying to continue the war on a reduced scale. It is folly to expect a smaller American force to do in a short time what a much larger force could not do over a very long time. That’s exactly what the British are now trying to do. And the results are painfully plain to see.

Holy cow... someone must've run a few polls over the past few weeks and shown the results to the Times, because this is a total flip-flop.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Steyn on Beauchamp, the Self-Hating American, and Yet Another Inconvenient Truth

Mark Steyn has this excellent piece today:

Warm-mongers and cheeseburger imperialists
MARK STEYN
Syndicated columnist

Something rather odd happened the other day. If you go to NASA's Web site and look at the "U.S. surface air temperature" rankings for the lower 48 states, you might notice that something has changed.

Then again, you might not. They're not issuing any press releases about it. But they have quietly revised their All-Time Hit Parade for U.S. temperatures. The "hottest year on record" is no longer 1998, but 1934. Another alleged swelterer, the year 2001, has now dropped out of the Top 10 altogether, and most of the rest of the 21st century – 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 – plummeted even lower down the Hot 100. In fact, every supposedly hot year from the Nineties and this decade has had its temperature rating reduced. Four of America's Top 10 hottest years turn out to be from the 1930s, that notorious decade when we all drove around in huge SUVs with the air-conditioning on full-blast. If climate change is, as Al Gore says, the most important issue anyone's ever faced in the history of anything ever, then Franklin Roosevelt didn't have a word to say about it.

And yet we survived.

So why is 1998 no longer America's record-breaker? Because a very diligent fellow named Steve McIntyre of climateaudit.com labored long and hard to prove there was a bug in NASA's handling of the raw data. He then notified the scientists responsible and received an acknowledgment that the mistake was an "oversight" that would be corrected in the next "data refresh." The reply was almost as cool as the revised chart listings.

Who is this man who understands American climate data so much better than NASA? Well, he's not even American: He's Canadian. Just another immigrant doing the jobs Americans won't do, even when they're federal public servants with unlimited budgets? No. Mr. McIntyre lives in Toronto. But the data smelled wrong to him, he found the error, and NASA has now corrected its findings – albeit without the fanfare that accompanied the hottest-year-on-record hysteria of almost a decade ago. Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but, when it comes to global warming, the experts prefer to stick the thermometer where the sun don't shine.

I interrupt to point out that McIntyre was one of the guys that totally shredded the global warming alarmists claims about the HockeyStick, something which I've blogged about several times. It should be noted that McIntyre's HockeyStick criticism resulted in many on the Warming Left claiming that he was funded by the oil and coal industry. Unfortunately for them, this guy is now 2 for 2 on debunking previously held "beliefs" of the alarmists.

Here's the revised ranking of the 10 hottest years:









YearOldNew
19341.231.25
19981.241.23
19211.121.15
20061.231.13
19311.081.08
19990.940.93
19530.910.90
19900.880.87
19380.850.86
19390.840.85

Eat your heart out, algore.

Now, back to Steyn:
One is tempted to explain the error with old the computer expert's cry: That's not a bug, it's a feature. To maintain public hysteria, it's necessary for the warm-mongers to be able to demonstrate that something is happening now. Or as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram put it at the end of 1998:

"It's December, and you're still mowing the lawn. You can't put up the Christmas lights because you're afraid the sweat pouring off your face will short out the connections. Your honeysuckle vines are blooming. Mosquitoes are hovering at your back door.

"Hot enough for you?"

It's not the same if you replace "Hot enough for you?" with "Yes, it's time to relive sepia-hued memories from grandpa's Dust Bowl childhood."

Yet the fakery wouldn't be so effective if there weren't so many takers for it. Why is that?

In my book, still available at all good bookstores (you can find it propping up the wonky rear leg of the display table for Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"), I try to answer this question by way of some celebrated remarks by the acclaimed British novelist Margaret Drabble, speaking just after the liberation of Iraq. Ms Drabble said:

"I detest Coca-Cola, I detest burgers, I detest sentimental and violent Hollywood movies that tell lies about history. I detest American imperialism, American infantilism, and American triumphalism about victories it didn't even win."

That's an interesting list of grievances. If you lived in Poland in the 1930s, you weren't worried about the Soviets' taste in soft drinks or sentimental Third Reich pop culture. If Washington were a conventional great power, the intellectual class would be arguing that the United States is a threat to France or India or Chad or some such. But because it's the world's first nonimperial superpower the world has had to concoct a thesis that America is a threat not merely to this or that nation state but to the entire planet, and not because of conventional great-power designs but because – even scarier – of its "consumption," its very way of life. Those Cokes and cheeseburgers detested by discriminating London novelists are devastating the planet in ways that straightforward genocidal conquerors like Hitler and Stalin could only have dreamed of. The construct of this fantasy is very revealing about how unthreatening America is.

And, when the cheeseburger imperialists are roused to real if somewhat fitful warmongering, that's no reason for the self-loathing to stop. The New Republic recently published a "Baghdad Diary" by one "Scott Thomas," who turned out to be Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. It featured three anecdotes of American soldiering: the deliberate killing of domestic dogs by the driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle; a child's skull worn by a U.S. serviceman as a fashion accessory; and the public abuse of a woman to her face, a half-melted face disfigured by an IED. In that last anecdote, the abusive soldier was the author himself, citing it as evidence of how the Iraq war has degraded and dehumanized everyone.

According to the Weekly Standard, army investigators say Pvt. Beauchamp has now signed a statement recanting his lurid anecdotes. And even the New Republic's editors concede the IED-victim mockery took place in Kuwait, before Pvt. Beauchamp ever got to Iraq.

They don't seem to realize this destroys the entire premise of the piece, which is meant to be about the dehumanization of soldiers in combat. Pvt. Beauchamp came pre-dehumanized. Indeed, he was writing Iraq atrocity fantasies on his blog back in Germany. It might be truer to say he was "dehumanized" by American media coverage. In this, he joins an ever lengthening list of peddlers of fake atrocities, such as Jesse MacBeth, an Army Ranger who claimed to have slaughtered hundreds of civilians in a mosque. He turned out to be neither an Army Ranger nor a mass murderer.

There are many honorable reasons to oppose the Iraq war, but believing that our troops are sick monsters is not one of them. The sickness is the willingness of so many citizens of the most benign hegemon in history to believe they must be.

As Pogo said, way back in the 1971 Earth Day edition of a then-famous comic strip, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Even when we don't do anything: In the post-imperial age, powerful nations no longer have to invade and kill. Simply by driving a Chevy Suburban, we can make the oceans rise and wipe the distant Maldive Islands off the face of the Earth. This is a kind of malignant narcissism so ingrained it's now taught in our grade schools. Which may be why, even when the New Republic's diarist goes to Iraq and meets the real enemy, he still assumes it's us.

Always a treat...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

If It's Sunday, It's Meet The Press Left!

David Gregory hosted Meet the Press this AM and wanted to provide some comments.

First, the show featured Harold Ford & Markos "Screw 'em" Moulitsas of the whackjob site DailyKos. Interestingly, Markos appears to be for a federalist approach when it comes to political candidates and not when it comes to policies. He argued that the Dem parties in each of the states and districts should lead the effort in selecting their candidates and that he would not be so arrogant to select their candidates for them. On the other hand, when it comes to sweeping federal legislation that forces any number of progressive policies on the country, Markos doesn't see any problem with that.

And while Kos put on a good show about not having a prob with the "Blue Dog Democrats," his site has always targeted the Blue Dogs for political destruction. For example, the Senate Dems' support of FISA reform - a reform which makes our ability to protect ourselves and fight alQaeda - was a big problem for the Kossacks and they strategized on how to "primary out" those Senators (see here, here, and here).

And, the entire time that Kos was on TV the following ran through my head:

Why can't Markos get a haircut from someone who can cut in a straight line?


Harold Ford must be thinking to himself "I can't believe that we have to pander to this amateur... If we get more successes like Markos' Ned Lamont campaign, we're toast!"

After the Kos/Ford discussion (without any questions from the right), Gregory hosted a panel of 3 liberals (not including himself) and Byron York to discuss the Repulican party prospects.

Nah, no such thing as bias in the media...


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler