Shire Network News #92 has been released. The feature interview is with Venezuelan blogger Daniel Duquenal about Hugo Chavez and the way he’s killing democracy. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hello, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to Consider This.

He’s been called a generous man. He’s a patron of the arts. He’s considered by some to be a supporter of life and peace.

He’s also appropriated oil companies for control by the government, closed one opposition TV station and has his eyes on another.

He is, of course, Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela. He may be a man of stark contradictions, but for those on the Left, like Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover and Cindy Sheehan, they are contradictions they can live with; just petty disagreements, really. Surely, the evil oil industry and a couple of media outlets are a small price to pay for the good of the people, right comrade? Or should I say camarada?

Chavez recently managed a stunt that not even Bush or Blair have been able to accomplish. While he won the last election with 60% of the vote, his closure of RCTV, a single act, got 70% of the people peeved at him all at once, rioting in the streets. They’re shocked–SHOCKED–that a socialist leader would shut down opposition voices. That’s never happened before, has it? Well, OK, you can probably name one or two, or a few dozen, but this time it’ll be different. The temporary absolute power given to him by the Venezuelan Congress has just gone to his head for a moment. He’ll be better soon, right?

And over here in the corner of the bookshelf, a history book is crying, “Read me, read me!” One hundred years of socialist and communist history would beg to differ.

RCTV called Chavez a “dictator”. OK now fellas, isn’t that just a little over the top? I mean, technically, Chavez is not a dictator; he was democratically elected. Here’s what Merriam-Webster Online considers a dictator:

1 a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively

So you see, while Chavez may have complete autocratic control, and uses it oppressively against his opponents, he was granted it by the Venezuelan Congress, not the senate of ancient Rome. That make me feel a whole lot better. Nothing to see here. Hey look, a picture of Castro holding today’s newspaper!

The best indication of what is to come came from Venezuela’s Communication Ministry itself. The Inter-American Press Association put out a statement saying that the closing of RCTV would result in “a very bleak outlook for the whole hemisphere.” María Alejandra Díaz, the social responsibility director at the Communications Ministry (who’s motto is, “Shutting down free speech is socially responsible”), asked news organizations to refrain from reporting on the association’s statement, since it could allow viewers, readers or listeners to think Mr. Chavez’s government was “tyrannical.”

Certainly sounds like the stifling of dissent to me, much like what the anti-war Left claims is happening in America. And what do we hear from Chavez’s high-profile supporters now?

>crickets chirping<

Shh, they’re asleep. They’re asleep at the wheel. Don’t they look so cute when they’re oblivious? Back to you, Tom.

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