Chavez Hijacks the U.S. Media — Again

Hugo Chavez took center stage on his visit this week to the United Nations in New York. He captivated the international audience, flooding the media with an onslaught of dramatic soundbytes possibly too ridiculous for even him to read (he claimed he had no prepared statements). The way Chavez steals headlines on no-news American weekends is similar to the successful tactics of his partners in Anti-Americanism in Iran and North Korea, thereby creating an around-the-world, multilingual, multicultural open-air echo chamber.

While the U.S. press is often blamed for toeing the government line and recycling — or enabling strawman arguments and misinfo, even more ridiculous is the tendency to provide a megaphone for the propaganda emanating from the swelling handful of America-hating leaders and regimes.

This is by no means a slam against the media — au contrair, the media takes care of itself — but the emptiness of the current administration’s commentary, whether on the domestic stage, ala Sept 11th anniversary, or at the U.N. this week, is opening up a dangerous black hole that is being increasingly capitalized upon by the “enemy.”

Chavez — a quasi-revolutionary buffon of sorts — gets unqualified, if not unbeliveable headlines comparing his likeness to Che Guevara, and feeds the fire with outlandish, ridiculous comments. Its no wonder that last week’s U.N. convention quickly turned into the Chavez Show. Never too slow to demonize the opposition, Chavez garnered the AP’s top story for his Bush as Devil tirade.

Chavez held up Noam Chomsky’s 2003 book, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance and after it was snapped and printed and broadcast across the land it shot to #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list, garnering the Venezuelan president goofy comparisons to Oprah Winfrey.

By Friday, Hugo was all “Bush will kill me” for calling him the devil and “Bush should resign,” again taking his likeness to the top of U.S. headlines. Buried amid the looney toon lightsabering was the meager U.S. government response, “Democrats, Republicans criticize Chavez.”

Boston city councilor Jerry McDermott, who seriously recommended removing the Citgo sign visible beyond the Green Monster at Fenway (Chavez has consistently used Venezuela’s Citgo oil export brand as a political tool pandering to American society — and has provided low-cost oil for winter energy needs to low-income Mass. residents and more recently, New Yorkers and Philadelphians). Not to be one-upped, Chavez’s foreign minister raised hell Saturday alleging he was “illegally detained” by the U.S. government for “90 minutes” at the airport.

You can bet he made the most of his time.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden takes on the AP in the Boston Herald article: “Does AP Stand for Al-Qaeda Propaganda?

George Soros Visits USC

One hour is not nearly enough time to delve into the topic of George Soros’ latest book, “The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror“, but in the presence of a world-class panel, today’s lunchtime discussion / book-signing at the Annenberg School for Communication was still a memorable treat.

USC Annenberg Dean Geoffrey Cowan, George Soros  Robert Scheer, Manuel Castells, Geoffrey Cowan, George Soros
(l-r): 1) Geoffrey Cowan, George Soros. 2) Robert Scheer, Manuel Castells, Cowan, Soros

The main points Soros touched upon in a somewhat toned-down description of the book are worth devoting hours of debate and study to. With a nod to his philosophical mentor (from his days at the London School of Economics), Karl Popper, Soros explained that America’s leaders are misleading society by misperceiving and manipulating reality. “We are bound to be wrong,” and one must understand that you can’t change reality itself, but only the way in which you deal with it. He drew comparisons to Marxism and the Enlightenment, before bringing it home to the war on terror.

The prolific writer, professor, and Wallis Annenberg Chair of Technology and Communication, Manuel Castells set the table with this 3-pronged question: What is the “fertile fallacy” Soros writes of; what is wrong with American society in the eyes of the world? How has it become more a matter of — not who is president — but more profoundly how U.S. leaders envision and execute America’s role in the world?; and what is wrong with American society’s relationship with the media — how does the business of media, and the emergence of blogs and the Internet affect this?

“If you can manipulate reality why be so concerned about the truth,” Soros said, blaming the American public for not taking seriously the series of lies from the Bush Administration so seriously, when in fact, if people manipulate reality the outcome won’t correspond to expectations which lead to a pattern of “unintended adverse consequences.”

“When Bush says our will is being tested in Baghdad,” Soros said, “Its not our will — its our reality.” The more we persist, the bigger a hole we open up for ourselves.

In response to a question regarding last week’s reality-filled GOP revolt against Bush’s call for Congress to pass Geneva Convention-circumventing legislation and Colin Powell’s letter to the president and his cautionary statements this week, Soros was blunt.

“Terrorists kill innocents for politilcal goals. When America wages war, we also create innocent victims, so we’re perceived in the same light as terrorists. It may be difficult for us to understand. But its true.” Continue reading “George Soros Visits USC”

Silver Jews in L.A. Sept. 12 2006

The live audio from this show has been procured and formatted for your aural pleasure! Like many Joos aficiondos around the world, I waited like 17 years (drinking several thousand beers) for the chance to see David Berman perform with a full band in concert. And it was fantastic. MP3s of the entire show are at SecretSquirrel (.zip) — the sound improves after the 4th track.

Check out this groovy DCB profile in the September Jewish Journal of Greater L.A.

Even more fun — this podcast interview of David in his hotel room while on tour last spring, at Nextbook.