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Worst Chavez Obit

[ 127 ] March 7, 2013 |

The coverage of Hugo Chavez’s death has been almost universally terrible. But this piece from Associated Press business reporter Pamela Simpson takes the cake:

Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.

The true sign of national greatness–absurdly large skyscrapers and nice things for rich people.

This sums up much about the business community’s beliefs in 2013. Health care and education for the poor is a waste of money. Glitter and income inequality, that’s the ticket.

Jim Naureckas with more:

In case you’re curious about what kind of results this kooky agenda had, here’s a chart (NACLA, 10/8/12) based on World Bank poverty stats–showing the proportion of Venezuelans living on less than $2 a day falling from 35 percent to 13 percent over three years. (For comparison purposes, there’s a similar stat for Brazil, which made substantial but less dramatic progress against poverty over the same time period.)

Of course, during this time, the number of Venezuelans living in the world’s tallest building went from 0 percent to 0 percent, while the number of copies of the Mona Lisa remained flat, at none. So you have to say that Chavez’s presidency was overall pretty disappointing–at least by AP’s standards.

The new Gilded Age indeed.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball provided its own classy moment, refusing to honor the request of the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team for a moment of silence before an exhibition game against the Marlins.

Given that Jeffrey Loria is a far greater monster than Hugo Chavez could ever dream of being, this is particularly egregious. But at least Major League Baseball can now return to the unregulated exploitation of young Venezuelan boys.

Comments (127)

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  1. John Protevi says:

    I think this is a clever bid to catch the Onion’s attention after her previous job apps were ignored.

  2. somethingblue says:

    Like I said, they’re not even pretending any more.

  3. Sherm says:

    He wasn’t always a bad guy in the eyes of MLB.

  4. Shakezula says:

    Wow. Pity we’ll never see the wonders this dumbfucktress could have worked with Mother Theresa’s obit. A comparison to the fabulous life of Gloria Vanderbilt perhaps?

  5. I thought Juan Cole did a pretty decent job of getting at both why Chavez was loved by most of his country and why he was still a pretty bad actor internationally:

    http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/venezuela-middle-chavez.html

    “Whatever one thought of Chavez, he did genuinely improve the lot of the Venezuelan working classes. He won elections and was genuinely popular for this reason. He appears not to have been able to imagine that Khamenei, Ghaddafi and al-Assad are rather less interested in an ideal like the public welfare.”

    • shah8 says:

      OPEC, man, remember, cuddling around with petrodictators and flattering them was part of his job. We don’t say much when our president cuddle around with people with notable death counts, to count a very minor example, Paul Kagame, who’s usefully anti-France in a Francophone part of Africa. Not to mention any of the heads of the GCC.

      And what truly gets my goat is that Tony Blair was just far more evil with regards to Ghaddafi, and the extraordinary rendition process that used the jails of the Ghaddafy, Mubarak, and Assads of the world, well fucking far more evil than any show of solidarity and flattery by Chavez.

      And Juan Cole is ultimately not a trustworthy expert.

      • We don’t say much when our president cuddle around with people with notable death counts

        You do. I do.

        I guess the difference between us is that I continue to “say much” when an anti-American president does so.

      • Paula says:

        Why is Juan Cole no longer trustworthy?

        • Yeah, I’m gonna need some more on “Juan Cole is ultimately not a trustworthy expert”. I’ve been reading his blog for close to a decade now, and he’s never struck me as anything but humane, rational and well informed. If he’s on a Malaysian payroll, I’ll eat my hat.

          • Cole had the temerity to be against Gadhaffi, even though the United States was against him, too.

          • Chatham says:

            He’s been problematic in the past, that’s ultimately lead me to stop reading him. If you want examples, check out his excitement over the US invasion right after US troops entered the country, his claim that Iran was certain to get a nuclear weapon, his claim that those who said Iran would get a nuclear weapon were foolish, repeating (most likely false) claims by Asian Times reporter Pepe Escobar about a new non-sectarian anti-occupation movement that was spreading across southern Iraq “like wildfire” (no other mention of this was ever made, by him or others), his belief that DC’s height limits are a factor in Global Warming, etc.

            He can be a decent source for information, but he also says silly things at times and repeats unreliable reports when it suits him. I’ve taken to reading Angry Arab for my news about the region, though it should be noted that while he’s good, he’s very opinionated.

            • shah8 says:

              Personally, he rubs me the wrong way, in the sense that I think he’s shady. I can’t actually state stuff like Chatham above, but on certain topics, my reading of what he writes seems to tip off the bad faith alarm too often and too consistently. I.E., does what he say pass a “common sense” test. If not, why does it not sound right? And generally I get left with the feeling of unmentioned context that’s excluded from “balanced” articles that serve to get his audience to agree with him while thinking they considered the alternative proposal fairly.

              I don’t have concrete examples like Chatham, above, sorry.

              • Had a longer reply to Chatham that I screwed up and posted at the bottom. As for this:

                “Personally, he rubs me the wrong way, in the sense that I think he’s shady. I can’t actually state stuff like Chatham above, but on certain topics, my reading of what he writes seems to tip off the bad faith alarm too often and too consistently. I.E., does what he say pass a “common sense” test. If not, why does it not sound right? And generally I get left with the feeling of unmentioned context that’s excluded from “balanced” articles that serve to get his audience to agree with him while thinking they considered the alternative proposal fairly.”

                I’m genuinely not sure what you mean here. He’s an academic who routinely travels to the region and writes about it, both on-line and off. It’s hard to see where “bad faith” or “shady”-ness of any kind enter in.

            • Njorl says:

              All anti-density legislation intrinsically contributes, at least slightly, to global warming. DC’s laws probably are more significant than most anti-density laws. Did he make outlandish claims as to the degree of harm they caused?

              • Chatham says:

                DC’s laws have virtually no impact on its density, since the vast majority of developments are below the limit. Surrounding areas like Bethesda and Arlington have taller buildings and lower density. You can also compare it to other cities without the limit, that have much taller buildings and much lower density.

                Removing the height limit would lead to a more intrusive central business district, more money in the pockets of developers, and not much else.

            • Are you sure you’re not thinking of Matthew Yglesias?

              He’s the one who’s always banging on about DC height limitations.

              Juan Cole is a professor who teaches about Middle Eastern culture.

    • wengler says:

      Say what you will about Chavez hanging out with some bad actors, at least he never started a meaningless war that killed hundreds of thousands, bankrupted the country of trillions and then insisted the books be balanced on the old and the poor.

  6. Steve M. says:

    Is Dubai paying journalists to inject stuff like that into stories?

  7. Stag Party Palin says:

    Since I don’t know, I’ll ask – is what Simpson says true? Was more money spent on glitter?

  8. Sly says:

    Same as it ever was.

    But now the working poor can rent refrigerators and air conditioner units (at rates, over a period of years, above the cost to buy), so we don’t need to worry about them anymore.

  9. Hogan says:

    Chavez increasingly turned against the United States, although he continued to depend on the U.S. for oil revenue.

    Right, because if the US hadn’t bought that oil, no one else would have.

    Nice twist, though–it’s not that we’re dependent on foreign oil; it’s that foreigners are dependent on our oil spending.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      Nice twist, though–it’s not that we’re dependent on foreign oil; it’s that foreigners are dependent on our oil spending.

      And are they grateful? Like HELL they are.

      • I Crause says:

        Grateful for a history of exploitation and electoral sabotage?
        I was chatting to an ex-Marine in Bolivia a week or so back. He said ‘This is our toilet. We shit here. We shit here and they eat our shit’.

        These people are not stupid. They know this is their side of the ‘deal’.
        I’d say it may be you wise up and take the apple pie out of your ears.

    • blowback says:

      Chavez increasingly turned against the United States

      It couldn’t have anything to do with an event in 2002 which the article completely fails to mention.

    • Eli Rabett says:

      It was not buying the oil it was refining it. Most of the capacity to handle heavy oil such as comes from the Orinoco basin is in Houston, which is why the Canadians want the Keystone pipeline to go there.

      • Well, some of us think if they have to extract the damn stuff it would be nice if we’d build some refineries in Canada, but the foreign owners aren’t interested in that kind of thing so . . .
        Now if we only had publicly controlled oil, like Venezuela!

      • cpinva says:

        “Most of the capacity to handle heavy oil such as comes from the Orinoco basin is in Houston, which is why the Canadians want the Keystone pipeline to go there.”

        that, and it’s a hop & skip to gulf tankers taking that refined product out to the world market. something you never, ever see mentioned by supporters of the pipeline.

  10. daveNYC says:

    I can only imagine how hellish places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi would be if they put their money into education for their populace instead of giant-ass buildings, indoor ski resorts, and whatever other crazy stuff they bought and built.

    • JKTHs says:

      I don’t think AP business reporters would want to go there for sure.

    • John says:

      The tiny Gulf States (i.e., the Gulf States besides Saudi Arabia) actually put a lot of money into the welfare of their citizens. The problem there is that the vast majority of the inhabitants are not citizens.

      • mpowell says:

        This. They are the absurd corner case that messes with any account of who should control the mineral rights on a given piece of land according to liberal philosophical reason.

      • wengler says:

        And are beaten accordingly.

        • timb says:

          or shot by “visiting” Saudi Arabian troops

          Which, it should be noted, were invited to vacation there to help keep order and are so good at the average Gulf Arab thinks like this:

          “And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now.”

          “Yes, they certainly know how to keep order… (general nodding)… let’s face it, they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.”

          “Oh yeah, Reg, remember what the city used to be like.”

      • UserGoogol says:

        That, and even when you include the foreign workers, these are still small countries, and with a higher rate of oil produced per capita than Venezuela.

    • Jon Hendry says:

      “I can only imagine how hellish places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi would be if they put their money into education for their populace ”

      Don’t they do that already? The problem is more that they have lots of over-educated citizens with no jobs, and most of the low-end jobs are done by foreign laborers.

      • Anna in PDX says:

        Yes. The problem in Dubai is not that a large swathe of their citizens are poor, it is that foreign laborers have no rights and have a lot of problems.

    • alexander von humbug says:

      Needs moar despicable soccer teams.

  11. DrDick says:

    Given that Chavez was an avowed socialist who nationalized much of the oil industry and resisted domination by foreign corporations, I would hardly expect the business community to have anything nice to say about him. Even with that this is rather over the top.

    • montag says:

      Funny how this myth about nationalization persists. In fact, Venezuela nationalized its oil industry around the time that most OPEC nations did (1975), long, long before Chavez ever appeared on the scene. PDVSA has been around for over three decades.

      What people think was nationalization was actually Chavez sending in his own people to run PDVSA after a prolonged strike by the managers and technical staff, who had likely been stealing much of the proceeds and didn’t want that situation to change. Chavez got a lot of bad press for throwing out the managers, but, the following year, Venezuela got its first dividend from its share of Citgo in fourteen years, $400 million. That was, essentially, vindication for his actions, but that wasn’t reported nearly so widely.

    • wengler says:

      What’s even stranger is that Mexico has had nationalized oil for decades and no one seems to care. I’m thinking the right people are getting paid off.

      Hell, their oil HQ got blown up a month ago and people just shrugged their shoulders and looked the other direction.

      • They’ve ruled it a methane blast.

        A deadly blast that killed at least 37 people at Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City was caused by a build-up of gas, the government has said on Monday.

        The attorney general, Jesus Murillo, said no trace of explosives was found at the site of the disaster, the latest in a string of safety lapses to hit the oil monopoly. President Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking to push through a major overhaul of Pemex.

        We had a fire in a refinery in Richmond, CA a while back, but nobody paid attention to it as well, even though it will probably a strong affect on the price of gas and/or diesel fule here.

        • DrDick says:

          It is actually a small wonder that they have not yet blown Houston off the map with all the refinery accidents down there. Not that it would necessarily be a bad thing (except that my grandsons live in the metro area now).

        • A build-up of gas? There must have been a politician visiting.
          Really, it’s not that the corps haven’t pushed or the Mexican pols haven’t tried to privatize the oil fields. It’s just that public ownership of that stuff is such a sacred thing in Mexico they could touch off a revolution if they weren’t careful, so they keep getting cold feet.

      • Rob says:

        Its because Mexico could br counted on to cheat on OPEC, Chavez stopped Venezuala from doing so. This is why he has been hated.

        • ajay says:

          Its because Mexico could br counted on to cheat on OPEC, Chavez stopped Venezuala from doing so. This is why he has been hated.

          Wait, OPEC is a good thing now? An organisation that’s dedicated to rent-seeking in order to enrich some of the richest and most unpleasant people in the world, at the expense of some of the poorest? (Fuel costs as a percentage of total spending; who gets hurt?)

  12. c u n d gulag says:

    In Miami did Jeffrey Loria
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where a fishtank is the backstop,
    And where balls fly through the outfield,
    But don’t land in a sunny bay,
    Unlike San Fransisco – where balls,
    And water, and men in kayaks, play.

    And besides, no one can hit balls
    Past those outfield walls anymore,
    Since, as Jeffrey Loria always does,
    To cut his salary costs,
    He traded his best players away.

    A graceful player with a stick,
    A mitt, and fast legs,
    In a vision once he saw:
    He was a Dominical free agent from the Mets,
    And shortstop he played.

    And Loria did sign him,
    To help fill the pleasure dome he’d had built.
    But his Marlins didn’t win,
    And so, after one season,
    He went and traded him away.

    Because Jeffrey Loria ain’t Kubla Khan,
    He’s a shiftless grifter, and making
    More money, while sticking the residents
    Of Miami with the costs for his stately
    Pleasure dome, was always his plan.

  13. Ed K says:

    It’s all being articulated strictly from the point of view of Capital and its managerial class. Never, really, has there been a more picture perfect illustration of the effects of an ideological state apparatus: Chavez was a bad manager; Overall GDP growth lagged; he didn’t build enough fancy skyscrapers… So you see, his overall record was mixed. And that’s leaving aside the absolutely flat false trolling ‘nobody knows any better since this is some foreign country but this might make libruls worry about him bullshit’ that I’ve seen repeated over and over.

    The message that must be reinforced in any way possible: ‘governing in the interests of the broad mass of society, no way that could ever work.’

  14. xxy says:

    Clearly what Chavez should have done was lure 250,000 Indians to Venezuela, make them pay for the privilege to “work” there, confiscate their passports on arrival, settle them in inhumane camps, and build a society based on their practically free labor. Then every Venezuelan could live like a sheik. After all how can you have a Venezuelan underclass or working class when all the underclass and working class are Indian?

    • Cody says:

      Why didn’t we do this with Native Americans?

      Obviously, our forefathers really dropped the ball. Everyone knows you need to diversify your slavery portfolios. This involves renaming some to “laborers” who no one cares about.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Oh, our ancestors would have been happy to enslave Native Americans. But they died of disease first.

        • cpinva says:

          “But they died of disease first.”

          not quite true. the majority of the potomac tribes managed to survive, in spite of all the good things the jamestown settlers brought them. this is why they weren’t enslaved, and that dutch slaver was able to make a deal: supplies for african slaves.

          had the jamestown area natives wanted to, they could have easily destroyed the settlement, in spite of being “out gunned”, they just had a bigger population base, and the stockade was made of flammable wood which, in fact, finally did burn to the ground. it was more the northern tribes (see: colony, plymouth) that were reduced to near extinction, by disease, and that mostly happened before the english showed up, in 1621.

          • Brandon says:

            Mann’s 1491 is really interesting in this regard and cites estimates that as much as 90% of the indigenous population died due to disease before colonization ever really go going.

        • DrDick says:

          Our ancestors actually did enslave tens of thousands of Indians. There was a thriving Indian slave trade in South Carolina until the Yamassee War of 1715 (started because a Yamassee Indian was illegally enslaved). Fairly quickly after the beginnings of the transatlantic trade, most of the Indian slaves were exported to the Caribbean and exchanged for Africans. The French in Lousiana and Illinois also participated in this, even importing slaves from the Plains via the Missouri River.

          • witless chum says:

            New England developed a charming practice in the aftermath of King Phillip’s War where bands were invited to surrender on good terms and then summarily sold into slavery in the West Indies.

        • sparks says:

          My ancestors didn’t get here until 1921.

      • We tried. Do you really think the slave traders wanted to pay to import all those people from Africa, especially considering that half, or less, survived the boat trip?

      • Why didn’t we do this with Native Americans?

        Native Americans were frequently enslaved. The problem was, they tended to die off in huge numbers from diseases. The first sugar plantations in the Caribbean were worked by Native Americans. The Pequods of Connecticut were shipped to the islands for that purpose.

        Africans were only imported after the Native American populations crashed to far to provide the necessary labor supply.

        • cpinva says:

          “Africans were only imported after the Native American populations crashed to far to provide the necessary labor supply.”

          by who? the very first african slaves were brought to north america by the spanish, in the (i believe) 1580′s, to their settlement at the mouth of the pee dee river, in s. carolina, very far from ct. this settlement crashed and burned, long before the first attempted permanent english settlements, at roanoke & jamestown, were made. it’s not clear what happened to the african slaves from that spanish settlement.

          the next batch, which started the whole n. american african slave industry, was the dutch vessel landing at jamestown, in 1619, and trading african slaves for fresh supplies. this was still 2 years before the first english settlers landed at the plymouth colony, in 1621. so where did these ct. african slaves come from, and who brought them?

          the next batch

          • Didn’t you just answer your own question? The English brought the slaves to Virginia, the Spanish to the areas they settled, and the Dutch to New Amsterdam.

            Am I missing something?

          • Hogan says:

            There were African slaves in Mexico and the Caribbean well before that.

          • Sly says:

            The Portuguese, beginning around 1500.

            The Spanish relied on tribute labor of indigenous peoples for most of its economic exploitation of the Americas. Some merchants were granted an asiento, or a license to sell slaves to colonists in the New World, but the majority of labor was carried out by natives under the encomienda system; a Spaniard was given dominion over a particular group of natives by the Crown, and from that group he could demand tribute in the form of workers. Combined with massive deaths from disease and repeated revolts by the indigenous, particular among the Taino peoples of the Caribbean, the Spanish Crown abolished encomienda towards the middle of the 16th century.

            The English had some slaves, but relied mostly on indentured Europeans. The problem with indentures, however, was that they usually died from the harsh work and, if they survived, were owed a parcel of land from their employer. More and more Europeans didn’t want to become indentures, and more and more English colonists didn’t want to hire them, as time went on.

            The Portuguese, however, relied more directly on slave labor from the founding of its colonies in Brazil. It had extensive economic ties with various kingdoms in West Africa, and exploited those connections to purchase Africans and bring them to the Americas beginning around the turn of the 16th century. The English and Spanish simply followed their example after their own labor crisis emerged.

            And even then, only about 6% of all African slaves were taken to North America over the entire course of the Atlantic slave trade, the great bulk having been taken to Brazil and the Caribbean.

            • ironic irony says:

              Yes. Brazil received more African slaves than anyone else AND maintained that slavery longer than anyone else.

        • The derider says:

          Also it was easier for natives to run away because they had better knowledge of north American biomes and cultural practices, meaning they were more likely to survive and secure help when escaping. Natives were most successfully enslaved when they were transported to unfamiliar locations like Europe and the carribian.

          • ironic irony says:

            There were instances of African slaves escaping, often linking up with native populations or setting up their own “towns.” Palmares in Brazil in particular. But I haven’t heard of anything like that happening in N. America, though.

      • wengler says:

        In Latin America, they were successfully enslaved by the millions. In North America, there weren’t the big Amerindian empires and it was harder to create the sort of dislocation that is required to successfully enslave someone. The Indians could always raid and take their people back.

  15. KadeKo says:

    If we’re looking for what archaeologists will dig up and ask “Why the hell did these petrostates build this?” let’s not forget the Qatar World Cup.

  16. tomk says:

    This is from the linked article.

    “Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.”

  17. Malaclypse says:

    Tumbrels, now.

  18. PeakVT says:

    What makes the comparison between UAE and Venezuela so silly is that the per capita oil production is over 6 times as high in the UAE. (It’s even higher when you consider only citizens, as over 80% UAE residents are expats, mostly poor workers from South Asia countries.) So of course there’s more money left over in the UAE for shiny trinkets.

  19. John says:

    The offending sentence doesn’t even make sense. “But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities.” How are the various described social programs “gains”? On what terms are they even being compared to the “spectacular construction projects?” It’s not only evil, it’s also really bad writing.

  20. kris says:

    Dubai was built with mainly slave (or more politely indentured) labor. I guess this is the ideal of any true capitalist like Ms. Simpson. I don’t know much about Venezuela’s internal economy, but Mr. Chavez was a pretty bad international actor, and he also ran the risk of becoming another Robert Mugabe if he stayed in power for long enough.

    • acer says:

      You only count your own citizens. Did Pontius Pilate teach you nothing?

    • drkrick says:

      He ran the risk of becoming another Robert Mugabe in much the same sense that the second President Bush did. He was clearly in the authoritarian camp, but he never made it to the Castro level, let alone Mugabe. In terms of his record as an international actor, he was never consequential enough to count for much as either good or ill.

      • Utter nonsense on every front. Chavez gave the people more freedom not less, both legally and practically. On the legal front, Chavez’s constitution allows recalls of elected officials including the President, popular veto of legislation, popular initiation of legislation, rights far more extensive than the US constitution does; his labour laws vastly extended Venezuelan human rights, and on and on. On the freedom of speech side, on one hand Chavez didn’t extend a big company’s broadcast license, but on the other he opened up the airwaves to community participation, allowing masses of people to speak up freely who had never had the chance before. On the practical side, he helped millions of people own their own homes, register to vote, stop being blind, gain an education, eat, do all the things we take for granted but that you don’t have much effective freedom if you ain’t got ‘em.
        In terms of his record as an international actor, he revitalized OPEC and was the single greatest force leading Latin America to greater internal integration and independence from the United States, sidelining the US-dominated OAS in favour of CELAC which the US isn’t a member of, initiating the Bank of the South, Telesur, ALBA . . . whether you’re happy about that stuff or not, he’s been hugely influential.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m a horrendous human being.

    • Jenny, did you come here for the buckwheat special, or the Marxist hash browns?

      • UserGoogol says:

        It must be difficult being a troll who isn’t JenBob on this website. You work hard to piss people off and disrupt reasonable discussions, and they keep on saying you’re someone else. But at least they reward you with delicious breakfast treats.

      • Bill Murray says:

        who isn’t wookin’ pa nub after that buckwheat special

  22. montag says:

    Wonderful comparison of an apple to oranges. Dubai is a city state of about 1.75 million, while Venezuela is a country with enormous geological and biological diversity and a population of 30 million. Only about 20% of Dubai’s population are citizens, and most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of relatively few people and companies. Apart from about 100,000 expat Brits, most of the rest of the population is composed of immigrant workers who share none of that wealth and live in poverty.

    Nor did His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum have to recover from a coup sponsored by the West, nor suffer the capital flight that ensued with both Chavez’s election and the oil strike by corrupt managers–the strike alone in just a few months cost the country $16 billion. Despite being an agricultural country, Venezuela had to import 80% of its food, which is why the project to redistribute unused land was vital. Agriculture for many decades was a net drain on Venezuela’s economy, since both the main products, coffee and bananas, along with the profits left the country for Europe, and the devaluations due to the strike and capital flight made food imports even more expensive.

    What really got the U.S. and the U.K. all jacked up, though, was the new hydrocarbon law Chavez got passed. It put the extraction royalty for Orinoco crude at 16.67% (which is not any different than the 12.5% required in most parts of the U.S. for the private owner, and the four or five percent going to the states), but, they’d been previously getting it for as low as 1% under some previous Venezuelan governments. Chevron was still getting 70% of the profits for oil they pumped, but, under Chavez, they didn’t have the control over PDVSA they’d previously exerted and weren’t getting the estimated 84% of profits to which they were accustomed.

    But, maybe his biggest sin in the eyes of the neocons (and the neoliberals) of the U.S. was that he was doing business with Cuba, and mostly by bartering oil for medical and agricultural assistance. That undermined U.S. attempts to starve and sanction Cuba into submission, a very great sin, indeed.

    So, fuck the AP. Want to see how the West really treated Venezuela? Look for the documentary, “The Revolution Will Be Televised.”

    • ajay says:

      What really got the U.S. and the U.K. all jacked up, though, was the new hydrocarbon law Chavez got passed.

      I’m not aware that the UK government ever gave a damn about Chavez either way, but I could be wrong.

      • Dave says:

        That’s us Brits, always handy to have around for the receipt of any free-floating surplus of postcolonial rage you may have available.

  23. bradP says:

    Was clicking through the World Bank poverty charts that Naurekas piece linked to and I noticed that the headcounts at the poverty line look very different than the headcounts at the 1.25 and $2 lines:

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.NAHC/countries/BR-VE?display=graph

    Why is this?

    • JKTHs says:

      I haven’t really looked into it but I’d bet it has to do with the World Bank’s definition of poverty and what is included in income.

  24. Bruce Vail says:

    Funny, the right-wing media is going crazy about how pro-Chavez the MSM obits are.

  25. acer says:

    that is the sound of intellectual bankruptcy

  26. Joshua says:

    Why would you give a poor person food or the ability to go to a doctor when they are sick? Time spent eating or going to the doctor is time not spent on the assembly line.

    Besides, those poor people were filled with regret at the thought of never seeing a skyscraper they wouldn’t be allowed to walk into. By giving poor people food and medicine, you’re really just crushing their dreams.

  27. cpinva says:

    were i a poor cuban or venezuelan, i’d have happily voted for castro and chavez. true, my life still sucked, but it sucked a lot less under the two of them. of course, this just pissed off the neocons (and their bedmates, the capitalists) even more than they already were, having their money pots taken away from them, and re-distributed to the people who actually owned the natural resources being plundered.

    yep, chavez was hardly perfect. by comparison to bush II, he was nearly a fucking saint. at least chavez didn’t try killing off his own people, the same of which can’t be said for bush.

  28. wengler says:

    The real winners are the people that hate never-ending political speeches. First they claim Fidel, and now they got Chavez.

  29. VictorLaszlo says:

    Uy, the comments at that Yahoo Sports link. :(

  30. Spacebarsuperstar says:

    “absurdly large skyscrapers” that are mostly vacant.

    • cpinva says:

      “absurdly large skyscrapers” that are mostly vacant.”

      sounds like downtown detroit. and poor people don’t get to go in them either.

  31. P.S. says:

    I mean come on. Think of all the poor houses he could have built with that money!

  32. Jim Lynch says:

    What a dick move by MLB.

  33. “If you want examples, check out his excitement over the US invasion right after US troops entered the country, his claim that Iran was certain to get a nuclear weapon, his claim that those who said Iran would get a nuclear weapon were foolish, repeating (most likely false) claims by Asian Times reporter Pepe Escobar about a new non-sectarian anti-occupation movement that was spreading across southern Iraq “like wildfire” (no other mention of this was ever made, by him or others), his belief that DC’s height limits are a factor in Global Warming, etc.”

    So it’s the end of the day and I did a little Googling. I couldn’t find a single mention on his site of D.C. height limits, much less something, as Njorl mentions, that’s outlandish. He regularly allows people to do guest posts, Pepe Escobar included, so I have no way to track that one down, but Cole’s coverage of the Iraq War was, in my experience, second to none. That he once reported a rumor from a war zone that turned out not to be true in Jebus knows how many thousands of posts is hardly an indictment.

    As for his writing on Iran, I really have no idea what you’re talking about. I certainly don’t have perfect recall of everything he’s ever written, but he’s consistently said that Iran’s nuclear program is civilian in nature, that the U.S. intelligence community believes the same, that their enrichment levels are laughably below weapons grade, etcetera. Iran doesn’t have a bomb, has said they don’t want one, and all the hysteria about it being imminent wasn’t true five years ago and isn’t true now. He’s been perfectly consistent, and much more accurate in his predictions and analysis than anyone who’s screaming about bombing the place.

    I’m sure he’s written the odd dumb thing, but he posts every morning so that’s inevitable. You don’t have to like him or read him, but I see no reason not to continue treating his analyses and opinions with anything but serious respect.

    • Chatham says:

      http://www.juancole.com/2005/05/will-iran-get-bomb-it-seems-pretty.html

      “It seems pretty obvious that Iran will get the nuclear bomb and there is not much anyone can do about it. I’m not saying it is a good thing. I’m just saying that I can’t imagine what would stop it.”

      Not really “perfectly consistent”, eh?

      Since this was on page 67 of the search on his site for “Iran” and “nuclear”, you’ll forgive me if I don’t put forth a similar effort to find all the other citations. Feel free to trust me, or don’t, but they’re all things that have come up on his site (or did in the period between 2003 and 2008 when I was reading him).

      • Nice pull. However, the post is from 2005, and there have been a ton of developments and new information along the “Iran could build a bomb” front, and Cole has responded accordingly. Most notably, the IAEA’s inspectors have been there many times since and concluded that their program is non-military. Plus there have been at least two SNIEs that have more or less concluded the same thing (albeit with couched “hey we can still bomb them” type language). Furthermore, there’s this from last year:

        http://www.juancole.com/2012/01/iran-hype-undermined-by-obama-administration-admissions.html

        “Ironically, what Clinton says is diametrically opposite from the repeated assurances given by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that Iran is not trying to construct a nuclear warhead. True, he put it in a misleading way, saying that Iran
        “is not yet building a bomb,” as though it is only a matter of time. But in order to build a bomb, Iran would have to deny access to UN inspectors and, well, initiate a program to build a bomb. That it has not done so is covered up in mainstream US political and journalistic discourse, to the point where the NYT had to apologize for stating (contrary to Panetta) that Iran has a nuclear weapons program (it does not, as far as anyone can tell).”

        And this, from just last month:

        http://www.juancole.com/2013/02/ahmadinejad-targetting-negotiations.html

        “As long-time readers know, I don’t believe the Iranian regime actually wants a nuclear warhead. I conclude that it wants a Japan option or nuclear latency, i.e., the ability to have a nuclear deterrence in case it was mortally threatened.”

        Obviously the two links I cited are outside your 2003-2008 date range, but even in the post you cite, Cole says:

        “So the military options are not apparent.”

        And:

        “The rightwing scenario just amalgamates all Muslims and has highly unlikely premises.”

        It’s hard to read that post as doing anything other than analyzing the prospects for a military strike of Iran in 2005 and finding them lacking and ill advised. He wasn’t advocating for intervention, he we rebutting wingers who were wetting themselves (as it was, has been, and ever shall be). His position is consistent, from 2005 to today, in that he believes (probably correctly) that if it really wanted to, Iran could build a bomb and that there is very little the U.S. or Israel could actually do, militarily or otherwise. The only thing that changed is that his certainty that they were doing so went way down as better information became available.

        Across all of it, he’s perfectly levelheaded and arguing against another idiotic war. So while you don’t have to like him and you don’t have to read him, it’s hard to find his writing on Iran, in 2005 or since, “problematic”.

        While I’m at it, and back on the original point, here’s the LRB basically agreeing with Cole on Chavez:

        http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/03/06/geoffrey-hawthorn/chavez-hasta-siempre/#more-14931

        “With money that he’s repatriated from oil, he’s certainly done much for many poorer people. The vast numbers of maids and handymen and janitors and drivers and all the rest who service the downtown elite now have a spanking new train that’s cut their two-and-half hour journey from suburbs and barrios in the east of Caracas to little more than forty minutes, and another barrio now has a cable car down into the city.

        [...]

        He did of course take things rather far. Hugging men from Belarus, Iran and Libya wasn’t really necessary (he was embarrassingly silent about the so-called Arab Spring) and he didn’t obviously help himself in refusing to exchange ambassadors with the United States.”

        • Chatham says:

          Eh, I could write a longer reply but I’ll leave it at this:

          Me: “…his claim that Iran was certain to get a nuclear weapon…”

          You: “As for his writing on Iran, I really have no idea what you’re talking about. I certainly don’t have perfect recall of everything he’s ever written, but he’s consistently said that Iran’s nuclear program is civilian in nature…”

          Cole: “Will Iran get the Bomb?

          It seems pretty obvious that Iran will get the nuclear bomb and there is not much anyone can do about it. I’m not saying it is a good thing. I’m just saying that I can’t imagine what would stop it.”

          It’s fine to have no idea about some of Cole’s previous assertions, but some of us feel we should take them into account when deciding whether or not to trust him.

          • Hogan says:

            There might be one or two shades between “it seems pretty obvious” and “it is certain.”

            • Chatham says:

              Personally, I find “it seems pretty obvious that Iran will” to be more troublesome, since it’s not only predicting that it will, but saying that most other observers should view this as the case as well.

              But if you prefer, amend my initial criticism to “his view that it seemed obvious that Iran would get a nuclear weapon, his view that others who thought Iran would get a nuclear weapon were foolish.”

        • cpinva says:

          i’ve never quite figured out how having a nuclear weapon capability actually benefits iran. at least, enough to make the hassle and cost worth while. who would they use it on, that either wouldn’t shoot back (israel), or wouldn’t have an ally that would? if they’re going to attack israel (which i don’t think they have any intention of doing, absent israel attacking them first), convential warheads make a lot more sense anyway: they’re cheaper to build/maintain, and they don’t leave a nasty residue, that can blow right back on you.

          this is the “iraq is going to drop a nuclear armed rocket into mid-town manhatten, if we don’t invade them first” scare. that worked out so well the last time.

      • Dave says:

        So, do you actually not understand the difference between “commenting on the situation on the basis of information to hand” and “being in possession of a divine and unalterable revelation of truth”, or are you just being a dick?

        • Chatham says:

          You mean Khameini’s fatwa against nuclear weapons that Cole usually brings up to show that an Iranian nuclear bomb is unlikely? The one issued before Cole wrote that piece? Or perhaps the change from a hardliner like Khatami to a reformer like Ahmadinejad?*

          *For the comprehension impaired, yes, I know.

  34. [...] broken the law by foreclosing on 15,000 service members on active duty. •The Associated Press offers proof that Hugo Chavez was a terrible president: He spent money on the poor instead of one [...]

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