Friday, September 22, 2006

The devil wears a black suit

When Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, made his remarks on Wednesday, calling George W. Bush, "the devil," rather than look at the entire remarks made by Chavez (including his reference to Noam Chomsky's excellent book on American hegemony, urging his listeners to read it), the media, right-wing pundits and even morally bankrupt Democratic leaders, like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, have taken Chavez to task.

In our own state, bereft with a multitude of our own problems, not the least of these being the passage of TABOR in November, GOP legislative leaders are using Chavez' remarks to castigate our own Governor Baldacci, because last winter, in an effort to make sure that Mainers didn't freeze to death, entered into an agreement with Citgo, Venezuela's state-run oil company, to provide low-income Mainers with heating oil. Unlike other U.S.-owned (and no doubt, patriotic) oil companies, who decided to gouge their fellow Americans, rather than practice true economic patriotism, Citgo discounted 8 million gallons of heating oil to states like Maine and went even further by donating 120,000 gallons to 40 state-based homeless shelters.

It's easy to slide down the slope of political grandstanding and use Chavez' remarks to score political points. The GOP in our state, as well as nationwide, have turned opportunities to lead into partisan football.

While Chavez certainly violated the staid protocol of the U.N. General Assembly, where boring speeches predominate, to offer knee-jerk bluster to his remarks overlooks some very real issues that thinking Americans ought to consider about our president, whether he's the "devil," or not.

  • over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians as a result of our flawed military policies in the Middle East
  • nearly 2,700 dead American soldiers, as well as over 300 American military contractors
  • the Bush Administration's insistence on using torture as an interrogation tool
  • A president who has taken executive powers to the extreme
  • An economic policy combining tax cuts with military spending of over $300 billion!!!, leading us dangerously close to at the best, severe economic recession and at the worst, an economic collapse, based upon insurmountable national debt
  • A longstanding record of hegemonic foreign policy and a quest for imperialistic control of the planet
Rather than castigate Chavez and tilt rightward in their coverage of his remarks, the U.S. media and Bush political apologists should look at the clear evidence that exists that form the basis of the Venezuelan president's remarks. But then, that would require too much thought and Americans have a pretty sorry record of thinking rationally when it comes to its own policies and political interests.

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