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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, May 20, 2006

FBI Searches Congressman's Office in Ethics Inquiry

WASHINGTON, May 20 — The FBI raided the Congressional offices of Representative William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana, on Saturday night as part of a corruption investigation focused on the lawmaker and on a Kentucky businessman who has already ... Read on.

Nagin Wins Re-Election as New Orleans Mayor - WLTX.com

FOX News Poll on Immigration: Most Back Using National Guard

Most Americans are in favor of using National Guard temporarily to aid border partol along Mexican border. Read on...

FOX News Poll: Public Supports NSA Database

A majority of the public supports the NSA phone record data mining program, nearly half saying the program is more likely to help catch terrorists than hurt law-abiding Americans. Read on...

Senate Panel Probes Oil-for-Food Allegations to Torricelli

A Senate investigative panel is looking into allegations that former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) is connected to the United Nations oil-for-food program for Iraq. Read on...

U.S. Hopes New Iraq Unity Government Will Lead to Fewer American Troops

The U.S. hoped the installation Saturday of Iraq's new national unity government would help clear the way for the withdrawal of American troops
Read on...

Spinning, spying and USA Today

USA Today reporter Leslie Cauley travels in Democratic circles and in one case saw nothing wrong about collaborating professionally with a Democratic heavyweight. Read on...

Costa Rica's battle for popularity

Nick Rankin says Costa Rica is the crossroads between North and South American values.
Read on...

Colombia's 'lost war' against cocaine

Alvaro Uribe's against crime has made little impact on Colombia's coca fields, where the raw material for cocaine is grown, writes the BBC's Matt Frei. Read on...

Nepal companies face Maoist 'tax'

Many companies in southern Nepal suspend operations saying they cannot cope with acts of financial extortion by Maoist rebels. Read on...

Montenegro votes on secession

The people of Montenegro go to the polls on Sunday to vote in a referendum on independence.
Read on...

World leaders back Iraq cabinet

Iraq's first full-term government since the US-led invasion is welcomed, as the cabinet prepares to meet. Read on...

Democrats hope to rattle Allen
Democrats know unseating the incumbent Virginia Sen. George Allen would be a long shot, but they hope that their best attempt will tarnish his image, force him to drain his $7 million campaign accounts and take the wind out of his presidential sails.

White House waits on marriage
President Bush's spokesman said the White House supports the constitutional amendment that passed a Senate committee Thursday to define marriage as between a man and a woman, but the spokesman would not call it a priority.

Probe finds air marshals at risk
A two-year investigation found that Federal Air Marshal Service policies undermine marshals' anonymity, and it indicates terror groups have done reconnaissance of in-flight security, says a congressional report obtained by The Washington Times.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Senate Panel Approves Federal Marriage Amendment

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The 10-8 vote, along party lines, followed a showdown between committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). Read on.


Senate Approves English As ‘National’ Language
The Senate on Thursday voted 63-34 to adopt an amendment declaring that there is no affirmative right to receive government services in languages other than English, except where required by federal law. Supporters hailed the symbolic measure as "unifying," while critics called it mean-spirited and racist...

Potential Foes in ’08 See Eye to Eye on Illegal Immigration
If you’re expecting a 2008 presidential showdown between New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, don’t expect sparks to fly on the subject of illegal immigration: Some say there’s little difference between the two politicians on that issue...

More Nuclear Power, Bush Says; No Oil Drilling, Pelosi Insists
Politicians of all stripes agree that the United States would benefit from a reduced dependence on foreign oil. But that’s where the agreement ends...

Groups Push For and Against ‘Net Neutrality’
“Net neutrality” is a hot topic in Washington these days, with some interest groups (conservative and liberal) demanding it – and free marketeers (conservative lawmakers among them) rejecting it. The issue involves the delivery of Internet content – and concerns that broadband providers will offer faster delivery to web sites willing to pay for the favor...

Dutch Gov’t May Strip Citizenship of Woman Who Criticizes Islam
The Dutch government has threatened to rescind the citizenship of an outspoken critic of Islam because she lied on her asylum application. The woman, now a member of the Dutch parliament, said she may move to the United States...

North Korea Nuclear Issue Back in the Spotlight
After months of stagnation, efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis appear to have returned to the front burner. The U.S. reportedly is ready to discuss a historic peace treaty with the Stalinist regime on a track that runs parallel to nuclear talks...

Gov’ts Look Into North Korean Long-Range Missile Test Reports
Reports in East Asia Friday said North Korea may be preparing to test fire a long-range missile, but the Japanese and South Korean governments said they could not confirm the claims...


I'm a Nissan 350Z!

You're not the fastest or the most agile, but you have style and power. You believe in looking good and moving quickly -- without breaking the bank.

"Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.


We must stir the racial pot you know. Taking a page right out of book of Sharpton and Jackson (and I'm NOT talking about the bible), Mayor Ray Nagin says win would send racial message.
Mayor C. Ray Nagin says a victory in tomorrow's election will send a message on race that "will echo throughout America."

Bush backs 370-mile fence along border
The Bush administration announced yesterday it supported the Senate amendment calling for 370 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, marking the first time it is has endorsed a specific amount of fencing.

Hayden defends legal tapping
Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, under scrutiny from the Senate intelligence panel, yesterday said the Bush administration's telephone surveillance program is legal, doesn't spy on ordinary citizens and could have detected two of the September 11 ..........

More Buffoonery

Creating a sure path of future citizenship down the road.

Illegals granted Social Security

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

NSA Program Did Involve FISA

"To Democrats, no policy is more important than opposition to what President Bush is for, even if it's what Democrats said they were for yesterday."

—Jack Kelly

ABC Might Be Target of Leak Investigation

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right."

—H. L. Mencken

"The Party System was founded on one national notion of fair play. It was the notion that folly and futility should be fairly divided between both sides."

—G. K. Chesterton

"Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone."
—John Quincy Adams

"You can't achieve anything without getting in someone's way."
—Abba Eban

"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."

—Thomas Jefferson

Politicians show once again.....

....that they are not serious on lowering energy costs or reducing dependency on foreign suppliers.

House of Representatives votes to keep offshore oil, natural gas drilling ban


WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. House of Representatives rejected an attempt late Thursday to end a quarter-century ban on oil and natural gas drilling in 85 per cent of America's coastal waters despite arguments that the new supplies are needed to lower energy costs.

Lawmakers from Florida and California led the fight to maintain the long-standing drilling moratorium, contending that energy development as close as five kilometers from shore would jeopardize multibillion-dollar tourism industries.

Jobs are flocking to low-tax states for a reason.

Google and Microsoft team up with Moveon.org.

But I thought we don't need 'no stinkin' border control

Vicious drug war in Mexican city spills across the border
Commerce threatened; even police are afraid


Isn't Democracy supposed to be a cornerstone belief and goal of the United Nations?
Few Countries Contribute to UN Democracy Fund
The newly established U.N. Democracy Fund has been inviting funding proposals for projects around the world, but its own funding situation remains little changed, with few member states -- apart from the U.S. and several other notable exceptions -- pledging much, if anything, to the project...

Amnesty International May Endorse 'Right to Abortion'
A major human rights organization will consider dropping its neutral stance on abortion. In an international council meeting in Mexico next year, Amnesty International will decide whether to declare abortion an international human right, and consequently start advocating for it...

Immigration, Legal Groups Rebuff Mexican Lawsuit Threat
The Mexican government is threatening to sue the U.S. government in response to President Bush's pledge to deploy National Guard troops along the U.S. border, according to an online opinion column. A legal advocacy group said the Mexican government is more likely to secretly fund lawsuits by individual illegal aliens rather than challenge the U.S. directly...

Mubarak wary of Hamas leadership
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is threatening to drop support of the Palestinian Authority over arms smuggling by Hamas.

Mahmoud Abbas has exposed the Iran-Hamas link.
The leader of the Palestinian Authority, having his own problems with Hamas, has revealed Tehran is training Sudanese jihadists to infiltrate Israel

Britain's elite SAS forces are actively searching inside Iran search for proof of Tehran's nuclear arms program.

These same forces witnessed an armed revolt inside Iran
-- an uprising in which Revolutionary Guard forces were routed by the militia of one ethnic minority.

There's more at stake than Israel's security as Hamas consolidates power within the Palestinian Authority.

Jordan is feeling increasingly squeezed. And while the Kosovo anti-Christian violence continues, the U.N. forces in charge are handing over more power to the Multim-dominated police many believe are responsible for the new "religious cleansing" taking place in the Balkans.

The full stories are available by paid subsrciption only at the G2 Bulletin.

Zimbabwe inflation rate hits more than 1,000 percent
Profligate printing of money by the government of President Robert Mugabe has driven inflation in Zimbabwe to an annual rate above 1,000 percent, adding to the misery of its already impoverished people.

Americans don't like the sound of 'amnesty'
President Bush's oft-stated claim that providing illegal aliens a "path to citizenship," such as by allowing them to pay a fine or prove long-term employment, isn't amnesty rings hollow for critics who see it as rewarding lawbreakers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Senate approves border fence, debates citizenship chance for ...
San Diego Union Tribune - United States
... were less favorable for their attempt to strip out portions of the legislation that could allow citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and create new

Tax Cuts Once Again ‘Favor the Wealthy’

Networks fixate on tax cuts ‘for the rich’ while ignoring exploding tax revenues.

By Noel Sheppard
Business & Media Institute

While Congress hammered out a $70 billion tax-relief bill last week, the media wasted no time spinning it. After the House approved its version on May 10, the “NBC Nightly News” cited “Democratic critics [who said] the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy.” At roughly the same time, the “CBS Evening News” presented a graphic to its viewers showing “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you’ll average no more than $46 in savings.”

The following day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team offered a $20 bill to shoppers at a New Jersey mall as a cynical demonstration of how little this tax cut would help some Americans.

All totaled, the broadcast networks did 16 reports on this issue in their three-day blitzkrieg, largely with the same predictable mantra: tax cuts favor the rich. Conspicuously absent was an honest assessment of just how much lower wage earners in America have benefited from the most recent income tax changes, as well as how much the government has benefited from higher tax revenues. Read on.

"Have you something to do to-morrow; do it to-day."

-- Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Senator Labels Colleagues Ignorant on Immigration
The U.S. Senate may be much more receptive to President Bush’s “guest worker” program for illegal immigrants, but a member of the president’s own party is warning that Congress is “blissfully ignorant” about the impact of such a program...

Chavez Visits Gadaffi As US Embraces Libya
– Fresh from London, where he basked in the adulation of leftists and accused President Bush of genocide, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez headed Tuesday for Libya, a country on the verge of restoring diplomatic relations with the “empire” Chavez loathes...

Libyan Model Won’t Persuade Iran, Experts Say
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com)
– Iran is not likely to follow Libya's example in giving up its nuclear ambitions in exchange for U.S. acceptance, experts here said on Tuesday...

United Nations - A Human Rights Farce
NewsByUs - Boise,ID,USA
By Paul M. Weyrich on May 16, 2006. Americans are coming to realize the United Nations is not the organization we once trusted, even revered. ...


From Opinion Journal.com

Steve Sailer on VDare.com writes: "The Bush Administration has seemed never to notice that Mexico is not the 51st state, but a foreign country--one that is engaged in a slow-motion invasion of America. . . . Why is Bush doing this? I have suggested that his motives are dynastic--that he is selfishly sacrificing the GOP to build a family vehicle, much like Brian Mulroney sacrificed the Canadian Progressive Conservative party in a vain effort to build a personal fief in the French-speaking province of Quebec. Brenda Walker speculates he is a 'MexiChurian Candidate.' What he is not is an American patriot."


Bill permits 193 million more aliens by 2026
The Senate immigration reform bill would allow for up to 193 million new legal immigrants -- a number greater than 60 percent of the current U.S. population -- in the next 20 years, according to a study released yesterday.

Iraq Announces Arrest of Senior Zarqawi Aide in Ramadi
AINA - Modesto,CA,USA
BAGHDAD (KUNA) -- A senior aide to Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was arrested in Al-Ramadi in possession of documents and pictures showing him ...

Living Alone, Together

Michael Medved writes about the "House and Home" section of the New York Times in which it "proudly announced an exciting international trend in 'committed relationships,' identifying millions of people who choose to express their love by 'living alone together'."

These so-called L.A.T. couples, he writes, "don't want to make the compromises in decorating and other issues required to occupy the same house. Instead, they discover that 'separate addresses provide a pressure valve for long term relationships'--as the Times explained in its sub-head."

Medved makes a very good point when he says:
Of course this approach utterly abandons the traditional idea that building a home with a partner and sharing all aspects of life can make you a better a person. The irony is that the same liberal establishment that insists that heterosexual couples don't need to marry--or even share a home--to find happiness simultaneously argues that homosexual couples can only achieve truly significant relationships if government sanctions their marriages.

Emphasis mine - HH

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tempers flare over Iran nuke program
Diplomats still are talking about a bad-tempered dinner at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel last week at which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, traded barbs over Iran's nuclear program.

How gas price controls sparked '70s shortages
Proposals to control gasoline prices and tax producers' windfall profits were popular ideas that were tried -- without much success -- during the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s.

Iran weighing 'national uniform' for all
Ynetnews - Israel
... law, economic relief for local clothing designers will be granted so that they can "concentrate on clothing matching the national and Islamic identity of .....

Clinton Pushed RU-486 in First Official Act, Report Shows

(CNSNews.com) - Before being sworn in as president, Democrat Bill Clinton was told that he should "start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of the country." Clinton received the advice in a letter from an advocate for the abortion drug regimen RU-486, which the president promoted during his first official act in the White House, according to a new report.

"The Clinton RU-486 Files", released by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, contains recently uncovered documents that shed new light on the Clinton administration's legal, political and press strategy for bringing RU-486 into the American marketplace -- despite the manufacturer's earlier decision not to market the drug in the United States.

According to the documents obtained last February from the National Archives at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., Clinton ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA to coordinate the marketing of RU-486. He did so in his first official act three days after moving into the White House in January 1993.

Clinton had received advice concerning the abortion regimen in a letter from Ron Weddington, whose wife, Sarah, had advocated for the legal right to abortion as an attorney in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

In urging the legalization of RU-486, Ron Weddington wrote in a Jan. 6, 1992, letter to Clinton. "Something's got to be done very quickly. Twenty-six million food stamp recipients is (sic) more than the economy can stand."

The "president-to-be" should "start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of the country," Weddington added.

"Our survival depends upon our developing a population where everyone contributes," he wrote. "We don't need more cannon fodder. We don't need more parishioners. We don't need more cheap labor. We don't need more babies."


"These new documents prove the RU-486 approval process was infected by raw politics," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Accordingly, Congress and other authorities should launch appropriate investigations.

The Judicial Watch report also claims that pressure from the Clinton administration led the FDA to circumvent the standard requirements for certifying a drug as "safe and effective" in order to rush the abortion regimen to market.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), who is mentioned in a May 11, 1994, status memo by Thurm "as one of six Republicans who cosponsored a bill 'to prohibit federal funds from being used for clinical studies of RU-486 as an abortifacient,'" said that the expedited procedure used to approve RU-486 was "totally inappropriate."

"These new documents prove the RU-486 approval process was infected by raw politics," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Accordingly, Congress and other authorities should launch appropriate investigations.

The problem is so severe that the agency [FDA] is "no longer acting in the best interests of their own mandate, which is to look out for the public health and safety," he added. "They approved a drug that is dangerous to every baby and has been proven dangerous to most of the women who are taking it," Giganti said.

Lannier Swann, director of government relations for the conservative organization Concerned Women for America (CWA), added that "it is now the duty of Congress to conduct a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of the unethical actions performed under Clinton's watch," she stated.

"Both Clinton and the FDA should be held accountable for their careless disregard for women and failure to put the American people's interests above their own," Swann added. Full story.

"In short, the Republican base wants to know: Where's all this partisan extremism we were promised? Nothing better exemplifies the world-turned-upside-down madness than the response to the gas 'crisis.' If the GOP was intent on educating the public, it would explain obscure concepts like 'supply' and 'demand' and how this big country called 'Chi-na' has been sopping up more liquefied dinosaurs than usual... Rebates! If there's anything that exemplifies the nanny-state mentality, it's driving up the federal armored car and pitchforking sawbucks out the back. For a moment the nation braced for the Democratic response—if it had been true to form, the rebates would have been twice the size, adjusted for income, paid for with a tax on those chrome fish emblems Christians like to stick on their cars, printed on recycled paper with soy ink and introduced at a press conference featuring a leading liberal strategic theorist like Susan Sarandon, who would use the opportunity to complain that Karl Rove has been giving her movies one star on Amazon.com review sites... Anything but drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, of course. Some GOP senators still balk at that. Look: The only possible reason for a Republican senator not voting to drill the heck out of ANWR is that he has been informed, in secret briefings, that the Earth will split and millions of armed Mole-Men bent on conquest and pillage will spill out. Make that liberal Mole-Men. Conservative Mole-Men could form a new base of support. But no: We can't drill anywhere, because some constituents at a tony fund-raiser might make sad faces about the elk."

—James Lileks

"Amid all the hysteria among politicians and in the media over rising gasoline prices, and all the outraged indignation about oil company profits and their executives' high pay and lavish perks, has anybody bothered to even estimate how much effect any of this actually has on the price we pay at the pump? If the profit per gallon of gas were reduced to zero, would that be enough to reduce the price by even a dime? If the oil company executives were to work free of charge, would that be enough to reduce the price of gasoline by even a penny a gallon? Surely media loudmouths making millions of dollars a year and the multibillion dollar TV networks they work for can afford to get some statistics and buy a pocket calculator to do the arithmetic before spouting off nationwide. But this is the age of emotion, not analysis."

—Thomas Sowell

"If Congress is looking for someone to investigate over high energy prices, it should start with itself. Republicans in Congress should immediately review the last 40 years of government restrictions on energy production. What they'll find is that government regulations are why not a single new oil refinery has not been built in the United States since 1976. Government regulations enacted by Congress stand in the way of exploration for oil and gas in much of America, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Government regulations require different gasoline formulas in different regions of the country, forcing higher prices and decreased production. And government regulations—pushed by leftwing environmental hysterics—have blocked the development of safe, non-polluting sources of nuclear energy. We could have lower gas prices if Congress didn't make exploration and production so expensive. And we would have more energy independence if government didn't stand in the way of tapping domestic sources of energy. So the next time you hear a politician complain about who's responsible for the high price of gas, tell him: 'Congressman, investigate thyself'."

—Newt Gingrich

"Overwhelmingly, Americans loathe having their children exposed to profanity and sexual vulgarity every time they turn on the TV or radio. The networks don't seem to care. In fact, they recently filed suit against the FCC over its decision to fine networks that ignored community standards of decency. In their view, nobody has a right to tell them what to do. Even during 'family hour,' they insist on airing programs containing the 'F' word. If parents don't like it, too bad. This in-your-face attitude is indicative of how far our society has traveled along the path of radical individualism... Anything else can be restrained—smoking in public, driving without a seatbelt—all on the grounds that it's good for society. But restrain sexual expression? No way—especially if it makes money... In reality, the networks are not declaring war on the FCC; they're declaring war on our kids. Are we going to put up with it—or are we going to fight back?"

—Mark Earley


Just as the U.S. announces today that normalized relations will begin with Libya for their help in fighting terror and giving up their WMD aspirations we get this story:
Venezuela's Chavez to visit Libya
CNN International - USA
... Libya, like Venezuela, is a major oil producer. ... Venezuela is the world's No. 5 oil exporter and relies on crude for about half of state revenues. ...

Chavez and Venezuela deserve the support of all who believe in social justice

The (UK) Guardian: President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela will today become the second Head of State -- after the Queen -- to be welcomed to London's City Hall. When it comes to the social transformation taking place in Venezuela, the political qualifications often necessary in our imperfect world can be set aside.

It is crystal clear on which side right and justice lies. For many years people have demanded that social progress and democracy go hand in hand, and that is exactly what is now taking place in Venezuela. READ ON.

EU offers Iran access to 'safe' nuclear technology
Times Online - UK
Europe will help Iran develop a "proliferation-proof" nuclear power programme in exchange for the regime agreeing to halt uranium enrichment on its own soil. ...

Iran insists will reject offer to halt enrichment
Reuters.uk - UK
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran reiterated on Monday that it would reject any European proposal that demanded the Islamic Republic halt uranium enrichment, Foreign ...

US imposes arms ban on Venezuela
Guardian Unlimited - UK
Janelle Hironimus, a state department spokeswoman, said Venezuela had forged close relations with Iran and Cuba, both classified by the US as state sponsors of ...

Florida teenager dies

TEL AVIV – The death yesterday of Daniel Wultz, a Florida teenager critically injured last month in a suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant, is a "gift from Allah" and revenge against American Jewish support for Israel, Abu Nasser, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, one of the groups responsible for the deadly blast, told WorldNetDaily.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Good Ship Fitzgerald Is Listing

Democrat candidate channels Ahmadinejad

US Aid Can't Win Bolivia's Love as New Suitors Vie for It
New York Times - United States
But these days, to Washington's dismay, it is Cuba and Venezuela that Bolivians in places like this small farming community are embracing because of new ...

Venezuela's Chavez Extends Cheap Heating Oil Program to Europe
Bloomberg - USA
Venezuela, which has refining capacity in Germany and the UK, will hear suggestions on which groups should benefit from the discounted oil, Chavez said ...

Thank you, my foolish friends in the West

There is an interesting article in the TimesOnLine's Sunday Times where it is stated that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is "only the latest dictator-in-waiting to bask in adulation from western progressives."
One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.

Stalin was applauded by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Mao was visited by a constant stream of worshippers from the West, some of whose names can still produce winces of disgust in China. Castro has basked for years in the adulation of such literary stars as Jose Saramago and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Even Pol Pot found favour among several well-known journalists and academics.

Last year a number of journalists, writers and showbiz figures, including Harold Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, Harry Belafonte and Tariq Ali, signed a letter claiming that in Cuba “there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959 . . .”

(Of course this is pure nonsense, but why let facts get in the way.)

Hugo Chavez, the elected strongman of Venezuela, is the latest object of adulation by western 'progressives' who return from jaunts in Caracas with stars in their eyes."

Chavez is no Pol Pot; not even a Castro - yet.
His fiery populist rhetoric is more in the line of Juan Peron, the Argentinian “caudillo”. Chavez, by the way, rather relishes this pejorative term. Neither quite left, nor quite right, he is a typical macho Latin leader, whose charisma is meant to stand for the empowerment of his people, mostly poor and darker-skinned than the urban elite.
Unlike many traditional caudillos, Chavez was democratically elected, in 1998, after having tried and failed to take the more traditional strongman’s route to power, by armed force in 1992. Chavez is the Latin American version of a new type of authoritarianism (Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra is the Asian version), built on a mixture of showbusiness, intimidation, paranoia, huge wealth, and public handouts to the poor. The ideal is democracy by referendum, stripped of messy party politics or independent courts."

Supporters have stated: "Democracy in Venezuela, under the banner of the Bolivarian revolutionaries, has broken through the corrupt two-party system favoured by the oligarchy and its friends in the West."

But of course the real question is "whether the corrupt two-party system will be replaced by a functioning democracy is the question."

Praise has been heaped on "Venezuela’s new constitution, which allows people to recall the president before he has completed his term of office. 'A triumph of the poor against the rich.' In 2004 Venezuelans exercised their right to do just that by circulating a petition for a referendum. Chavez survived, but soon the names of the petitioners were made public, and anti-Chavistas were denied passports, public welfare and government contracts."

In 2004 a law was passed that would ban broadcasting stations on the grounds of security and public order. Chavez, as well as his cabinet ministers, appears on television to denounce journalists who dare to criticise the revolution. Most ominous, though, is the way Chavez has expanded the 20-seat supreme court by adding 12 sympathetic judges.

Worse causes have been served by western enthusiasts than the Bolivarist revolution, and worse leaders have been applauded than Chavez. One only needs recall the abject audiences at the court of Saddam Hussein by George Galloway, among others, who flattered the murderous dictator while claiming to represent “the voice of the voiceless”. Even now, such publications as the New Left Review advocate support for a global anti-imperialist movement that would include North Korea, surely the most oppressive regime on earth.

The common element of radical Third Worldism is an obsession with American power, as though the US were so intrinsically evil that any enemy of the US must be our friend, from Mao to Kim Jong-il, from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And if our “friends” shower us with flattery, asking us to attend conferences and sit on advisory boards, so much the better.

Criticism of American policies and economic practices are necessary and often just, but why do leftists continue to discredit their critical stance by applauding strongmen who oppress and murder their own critics? Is it simply a reverse application of that famous American cold war dictum: “He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard”? Or is it the fatal attraction to power often felt by writers and artists who feel marginal and impotent in capitalist democracies? The danger of Chavism is not a revival of communism, even though Castro is among its main boosters. Nor should anti-Americanism be our main concern. The US can take care of itself. What needs to be resisted, not just in Latin America, is the new form of populist authoritarianism.

That Chavez is applauded by many people, especially the poor, is not necessarily a sign of democracy; many revolutionary leaders are popular, at least in the beginning of their rule, before their promises have ended in misery and bloodshed.

The left has a proud tradition of defending political freedoms, at home and abroad. But this tradition is in danger of being lost when western intellectuals indulge in power worship. Applause for autocrats undermines the morale of people who insist on fighting for their freedoms Leftists were largely sympathetic, and rightly so, to critics of Berlusconi and Thaksin, even though neither was a dictator. Both did, of course, support American foreign policy. But when democracy is endangered, the left should be equally hard on rulers who oppose the US. Failure to do so encourages authoritarianism everywhere, including in the West itself, where the frivolous behaviour of a dogmatic left has already allowed neoconservatives to steal all the best lines.