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Saturday, December 11, 2004


Michael J. Totten

Comrade Hugo Chavez was in Libya the same time I was there. His poster was plastered up all over Tripoli, and on that poster was a declaration of solidarity (in Spanish and Arabic) between Venezuela and Libya. "Our roads go in the same direction" he said. I tell ya, it gave me the creeps. Nowhere I've been is anywhere near as oppressive as Libya. Ghaddafi turned his country into a gigantic outdoor mad political scientist lab.

jim hitchcock

In the Glenn Trush article, Ken Warfield says of Giuliani : "He's Kerik's biggest promoter and either he was reckless or uninformed, and neither of those things qualifies you for president. You'll never find anyone to say it, but this is a big negative with the Bush White House."

Since when?


Numerous leaders from all over the world, American allies and "enemies" alike travel to Libya, big deal.

jim hitchcock

Yeah, Michael, that would be kind of like having `Tony Blair: Coalition in Courage' billboards erected next to the `George W. Bush: Our Leader' board in Orlando.

Michael Balter

Nader's letter to Michael Moore may dish up well-deserved revenge, but it leaves open the key question facing those of us on the left: How to push the progressive principles that Nader accuses Moore of abandoning? Not by a losing battle to return the Democratic Party to its "progressive roots," which atrophied and died long ago; nor by a losing battle to revive Nader's presidential prospects. The first thing we need to do is something that has nothing to do with electoral politics: To revive the now sleeping anti-war movement that was co-opted by the Kerry campaign. And I don't mean a march every three months, but the kind of militant, morally outraged movement that took on the War in Vietnam.


Randy Paul


Thanks as always for the mention. Chávez is an excellent case study in the ends not justifying the means. There is no question that Venezuela with the riches it has - not just petroleum, but other mineral riches like bauxite, gold, etc as well as thousands upon thousands of hectares of arable farmland - should not have so much of its population living in poverty.

Similarly, it's easy to be repelled by the way Chávez has treated those who disagree with him. If he wanted to effect lasting change, one would think that power is not the only equation to effecting that change. If he had made a concerted effort to involve some of the opposition and at least attempt to convince them of the need for some essential reforms, if they had responded arrogantly, he could at least show that he had made the effort and the burden of bad faith would be largely on the opposition.

It's also easy to find so much fault with the opposition: the attempted coup and the strikes (which in true laws of unintended consequences fashion probably strengthened Chávez) as well as their inability to articulate a position other than, in true Rick Lazio-esque style, that they were not Chávez. if ever the notion of a plague on both of their houses applied it's here.


Well said, Marc. We progressives ought to take a stand against ALL dictators and corrupt politicans, no matter who they are or what their ideology may be. During the Cold War, I used to slam the Soviets and the Chinese as loudly as I attacked Somoza, Pinochet, Franco, etc. Otherwise, we're just being as hypocrital as the Right (attack Castro, support Apartheid).

Michael J. Totten

Earth to Steve. Travelling to Libya isn't the problem. I just travelled to Libya. But I did not travel to Libya to pick my a "human rights" prize from a totalitarian regime. What's hard to understand about this?

Oh, that's right. Comrade Chavez is a leftist, and you have no enemies to the left.

Perhaps you should go to Libya. Get an enemy. Get a clue.

Marc Cooper

Joint Nomination for the 2005 Mohammar Ghadafy Human Rights Award:
Steve Philion

Travel Donations will be accepted via Paypal.


What's anymore hypocritical about Chavez than, say, Hank Jackson's consorting with persons of fascist leanings and pretending they were heroes of human rights? Jimmy Carter? Ronald Reagan? I have no issue, Marc's stereotypes aside, with serious criticisms of left leaders [though, seriously, is Ghadaffi left or is Chavez much more than a radical nationalist leader of some sort of populist-militarist strand?), I just find the lopsided criticisms from people like M Totten as ironic, given his idealistic belief that Hank Jackson was some great defender of democracy, freedom, etc.


More attention ought to be paid to the shameful and shameLESS groveling at the seat of power by New York's two DEMOCRATIC senators, the loathesome Schumer and Clinton. Which of the two should win the Golden Dildo for rushing to boost Bernie Kerik because he is a bully, a cop and well-connected? I urge us to recall this moment in four years when we will be reminded how important it is to elect Hillary because she is SO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O much better than what we have. Girlfriends, she IS what we have.


hey marc, i hope you chided another well known recipient of the award in the same manner. that person was nelson mandela, who stated that when our adminstration was cozzying up to the white supremicist regime in south africa as a cold war ally, libya supported the anc. i'm not defending gaddafi, but madiba's logic seems find. i also find it absurd that in a time when US policies are wreaking havoc on people in palestine, subverting elected regimes in Haiti, and have so clearly financed coops and big buisnesss anti democratic opposition in Venuazualu, you have time to write the nonsense you do bashing Chavez as your primary target. You're increasingly having what my friend Doug Henwood dubbed Walzner moments, which when one is overcome by the inability to recognize American imperialism, and so one focuses on external and far less murderous regimes to avoid the stressful confrontation?


On Sharpton, a sleeze ball and opportunist for sure. But maybe the reason your liberal friends like him is because he was the only speaker at the dem convention to mount an articulate critique of Bush and the republicans, as well as passionately defend the poor, underclass and marginalised. In a convention where no one mentioned Bush, no one mentioned Iraq and Kerry made himslef out to be GI Joe, Sharpton blisterring critique of Bush, defence of civil rights and beatiful invocation of Ray Charles, was the highlight of the convention. So what you will, but the Al stole the show

Marc Cooper

Ahmed... You make me laugh. You are suprised I have time to bash Chavez as US imperialism runs amok? Sorry to inform you that I have also found time in the last ten days to go fishing, put a new KN filter in my car, water my plants, read an insignificant mystery novel, write an essay for PBS about gambling, cook a meal for some friends, CLEAN my fishing reels, have a few drinks, go swimming, sit in a hot tub, BUY another fishing reel I dont really need, and begin an obituary for journalist Gary Webb who just killed himself-- and worse, not once in this period have I signed any manifestos in support of the Palestinian or Haitian masses. Add to my indictment: Saturday night while bunkered in the local desert to do some writing, I went to the local Indian casino and played Blackjack for an hour (and worse, I won a couple hundred bucks off the oppressed Native Americans who own the place). Oh Comrade, how I have sinned! "Walzer moments," eh. What scary fucking language, truly fit for a Stalinist purge trial. ["Isn't it true, Comrade Cooper, that just when the reactionary forces were most relentlessly attacking us, you harbored impure thoughts? You had Walzer moments in which you privately doubted the soundness of our Marxist-Leninist ideals and our anti-Imperialist struggle? That was bad enough, comrade. But now you are facing trial because you went so far to publicly express those Walzer moments?"

So do me a favor, Ahmed, and stop worrying about my ideological soundness...I can save you the trouble of any further inquiry by CONFESSING that I am, alas, politically unreliable and prone ... I admit... to frequent second thoughts and self-doubt and that at bottom I am nothing but a dilettante petit-bourgeois intellectual with crass materialist aspirations.
Your time in any case would be much better spent asking yourself who all those American lefies are who have NO Walzer moments but do get their panties wet in the presence of a punk like Chavez. He is hardly my prime target, as you put it. But if he were, so what?
As to Sharpton... no doubt he stole the DNC. Isnt theft one of his specialties?

Marc Cooper

Tim... thanks for plugging that hole, so to speak. But I dont understand how it is that you have time to denounce Hilary Clinton when American Imperialism is stomping on the Haitian people!

jim hitchcock

Oh, man, Ahmed. First off, though I'm a new poster here, I've been reading and listening to Marc for a long time. Don't particularly like labels, but if it makes it easier for you, I'll accept `progressive'. The reason I find his viewpoints valuable is that he's not boxed in by conventional thinking. I think we all learn more when our mindsets our challenged in a worthy way; as opposed to Limbaugh-type gasbags who only effect those who never learned to think for themselves. And I disagree with you about taking on Chavez. It's sound like you only want him to take on targets that
you want to hear about. When Helen Thomas said Bush was the worst president we ever had, I agreed with her(heck, that was obvious from the get go). Bur that doesn't mean there are not other targets of opportunity, so to speak.
As far as Rev. Al being some kind of `liberal darling', get out a here! Why he was allowed at the convention(well, hell, it was for the black vote), I don't really understand, considering his campaign was purportedly Republican financed...

Randy Paul

Excellent point, Tim. They're both going to get an angry snail mail* letter from me.

(*Snail mail generally results in return snail mail which is usually a little more thougtful than e-mail responses in my experience)

jim hitchcock

Oops. Saw Coop's reply after I posted mine. KNEW there was some on-site research going on out there in the desert...

Marc Cooper

Jim... I figured as long as I was confessing my thought crimes I might as well admit what you already sussed out! Fact is... I know ur gonna laugh.... it WAS research! I had to write an essay for PBS that, in essence, exalted casino gambling as a more honest form of speculation than the stock market...so...um...yes, I had to go refresh myself what it felt like. :)
Now...back to condeming US Imperialism!

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Did the KGB sneak out of the Ukraine and put a conservative pill in your soup?

Just kidding.

Nice set of weekend reading. I would add Nader to the list of public turkeys. And it is nice to see a bit of humor and omnidirectional barb throwing on here.

Of all the figures mentioned, Sharpton is my favorite - for entertainment. Although I think he belongs in maximum security for the killing he triggered, he is truly witty, smart and not a stuffed shirt.

As for those wondering what the progressives should do next, I'll offer the advice (which will probably be denounced) that I give to conservatives who get mad when the "true conservatives" don't get elected.

Convince the people of your ideas. That's democracy. Maybe your ideas are wrong (I think most are, of course, but I'm a conservative). Re-examine your assumptions. An ideology should be a guide, not a strait-jacket.



Gary Webb killed himself?

Marc Cooper

You can read of Webb's suicide in the obituaries section of today's LA Times. He shot himself.


Chavez a dictator? Say what you want about his policies, but last I checked he was legally voted president by a majority of the Venezuelan people. Twice. Not a dictator by any definition of the word I'm familiar with.


Hey Marc, where's your ringing indictment of Mandela?-or are you not that much of a contrarian as you make yourself out to be. On the topic of Walzner himself, its not really that he doesn't acsribe to some left wing shoe box orthordoxy, but rater, on the question of Palestine he's actually an apoligist for Israel's continued agression and occupation. His blabbering fits hand in glove the wholly distorted image that exists in the majority of this country, not too mention official governent policy. Hardly an Orwellian contrarian or brve free thinking position, if you ask me. But, alas, Walzner was but the signifier. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

As for Chavez, he is democratically elected and to much of the poor and destitute population he reprresents their struggles and aspirations. I know the same can be said of any demogogic leader. My point was that the most anti democratic force in Venuzaluan politics, and civil life is not Chavez, but rather the oil oligarchs backed by US policy. When the US officially backs and supports groups attempting coups, finances them, and when media in Venuazala is wholly owned by the big buisness intend on removing the government, it doesn't exactly do wonders for civil liberties of any state. This is an important context, although, i agree it shouldn't act as a barier to intelligent an honest critique of Chavez or anyone else. But, Marc, if you were concerned with intelligent and articulate criticism, you wouldn't call the guy a clown or a punk-would you?

Marc Cooper

Perhaps, Ahmed, I should then reserve the title of clown for you if you think it more appropriate. I dont quite yet your game and am not that keen to find out anyway, But given that it's 2:00 AM in the morniong as there is nothing can do at this hour to materiall support the anti-imperialist struggle, I suppose I can go one more worthless round with you.

So let's start with Venezuela. Fact 1: The oil oligarchs hate Chavez, love Bush and live little time for civil liberties. OK
Fact 2: The only honest barriert to critique of Chavez is you, my pal. Youv are the one who argues that such critiques are immoral until we have finsihed critiquing US imperialism and it sundry allies. What an incredibly tedious point... Fact 3. Chavez has shown no respect hor human rights or for enricjing democracy.. the press law will be used to gag his noicy and often unprincipled opposition. Not tolerable, pal. Not accetable. Fianlly,.read recent news reports a bit closer/ Col. Chavez is now The Prime Interlocutor with the Forign Oil Companies.. he is the new elite!!1 HAhahahahahaha!!! ROFL!
As to Mandela: Mandela is a man not a god. He's one who has shown trememdous courgave and vision. And he also shown propensity for mundane, human politicl errors. I hesitite not one second in denouncing his award from Khadafy. We ll have our high points and lows... that was a low for Mandela for which he sould be roundly criticized.
Fianlly, I dont give a rolling flip where ur illusion to Walzer was literal or figurative... either way it's based on a stern warning thatone should not let ones mind drift the from the key struggles in front of one, especially if it is drifting in a "right" direction. I find thid formulation of yours, or Henwood, to be eaither a miserably stupid joke, or a harrowing, nauseating mode of thinking-- one truly at one with a totalitarian mindset. I mean what I said... if I meet someone who doesnt hot have doubts, who does not constantly question his views, whno does not entertain active second thoughts, them please keeo them the fuvk far away from me. These are the kind of people who get up an hour early in the morning and wlak thru the snow to have a chance at testifying against you.
Anyway, Ahmed, I leave you know rendered impotent. Because Im not a member of the LBO or similar lists, I dont give a flip if Im called a liberal. a social democrat, a traitor, a neo-con, a conservative or the daft and degenerate Ed Hermam calls me, a Cruise Missile Leftist. These epithets are but droppings from little teeny birds and are flicked off easily with a finger. I am confident enougn in my late middle to trust bith my own politics and my growing sense of agnoticism with little validation from self-appointed Bishops of Political Purity. So much time is psent worrying if a Walzer or a Cooper or a Gitlin has spent too much sympathy on an Israeli, or a Christiam or some dumb White Man. Fair enough...if you please. Who'sd worrying about all those Nation and Counterpunch readers who worship photos of Fidel, who believe Chavez is a revolutionary, or that Ghadafy was "objectively" anti-imperialist. Those aren;t Walzer moments... they are psychotic breakdowns.

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