...of the WashPost's rebuttal of Chavez's rebuttal of their Editorial from a few weeks back - so a rebuttal of a rebuttal of a rebuttal of a rebuttal...zowee, bless the internet age!
"The Post's editorial expresses concern about " intimidation by government goon squads" during the signature confirmation period this weekend. In fact, there has been no systematic intimidation of voters or petition signers since Hugo Chávez took office in 1999."
My considered reply:
...oh man! Good one! Heee! How do you guys come up with stuff like this?!
Oh man, VIO...sheesh...how much of our tax money is funding the near-lobotomized idiocy these guys are peddling?! How much of our public money are we spending to stroke Chavez's ego with disinformation so aggressively detatched from reality that only if you know absolutely nothing about Venezuela or if you're clinically insane could you believe it!? 600,000 bucks, did they say?! To hire lobbyists who subscribe to the four-year-olds-at-the-playground school of denial?
Think about it, that's exactly what this is: a four year old at a playground gets caught hitting another kid. You confront him. What does he say? "I didn't do it." Lamely. Every time. Never fails.
It doesn't matter to him that you were sitting ten feet away, that you saw him sock the other little kid in the mouth, that you have all the evidence you need and more. "I didn't do it," that's what he's always gonna say.
OK, it's pathetic yes, but normally the 4-year-old in question isn't getting paid half a million dollars to come up with it!
Estimados VIOistas, please! Earn your six figure budgets! Dear Nathan, we know about the government's intimidation campaign because nearly all of us have a cousin, or a friend, or a son, or an old schoolmate who has been put under pressure by the government. Stories of signators trying to obtain a National ID card or a passport and being refused merely because they signed are a dime a dozen in Caracas these days. The intimidation is not subtle, it's open, and thousands of people have experienced it in person. So please don't insult us, or clutter up the historical record, with positions that are blatantly false and can easily be demonstrated to be patently false.
It may be hard for you, Nathan, sitting in a nice DC office, to picture yourself in the shoes of a Venezuelan public employee earning $200/month and needing to feed a family on that. It may be hard for you to quite fathom the terror of having that income threatened in a country with 20% unemployment and where, out of those working, more than half having only "informal employment" - odd jobs for cash. I suspect it will be very, very hard for you, Nathan, to empathize with the prospect of being dumped out of work in a job market like that with no unemployment insurance, no proper medical insurance, no welfare, no foodstamps, nothing to stave off complete penury, simply as a consequence of having expressed dissidence openly. And so you will not know, Nathan, what Roger Capella's words meant, how they impacted Venezuela's opposition-minded public employees.
And how could you? Such intimidation is simply not a part of your normal experience...but it sure is part of the day-to-day lives of God only knows how many Venezuelan public employees who chose to register their disgust with the autocratic regime that pays your salary.