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May 31, 2007

Comments

How dare such a network exercise its right to free speech.

People - via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and constitutionally in certain countries have a right to free speech, the degree to which that is absolute varying from place to place. Broadcast media, on the other hand, is regulated pretty much all over the world: the government grants a licence.

This is all beside the fact that the station closures clearly undermines the principles of free expression and democracy.

"RCTV is the NBC of Venezuela."

This is an inapt comparison, given the comparative records.

Your post is problematic to respond to overall, because on the one hand, my opinion of Chavez is far more negative than positive, and I heartily disapprove of a vast number of his practices, to the point of condemning many, and I'd scarcely want to cast myself as any sort of defender of him.

However, your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest, no mention of any genuine grievances of the rural and poor population, no mention of the historic lack of balance and political fairness in Venezuela before Chavez, no reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations, and on and on.

So completely absent, indeed, of any context whatever about Venezuela and its politics and history, is your post, that the overwhelming effect boils down to the point: Hugo Chavez: Utterly Evil Or Just Completely Evil?

Which is a terribly uninteresting discussion. But to attempt to balance your post with history and context would mean a lot of linking and writing, and it just doesn't seem worth the effort.

But maybe someone else will be more enthused.

However, your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest, no mention of any genuine grievances of the rural and poor population, no mention of the historic lack of balance and political fairness in Venezuela before Chavez, no reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations, and on and on.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Yes, there has been a lot of injustice in Venezuela. That injustice in no wise excuses further injustices. The issue is not whether Chavez is a good guy or a bad guy. We should focus on actions, not personalities. We can praise the good that Chavez has done even as we condemn the evil. I believe that the good:evil ratio has been falling steadily since Chavez came into office.

My own problem with Charles's post is different from Farber's.

It's that I don't really much care *what* Chavez is doing. I figure the Venezuelans can sort matters out for themselves.

And on virtually any issue re: what America is doing, Charles's judgment is not, shall we say, where I turn first, second, or third for guidance. So I'm even less inclined to credit whatever about Venezuela has his panties all wadded-up.

"no mention of the historic lack of balance and political fairness in Venezuela before Chavez, no reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations, and on and on. "

Does the lack of poltical fairness in Venezuela before Chavez justify shutting down the last major opposition station?

Considering that major opposition stations (including pro-Chavez ones) were allowed to run before Chavez came to power, isn't it worth noting that he has been shutting them down?

"with no nod to context in the slightest, no mention of any genuine grievances of the rural and poor population"

What grievances of the rural poor population in Venezuela justify effectively ending opposition free speech? You ask for context, but contextualizing it doesn't help lead to the actions Chavez is actually taking.

"Charles's judgment is not, shall we say, where I turn first, second, or third for guidance. So I'm even less inclined to credit whatever about Venezuela has his panties all wadded-up."

This is why obsidianwings isn't really worth doing anymore. So far as I can tell from the post, absolutely nothing in the post requires trusting Charles' judgment.

Considering that major opposition stations (including pro-Chavez ones) were allowed to run before Chavez came to power, isn't it worth noting that he has been shutting them down?

I think everyone has explicitly said so, yes. If I interpret Gary correctly he's simply saying it would be a much more interesting / educational post if the local context had been given.

"Does the lack of poltical fairness in Venezuela before Chavez justify shutting down the last major opposition station?"

That's not really the point. The moral relativists just need to nitpick Von... sorry I mean Charles.

Speaking of moral relativism....

Katherine and Hilzoy,

Thanks for all the posts about the Sunni's who were being held by AQ in a torture chamber in Iraq and recently freed by U.S. soldiers. I appreciate you both taking the time to keep us all informed about what "real" torture and torturers looks like.

It's great to see the outrage you both so often reserve for the US gov't turned on our enemies.

I'm sure women all throughout the Islamic world can only admire the brave stance you girls take against murders of men, women and children. I'm sure they would applaud if only they had the freedoms so many of us enjoy.

I would have loved to read more about your thoughts on the Shia's that were held, but I guess them being dead and all meant you didn't have much to say.

(Keep up the good work at always trying to tear down the US and ignoring the real murders and terrorists. Your doing great so far.)

Seb, I agree somewhat with your reaction to Anderson's comment, particularly when, of late, when Charles has posted, the informational/ideological ratio has risen a great deal.

However, I still feel obsidianwings is worth doing. True, the majority of commenters fall onto my side of the political fence, but I appreciate the comments of yourself and others form the other side.

I understand Gary's point about context, but unless Globovision is doing something that is actively promoting unrest and a violent uprising, I consider the threat that Chavez has issued to be totally out of line.

But then again, the US has been known to shut down media that didn't fall in line, although that was in Iraq.

This is why obsidianwings isn't really worth doing anymore. So far as I can tell from the post, absolutely nothing in the post requires trusting Charles' judgment.

The mere assertion that this is an event any more worthy of note than 1,000 other repressive things that happened yesterday, is an exercise of judgment.

As to whether OW is worth doing, I can't really speak to that; elementary rhetoric, however, suggests explaining *why* what you're saying deserves the attention of your audience. (A rule I can happily disregard at my own blog, b/c I don't actually have an audience; but OW isn't like that.)

"Two wrongs don't make a right."

Indeed, they don't, which would be more usefully pointed out if someone were arguing otherwise.

"Considering that major opposition stations (including pro-Chavez ones) were allowed to run before Chavez came to power, isn't it worth noting that he has been shutting them down?"

Well, yeah, but that's like, been on the front page of all the major newspapers, and on all the tv network news broadcasts. It's not exactly an obscure story.

If Charles' role is to skim the front pages of newspapers -- or of conservative blogs -- looking for topics where he can write a denunciatory post that will get applause at RedState, well, fine, and perhaps many here will benefit from that. Me, I actually read newspapers, and didn't learn anything about the situation from Charles' post.

But I'm not claiming to give anything other than my personal perspective and opinion. Charles is perfectly entitled to write a post on whatever he likes, in whatever manner and style he likes, and as a commenter, I'm entitled to, within the bounds of the posting rules and decency, say that I found it to be an unbalanced, un-edifying, post. Just as everyone else is entitled to praise and criticize as they like, and give Charles a standing ovation, if that's the consensus.

"So far as I can tell from the post, absolutely nothing in the post requires trusting Charles' judgment."

One doesn't have to trust that -- or alternatively, question whether -- Charles is presented a sensibly balanced set of facts, in a context that brings adequate understanding of the overall situation?

Obviously, my view is that Charles didn't do a very good job of this, in this case -- and there have been times I've felt that Charles did a fine job of presenting a lot of information relatively fairly, so I know that at times, on some subjects, it's within the realm of possibility -- but if I was a reader who knew nothing, or very little, about Venezuela, I would come away from this post -- it is my opinion -- with a completely unbalanced, ill-informed, perspective on the situation there that would overall tend to lead me to unbalanced conclusions if I didn't know better.

You're perfectly entitled to take a different view, of course, but, yeah, I think that much of the post requires either trusting that Charles is well-informed and presenting a picture that gives an uninformed reader the basic knowledge they need to know, or questioning that trust, and possibly finding that Charles has presented a highly distorted, out-of-context, one-sided, set of facts, because he has a huge political ax to grind.

But maybe no trust is involved: maybe Charles is infallible. How would it work that you should listen to someone, and no trust in their judgment being involved, you don't trust them, but you should still not question them, but simply believe them?

This is a serious question: I don't understand the premise that there's no trust involved in reading someone presenting a bunch of claims and assertions, no matter how correct or incorrect they may be. It seems to me that trust in the other person's judgment is always involved when people are dealing with each other's opinions.

hmm. i liked the post.

"You ask for context, but contextualizing it doesn't help lead to the actions Chavez is actually taking."

You may have missed the whole "my opinion of Chavez is far more negative than positive, and I heartily disapprove of a vast number of his practices, to the point of condemning many, and I'd scarcely want to cast myself as any sort of defender of him" part of what I wrote.

"You may have missed the whole "my opinion of Chavez is far more negative than positive, and I heartily disapprove of a vast number of his practices, to the point of condemning many, and I'd scarcely want to cast myself as any sort of defender of him" part of what I wrote."

Nope didn't miss it, it just seemed 100% irrelevant to the rest of your comment. It was a "yes, but" argument. Let's listen to you on the topic:

One doesn't have to trust that -- or alternatively, question whether -- Charles is presented a sensibly balanced set of facts, in a context that brings adequate understanding of the overall situation?

Obviously, my view is that Charles didn't do a very good job of this, in this case -- and there have been times I've felt that Charles did a fine job of presenting a lot of information relatively fairly, so I know that at times, on some subjects, it's within the realm of possibility -- but if I was a reader who knew nothing, or very little, about Venezuela, I would come away from this post -- it is my opinion -- with a completely unbalanced, ill-informed, perspective on the situation there that would overall tend to lead me to unbalanced conclusions if I didn't know better.

This combines with:

However, your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest, no mention of any genuine grievances of the rural and poor population, no mention of the historic lack of balance and political fairness in Venezuela before Chavez, no reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations, and on and on.

Now I happen to have been following the situation fairly closely and frankly I'm unaware of any useful 'context' that adequately explains shutting RCTV or Globovision down, much lest justifies it. You strongly imply that there is such a useful context--at least as far as explaining it, if your "yes, but" is intended to show that you don't think it is justified. You mention in passing the plight of the poor in Venezuala, but don't link it to the shut-down of television stations in any logical fashion. I suspect the poor under Mugabe aren't too thrilled about his rule, and increasingly that looks like the path that Chavez is determined to tread (see especially his idiotic attempt at price controls on food--it caused shortages, who could have ever guessed that would happen?).

Bril: please attempt to tone it down a touch or comment at places where content free attacks are welcome. I think one of the key problems in the current state of obsidianwings is a failure to police members of your own side. While I'm loathe to accept that you are vaguely, kind-of on my side, I feel it is necessary to pay attention to you.

You aren't helping the discussion, you aren't being logical, and so far as I can tell all you want to do is unfairly attack Hilzoy and Katherine. They write on important issues, and they can't write on everything at once. If you occassionally want to raise counterpoint issues on pertinent topics, I suppose that is fine, but doing it on this thread suggests that you are just interested in being a jerk.

Which is a terribly uninteresting discussion. But to attempt to balance your post with history and context would mean a lot of linking and writing, and it just doesn't seem worth the effort.

Whatever, Gary. I've written in previous posts that Chavez has done some helpful things, that the pre-Chavez era was no utopia, and that the current opposition is oftentimes dysfunctional and little better than the current regime, but I don't see the need to do it in every single post on the subject, and I have no obligation to anyone, including you, to insert some arbitrary notion of "balance", where balance can mean different things to different readers.

The more important issue to me is the systematic power-grab that Chavez has undertaken becoming el presidente, with each new incident taking away another freedom and amassing his control of affairs, so that's what I chose to write about. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's way more relevant to note that the UDHR in Venezuela are being trampled right before our very eyes than to credit Chavez for teaching children to read his manifestos or give out some 50-year primer on the life and times of Venezuela or whatnot. If that turns out to be uninteresting to you or anyone else, well, I guess I'll just have to live with that.

This is why obsidianwings isn't really worth doing anymore.

Amen.

Just when I was feeling left out of all those attacks all the other girl bloggers apparently get that focus on their gender, along comes bril to set things right.

"Now I happen to have been following the situation fairly closely and frankly I'm unaware of any useful 'context' that adequately explains shutting RCTV or Globovision down, much lest justifies it."

"You strongly imply that there is such a useful context"

No, I did not. I stated overtly that there is a vast amount of useful context that Charles didn't even hint at that is necessary to understanding the overall situation.

I specifically disclaimed making any defense of Chavez. Any claims that I was or am in some way defending Chavez are purely made up.

I wrote that Charles' lack of context in presenting his information made for "a terribly uninteresting discussion."

I don't see how this can be read as "implying" that the tv station shut down is in any way "justified."

I wrote that "to attempt to balance your post with history and context would mean a lot of linking and writing, and it just doesn't seem worth the effort."

It should be perfectly clear that any attempt to read into that, or anything else I wrote, an "implication" that I'm "justifying" Chavez's actions is purely an act of imagination.

Given the context of Chavez being characterized as a "leftist dictator, the claim that I've "justified" his acts is in the neighborhood of a McCarthyite-type libel, and I would be appreciative if you would withdraw the claim.

Gary -- I'm not sure it's fair to critique Charles for providing insufficient context. A number of hilzoy's and Katherine's posts, for instance, could be boiled down to Guantanamo Bay: Utterly Evil Or Just Completely Evil? (Check the Torture and Detention tag for examples.) As far as I can tell, no one but bril has objected. (And thanks to SH for his efforts in that direction.)

I've tried to assess what was unsatisfying to me about the post. It's on a topic that has not been extensively discussed on this blog, so we don't have a communal history with it. Though lots of good information was presented, I felt something was missing in the wrap-up to lead off a productive discussion ... as we are seeing in the results, I might observe. I can't specify what could have been done differently, but maybe someone else can propose a launching point.

A number of hilzoy's and Katherine's posts, for instance, could be boiled down to Guantanamo Bay: Utterly Evil Or Just Completely Evil?

I'd have to disagree with that characterization. If anything hilzoy and Katherine have - over the course of years - provided a mountain of context on that particular subject.

"Though lots of good information was presented, I felt something was missing in the wrap-up to lead off a productive discussion"

I think it's necessary to write a little about the political and historical context prior to and surrounding Chavez in Venezuela, to accurately describe and analyze the present political situation in Venezuela. It's not as if Chavez arrived in a well-functioning polity with a society without serious inequity, and huge legitimate grievances by the lower classes, and suddenly started ruining things because he's just an arbitrarily irrational guy.

But one would never know anything I just mentioned in my previous sentence, let alone numerous other critical facts, from Charles' presentation. That's what's lacking, in my opinion. But I don't want to hammer the point any further, since, no, as I started out saying, I don't feel like making the effort to write a well-rounded, even short, analysis of the Venezuelan situation as a corrective; there are plenty out there, after all.

And as Randy Paul -- who actually knows what he's talking about on the topic -- says:

Not being a fan of his doesn't make a tool of the opposition. Not being a fan of the opposition doesn't make me a tool of Chávez.
Neither side has behaved in a non-appalling way much of the time.

I always have this vague feeling that I'm being played whenever someone starts going on about Chavez. There are a great many bad guys in the world. Why does the right wing have a bee in its bonnet when it comes to Venezuela, but not, say, Myanmar?

I accept that Chavez has done a number of bad things. What I don't get is why it should be a major concern to me as an American, aside from the fact that Chavez is a Man Of The Left and thus some people find it necessary to document his every move.

"It should be perfectly clear that any attempt to read into that, or anything else I wrote, an "implication" that I'm "justifying" Chavez's actions is purely an act of imagination."

I distinguished between justifying and explaining. You clearly want more explanation. That is what complaining about lack of 'context' means. It is a strange complaint when you don't appear to have any particular type of 'context' in mind.

Again, I'm unaware of any explanatory 'context' that is required in this situation. And unexplanatory 'context' is more like what bril introduces, so I certainly hope that isn't what you are asking for.

Steve, Myanmar is not providing US a significant chunk of its oil imports. And the generals don't go around making disparaging remarks about Our Leader. And maybe for some, the Myanmar generals are on the side of good, against a populist rabble demanding democratic changes.

And I did agree with Charles' post, in a context-free non-nitpicking way. First time for everything, I think. Thanks, Charles.

How about a discussion of when did different people start thinking that Chavez had jumped the shark?

I wouldn't have written the post the way that Charles did but I don't see it as problematic in the way that some seem to. If you have additional context at the ready, Gary, I'd be interested; otherwise, I'm not really sure what your point is.

[I totally agree with Steve's vague befuddlement -- ok, my vague befuddlement as summarized by Steve -- about why Chavez is singled out for such condemnation, but I think that's orthogonal to the main point here.]

I think that much of the post requires either trusting that Charles is well-informed and presenting a picture that gives an uninformed reader the basic knowledge they need to know, or questioning that trust, and possibly finding that Charles has presented a highly distorted, out-of-context, one-sided, set of facts, because he has a huge political ax to grind.

I don't agree with this, and don't think the criticism of the post is justified. Charles is presenting facts quoted from Reuters, among other sources. He's not just making factual assertions on his own authority. Some may find this information uninteresting, or already so well-known as to not be worth repeating. I don't.


Chavez gets a lot of press and, let's face it, is admired in some circles for criticizing the US. To talk about other aspects of his rule is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I see no reason why a comprehensive analysis of Venezuelan politics is needed to post about these incidents.

Excellent post, Charles. Try to ignore the folks who can't seem to get past their own partisanship.

This is why obsidianwings isn't really worth doing anymore.

Amen.

I am beginning to come around to this view as well. Grudgingly.

Just to repeat the gist of what others have said: Charles did not provide a comprehensive outlining of the context in which Chavez is. Perhaps others might have written a more comprehensive story with introduction and background links -- but Charles doesn't normally write entries like that (although he has written them in the past, when pressed). That's all ok.

I have dark beliefs about why Chavez was first raised to prominence as a boogeyman, but certainly there are some aspects of his reign that are troublesome. Of course, for things done in the US, we have all been assured by some people that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" and sedition is a treasonable offense, so I'm sure they're not worried about what the Decider in Venezuela is reluctantly forced to do.

Lastly, Charles makes a very big claim as a small part of his argument. Corporations do not have rights; that includes free speech. Persons have rights. It might not matter much in this case, but corporations are arbitrary assemblages of people under the law... there's nothing intrinsic about them.

Is it just me, or was the wish for more context simply a minor point, one which has nothing to do with partisanship.

This is why obsidianwings isn't really worth doing anymore.

Amen.

I am beginning to come around to this view as well. Grudgingly.

Now wait a minute. Two commenters make negative remarks about the post, and there are a couple of other quibbles and suddenly it's all left-wing groupthink and beating your head against the wall and so on?

That seems extreme.

Brian,

Lastly, Charles makes a very big claim as a small part of his argument. Corporations do not have rights; that includes free speech. Persons have rights. It might not matter much in this case, but corporations are arbitrary assemblages of people under the law... there's nothing intrinsic about them.

Persons have rights, and persons make up Corporations. It is intrinsic.

So now von thinks that ObWi is being ruined by Rabid Leftist Gary Farber? I can only come to that conclusion based on his crack about "folks who can't seem to get past their own partisanship." Gary is the only one who complained, therefore von concludes that he must be doing so out of partisanship? (And gets pluralized in the bargain.) Help me out, here, von. Talk me through this one.

Gary has, in the past, certainly been critical of Charles' posts, usually on the basis of facts, context, etc. Are you really -- REALLY -- chalking it up to partisanhip?

Jesus F. Christ. If anything, that's why ObWi isn't worth doing anymore. Certain posters seem to hate being held to account for what they write. If you really detest it that much, I'm sure there's someplace you can find a yes-man audience on the Internet.

There is a thing called corporate free speech and it has been expanded as have many corporate "person" rights.

I'm sorry to see a crisis of confidence going on around here. I always found this a pretty solid, even-tempered place to pick up some perspective and prick up some interest for further thought and research. That's all I need. Thanks to all the contributors.

I know next to nothing about Venezuela, but I've actually been to Myanmar (and studied and lectured on it). So:

Myanmar is not providing US a significant chunk of its oil imports.

Just wait. At least one US company is involved (over various populist protests) in trying to exploit Myanmar's oil, which has been on the international market for over a century now, IIRC. The only question is whether we can outbid China and Japan for it.


And the generals don't go around making disparaging remarks about Our Leader.

Susmariaosep!! We're back to FDR (or Cordell Hull, or someone) on Somoza (or Trujillo, or someone): "He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." I had hoped we had progressed somewhat further in our critique of morality over the last half-century-plus.


And maybe for some, the Myanmar generals are on the side of good, against a populist rabble demanding democratic changes.

I hate to go all Godwin on you, but for some Hitler was on the side of good, against a populist rabble with Jewish-Communist-homosexual-decadent tendencies.

A case might be made for singling out Chavez and Venezuela for particular opprobrium, among the world's despicable leaders. But it's going to be really really hard to make that case if your counter-example is Myanmar.

It seems possible (on reflection) that you - kvenlander - may have intended this whole thing ironically. If so, just regard this as a clumsy effort to make explicit what you cunningly left implicit. But I have to say that since I don't "know" you, in the sense of having read many of your comments before, I can't afford to assume this, and if you're even remotely serious, your argument needs to be swiftly rebutted.

"So now von thinks that ObWi is being ruined by Rabid Leftist Gary Farber?"

Let me help: Smash the Gang of Four! To rebel is justified! Comrade Mao Zedong is the greatest Marxist-Leninist of the modern age! Warriors love reading Chairman Mao's books most! The sunlight of Mao Zedong Thought illuminates the road of the Great Proletarian Revolution! I'm a battlefield hero as well as a labor hero! Everyone come to kill sparrows! Eliminate The Four Pests! The life of the peasants is good after land reform! Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius! Carry on the struggle to the end to strike against the right deviationist wind! Turn philosophy into a sharp weapon in the hand of the masses! Earnestly study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletatiat!

I accuse Von of being a rightist deviationist!

See, it turns out Von was correct! I'm pretty darn leftist.

Now to fetch that dunce-cap we make rightist deviationists wear when we have the ObWi self-criticism sessions known as "comment threads."

Von is probably a landlord, as well as a counter-revolutionary bourgeois imperialist reactionary renegade, traitor, scab, and running dog puppet!

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Gary for providing context and nuance. The idea that Gary's response is partisan is laughable.

I'll be the partisan here. Suppose NBC helped organize a months-long strike against the administration of a U.S. president, and then showed over and over manipulated footage that made it look as if supporters of the president were firing on a demonstration (but in fact were being fired on from a mostly empty street and buildings nearby), cheered on a coup, and refused to show footage of the president restored to office by popular demonstrations... would the broadcast license be renewed? I think not. Of course, we'd have FCC hearings: process.

Chavez, if he were smarter, should have a process too. But in fact he'd be making it up, since there isn't an established judicial or administrative process to handle a station's appeal against failing to renew their license.

In April 2002, I felt as if I were reliving the worst periods of my life. Then, when the military and people of Venezuela defeated the coup, I was euphoric with relief. I didn't have a moment's doubt about who was promoting and funding the anti-Chavez campaign that I'd been documenting for a year or more: the NED, the IRI, and the Iran-Contra alumni that were all over the Bush administration.

But, just as terrorism like blowing over the twin towers unites a nation behind an increasingly unpopular idiot president, an attempted coup hands an autocrat the excuse he needs to crack down.

I've been around the track. I don't think Hugo Chavez is any kind of liberal. But RCTV is the voice of the oligarchy, which organized and fomented the coup of 2002. Reporters Without Borders has compromised itself fatally by taking money from the U.S.-government-funded NED. My criticism of the shutdown is entirely procedural, not substantive.

Persons have rights, and persons make up Corporations. It is intrinsic.

Are the people who made up Globovision being arrested for exercising free speech, or has Globovision merely had it's license revoked (which, per above, I think is undemocratic)?

There is a thing called corporate free speech and it has been expanded as have many corporate "person" rights.

But we're talking about Venezuelan law and/or any international treaties Venezuela has signed. There may be "corporate person rights", but I couldn't say.

OutOfContext, I'm aware of the concept. But I think it's taken way too far (at least in the US ; I don't know to what extent the concept has been developed in Venezuela) -- a corporation has a certain amount of free speech rights by virtue of being composed of individuals -- but the corporation is a created entity, and does not have intrinsic rights.

"I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Gary for providing context and nuance."

Appreciative as I am of the sentiment, I have to note that I merely complained that Charles didn't provide context or nuance I regard as necessary to sufficient minimal understanding, and then was too lazy to provide any of it in substantive form.

"...but the corporation is a created entity, and does not have intrinsic rights."

Are you speaking of philosophical/moral rights, or legal rights?

Certainly corporations have certain legal rights in America. Whether they should or should not has been debated ever since 1886 and Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company decided, as I understand it, that under the 14th Amendment, corporations had legal rights. Debate continues.

Nell beat me to it and then some. I've been reading leftwingers who said that RCTV had been cheerleading the coup in 2002, but I haven't tried to verify this. If it's true, ask yourself how long an American television network would be allowed to operate if it had done the same thing.

Which doesn't mean I'm a fan of Chavez either. I'm with Gary on this. (Not only on the substance, but also on the laziness.)

Philosphical/moral rights. Legal rights are entirely a matter of law ... I rather suspect that whatever Chavez has done, it would not be found illegal by a Venezuelan court under Venezuelan law. As far as I can tell, he refused to renew the broadcast license,which seems likely to be in the Executive Branch's powers.

I freely admit I don't know a lot about Venezuelan politics; but I am struck by another reminder of domestic US politics, though, in some of the claims
that were made about firing US attorneys, in essence: "If it's in the president's power to do this, then it doesn't matter why he did it." (h/t Glenn Greenwald ).

Background.

A somewhat leftist perspective critiquing the Venezuelan opposition media can be found here, if you then click on "background" and then on "media." Mind that I am not endorsing their version, or in any way asserting that any specific assertion of theirs is True. It's merely an example of some of the different perspectives that a rounded report might include.

Then there's this, and the attached links at the bottom.

Again: this is in no way to justify, or in any way to defend Chavez's shutting down of the tv stations.

I merely think that comparing RCTV to NBC is ludicrous, and I don't see how anyone remotely knowledgeable of Venezuela could possibly honestly make that claim, absent NBC overtly working to overthrow G. W. Bush in a military coup, which I suppose it's possible Charles feels isn't far from the truth, though I've seen no evidence that he's drunk that particular kool-aid.

And, of course, the coup actually happened, although it didn't last long, in Venezuela, though I've missed one taking place here.

As I said, neither side in Venezuela is admirable. That's worth pointing out someone is when denouncing one side, and one side only, no matter how deserving that one side is.

I'd say the same of anyone explaining why Hugo Chavez is wonderful, and everything he does is justified, or who only posts a lot of information about the questionable doings of the Venezuelan opposition and media, but says not a single negative thing about Chavez.

Those would both be highly misleading summaries.

I realize that the BBC is a terrorsymp anti-American product of European socialism, but I note that here the writer states as a point of fact that: "Many media outlets, including RCTV, supported a bungled coup in 2002 and a devastating general strike in 2003 that failed to unseat the president," for what it's worth.

Did NBC also do something comparable?

Gary,

Thanks for the mention and the kind words.

There are few things that I find more detestable and unpleasant than writing about Chávez on my own blog.

I have a bit of experience having worked for nearly 20 years with broadcasters and acquainted myself with a better than average non-lawyers knowledge of what it usually takes to lose one's FCC license or to have a petition to deny go in the favor of the petitioner (Publius, please feel free to chime in on this and correct me if need be).

I know of no one losing a license renewal despite plenty of petitions to deny. The only instances I am aware of someone actually getting their existing license cancelled was in the case of Michael Rice who owned radio stations in Missouri and Indiana and was convicted of sexual assault against minors.

In addition to the administrative law hearing cancelling the licenses, Rice also appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but was denied and the clincher for the FCC revocation was the nature of his crime.

The important distinction is this: the revocation of Rice's licenses was not a decision effected by the executive branch, but by an independent agency. In my opinion, the procedure was unfair and I don't believe that whether or not RCTV was a cheer leader for the coup is reason enough to deny a license renewal. Active participation in the coup would be, but if that were the case, there is a remedy for that: arrest, indictment and trial. To my knowledge n o one in the management of RCTV has been convicted of involvement with the coup.

"In my opinion, the procedure was unfair and I don't believe that whether or not RCTV was a cheer leader for the coup is reason enough to deny a license renewal."

Agreed. Thus my refusal to defend Chavez, and if I haven't been clear, I utterly and unreservedly condemn his actions against Venezuelan media, and not just in the case, but in a long history of his abuse of the media over many years now, which is but a part of his many years of arbitrary abuse of power in general, all of which I thorough condemn and oppose.

Nell,

Regardless of whether RSF accepted money from NED (I might add that the public organizing the "NO" vote against Pinochet in the 1988 plebiscite also received valuable financial support from NED, so it's not ipso facto a bad thing), Human Rights Watch, AIThe Inter-American Press Association and The Committee to Protect Journalists have all come out against Chavez's position in this.

By the way, for some of the most balanced and sensible comments I have read about Chávez, click here and scroll down.

If NBC cheered for a military coup staged against an American President, I find it hard to believe they wouldn't lose their license.

Donald,

Given that it's a hypothetical, it's probably hard to dissuade you, but I think that if you understood the process by which licensees were punished for their actions, you'd see that it would be highly unlikely.

Active participation in the coup would be a crime. Cheering it on would probably be argued as free speech. Think of the things that James Dobson and Jerry Falwell said during the Clinton presidency.

In any event, I find it somewhat hypocritical that Chavez would complain about a coup being committed against him as he committed one himself in 1992.

I'm not a fan of Chavez and I knew he was a coup-committer himself. As for the hypothetical, no, comparisons to what Falwell and Dobson said when there wasn't a coup aren't convincing to me. If some nutcases staged a coup against Clinton and NBC cheered it on--well, I think it's the context that matters here.

I tried reading the HRW link and then went directly to HRW, but find that none of the reports I clicked on seemed to download. Don't know what's going on there--we got a new computer recently and it is light years ahead of our previous (7 year old) computer, but I could read HRW documents on that one.

"In any event, I find it somewhat hypocritical that Chavez would complain about a coup being committed against him as he committed one himself in 1992."

I think it would be beyond many elected leaders who are far more saintly than Chavez to approve of people's right to commit a coup against their government, even if they had supported, or led, one in the past. :-)

Are there any examples of such politicians actually existing, or having existed, anywhere?

Perhaps we might consider Jefferson's "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" to encompass such a position, but I remain doubtful that Jefferson would have approved of the right of someone to have removed him from the presidency by an unlawful coup.

"Don't know what's going on there--we got a new computer recently and it is light years ahead of our previous (7 year old) computer, but I could read HRW documents on that one."

It wouldn't be the hardware, but your browser, or some other software (security type, such as ad-blocker, download accelerator, or whathaveyou), causing the problem via some setting or other, if the problem is on your end.

Try to ignore the folks who can't seem to get past their own partisanship.

FWIW, von, I don't think you're getting grilled because of partisanship per se; you're currently getting grilled because no-one knows wtf point you've been trying to make.

I don't think Gary is being partisan, he just has (thus far anyway) repeatedly complained....without a point. If you think there is 'context' needed to understand why Chavez should/did/might want to shut down opposition media, feel free to provide it. Since nearly every politician would love to be free from criticism, I don't think I'll find the 'context' particularly illuminating, but feel free to try.

But to whine about lack of context, without trying to provide it and without showing why it is neccessary, strikes me as deeply silly.

I'll say this: I don't think any context can defend the actions Chavez is taking with respect to the media. None of the actual 'context' available is pertinent to that. So from that point of view, a repeated plea for 'context' sounds like a mealy-mouthed defense if you can't defend the need for 'context'. Now from your history, Gary, I'm perfectly willing to believe that is not your intent. But what one intends to communicate and what is actually communicated is not always the same thing. I see no more reason to believe that 'context' is needed here than when bril whines that katherine and hilzoy aren't paying attention to the 'context' of torture. They are paying attention to the context, and the context doesn't help.

Sebastian, I'm not foolish enough to try to speak for Gary, but I almost posted a compact equivalent of some of his comments, and here's what motivated me:

Context matters in the case of Chavez because he's not acting in a vacuum. The US government endorses his overthrow, and has sponsored efforts at this. The station that got closed was part of one of the big efforts to overthrow him. I've been reading some recently about the history of the 1918 influenza, which inevitably leads to talking about wartime measures and crisis responses, and I'm forced to conclude that if there were a nation of five billion people (that is, one about as much larger than us as the US is larger than Venezuela) committed to our overthrow and underwriting rebellious groups within American society, our civil liberties would not survive intact.

Arguments about whether Chavez would be a nice man and, say, no more despotic than the Prime Minister of Sweden don't enter into this. The fact is that he's under the gun, and he has the example of Iraq to remind him that a motivated US is a destructive US...exactly as we would be in his situation. Charles keeps writing about Chavez and Venezuela as though there is no massive threat to the survival of Chavez's government nor any massive backing for forces of corporate control and civil repression widely hated within Venezuelan society. That absence feels to me a lot like writing about the history of life in the Cretaceous era and the Tertiary era without ever actually mentioning that there was a mass extinction in there. It's...not especially good for getting a sense of what's driving events.

I for one am not in a position to fairly assess Venezuelan developments, and you'll notice that I'm not attempting to say anything about them here. I do note that our own government has in the past had senior officials proposing the bombing of middle-of-the-road think tanks and attempting prior restraint, and in the current administration has tried to browbeat the government of Britain into supporting the bombing of television stations, without facing anything like that hypothetical hostile nation eleven or twelve times our size, which makes me skeptical of some of the dudgeon. It could well be that Chavez is qualitatively worse than we'd be in the same situation, but I am skeptical. (Which is to say, persuadable.)

CB: Perhaps YouTube has come none too soon.

This is richly ironic, since it was an independent video, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, that exposed the fabrications of RCTV and the other private channels, which all supported the 2002 coup and the rightist mobilizations that led up to it.

As a matter of fact, the video itself is on YouTube/Google Video.

I'm very glad that a large country with valuable resources is choosing an alternative to the U.S.-led economic system, a game rigged against the populations of most countries who participate. That doesn't mean I don't see Chavez' caudillism, or approve of it. But the best way to create more space for Venezuelans to make legitimate criticisms of policy and process is to quit threatening and undermining his government.

George Bush and his little gang of contra retreads are a political gift to Chavez. I wish I thought any Democratic candidate for president would be much different. But no. Chavez' big sin is to defy the neoliberal economic consensus, to organize and support other Latin American countries in ditching the IMF model. His anti-democratic actions hand Democrats the opportunity to denounce him, and every one of them will continue to support U.S. funding of organizations that work with his political opponents.

And such U.S. intervention is regarded as our right, and utterly normal, by the vast majority of 'respectable' pundits and pols.

Dang. Sorry about the links.

Official site for The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

TRWNBT on GoogleVideo.

extremely late follow-up to spartikus, at 3:55pm yesterday:

If anything hilzoy and Katherine have - over the course of years - provided a mountain of context on that particular subject.

You're right, and re-reading my post I realize I could have expressed myself better. I was trying to get to the point you made with my comment "It's on a topic that has not been extensively discussed on this blog, so we don't have a communal history with it."

Thanks to the several posters who have shared their knowledge of recent opposition history in Venezuela -- I was aware there was some funny business going on, but the ... context ... was very helpful.

But to whine about lack of context, without trying to provide it and without showing why it is neccessary, strikes me as deeply silly.

Personally, I find this entire back-and-forth about context, etc and how that couples into the lack of subjective effervescence of Charles' post(s) extraordinarily tiresome. Normally I keep this sort of observation to myself, but since we're all sharing how bored and disappointed we are with posts and the comments of others, I feel it's my duty to feed the bonfire.

Or something. Irony, or meta; take your pick.

FWIW, von, I don't think you're getting grilled because of partisanship per se; you're currently getting grilled because no-one knows wtf point you've been trying to make.

I was referencing the grilling Charles was getting, not my own grilling.

I thought people were actually providing some of the context Charles had left out--it's highly uncharacteristic for Gary to just complain about lack of context and not provide it, but you'll notice he started providing it by late last night.

I'm a little disappointed that Gary didn't provide full context for his complaint about lack of context.

Well, there's that, but I'm not sure the series would converge.

I'm a little disappointed that Gary didn't provide full context for his complaint about lack of context.

I don't understand...what's this in context of?

Points I'm happy to grant:

Chavez has been issuing threats against the private media since the coup. Most have changed their editorial line and coverage since then, particularly after Chavez' victory in the 2004 referendum. Intimidation or classic corporate-media awareness of which side the bread's buttered on? Or both?

RCTV continued its pre-coup approach. Its license has not been renewed. I don't know whether there's anything like the first amendment in the Venezuelan constitution; there certainly is no body that works like the FCC.

RCTV's physical assets have been expropriated and converted to a state-owned channel. Unlike many commenting here, I'm not unalterably opposed to expropriation in principle. In this case I believe it's handing Chavez' critics a big hammer, especially given that there is already one govt-run station. I've also heard nothing about compensation to RCTV.

Between the coup and the referendum, Chavez prosecuted very few of the coup participants. Four military officers who supported the coup were absolved by the Venezuelan Supreme Court in what HRW called a highly questionable decision. Chavez' majority in the National Assembly responded to that decision by expanding the size of the Supreme Court from 20 to 32, passing a law to do so in May 2004 and then naming the new judges in December, after the referendum. The new court annulled the acquittals. I have no information on what happened next in terms of sentencing, etc.

It's a deplorable and predictable cycle of hostility, intimidation, subversion, and hyped-up outrage -- on both sides.

The people of Venezuela have in principle gained a lot more control over their communities and destiny during the Chavez years. In practice, too, in many cases. It's an experiment I'd like to see continue, but it's being endangered by the blowhard who set it in motion as well as by the traditional enemies of popular economic sovereignty.

One last unfashionable effort to respond substantively to Charles' post:

What did Globovision broadcast that Chavez interpreted as a call for his assassination?
A former RCTV manager (and former Chavez spokesperson, now head of TeleSur), says:

If you show the images of [the assassination attempt on] Pope John Paul II ... and you put a music saying, “Everything has its end. People, go look for the end,” and in a context where you are reporting on all this vitriolic chants against the government and calls for to rebel against the government and denounce a dictatorship, that simple historic image gets a new context, and the message gets a very clear direction.

I believe what Mr. Izarra is doing there is called 'putting it in context'. {ducks, runs}

Let's try this on: there's a broadcaster that's undermining our efforts in the Middle East. Funded by our enemies. What's the proposed solution of Charles The Fighter For Freedom Of The Press?
Blow it up.

Quite simply, this station represents another front in the War Against Militant Islamism. The station's content consistently espouses violence against Shiites, the Iraqi government and American forces.

For this reason, al-Zawraa should be destroyed.

This isn't a push against free speech. After all, speech that incites violence is commonly restricted in First Amendment cases.

More often than not, the best way to fight the Information War is to respond with more and better information. However, in cases such as this one, where speech is used exhort Sunnis to kill Shiites, Iraqi government officials and American forces, shut it down. If the Syrian government refuses to cooperate, then they are committing an act of war against the United States (in my opinion), and the Coalition has every right to find the damn studio and launch a military strike against the al-Zawraa station.

How's that for "context"?

"I thought people were actually providing some of the context Charles had left out--it's highly uncharacteristic for Gary to just complain about lack of context and not provide it, but you'll notice he started providing it by late last night."

I have yet to see any 'context' provided by anyone on this thread that makes Gary's charges of "your post is so wildly off-balance" or "One doesn't have to trust that -- or alternatively, question whether -- Charles is presented a sensibly balanced set of facts, in a context that brings adequate understanding of the overall situation?" worthwhile as other than griping.

With the 'context' that has been provided, he sounds very much like bril when bril whines that it isn't possible to talk about the evils of torture without going into depth on the evils of Muslim cultures, and the attacks of 9/11, and how wimpy Democrats are. None of those things excuse torture. None of the 'context' provided by those facts and assertions add much to the conversation about torture.

Using government power to outlaw unfavorable media attention is fascistic. Full stop.

Popular left leaning voices like Neiwert (and I use him by way of illustration, I'm so not getting sucked into another round of why I find him unconvincing) claim to detect fascism at even extremely roundabout hinting in the direction of journalists. Actually taking over the opposition TV station and turning it into a part of your party's information organ should therefore be immediately noticeable as dangerous to those who think that freeish speech has an important role in good society.

In even semi-free countries it is a move that signals a very serious retreat from freedom. Like torture, there are very very few 'contexts' that make that 'explainable' in the sense of rendering it necessary to the discussion. Venezuala is not in that position.

"The people of Venezuela have in principle gained a lot more control over their communities and destiny during the Chavez years. In practice, too, in many cases. It's an experiment I'd like to see continue, but it's being endangered by the blowhard who set it in motion as well as by the traditional enemies of popular economic sovereignty."

Things like this is why noticing Chavez's moves toward fascism is important. He is taking his country down the same road as Mugabe, yet still gets things like the above.

As Bernard said: "Chavez gets a lot of press and, let's face it, is admired in some circles for criticizing the US. To talk about other aspects of his rule is a perfectly reasonable thing to do."

More history and fun facts on the Venezuelan media, circa 2002, from a private media p.o.v.

Things like this is why noticing Chavez's moves toward fascism is important.

I thought it was communism.

Anyways, this comment juxtaposed with Carleton's 12:40 is quite illuminating.

Interesting Carleton, how do you think your 'context' applies.

Do you agree with the post on al-Zawraa, and therefore want to use it as a counter-example showing that repression is OK?

Or, do you disagree with it, suggesting that the the Chavez move might be bad?

Or maybe you want to analogize or distinguish the Venezualan case from "However, in cases such as this one, where speech is used exhort Sunnis to kill Shiites, Iraqi government officials and American forces, shut it down." Perhaps you believe that negative portrayals of Chavez are similar or different from attempting to foment revolution and actually attempting to incite particular acts of violence.

Like Gary, you mention an interest in context but in fact provide no such thing. What context are you attempting to provide when you raise the facts you raise?

Are you aware that people are starving in Africa? Do you know that plants photosynthesize? Did you know that malaria is spread by mosquitos? Are you aware that Al-Qaeda is EVIL?

If you don't link the information to the discussion, you aren't actually providing 'context'.

Yes, many Venezualan people are poor. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

Yes, Chavez doesn't like the US. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

Yes, Chavez is admired by many for the limited fact that he is willing to use left-wing economic ideas (his tactics are of course regretable). What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

He attempted to engineer a coup and had a failed one against him. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

He is attempting land reform in almost exactly the same way and with the same results as Mugabe. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

Actually the last question is easy--he thinks that enacting his ruinous policies will be easier if no one can call him on it. But that is the expected context of shutting down opposition TV stations, so I don't think it was the insightful 'context' Gary was talking about.

"I thought it was communism."

While the philosophical differences between communism and fascism are striking, their actual practices remain very similar.

What I don't get is why it should be a major concern to me as an American, aside from the fact that Chavez is a Man Of The Left and thus some people find it necessary to document his every move.

As I wrote here, Steve, it's about oil and what Chavez is doing with those oil revenues. Venezuela has the 5th largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is the 4th largest importer of oil to the U.S., and U.S. oil purchases comprise 16% of their GDP. Our economies are inter-linked, like it or not, and we are in no small part subsidizing Chavez and his revolution because of our oil dependence.

"Things like this"? Could you elaborate a bit on that, Sebastian? I'm reluctant to interpret or paraphrase your comments when you're available to clarify. Most people would not interpret the paragraph you quote as an endorsement of Chavez' action.

It's also difficult to see how my whole comment from which that paragraph is excerpted can be interpreted as any kind of effort to paper over or minimize this action against RCTV by the Chavez govt.

But I'm not going to pretend that I don't support a lot of what Chavez is doing with the economy. I do. I can't agree that Chavez is taking Venezuela down the same road as Mugabe has Zimbabwe.

He does show every sign of being a potential dictator (an elected, popular one). Further changes in the constitution, further efforts to keep himself as head of the party forever... these will be ominous signs.

In the interest of keeping the discussion grounded in fact: Chavez has shut down one opposition station. He has threatened another.

"I don't think Gary is being partisan, he just has (thus far anyway) repeatedly complained...."

I complained once. I responded to further comments on what I said.

"without a point."

I explained my point several times. Apparently if I explain again, I'm "complaining" excessively, but if I don't explain again, I don't have a point.

"If you think there is 'context' needed to understand why Chavez should/did/might want to shut down opposition media, feel free to provide it."

Curiously, that's why I wrote this, with several links. Then I added this, as well. Why are you telling me to do what I did yesterday?

"But to whine about lack of context, without trying to provide it and without showing why it is neccessary, strikes me as deeply silly."

Whining about people not providing context, when they have, strikes me as deeply silly.

"I'll say this: I don't think any context can defend the actions Chavez is taking with respect to the media."

I'll say this, again: Charles' post is problematic to respond to overall, because on the one hand, my opinion of Chavez is far more negative than positive, and I heartily disapprove of a vast number of his practices, to the point of condemning many, and I'd scarcely want to cast myself as any sort of defender of him.

And this, again: As I said, neither side in Venezuela is admirable. That's worth pointing out someone is when denouncing one side, and one side only, no matter how deserving that one side is.

I'd say the same of anyone explaining why Hugo Chavez is wonderful, and everything he does is justified, or who only posts a lot of information about the questionable doings of the Venezuelan opposition and media, but says not a single negative thing about Chavez.

Those would both be highly misleading summaries.

And this, again: Agreed. Thus my refusal to defend Chavez, and if I haven't been clear, I utterly and unreservedly condemn his actions against Venezuelan media, and not just in the case, but in a long history of his abuse of the media over many years now, which is but a part of his many years of arbitrary abuse of power in general, all of which I thorough condemn and oppose.

This is incredibly boring, but if you won't read it the first time, and accuse me of things I've repeatedly denied, and then continue to ignore everything I've actually read, I don't know what else to do, short of coming to your home or office, and sitting down, asking you to read what I wrote, and sitting there while we then discuss what I actually wrote, which your own responses otherwise ignore.

I'm also highly unthrilled with your turning to personal attacks, and accusing me of "whining." This is unnecessary and quite unhelpful.

"Since nearly every politician would love to be free from criticism, I don't think I'll find the 'context' particularly illuminating, but feel free to try."

Obviously, anything that isn't an attack on Chavez is something you will find to be unnecessary "context." Not everyone, however, agrees with your POV on that. Deal.

"He attempted to engineer a coup and had a failed one against him. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?"

One of the stations was cheerleading for the coup.

Anyway, I think this comment thread is functioning properly. Charles posts something, people think there's relevant information that's been left out, and they provide it. I for one know more about Venezuela than I did before because of it, thanks to Gary and Nell.

"As Bernard said: 'Chavez gets a lot of press and, let's face it, is admired in some circles for criticizing the US. To talk about other aspects of his rule is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.'"

Which would be relevant if anyone, at any time, anywhere, in this thread, had in any way, shape, means, or form, suggested that talking about Chavez's crimes and abuses shouldn't be talked about.

But that's a completely false and scurrilous accusation, Sebastian, so why are you put that out there?

I'm not going to engage further with your attempts to smear people who disagree with you by claiming they are defending dictorial tactics and actions that they have endlessly said they condemn. These claims are outrageous, and I'm pretty damn offended that you keep making them, and keep accusing me of defending Chavez. Piss off.

we are in no small part subsidizing Chavez and his revolution because of our oil dependence

If we were to wean ourselves from oil, others would be there to subsidize Chavez and his revolution. But then U.S. critics could do so from a much less, erm, conflicted position.

The House of Saud's not exactly presiding over a vibrant democracy. Venezuela still is, RCTV or no RCTV.

As for me, I try to fill up at Citgo when I have a choice.

Donald: One of the stations was cheerleading for the coup.

More than that: apparently, military officers taking part in the coup were appearing on that station and giving directions with regard to the coup.

And, to be accurate, Chavez didn't shut that station down: but the station's licence was due to expire this year, and Chavez has refused to renew it. That doesn't strike me as being the worst thing any government has ever done.

Now, if Chavez had bombed the station's headquarters, killing everyone working there, that would have been a war crime.

"Curiously, that's why I wrote this, with several links. Then I added this, as well. Why are you telling me to do what I did yesterday?"

I'm asking why you think that those links were so NECESSARY as to attack Charles.

It is supremely ironic that you are now whining about me attacking YOU when I've done even less than what you did when you started attacking Charles.

I have yet to accuse of you of supporting Chavez. I've noted that you repeatedly raise questions of 'context' while initially not providing the 'context' and later providing links without even remotely suggesting why they lead to information which you believe Charles ought to have provided.

If you had said something along the lines of: "there is interesting context X which I am providing here, which I don't believe Charles adequately dealt with" that would have been one thing.

That is not what you did. You began with:

"However, your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest, no mention of any genuine grievances of the rural and poor population, no mention of the historic lack of balance and political fairness in Venezuela before Chavez, no reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations, and on and on.

So completely absent, indeed, of any context whatever about Venezuela and its politics and history, is your post, that the overwhelming effect boils down to the point: Hugo Chavez: Utterly Evil Or Just Completely Evil?"

That is a tone of whining and attacking without substance. You may not have intended that tone--heaven knows I often convey tones I did not intend--but it is absolutely the tone you actually conveyed. You began with the attacking tone.

"As Bernard said: 'Chavez gets a lot of press and, let's face it, is admired in some circles for criticizing the US. To talk about other aspects of his rule is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.'"

Which would be relevant if anyone, at any time, anywhere, in this thread, had in any way, shape, means, or form, suggested that talking about Chavez's crimes and abuses shouldn't be talked about.

But that's a completely false and scurrilous accusation, Sebastian, so why are you put that out there?

It is AMAZING that you can twist that comment into an accusation without realizing that your approach to Charles was much more accusatory. If that quote of mine is how you get the idea that I'm unfairly attacking you, how in the world is it that you think your initial comments weren't attacking Charles?

Like Gary, you mention an interest in context but in fact provide no such thing. What context are you attempting to provide when you raise the facts you raise?

I'd have thought it was obvious enough for a retarded Irish Goose to grasp, but Ill spell it out 'specially for you:
Charles is not an advocate for free press in general. He is an advocate for it when it suits his purposes. In other circumstances, he is an advocate of exercising willpower and doing whatever is necessary for victory.

That doesn't bear directly on whether or not Chavez is right or not. It does bear on whether the arguments that are being made are being made in good faith. Me, I don't think Chavez should've done this, but he does face a difficult situation: the lone world superpower funded groups who attempted to overthrow his government. Several major media players co-operated with the coup (eg there's good evidence that they misrepresented video footage of Chavez supporters in a manner that could only incite more violence).
This is not a 'difficult situation' to Charles though, because he hates Chavez. So he tries to claim the moral high ground- but he'd already pissed on the moral high ground in advocating the killing of 'unfriendly' media.
Ergo, having a discussion about whether Chavez is right or wrong with Charles is pointless- to Charles, Chavez's *existence* is wrong, and anything that supports that existence is wrong. It is not a real post about or discussion of press freedom; it is propaganda by someone who couldn't give a rat's butt about press freedom.

It's also unfortunate that you're using Gary's complaint about context without providing that context (which he later amended) as some sort of whiny white-noise generator. Photosynthesis? STFU.

How's that for "context"?

Your attempt to provide "context" is predictably misleading, Wu. No surprise, because judging by your history of comments, you prefer attack over dialogue anyway. The difference is that RCTV and Globovision may well prefer a regime other than Chavez's and may well have been in favor of his forced resignation, but as far as I know they did not incite Venezuelans to kill Venezuelans. Al Zawraa consistently encourages its viewers to kill Americans and Shiites and anyone else supporting the Iraq government. I'm really sorry that you don't grok that fundamental difference.

Oh, and Gary, your comment below may or may not have crossed the line of the posting rules, but it crossed a line with me.

And as Randy Paul -- who actually knows what he's talking about on the topic...

I don't see how or why you can expect me to continue a dialogue with you when such an insult is hanging out there.

"That doesn't bear directly on whether or not Chavez is right or not. It does bear on whether the arguments that are being made are being made in good faith."

In the main post, which 'argument' is not being made in good faith? Please specifically quote it. Thanks.

"It is not a real post about or discussion of press freedom; it is propaganda by someone who couldn't give a rat's butt about press freedom."

Ahhh. I see. So you think bril's tactic of attacking hilzoy and katherine's torture posts by attacking their motives or complaining about how evil Al Qaeda is represents in fact a GOOD argument. Or maybe you think it is only a GOOD argument when employed against Charles. That would be interesting in light of:

"He is an advocate for it when it suits his purposes. In other circumstances, he is an advocate of exercising willpower and doing whatever is necessary for victory."

Let me commend to ObWi readers, especially liberals, the CIP post that Randy Paul linked in a comment above, and the comments. It underscores in neon, without mentioning it, the idiocy of Chavez' closure of RCTV at this crucial moment for U.S. policy in Latin America.

My guess is that Randy Paul's and my grasp of the history and current situation in Colombia and Venezuela exceeds that of most regular posters here.

We have our differences. I'm a leftist, or what passes for one in this country. Randy's a liberal. (Our contrasting views of the NED are a useful microcosm.)

But I'm guessing also that we share the view that U.S. policy toward Colombia needs to take a new turn, and that Democratic members of Congress have an obligation on policy and political grounds to put an end to the rubber-stamping of "death squad democracy" that has been the bipartisan approach of the last eight years.

In the main post, which 'argument' is not being made in good faith? Please specifically quote it. Thanks.

Sure, you're slow today, I don't mind helping out. How about:
How dare such a network exercise its right to free speech.
In general, the indignation about the violation of speech rights.
__

Ahhh. I see. So you think bril's tactic of attacking hilzoy and katherine's torture posts by attacking their motives or complaining about how evil Al Qaeda is represents in fact a GOOD argument.

Nope. There is a difference between questioning the motives for focusing on a particular problem (ie what bril does) and changing 'moral stances' depending on who the actors are (ie what Im criticizing Charles for). Im not questioning why Charles picked Venezuela- Im questioning why he's pretending to care about the concept of a free press.
In fact, that difference is so obvious, you're statement is really more of a gratuitous insult, unrelated to the conversation. First photosynthesis, now this- you're getting classier and classier.

In the main post, which 'argument' is not being made in good faith? Please specifically quote it. Thanks.

Quite possibly this talk of a media company's right to free speech and so forth. Charles cites Reporters Without Borders, and properly so, in the case of Hugo Chavez.

In the case of al-Zawraa/Zaura...well let's see what RWB had to say:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Iraqi government’s decision yesterday to close down two privately-owned TV stations for “inciting violence and murder” by screening footage of protests against former President Saddam Hussein’s death sentence. The main daily newspapers have also been suspended for three days beginning yesterday under a curfew decreed prior to the verdict.

“As well as the growing violence against journalists in the field, press freedom violations are also on the increase,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We fear that the Iraqi authorities are exploiting the public’s concern about the bombings and sectarian violence in order to restrict press freedom more and more. Both Iraqi and foreign journalists should be able to freely report the Iraqi people’s reactions.”

The interior ministry yesterday ordered the closure of the Al-Zaura and Salah-Eddin TV stations for broadcasting images of demonstrators brandishing pictures of Saddam and protesting against the court’s verdict. They had incited sectarian violence, the ministry claimed, without specifying when they would be allowed back on the air.

The difference is that RCTV and Globovision may well prefer a regime other than Chavez's and may well have been in favor of his forced resignation, but as far as I know they did not incite Venezuelans to kill Venezuelans. Al Zawraa consistently encourages its viewers to kill Americans and Shiites and anyone else supporting the Iraq government. I'm really sorry that you don't grok that fundamental difference.

First, the stations may have *assisted* in the coup. That would be a crime- and in many places a capital crime- just as advocating murder would be.
Second, analogy is never perfect. Pointing out that the analogous situation isn't *exactly the same* as the original situation isn't a criticism. It's merely an observation that it's an analogy.
Third, you advocating killing the journalists in question, which is also much more harsh than the non-renewal of a broadcast license. I can barely imagine the state of your pretend indignation if Chavez had *blown up* the offending station...

In fact, that difference is so obvious, you're statement is really more of a gratuitous insult, unrelated to the conversation. First photosynthesis, now this- you're getting classier and classier.

To make it clearer: the analogous situation would be a hilzoy post cheerleading someone's torture, not hilzoy choosing what she wants to post about.
To return the favor: you are bril-like in your obtuseness and lack of attention to detail.

There have been something like a half-dozen posts raising rather important issues with your post, Charles. Would you mind actually responding to them instead of getting in a snit that someone claims you don't know what you're talking about?

Sebastian: Using government power to outlaw unfavorable media attention is fascistic. Full stop.

While I tend to agree with that, what if the media attention is calling for a coup? What if the media is calling for genocide, viz. Rwanda? Do you feel that there are limits to this or is the proscription against governmental prohibition absolute?

That would be a crime- and in many places a capital crime- just as advocating murder would be.

Then charge them with a crime.

Nell, part of my issue with Chávez reflects my distrust of the military in Latin America, a distrust that liberals and leftists should share. LAtin America would be much better off if it was largely demilitarized a la Costa Rica and the money spent on infrastructure instead.

And I should clarify, since it's not clear: this isn't a "Gotcha", I'm genuinely curious.

"While I tend to agree with that, what if the media attention is calling for a coup? What if the media is calling for genocide, viz. Rwanda? Do you feel that there are limits to this or is the proscription against governmental prohibition absolute?"

Like nearly everything, of course there are limits. None of them apply to the current situation in Venezuala, so they aren't part of the 'context' to be raised. The 'ticking bomb' situation is often used to justify torture, but in reality it has nothing to do with the Bush administration's use of torture. So if I were to complain about hilzoy's lack of attention to the ticking bomb scenario when she talks about the Bush administrations torture programs, I would be raising bad 'context' issues because the 'context' I'm raising doesn't actually relate usefully to what she is talking about. And certainly not enough to accuse her of being "wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest". The context just doesn't come even remotely close to justifying the action. And the post wasn't "a comprehensive look at the entire history of Venezuala".

Charles was accused for no reason whatsoever as giving a post that was "wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest". So far as I can see, NONE of the 'context' provided offers anything near that accusation. Nothing mentioned was clearly pertinent enough that it would be required to avoid "wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest." Most of it doesn't even apply at all.

"That would be a crime- and in many places a capital crime- just as advocating murder would be."

I don't understand this. There hasn't been a trial of the owners. It WOULD be a crime if it really happened the way Chavez hints, but he doesn't bother trying to prove it, because he really just wants them to shut up about him.

Conversely, the opposition controlled the courts.

Which is to say that in a country in a state of turmoil like Venezuela was and is, there might be a whole bunch of non-legal reasons charges were not brought.

Which is not, per my very first comment in this thread, an endorsement of Chavez's latest actions.

So, Sebastian, you think it'd be less fascist if Chavez sent in his police, arrested the owners, put them to a trial in front of the court he has packed with his followers, and put them to death? Yeah, pull the other one.

"So, Sebastian, you think it'd be less fascist if Chavez sent in his police, arrested the owners, put them to a trial in front of the court he has packed with his followers, and put them to death?"

That would be pretty fascist too. I wasn't trying to give the impression that I thought the only possible fascist thing in the world was shutting down the station.

Why do I have an image of Bill Murray saying "cuál es más fascista?"

Okay, as I stated before, I am against what Chavez did, unless there was direct incitement to violence. Some potential for that has been discussed.

Counter question. Sadr's paper was not calling for violence against American troops when it was shut down, just accused of inciting Iraqi's through false reporting.
Whether or not the reporting was false is open to question.

Was that action appropriate and if one feels it was, how is it different than this situation.

Serious question, with no snarkiness intended.

To add to John Miller's point, the owner and executives of al-Zawraa/Zaura also weren't charged for the actions of their television station (the owner was charged with embezzlement, but this is unrelated)

This should be taken as an endorsement of al-Zawraa

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