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We are all shitheads now

When I first heard the "We are all (insert name of plucky little hard-done-by country here) now" meme, I was put out by it. It was a little too simplistic an expression of empathy for the victims of the 9-11 tragedy, and besides, it was a bit bass-ackwards, seeing as 9-11 was more like a cold shower of welcome-to-the-world reality for Americans. So when Le Monde proclaimed that "we are all Americans now", my first thought was, I'm unspeakably sad for those whom this has affected, but count me the fuck out of "we". I'm still a Canadian and a citizen of the world, and no amount of terrorism is gonna change that!

Nearly five years later, I still feel that way; if anything, even more so. I was not "Americanized" by 9-11 and neither, it turned out, was the rest of the world, much to the dismay and horror of certain wingnutty Americans. Once the war drums started beating and people all over the planet saw through the Bush Crime Cartel's con, the goodwill wore out its welcome fast. I'm sure the French regretted their "nous sommes tous Americains" lapse, particularly when they took an anti-war stance on Iraq and got gleefully slagged by the more ignorant among les Americains. Suddenly, French fries were freedom fries, French toast was freedom toast, nobody was French-kissing anymore, and well-heeled boycotteurs were making a big show of dumping French wine (for which they still had to pay a pretty centime) down the gutter. Some of the more radical of them were even eschewing Brie cheese (quel fromage!) They utterly forgot who gave them their cherished Statue of Liberty. Strangely, though, I missed all the Dior-dumpings and Chanel-burnings. If anyone knows whether there even were any, kindly drop a line in the Comments section below this thread.

I was ever so touched when, a little over a year ago, the British were hit by the Cold Shower of Welcome-to-the-World themselves, and the wingnuts decided to pick up the "we are all..." meme and pasted Union Jacks all over their fly-blown blogs and fora. Who knew that a few bombs in the London Underground could be such a crazy-glue for international bonding among the otherwise hopelessly self-absorbed American Right? (They were quick to retract the comradely sentiment from Spain, however, after les espagnols, hard on the heels of the Madrid bombings, got fed up with a conservative regime that didn't listen to their strong protests against the Iraq war, and elected a Socialist as their new prime minister. So much for empathy with the terror-stricken.)

And I was moved beyond words when the "freedom-loving" 'tards decided to express solidarity for the right of the ruling class of Danes to maintain its bigotry (laughably termed "freedom of speech") in the aftermath of a certain cartoon fiasco. Never mind that the "story" which provoked the fiasco turned out to have been a massive heap of merde. Suddenly, Danish flags were bristling all over the blogtardosphere, and some of the silliest 'wingers were making a big deal out of eating Havarti cheese. We are all Danes now, the rallying cry went--even if "we" couldn't speak the language or find the place on a map to save their lives!

Now, I aced Old Norse at university, and would probably have a much easier time getting around in Copenhagen than all these shameless self-promoters put together. But I'm damned if I'm gonna go calling myself a Dane, now or ever, over something so patently ludicrous. Blatant bigotry, no matter what rhetoric you dress it in, is simply NOT free speech. Denunciation of such bigotry is. But trust some people not to know the difference--or worse, those who should know better, to pit one kind of bigotry against another in the name of "freedom".

But here's the latest mutation of this absurd meme: We are all Israelis now. Both Ken Mehlman and Larry Kudlow have tossed this cheap line out within the last 24 hours. Three guesses as to why.

Well, I am NOT an Israeli now, either. Although my sympathies lie strongly with Uri Avnery and the good folks of Gush Shalom, I am not joining the fictitious "we" who are always dishonestly honorary denizens of whatever gallant little country is the right-wing radical chic du moment. (Lebanon, unquestionably much harder hit by the current catastrophe than Israel, doesn't rate a "we are all Lebanese now"; the whole country is being held beneath contempt by any good herd-following neo-con, although ironically enough, Mr. Cheap-Rhetoric Kudlow did pull this schtick just last year, trying to cash in on the death of Rafik Hariri.)

And tell me--when's the last time you heard a 'winger say "we are all citizens of Darfur now"? Try googling that, and bonne chance.

What will "we" all be tomorrow? I don't know, but I wouldn't hold my breath for that wingnut "we" to ever count themselves as citizens of the world. That's too large a country, and not gallant, plucky and patronizable enough. They are only "with" any given country long enough to score their cheap political points off it. Once the chic wears off, they forget they were ever Brits, or Danes, or Israelis, or what have you. They revert right back to being the worst kind of Ugly American, with all the attendant xenophobia.

"We" are all shitheads, now and forever.

Comments

The strategy is as Hitler or any other authoritarian has used since time immemorial is "We are all the victim now." Without making the public fearful of an enemy, they cannot rally them to hate a group for political gain.

So when you here this phrase "We are all _______ now," know that you are being baited to hate some group for the actions of a few individuals and not just garnering sympathy for the victims. For as you so aptly stated, if it was just about support for victims, we would all be people of Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti or Indonesia.

Goddess forbid that you point this out or get in the way of this hatred as France did in refusing to help in the invasion of Iraq or you will be considered the enemy as well.

"...All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Goering, April 18, 1946, while awaiting the Nuremberg trials.


Even though this Nazi, knowing he would soon die, confessed how he and his leader came to power, many Americans can't seem to see it being used on them even now. The right-wing when confronted with this quote often see it as a good thing. I have seen one person on one forum agree with it. He even had the gall to still call himself a good American soldier afterwards.

Gall...yep, that's exactly what it is. When you agree with a Nazi on anything and excuse it as being something nobler than the fascist-sympathizing it is, you have gall. Anyone who says "you're either with us or against us" is no better. Taking the side of peace is NOT "appeasement"--siding with warmongers out of a false sense of righteousness is!

I guess you probably wouldn’t get behind the “we are all Venezuelans now” meme either.

I think we honestly deserve our own meme in light of the absolute catastrophe we brought about as a result of our own stupidity (mine including) in voting for Hugo out of spite for the 4th republic’s indefensible performance.

But I want to ask you something, how can you tell us all with a straight face that you despise the American government when you condescendingly sponsor the Venezuelan regime? I am not defending/praising the ultra-right wing fascist government of the north I am questioning your loyalty to the self-proclaimed left-winger fascist regime of the south.

Explain to me why you support someone that produced two of the most sophisticated methods of persecution and repression of dissent in the hemisphere, namely the Maisanta software and Tascon lists.

Enlighten me how you can wholeheartedly endorse a regime that controls every aspect of society: the comptroller, general attorney, ombudsman, the entire national assembly, electoral council, justice tribunal, they are all either unanimously or overwhelmingly chavista, is this a functional democracy? Can there be a one-party and one-leader democracy?

How can you stand behind a man that advocates the politicization of education since kindergarten, our minister of education said that teachers must pass down the values of the revolution to our children, what are these values? In a revolution devoid of ideas I challenge you to explain their ideology

I also would like to know why you would lend your support to a man that while living in a country where well over half the population lives under the poverty line, spends billions of US$ in militaristic purchases that would do nothing to deter an unlikely attack from a world super-power, does nothing about rampant crime and bankrupts the national industry to the point where we import everything and went from 11,000 companies registered in 1998 to slightly over 4,000 now

Feel free to contact me, I would love a debate of ideas without disqualifying the other person’s point of view; we happen to agree on a few international issues

No, SV, I'm still a Canadian and citizen of the world now; sorry to disappoint you! (LOL)

BTW, there is no such thing as a "left-wing fascist"; the two terms cancel each other out. So don't pull any linguistic funny business on me; words mean things, and fascism is strictly of the right.

Yes, the country is still impoverished; I would like to remind you that 500 years of slavery and exploitation, topped by 40 years of virtual dictatorship by predatory capitalists and corrupt oil barons, takes longer to undo than you seem to think it should. A lot of those living below the poverty line are displaced campesinos. And the big landowners who drove them out are using Colombian paramilitaries (illegal immigrants!) to ensure that they remain displaced. There are a lot of whacked-up political structures that have got to go, and that won't go overnight, particularly since rule of law is still respected (even when the law dates from a bad era.) Better legislation is needed, and so's an uncorrupted enforcement system. That too takes time. It's tempting to say the army should be sent in to rout those latifundistas, but that would only raise more ire and feed the "Chavez is a fascist" meme that you've already swallowed to your detriment. So no, it has to be done legally and peacefully, and those things just take more time. (Not to mention the setting-up of farming co-ops, which is progressing remarkably fast, considering; read Venezuelanalysis, they keep up on this regularly.)

All the money can't go into social programs, although I think more of it should and could; it's worked a lot of progress already, and that progress has to be defended against those who would turn back the clock. We saw in 2002 what they were determined to do, did we not? Hence my support of the military purchases; I'm a civilian and a pacifist, but I'm not naive. An undefended Venezuela will fall victim to real fascists in no time, and with huge casualties. Chavez himself has said that there's a lot of old military hardware bought by the 4th Republic that's absolutely worthless (bought, no doubt, to enrich a US-based arms trader crony or two); I don't hear you condemning that. Perhaps you missed it? He told it to Aleida Guevara...

No, the US is not "unlikely to attack" at all. I have a hunch that they would if they didn't already have their hands full with their designs on Iran (which has 9% of the world's proven oil supplies at last count, and it's the easier-to-refine light crude as opposed to Venezuelan heavy). Watch "Llaguno Bridge" sometime. In it, you'll hear a victim's lawyer ask the pertinent question: Why was police commissioner Lazaro Forero talking on the phone to the US ambassador during the worst firefight on April 11, 2002? And why were the "freedom-loving" United States, like the corporate Venezuelan media, so quick to get behind that right-wing, TRULY fascist coup? To me, the answer is obvious: They were behind it all along. Google the names of Charles Shapiro, Ronald McCammon and James Rodger, if you don't believe me. These people don't have military attaches in Canada, so why Venezuela? And why in, of all places, the military headquarters at Fuerte Tiuna?

I would refer you to Oil Wars for the answers to your other "questions" (which seem to me more like aggression and hostility in the guise of debate) but I know you from there, and if you ignore what he has to say, even though he's been on the ground down there and seen the difference with his own eyes, then nothing I tell you can convince you otherwise. He's already repeatedly debunked the Tascon and Maisanta lies you refer to, along with your skewed economic figures. Perhaps you might like to turn to http://www.venezuelanalysis.com instead?

As to why I despise the US regime and what it's doing to its "client" states, it should be obvious to anyone with eyes in his head. If you're from Venezuela and you originally supported Chavez as you claim, you should know the answer to that one already.

Let me address your very first concern, I fully acknowledge that it must be hard talking to someone that so bluntly counters what you stand for but I always weigh my words before I start writing, if you had taken the courtesy of reading my post thoroughly before you started countering my arguments, you would realize I called Hugo a “self-proclaimed left-winger” and then I called him a “fascist”. I never said he was a “left wing fascist” as you claimed.

This is simply because I believe that having a few social programs of dubious results in place, blabbering about socialism and making out with Fidel doesn’t make you a socialist or a left-winger, they have Medicare and social security in the “evil empire” but they are the epitome of capitalism.

However it might be worth it to review the definition of fascism, I struggled to try and find a source you would not disqualify so I checked your profile

There it says you took the political compass test, so let me define fascism borrowing their words:

“…Fascism is a particular structure of government. Fascism legally sanctions the persecution of a particular group within the country - political, ethnic, religious - whatever. So within Nazism there are elements of fascism, as well as militarism, capitalism, socialism etc. To tar all socialists with the national socialist brush is as absurd as citing Bill Gates and Augusto Pinochet in the same breath as examples of free market capitalism…”

A structure of government, not an ideology, that’s why the political compass returns a bi-dimensional coordinate, not a single left-right value!

I know we disagree on our views of the Maisanta software and Tascón lists, in my opinion they are a text book case of fascism if I ever saw one.

To answer your question: I am a Venezuelan citizen born and raised in Venezuela and I moved to the “evil empire” only recently, I go back and forth every year and I speak with my family (all of whom still reside in Caracas) every Sunday on the telephone and more often via email/IM. I think whoever runs Oil Wars has very little to teach me about the Venezuelan ways because he isn’t a Venezuelan himself (I believe he is married to one though), and no matter how often you travel down there, it can’t possibly be the same as living among us and his exposure is/has been certainly more limited than mine. I still read him, but I take his words for what they are, nothing more.

Also, moving on, the whole line of argumentation regarding the coup in 2002 is a moot point; the coup was wrong, period. An important sector of the opposition (including me) condemned it and in my view atrocities were committed by both the coupsters and those that executed the Plan Avila to repress the protests, don’t forget this all started as a peaceful protest AGAINST Hugo which got later sequestered by Pedro Carmona and his cronies with their own ridiculous authoritarian agenda.

Also the participation of the USA in the coup is quite obvious, my response to that is “so what?” that doesn’t give Hugo a license to destroy my country; two wrongs don’t make a right.

Hugo doesn’t understand that the opposition is extremely diverse, we encompass from the ultra-leftist Bandera Roja to the right-wingers of Proyecto Venezuela and Primero Justicia including NGOs and people like me in the middle, this is a strength and a weakness at the same time, if Hugo has a popularity of 55% where do you think lies the remaining 45%?. His black-and-white portrayal of the opposition Vs. himself sounds a lot like Bush’s remarks that the world should either be with him or against him, if you cant see this then you have swallowed an excess of chavista propaganda “to your own detriment” (borrowing your words)

And finally, wasn’t Chile similarly exploited for 500 years blah-blah and had to even endure the likes of Pinochet blah-blah and now has an enviably free market society whose economy is booming with a lot less poverty than Venezuela (without any oil) and a social security system that works? History doesn’t condemn us to failure, we do it ourselves; just like we did when we voted for Hugo!

I am sorry you misinterpreted my passion for hostility, I’ll try to keep it on check, but do keep in mind that we Venezuelans are emotional creatures.

Okay, you've had your chance to spread disinfo; now, I'm countering it.

First of all, you DID say "left-winger fascist"; check your original post.

Secondly, America's medicare and social security systems are a mess. And the Repugs are doing their damnedest to dismantle what little remains of both. Not profitable enough, you see. So yes, they are the epitome of capitalism--RAPTOR capitalism. Not good, and not socialist by a long shot.

Funny, too, how you used the Political Compass test to undermine yourself and your accusations that Chavez is a "left-winger fascist". Newsflash: socialists and fascists have nothing in common. Except that the latter sometimes appropriates the word "socialist" in order to appeal to the working class, whom they secretly despise.

Meanwhile, your "evidence" that Chavez is persecuting a particular sector of his country is still pitifully weak. Again, the Tascon/Maisanta bullshit has been debunked, by OW and others. And if you don't believe me, read:

http://venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1590

Tascon and Chavez both have come out publicly saying that the list was only to verify fraudulent opposition signature-gathering tactics during the referendum, NOT to blacklist anyone. They both object strenuously to the way some have used it. And the Maisanta "software" came up a blank for me as far as reliable news sources go. But way to attempt deflection from the opposition's blatant frauds, pal.

As for the "peaceful" opposition march, I'm afraid it was nothing of the sort. It was caught on tape in its true colors, but that tape was censored because the oppos turned crassly violent, particularly when they passed into pro-Chavez neighborhoods in the centre of town. The fact that the major media didn't broadcast the "peaceful" oppos looting, rampaging, vandalizing and flinging rocks and acid at Chavistas, just speaks to THEIR agenda, which was to promote the coup. "Llaguno Bridge" shows that march in a whole other light, however, by pulling up the raw footage that was heavily edited and censored. The media presented the shooters on the bridge as the assassins of the marchers, but the march never got within three blocks of the bridge. What did, were the police riot trucks, and those trucks were under the command of an opposition mayor and his thugs. The PM fired on unarmed Chavistas and killed more of them than even the oppos (who were, tragically, killed by snipers among their own and not Chavistas at all, as was repeatedly claimed--fraudulently--later.) The Llaguno shooters were doing what they could to prevent a massacre of dozens from turning into one of hundreds. They did not fire on any oppositionists, only the police and the undercover snipers hiding on the roof of the Hotel Eden.

Plus, there's the little matter of a couple of opposition marchers who were shot when their march was nowhere near any known Chavista hotspot; they had only just set out from Chuao on the "new" course (which the leaders had illegally planned all along). One of them, a professor named Carmen Blanca Leon de Guedes, was shot at point-blank range in the leg. The emergency doctor who treated her remarked that there was a powder tattooing around the wound. That means she was shot from within the "peaceful" march itself; no one else could have been in range. Another marcher was also shot and apparently taken to hospital along with her. I somehow doubt the shooter was a Chavista.

BTW, Plan Avila wasn't anything more than the army's existing, nonpartisan plan to protect the palace in the event of a coup. You can't condemn them for doing their job; at any rate, no shots were fired. That's pretty amazing for a military plan. And hey! The prisoners taken had all their human rights guaranteed by the Attorney General and the Ombudsman. How fascist!

Your "so what" is telling, too. If two wrongs don't make a right, then why condemn Chavez for doing the RIGHT thing all along? He gave himself up for arrest so no one would get killed, as I recall. This was in accordance with Fidel Castro's advice not to "immolate" himself. He did not, however, resign. Meaning, he was taken prisoner unlawfully, since there was no "power vacuum"; he was president throughout. Seems to me that you're praising the coup with faint condemnation.

As for "destroying the country"--good joke! Considering that all honest sources are reporting a lot of IMPROVEMENT, not decline, I'd say you're projecting a lot of wishful thinking there. But nice try!

And the "diversity of the opposition" (or its FRAGMENTATION) is old news to me. As is the diversity of Chavismo, which I understand is NOT a one-party phenomenon. Your point? Still doesn't touch the fact that he's miles ahead of his nearest opponent. He must be doing something right if after seven years, he's still this popular. Must be that economic disaster you claim he created (which is nonexistent.)

And Chile's "economic miracle" is remarkably unimpressive:

http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=16&row=2

http://209.200.101.189/publications/CSQ/csq-article.cfm?id=1840

http://www.coha.org/NEW_PRESS_RELEASES/New_Press_Releases_2004/04.100%20Chile%20the%20one.htm

http://www.geocities.com/capitolHill/1931/secC11.html

It still has incredibly high poverty rates compared to before the coup--or oh, say, CANADA. So much for the "enviably free market society" (which I for one do NOT envy, as I'm living in a healthier one.) When for many people the "choice" is a choice between food, housing or medicine, it's not an economic miracle or a boom, but a fairy-tale fizzle. Pinochet doubled the poverty rate and nearly sextupled unemployment rates from what they'd been under Allende. And they're still high. If that's a "working" social security system, I'm the queen of Spain. Sure, they have no oil; there, it's copper. Different mineral, same troubles. Chile's an oft-cited posterchild for privatization, but the reality belies the claims. Venezuela, on the other hand, looks to be socialism's best-kept secret of success; I wonder why? (Yoohoo...media tycoons...have I got a story for you!)

Now, on to brighter things: You mentioned you agreed with me on some points. Which ones, and in what way?

WOW! Conservatives can't seem to tolerate a leader that doesn't demand loyalty from his people. So much so they have to invent stories that he is doing just that in order to discredit him. This screams projection to me. If this was a right-wing president promising to protect the wealthy and keep the status-quo by making the means to climb out of poverty all but impossible to obtain in exchange for loyalty from the elite, you wouldn't hear a peep from people like SV. I mean Chaves has pledged loyalty to the people and put his plan up for a vote how many times now? Can anyone be so delusional to believe there is really anything as a totalitarian or fascist populist (sounds like an oxymoron to me) and that there are large numbers of people that enjoy being told how to live their lives or that poverty is something you have to live with? It seems far more likely that there are a few people with wealth and power that enjoy telling all others with none how to live their lives. This is the core issue your interlocutor has danced around, but never really answered, 'Bina. He or she seems to think that Venezuela had it really good or at least better before Chaves and now he is destroying it. This is so absurd as to be laughable and shows that this must be one of those Venezuelans that had it good while the other 61% of the population were living in object poverty. Of course, admitting his or her family can afford a personal computer for email makes that obvious. For it is the wealthy elite and middle class who are now being asked to pay a fairer share of taxes now.

The facts show Chaves has significantly decreased poverty. Making schooling and health care free alone has given hope to the poor of Venezuela. http://www.cepr.net/publications/venezuelan_poverty_rates_2006_05.htm The idea that Chaves is spending all of Venezuela's money on weapons and driving the economy into the ground is absurd as well. Supplying a basic national defense isn't authoritarian; it is a basic function of government. And how can forcing corporations to pay a fair tax or telling big oil that the oil assets of Venezuela belong to the Venezuelans be bad for Venezuela? The profits of these corporations were not staying in Venezuela, but were funneled to other countries like the U.S. or benefited only the elite in Venezuela. Never mind that the biggest downturn in the Venezuelan economy occurred when opponents of Chaves shut down the oil industry. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1913893.stm

"Regrettably, empirical studies reveal, however, that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, antiequality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral." -- John Dean, Conservatives without a Conscience

It would seem this would apply to conservatives around the world and not just in America.

Wren,

I would strongly recommend that you stop trying to fit me into whatever stereotype you have been forced fed of what an oppositionist is. As I write this I find myself trying to repress the urge to ignore your ridiculous ranting and personal attacks and just move on and let you simmer in the most abject ignorance and social hatred.

But I think it is more constructive to try and debunk a few myths and lies you have so readily swallowed. So I find myself writing again:

First of all both of my parents are orphans my father grew up in Anzoátegui state (north-east) and my mother in Carabobo state (north-center), for the most part they had a rural upbringing, my father bought his very first B&W TV barely in time to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969, he did so by saving his hard-earned checks working as an intern in a library.

It took them about 12 years to complete their college education not because they flunked their classes but because they couldn’t take a full load and sometimes they couldn’t even register due to an impending need to keep food on their families’ tables, my dad has 5 siblings he took care of and my mother had 3.

Yes, we are a middle class family now and I am extremely proud of being one, it was a testament to the generosity of a land of opportunities and to their dedication and hard-work, I know of very few developing countries were 2 orphan kids could climb the social ladder and be upstanding middle class citizens. If they could, anyone could, the opportunities were there! It only took hard-work! Having some hard-earned money is not a crime regardless of what Hugo says.

BTW Hugo did say “ser rico es malo” which translates to “being rich is wrong”

So I’d appreciate it if you didn’t demean their massive effort by assuming we have some ill-acquired wealth to protect or that we didn’t pay our taxes or obeyed the law or that we want nothing but to crush that 61% of people that still live under the poverty line. It is perfectly possible to be a good moral person who loves Venezuela and still not be in agreement with you and Hugo.

And yes, my mother has a Pentium III laptop she barely knows how to use and is terrified of (it was a gift from me so we could keep in touch), don’t be so condescending to think that if someone south of Rio Grande owns a PC it means we belong to the economic elite that governed from 1958 to 1998, your stereotypes aren’t so accurate when they get confronted with facts, are they?

Now about the points you made:

a) Education has been not only free but compulsory in my country since at least 1961 and health services have also been free of charge. In fact, the first heart transplant was performed in a public hospital (Hospital Pérez Carreno, 1987) much before Hugo seized power and 5 years prior to his bloody coup d’etat. Our health system was the envy of the developing world and there are plenty of references you can find online about this point.

b) Please, do some research about how the formula used to calculate the poverty line was changed during Hugo’s presidency; it currently takes in consideration the impact of social programs whereas before it did not. I am not opposed to this new way of measuring poverty but you must concede it is unfair to compare pre-1999 numbers with Hugo’s numbers.

c) I don’t hear you saying anything about the huge downturn our economy experiences in 1992 due to not one but two coup d’etats led by Hugo and his cronies.

Also, that is one great quote, how does this not apply to Hugo?

"Regrettably, empirical studies reveal, however, that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, antiequality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral." -- John Dean

I invite you to visit my blog at suffolkjournal.blogspot.com in a day or two so you can get a little more insight into his authoritarian tendencies

I am currently writing a blog entry loosely based on some writing of presidential candidate Teodoro Petkoff on what he calls “Hugo Chavez’s proto-totalitarianism”

And finally, not that it matters a lot but just so you know, his name is “Hugo Chávez”, not “Hugo Chaves”

Salud!

Well, SV, perhaps you misunderstimate my friend Wren, but I wouldn't advise it. Typos on Chavez's name notwithstanding (check where S and Z are in relation to each other on your keyboard), he's not dumb. He's been following what I posted both here and elsewhere, which in turn is drawn from reliable sources. (I wouldn't dream of insulting my readers' intelligence with anything less!)

I looked up the horrifying quote you attribute to Chavez, but interestingly, it only seems to appear prominently on the most rabidly oppositionist pages. Coincidence? I suspect that it was either made up by someone who wished he said it, or else taken grossly out of context, much as his remark about "those who crucified Christ" was taken out of the context which also included Simon Bolivar. (You can spare me the "authoritarian" canard; I happen to know for a fact that Venezuelan press censorship of "anti-president" remarks is not what it used to be under the 4th Republic, and in fact your new libel laws are no worse than Canada's--and less enforced, to boot!)

Of course, he may very well have said it; I wouldn't be surprised. But the hunch I have is that he meant that it is inconscionable to be insanely rich at the expense of others, and that one country's wealth cannot be concentrated in the hands of a few, no matter what noises they make about how "hard" they "worked" for it. In which case, he's dead right! (What context did he say it in? You don't say. Maybe because it would undermine your point?)

In any event, "middle-class" isn't "rich" by any stretch of the imagination, unless one grows up with a grossly skewed notion of what is rich and what is poor. The kind of skew you might get from extreme Third World conditions, maybe, but which are inexcusable in anyone with pretentions to middle-classness.

Some interesting reading for you, in both languages:

http://foros.prensa.com/cgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=000274;p=0

"Hamol" does a rather good job of demolishing the oppo myth; it's kind of hard to argue with numbers that come from UNESCO and the World Bank (rather than the Venezuelan opposition, which is notoriously loose with the facts and figures.)

And this one, Wren will also enjoy:

http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1613

Call it "nature of the beast".

And there's this, which is quite impartially analyzed:

http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1051

BTW, it's quite disingenuous of you to blame the economic downturn of the '90s on Chavez's coup attempt, which came in part as a response to the Caracazo of 3 years earlier. The economy was in decline long before Chavez decided that enough was enough. And shame on you for not mentioning what the real cause of that trouble was:

http://strata.geol.sc.edu/petroleum/Chronology%20of%20World%20Oil%20Market%20Events%201970%20-%202000.htm

Gulf War I and the crushing of OPEC by Reagan are the leading factors in that big dip, as is the switch-over to non-OPEC oil sources. For an OPEC member nation, that can lead to disaster, especially since oil prices were out of Venezuelan state control (apparently with the full blessing of those same parties that are now oppositionist rumps). Chavez doesn't even rate a mention!

As for Teodoro Petkoff, LOL. He's so "anti-authoritarian" that he doesn't even want to run in a primary.

Please note that this is not to take anything away from what your parents achieved, but it's criminal to keep putting roadblocks in the way of OTHER people achieving those things with greater ease and in less time. And I don't see Chavez doing that, but I'm sure there are plenty of oppos who would in a heartbeat--after all, it keeps wages down and more profit in their own pockets!

SV, I'm very glad to hear that your parents were able to make it out of poverty with hard work, but to say that if they could make it, anyone can is very narrow-minded. It sounds as if you have a lot of contempt for the poor. It is as if you are saying that if they just worked harder they could all make it. That can never be the case. There is only so much wealth in any economy. If all the poor were to make it out of poverty through hard work, that wealth would have to come from others in that economy.

"BTW Hugo did say “ser rico es malo” which translates to “being rich is wrong”'

Yeah, and Jesus Christ said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Does that mean Jesus was an authoritarian, too?

As far as the education and healthcare system is concerned, it was and is still free. Only now many, many more have been given access to it. Can you call a system free if you don't even have access to it? And I believe the research article I posted discussed the effect of the improved access to healthcare of the poor.

"Also, that is one great quote, how does this not apply to Hugo?

"Regrettably, empirical studies reveal, however, that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, antiequality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral." -- John Dean"

Hmm, let's see. Antidemocratic? Nope. Chavez holds elections with international observers.
Antiequality? Helping the poor kills that one, I'm afraid.
Prejudiced? Hmm, I don't think it's Chavez that calls the poor in Venezuela ‘monos.’
Mean spirited? I guess so if you think taking from the rich that can more than afford it and giving to the poor is mean spirited.
Power hungry? A little hard to do with free and fair internationally observed elections. With unobserved elections that don't match exit polls, maybe, but that is what we have here in the U.S.
Machiavellian? Hmm has Chavez said things that he has no intention of doing in order to obtain political power? Has he used and inflamed differences in certain segments of the population to form wedge issues? Being an American, I can tell you thing or two about having a Machiavellian head of state.
Amoral? I haven't see any wars started by Chavez. I haven't seen him make huge cuts in social services for the poor to give the well-off tax cuts.

And as for the Chaves typos, you will have to forgive me. It was very late here when I posted that. Check the time stamp. I believe 'Bina has this site set to Eastern Time and that is the same time zone I live in as well.