I Have Tape On My Mouth And I Must Scream

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Via Boing Boing, here's how Venezuela's RCTV station closed its news broadcast, the last before Hugo Chavez's government replaced the station with a new glory-of-Socialism network.


Boing Boing post here; reason on Chavez here.

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  1. Here’s hoping the opposition decides to turn this into a theme for the next election.

    Instead of launching another counter-productive coup.

  2. Wow, someday they might become as oppressive as China down there.

  3. The fact that someone so unlibertarian as Hugo Chavez could be elected President of Venezuela, then reelected by a wide margin, begs the question — do we want to open our southern borders to statist immigrants who support such tyrants? If not, how would we prevent such a Trojan Horse from being dragged into our country while still letting in those who do belive in freedom?

  4. Wow, that’s a blindside threadjack, jh!

    Nonsensical, too.

    You drinking?

  5. jh-

    “The fact that someone so unlibertarian as Hugo Chavez could be elected President of Venezuela, then reelected by a wide margin, begs the question — do we want to open our southern borders to statist immigrants who support such tyrants? If not, how would we prevent such a Trojan Horse from being dragged into our country while still letting in those who do belive in freedom?”

    Latin Americans, like most people in the world, have very diverse political views. Mexico has just elected two conservative presidents in a row.

  6. do we want to open our southern borders to statist immigrants who support such tyrants?

    Better yet: If they supported such tyrants, why would they leave their country and sneak into ours in the first place?

  7. Yet more non-sense from the Chavez regime.

    joe,

    (A) Not everyone involved in the opposition was involved in the coup (indeed, I suspect the vast majority were not given the general nature of coups). (B) The Chavez regime is responsible for this action and others, not the opposition.

  8. Will no one stop this onslaught of Venezuelan immigrants?

  9. You know, if only some Venezuelans hadn’t tried a coup the deteriorating state of Venezuela’s democracy wouldn’t have occurred. 😉

  10. Jesse,

    Well, MLB ain’t helping.

  11. Some of the information by A.I. on the current state of affairs in Venezuela.

  12. Holy crap, I feel so old for understanding that headline reference

  13. Was the triumphant music put there by Chavez?

  14. I, for one, don’t fear a plague of statist zombies eating our liberated brains and filling the cavity with proletarian blood.

    But that’s just me.

  15. Did Cindy Sheehan leave the Dems to join Chavez’s party? Dude’s a hero, obv.

  16. Jesse Walker | May 28, 2007, 1:34pm | #

    Will no one stop this onslaught of Venezuelan immigrants?

    Mexico probably will…down there on it’s southern border.

  17. I doubt that people who approve of Chavez will be eager to immigrate here.

  18. “You know, if only some Venezuelans hadn’t tried a coup the deteriorating state of Venezuela’s democracy wouldn’t have occurred. ;)”

    Si, Yankee Imperialist liberaltarians. I was well on the way to introducing free market and individual liberty reforms until the coup.

    Much like your el jefe Bush who was set to be the most libertarian Presidente ever till Al Gore launched his re-coup in 2000.

  19. “highnumber | May 28, 2007, 1:09pm | #

    Wow, that’s a blindside threadjack, jh!

    Nonsensical, too.

    You drinking?”

    No, that one had a +0 G&T rating (G&T referring to the number of gin and tonics downed prior to any given rant).

    That really was a serious question, well answered by several respondants, such as Hugh Akston: “If they supported such tyrants, why would they leave their country and sneak into ours in the first place?”

    Nothing wrong with worrying about unintended consequences, yeah? We’d all be way better off if el jefe Bush (aka Uncurious George) hadn’t been so dead certain that his glorious little war would end with rose petals and cheering crowds.

  20. Grotius,

    A) Yep. B) Duh.

  21. Here’s a good comment I found from “Kyle” at qando.net/details.aspx?entry=6081

    Sorry, not buying it, I came from the state with the foremost in poor and uneducated “ethnic” groups, Louisiana. Once the Democrats get their hands on them they never let go. I cannot see any libertarian ideas which will have a ghost of a chance once a much larger group of poor and uneducated people start to vote. The fact that Mexicans are from a socialist background but conservative to the point of reactionary on social issues ought to scare the crap out of any libertarian.

    Libs: your “leaders” are leading you astray.

  22. One sign that Chavez is still only authoritarian and not yet totalitarian – his cops are firing rubber bullets instead of real ones at citizens who disagree with him.

  23. Is it just me or did the music on that clip seem a big too… I don’t know… jovial? for a TV station being shut down by a tyrannical government?

    It seemed like some bizzaro game show….

  24. “You know, if only some Venezuelans hadn’t tried a coup the deteriorating state of Venezuela’s democracy wouldn’t have occurred. ;)”

    Chavez himself is enough of a threat to democracy, without giving him leeway.

    When we should have using his election(s) to build as stout foundation of democratic legitimacy, we were undermining it by backing that coup.

    The strength of institutional democracy in Venezuela doesn’t matter less because Chavez is a goon; it matters more.

  25. Here’s hoping the opposition decides to turn this into a theme for the next election.

    Instead of launching another counter-productive coup.

    I guess joe feels that if “evil Jews” hadn’t torched the Reichstag in 1933, then Hitler would not have been forced to commit the holocaust. Nothing like blaming the victims!!!

    It is funny though, seeing Chavez supporters (like joe), desperatly trying to defend the guy, but getting more and more uncomfortable doing so.

    It is sure fun saying “I told you so” now, but you know 20 years from now all the Chavez supporters will pretend they never liked the guy, like Communists now do with the Soviet Union.

  26. All that’s going through my head is the CCCP1 episode of SCTV…
    “What fits into Russia?”

  27. Sorry you can’t tell the difference between a system of government and an individual, Rex.

    It’s sad how Republicans have turned into monarchists over the Bush presidency.

    If only the True King was in power, all would be well! By any means necessary.

    Once up on a time, Rex, seizing power outside the law was something libertarians opposed.

  28. BTW, Rex, the cover story about the Reichstag fire was “Dutch Communmist,” not “evil Jews.”

    Read a book.

  29. joe-
    your point?
    the communists are all jews
    the dutch are all evil

  30. Once up on a time, Rex, seizing power outside the law was something libertarians opposed.

    So if G. W. Bush abolished Congress and abolished the Supreme Court in violation of the constitution, and gave himself supreme power indefinitly, you would consider that a lawful and democratic action, because Bush was elected, correct?

    So why do you consider it democratic when Chavez does it? Chavez siezed power illegally. Just because someone is elected for a term of office, doesn’t mean it is legal for them to declare themselves Dictator For Life.

    But don’t get me wrong, I *LOVE* Hugo Chavez, I don’t oppose him by any means. By using Socialism as the rallying cry for creating a brutal police state, he does does so much more for discrediting socialism that I could ever do posting messages on message boards. Hugo Chavez is a libertarian’s prayers answered (well, a libertarian not living in Venezuala).

    BTW, Rex, the cover story about the Reichstag fire was “Dutch Communmist,” not “evil Jews.” Read a book.

    Get a clue… Neither Dutch Communists nor “Evil Jews” are any more responsible for burning the Reichstag than opposition parties were for the “coup” against Chavez. You know, the coup you are using for excusing the Venezuala police state, the same way the Nazis used the Reichstag to excuse their police state!

  31. “Joe — Once up on a time, Rex, seizing power outside the law was something libertarians opposed.”

    Ummm, the Rothbardian wing of the anarcho-capitalists hasn’t exactly been coy about their willingness to use private defense agencies to overthrow what they perceive as an unlawful rule of law.

    On a related strain running through this thread, are we doomed to have every possible permutation of collectivism (communism, socialism, social democracy, New Dealism, national socialism, welfare/warfare state, and now Chavezism) come crashing down amidst utter misery before, out of desperation, we finally try freedom?

    (Still a +0 G&T rating on this rant, highnumber)

  32. joe,

    Yes, duh. So, why did you bring up the actions of a small group of people who do not represent the majority of “the opposition” and who are not responsible for the actions of Chavez’s regime?

    If the Bush administration were undertaking the sorts of measures that the Chavez regime is, would you focus on what a small minority of the opposition was involved in (whether their act was foolish or not)?

    When we should have using his election(s) to build as stout foundation of democratic legitimacy, we were undermining it by backing that coup.

    The attempted coup didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to the outcome as we see it today.

    BakedPenguin,

    There have likely been extra-judicial killings in Venezuela during the current regime. Whether they were sponsored by this regime or merely the work of “rouge cops” I can’t say.

  33. FWIW, here is wikipedia’s discussion of the allegations of fraud during the elections which Chavez has stood in.

  34. Grotius – My comment was somewhat tongue in cheek. I have no doubt the man is a thug, and I also don’t doubt that had there been no news cameras covering the protests, the fate of the (anti-Chavez) protesters might have been much worse.
    I also suspect that the relatively slow pace of collectivization in Venezuela is only due to his desire for foreign support. If he can “justify” every power grab by pointing to “provocations”, then he can lay a claim that all his actions were necessary to maintain sovereignty for the revolution or whatever.

  35. “So if G. W. Bush abolished Congress and abolished the Supreme Court in violation of the constitution, and gave himself supreme power indefinitly, you would consider that a lawful and democratic action, because Bush was elected, correct?”

    No, I’d consider it illegal.

    “So why do you consider it democratic when Chavez does it?” I don’t consider that democratic. I consider the system of elections and peaceful succession of governments in Venezuela to be democratic. Hence, my comment about the opposition and the next election.

    “Just because someone is elected for a term of office, doesn’t mean it is legal for them to declare themselves Dictator For Life.” Chavez hasn’t done that, and I very much don’t want him to. Hence, my comments about the opposition, the next election, and the strength of the country’s democratic institutions.

    “But don’t get me wrong, I *LOVE* Hugo Chavez, I don’t oppose him by any means. By using Socialism as the rallying cry for creating a brutal police state, he does does so much more for discrediting socialism that I could ever do posting messages on message boards. Hugo Chavez is a libertarian’s prayers answered (well, a libertarian not living in Venezuala).”

    That’s extremely cynical, that you’d support him being in power over an entire country just to help you score points in political debates.

    BTW, you don’t know what “cover story” means, do you?

    “You know, the coup you are using for excusing the Venezuala police state, the same way the Nazis used the Reichstag to excuse their police state!” Gee, and to think that people with your insightful appreciation for democracy couldn’t get it to take root in Iraq. Putz.

  36. Grotius,

    “So, why did you bring up the actions of a small group of people who do not represent the majority of “the opposition” and who are not responsible for the actions of Chavez’s regime?”

    Because that group of people are extremely important, as they represent the best opportunity to oust Chavez, who has always displayed authoritarian tendencies, while continuing the fragile democracy that exists in Venezuela. Unfortunately, they’ve displayed little ability to accomplish either to date. The coup, for example, or boycotting the last elections – they both demonstrate a contempt for, if not outright oppsition to, democratic norms, as well as difficulty succeeding as a democratic party.

    Shuttering this station should be a boon to them, giving them something to rally support while standing up against an imposition on free speech rights. I hope they can make it work for them in the political sphere, and don’t want to see them backslide.

    “The attempted coup didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to the outcome as we see it today.”

    No, but it’s going to make a difference in how today’s events play out in the Venezuelan polity – as will the opposition’s handling of this.

    You’re so keyed up to hold forth on Chavez, domestic partisan snipes, or whatever – isn’t the important issue here democracy in Venezuela?

  37. jh wrote:

    how would we prevent such a Trojan Horse from being dragged into our country while still letting in those who do belive in freedom?

    They couldn’t survive the competition from our homegrown collectivists.

  38. “Neither Dutch Communists nor “Evil Jews” are any more responsible for burning the Reichstag than opposition parties were for the “coup” against Chavez.”

    Uh, let’s see here:

    Venezuelan Opposition’s responsibility for anti-Chavez coup > Dutch Communits’ or evil Jews’ responsibility for the Reichstag fire

    Yup, that’s correct. You didn’t even need the implied equal sign – the responsibility of those two groups for the Reichstag fire is, indeed, less that that of the Venezuelan opposition.

    You actually got something right.

  39. Ever read about the politics of immigrant groups in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries?

    We figured it out.

  40. Nice Harlan Ellison story ref, David Weigel.

  41. Jesse Walker:

    Will no one stop this onslaught of Venezuelan immigrants?

    Cracked me up!

  42. joe,

    …while continuing the fragile democracy that exists in Venezuela.

    Do you actually think that democracy still exists there?

    Unfortunately, they’ve displayed little ability to accomplish either to date.

    (A) That’s what happens when force and fraud rule the day. (B) In 1981 that is what many commentators said about Solidarity because their efforts provoked a crackdown.

    …they both demonstrate a contempt for, if not outright oppsition to, democratic norms…

    whatever the merits of the former, the latter illustrates a frustration with a corrupt electoral system.

    No, but it’s going to make a difference in how today’s events play out in the Venezuelan polity – as will the opposition’s handling of this.

    I doubt this. The Venezuelan government has the guns and butter after all.

    You’re so keyed up to hold forth on Chavez, domestic partisan snipes, or whatever – isn’t the important issue here democracy in Venezuela?

    Actually, I am keyed up to hold forth on the current regime in power in Venezuela. I’ve been fairly particular about that.

    More important (to me) are the human and civil rights situation in Venezuela (which has always been precarious to some degree). Indeed, from my perspective when it comes to these issues it doesn’t matter which ideology a government belongs to.

  43. Here’s how Venezuela’s RCTV station closed its news broadcast, the last before Hugo Chavez’s government replaced the station with a new glory-of-Socialism network.

    Yet more proof that we’ve been right for years: Socialism really sucks!

    Hopefully someday Hugo Chavez will be thrown into a Venezuelan prison for this and other crimes against his countrymen.

  44. joe,

    Anyway, as for American involvement in the coup attempt, that is a contested issue.

    BakedPenguin,

    It is a completely unfortunate situation.

    David,

    RCTV can still (apparently) broadcast on cable and satellite.

  45. More important (to me) are the human and civil rights situation in Venezuela (which has always been precarious to some degree). Indeed, from my perspective when it comes to these issues it doesn’t matter which ideology a government belongs to.

    Joe has a crucial point here. Yeah, I’ll admit I’m a bit indulgent regarding the failures of socialist experimentation, but let’s not go ignobly rooting for human trauma because he’s not wearing our uniform.

    If Chavez fails and causes irreparable harm, which I suspect he will given our knowledge of the past, I will be saddened and furious, and frankly not thinking too much about the superiority of libertarianism in the wake of such misery.

  46. SxCx,

    I’m not joe. 🙂

  47. joe sez: Ever read about the politics of immigrant groups in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries?

    We figured it out.

    Yeah, but not in time to keep Pat Buchanan’s forebears out of the country.

  48. Hopefully someday Hugo Chavez will be thrown into a Venezuelan prison

    Maybe he can have his old cell back from when he attempted a coup d’etat in 92?

  49. “Will no one stop this onslaught of Venezuelan immigrants?”

    Investor’s Business Daily column

    http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=article&id=254621701430577

    They say Venezuelan immigration to the US is up 5000% since 2000.

    The Hordes are HERE!

  50. @Single Issue Voter

    Who’s coming? Not farmworkers or day laborers. Sadly for Venezuela, we’re getting the cream of the crop. The doctors working in department stores and teachers working in fast food places are among the many coming here who’ve had some opportunity to develop their skills as professionals and entrepreneurs.

    Weston and Doral are full of business startups, beginning with Venezuelans who own bakeries and restaurants and other businesses. Most assimilate here swiftly. Among them also are software developers, advertising account executives, doctors, scientists, classical musicians and lawyers.

    Our gain is Venezuela’s loss.

    Indeed. Now that’s the kind of immigration we need!

  51. Pig,

    Agreed 100%

    I tend not to comment much on immigration as my ideological position is pure libertarian but as policy the practice is skewed to defacto open subsidized immigration of uneducated low skilled poor while restricting the entry of the skilled, educated and relatively wealthy.

  52. juris makes a good point. In hindsight, Rafael Caldera effed up good when he pardoned Chavez back in `94. Convicted felons being barred for office for life may be a standard some find to strict, but I don’t think it is too much for a republic to ban those who perpetrate coups from holding high office.

    Kevin

  53. For a radically different look at this issue

    http://www.counterpunch.org/mcelwee05252007.html

    “But is support for the violent overthrow of an elected government really protected political speech? Vivanco acknowledges that RCTV “obviously probably sympathized with the coup.” But, he says, “it is a matter of free speech.”

    Vivanco understates RCTV’s connection to the coup. RCTV encouraged viewers to attend a rally that was part of the coup strategy, invited coup leaders to address the country on their channel, and reported the false information that the president had resigned. After Pedro Carmona declared himself president and dissolved the National Assembly, Supreme Court, and other democratic institutions, the head of RCTV Marcel Granier met with him in the Presidential Palace. The following day, when mass protests and loyal army units brought back President Ch?vez, RCTV and other stations blacked out the news, showing movies and cartoons instead.

    Such actions clearly go beyond protected free speech, at least in the United States. Imagine the consequences if NBC took such actions during a coup against Bush.”

    It is worth reading the whole thing… not that anyone will be convinced by Counterpunch, but they add some facts into the mix that are worth knowing.

  54. Neu Mejican —

    So you’re saying that Hillary wins the White House and the Democrats strenghten their hold on Congress, and if Fox News offends this new elite by airing the views of disgruntled conservatives, it’s OK for the FCC to shut them down? Or if Pat Robertson prays for some more political assassinations (did I get the right theocrat here?), it’s OK for politicians to pull the plug on the 700 Club? Or if some radical firebrands post on threads at reason.com the notion that the U.S. Government’s monopoly on the use of force should be replaced with competing private defense agencies, and intimate that the transition might not be completely peaceful, that the FBI would be justified in shutting down this website?

    Not that I’m suggesting anything like that. Nonono. Just a completely theoretical hypothetical.

  55. jh,

    I am not suggesting (or advocating) anything.
    Just adding some more facts to the discussion.

  56. And Reuters has this additional story.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070528/wl_nm/venezuela_television_dc;_ylt=A0WTUZJVoVtGWe8AfCdm.3QA

    CARACAS (Reuters) – Hours after President Hugo Chavez shut down Venezuela’s main opposition broadcaster, his government demanded an investigation of news network Globovision on Monday for allegedly inciting an assassination attempt on the leftist leader.

  57. Also on the BBC

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6699383.stm

    Globovision was the only TV station to air footage of a large demonstration against the government’s growing control over the media.

  58. — do we want to open our southern borders to statist immigrants who support such tyrants?

    Fargin Canadians ain’t doin’ too shit hot neither. Secure the Northern Frontier. Do Not Let Dudley Dew Right near any of the white women.

    And, now that you mention it, My Fellow Americans aren’t particularly good at picking freedom loving pols.

    Rosemount 2002 Merlot (Orange Vineyard). Good. Buy some. Don’t know the price. It’s Aussie.

    No, got dam it, I am not under the alfluence of incohol.

  59. And now, back to the latest Harry Bosch novel…..because, in the words of La Vida Vica, the world is wide but it is not deep.

  60. SIV, great link. thanks so much.

  61. The “well, of course they deserved shutting down, they supported a coup against the thug!” line of a lot of the quoted emails on BoingBoing amuses me. But then, the political understanding of the BoingBoing group pretty much begins and ends at “OMG, Bush and Disney are so evil!“, so it’s no surprise they’d refuse to take anything like a stance on the issue.

  62. But is support for the violent overthrow of an elected government really protected political speech?

    That would depend on the nature of the election, correct and what that elected government is doing.

  63. Neu Mejican,

    As far I know the Venezuelan government has significant control over what can be broadcast in Venezuela (even on private radio and TV stations).

  64. Grotius,

    “That would depend on the nature of the election, correct and what that elected government is doing.”

    It also depends upon what you mean by protected. “Protected” usually refers to protected by the government or the constitution…so I am not sure things are a straight forward as you imply…

    In the US you would probably start here…

    US C.
    Art. III section 3

    Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

    “aid and comfort” seems to be the charge that someone might claim RCTV could be accused of…

    But, of course, the freedom of the press is a pretty important freedom that deserves fairly strong protection from such a charge. It should take extraordinary actions to over-ride…

    The question is if RCTV crossed the line where protection from the government against such an accusation can no longer be expected.

    Now in the case of Chavez, you can bet he is thinking a much different calculus (“Can I get away with this action against my opposition…”).

  65. Grotius,

    As far as I know, Chavez has much less control over the media than he would like. A large majority is privately held and in the hands of the opposition (since the business community is Chavez’s natural enemy).

    This is clearly an attempt on his part to try and get the kind of controls that Putin has managed in recent years.

    I hope is not successful. +

  66. …so I am not sure things are a straight forward as you imply…

    I didn’t imply that they were straightforward.

    In the US you would probably start here…

    No, in the U.S. one would start with the 1st Amendment’s speech clause.

    Anyway, in the case of a tyrant it really wouldn’t depend whether the speech was “protected” or not.

    The question is if RCTV crossed the line where protection from the government against such an accusation can no longer be expected.

    If that was the case, then were members of the station prosecuted for treason? It seems rather odd otherwise to use as a punishment the non-renewal of a license due to an event five years ago.

  67. Neu Mejican,

    A large majority is privately held and in the hands of the opposition (since the business community is Chavez’s natural enemy).

    As far as I know when it comes to broadcast media the Venezuelan government has theoretically at least direct control over its content.

  68. Grotius,

    “..so I am not sure things are a straight forward as you imply…

    I didn’t imply that they were straightforward. ”

    Okay. I infered from your comments that you thought it was straight forward.

    “If that was the case, then were members of the station prosecuted for treason? It seems rather odd otherwise to use as a punishment the non-renewal of a license due to an event five years ago.”

    Read some of the links above. The law in question regarding the license give the authority solely to the executive…Chavez is making a political decision here. He will be more able to make the political case this way than by bringing charges.

    “n the US you would probably start here…

    No, in the U.S. one would start with the 1st Amendment’s speech clause.”

    You say tomato.

    The point is that the legal decision involves weighing what the government would see as Treason against the freedom of the press. At some tipping point treason will win out with almost any government.

    With an authoritarian like Chavez, given statutory authority…just highlights the importance of checks and balances and due process. (not current in V’s laws in this case…laws that predate Chavez by 20 years).

  69. Grotius,

    “As far as I know when it comes to broadcast media the Venezuelan government has theoretically at least direct control over its content.”

    This power is, if I understand correctly, via a 1987 law that gives licensing power to the executive without administrative or judicial oversight.

    Obviously a bad idea.
    It is nothing like the level of control you have in Cuba/China, approaching the level of current media oppression in Russia, it seems.

  70. Yes, the Fairness Doctrine re-emerges to the south, right before that new Congress here demands it from the FCC.

  71. “Neu Mejican says: That would depend on the nature of the election, correct and what that elected government is doing.”

    It also depends upon what you mean by protected. “Protected” usually refers to protected by the government or the constitution…so I am not sure things are a straight forward as you imply…

    In the US you would probably start here…

    US C.
    Art. III section 3

    Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

    “aid and comfort” seems to be the charge that someone might claim RCTV could be accused of…

    But, of course, the freedom of the press is a pretty important freedom that deserves fairly strong protection from such a charge. It should take extraordinary actions to over-ride…”

    “Pretty important freedom”? “Fairly strong protection”? Bah. How about under no circumstances is it treason or aiding or comforting the enemy to advocate anything in print, even advocating the violent overthrow of the government? If you go down the slippery slope of letting words rather than physical acts of violence be interpreted as treason, you’re abrogating the right the Founders claimed (I believe in the Declaration of Independence) to overthrow a tyranny that has gone too far, or arguably even abrogating the right to point out that they’ve gone too far.

    I’m not about to concede to the government the right to censor anything whatsoever. They’ve taken too much of our freedom as it is.

  72. What is funny is the boingboing commenters accenting that they weren’t shut down, they were just “non-renewed.” Without seeing that if one concedes that the airwaves are owned by the government exclusively, then one broadcasts at the whim of the gov’t in power, and that by extension our freedoms are little safer. Live by the sword, etc…

    And by funny, I mean, pedantic, yet stupid.

  73. While no doubt this is a disappointing development, I get the feeling the newly out of work broadcasters are laying on the drama a bit thick. After all, what kind of half assed dictator would tolerate this bunch of Cindy Sheehans prancing around with their mouths shut? Any thug worth his salt would have had that lot disappeared in the middle of the night long ago.

  74. JH,

    I don’t know if you got the memo, but Mexico and Venezuela are two entirely different countries. It’s also worth pointing out that the people coming to the USA do so because they don’t want to stay in the socialist paradises they’re leaving behind.

    -jcr

  75. Read a book.

    Not many regulars on here really bug me. Some, like RCD, Grand Chalupa and T. are amusing in their respective types of true believerism. Others, like joe and Rick Barton provide nutritious food for thought.

    Rex Rhino really gets under my skin for whatever reason, though.

  76. Grotius,

    “Do you actually think that democracy still exists there?”

    I think it’s hanging on by a thread.

    “(A) That’s what happens when force and fraud rule the day.” Wishful thinking. Chavez won the last two elections because he was by far the more popular candidate. Which is not to say that there wasn’t force and fraud going on, but they are not the reason why Chavez won.

    “(B) In 1981 that is what many commentators said about Solidarity because their efforts provoked a crackdown.” I’m not making that argument, that the opposition “provoked” bad acts by Chavez. I’m saying that the oppostion engaged in practices themselves that were unhelpful to democracy.

    “whatever the merits of the former, the latter illustrates a frustration with a corrupt electoral system.” I can sympathize with the motive, but the decision to boycott the election was a blow to democracy, which is the last thing Venzuela needed.

    “I doubt this. The Venezuelan government has the guns and butter after all.”

    I guess we’ll see. Taking away people’s favorite teevee shows is the sort of thing that can have a massive impact on public opinion.

    “Actually, I am keyed up to hold forth on the current regime in power in Venezuela.”

    I guess I’m taking a longer-term view. If putting up with Chavez for a couple of terms is the price of maintaining democracy, as opposed to revolving-door coup regimes, then so be it.

    I think we’re suffering from the absense of a concept – the international equivalent of “opposition.” In domestic politics, we (or most of us, anyway) can easily recognize the difference between an opposition party and actual enemies. If we’re going to be serious about supporting democracy around the world, we have to acknowledge that there are going to be elected governments that are unfriendly to us, or at least to the administration we have in place. We need to conceptualize them differently from our actual enemies. We need to concentrate on the democratic system, not the man in office.

  77. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticised the imposition of the death penalty on Saddam and said that U.S. President George W. Bush, rather than Saddam, deserved to be sentenced to death. “If sentencing is to be done,” said Chavez in November 2006, “the first one to be given the most severe sentence this planet has to offer should be the president of the United States, if we’re talking about genocidal presidents.”

    Wikipedia also notes that Venezuela is the nation that has outlawed the death penalty for the longest time.

  78. Groitus:

    Well shit. There goes my bold proclamation.

  79. So what if government forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at massive waves of protesters? It’s not like Venezuela claims to be a democracy…at least not without winking.

  80. jh says…

    “How about under no circumstances is it treason or aiding or comforting the enemy to advocate anything in print, even advocating the violent overthrow of the government?”

    I agree (that would be a pretty important position to maintain worthy of fairly strong protection).

    Now, look into it a bit deeper.
    Is this what RCTV is accused of?
    I don’t know if you can tell but I disagree with Chavez’s actions, but I think the issue is a bit more complicated than a simple “dictator closes down media” case. Chavez was savy enough to wait until this stations renewal was due, and then acted. And he provided cover for his action by pointing out that the station owner’s participated in the previous coup. Chavez did everything he could in this case to stay within the law. As shecky points out… it is not like these people were all disappeared in the night.

    His follow up threats on Globalvision are getting closer to straight up abuse of legal authority (trumped up charges)… I bet they stay on the air.

    Chavez has mis-calculated here. He will lose lots of international support and a good deal of his own people over this.

  81. Lamar,

    Kinda like we do here in the good ole’ US…

    Freedom of assembly is also a pretty important right deserving of fairly strong protection.

  82. Gee, and to think that people with your insightful appreciation for democracy couldn’t get it to take root in Iraq. Putz.

    You were the one who voted for the invasion of Iraq. I voted for a party that clearly opposed the Iraq war from day 1.

    Rex Rhino really gets under my skin for whatever reason, though.

    It isn’t “for some reason”… If I remember correctly, I called you a vicious criminal, worse than someone who mugs people on the street, for your support and participation in predatory patent lawsuits. I expressed by total disgust towards you. Of course I get under your skin!

  83. for your support and participation in predatory patent lawsuits

    Oh, yeah, now I remember. You are an idiot.

    For the record, the large majority of my patent litigation work was defense side.

    Tended to be plaintiff’s side on trademark suits, though.

    Don’t forget to check out my patent blog, but if you comment that I am a vicious criminal there, I will do the old Radley Balko routine on ya. 😉

  84. for your support and participation in predatory patent lawsuits

    Today’s entry is about how the patent appeals court found a drug patent invalid for being an obvious variation.

    So good news for the patents-r-terrible crowd.

    The case was briefed by 30 lawyers. Cause it is a drug patent.

  85. jh,

    A follow up.

    “If you go down the slippery slope of letting words rather than physical acts of violence be interpreted as treason, you’re abrogating the right the Founders claimed (I believe in the Declaration of Independence) to overthrow a tyranny that has gone too far, or arguably even abrogating the right to point out that they’ve gone too far.”

    So the “aid and comfort” part of Treason that the founding fathers included in the constitution holds no water with you?

    Absolutists are the primary cause of political violence. You seem to be taking an absolutist position. Initiation of force, use of extra-legal means to remove a leader requires, in my mind, that that leader goes beyond what Chavez has done to date.

    Joe has pointed out that the democratic institution in Venezuela is more important than Chavez. The coup leaders (which may have included some at RCTV) showed no respect for that institution. Chavez is a power hungry twit elected to power in a country with term limits. Attempts at extra-legal extension of his tenure would show that he also has no respect for the democratic institutions of his country. So far, he has stayed within the bounds of the rule of law. He should be watched closely. But political disagreements should not be solved with violence unless there is no other option.

  86. So the “aid and comfort” part of Treason that the founding fathers included in the constitution holds no water with you?

    I remember a lot of keyboard commandos making just that same argument so they could accuse prominent folks arguing against the Iraq war of “treason”.

    Joe has pointed out that the democratic institution in Venezuela is more important than Chavez.

    Whether it’ll actually survive Chavez seems rather doubtful.

  87. So far, he has stayed within the bounds of the rule of law

    No. Chavez has blatently violated the constitution of Venezuala. Imagine if G. W. Bush, as an “emergency measure”, abolished Congress, and made himself sole lawmaker of the United States. That is essentially what Chavez did.

  88. Rex R.

    Compare the details of Chavez’s actions with, say, Saddam’s when he took power…

    From Wikipedia
    Responding to the stalling of his legislation in the National Assembly, Ch?vez scheduled two national elections for July 1999, including a referendum for and elections to fill a new constitutional assembly. The Constitutional Assembly was created when the referendum passed with a 72% “yes” vote, while the pro-Ch?vez Polo Patriotico (“Patriotic Pole”) won 95% (120 out of the total 131) of its seats. In August 1999, the Constitutional Assembly’s “Judicial Emergency Committee” declared a “legislative emergency” whereby a seven-member committee conducted the National Assembly’s functions; meanwhile, the National Assembly was prohibited from holding meetings.[29] The Constitutional Assembly drafted the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, which included an increase in the presidential term from five to six years, a new presidential two-term limit, a new provision for presidential recall elections, renaming of the country to Rep?blica Bolivariana de Venezuela, expanded presidential powers, conversion of the bicameral National Assembly into a unicameral legislature, merit-based appointments of judges, and creation of the Public Defender, an office authorized to regulate the activities of the presidency and the National Assembly.[30]

    In December 1999, the new constitution was approved. On December 15, after weeks of heavy rain, statewide mudslides claimed the lives of an estimated 30,000 people. Critics claim Ch?vez was distracted by the referendum and that the government ignored a civil defense report, calling for emergency measures, issued the day the floods struck.[31] The government rejected these claims.[31] Ch?vez personally led the relief effort afterwards.[32]

    Chavez is a power hungry twit.
    So far he has attempted to use legal means to increase his power. With some successes.

    Eric.5b,

    “I remember a lot of keyboard commandos making just that same argument so they could accuse prominent folks arguing against the Iraq war of “treason”.”

    That is not the argument I am making. Aid and comfort is not the same as arguing against. It involves more than just words. It requires actions.

    “Joe has pointed out that the democratic institution in Venezuela is more important than Chavez.

    Whether it’ll actually survive Chavez seems rather doubtful.”

    We’ll have to wait and see.
    The active protests on the streets over this should give him some pause about what he can get away with.

  89. I will repeat for clarity.
    I don’t support what Chavez is doing.
    Particularly the “rule by decree” shit from January until June of next year. But getting legislative approval to rule by decree does not mean people will put up with any change attempted. Chavez will be seeing more and more blowback against his actions as he restricts freedoms. I am not sure his support is strong enough to weather that blowback.

  90. Here’s hoping the opposition decides to turn this into a theme for the next election.

    joe’s so cute, thinking that Hugo would ever permit an election that he could lose.

    Once up on a time, Rex, seizing power outside the law was something libertarians opposed.

    I challenge you to find a single libertarian who thinks the American Revolution was wrong because it was extra-legal.

  91. Are you all retarded?

    This TV station participated in an attempted coup to displace Chavez, which failed because of a huge outpouring of support from the people of the country.

    Watch this documentary about what happened:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5832390545689805144&q=Irish+film+The+Revolution+Will+Not+Be+Televised&hl=en

    The elite of Venezuela want to control the oil wealth of the country, rather than having every citizen share in the wealth. That’s all it’s about, is the elite using the media to control a population.

    Kind of like what happens here in the US.

  92. “Neu Mejican says: So the “aid and comfort” part of Treason that the founding fathers included in the constitution holds no water with you?

    Absolutists are the primary cause of political violence. You seem to be taking an absolutist position. Initiation of force, use of extra-legal means to remove a leader requires, in my mind, that that leader goes beyond what Chavez has done to date.”

    No, I interpret “aid and comfort” to mean what the Founders meant: taking traitors into your house, feeding them, patching up their wounds, giving them ammo — physical acts. I don’t interpret “aid and comfort” to mean exercising one’s First Amendment right to point out that the government has usurped its power, and possibly to conclude that this usurpation has gone on to the point that one should float the notion of overthrowing the government, as allowed for in the Declaration of Independence, and see if a substantial portion of the citizenry agree with you.

    Were the Founders wrong, and guilty of absolutism, when they said Congress may not pass laws abridging the right to bear arms (Second Amendment), abridging the right to exercise one’s religious beliefs, (First Amendment)., or to pass all kinds of unconstitutional laws not allowed by the Ninth Amendment? The Constitution has some absolutist parts — it lays out things that government is absolutely not allowed to do — and which politicians have subsequently ignored, leading to websites like this protesting such usurpations of power.

    Is that moderate and relativist enough for you?

  93. JH,

    “No, I interpret “aid and comfort” to mean what the Founders meant: taking traitors into your house, feeding them, patching up their wounds, giving them ammo — physical acts.”

    RCTV coordinated with the coup leaders, organized their broadcast agenda and content to support the physical acts of the coup leaders, and took actions to aid and support the coup. Whether the actions are simply speech or something beyond speech is the core of the debate.

    The disagreement between sides on this seems to be trying to find a distinction between what Searle would call “speech acts” and political speech. At some point along a sliding continuum, saying something can be seen as an act as real and substantial as a physical act. It is this distinction that leads to the classic “yelling fire in a crowded theatre” discussion of free speech. Whether RCTV’s speech acts cross that line in regards to the coup is up for debate, but an absolutist position does not allow for any meaningful discussion. If no speech manifests as a speech act, a meaningful action in the world, then all speech is allowed including the mythical “fire” yelled in the crowded theatre. And slander, and libel, and fraud.

    “The Constitution has some absolutist parts — it lays out things that government is absolutely not allowed to do — and which politicians have subsequently ignored, leading to websites like this protesting such usurpations of power.”

    And yet it also has mechanisms for adjusting those absolutes in the face of changing societal challenges and norms (without even getting into the fact that there is an entire branch dedicated to interpreting how those “absolutes” will apply when the rubber meets the road). The constitution allows for amendments (like those you cite), so it is not as absolutist at all. It seems, to me, to take the stance…”This is our best attempt to organize a fair system, but we recognize that there may be flaws in our view, so we have provided ways to improve this document over time.”

    Do you feel like every change to the constitution has been a negative?

    The power of government flows from the people to the government in any democratic system. Chavez recognizes that to some extent and has worked hard to win the people’s support. Abuse of that trust will, eventually, come back and bite him in the ass. We can only hope it is sooner rather than later. This latest news may be the first nibble. We can only hope it either changes Chavez’s ways, or leads to his loss in the next election (recall or otherwise).

    Violence (like the attempted coup the RCTV supported, at least, if not participated in) is a political tool that should be used only when non-violent means have been exhausted. I don’t think Venezuela is there yet.

  94. Whether RCTV’s speech acts cross that line in regards to the coup is up for debate, but an absolutist position does not allow for any meaningful discussion.

    It is not up for debate in Venezuala, because Chavez has banned the debate from public airwaves.

    But really, to say that RCTV participated in the Venezuala “coup”, is like saying that Al-Jazeera participated in the 9/11 attacks and suicide bombings in Isreal. Or saying that DailyKOS is trying to assasinate G. W. Bush.

  95. joe,

    On the issue of elections in Venezuela I will note that on at least one occassion the EU forewent monitoring because of the restrictions placed on its monitoring activities.

    I guess I’m taking a longer-term view.

    I’m not. I am concerned with the daily human and civil rights violations in Venezuela (and other nations).

    BTW, those who support the current effort in Iraq also take a similarly “long-view” approach. Whether that view is appropriate or not should note mute criticism of the Iraqi government and its inability to curb violence perpertrated by individuals in government uniforms.

  96. “It is not up for debate in Venezuala, because Chavez has banned the debate from public airwaves.”

    And lord knows that is the only way people communicate in a society. They can’t talk face to face in the street, or in their home, or through public protest, or by calling for another recall, or…

    “But really, to say that RCTV participated in the Venezuala “coup”, is like saying that Al-Jazeera participated in the 9/11 attacks and suicide bombings in Isreal. Or saying that DailyKOS is trying to assasinate G. W. Bush.”

    Those don’t seem like an apt comparisons to me.

    The main point at which I think RCTV might have crossed the line to aid and comfort of the coup was when they knowingly broadcast the false information that Chavez had resigned to provide political cover for the coup…(prior coordination with the coup’s leaders is implied by some of their other actions as well). Nothing Al J or DKos has done approaches that by a long shot.

    The best way to determine if RCTV really were part of the coup would be in a court or under an appeal to the non-renewal of the license. Both of which are not part of the process in Venezuela… too bad. Chavez, of course, could bring charges, but he knows better. The law gives him a way to act without oversight, so he is taking it.

  97. And Rex R,

    Chavez would LIKE to ban the debate, but I bet he ends up unable to do so…he may be able to get enough control of the media with his “rule by decree” powers, but he doesn’t have it yet. Closing down Globalvision without the license renewal mechanism as an excuse would be an even more troubling step than the current one. We’ll have to wait and see.

    From what I understand of Chavez’s power base… he is not without critics even within his own movement, so he still needs to maintain popular support to maintain power.

    The degree to which the army aligns with Chavez vs. aligning with the people will determine the true depth of his ability to enforce unpopular measures. I don’t think that has been tested yet.

  98. “I remember a lot of keyboard commandos making just that same argument so they could accuse prominent folks arguing against the Iraq war of “treason”.”

    That is not the argument I am making. Aid and comfort is not the same as arguing against. It involves more than just words. It requires actions.

    As you admit, the acts of “aid and comfort” you cite boil down to speech – supposedly biased or even false speech, but speech.

  99. Eric.5B,

    See discussion of speech acts vs. speech above.

    It is a categorical error to completely remove speech from the realm of actions.

    Providing disinformation as political cover for someone engaged in a violent overthrow of the government based on premeditated plans may be implemented as a speech act, but it is hardly devoid of power as an act of aid to those engaged in the violence.

  100. And to reiterate…

    Chavez is wrong to do this.
    I don’t agree with his actions.

    It is just that RCTV has provided a real-world test case that brings up some points worth discussing…particularly given the current climate in our country regarding the media’s role. Our political divide may not be as sharp as Venezuela’s, but it could get there quite easily.

  101. N&M, you don’t make a convincing distinction in this case, which is exactly why that argument sounds so much like that of the rabid “Pelosi is a traitor!” Reds.

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