I was informed by a member of the reality based community that Hugo Chavez is a helluva guy and we would all be lucky if were our president instead of The Devil.
Thor Halvorssen feels differently:
Calling "world dictator" George Bush the "devil" over and over again, he discussed everything from CIA plots to assassinate him to how he - along with Cuba, Iran and the non-aligned countries - will save the world from imperialist doom.
Chavez has said the United States is "afraid of truth, is afraid of independent voices," yet Chavez has suffocated all dissent in his own backyard. Beyond rewriting the Constitution to bolster his legal power, he's passed a law banning "the use of language deemed to be insulting to the President of the Republic."
Indeed, any expression of dissent, public or in private, against any public official is punishable with prison.
Francisco Usón - a former minister in Chavez's own Cabinet - recently drew a six-year jail term for expressing an opinion on television. Carlos Ortega - the president of Venezuela's AFL-CIO-affiliated federation of workers - got a 16-year sentence for instigating a legal strike despite protests by the International Labor Organization of this unspeakable violation of human rights. (Ortega escaped from prison last month.)
Chavez claimed yesterday that the United States protects terrorism while his own government is "fully committed to combating terrorism and violence." In fact, Chavez has demonstrably protected and armed the FARC terrorists of next-door Colombia. (He's also presided during the greatest crime wave in Venezuelan history, with a death toll exponentially larger than any previous government's.)
Chavez denounced capitalism as the generator of "mere poverty." Yet, thanks to a capitalist oil boom, he has profited from the richest Venezuelan government in history - but squandered its wealth on a new Venezuelan oligarchy of petro-millionaires masquerading as government officials. Meanwhile, misery and malnutrition are at a historic high.
Other than driving up Chomsky's book sales and reminding the American people that the American left is in league with the enemy, what did Chavez's little tirade accomplish?