Monday, December 31, 2007

Not Good, Just Not Bad

John W. Shoen senior producer of MSNBC business section: "We're not in the 'greed is good' camp, but we've yet to see an economic system that can run entirely without it. Greed is really just an extreme form of AMBITION for material wealth. If we had no incentives to reward ambition, not much would get done. State controlled-planned economies generated a pretty poor track record in the 20th century."

These little propoganda pieces are strategically placed throughout the US "information" system, from media to textbooks to popular culture, on such a regular basis that they are not noticed. Subliminal, sublime. This one incorporates a number of important memes which are meant to reproduce and strengthen the dominant ideology in the softest of deliveries. Christian morality, Darwinism, Ayn Rand, Freidman, Thatcher, all reaffirmed with elan and then internalized at a molecular level!

A number of my friends here work as sub-contractors for the "military-vital complex", as Hardt and Negri describe it, namely Raytheon Corp. through a local intermediary high in the corporate hierachy. All are "liberals" or "progressives" who are offered wages triple or quadruple what they could earn here if they go to Texas for certain period of time and work on "projects" which they are not allowed to discuss. The local man who arranges all this "largess" is one of the biggest contributors to environmental and progressive political causes in the region.A real benefactor.

One of my best friends makes a great living as a personal chef for a corporate lawyer who owns a huge trophy home here. She specializes in "re-structuring" corporations to make them "leaner" and more profitible, downsizing, slashing, all that business. I myself make my living taking very wealthy people fly fishing so that they may relax and enjoy some liesure.Where would I be without them? They are constantly at pains to assure me that one can do good and do well. Somebody gives those 800 dollar haircuts!

We can never underestimate the pure effectiveness of capitalisms methods of reproducing itself and colonizing territory. It removes the imaginary and leaves a Spectacle. And who would be foolish enough to bite the hand that feeds it!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Legacy

If a legacy refers in some way to the dominant historical narrative, then it's manufacture can be instructive to those who are nervous about "the total colonization of the lifeworld" or other such measures of "full-spectrum dominance" ( cultural hegemony, the Spectacle in general) Thus,Peter Baker's piece from the Washington is interesting on a couple of levels.
"Bush's attention (to global warming) comes at a time when he and his top advisors feel better about his Presidency, confident they have turned a corner after two years of political setbacks ,and can now focus on RE-FORMULATING his legacy."

A couple of questions arise. Bush's ATTENTION to global warming? Even if you could say that without laughing, could the legacy of seven years of neglect, obfuscation, blockage (measured in deaths?) be somehow mitigated with one year of "attention"? Then there is this bit about "he and his top advisors" feeling better. This Peter Baker, a droid sitting at a cubicle in some office building in some Metropolis is privy to the feelings of "the cabal"? Seriously? Now what about this bit on "re-formulating" Bush's legacy? Are we saying A legacy has already been formulated (formula?) , prior even to the finish of a term, which requires adjustment? We already know Petes role in this process. We are tangentially being treated to discussions about Condi Rice's legacy, (Elisabeth Bumiller of the NYT has an "unauthorized" biography which just hit the store shelves) and about whether Annapolis could salvage something from the debacle. I suppose one could make analogies to the Petraeus "surge" or football's fourth quarter, (By the way, Petraeus for President on 2012) but again, this bizarre effort to salvage something for the history books has a tremendous effect on the use of US power. Unfortunately for this Presidency , the die has been cast. A couple of band aids, some spackle and paint, a little duct tape or volumes of blatant spin will not slow our descent into the vortex of blowback and reprisal. Neglect breeds contempt.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who's Tougher On Terror!

CNN was reporting a certain sense of... you hate to use the word relief, but hey... by Republican candidates McCain and Guliani following Bhutto's assisination today. Terrorism is front and center once again, God and immigration are on the back burner, but we know about the attention span of the average voter. Scooter who? Tom Delay? The talking heads were going on about that greatest of virtues ,"stability" and preserving the march towards democracy, and finding the people responsible, etc... Less was said about the five dead after Nawaz Sharif and Musharraff supporters mixed it up. Civil war coming? It turns out Iran is the most "stable" country in the region, a somewhat ironical twist.

There has been some discussion on this blog of late about the word democracy and it's s t r e t c h a b i l i t y. Packistani democracy is like diet ice cream. From Tariq Alis' piece Daughter of the West in the Dec.13 LRB
"Arranged marriages can be a messy business...Where both parties are known to loathe each other, only a rash parent , desensitized by the thought of short term gain, will continue with the orocess knowing full well that it will end in misery and possibly violence."

As for democracy American Style, I thought Raul nailed it: "We could say in Cuba we have two parties; one led by Fidel and one led by Raul. What would be the difference? Thats the same thing in the US... both are the same. Fidel is a little taller than me, he has a beard and I don't." Then he waxed liberal "Our system has to become more democratized . Where we can have differences, we should have them.Not class clashes, but it's good to have differences." Personally, I say no limit on clashes, be they class, power, wealth, whatever, bring em on! I prefer, as Claude Lefort so eloquently puts it, "a society in which Power, Law and Knowledge are exposed to a radical indeterminacy, a society that has become the theatre of an uncontrollable adventure."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We, Us, Ours

Thanks to all who slogged through my post I, Me, Mine and fired off such penetrating questions. I was away from the blog but just returned to try to address them all. (check comments) This is especially relevent to the project Chebob and I (and others) are engaged in here in Montana, attempting to bring change to an unsustainable status quo. It is not necessary that we agree on every theoretical point (it aint gonna happen) ,it is necessary that we become comfortable with disagreement and debate.What we DO have to agree upon at the end of the day is a program of some kind, developed through a dialogue and process that we are all inventing as we go. The program must acknowledge the reality of where we are physically, the sparsley populated and vast upper Northwest and where we are politically,forty years into the domination of neo-liberal capitalist hegemony. The reality we must face was expressed by Gopal Balakrishnan when he wrote "the enervation of collective resistance under these conditions seems to signal the advent of an order of things in which praxis itself has become an enigma. Attachment to the status quo, acknowledged or not, is at an historic high point." Despite the Ron Paul "revolution" or the Chevy "revolution" or other such false promises.

So the task is daunting but no less necessary for that. My own enthusiasm, even joy, at engaging(praxis) is not diminished by the steep odds ,but this time around we have less room for error. Che Bob wondered if my enthusiasm for radical democracy did not signal a "full circle"in my analysis but in actuality, my close reading of Marx ( a significant nodal point of my journey) and others in that "lineage" provided an inspiring democratic ideal which has always informed my analysis and which I am now trying to extend. Part of this requires rescuing "liberalism" from Liberals. The democracy I hope to describe is not the Thom Hartman "democracy" or Ron Paul "democracy" (that amalgamation of individual rights and responsibilities, founding fathers, Magna Cartas,sacred constitutions) Using dialectics to go beyond simple materialism ,while still incorporating it into a theory of historical development, is a way to discover the path forward. Rather than a "we" which is defined soley by ones role within the forces of production (class) , a new method for determining social identity would be a "return to the political" and an abandonment of the idea that the "we" could ever be a perfectly unified constituency. Management of society would take place in overlapping public-private spheres (civic-economic) through radically democratic processes extended into economic management.OK so far.

What is missing from all this is how we get from the current hegemonic structure to this new hegemony, the familiar "reform or revolution"question. The current (old) radical approach is to make apparent certain "linkages" between modern struggles (ecological, gender and racial equality, labor rights, peace, etc) to the "dominant" class struggle. This newly awakened consciousness (unity) leads to strikes, boycotts, actions against capital until capital is undermined and loses control over the means of production. Labor assumes control through elimination of the profit system and shared everything, and democratic process eliminates antagonism and insures the new conditions do not begin to replicate the old.

Problems with this scenario to date have stemmed from A. an inability to actually define class, to bring the middle class aboard,or to get them to unite through class identity with more oppressed, socially "alienated"workers.And visa versa. B. Strikes being undermined by scabs or the use of nationalism (declared war) or busted by force, repression. C. Following successful strike and overthrow: counter-revolution, separatist rebellion, foreign invasion or economic down turn requires authoritarian measures to maintain control.(see Bolivia) D. Bureaucracy develops,undermining poorly educated worker "democracy" and establishes new hierarchy. E Castro D. difficulty linking war to imperialism, technology increasing worker productivity and empowerment, corporate media control,and on and on and on.

A "return to the political" (a la Mouffe) is lacking in this programatic sense. It is not the actual territory or a map as such. At a time when the old slogans, "property is theft" or "you have nothing to lose but your chains" are stale and new collective categories are springing up (Bolivarians, Zapatistas, horizontalists) it is a call to reclaim language to help explain them to people who identify themselves in a multiplicity of "subject positions", worker, consumer, ethnic or gender minority, poor, manager,parent,farmer, etc. As Mouffe puts it. "In order that the defense of workers' interests is not pursued at the cost of the rights of women, immigrants or consumers, it is necessary to establish an EQUIVALENCE between these different struggles. It is only under these circumstances that struggles against power become truly democratic." The modern project has been extending the democratic revolution based on such concepts as liberty, justice, and equity as a defense against autocratic power. The language has been hijacked and the project de-railed by conservatives serving capitalism, certainly, but also by trends within liberalism (hyper- rational, moralistic, utopian, individualistic,etc) . Democratic culture will not be an easy thing to revive after decades of neglect and subversion. It will not just happen in the discursive realm and it does not preclude the urgent need for strikes, protest, dissent, art, confrontation, noise, clash, agitation. Political philosophy requires a foundation and Mouffe provides some mortar.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just Getting By

The top story on Montana Public Radio this morning was about the release of a new study showing the majority of Montana's workers fail to make a living wage. Only 41% of two earner familys with two children make a COMBINED 27 dollars an hour. That is just barely enough to pay the rent, utilities, insurance, food and fuel. It leaves very little for entertainment, savings, vacation etc. One illness, layoff, or other emergency away from disaster. Of course most people supplement this bare bones existence with credit and so interest ends up eating away any prospects for "getting ahead". Why do people eat such crappy food? Because it is cheap. Why do people buy crap made in sweat shops? Because it is cheap. And we havent even discussed the other 59% but here is a clue. They have bad teeth. They go from job to job. Lots of them are indigenous peoples. Most of them voted for Bush twice. They know someone in the military.

Meanwhile, over at Goldman-Sachs investment brokers we have 20 billion dollars being handed out in X- mas bonuses. Not a misprint.20 billion. Thats an average of 670 thousand dollars per employee. Of course they don't do "average". The CEO will find 70 million under his X-mas tree.

"What freedom?" we asked again. To be wage-slaves,hired and fired at the will of a soulless corporation, paid low wages for long hours, driven by the speed of a machine? what freedom? To be clubbed, jailed, shot down- and while we spoke ,the hoofs of the troopers' horses clattered by on the streets." Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Speaking in Montana in 1919

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I, Me ,Mine

The role of the “individual” keeps popping up in these debates about what a just society might look like and I have recently found a compelling articulation put forth by Chantal Mouffe in her book The Return of the Political. In a much clearer fashion than what I found in her work co-authored with Ernesto Laclau, titled Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, she presents a formulation for a reinvigorated and radical democratic politics, one that rejects both the liberal and communitarian concepts of the “unitary subject”. Her argument is that a new political philosophy is needed, one that would “make possible a new form of individuality that would be truly plural and democratic.” This new “individual” would abandon the liberal idea of the “unencumbered self, a monad that exists prior to and independently of society. Using critiques of the theories of Kantian liberals such as Rawls and Bobbio, which are based on this individualistic conception (once useful for building democracy), she shows how this notion is now “an obstacle to the extension of democratic ideals”. She proposes instead a pluralist politics based not on unity around a single idea of the common good but on the notion that ‘we are always multiple and contradictory subjects, inhabitants of a diversity of communities (as many really as the social relations in which we participate and the subject positions they define), constructed by a variety of discourses, and precariously and temporarily sutured at the intersection of those subject positions.” We are then “participants in a plurality of forms of collective identification.” Once again it is that notion that we have to live with tension, and the “end of history”, be it the workers state or democratic capitalism, is not desirable.

In other words, while economic “class” may be an important (even the most important) aspect of identity, it is far from the only one and any attempt to build political unity must take this into account. Mouffe also is impressive in using conservative critiques, such as those of Oakshott and Schmitt, to examine how this liberal “individualism” contributes to the failures of representative democracy, now rendered obsolete by the development of the interventionist state. (she does not abandon representative democracy in favor of “direct” but instead proposes reforms) The articulation between socialist goals and the principles of liberal democracy requires that the framework of individualism be relinquished and the issue of ‘representation of interests’ and that of ‘rights’ have to be posed in a different way. “The idea of social rights, for instance, needs to be understood as collective rights that are ascribed to certain communities.”

Does a “theoretical framework” or new vision of radical democracy present a realistic challenge to entrenched power relations or real oppression? Can it address re-distributive justice in a way that is compelling enough to build a movement of resistance around? I don’t really know but it seems to me there is widespread discontent in the derailment of the democratic project that crosses lots of cultural, social and class boundaries. There is a deep reverence for the democratic tradition, it is just poorly understood. The return of the political might be one way to rescue freedom from the lie of the “free market”.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Raw Nerve

A rather strange phenomenon to my mind is the vitriolic response we get when we criticize US policy or power from a far left perspective. It is as though we touch something deep in the collective psych where the fight or flight response is instantly activated. The common invective hurled by patriots is that we "hate-America -first", or some such, and I have seen this term used by persons as far apart on the spectrum as Norm Geras and Norm Podheretz. I remember some attention being paid to the question "why do they hate us?", as though some mood of national moral reckoning had suddenly been reinvigorated but that lasted about a week. It was asked in reference to the "Muslim world" or "Arab street"I believe but could have included radicals as well. I think we do have to look at a couple of recent events in this light, however, and understand the low esteem of the USA in world opinion is not due solely to Iraq or other past Imperial exploits but is based upon continuing, day to day greed and pigheadedness. For instance, our stance on global warming. Just because our leaders and most of the citizenry are in la-la land does not mean the rest of the world is wrong to view us as criminals. Our reply? So What.What are you going to do about it? Go the fuck away because I am busy with my game boy. Then there is this latest Farm Bill*, where we tell the rest of the planet to fuck off and die. Or the new embrace of torture, or the farmer killing Trade Deals or Arms Sales or Embrace of Dictators or starving Gaza or ho de ho de ho. Why do they hate us? Good Lord!

Here is what I wonder. Where will these Ron Paul supporters end up when their Man fails to make the cut? I see people who think he's a heroic V for Vendetta Anarchist and some who think he symbolizes the Siege of Waco. The Cato folks are warming up to his "drown -government- in-the- bathtub" zeal and college kids like his anti-war convictions. There are Greens and Nazis and Commies for all I know (and normally astute blogger Eric) but that is one big crazy tent. I'm all about pluralism but there has to be some kind of common identity, belief, etc for these disparite subject positions to form a political movement around. His "character"?

* New Farm Bill continues to subsidize industrial ag, wealthy landowners, pollution, petrochemicals, oil consumption, obesity and diabetes while driving global farmers off land. Democrats overwhelmingly support it, all candidates in Iowa praised it. (shocker) See: Mickeal Pollens "Cornification of America"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Creative Destruction

This is the process of discarding that which has lost it's potential use-value in a capitalist economy. Infrastructure, knowledge or a person, it's all the same, once the maximum potential for profit extraction has been wrung from it the logic requires it be abandoned. Rust is its mascot , its dominant motif. Think Detroit. The "creative" part is that prying open of new spaces ripe for exploitation which has made the old obsolete. Think China. Interestingly, ideas and concepts are also mechanisms of this process, implanted and discarded as needed. In fairly recent times, coercion was replaced (though by no means abandoned) by hegemony as an effective facilitator-lubricator of the market but lately coercion and it's adjunct "primitive accumulation", have made big comebacks. It has been entertaining listening to Rush Limbaugh deal with the issue of Nancy Pelosi ,who he hates,and her embrace of torture, which he loves. Nancy has not lost her use-value but that strange smile , the death head, shows her awareness of how close to the knife edge she is.

The general strike in Greece has brought the country to a standstill. The workers there won't accept a race to the bottom without a fight at least. The workers in Argentina have cut the locks on at least some of the factory gates and re-oiled the machinery with their own idealism nd sweat. A "Going Global" conference is taking place with delegates from 200 trade unions from 64 countries. The International Trade Union Confederation, which represents 168 million workersin 153 different countries, has joined in to form the Council of Global Unions. Trade unionism may have issues but this trend towards internationalism is positive. French workers have made demands, the South Koreans don't take it lying down, c'mon American workers. "We have fed the world for a thousand years". Rusting factories are a crime. The NLRB is one of the criminals.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Evil Is Gone

But not forgotten. Butte Montana (or as the locals say, Butte America) legend Evil Knievel finally jumped across a divide most never get back across. He was a member of a very rare breed of truly crazy showmen, flying across the Snake River Gorge on a rocket powered motorcycle, breaking every bone in his body (more than once) and squeezing every last drop out of this thing we call life. I suppose a dare-devil has to be "evil"but the incredibly tough exterior was a facade covering a soft hearted ,generous guy, very much the living embodiment of the cold-ass, hard living, hard playing town at the headwaters of the Clark Fork. Not that I ever got to meet him,in fact the closest I got was, SURPRISE, in a bar! and a couple of times he roared past me on his Harley. I've spent the last eighteen summers working on a river about forty five miles from Butte and have had some times there. Luckily I have friends on whose couches I'm welcome because it's a treacherous piece of highway comin home.

If you like pure adventure and liquor you definately want to come to Butte to take in the celebration held each year in honor of their favorite son,sometime towards the end of July. Spanky Spangler is likely to set himself on fire and jump off the roof of the Findland Hotel, someone will be trying to jump over a bunch of cars on a bike or hotrod,and every bar in town will have crowds spilling out into the street. The sons of sons of hardworking immigrant miners will presently start fighting, as tradition dictates, and around dawn everyone left will be falling into their bisquits and gravy over at the M&M. I've been around a bit and Butte has one of the most unique party cultures left in America. The uptown is somewhat dilapidated and "authentic" and has the highest bar per person ratio of anywhere in the Universe.And Evil Knievel Day is just rookie practice for St. Patty's! Go by go, Evil. R.I.P

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Common Ground and the Vibrant Clash

My Fellow Worker Che Bob gave a thought provoking reply to my critique of Rockers “partisanship” and Anarchism’s general inattention to the political dimension of struggle to which I really want to respond. In that critique I called for a discourse that might “synthesize” the aspects of historical socialist thought (and some more contemporary ) which seem most relevant to the objective conditions we face in our current time. Che Bob asked how this “advanced new discourse” doesn’t then itself “end up being partisan?” I also want to better explain my understanding of “the political” and why I think it still necessary.

What I am hoping to avoid is not partisanship per se but that aspect of it which tends towards the intractable or hardened, which establishes limits through it’s non-negotiable essentialism. So in that I was not clear. In a retrograde fashion we now witness the basic Us/Them relationship ( the locus of the political) all to easily transforming into a Friend/Enemy conflict allowing and even encouraging the return of old, regressive forms of collective identity , such as religious, cultural, national or ethnic. The Right finds the “enemy within” and the Left sees “the masses” vs. “the ruling class”or itself sees “enemies” within and goes through interminable splitting and sectarian infighting but in both cases it is a form of anti-politics which either leads nowhere or, worse, towards totalitarianism. The new discourse, suggested by Chantel Mouffe in her work, The Return of the Political, and endorsed by me, would be based on the distinction between ‘enemy’ and ‘adversary’, so that antagonism doesn’t disappear (in fact will/should NEVER disappear), but doesn’t require destroying ones enemy, only discrediting his ideas. Power still resides in the majority while the necessary binary opposition (the vibrant clash) remains with sides taking firm positions and all illusions of total unanimity denounced as the destructive “anti-politics’ that it is. Building a majority around an issue, as with the demand for ending the profit system, requires a politics built on pluralistic ,antagonistic, civic engagement.

Rocker at once calls for “the overthrow of the state and of every form of political power” while praising “a new political form of the social organism” found in a system of labour councils for a “complete reshaping of social life”.
In this time it was possible to see an “essential” antagonism being contested through a united proletariat engaging politically only within their own internal structures and then coming to a consensus to simply “put down its tools”. They could remove themselves from the bourgeois liberal democracy and hope for the dramatic overthrow of economic forces by their non-participation in the political realm. As in orthodox Marxist doctrine, an essential friend/enemy binary opposition is established ( “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common”) , collective identity is strictly economic relations and all engagement is designed to eliminate the enemy. This "majority" could be imagined even into the 20th century but not now. And while the "new political form" was not well defined but if it was wedded to a consensus biult around the meaning of "the common good" ,we are all aware of the historical problems such a construction brings.

I know the limitations of bourgeois “liberal” democracy and I haven’t gone over to the “New Labour “ dark side, believe me. Class is still a valid identity and I’m not diminishing the gains from real struggle, often violent and in the streets. Power is not going to be shared through dialogue alone and Anarchist process has much to teach everyone. I’m just wondering what the new time and conditions require, what we hold onto and what we let go of so we can once again build a vibrant, relevant opposition and eventual majority. I believe Mouffe provides some insight.Perhaps political engagement is but a stage of struggle when revolutionary consciousness lies dormant and distant but the synthesis I am striving for accepts that the working class and the employing class may have a number of things in common, values, identities and concerns but also recognizes that rectifying an imbalance of power may also require direct action, such as a general strike. If we have cultivated a democratic culture, a strike need not mean destroying an enemy or eliminating all antagonism (the end of history). It is curious that the Bolivarian “revolution” in Venezuela, while fostering deeper forms of democratic participation, has produced no strikes or labor actions other than the reactionary variety by the previous oil workers union. Perhaps this begins to explain recent setbacks in the movement towards socialism more generally since the workers have not awakened to their economic power to correspond with their increased agency in the political arena.

As for the State, every form of social organization requires the individual to relinquish some degree of authority and autonomy in the service of the whole. Call it a collective, a council, a soviet or a kibbutz, a certain degree of selflessness is a key facet of the cooperation necessary to functionality. It is just that degree which must be decided politically. More to come.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Spectacular Spinning

"Understood in it's totality, the spectacle is both the result and the goal of the dominant mode of production. In all it's particular manifestations - news, propoganda, advertising, entertainment- the spectacle represents the dominant model of life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choices that have already been made in the sphere of production and in the consumption implied by that production. In both form and content the spectacle serves as a total justification of the conditions and goals of the existing system."

Guy Debord, who wrote this many years ago, did not yet know the role "spin" would play as the new language of the spectacle ,nor how the "news conference" would become the pinnacle of this art form. But he could not help but be amazed had he watched the whirling Dervish himself, our president, as he answered questions about the new NIE report on Iran. I watched the whole damn thing on CNN and then I listened to the whole damn NPR debate among the Democratic presidential candidates and THEN I watched Rudolph Guliani being interviewed for an hour and THEN Fred Thompson talking with Charlie Rose. Surreal only begins to describe the experience, it is disorienting and exhilirating at once, like LSD, perhaps. ( The way Rudy rambled reminded me of the way certain people trip) Thompson tried to adopt an "intellectual" air , with lots of thoughtful pauses, but Rose was clearly embarrassed and few in his audience could have been impressed with such pure bullshit, such an amatuer performance. The Dems were dislaying liberal credentials, platitudes,knowing that winning should just be a matter of not fucking up, getting caught, dug up skeletons etc (by the way, what happened to Larry Craig?) Meanwhile , the Peruvian Free Trade deal was sailing through the Senate.

But Bush, that shit is in a class by itself. ( I was out shovelling snow and my wife yelled,'Quick, c'm in here, you gotta see this!) He has elevated spin to a balletic performance, casually holding the "journalists" breathlessly in awe of his every move. The leaning forward, brow furled, the smirk and the shoulder jerking chuckle, the sincere ,purposeful declaration of unwavering belief are not just Reaganesque. They signal the arrival of a unique artist who has reached new heights in the craft! There is no question he cannot breezily answer now, no joke at which his audience will not laugh. Bravo!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mean People Suck

Weve all seen the simplistic bumper sticker sentiment but there is some disturbing hostility out there folks and changing the tone will take much more than bumper stickers. Many more people are subscribers to the Pat Robertson School of Democratic Discourse than we like to admit. This is a sampling of comments on the MSNBC World Blog after a piece titled Venezuela Says No to Chavez:

"I strongly suggest to my Venezuelan neighbors and compatriots to rise and hang this person by a hook, the same way the Italians hung Mussolini."

"He's a punk, take him out. Take his oil and give the money to the people."

"Why doesn't somebody make that guy go away. He is just a loud mouth baffone (sp) like Castro and Almadinajad (sp)."

"The US needs to deploy one bold soldier to 'handle it'"

"Someone should just take Mr.Chavez out.I mean that literally. He is dishonest, fat and he doesn't care about his people."

Chavez needs the 50 cent solution, the cost of a 45 caliber bullet to be inserted into his brain."

"Get to the polls and vote Chavez out. If this doesn't work, assasinate the little troll."

This is the scary, violent fringe who are also so ignorant they don't recognize the irony of using Fascist means in promoting their ideal "democracy". How about the just plain ignorant and brainwashed? No lack of these folks either:

"the marchers were met with bullets from the guards and pregnant women,children and the elderly were killed. Most Venezuelans hear Pharsy (sp) spoken in the streets. Al Quaida(sp) anyone?"

'Chavez will win because he is a dictator in charge of the ballot boxes.Expect a state of emergency to be declared as soon as the riots start off after he wins."

"It's hard to believe people would vote themselves into slavery."

"The vote will be fixed so that Chavez will win.Like in all totalitarian governments,elections are for show."

"He has no idea what Democracy is as does the rest of the countries south of the US border."

"Chavez has also succeeded in introducing racial hated.No matter what he has the power to win even if he doesn't."

"Chavez imports his voters from the lowest slums of Caracas.He pays them in food and beer."

"Socialism and communism don't work no future."

"If Chavez gets his way the people will lose their ability to think for themselves. Try reading about thugs from the last half of the 20th century.Stalin,Mao, Castro."

"For Sundays election, no international observers are invited."

"He maintains his power by exploiting the week (sp),like all dictators do. The first time he came into power was by force, the following election was a sham (since it was done after he was already in power)"

If these people were to get real information, somehow, would they change their opinions? Or ,like Bush and the new National Security Estimate on Iran, are they simply incapable of such change? Would the fact that their predictions failed to materialize cause them to re-analyze their pre-concieved notions? Did they vote for Bush TWICE? Can they learn?