Mahmoud Salem
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.. and the power industry, and will control the central bank, and will demand more power as president. YAY for Socialism, the fastest route to dictatorship known to man!

Chavez supporters, say buh-bye to your country's future! You got only yourself to blame now! 

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130 thoughts on “Chavez will nationalize the media..

  1. From the article:
    “The United States remains the top buyer of Veneuzelan oil, which provides Chavez billions of dollars for social programs aimed at helping the poor in countries around the region.”

    What the heck, SM. He sounds like a great guy.

  2. Existential socialism??? Wow, let me off *that* train.

    Because of popular protests, 7-Eleven has already stopped selling Citgo gas (you remember that big sign at Fenway Park, SM?), as Citgo is a subsidiary of Petroleos Venezuela. In the States, it ain’t just eeeeevil George Bush who doesn’t like Hugo. And – just watch – Chavez is going to kill the oil industry there with Chavismo, then blame the U.S. and other industrialized countries because the golden goose is dead.

    It’s really sad because Venezuela used to be a semi-stable country with a real middle class and good telenovelas (!). Oh well, as Simon Bolivar himself said – “He who serves a revolution ploughs the sea.”

  3. I hope Mr.Chavez begins with the oil industry, as it’s sad to see a high rate of poverty in a country with so much oil wealth. The revenue from natural resources should return to the country, and not to a small, rich, and privileged group of people.

  4. I believe that it is more of a curse than a blessing to live in a country with lots of oil. Everyone wants a piece, everyone feels entitled, these conditions are a breeding ground for a dominating government. This inevitably spills over into a government that follows the calls of the mob in controlling everything. This creates a situtation where people live at the sufferance of the mob. Most people who have gone through high school will understand the problems of a life that is controlled by one’s popularity.

  5. I hope Mr.Chavez begins with the oil industry, as it’s sad to see a high rate of poverty in a country with so much oil wealth. The revenue from natural resources should return to the country, and not to a small, rich, and privileged group of people.

    As long as you make the women wear garbage bags and execute the gays, right?

    You’re a ‘tard, dude.

  6. Sorry Mark – I’ve seen his garbage (subjective term, I realize – to each their own, I suppose) on other threads – and it was s reaction to a series of his comments.

    And I’m sorry if I offended you, but he has a lot to answer for human rights wise in his own country – a lot, his nation is positively medieval – before he comments on the state of international affairs.

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree, sir.

  7. Oh, wonderful!

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe thinks
    communism is SUPER

    even though it never works
    because we are not robots

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe feels
    communism is fair

    fools can’t or won’t think it through
    idiots just keep scheming
    ..

  8. @Saudi: by the “small, rich, and privileged group of people” you mean the bunch of Chavista political cronies? That is what “nationalization” really means – transfer of power from businessmen to corrupt politicians. The people themselves only “gain” lots a lots of propaganda.

    We used to have that in Poland too. Equal poverty for the people, and a very small group of communist dudes on the top. They even had their special shops, no common people allowed.

    And you could do just nothing about it – emigrate or join them (and forget about any morale).

  9. It really sucks to see the demagogues and the dictators win.

    It’s doubly disgusting now that everyone has seen the reality of the former Soviet Union.

  10. @ 6:

    No. Saudi Arabia needs to reform as well. Simply because injustices exist in my country doesn’t mean I should remain quiet about others, nor does their existence contradict my “garbage”. The fact you tried to change the subject and attack me personally without warrant , nstead of offering a critique of the opinion I presented, shows that you’re the one who’s full of garbage.

  11. Marian #10,

    Oh yeah! We had a similar situation over in Russia (or CCCP, as we called it in my day). Equal poverty for everybody! That’s EXACTLY what it was.

    Saudi Dude,

    What you’re talking about is socialism, which has a LOOOONG history of impoverishing countries. Saudi Arabia is a unique zero-sum society with a unique natural resource per capita ratio. Human rights issues aside (not going to discuss it as it is completely irrelevant to this discussion), the smack you’re talking is of the economic fallacy variety – and I’m calling you out on that.

  12. Your hypocrisy about the treatment of that Kenyan Bahraini athlete is enough to show that your not strong on the concept of “injustices” to begin with.

    I didn’t “try” to change any subject – I’m just tired of a hate-filled individual from a country where crap like this happens talking about “injustices.”

    But whatever.

    And here’s my “critique” of your opinion:

    “The revenue from natural resources should return to the country, and not to a small, rich, and privileged group of people”

    Says a Saudi? That’s priceless. But then I guess a 25,000-member Royal Family might not be considered “small.”

  13. Zvi,

    It really does suck to see dictators and demagogues win. But, y’know, I’ve just pretty much had it with the whining. People generally get the government they deserve. The Russians brought communsim on themselves, the Egyptians threw all their support behind Nasser and the Venuzeala elected Chavez – twice. Let them reap what they sow.

    Of course, when each of these countries inevitably turns into a giant shithole (and they always do), it will somehow be a.) America’s fault and b.) America’s problem to fix. Of course, responsibility for said shitholes will also be shared by that tiny population of all powerful and almighty Jooos, who we all know control the Great Satan.

  14. Hahahhahahaha, I saw a headline re: this on Drudge and immediately wondered if Sandmonkey had a post! Lo and behold.

  15. # 16: You are a COMPLETE MORON! :

    “Of course, when each of these countries inevitably turns into a giant shithole (and they always do), it will somehow be a.) America’s fault and b.) America’s problem to fix.”

    LOL!!! Are you freakin’ kidding me? This has nothing to do with America, we are a SOVEREIGN nation, therefore able and CAPABLE of choosing our own political/economic model. Have you read about CHINA? They are a COMMUNIST nation and doing pretty well currently.Neo-liberalism only works for the TOP DOGS, the so-called “developed” nations that have manufactured the structures that today allow them to remain rich while the rest of the world struggles to survive. And it isn’t as if we didn’r try to reap the fruits of the Neo-liberal model which was pushed down our throats for DECADES….but you know what? IT DID NOT WORK! As the country with the largest oil reserves , Venezuela was stuck…and no body gave a DAMN; as long as the oil kept flowing in all directions.
    Last but not least, BELIEVE ME, no American troops are EVER to set foot in Venezuelan soil….if we mess up, we’ll make sure we clean after ourselves. As if the clean-up of the “shithole” called IRAQ is going so well, right? Ignirance can be so fuckin’ daring!

  16. “Let them reap what they saw”…yeah, that’s exactly what the BLUE states said almost 7 years ago! LOL! No need to be Nostradamus to predict that one! LOL!

  17. @#15:

    There is no hypocrisy in any of my statements. I do not think there is any contradiction between my opinions either here or in the Kenyan Bahrainian athlete thread, nor does it demonstrate a weak concept of justice. That athlete raced there going against his country, which is basically a statement of siding with the main propagator of injustice in the Middle East region.

    As for your “critique”, it is actually void of anything relating to the word. It only contains an implication of hypocrisy, which I think is unfounded given the fact I’m not a member of the Royal Family (Al Saud) in the first place, and therefore is inapplicable.

    It may also interest you to know that, even though the royal family in Saudi Arabia takes a huge portion of the oil revenue, a lot of it still goes back to the people, which is certainly much better than receiving nothing. That’s how all the social services from public schools to public clinics and universities are funded here.

  18. I also forgot to add that, even though it’s not all of the revenue, the fact that the Royal Family still take a huge portion is wrong, clearly shows they’re corrupted, and is pretty much stealing from the people.

  19. #21

    Just because you say something, does not make it true.

    That athlete raced there going against his country

    Just like those little girls who tried to flee a fire in their school, not wearing correct Islamic dress, against the wishes of their country.

    And as for your attack on my “critique” – it’s self refuting, right here: “even though the royal family in Saudi Arabia takes a huge portion of the oil revenue.”

    “Better than Venezuela” is not a great standard. But hey, women can drive there and people can be Christian, Muslim and Jewish (or any other religion) – a novel concept – there.

    Your point about you not being a royal is what’s irrelevant – because that’s not the point I was making.

  20. Royal Family still take a huge portion is wrong, clearly shows they’re corrupted, and is pretty much stealing from the people.

    Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding!

    We have a winner!

    That is the point I was making.

  21. Amused Venezuelan;

    This has nothing to do with America, we are a SOVEREIGN nation, therefore able and CAPABLE of choosing our own political/economic model

    I sure hope that’s true, muchacho. Your leader seems to think every burnt out lightbulb in the world is the fault of the US. I’m sure if he’d lost the last election he would have blamed it on George Bush.

  22. @ #24:

    How is that a critique of my opinion about the news item presented in this thread, which is about Venezuela?

  23. Well, Mr. dude (can I call you Mr. dude?) your initial comment was highly ironic considering your a subject of a “kingdom” that you basically described “The revenue from natural resources should return to the country, and not to a small, rich, and privileged group of people.”

    Now, print up a sign with those words in Arabic, drive out (or let your sister drive you!) to the Royal Palace, and hold it up.

    What’s the worst that could happen?

    I mean, it’s not as if you live in the “main propagator of injustice in the Middle East region,” so you should be totally fine, right?

    Sweet. Report back to us and let us know it went.

  24. # 25-

    Fair enough. It bothers me that some people imply that in Venezuela people are following and obeying Chavez’s discourse like zombies. People critique and demand changes if the policies or politicians don’t seem to be working out. Yeah, Chavez’s rethoric is fiery and blunt, however it isn’t like we simply assumed everything he says as matter-of-fact. Venezuelan people are pretty damn demanding. We chose him, we’ll CERTAINLY kick him out if things get out of control. It is all in our constitution.

  25. #19 – nice tirade. Cute use of words you don’t understand very well. Off your meds, dear?

    That’s exactly what I said – you reap what you sow. You want Chavez, you can have him. Venuzeala is a SOVREIGN nation, as you point out, which clearly has not learned from the mistakes of my sovereign nation and is begging to repeat the same mistakes. I say “Go for it”.

    As for communism, don’t babble about things you don’t understand, dickhead. Stick to meaningless political terminology, the learning of which you have mastered and the meaning of which you will never understand. You’ve never lived in communism and I have. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. So, really, Moron, you and I are on the same page – take your sovereign nation and Chavez and stick ’em both way far up your ass.

  26. Amused Venezuelan

    It is all in our constitution.

    Aaaaaaaa… hahahahahahahaha… hahah… sigh.

    Talk about not getting it. Chavez just, I mean hours ago, said the consitution was becoming a pain and has to go. He’s said the change to socialism is inevitable and unavoidable. In the history of Communist dicators, that means one thing.

    Maybe Naples will become “Little Caracas”? The West Coast needs a “Little” something. Miami has “Little Havana” “Little Haiti” “Little…” everything.

  27. Lula got elected to the presidency in Brazil by bashing America and promising to nationalize eveything like Chavez is threatening to do. Did not happen.

    Brazil continues to press along with the success of “o plano real” and enjoy rising economic prosperity. It ain’t Disneyland (as any view of the favellas will tell you), but Brazil gets a little better every month.

    Chavez promised bread and circuses to the masses, and that got him elected. Yeah, the upper class that controlled Venezuelan oil did so for their own benefit, but they had to answer to stockholders (theoretically). When the gov’t bureaucrats take over, they will find new ways to steal the wealth. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN EXCEPTION IN HISTORY.

  28. @30 — Chip

    Good question! I say Miami, but the Cubanos have that city so locked up that maybe the Venezuelan diaspora will pass it up for Tampa Bay.

    Which is your choice?

  29. Any bets on how long the constitution in Venezuela lasts now that the media has been nationalized? Afterall, propaganda is such a good thing NOT!

  30. #29: Tell me where did you go to school, so I make sure to destroy its reputation! Although at this point I am pretty sure you didn’t get to go to school period. M-O-R-O-N.

    # 31: CHIP, I think that you are the one who’s not GETTING IT. Any ammendment to the constitution NEEDS to be approved by the people; it isn’t as if Mr. President is allowed to impose any constitutional project upon us The constitution needs to reflect and support the socialist project that he is talking about, therefore a constitutional reform is needed. Just like when pathetic neo-cons like you get scared/threatened by faggets getting married and attempt to chop off their human rights via a constitution ammendment. It’s all about the purpose…

  31. Oh! Methinks is RUSSIAN!!!! That explains it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!

    By the way, have you notice the similarities among the many ethnic enclaves existing in cities like Miami? Little Cuba, Little Haiti, Little Vietnam? LOL!!! I do not think you have to worry about another “Little Caracas”, since Miami is one already as it serves as refuge for the fucking thieves that served Neo-Liberalism for decades. I think the next one will be Little Iraq…I am betting it would probably be located in some god-aweful/hilbilly place like Texas or Kentucky.

  32. Venuzueala dumbass,

    What’s your problem, asshole? You got your Chavez so you can rock out to your neo-socialism with your neo-idiots and you can enjoy your neo-shithole. I’m not trying to stop you. Enjoy! Have at it. I’ll love how you’re calling me a moron for agreeing with you. You’re just too stupid to know the difference.

    BTW, do actually live in Venuzeala or is your ass comfortably planted in Columbus, Ohio where your opinions are based on pure theory while you enjoy our neo-liberal fascism here in the good ole USA? Which is it, putito?

  33. Methinks…should be MeBRAINFARTS…LOL!

    I am sorry the Bolcheviques raped your mom, sister and wife…then took away your food and “modes of production” LOL…FINALLY to top it off you had to leave (Not even Russia…probably you’re from Odessa in the Ukraine…PIMPCENTRAL!! LOL…that would explain your silly reasoning) and settle in Arkansas only to become a wannabe neo-con!!!! HOW PATHETIC!!!!

    And in regards to where I live…let’s just say IT IS NOT OF YOUR GOD-DAMMED BUSINESS…

  34. “And in regards to where I live…let’s just say IT IS NOT OF YOUR GOD-DAMMED BUSINESS…”

    Oh great. Another illegal putito off his meds. I hope your Chavez wet dreams work out for you . I also really hope that one day you’ll be able work your way out of that whorehouse you’re forced to work in. Maybe by then, you might turn into a real human being. But for now, your low IQ has resulted in my boredom. Now, run along and to blow your next John.

  35. #11 Zvi,

    Dictatorship is the natural state of man. Aplha male stuff. Ins vs. outs.

    Democracy, rights to property, individual rights, etc. is unnatural. It takes effort, patience, the willingness to listen to idiots (always the other side), deference to reason over emotion etc.

    There is also the difficulty that most people are old by the time they hit 25. Whatever they learned before that is pretty much fixed. Which is why Universities are always hot beds of uncinventional thought. Kids try out stuff. They rebel. They rethink everything. So changes will be slow, especially with our life times extended from 30 years or so to around 80 years (in the developed world).

    #37,

    For 100 years America has been sliding into fascism. Surpisingly the gulags, and gas chambers always happen some where else. You got to ask your self, is this an accident or a trend?

    I predict the Chavez experiment will work as well as the USSR. Say, you don’t hear about them much these days. Why is that? Or it could work as well as Cuba, where per-capita income has declined 90% since Castro took over. No doubt caused by those Yanqui putitos, eh?

    In neo-fascist America 50% of those in the bottom 1/5th of the economy own a home. Man that oppression. It sucks. Around 99% of all households own a color TV. Heck you can pick up perfectly good working computers off the street. Free. We have almost as many autos as people. Black people (the lowest economic group average) earn about $26 k per household. On a purchasing power parity basis the per capita income in Sweden is $24k. Now that is repression. I’ll bet your average Veneuzelan pesant would love to be similarly oppressed.

    Or look at Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea. Sixty years ago they were politically repressed, but economically free (property owners had rights). Now they have political and economic freedom. I blame the neo-cons. Chile went through a similar phase with Pinochet. You start with security (which may require political repression) and economic liberty. Keep at it and you get rich (Chile has the highest growth rate in South America) and eventually you get your political liberty as well.

    Sad but true facts of life.

  36. M. Simon,

    Depressing, I know. Our slow slide into this sad fascism is clearly happening. I don’t hear much about the USSR these days either. After communism fell, all the really smart people who said that communism and socialism are both just superior and I just didn’t understand it went to visit the USSR. They came back oddly quiet. Some came back oddly capitalist. My family in Moscow (fire burns hotter at the center, you know), has a few choice words but their words pale in comparison to the West’s fascination with Putin’s marshal art’s prowess and Gorby’s reputation for being an all around nice guy.

    All I can say is “thank you” for pointing out the sad truth of our decrpit USA.

  37. I hope it was all irony when you infered that the neo-cons “liberated” Taiwan, South Korea and above all JAPAN!! That wouldn’t even deserve an answer.

    USSR and Cuba? Both barren lands…one has ice, the other one sugar canes. What do we have? OIL, OBSENE AMOUNTS OF BLACK AND VERY EXPENSIVE OIL!!! Which by the way is going all the way up to 70 bucks! By the way, the CITGO remains UNTOUCHED, and poor old people from the Bronx and South Boston now have VERY CHEAP heating oil…Aren’t we just so nice?

  38. #28 Amused Venezuelan,

    Of course the Venuzealan people are getting the government they want. Their ignorance of economics will not change the rules. Heck even Marx said that if you want to create capital capitalism was the way to go. I guess Chavez has figured that the pie is big enough and need grow no bigger. Time to start slicing.

    John Wayne said, life is tough, and it’s tougher when you’re stupid.

    and let me add one of my own:

    It is unwise to attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

    There is no problem Which has a link to a video “Free to Choose” by Nobel Economics winner Milton Friedman. His basic premise: without economic liberty (secure property rights) you will never have political liberty.

  39. The USSR is gone! It cannot be compared to anything. Hell, have we LEARNED from 5 LONG fuckin’ decaded of squalor! Damn right, we have! Now we have chosen a different path and UNINFORMED people are crying foul because Lenin and Satlin are about to be resurrected! Give me a DAMN break! How come nobody talks about China? Oh yeah, they joined the TWO and that was the magic bullet. The Chinese gov. has proven itself succesful and effective; not following old, obsolete models; but creating a unique one for its own. Why can’t we? Because we are doomed to be a Banana Republic at the mercy of the “1st world” FUCK THAT!

  40. #33 antares,

    Tampa Bay?

    I don’t know. Could happen. I think a better football team would make it more attractive.

    How ’bout Chicago. Go Bears. (although the defence has been real crap the last few games).

  41. #45 AV,

    I’ll talk about China. The nationalized industries are doing poorly and the private businesses are the economic engine helping it advance.

    They gave up socialism for a system that produces capital. Capitalism. Actually they are in transition. They learned their lesson from Hong Kong. No natural resources, capitalist system – people do well. Mainland – a fair amount of natural resources, socialism, life sucked. Giving up socialism (slowly) and the economy started growing.

    So yeah. China is an excellent example.

  42. Re:#47,

    Let me add that China’s respect for private property attracted capital.

    Chavez’s disrespect for privte property is driving capital away.

    Let us say Chavez exports 4 million bbls a day that is about $10 bn a year at $70 a bbl. Divided up among 20 million people that is about $5k per year per person.

    Want to bet that it winds up at something less than $500 per person actually in pocket? Given the fact that oil fields need constant input and Chavez is not putting the money in to keep the fields producing and that he has put political cronys in charge instead of oil engineers and what do you get? Declining output.

    Chavez is the best thing that has happened to South America. It will teach more people economics. By providing a bad lesson.

  43. Methinks,

    Either you missed M.Simon’s point in 41, or I am missing your ironic humor.

    Amused V.,
    “Have you read about CHINA? They are a COMMUNIST nation and doing pretty well currently.”

    Well, all caps notwithstanding, China pretty much abandoned its communistic economic model what – 15 years ago or so. Which precipitated tremendous economic growth. Unfortunately, it’s also precipitating one of the greatest environmental catastrophes ever, but that’s another story.

    As far as Chavez, and the Venezuelan constitution is concerned, so long as he honors the constitution and doesn’t fudge elections, I suppose I don’t have much to say about him. But my fear, and that of some others here posting more vociferously, is that he will either abrogate the constitution, or fudge elections, or both, and become a dictator ruling without the consent of the governed. I hope very much that that doesn’t happen, but I fear that it will.

    Saudi Dude,

    “which is basically a statement of siding with the main propagator of injustice in the Middle East region.”

    Just for the sake of completeness, let me say that this statement can only mean what you want it to mean, in a world in which “justice” means the opposite of what I think it to mean. And it all reminds me of the usual feminist mantra that everything is political. Can’t a guy just run in a race and not have it be about politics? For cryin’ out loud, it’s a frigging race! There is nothing inherently political in trying to run faster than the other guys in the race. It’s just a race! That’s it!

  44. Amused Venezuelan;

    By the way, the CITGO remains UNTOUCHED, and poor old people from the Bronx and South Boston now have VERY CHEAP heating oil…Aren’t we just so nice?

    You should be helping your own poor people. You’ve got a lot more than the Bronx.

  45. Amused Venezuelan, you do realize that russia produces almost 3 times the amount of oil perday versus Venezuela, cuba is the only country out of the 2 that doesn’t really produce oil.

    So I have a question for you what is your point about Venezuela and oil when russia is not a wasteland and produces 3 times the amount of oil that Venezuela produces.

  46. Why can’t we?

    Because you aren’t Chinese?

    Why don’t you answer your own question? There have been communist/marxist governments in Latin America before. They’ve all failed. Unfortunately, Democracy doesn’t have a much better record, in Latin America. I’m at a loss to explain it, myself. Perhaps you can she some light on the issue for us?

  47. BrooklynJon #49,

    Totally got M. Simon’s point. You’re missing my ironic humour – I might have executed it poorly, though. M. Simon, on the other hand, is unusually eloquent.

    Say, was it you who said that Rudy Juliani is “socially liberal but not so open-minded that his brain has fallen out?” because if it was, I just want you to know that I’ve used that line about 600 times since and it’s going over like gangbusters.

  48. Noliving,

    There’s also the small matter of Venuzuela’s oil production falling off 20% since Chavez was elected. Not to mention, that they also produce the cheapest – heavy, sour. That stuff is like mud and is cheap because it’s so expensive to refine. That $70 price is for West Texas Intermediate.

    Of course, Russia is the largest “wasteland” on earth and has an obscene amount of natural resources besides oil. These very resources prop up the “managed” democracy Russia has now. Ever notice how countriies who depend almost exclusively on natural resources are hellholes? Not an accident.

  49. From the AP article above:
    “Chavez, who will be sworn in Wednesday to a third term that runs through 2013, also said he wanted a constitutional amendment to eliminate the autonomy of the Central Bank and would soon ask the National Assembly, solidly controlled by his allies, to give him greater powers to legislate by presidential decree.”

    Hmmm… what’s that say about “give him greater powers to legislate by presidential decree.” ?

    Amused V, are you blind or what? A freight train full of national ruin is running down the tracks towards you & you’re silly enough to think you can stop it if he gets to uppity because your “Constitution will protect you”.
    Open your eyes. Everything is happening in front of you in slow motion. First Chavez gets the Legislature that will rubber stamp all his ideas. He puts incompetent cronies in political& economic positions. Now he wants a more powers to rule by his own whim. To top it off, he’s also talked about changing the Constitution to give him a 25 year term. Don’t you see where this is heading? You’ll never get rid of him.

  50. #46 M. Simon

    Simon sez Chicago. (I could not help myself. 😉 )

    I was thinking Jacksonville as an alternative but who would notice?

    Maybe New Orleans? I say the Saints take Chicago on their home field. The way Grossman is throwing, he could not hit the ground. Could make for an interesting Super Bowl: Drew Brees against his old team.
    —–
    Saudi Dude

    Aren’t you grateful that you are free to express yourself on an Egyptian’s blog? I am sure one Bahraini wishes his freedom to express himself by outrunning a bunch of Israelis were protected, too. Just saying.

    Bahrain missed a great propaganda opportunity. BAHRAINI MOSLEM DEFEATS INFIDEL JEWS. Nope. They had to throw that op away. Didn’t come wrapped to suit, I guess.

    BTW your English is excellent. Where did you study?

  51. #43 AV

    The reason heating oil is so cheap right now has nothing to do with Venezuela. NYC has been unseasonably warm. Demand for heating oil is way down.

    Supply and demand is a lesson we learned from free-market captialism. Apparently that lesson was not learned in Venezuela. But it will be.

    YOU CANNOT VOTE YOURSELF PROSPERITY.

  52. Steve

    That’s a great name for the next NFL expansion team! The Los Angeles Refugees!

    Give ’em a pro set backfield and a preference for the running game and — Voila! — you have the “mad rush of the Refugees!”

  53. Methinks,

    Why yes it was. I think that line truly describes Rudy, who is a terrific leader, by the way. Please go on using that line without attribution.

    BJ

  54. Antares,

    I think the refugees would end up spending a lot of the time in the shotgun formation.

    But with a name like that, they could never complain about the quality of the “Refs”

  55. Mark (#5)… I have several Tunisian friends who swear they are very happy that their country doesn’t have any oil or natural gas because it forces people there to be more self-reliant, instead of waiting for the government to someday start sharing the resources with the people. They attribute most of the problems of their neighbours (Libya and Algeria) to squabbles over who will control the oil and/or gas resources. I like Tunisians, they are easy-going and a fair success story compared to other countries in North Africa/Middle East. (Sadly they do have a pretty autocratic government, who justify their repressive policies by saying that they are trying to fight Islamic extremism). Anyways, I’d be interested in further discussion of countries with vast natural resources who deploy them for good vs evil. Examples of countries doing a good job with oil wealth are Canada and Norway … who else?

  56. The Amused Venezuelan doesn’t seem so amused anymore. What’s the matter AV, Chavez got your tongue? Or your fingers as the case may be. He’s got everything else in Venezuela that’s for sure.

    In 15 years when America still hasn’t bothered to invade and Chavez is starting to shake like Castro and your kids are dying from starvation or disease that is long since forgotten in the developed world how will you rationalize and justify your position then? Good luck AV, I mourn for your people already.

  57. @ #27:

    The fact I’m a “subject of the kingdom” as you put it does not warrant your personal attack, especially since I oppose injustices in Saudi Arabia as much as I oppose them in occupied Palestine and Venezuela. My comment would have been “ironic” had I supported the measures you described, or had I in any way legislated them, such as being in a high position in the government or being a strong member of the Royal Family. That is, unless you think simply being a citizen of Saudi Arabia is enough for it to be ironic and attack someone personally because of that/

    As for what would happen in the condition you set, I’d probably be arrested, which is obviously wrong. It does not lessen though the extent of crimes committed by the Israeli occupation, nor does it void me of the right to talk about it, illustrate it, and object to it.

  58. Amused Venezuelan

    since Miami is one already as it serves as refuge for the fucking thieves that served Neo-Liberalism for decades

    You might be saved from the forces of darkness if you take a class in microeconomics and think about what you learned for a couple years.

    Venezuela’s foreign investment chart is falling off a cliff. The economy is growing in the short term, sure, given the higher price of oil, but there’s no sign of any fundamental improvement in the dynamics of wealth creation. Now everyone who actually creates wealth, whatever they do with it after it’s created, will need to leave Venezuela to avoid becoming slaves to the government. They don’t want to work for no personal benefit, paying for countless people who don’t work.

    So the brain drain-labor drain begins. Next step: a big freaking wall to keep people in. But don’t take my word for it. Just look at every Communist system, ever, anywhere, if given enough time to work its “magic.”

  59. Saudi Dude,

    I’m impressed how you can work comments about the Jewish criminals occupying “Palestine” into a thread about a South American proto-dictator. Do you always talk about us Jews? Even during sex and stuff?

    “Yeah baby, violate me just like those filthy Zionist bastards violated the property rights of the poor Palestinians”

    That would turn me on, for sure.

  60. Saudi Dude,

    If people opt for Political freedom without economic freedom they’ll end up with neither. However if they opt for Economic freedom (without political freedom), they’ll eventually end up with a reasonable amount of both. History books have proven this so many times.

  61. Ramy,

    That’s an interesting point. I imagine China would represent an example of the latter. Where has there been political freedom without economic freedom? I’m trying to visualize this, but coming up blank.

  62. Andrea @ 63: I think I saw a short piece on Fareed Zakaria’s show about Botswana. It’s economy is overwhelming fueled by diamond production, (like 70%-80%) and it is doing pretty well. (aside from the whole AIDS thing.) Although I don’t know why some resource rich countries succeed and why others fall in to authoritarian rule.

  63. BrooklynJon,

    I’ll give you a number of examples:

    1) Taiwan was run for a long time by Chinese nationalist dictator Chiang Kai-shek, where a one party dictatorship the KMT ruled from 1948 to 1987. The government was totalitarian and corrupt however the economic model was that of the free market, which eventually lead to the concentration of power in the hands of entrepreneurs with eventual democratization and liberalization of the island.

    2) Another example is South Korea with military dictators starting with Syngman Rhee, General Park Chung-hee to General Chun Doo-hwan. South Korea was a ruthless military dictatorship but economic freeoom and Growth brought about democracy and freedom eventually.

    3) The latest is China where gradual economic liberalization is bringing more and more freedom to the Chinese, which will eventually lead to the fall or transition of the Chinese government into a more liberal democracy. Instead of China swallowing up and bringing socialism and tyranny to Hong Kong it seems Hong Kong is bringing free-market and democracy to China.

    I could give many more examples if you’d like.

  64. On a side note: Since there are a hell lot of people in here, did anyone happen to get a Lasik surgery recently. I had one 2 months ago and my left eye is killing me.

  65. Ramy,

    I’m too scared to get Lasik. I don’t have much to add, but if you’re concerned, I’d get to an ophthalmologist pronto.

    I definitely see what you mean by the economically liberal/politically illiberal state. I’m having a hard time imagining its opposite.

  66. Ramy, South Korea has some seriously wacky politics, but I disagree with you that it’s ever been “ruthless military dictatorship” – I was there 3 times while Chun Doo-hwan was President (he resigned from the military and was elected democratically in 1981) and it wasn’t a dictatorship. Not sure what it was, but not that 🙂

    And believe me, I know dictatorships when I see them. I spent most of the 1980s in countries that were run by Dictators.

  67. “Of course, Russia is the largest “wasteland” on earth and has an obscene amount of natural resources besides oil. These very resources prop up the “managed” democracy Russia has now.”

    Kinda funny the squabble going on with them and Belarus considering 1st) how pro-Russia, Belarus is supposedly and 2nd) the Petro politics Putin has been playing with the EU

    And on an off note, that iPhone looks freakin awesome (tho expensive)

  68. Craig,
    As much as I hate to disagree with you over this point, I’ll quote a passage from the US department of State’s website about South Korean history:

    “In the following decades, South Korea experienced political turmoil under autocratic leadership. President Syngman Rhee was forced to resign in April 1960 following a student-led uprising. The Second Republic under the leadership of Chang Myon ended after only one year, when Major General Park Chung-hee led a military coup. Park’s rule, which resulted in tremendous economic growth and development but increasingly restricted political freedoms, ended with his assassination in 1979. Subsequently, a powerful group of military officers, led by Lieutenant General Chun Doo Hwan, declared martial law and took power.

    Throughout the Park and Chun eras, South Korea developed a vocal civil society that led to strong protests against authoritarian rule. Composed primarily of students and labor union activists, protest movements reached a climax after Chun’s 1979 coup and declaration of martial law. A confrontation in Gwangju in 1980 left at least 200 civilians dead. Thereafter, pro-democracy activities intensified even more, ultimately forcing political concessions by the government in 1987, including the restoration of direct presidential elections. ”

    Check it out here : http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2800.htm

    Craig : Point taken anyway 🙂

  69. Ramy, I don’t wanna argue about South Korean politics, mainly because I don’t understand what the hell goes on there anyway – this is the same country where fistfights break out on the floor of the legislature, after all. Suffice it to say, all is not what it seems 🙂

    As far as what you have quoted, a little parsing changes the meaning. Chun, for instance, toppled Park in a military coup in 1980 and declared martial law, yes. A couple of hundred protesters were killed that year. In 1981, Chun resigned from the military and was elected President.

    including the restoration of direct presidential elections.

    Note the word “direct” – there were elections, prior to 1987. But the people didn’t vote on the President DIRECTLY. It was more like a parliamentary system where elected representatives selected the President, rather than the people voting for an individual, as we do here in the US.

    In any case, I doubt anybody who has actually been to South Korea would describe it as a dictatorship. I have never heard it described that way, until you did so in this thread.

  70. Jason #77,

    It’s an economic squabble, settled in the typical Russian way. Each party is standing their ground, consequences be damned. Communist Russia has always behaved like the mafia and they are trying to jack up the price of hydrocarbons sent to Belarus – because they want to. Belarus is retaliating in the only way it can. It’s like watching a gang fight.

  71. Amused Venezuelan, you are repeating the very same words Chávez uses in all his speeches, in fact, you are only translating them. Like the 50 years of neoliberal model. Please, give me a break!. From 1958 to 1988, the state took part in almost every sector of the economy, failing miserably, being the oil industry its only exception. If you remember, all the economical rights or guarantees (garantías económicas) were suspended until 1989, when the so-called neoliberal model started. That experiment was a total failure, as the other ones impulsed by the previous governments, or do you think that the substitution of importation policy was neoliberal idea?, for example.

    By the way, don’t you remember when the national phone company was run by the state?, I do, and it was a crap. Or do you know what is the best power company run in the country?, let me tell you: it is the one run by the private sector, “La Electricidad de Caracas”. So SM, the only power company that no belongs to the state is the one which provides electricity to the city of Caracas, and which provides the best service in the country.

    #48 Simon, you are soo right.

  72. S. dude,

    The fact I’m a “subject of the kingdom” as you put it does not warrant your personal attack

    It’s not just that you’re a Saudi – I’m sure there are plenty decent ones, despite the massive amounts of indoctrination and hatred your government and mosques teach you.

    Your comment is ironic regardless of your views re: your Kingdom.

    That is, unless you think simply being a citizen of Saudi Arabia is enough for it to be ironic

    Vis-a-vis your comment, yes.

    and attack someone personally because of that/

    As stated above, it’s not that fact alone.

    As for what would happen in the condition you set, I’d probably be arrested, which is obviously wrong.

    But you see, dude, that’s an injustice! that you should be fighting against! So go do it as a sign of civil disobedience – since you’re so against injustice! and show those Royals what’s what!

    Go do it, dude. C’mon. And, as I said, have sis chauffeur you.

    You know you want to! (oh wait, that’s right – you don’t. and you won’t. criticize venezuela. criticize israel – but don’t DO anything about your country – and don’t SAY anything about it unless responding to someone).

    It does not lessen though the extent of crimes committed by the Israeli occupation, nor does it void me of the right to talk about it, illustrate it, and object to it.

    It just makes you look like a ‘tard – see initial comment.

    Cheers.

  73. Look, dude.

    Your country is the epicenter of the angry, bitter, nasty strand of Islam that teaches people to hate – the West, Christians, Jews, Shi’ites, etc…

    And your “government” pays for that strand of Islam to be exported throughout the Muslim world and to Muslims living in the West.

    Look what people – especially women – can and cannot do in your country.

    It is a living, breathing human rights violation – on the highest order. You can’t even speak out against the government in a public forum – and are relegated to the anonymity of the internet to make even a passing comment.

    Meanwhile, in the Zionist entitity, there were massive protests agaisnt the Hizballah war and there are daily protests – and public on the record Israeli civil rights groups – that speak out against the occupation and for the need for peace.

    There are also Christian and Muslim Arabs with churches and mosques that dot the landscape – in Israel.

    I appreciate that you are “against” the fact that you can’t peacefully protest – but you have a lot of work to do before you turn your criticisms outward.

    Start with shutting down the hate mosques. And that’s just the beginning.

  74. It takes A LOT of nerve from someone living in a country with no freedom of religion, no freedom of association, no freedom of speech, etc…

    where women can’t drive or wear what they want, where the official religion preaches hatred towards almost everyone….

    to rant about “injustices” elsewhere.

    You are one nervy ‘dude.

    Go protest your government and come back and tell us how it went, please.

  75. SoCal,

    Sometimes the pot likes to call the kettle black. Particularly when the pot has never actually seen the kettle first hand. Irshad Manji’s book is most interesting when she talks about her preconception of the Zionist Entity, and the bracing dose of reality she got once she opened her mind and visited it.

    It’s not entirely Saudi Dude’s fault. When you hear the same thing over and over, it’s hard to consider alternative viewpoints. And that is especially (though not exclusively) true when you’ve been previously told that the people presenting those alternative viewpoints are Satan’s messengers on Earth.

    But inasmuch as you would prefer Saudi Dude to be silent, we have to disagree. Hateful ideas tend to look less attractive in the light of day. Let him air it out so we can point out his errors.

  76. I would prefer that he – so “concerned” over injustices – would attempt clean up his own backyard – one of the dirtiest and nastiest in the world, responsible for a sizeable percentage of hatred, extremism, backwardness and intolerance present in the Muslim world.

    He, of course, can do what he wants – well, unless what he wants is to protest his own government or teach his sister to drive, as if.

    And I can’t stop him from posting. All I can do is call him on his ridiculous b.s. and hypocrisy.

  77. @68 ramy: Astute observations! Good examples of economic freedom without political freedom at #71.

    @69 BrooklynJon: I think the current Russian Federation qualifies as an example of political freedom without economic freedom. Yeltsin moved quickly to give the Russian people political choices and political parties sprouted as a direct result. But he could not overcome decades of central control of the economy as quickly. Too much inertia. So the “white” market stagnates while the “black” market prospers. The result has been an erosion in confidence in the gov’t, and everybody cheats to get things done.

    An example: Suppose you want to start a shop in Russia. Under the law, you must pay taxes now on what you will earn in your first year. And if you underpay, the penalties are severe. See how hard it is to start a business honestly? So you bribe the tax man. And if you have ignored one law, you believe you can ignore others — for a price.

    The result is a burgeoning “black” market and mafia. And the mafia does nasty things, so the people are more and more willing to surrender political freedoms to Putin in return for perceived security.

    But that behavior is kind of cultural with Russia. A cursory review of Russian history demonstrates that they have very frequently opted for strong-man rule and have fallen into lawless disorder under humane rulers. China chose the other path: capitalist economy with a totalitarian gov’t (Communism as a form of gov’t just means a non-hereditary dictatorship). We will see where that takes them. But don’t forget India; the Indians have a thriving democracty with a free market economy and brains too.

  78. Antares,

    You’re not exactly correct about Russia.

    “I think the current Russian Federation qualifies as an example of political freedom without economic freedom. ”

    It is politically free in name only. Just try and run against Putin and his Cronies and see if you survive. Other parties can exist – as long as they are ineffectual.

    “Yeltsin moved quickly to give the Russian people political choices and political parties sprouted as a direct result. But he could not overcome decades of central control of the economy as quickly.”

    This is absolutely true and due to several generations of brainwashing. In the same way that lack of freedom is alien and constricting to you, Russians simply couldn’t wrap their minds around achieving things honestly. All things that we hold as moral were destroyed in Russia – cheating was the only way to survive. Anyone who spent any time at all in a Russian school will be able to attest to the thoroughness of the brainwashing and the age at which it starts.

    “So the “white” market stagnates while the “black” market prospers.”

    This has been the case since the 1917 Revolution. This is nothing new.

    As for starting a business….

    I have family members who are highly educated scientists, yet cannot feed their family (typical, btw). So this family member started a business. It’s a totally normal business where he sells completely inocuous items (I don’t want to say too much, so bear with me). He simply doesn’t TELL the tax man about it. It’s not an issue because the state doesn’t know. He also hides his business from the mafia by never talking about it and by staying small (flying below their radar). The family lives in fear – but this is normal for generations of Russians and beats starving to death. They have no bank accounts in Russia. That’s how business is done if you want to stay alive.

    The tide of popular opinion has been turning against Putin, BTW. Ever since he’s been murdering journalists and tightening the screws. But the outlook for Russians is grim – what’s waiting to replace Putin is not necessarily better and may be worse still.

    “But that behavior is kind of cultural with Russia. A cursory review of Russian history demonstrates that they have very frequently opted for strong-man rule and have fallen into lawless disorder under humane rulers.”

    This is where you enter the land of absolute BULLSHIT. If you have nothing more than a cursory review of Russian history, perhaps you should refrain from talking about it – especially drawing conclusions from you tiny knowledge.

    Russians have never CHOSEN their leaders. The country was under the control of one absolute monarch or another for centuries. Then, with the revolution, there was the provisional government where people were supposed to vote. However, that government was kicked out and we got Stalin. The Russians did choose the revolution but that was the first and last choice they made.

    Even during the Czars, Russian society and politics was much more complex than you make it out to be. You are attributing Arab and Chinese choices to Russians and I’m not entirely sure that, like most Americans, you know any Russian history at all.

    And “China chose the other path” is bullshit too. China began liberalizing its economy only because the Chinese Communist party realized that this was the only way it can hold on to power. Otherwise, like Russia before it, it will eventually go bankrupt.

  79. Interesting exchange. I don’t know enough about Russia to add substance to the discussion. All I can say is that my Russian emigre great-grandfather used to get on his hands and knees to kiss the ground in America every day. And if you asked him about his life in Russia, he would take off his hat, hit you with it, and say “Shaddup!”

    I disagree with the bullshit status of China’s choice. I agree that the economic liberalization was first and foremost so the oligarchs could stay in power. I just don’t see how that makes it bullshit.

    So Cal,

    I hear you. But it’s a lot more fun, and in his case a lot less dangerous, pointing out Israel’s shortcomings than those of his own country. Meanwhile, I’m still awaiting a response on my proposal that Israel confer treatment on its Arab minority that precisely equals Bahrain’s hospitality to the Jews.

  80. To clarify – I’m awaiting that response from Saudi Dude. I think I know where you would stand, SoCal.

    BTW, SoCal, are you still an LGF frequent flyer?

  81. BrooklynJon,

    Sorry. I don’t mean that China’s choice is bullshit. Moving toward capitalism is absolutely the right thing for them to do – motives are unimportant. I was saying that it was not “China’s” choice. It was not the choice of the Chinese. It was the choice of the handful of ruling autocrats (not oligrachs) who have no accountability to the people in order to hold on to power. They have been successful. So, now, China is in a weird limbo where things are economically better but you can still be abused as a political prisoner.

    Incidentally, Gorby tried to do the same thing as China. EXACTLY the same thing. That’s what perestroika (literally “rebuilding”) was all about. The liberals credit him with bringing down communism but this is untrue. He tried to do what China did after the collapse of communism but he was already out of time – the country imploded. In a brilliant move straight out of game theory, Reagan drove the final nail into Gorby’s coffin with the Star Wars plan.

    As for your grandpa, if he was Jewish, his life was hell. Pure hell (at least, for the most part). My Russian family were wealthy merchants. My Jewish family were also merchants (plus some Rabbis). Life for them was pretty good. But for most Jews in Russia, life was pretty bad. Let’s not forget that it was the Russians who concocted “The Protocols of Zion” to encourage Pogroms.

  82. I read it and I send Charles links on occasion (I have a hat tip there now about the NYC subway bomber sentence), but I don’t really comment there much. Haven’t for a few years, really.

    I’m not a Republican (never have been) and it got way too partisan for my blood – and the comment section gets pretty nasty.

    I vote for all the people that LGF hates :-).

    Still, Charles writes about stuff that most people won’t – so it’s an interesting site.

  83. #89, 93 Methinks

    Actually I have studied quite a bit of Russian history, but I never lived it as you have. I concede that your experience is superior to mine. But what you say about Gorbachev and Yeltsin proves my point: they opened up the political life of the country before they opened the economic life. (Kind of shows how little control the politicos have of economics.) Russia had political freedom briefly. It slipped away. Political freedom without economic freedom is a recipe for disaster. And as you pointed out, Putin has been putting on the screws a little more each day (you can take the man out of the KGB but you can’t take the KGB out of the man).

    No, Russia has never had a happy history. Pity. Russians are wonderful people when I’ve dealt with them separately. When I’ve dealt with them in groups, each seems to be too reserved, wondering who in the group is the gov’t informer.

    Back to the thread . . . Methinks, do you see the accumulation of power in the hands of Hugo Chavez as a good thing or as a bad thing? Any lessons Russia can give Venezuela?

  84. BrooklynJon,
    My mother, after visiting Russia a couple of decades ago, is sooo thankful that her grandparents (on both sides) had the balls to leave. Life was hell yes, but moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language must have been scary too. But obviously it was scarier to stay in Russia. Only thing is, because of the Jew hatred experienced by my great-grandfather he and his family didn’t live much of a Jewish life (with all that entails) after he moved to America. Most of his descendants are quite assimilated, to put it lightly, which is sad.

  85. Antares,

    “do you see the accumulation of power in the hands of Hugo Chavez as a good thing or as a bad thing? ”

    I see it as the worst thing that could possibly happen to Venuzuela. The mess Chavez will create in a matter of a couple of years will take generations to untangle. That is the lesson of Russia.

    “Any lessons Russia can give Venezuela?”

    Yes. Closely study the last 100 years of Russian history and do exactly the opposite.

    Partly I lived it and both my grandmother and mother are Russian historians (both anti-communists)
    Russian social and political structure was too complex for a discussion on a message board. I’ll summarize the period around the revolution VERY broadly: Russia was backwards in a lot of ways at the turn of the 20th century. Most importantly it was one of the last large absolute monarchies in the (more or less) civilized world and it was very late in going through the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution and the fight against the absolute nature of the monarchy were happening at about the same time. Due to severe, temporary inequalities every country going through the industrial revolution experienced moments in history where they found themselves on the brink of political revolution and civil war. Others countries got through OK. Russia, partially due to those reasons, WWI and the Germans putting Lenin on a train back to Russia in order to weaken its enemy, tipped over into a full blown civil war. If I have to hear one more comment like “well, 95% of Russia were serfs and the rest were feudal Lords”, I will scream (not that I’m saying you did that, Antares).

    “But what you say about Gorbachev and Yeltsin proves my point: they opened up the political life of the country before they opened the economic life. (Kind of shows how little control the politicos have of economics.)”

    Well, you’d think. But not really. Gorby opened economic life AFTER the country was already bankrupt. It was an issue of timing. China has shown that politicos can have a lot of control over economics – especially in a closed command economy. Liberalizing was the right move – but it came too late. And anyway, a free market necessitates a free people. Eventually, this is the way China will have to go. China’s transistion will be easier. Russians were unable to turn on a dime and suddenly understand a system that they were a.) never taught the workings of and b.) taught to despise. Boy, could I tell you stories of what was happening in the early 90’s!! Although, I came here as a refuge in the 70’s.

    I don’t think Russians are wonderful people. they’re just people, like all other people on earth. Some are great. Some are the scum of the earth.

    “Political freedom without economic freedom is a recipe for disaster.”

    True. They go hand in hand. This is why I went into the field of Economics. The whole question of how things work. You must have both. If you have both – plus free markets and things like inalienable rights and the right to pursuit of happiness – you get America. There’s a reason we are the largest economy on earth – twice the size of the second largest. AS a single country we have a much higher GDP than the EU but the EU has more people, for example.

    “you can take the man out of the KGB but you can’t take the KGB out of the man”

    If I had a dime every time Russians have said that…..

  86. Karen,

    I remember our immigration. It was hell (especially because we literally knew nothing due to Russia’s control of information) but it was full of hope. In Russia it was hell with no hope.

    My Jewish family (I’m half and raised Russian Orthodox) doesn’t even know HOW to be practicing Jews. You had to stay hidden in Russia.

  87. Methinks, My great-grandfather was born in the late 1800’s. He was raised orthodox. I am told by my mother that anti-semitism was so bad that when he came to America he gave it all up (he was nonpractising). He hid…moved to a nonJewish neighbourhood, son wasn’t bar mitzvahd, didn’t join a synagogue. My great-grandmother was Jewish and traditional too. However, for my g.g. being Jewish had not been a positive experience. I know it is different for Jews emigrating from Russia the last few decades. They don’t know how to be Jewish. My g.grandfather did. I even have his little pink glass kiddush cup that he brought with him from Russia. I use it on Shabbat 🙂

  88. Methinks,

    I grew up in Brighton Beach, which is where most of the russian emigres of the ’70s and ’80s landed immediately upon arrival. I distinctly remember watching newly arrived Russian families going to supermarkets (that disgusting Waldbaums on Neptune Avenue!) and walking up and down the aisles in astonishment. They wouldn’t even buy anything. It was just a tourist destination. “Come to America… See the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty and a truly absurd amount of food.” Now I go back to Brighton to go to Russian restaurants, and I’m the one astonished by the amount of food. It’s all very circular, really.

  89. Karen,

    Wow. The Jewish side of my family came from Belarus and some were rabbis. Very observant and Orhodox, they were. I only know this because many of them came over at the turn of the 20th century and then actually found me through some geneology project! It’s been amazing to learn about all that.

    BrooklynJon,

    I haven’t been to Brighton in YEARS! I was still a kid but I remember coming to America (we didn’t go to Brighton at first) and seeing grocery stores ACTUALLY stocked with food – And NO LINE AROUND THE CORNER. We thought we’d died and gone to heavan! Now, when I go to Brighton Beach with my Egyptian husband they make all the people in line at the Russian owned grocers step aside to “let the foreigners through”! So cute.

  90. Antares:
    “But that behavior is kind of cultural with Russia. A cursory review of Russian history demonstrates that they have very frequently opted for strong-man rule and have fallen into lawless disorder under humane rulers.”

    Methinks:
    This is where you enter the land of absolute BULLSHIT. If you have nothing more than a cursory review of Russian history, perhaps you should refrain from talking about it – especially drawing conclusions from you tiny knowledge.

    Russians have never CHOSEN their leaders. The country was under the control of one absolute monarch or another for centuries. Then, with the revolution, there was the provisional government where people were supposed to vote. However, that government was kicked out and we got Stalin. The Russians did choose the revolution but that was the first and last choice they made.

    Methinks allow me to tell you that you are pretty wrong here.
    First does ‘opted’ necessary mean ‘voted’?
    And, yes, russians wish for strong leadership can be seen through the centuries. It’s covered by famous writers of the 19th century like Turgenev and through the 20th century, with Dovlatov just one of the examples to name.
    And well you never heard that quote from an older russian: “Stalin may actually have killed some people, but at least the streets were safe”? Thats exactly what the russian addiction for strong leadership is. That’s why they will follow any dictator without thinking twice. And of course this is the RESULT of russia being an absolute monarchy for long long time.
    You know that Ivan Grozniy is still one of most popular russian rulers ever?

  91. Methinks,
    Your background, stories and opinions are very interesting (and thought so when you were anonon too). Maybe you should start your own blog. I know that I would read it.

  92. Leon,

    You’re taking a few quotes from a few writers and oversimplifying to the point of extreme distortion.

    As for the Stalin quote , no. I’ve never ever heard anyone say that from any generation. This is the first I’m hearing it and I’m pretty sure it was uttered by some prolitariat living far from Stalin’s grasp. Nobody I knew was that foturnate. I’m sure there were people who said that but you’re making a mistake if you want to paint the majority of Russians with that brush.

    I love your “Russian addiction to strong leadership” quote. Please define “addiction” and especially in this context. Back it up with examples. Just because you make a strong statement doesn’t mean you’re correct.

    Ivan Grozni (Ivan the Terrible) is not “popular” as that word is understood in an American political context. He was the first and self-proclaimed Czar and that made him important in Russian history. His brutality was AWESOME (in a bad and awe-inspiring way).

    Perhaps you would like to expound on the effect of the Russian Orthodox Church and how it was the exact opposite of the Puritan “man over nature concept”. Perhaps you would also like to explain to us the effects of the sacking of parts of Russia by the tartars and the Mongolians. And then you may want to hit on the relationship between the Boyars, the Czar and the Church and the effect it had on the general population. I think you’ll find that Russians are by and large a whiney lot who believe there is not much they can do about their life because what God gives, he give and what he doesn’t he doesn’t. T’aint much you can do about it. Thus it doesn’t much matter who rules, as long as there’s bread on the table because that’s the best you can hope for. That’s hardly an “addiction” to strongmen – that’s just an environment which is ripe for strongmen. There’s a big difference.

    Oddly, if what you say is true about the Russian addiction to strongmen, then they wouldn’t do so well in the US. But that’s not so. Russians, as a group, adapt easily to the freedoms and responsibilities of democracy even if they didn’t come here for ideological reasons.

  93. Karen,

    Thanks. There are so many really cool people and stories on this blog. I think it would be cool to start my own blog but I don’t have time. I have my own business which is rapidly growing and sometimes I have time (like now) but other times I don’t have any time (like starting tomorrow or the day after).

  94. Leon,

    One more thing….

    I’m not saying that the Russians aren’t at fault for their own decrepit systems. We totally are! But it’s because Russians are complacent and backwards – not because they value strongmen. In addition, the only choice both in the past and the present has been one strongman fighting another and you throw your lot in with one or the other. There’s usually not a third option. Today it’s Putin vs. the Oligarchs. All the Russians think both parties are thieves. Russia is effectively a Kleptocracy.

    Jason,

    The thieving Russian government is not interested in becoming a member of a group which they are not controlling. Putin is currently seeking to leverage his oil wealth to once again challenge the US on the world stage. Russia will only do what is necessary to join the EU if it is weak and beaten down and has no other choice. Plus, the EU doesn’t want the Russian den of thieves among them. Can’t say I blame them.

  95. #107

    no ways, we are already too many to get understood, It doesn’t work anymore !
    this has nothing to do with russians, but with The EU rules, too far abstract, and administrative

  96. Methink,

    you are funny 🙂

    I think it wouldn’t fit in this blog to discuss the genealogy of russian rulers in detail, nor the structure of russian soul. Just imagine: a detailed discussion about this in a comment on chavez’ announcement in an egyptian blog 🙂

    So I’ll try to be short.

    First: Ivan Grozniy or Ivan the Fourth wasn’t the first russian ultimate ruler or dictator. He was the first _crowned_. Cool move indeed, but only a matter of form not of substance.

    Second: even under Ivan IV the common believe (which lasted well 500 years until the end of the 20th century) of a “simple russian” was that of a good Czar, surrounded by bad advisors. The Czar himself is a good person, who simply doesn’t know what happens, because he’s deceived. Same scheme worked perfectly for Stalin with Ezhov, Jagoda and Berija being made responsible for the suppressions.

    Third: The dynasty of russian rulership is reaching far behind into pagan time, since mid-age russia actually started in the todays Ukraine (“Kievan Rus'”). So even the influence of the church shouldn’t be underestimated, but the same belief in good, strong, wise ruler was there before christianity came to russia.

    Fourth: I don’t want to make a course in russian literature. I assume you’ve read Akunin? Even his educated (at later stages) hero Fandorin believes in the monarchy being compromised by impotent zhandarms, but the Czar being a good man. He (Fandorin) dislikes the mishappenings he observes but almost never doubts the system. Akunin caught the spirit of time pretty well. You’ll find the same attitude through the important books of the 19th century by Dostojevski, Tolstoi and so on.

    5. How would you explain that despite slavery lasted in russia until second half of the 19th century, the anti-monarchy movements had no support among the simple people? “Dekabrist” movement as well as “narodnaja volia” had basically no support from the masses (they haven’t sought for it aswell).

    6. As for my quote, when was last time you’ve been in russia? Have you talked to _the_russian_ people who actually lived in the 40th-50th? Where do you think the support for the communistic party and believe in it come from? Do you think their millions of members and supporters actually believe in Maxism-Leninism? I doubt it. They want the “good old times” back, where they hadn’t to think for themself and had to do what the leadership told them to do. It’s much easier to live this way, simple following a strong leadership, believing the lies and if something goes wrong – blame the jews.

    7th and last 🙂 The so-called russians in US or other western countries… Whom do you call russians? The first wave and their siblings emigrated right after the revolutions? The west-ukrainians who fill canada? The several millions jews? Other nations formely united under the red flag and being only russians by the “native language”? And I’m sure I left out about 10 other groups with strong presence among “the russians”. You and me are called “the russians” too, even I dont have a drop of russian blood in me, but was brainwashed by the soviet school many years ago 🙂

    So to bring it to the point. Russians (the real russians) do believe in the general goodness of their leadership, and they wish themself a good Czar who will rule and clean up the mess they have. That’s why they never clean up their messes theirself 🙂

    regards
    Leon

  97. back to the topic:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6248787.stm

    —quotes
    The president has already promised to extend his “Bolivarian revolution” and called on the National Assembly to give him the power to rule by decree

    He also repeated his desire for a constitutional amendment that would scrap limits to the number of consecutive terms a president can serve.
    This would allow him to run again for office after his new term expires in 2013.
    It is such plans that have led his critics to say Mr Chavez is following the road of his ally in Cuba, Fidel Castro.
    — end
    Please welcome a new dictatorship.

  98. Unlike Cuba, Venezuala has oodles of black gold, so Mr Chavez better be careful lest he incur the wrath of Haliburton errr Bush.

  99. Leon,

    Good Lord, we’re really going to have to sit down with a bunch of reveference sources in person to knock this discussion out. It just gets longer with every post.

    I’ve run out of time, so I’ll make it brief and, thus, incomplete (sorry).

    1.) Ivan the Terrible is not the most relevant point here. So, I’ll leave it.

    2.) This “scheme” resulted from the belief that the Czar was divinely ordaned to be their ruler. In fact, Nicolas II believed it was his duty before God to lead his people. The Church propgated this view and church and the Czar were closely related.

    3.) This belief in strong leadership which you describe in Pagan Russia was not uncommon and, in fact, was very common in Europe and many other places all over the known world. This does not differentiate Russians AT THAT TIME from other inhabitants of the earth AT THAT TIME. Thus, it does little to support your point.

    4.) Please refer to what I wrote in #2. It is the same thing and for the same reason. It is not a desire for a strongman but a belief that the Czar is divinely commanded to rule. Also, I recommend you read Bulgakov – Particularly “Heart of a Dog” and “Master and Margarita”. But read them in Russian if you can, they’re not as funny or understandable in English because of Bulgakov’s strong use of cultural references.

    5.) Well, it wasn’t slavery – it was serfdom. There are important differences. This question, in particular, could occupy an entire evening. So, I will unsatisfactorily answer that the alternative to serfdom (subsistance farming) was in a lot of ways perceived as worse. The serfs eventually realized the alternative (serfdom was abolished) and things were worse and they starved to death in droves. But, this is really not a complete answer just the best I can do while I warm up dinner.

    6.) I go to Russia all the time and I still have family there. I’ve done business there. In fact, I’m much more intimately acquanted with modern Russia than I want to be. Calling that “support” for the communist party is like saying that the 99% of the people who voted for Saddam is proof that Iraqis love him. Stalin’s Russians were brainwashed into believing that the outside world was much crappier than the shit they lived in and that he was their saviour. Since they had no access to other information, they believed it. I don’t know what you mean by the rest of your statement about “good times”. But, I find that in most countries the idiot proletariat wants to lay around and have stuff handed to them. THAT Russian proletariat are very guilty of.

    7.In the statement I made, the “Russians” I’m referring to are non-Jews who have come during the last two decades from places like Moscow and St. Petersburg. I was not referring to the other groups you mentioned. I know exactly what you mean by non-Russians referring to all land that was occupied by the Soviet Union as “Russians”. As you know, Russians only refer to ethnic Russians (Ryssiani”) as “Russian”.

    Oh and I’m so damn sick of the whole whiney “suffering Russian soul” thing. I’ve had it up to HERE with that. Yeah, a lot of Russians moan about somebody coming along and cleaning things up – but so do Americans. What I’m saying is that Russians have neither genetic nor ideological problems which prevent them from taking responsibility for themselves and embrace age of enlightenment thinking. You don’t seriously think that educated Russians haven’t gotten their paws on Descartes or Roussou (although I think I butchered the spelling). Those who want to can’t and those who don’t want to whine all day about it.

    One question for you: where did the Soviets brainwash you? Which unfortunate country was that?

  100. The best example of the ravages of socialism is Germany. Even now, seventeen years after reunification, East Germany is an economic wasteland and the former West Germans are still reeling under the weight of social programs designed to put the East back on its feet.

    Good luck to you, Amused Venezulean – you’ll need it!

  101. You don’t seriously think that educated Russians haven’t gotten their paws on Descartes or Roussou (although I think I butchered the spelling).

    Rousseau,

    but depends if your for one or the other, that makes the difference in the whining or not the whining

    at least, russian girls are very beautiful, and they know how to drive men crazy

    that sucks too 😆

  102. So, back from short sleep, and ready to return the ball, Methink 🙂

    But since this is getting well over subject, lets try to shorten it.

    1. ok.

    2. No. You are mixing things up. Russia isn’t France, the Czar wasn’t God given (Ivan the IV and Fedor I were actually the only two who could demand it).

    3. Well, maybe. But things got developed in other countries. Russia, due to its partially wanted and partially forced isolation remained at the same self-awareness level of its citizens as 1000 years ago.

    4. I don’t get how those two books are connected to the topic. If at all I would speak about White Guard and, partly, Diaboliad in connection to the topic (And yes I love “Master and Margarita”, it’s on the second place in my top 5 favorite books of all centuries).

    5. Sure, details differ, but if we are talking about different kinds of slavery, this is one of them.

    6. I wasn’t talking about the support for the communistic party back in “those days”. I’m talking about the support for it _now_. Why the heck are they so popular even in the 21th century? Why do people believe that communists can solve their problems (again) despite all evidence to the contrary. Because they want a leading hand, someone to guide them and make decisions for them.

    7. Just wanted to clarify things. And you should exclude the post-communistic generation (everyone below 40, people who grew up in the 80-is and later). And there are still a lot of difference between people coming from St. Petersburg, Baltic States, Kiev, partly Moscow and Novosibirsk, and people coming from Kazan or Samara. And we are talking about the masses, not about the inteligencija.

    As to your last question:
    I was conceived in St.Petersburg, born and grew up in Riga, Latvia.
    So I think my personal knowledge of the matter is not inferior to yours 🙂

    regards
    Leon

  103. Leon,

    Latvia, eh? My cousins grew up in Riga! Small world. So, if you were conceived in Russia and lived in Latvia what nationality are you?

    I don’t have as much time today, so I’ll make this short.

    I think the original disagreement you and I had was that I said that Russians (and Russian culture) do not value Strongmen and you said they do.

    I think you make a good point about defining “Russian” – unlike Egyptians, Russians aren’t homogeneous. As I look at my own face, with its slavic eyes, monogolian cheekbones and tatar jawline, I’m reminded of how diverse Russia really is. Thus, it’s difficult to talk about the Russian “masses”.

    I have to admit that my family belonged to the intelligencia before and after the revolution, so I never had much interaction with the proletariet. My family looked down on them for the same reasons Bulgakov looked down on them in “Heart of a Dog” – also, that’s why I brought it up. The intelligencia never favoured Strongmen, in the popular definition.

    The masses (read: serfs or peasants) always HAD strongmen. This is an interesting subject and one I wish were discussing in person because it goes beyond the scope of this message board.

    One must remember that having serfs did not differentiate Russia from Western Europe. The Black Death effectively put an end to the feudal system in Europe but there was no Black Death in Russia (unless you call LIVING in Russia Black Death – ha ha ha). Ivan that Terrible effectively tightened the noose around serfs in the very late 15th century. Subsequent laws in the 17th century effectively enslaved serfs and made flight illegal – you’re right about that. But you’re wrong to say that there were no rebellions against this oppression – there were notable uprisings in the 17th, 18th and 19th century before serfdom became illegal in 1861. In other words, serfs DID want freedom from the feudal system but the alternatives were not much better as Russia was an underdeveloped, aggrarian economy for much longer than Western Europe. Thus, the serfs don’t help you argue that Russian “masses” liked strongmen.

    As to your point #6 – I dion’t know how often you went back to places like Moscow and St. Pete after communism imploded. The country was a filthy mess and overrun by mafia. In addition, people were now having to adjust to a completely different way of life which they didn’t understand. The natural human reaction to this is to long for a time they DID understand. That’s why abused women often go back to their abusers. Just for the record, not a single person in my family (who live in Moscow) nor anyone I personally know in Russia wants communism back. So, you can’t say “Ther Russians” want communism back. Also, the support for the communist party exists for many different reasons, most of them have nothing to do with love of strongmen. The communist party is the one they know and understand. They promise them the same shit they promised them in 1917 and they point to the very visible drunken bear (Yeltsin) and his corruption and the uncertainty that the new Russia brings. You forgot to mention that the support for the Commies comes mainly from old people who don’t know anything else and who suddenly find themselves with no income. But even that’s not a love of Strongmen, it’s a fear of new things and starvation.

    As for people wanting someone to come along and wipe their problems away for them. Well, this kind of thinking is mainly restricted to the older generation who grew up in the communist system, first of all. In addition, it does not differentiate Russians from Western Europeans nor does it differentiate Russians from American liberals. So does this mean that Americans value strongmen or that Europeans do? Perhaps all of humanity does?

    Your knowledge of the subject may not be inferior to mine, but you completely ignored the changes in the Russian economic system in the 19th and early 20th century and its contribution to the rise of communism. You also completely ignore the fact that the communists promised self-rule. Stalin usurped power and the Russians were none too happy about it – especially when they began dying by the millions. That’s not what they signed up for and Stalin made sure that anyone apposing him was killed. You also ignore the effects of WWII on Stalin’s popularity and the Russian people as a whole. Russia suffered 40% of all the war dead in WWII. 93% of Hitler’s losses were on the Eastern front. You also have to remember how Russians were denied contact with the outside world when you judge Russians’ reactions toward Stalin.

    If anything, the Russians are fatalistic. “Stalin, the Czar. What’s the difference, as long as there’s bread on the table and vodka. You can’t fight with fate”. But that’s fatalism – not a love of Strongmen.

    You bring up examples from Russian literature about how the leader was always perceived as good with bad advisors to prove that Russians love Strongmen (any more than anybody else anywhere else does). I think that point is largely irrelevant because good men do bad things and bad men do good things. Nicolas the II, for example, was a nice man. He was also completely incompetent AND had bad advisors. To the average person, what does it matter if Nicolas is a nice guy if his army just killed your kid at a student demonstration? If the Russians so dearly love strongmen, why would the rebel against the Czar at all?

    Frankly, I think China and other Asian societies have a much deeper longing for strongmen. I’m always being lectured by Asians about how great Stalin was and I have one friend from Singapore who “doesn’t believe in democracy” and wants the US to be a dictatorship – just like Singapore. Of course, his ass is planted firmly on American soil.

    *Sigh*

    I wrote way too much and way too long. At the end of the day, I don’t think either you or I will be able to prove conclusively what the 8th largest (and diverse) populations values. Russia, like America, is too geographically spread out and ethnically and socially diverse to embrace a single set of values. Perhaps that’s why socialism works so much better in Sweden than in Russia. I don’t think there is an inherent love of strongmen any more than in any other part of the Western world.

  104. #119 Methinks
    The fatalism you speak of is not unique to Russians. A common phrase in Brazil is “si Deus quiser” — if God wills. That attitude is common in Latin America.

    #118 Leon and #117 Nomad
    The woman I intend to marry is from Riga. Russian by blood, Latvian by birth. Forced to carry an Alien Visa in the land of her birth. Wants a better life but she’s afraid to leave Riga. (Yeah, Nomad, I agree: my Russian woman is beautiful and she drives me starkers.)

    #116 Eva
    When the Berlin Wall was levelled I said it would take Germany three generations to fully implement the “Vereinigung”. I now say it will take five. Es interessiert mich viel weil meine Familie aus Deutschland gekommt hat. Meine Tante Anna-Marie kommt aus Koeln und ich hab’ von ihr mein deutsch gelernt; dabei spreche ich Mittelhochdeutsch.

    #107 Jason
    As for Russia joining the EU, not gonna happen. Russia wants to use its economic leverage over Europe; could not do that if it were part of the EU. The leverage does not come from petroleum; Europe can look to Africa for petrol. The leverage comes from natural gas. Witness recent hikes in gas prices to the Ukraine.

  105. Antares,

    Yep! And natural gas is a continental commodity. Nowhere else to look for it, unfortunately.

    Fatalism is by far not unique to Russians. Russia’s “ladno”, Brazil’s “si Deus quiser”, Egypt’s “ma’alish”, etc. You’ll generally find the same fatalism in “nature over man” societies. Thank God for the Puritans 🙂

    Yes, BrooklynJon, I think the consensus on Chavez is that he’s an asshole:)

  106. A year ago I could not have imagined that I would find a community of minds I enjoy so much — Methinks, BrooklynJon, Leon, Andrea, Ramy, Mark, M. Simon, and others — on the blog of a neo-con, pro-US, Zionist conspirator Egyptian.

    Thanks and kudos, Sandmonkey!

  107. “As for Russia joining te EU, not gonna happen. Russia wants to use its economic leverage over Europe; could not do that if it were part of the EU. The leverage does not come from petroleum; Europe can look to Africa for petrol. The leverage comes from natural gas. Witness recent hikes in gas prices to the Ukraine.”

    I didn’t mean to imply that they would.. just that it would do them good to implement some of the steps required as if they would. Obviously not gonna happen with Putin in power, but maybe someone more like Yeltsin was? would have started if given the right incentives?
    re: how much Turkey has benefited from the process even if finally membership never comes to pass
    I realize that even if both parties were ameniable that it’d be a few decades before the EU would be prepared to accept the growth in population that Russia represents and much lower standard of living (GDP/person)

  108. #122

    Antares,
    my compliments to your aunt for teaching you such a good German. I must disappoint you – I can’t converse in that language. Try Czech, French or plain English. :)))

  109. Eva, Canada

    Don’t speak Czech. Don’t speak French.

    Do speak English, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and learning Russian. Take your pick.

    BTW Portuguese is the best language I know for talking about family, conversing with close friends, and . . . for making love.

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