At what point in the generational transition from Da Greatest to Da Leastest did the values of the Enlightenment get thrown out the fucking window? Why isn't there rioting in the streets over the Decider publically advocating torture with a wink and a nod? For that matter, why haven't investment banks and hedge funds been burned to the ground over the wanton mismanagement of middle-class American pensions, not to mention the failure of the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living? Why hasn't ANYONE who means ANYTHING said, "You know, we could fight the War on Terror more effectively if we stopped throwing money at stupid shit, like the War on Drugs, and that would also give us a big PR bonus, since we wouldn't have to use seatbelt laws as a pretext to search vehicles and waste our patrolmens' time when they could be out tracking down real criminals. And we could, like, train them to distinguish Sikhs from bomb-throwing Islamofascists. And stuff."
I can't really blame Hugo Chavez for seizing the opportunity to get his anti-Bush freak on. If you handed me a microphone in a room full of world potentates, I'm sure I'd say something even more offensive. The demonification of Bush is perfectly pitched to strike right at the hearts of fuzzy-headed American liberals, who see Chavez's promise of "low-cost" gas to "poor" Americans as a gesture of solidarity with some cruddy 1930s suspender-sportin' "working man" instead of the crude political calculus that it is. Whussup w/ Danny Glover, anyway?
See, Venezuela and Iran HAVE petroleum reserves. In spades. We use WAY more than our share of oil. It is the economic underpinning of our economy. Venezuela has GI-FUCKING-NORMOUS petroleum deposits. The catch is that it's really, really hard to get to, and the capital investment of actually tapping that vast (and submarine) resource is so high that only a few select players can sit at the table. Venezuela's made sure that US oil companies won't be sitting in on that meeting. In the age of the "global economy" (police state, I'm just sayin') that rules out a lotta players. So who's left? A bunch of people who were hoo-hawing and high-fiving when Chavez made the "it still stinks of sulfur" comment. (And combining that rhetoric with the very humble traditional crossing-of-oneself-while-miming-kissing-a-rosary -- brilliant. Millions of otherwise noncomittal Catholics just started admiring your "spunk".) Too bad you shut down all the opposition newspapers and radio stations, Mr. Chavez, it would've played well.
My father and my uncle Bill actually went to Venezuela before the Chavez regime to look into some sort of hazily-described "mining venture". That's when I knew the Venezuelan government would fall to a populist socialist. My dad's idea of making money was simple and stubborn: save, save, save, buy some land, rent, rent, rent, save, save, save, sell, pleaseJesus, sell, profit. It worked. My uncle Bill, who was halfway between my father and uncle Palmer on the Family Integrity Black Sheep Scale, had a somewhat slipperier concept. He'd take a flyer, now and then. (Palmer, just to flesh the story out, once bought a decrepit hotel in the middle of downtown for ONE DOLLAR at a city auction, went in and strpiied out all the AC units, copper and hardware, sold his loot to the junkyard, and then turned around and resold the property at a necessarily hefty profit.) The point, I guess, is that if the least scammed guy in a family of scammers from MOODY, ALA-FUCKIN'-BAMA can get interested in a Venezuelan profiteering scheme, then where's the hope for us all.
OK, that was a totally bogus conclusion.
I guess my point is, bravo, Sr. Chavez, for successfully shaking your fist and encouraging your fair-weather friend in Iran to spout equally eyebrow-raising invective. I look forward to your economic policy meeting with the Iranian officials. You'll find it a whole lot more amenable right here in the US. Why? Because that's how capitalism works, bubbe, we don't hafta like you, but all the money is green.
Until China goes all-in, and then we're fucked.