Archive for November, 2007

Countdown to Tyranny: Last-minute Chavista Propaganda Offensive

Friday, November 30th, 2007

As I write this I received an email from one of my contacts telling me the contact’s son was beaten by the police during a demonstration.


Two days before the constitutional referendum, the Chavista propaganda machine goes into full offense:

First, the Reuters “facts”:
Gustavo Coronel debunks Five Reuters “facts” about Chavez:

“Chavez has won the backing of the poor majority with massive social spending that has expanded health and education programs. He has also cultivated support by openly confronting the United States…”

This is a dangerous “truth”. Chavez has not engaged in structural health and education programs. He has spent billions of dollars in massive handouts, not to be confused with plans to attack the structural roots of poverty, illness and ignorance. He distributes fish but does not teach the people to fish. As a result poor Venezuelans are more dependent than ever on the paternalistic, populist and vindictive leader. The entire health, educational and commerce infrastructure has been decimated due to incompetence and corruption. The state of the most major hospitals is deplorable and thousands of patients are flown every year to be operated in Venezuelan funded hospitals in Cuba. Chavez’ support domestically has not been increased by his attacks on the U.S. In fact, most Venezuelans reject those attacks, as shown by all credible polls.

Read the rest.

Chavez is doing the old “Blame the CIA” game to distract from the missing electoral observers:
I posted about the blame game this morning; in the same article, Simon Romero in the NYT points out that no electoral observers are invited to the referendum.

Both Mr. Chavez, a self-described socialist who has won elections by wide margins, and his critics say opinion polls show they will prevail, suggesting a highly contentious outcome. But departing from its practice in last year’s presidential election, Venezuela did not invite electoral observers from the Organization of American States and the European Union, opening the government to claims of fraud if he wins.

Violence has already marred the weeks preceding the vote. Two students involved in anti-government protests claimed they had been kidnapped and tortured this week by masked men in Barquisimeto, an interior city. And in Valencia, another city, a supporter of Mr. Chavez was shot dead this week in an exchange of gunfire at a protest site.

Gateway Pundit comments,

The New York Times insists that the regime is still some sort of a legitimate democracy. (Healthy democracies don’t generally hold elections to give one person abolute power.) However, the Times does at least recognize that Chavez is having some problems controlling the momentum against his referendum on absolute power.

Additionally, the Chavista propaganda wants to portray him as the only hope for the FARC hostages:
As readers of this blog know, Ingrid Betancourt is the Colombian-French politican that was kidnapped in 2002. The French government (which under de Villepin had sent a plane to the jungle searching for her) has been pressuring Colombia’s Uribe to negotiate with the FARC for her release. Uribe agreed but after it became evident that Chavez was in cohoots with the FARC, Chavez was fired.

The Economist:

Mr Uribe may reckon that a few insults are a price worth paying for ending a venture that seemed certain to provide political gains for Mr Chávez and the FARC but looked unlikely to free all the hostages—if any.

Now A colombo-americana’s perspective has a post on the latest video released of FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt:

Proof of FARC captives’ survival
The Venezuelan media opine, and –surprise, surprise– the plot thickens. (Video included.) “Información de inteligencia indica que el destinatario de estas pruebas era Hugo Chávez y que iba a recibir la encomienda antes del domingo.” (“Intelligence information indicates that the proof of life were to be given to Hugo Chávez, and that he was to receive them prior to Sunday’s vote.” My translation.) From the Venezuelan daily El Nacional, Betancourt’s mother Yolando Pulecio says the proof was to be delivered to Colombian senator Piedad Córdoba.

While The Economist says that

The referendum may be decided by how many Venezuelans bother to vote. Those in the opposition who called for abstention in past elections (claiming that the electoral authority was not impartial) have this time called on their supporters to vote, whereas in the chavista camp, there are signs of apathy. How widespread this proves to be may determine whether or not Venezuela remains a democracy.

I am very pessimistic and share A Second Hand Conjecture opinion that ” have zero confidence that the referendum will result in anything other than what Chavez wants (i.e. dictatorial control).” Gustavo Coronel, writing at NRO states that

the Chavez government has already printed, at significant expense, some eight million copies of the “new” constitution, one that has not yet been approved and could well be rejected.

Citizen Feathers has An utterly grim view of the future of Venezuela, too.

I hope we’re wrong.

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Wednesday’s countdown

Reminder:
Dr. Luis Fleischman will be my guest at 6PM Eastern next Sunday, December 2, the day of the referendum, to talk about the day’s events.
Join us!
Listen to Fausta's blog on internet talk radio

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The "Blame the CIA Game" is back!

Friday, November 30th, 2007

For a while there it had died (no doubt because of the CIA’s clear mishandling of a number of things), but hey! A good game never dies; it just keeps turning up like a bad penny.
(emphasis added to all items)

In Cuba:
Via Babalu, the Cuban government bulldozed a church in the town of El Salado

Fue destruido con un Buldózer utilizado por la policía, el local de la Iglesia Evangélica Reforma Apostólica, en la ciudad de Santiago de Cuba, nos informaba por teléfono desde la oriental ciudad, Juan Ramón Rivero Despaigne, activista de los derechos humanos.
“La iglesia se encuentra ubicada en las calles Nico, #3, en el pueblo El Salado. Todos sus miembros son acusados por el Gobierno de agentes de la CIA. El pastor Alain Toledano sigue celebrando los cultos en el lugar en donde fue destruida su iglesia”, concluyó Rivero Despaigne.

(my translation:)
The police bulldozed the locale used as a church by the Reform Apostolic Evangelical Church in the city of Santiago de Cuba, we are told by phone by Juan Ramon Rivero Despaigne, human rights activist.

The church is located at Streets # 3 and Nicon in the town of El Salado. The [Cuban] government is acussing all the members of the church of being CIA agents. Pastor Alain Toledano continues to celebrate worship services at the location where the church was torn down, Rivera Despaigne reports.

In Venezuela:
Simon Romero reports that Chavez came up with a fake CIA memo, which his cronies were too cheap to find someone to translate into English in order to give it a whiff of authenticity:

Mr. Chavez and senior officials here have exhibited increasingly erratic behavior. Mr. Chavez has lashed out at leaders in Colombia and Spain and asked for an investigation into whether CNN was seeking to incite an assassination attempt against him.

Reports of such plots are not in short supply here. The main state television network broadcast coverage this week of a memorandum in Spanish that it claimed had been written by the C.I.A. in which destabilization plans against Mr. Chavez were laid out. American involvement in Venezuelan politics remains a particularly delicate issue here, after the Bush administration tacitly supported a coup in 2002 that briefly ousted Mr. Chavez.

“We reject and are disappointed in the Venezuelan government’s allegations that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to affect the outcome of the constitutional referendum,” Benjamin Ziff, a spokesman for the United States Embassy here, said in a statement.

A C.I.A. spokesman called the document “a fake,” while analysts, including investigators who had previously uncovered financing of Venezuelan opposition groups by the United States government, expressed doubts about the authenticity of the memo.

“I find the document quite suspect,” said Jeremy Bigwood, an independent researcher in Washington. “There’s not an original version in English, and the timing of its release is strange.”

One of the surest signs of a tyrant is his eagerness to play the “Blame the CIA Game”. When that fails, blame the White House (and of course, blame Bush).

More on Venezuela’s countdown to tyranny later today.
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Study: Canadian Beer Drinkers Threaten Planet, eh?

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Study: Canadian Beer Drinkers Threaten Planet

Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Canadian beer drinkers.

The government-commissioned study says the old, inefficient “beer fridges” that one in three Canadian households use to store their Molson and Labatt’s contribute significantly to global warming by guzzling gas- and coal-fired electricity.

Expert Joanna Yarrow says,

“People need to understand the impact of their lifestyles,” British environmental consultant Joanna Yarrow tells New Scientist magazine. “Clearly the environmental implications of having a frivolous luxury like a beer fridge are not hitting home.

Clearly Joanna doesn’t understand that a beer fridge is a necessity, not a frivolous luxury.

In the spirit of Canada, here’s the beer fridge/wine cooler at casa de Fausta:

[the photo will be brought to you as soon as the camera battery recharges Photo ready.
Apologies for the inconvenience]


(I just realized we’re out of beer. Will have to go buy some as soon as the store opens.)

The beer fridge is right next to the fridge featured in the Tim Blair Fridge Project

Over at Tim Blair’s, Canadians aim for title.

Of course, if you’re worried about cooling beer bottles and cans, there’s always buying the keg…

PS,
For those of you in a hurry for their beer to cool, Adam and Jamie proved that the fastest way to cool a six-pack is to spray it with a CO2 fire extinguisher.
Beer + carbon emmissions = cool!

Update: More beer news around the world
Ed has the goods on the Guinness stout keg heist.
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A request for prayer

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I would like to request that the visitors of this blog please pray for a special intention.

Thanks.

Venezuela: Today’s Countdown to Tyranny

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

At AgoraVox (in French) La nouvelle constitution vénézuélienne : la réinvention de l’autocratie The New Venezuelan Constitution: Re-inveting autocracy?), by Daniel Duquenal, who is urging people to vote.

Today there’s a huge demonstration in Caracas and Miguel is there taking pictures, which Daniel’s posting.

At the Washington Post, Juan Forero writes about Old Allies Abandon Chávez as Constitution Vote Nears

But Martínez and a handful of others who once were prominent pillars in the Chávez machine, have defected, saying approval of 69 constitutional changes would effectively turn Venezuela into a dictatorship run at the whim of one man. They have been derided by Chávez as traitors, but their unimpeachable leftist credentials have given momentum to a movement that pollsters say may deliver Chavez his first electoral defeat.

“The proposal would signify a coup d’etat,” said Martínez, 58, whose dapper appearance belies his history as a guerrilla and Communist Party member. “Here the power is going to be concentrated in one person. That’s very grave.”

Pollsters in Caracas say Venezuelans increasingly agree — even those who continue to support the president but say the proposed overhaul of an eight-year-old constitution goes too far.

Among them abandoning Chavez is Juan Forero himself, along with over 100 individuals and institutions from across Latin America who signed this statement supporting the people of Venezuela in their struggle for democracy:

la pretendida reforma constitucional aludida no sería más que un golpe de Estado ejecutado por medios aparentemente democráticos. Esto constituye un acto más de la nueva modalidad asumida por gobiernos de corte autoritario y populista en Latinoamérica, de apelar a medios ofrecidos por la democracia, para subvertirla hasta hacerla irreconocible.
(my translation, emphasis added)
The purported constitutional reform is nothing more than a coup d’etat carried out through apparently democratic means. This constitutes one more step in the new strategy adopted by Latin American governments cut in the authoritarian and populist mode, through which they go through democratic processes until democracy is subverted to the point where it’s made unrecognizable.

Venezuelan students continue to be at the forefront of the protests. NeoNeocon posts about it (emphasis added):

The students of Venezuela may not be able to buck the tide in Venezuela, especially if the election is rigged. It is my sincere hope that they do, though, or Venezuela may end up like Cuba, waiting patiently for their ancient Dictator for Life to finally kick the bucket.

In the latest news, Venezuela Opposition Group Reverses Call on Ballot Abstention

The CNR, in a statement posted to its Web site, said a massive voter turnout would defeat the Dec. 2 initiative to approve 69 changes to the constitution enlarging Chavez’s power. Abstention will increase chances of its passage, local pollster Datanalisis said this month.

Countdown continues tomorrow.

More at the Center for Security Policy.

Update
Welcome Michelle Malkin readers! Please read Countdown to Tyranny: Last-minute Chavista Propaganda Offensive

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Wednesday’s countdown

Reminder:
Dr. Luis Fleischman will be my guest at 6PM Eastern next Sunday, December 2, the day of the referendum, to talk about the day’s events.
Join us!
Listen to Fausta's blog on internet talk radio
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A depressing debate?

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Richelieu at the Weekly Standard thinks so:

What a depressing debate. CNN’s long slide into mediocrity accelerates. Is this what running for president of the greatest democracy in the world has become? Standing in front of CNN’s corporate logo in a hall full of yowling Ron Paul loons and enduring clumsy webcam questions from Unabomber look-a-likes in murky basements?

but I disagree; the basements weren’t all murky. Some of those basements actually looked quite bright.

Several bloggers are upset that there were Hillary campaign employees planted in the audience. I would like to see a debate of an entire audience of Hillary employees asking questions to the Republican candidates.

After all, campaign politics is all about bringing your message across under pressure, and that would make for an interesting evening (moronic questions and all -”What Would Jesus Do about the death penalty?” included).

James Joyner, however, doesn’t let CNN off the hook:

If one didn’t know better, one might suspect that CNN intentionally assembled a bunch of yahoos in the crowd to represent the Republican base and then fed the candidates gotcha questions from Democrats in order to make them look bad. That would be entertaining, I suppose, but horridly bad journalism. It’s perhaps more hopeful to think that they simply didn’t bother to vet the questioners. Of course, that’s not exactly good journalism, either.

Since CNN is known for its fine journalism, however, there’s almost certainly a third alternative explanation. It alludes me at the moment.

UPDATE: Wizbang’s Jay Tea offers up a new CNN slogan: “If It’s News To You, It’s News To Us.”

Leave it to ScrappleFace (who’s actually nice looking) to come up with the best question, though:

More about the debate here
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Third night of rioting in France, and a murder.

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Rioting spreads to Tolouse as 20 cars were burned out and rioters set fire to two libraries.

A third night of youth rioting in France:

Youths rampaged for a third night in the tough suburbs north of Paris and violence spread to a southern city late yesterday as police struggled to contain rioters who have burned cars and buildings and – in an ominous turn – shot at officers.

A senior police union official warned “urban guerrillas” had joined the unrest, saying the violence was worse than during three weeks of rioting that raged around French cities in 2005, when firearms were rarely used.

Bands of young people set more cars on fire in and around Villiers-le-Bel, the Paris suburb where the latest trouble first erupted, and 22 youths were detained, the regional government said. In the southern city of Toulouse, 20 cars were set ablaze. Fires set at two libraries were quickly brought under control.

Despite the renewed violence, France’s prime minister said the situation was calmer than the two previous nights. About 1,000 officers were on patrol in trouble spots in and around Villiers-le-Bel, he said.

AP mentions the ethnicity:

The government was striving to keep violence from spreading in a stern test for new President Nicolas Sarkozy, which highlighted the anger that still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live, largely isolated from the rest of society.

No Pasaran posts on a murder in the RER D line, probably unrelated to the rioting.
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Last night on Blog Talk Radio: Pharma and Debate

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Last night I joined the guys at Heading Right who liveblogged the CNN/YouTube debate.

I had to break at 9PM for my prescheduled podcast on the pharmaceutical industry. I will post later about what my two guests, Siggy and Dr. Sanity (who called in with questions) had to say about the subject.

After my podcast I went back to listening to the debate. At 10:30PM Ed Morrissey hosted a post-debate wrap-up at Debate Central. Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse, Uncle Seth from Political Vindication and Jim of bRight and Early and I discussed the debate with Ed, who hosted both the Debate Central podcast and the liveblogging at Heading Right. Overall it was a good debate, and it was a pleasure to have been invited.

Listen to the podcasts. You will enjoy them.

Liveblogging the debate

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

We’re liveblogging the debate at Heading Right – and at 9PM join my podcast!

In tonight’s podcast: Patents and the pharmaceutical industry

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Tonight at 9PM Eastern my two guests are executives in the pharmaceutical industry. We’ll be discussing The Patent Reform Act, and its possible implications. Siggy will be there, too.

The call-in number is (646) 652-2639. Please join us!

Listen to Fausta's blog on internet talk radio

You can subscribe to my podcasts on iTunes by clicking on the above button, scrolling down the right sidebar and clicking “Subscribe with iTunes”.