Tuesday, August 21, 2007



DLC hails "foremost genius in American political life," predicts Hillary victory in '08

Congressional Black, Women and Latino caucuses express shock,
indignation, then renewed support for campaigning a millimeter to the left of the Right

Hillary renounces "it takes a village to raise a child" in favor of "it takes a villain to raise a monster"

Bill proposes tax breaks for those who "work hard and play by Rove's rules," says demonization of Rove rewards Osama bin Laden

Rove praises Clinton couple’s skill at selling Republicanism to people who believe they are liberal but really support totalitarian elitism . . . calling for "a clean campaign," denies connection to rumors that Osama and Obama are brothers

This brief exclusive interview was acquired by Legalienate's intrepid reporter:

Legalienate: What provoked you to make such a stunning and unpredictable move?

Clinton: I believe his obsession with my campaign was a sign of his deep rooted support, and my feminist background enabled me to correctly interpret his real motivations. Also, I believe his mildly ruthless campaign strategies would be the best way of not only taking the nomination, but the presidency itself.

Legalienate: And you, Mr. Rove?

Rove: I always thought Hillary supplied the firmness behind Bill’s more flaccid public persona and that she would make a much better, more ballsy, if you will, president, than he or any of our past leaders. No pun intended.

Legalienate: Including Bush?

Rove: Most especially. He has a lot of empty space between his ears, and between his thighs for that matter. This nation needs a strong, macho leader who can disarm more sensitive types by appealing to chick flick emotions while carrying out murderous policies. I think Hillary fills that Bill, so to speak. Pun intended.

Legalienate: How can you recover those on both sides who seem to be displeased with what many consider this shocking move?

Clinton: There's nothing shocking here. This is politics. You raise the money to hire the best people, and Karl is clearly the best that money can buy at what he does; correctly and properly arranging for the most careful destruction of adversaries, whether foreign countries or political opponents.

Rove: Indeed, as proven by Iraq and John Kerry and that global warming guy.

Legalienate: Al Gore?

Rove: That's him.

Opponents of the move immediately cited anonymous stories being circulated about John Edwards homosexual past and Barack Obama’s wife beating as evidence that the campaign would embrace even lower tactics than usual.

“We won't be having the high toned debates and policy discussions, in which Democrats compare ways to oppose the war while prolonging its funding, now that this unprincipled political demon has taken control of our only feminist candidate,” said a spokesperson for long time Clinton supporters, the NAOWWDTSTTMDOIBCO (National Association of Women Who Do The Same Things That Men Do Only In Better Coordinated Outfits).

On the other hand, T.V. broadcasters appear to be delighted. A spokesman for Male Executives Distorting Information Anonymously (MEDIA) says that gutter politics deliver the best ratings:
"Actually, we're hoping the law will be amended so Schwarzenegger can go up against Hillary. Her cleavage and his groping reputation would really be hot, and campaign posters showing Arnie dunking Hillary face-first in the toilet bowl while she kicks him in the nuts with steel-toed feminazi boots would sell like hotcakes."

Stay tuned as we closely follow this and other stories of our democracy in action

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Imperial Demon Watch: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (1)

by Michael K. Smith

"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the hero of every Muslim cab driver from Morocco to Malaysia because of his disreputable Holocaust denial."

-----Peter Hitchens, The American Conservative, June 4, 2007

"As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn't receive any answers to my questions."

-----Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Time Magazine interview, September 18, 2006

"The populism of Ahmadinejad and Hizbollah is an alternative to civil society in the Middle East. By recruiting the poor and disenfranchised, they are closer to people's needs than governments are. Which is why they have this enormous following."

-----Jordan's Prince Hassan, BBC News, September 20, 2006

"Pro-Western governments in the Middle East may not like it (Iran and Hizbollah's power) but there is nothing they can do. American influence in the area is visibly declining."

-----World Affairs editor John Simpson, BBC News, September 20, 2006

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is slippery, gifted at spin and misdirection. He’s "hardline," an enigma, a mystical nutcase in an "apocalyptic mood;" he wouldn't mind detonating a nuclear weapon. He's cocky, bordering on arrogant, even Hitler-like, and prone to rambling rants. He seems to be a humorless technocrat, unhinged, and a stranger to the modern world. He's primitive, delusional, a true-believer in the "merciless" Ayatollah Khomeini, and above all, genocidal: he wants to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth. No, these are not the rash judgments of a demented rookie journalist, but the consensus view of an allegedly "value-neutral" U.S. journalistic profession.

Since the U.S. media have once again abdicated their responsibility to be reasonably objective, we are left to do our thinking for ourselves. Fair enough. Let us then examine some of the statements the "crazy" Ahmadinejad has made and see if they really fit the image of a loose cannon on deck, a menace to his own people and the entire world.

In a September 20, 2006 interview with MSNBC's Brian Williams Ahmadinejad pointed out that the allegedly peaceful intentions of the U.S. national security state can't be taken seriously: "We think that people who produce bombs - the atomic bomb cannot, in fact, speak of supporting world peace." He emphasized that Washington has been unremittingly hostile to Iran, not the other way around: "Iran has been under sanctions for 27 years. Even spare parts for aircraft are denied to us. . . . from day one (of the Iranian Revolution) the U.S. government has been against our nation. . . . it gave (support) to Saddam Hussein during the eight year war against Iran," in which "200,000 Iranian people, young men, died. Hundreds of thousands more were injured. . . . There was a terrorist group inside Iran, that, in fact, assassinated many of our authorities and officials. The president, the prime minister, the ministers. The head of the supreme court. Many members of parliament. Regular people. And America supported this group." Williams, contesting none of this, abruptly changed the topic to free speech.

Accused of being on the path of nuclear weaponry, Ahmadinejad not only denied it, but threw the ridiculous premise of Williams' question back in his face: " . . . I ask, did Iran build the atomic bomb and use it? Who are the ones who are testing the third generation of nuclear bombs? . . . We are against the atomic bomb . . . we are against killing people." Asked why Iran has large, long-range missiles if it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad pointed to the absurdity of worrying about a non-nuclear state's missiles when many others in the region already have nuclear arsenals and Washington nuked two defenseless cities as soon as it developed the bomb. Ahmadinejad pressed Williams to resolve this contradictory premise, but the MSNBC host preferred to move on to a question about the Pope.

When the conversation turned to the threat of war over Iran's (legal) uranium enrichment program, Ahmadinejad responded that questions along this line would be better put to a U.S. politician, since the U.S. is the one threatening war. Washington's bellicose and domineering approach, Ahmadinejad added, is obsolete: "The world has changed . . . The time for world empires has ended. The U.S. government thinks that it's still the period after World War II . . . when they came out as victor. And enjoyed special rights. And can rule therefore, over the rest of the world . . . I think that we need to resort to logic, not war." Williams once again raised the specter of an Iranian nuclear weapon, but Ahmadinejad dismissed the question as a selective concern, since Washington not only hasn't criticized nuclear states in the region, but actively supports them. Israel alone has hundreds of nuclear bombs.

Inevitably, the subject of the Holocaust came up. Ahmadinejad politely attempted to raise three questions: (1) "Why is it that only a select group of those who were killed (in WWII) have become so prominent and important?" (2) "Why is it that those who ask questions (about the Holocaust) are persecuted?" (3) ". . . .if this (Holocaust) happened . . . why should the Palestinians pay for it now?" Williams answered the first question by saying that the Jews were killed by genocide, whereas the tens of millions of others killed were victims of war. Ahmadinejad responded that tens of millions of Christians and Muslims who were not in any way militarily involved in WWII were nonetheless targeted and killed. The moral difference between innocents dying in concentration camps and innocents blown up, burned alive, or atomized out of existence remained unexplored. Ahmadinejad's second and third questions, obviously relevant to the discussion, were likewise ignored.

Williams couldn't resist indulging the U.S. obsession with suicide bombers, asking what Ahmadinejad would feel as a father if one of his children decided to become one. Ahmadinejad pointed out that in a nation with few weapons joining a group of suicide bombers is the equivalent of volunteering to serve in the military, a major difference being, in the U.S. military's case, that the latter cannot plausibly be described as a self-defense force, since it operates thousands of miles beyond U.S. borders. He insisted that Iran, not the U.S., is the one with cause to worry about being attacked: " . . . you look around us. There are hundreds of forces and troops, hundreds of thousands of troops around us. Under the pretext of freedom and democracy. They don't value the people of the region. The people of the region know how to run their own affairs. It's regretful. This (intervention) coming from a group that supported Saddam for eight years. Saddam was the biggest dictator in our region. Even today, they support countries that have had no elections whatsoever. But still they speak of creating democracy through war. . . . It's impossible . . ."

Two days before his MSNBC interview, Ahmadinejad was interviewed by Time Magazine's Scott Macleod, who entitled his piece, "A Date With a Dangerous Mind." Among the "dangerous" sentiments Ahmadinejad expressed in that interview are the following; (1) "The U.S. government should not interfere in our affairs. They should live their own lives. They should serve the interests of the U.S. people. . . . Then there would be no problems . . ." (2) "We are opposed to the development of nuclear weapons. . . in my (2005) address to the U.N. General Assembly, I suggested that a committee should be set up in order to disarm all the countries that possess nuclear weapons. . ." (3) "Problems cannot be solved through bombs. Bombs are of little use today. We need logic." (4) Question: "Why do your supporters chant 'Death to America?'" Ahmadinejad: " . . . it means they hate aggression, and they hate bullying tactics, and they hate violations of the rights of nations and discrimination." (5) Question: "Are you ready to open direct negotiations with the U.S.?" Ahmadinejad: "It was the U.S. which broke up relations with us. We didn't take that position. . ." (6) Question: "You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?" Ahmadinejad: "Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way." (7) Question: "Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state?" Ahmadinejad: "We do not oppose it. In any country in which the people are ready to vote for the Jews to come to power, it is up to them. . . . But Zionists are different from Jews."

In a May 30, 2006 interview with the Iranian president the German magazine Der Spiegel took issue with Ahmadinejad for regarding the Holocaust and the oppression of the Palestinians as aspects of a single issue. Der Spiegel's interviewer insisted that the fate of the Palestinians was "an entirely different issue." Ahmadinejad objected: "No, no, the roots of the Palestinian conflict must be sought in history. The Holocaust and Palestine are directly connected with one another. And if the Holocaust actually occurred, then you should permit impartial groups from the whole world to research this. Why do you restrict the research to a certain group?" His question went unanswered in preference for a query about whether he still believed the Holocaust was merely a "myth." He replied that belief should follow substantiation: "I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it." If this is extremism, we need more of it.

Ahmadinejad went on to point out to Der Spiegel that there is a divergence of views on the Holocaust, with orthodox Holocaust proponents rejecting direct debate in favor of dogged insistence on the allegedly racist motives of revisionists, which practice helps to insure that revisionist scholars in Europe continue to be imprisoned merely for stating what they think. He concluded that "an impartial group has to come together to investigate and render an opinion in this very important subject, because the clarification of this issue will contribute to the solution of global problems," in particular, the Palestine question. He added that there was nothing remotely odd about such a stance, since "normally, governments promote and support the work of researchers on historical events and do not put them in prison." In short, the people with explaining to do are not Holocaust revisionists, but those whose arguments are (literally) upheld by blasphemy laws and heresy trials.

The Der Spiegel interview makes clear that Ahmadinejad, like revisionists generally, does not, in fact, deny that Jews were brutally treated by the Nazis. After making his standard claim that, "If there really had been a Holocaust, Israel ought to be located in Europe, not in Palestine," he goes on to criticize Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, saying that, "aggression, occupation and a repetition of the Holocaust won't bring peace." (italics added) This implies that European Jewry was subjected to at least ethnic cleansing, if not outright genocide, depending on how one evaluates Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

In a 2006 interview with Barbara Slavin of USA Today Ahmadinejad said that if the U.S. wants talks with Iran, "they have to take a hard look at their own behavior . . . They choose to threaten us and make false allegations and they want to impose their lifestyle on others and this is not acceptable." Asked why he keeps saying "upsetting" things about Israel and the Holocaust, he replied, "I don't know who is annoyed by revealing facts. But we know for sure that the people of Palestine are being killed every day with the Holocaust as a pretext." Presented with the naive query, "Why don't you go to Auschwitz and see the gas chambers for yourself?" he answered, "My going there will not solve the problem. I cannot take a trip back 60 years but researchers can do that." He conceded that the testimony of Holocaust survivors was relevant but insisted that "an impartial group should (also) go there and investigate." He concluded the interview with the sound observation that, "The wave of disgust toward U.S. policies is increasing. They only recognize their own friends, not others. We have in this world 6 billion people. It's not an American club. The majority are not Americans and are not interested to be Americans."

In his 2006 UN address Ahmadinejad outlined how the unresolved question of Palestine is bound up with the Holocaust: "Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of (WWII) the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants." After being "placed under the control of some of the War survivors (European Jews)," who brought "even larger population groups from elsewhere in the world (non-European Jews) who had not been even affected by the Second World War," Israel's "government was established in the territory of others with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of the rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness." Born of dispossession, the Jewish state could never make itself belong: ". . . from its inception, that regime (Israel) has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries." The U.N., supposedly dedicated to peace, continues to ignore Israel's atrocities. "People are being bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support or protection." This is not by chance.

Addressing Israel's 2006 Lebanon invasion, Ahmadinejad tore away the U.S. mask of "disinterested" diplomacy and accused Washington of collaboration in aggression: "For thirty-three long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and bombs and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced; meanwhile some members of the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily." Those entrusted with preserving the peace proved impotent. "We witnessed that the Security Council of the United Nations was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a ceasefire. The Security Council sat idly by for so many days, witnessing the cruel scenes of atrocities against the Lebanese. . . Why? . . . . the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfill its responsibilities?"

Denouncing a flawed U.N. structure that privileges a handful of Security Council members over the vast membership of the General Assembly, Ahmadinejad complained that, "certain powers equate themselves with the international community, and consider their decisions superseding that of over 180 countries." These powers, most conspicuously the U.S. and Britain, have renounced reciprocal dialogue and mutual compromise: "If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is this a just order?" The U.S., far in the lead in excercising Security Council veto rights, is destroying the legitimacy of the U.N. by insisting that its views be accepted as universal truths :" . . . the direct relation between the abuse of the veto and the erosion of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council has now been clearly and undeniably established." Without a democratization of power, justice is unobtainable: "We cannot, and should not, expect the eradication, or even containment, of injustice, imposition and oppression without reforming the structure and working methods of the Council." Furthermore, the victims of the international capitalist order, excluded from consideration from the beginning, are also entitled to a share of power: " . . . the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African continent should each have a representative as a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto privilege [in order to] prevent further trampling of the rights of nations."

Much as these views may be disliked, however, Ahmadinejad is the controversy he is because of his remarks on the Holocaust, the mother of all dogmas. Be that as it may, however, there is really nothing objectionable in what he has said on the topic. On December 14, 2005 Al Jazeera quoted Ahmadinejad as follows: "They have fabricated a legend under the name Massacre of the Jews, and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves. If somebody in their country questions God, nobody says anything, but if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of the Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream." Allowing for imprecise translation, this appears to be the literal truth, which, one should again note, does not rule out that Jews were viciously brutalized by Nazi policies. The "legend" has to do with gas chambers, for which no forensic evidence exists, and an alleged industrial assembly line of Jewish death, carried out in response to a secret order of extermination from Adolf Hitler, as well as what is said to be 6 million Jewish victims of this process. In spite of much hysterical insistence to the contrary, there is no reason to suppose that skepticism about gas chambers, an assembly line of death, and the sacred 6 million figure, necessarily leads to the conclusion that Jews were treated well in Nazi Germany. Nor has Ahmadinejad been shown to have made such a case. Abominable oppression and suffering take many forms, with widely varying death counts, and genocide is not synonymous with gas chambers.


"President Ahmadinejad: The transcript," MSNBC Online, September 20, 2006

"A Date With a Dangerous Mind" Time Online, September 18, 2006

"How Iran's Populist Lost His Popularity," Azadeh Moaveni, Time Online, September 18, 2006

"We Are Determined," Interview With Iran's President Ahmadinejad, Spiegel Online, May 30, 2006

"No Nation Should Have Superiority Over Others," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, UN Address, September 21, 2006

"Ahmadinejad Has Caused Outrage in Washington and Jerusalem," Al Jazeera, December 14, 2005

"Iran: How Dangerous is Ahmadinejad?" Newsweek, February 13, 2006

"Son of the Ayatollah," Fouad Ajami, U.S. News and World Report, May 14, 2006

"Iran's Conduct Is Based on Dialogue and Rationality," USA Today interview published in Tehran Times, February 14, 2006

"Iran: Past the Paranoia," The American Conservative, June 4, 2007

______Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire," and "The Madness of King George," (illustrations by Matt Wuerker) from Common Courage Press

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ponzi Capitalism

Charles Ponzi was criminalized in the 1920s for using people’s money to pay interest to themselves as well as others, all of them being invested in something that did not really exist. Their profit resulted from unprincipled capital accumulation. Just like what the market does when it sells what it calls Derivatives now , Ponzi’s investors derived value from other investors, until the number of gullible people declined once the ruling class squelched his small time imitation before their own schemes were seen to be much bolder methods of producing money out of thin air. The credit creation which has supported our consumption binge for many years now is merely an updated, far more vast and dangerous expression of Ponzi’s hustle, carried to global extremes.

Purists can deny that the present shakeup in the home mortgage sector is anything like a Ponzi Scheme, because an actual product exists: a home. But rare is the buyer in America who sees real estate simply as a procedure to acquire shelter. Rather, it has become a money making proposition in which the commodity, and especially the speculative paper that is its tenuous foundation, changes hands often, sees its value fluctuate, and all with no more than religious faith in a steady stream of new investors to buy the paper.

Once a mortgage is taken on by a hopeful future home owner, it passes through many financial hands, bundled and rebundled to create greater packages of funny money that exists only in the speculative minds of manipulators who make some people rich, and most people debtors.

This market division is only a part of the casino credit scheme that has been propping up capitalism in America for the past generation. It may be in the process of falling apart, and even though many home owners - mostly debtors who own nothing - won’t be immediately affected, all Americans will ultimately pay a price. As is usually the case, when serious contradictions cause chaos in the Ponzi Scheme that goes by the cosmetic name of contemporary American Capitalism.

The crisis in the mortgage industry is part of the credit colossus which is showing signs of collapsing on our heads. An economy carrying trillions of dollars in global debt can only be maintained by bludgeoning opposition into submission, as in Iraq and Yugoslavia, while injecting daily doses of funny money into the veins of a monetary monster that is uniting much of the world in opposition . That is happening as the empire sinks deeper into indebtedness which its leaders think can never be collected by less powerful global forces. They don’t seem to notice more opposition than their massive but over extended military can hope to subdue without destroying the planet. Of course if that crisis occurs, the more fanatic among them foresee being swept up as brethren, by Jesus, or protected as Chosen, by his dad .

In a two day period of recent panic, the central bank created some 70 billion dollars and placed a finger in the dike that threatened to burst and flood Wall Street. There will be many more of these emergency transfusions , but we may soon see an even deadlier economic tsunami that will affect all of us , and not just some of us . It’s long past time for people to learn about their economy, not only if they wish to make changes for the future, but if they wish to have a future at all.

The thousands suffering layoffs when mortgage firms went bankrupt are the usual product of failed enterprise, but though the unemployed are weapons in capital’s war on wages, too much of it means little or no shopping by those new victims of the market. And that means disaster for an economy which has been thriving on massive credit spending to consume the wasteful output of a production system that spans the globe, burying less developed societies in death and debt while it empties wallets and minds in the more developed, all to benefit a minority gorging itself on profits from the majority’s loss. But increasing social and environmental destruction is creating a global backlash to the rule of capital, and not just from outside the USA.

The trillions spent to destroy Iraq and threaten worse for Iran are denied the nation’s health and infrastructure, bringing it closer to falling apart at the seams if this military and monetary madness isn’t stopped. Major candidates striving to replace the incompetent boob whose term wont expire soon enough do not inspire confidence, but growing public disgust with political and environmental reality brings some hope.

Ponzi’s populist hustle offered ordinary people a chance to get in on the profit making of market capitalism, but the present scourge of the planet needs the intervention of ordinary people in opposition to that system. They will have to act as a real majority, for the first time in U.S. history. Americans need to watch what’s going on in some other nations, but free from the brain numbing filter of our political media. What we are taught to see as insurrection or terrorism often represents democracy in its infancy, and perhaps better developed than in more materially comfortable places where the illusion of freedom reigns, but the reality is a dictatorship of corporate wealth.

If Americans don't take democratic control of their country, they could suffer a much worse fate than Ponzi, who only served a few years in jail. That means paying close attention to what our economy really is, and not believing myths about what it’s supposed to be. If we don’t come to grips with a reality that is destructive of all our futures, we may have to pay the ultimate price of capital’s punishment, not as individuals but as a society . We need a political form of crisis intervention, democratically practiced, and very soon.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Martin Bohrman Alive!

Simon Wiesenthal Center Tracks Down Hitler's Private Secretary Posing as ADL chief Abraham Foxman, says assumed identity fomented anti-Semitism "beyond Fuehrer's wildest dreams"

Foxman never existed , proving theories entertained by those who said “this guy can't be real”...

ADL closes doors, bank accounts and phone lines...

Bohrman says obnoxious Foxman character was found believable , thereby proving his innocence.

Israel charges identity genocide

Liberals remain dumb, conservatives stay deaf, rest of congress continues blind...

Southern Poverty Law center begins new fund raising drive to stop Master Race from masquerading as Chosen People.

Dershowitz to prosecute Bohrman and defend Foxman on grounds of diminished capacity and suffering caused by painful confusion over identical last syllable of names

Holocaust industry shares drop ..

Market consumed by hysteria,

Consumers gripped by fear

Bush calls for war on mental terror, anti-Semitism and Jimmy Carter.

Legalienate was able to obtain this brief interview :

Legalienate: How were you able to maintain your disguise?

Bohrman: It wasn't easy, sometimes I tired of being a Nazi, but my best protection was to continually promote Jewish supremacy, which bred the anti-Semitic backlash I live for . . .

Legalienate: Did anyone ever suspect your real identity?

Bohrman: Only once, when I compared Elie Wiesel to Pinocchio.

Legalienate: What's been the general reaction to your "outing"?

Bohrman: Shock, disbelief, hysteria, offers to do a book, movie and TV series, and a Hollywood proposal to nominate me for an Academy Award .

Legalienate: What are your current plans?

Bohrman: I want to found a Holocaust Museum in Mecca.

Legalienate: Anything else?

Bohrman: I’d like to complete my 64th edition of "The New Anti-Semitism."

Legalienate: Any advice for young people?

Bohrman: You can never have enough enemies. Dream big, blame others for your faults, and cash in.

Stay tuned for further details at six, following televised executions of Holocaust Deniers and Barry Bonds

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Imperial Demon Watch: Hugo Chavez

Why does Washington hate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez? Let us count the ways.

1. He is fearless in debate.

He excoriates his imperial enemies as worms, liars, fools, and worse. In 2006 in New York, he addressed the United Nations the day after George Bush had given a speech there, daring to state what many felt but none had publicly uttered before: "The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulfur still today." He explained: "As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.'" While delivering his sensational commentary he waved a book by U.S.-dissident author Noam Chomsky in the air. Chomsky's searing critique of U.S. lawlessness soared onto Amazon's best-seller list.

On another occasion Chavez said that Bush "walks like this cowboy John Wayne. He doesn't have the slightest idea of politics . . . He's a sick man, full of complexes."

Mexican President Felipe Calderon proposed to debate Chavez, but only if he agreed to refrain from the snappy come-backs that make his opponents' subservience to Washington dramatically apparent. Bluntly stated truths have a tendency to be perceived as rhetorical tricks by the servants of Empire.

Chavez dismissed ex-president of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, as a lackey and lapdog of Empire. The Venezuelan president's relations with Peru's political elite had soured after he supported leftist Ollanta Humala against Alan Garcia, whom Chavez dismissed as the "candidate of the Empire, corrupt and an utter thief." When Toledo joined with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in an anti-Chavez front, Chavez attacked them on the basis that they "crawl drooling in front of the Empire," adding that, "all they produce in me is pity and nausea."

When Jose Maria Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, had the nerve to say that Chavez should reconsider his decision to revoke RCTV's broadcast license for having supported the anti-Chavez coup of 2002, Chavez responded, "Well, he's a complete asshole, from the 'a' to the 'e,' Dr. Insulza is pathetic, he should resign."

Chavez has also singled out former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who joined President Bush in the Azores to help deliver his capitulate-or-die ultimatum to Saddam Hussein just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and also participated in Washington's viciously anti-Chavez propaganda campaign. Says Chavez: "This (Aznar) is of the Adolf Hitler ilk, a true fascist of the global right-wing, a lackey of George Bush, he's a guy that inspires pity and nausea."

After the prelate had warned of increasing authoritarianism in Venezuela, Chavez called Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriquez Maradiaga a parrot and clown of the Empire. Then he apologized, inviting the Cardinal to visit Venezuela and see for himself that he didn't know what he was talking about.

In July, Chavez lashed out at Venezuelan bishops after the president of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, Monsenor Ubaldo Santana, expressed their concern that Venezuelan constitutional reform might be developed by a "closed group" without the participation of "all the people." Chavez shot back that the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution dictates that "any reform" of the Constitution's text requires ratification by popular referendum, which ought to be known by the directors of the Episcopal Conference. "You (bishops)," said Chavez, "are ignoramuses, or corrupters, liars, deceivers . . . monsenors, read the Constitution if you're speaking out of ignorance . . . and if you're doing it out of corruption, you should take off your cassock." Chavez confessed to being "repelled" by "cynicism so great," which, in his judgment, is characteristic of the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy.

Chavez has even taken on the Pope, accusing him of Holocaust Denial. The Pope had declared that Christianity was never imposed by force in the Americas, nor had it alienated indigenous peoples from their native cultures. Chavez wasn't buying it: "Here in America occurred something much worse than the Jewish Holocaust in the Second World War . . . nobody can deny it, not even His Holiness can come here to our own land and deny the indigenous Holocaust . . . they died by the millions."

2. He prioritizes need over greed.

This is unforgivable, since it means that foreign investors are not allowed to ignore the social consequences of their investments, a great irritant for those accustomed to a steady flow of profits from regions teeming with hungry and diseased people. In Venezuela, 80% of the population is poor, with blacks and Indians making up a disproportionate share of the impoverished majority. "Chavez," observes British journalist John Pilger, "is a threat because he offers the alternative of a decent society."

Thanks to Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution, a million Venezuelan children from shanty-towns now get a free education from the state, over a million formerly illiterate adults have been taught to read and write, secondary education has been made available to a quarter million children who had previously been excluded from this privilege because of social status, and almost the entire Venezuelan population is literate for the first time in its history. Moreover, ten thousand Cuban doctors have transformed the health system, helping set up 11,000 neighborhood clinics while the health budget has tripled. Chavez has also extended financial support to small business, built new homes for the poor and middle class, and enacted an Agrarian Reform Law that has distributed over two million hectares to tens of thousands of Venezuelan families.

In a speech to the Venezuelan Legislature in January, Chavez hailed his economic achievements, among them nationalization of the electricity and energy sectors in the face of "naked and Dracula-like imperialism." He highlighted a 10.3% growth rate in the national economy for 2006, which had allowed, he said, a 16.3% increase in consumption and a 31.5% increase in public and private investment. He applauded increases in tax revenue and the minimum wage, as well as infrastructure projects like roads and train routes, and the decline of unemployment to 8.8%. He pointed out that Venezuela could pay off its national debt all at once if it wanted to, since it doesn't represent "even one third of our Gross Domestic Product, whereas the U.S. debt is five times its GDP." He observed that "it isn't very convenient today to hold reserves in dollars," and said he had proposed to his colleagues in the region to "work towards a Latin American currency." He pronounced dependence on the U.S. a bad risk. "If that giant falls, the crash will shake the world," so that "the less tied to it we are, the better." He predicted that U.S. Empire didn't have much time left and had already started to resemble what Mao called "a paper tiger."

Nevertheless, Chavez is not without sympathy for the U.S. public. He has an ongoing program to provide cheap heating oil for poor people in the U.S., and recently stated that he would assist a revolutionary movement if it emerged in the country. Observing Washington's astronomical budget and trade deficits, he said that, "there could be a revolution in the United States," adding that if it comes, "we'll help them."

3. He is immensely popular.

From the very beginning Chavez has striven to make his every initiative subject to the will of the people. The people have repaid him with overwhelming support.

In 1998, Chavez was elected with 56% of the vote. The following year a new Constitution was drawn up and approved by 88% of voters. In 2000, Chavez was re-elected with 59% of the vote. In 2002, Chavez was ousted from power for two days in a coup, but then rescued by the poor, with thousands of shanty-town residents pouring down into the streets of Caracas demanding his reinstatement. In 2004, the Venezuelan opposition attempted to oust him again with a recall vote, but Chavez won handily 58% to 42% in an election that Jimmy Carter called one of the freest he had ever seen. In 2006, Chavez was elected to another six-year term with an overwhelming 63% of the vote. He has recently announced that the revolutionary majority has sufficient support to remain in power until 2021 at least.

But perhaps more alarming than his domestic support is his international popularity. Demonstrators in the Philippines carry portraits of Chavez. Peasants in West Bengal come out in the tens of thousands to greet him in Calcutta. Hizbollah leaders in South Lebanon call him "our brother Chavez." Interviewed once by Faisal al-Qasim on Al Jazeera's, "The Opposite Direction," Chavez's to-the-point crispness and confident defiance of Empire won him considerable admiration among the show's 26 million viewers. Thousands of e-mails poured in to the network, the bulk of them asking, said a senior Al Jazeera journalist, when will the Arab world produce a leader like Chavez?

Perhaps one reason for his popularity is that Chavez, unlike the servants of Empire, is not addicted to holding office and swears he will depart the moment the people no longer support him. "I have always said that the day the people no longer want me, I won't cry, I'll leave." The security precautions U.S. hostility forces him to take deprive him of a personal life, and the permanent threat of assassination is hardly a pleasant preoccupation. He points out that the CIA is well equipped everywhere and that Fidel Castro alone "is a survivor of more than 600 attempts" on his life. "With today's technology," he says, "the risk is much greater" for anti-imperialist leaders. He calls the CIA "the most perfect killing machine" ever devised, with a mission to "destabilize without rest."

4. He commands and demands respect.

Unlike leaders in the U.S., who consider the general population a vulgar mass fit only to be bombarded with inane sound bites, Chavez actually respects the will of the people and strives on every occasion to make his policies accord with it. Moreover, he demands that visiting foreigners show similar respect, recently instructing his Vice-President and his foreign and interior ministers to expel foreigners that speak badly of the democratic government. "Any foreigner that comes here to denigrate us as Venezuelans, our free, democratic, and legitimate government of Venezuela, has to be, with all respect, dropped off at Caracas International Airport and told: 'Here is your suitcase, sir, get out of this country.'"

Chavez made these remarks the day after Manuel Espino, the leader of the National Action Party of Mexico, said in Caracas that the Venezuelan government was an example of the "demagogic tendency, populist and authoritarian, which infringes on the liberties and fundamental rights of the citizens." He accused Chavez of planning to stay in power forever and called his non-renewal of RCTV's broadcast license "an outrage." Chavez, criticizing the failure of his government to respond to the attack, said that, "No foreigner, whoever he may be, can come here to attack us. Whoever comes with that in mind has to be thrown out of the country. It can't be allowed, it's a matter of dignity."

5. He's a socialist.

A close friend of Fidel Castro, Chavez makes no bones about the fact that the Bolivarian Revolution is committed to "21st Century socialism." In fact, in a ceremony swearing in nine new leaders of the Bolivarian Armed Forces in the Caracas Military Academy on July 18, Chavez said that in Venezuela there's no longer an issue of socialism or capitalism, but rather what kind of socialism. "We aren't going to duplicate any model. . .," he said, adding that "without doubt it will rise on a foundation of authentic democracy . . . Democratic, because it is rooted in the sovereignty of the people, not in a man, a 'caudillo,' or the State." He swore that "we are going to dedicate ourselves with great effort to critical investigation and thought, in order to avoid a socialism that "degenerates." He said Bolivarian socialism is a Christian socialism that at the same time respects atheists, and an ecological socialism possessed of ethical values. His outgoing minister Raul Baduel said that "we should separate ourselves from the Marxist orthodoxy that considered democracy with its division of powers as merely an instrument of bourgeois domination," adding that "they also committed errors of an economic nature in socialist countries," such that it was necessary "to be on guard so as not to repeat them."

When the Soviet Union collapsed to much fanfare in the West, Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano declared that giddy capitalist triumphalists were burying the wrong corpse - socialist idealism rather than the ossified Soviet bureaucracy. Chavez has dug the former up and proven it isn't really dead. How can Washington not hate him for that?


"Chavez destaca logros economicos y reitera empeno socialista y nacionalizador," Univision En Linea, 13 de enero de 2007

"Chavez pidio al Papa disculparse," Univision En Linea, 19 de mayo de 2007

"Chavez, amado por su pueblo," Univision En Linea, 4 de junio de 2007

"Chavez llamo 'ignorantes, perversos y mentirosos' a obispos venezolanos," Univision En Linea, 3 de julio de 2007

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John Pilger, The Guardian, May 13, 2006

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"Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution," by Richard Gott

"Pirates of the Caribbean - Axis of Hope," by Tariq Ali