I read a headline the other day that was enough to make me spit out my early-morning coffee. Or would’ve been, certainly, had I read it in the early morning and been drinking coffee. I actually read it in the afternoon and wasn’t drinking anything and even if I had been, it wouldn’t have been coffee. Espresso, maybe, but not coffee. But I wasn’t even drinking espresso.
Well, I’m glad I cleared that up.
Anyway, the headline was “Rumsfeld Likens Chavez’s Rise to Hitler’s.”
Chavez, of course, is Venezuela President Hugo Chavez. Rumsfeld, of course, is Donald Rumsfeld, recently voted for the fourth year running Man Most Likely to Utter Inanities Causing Sudden Beverage Expectoration (Non-George W. Bush Division).
It’s not that I’m surprised by anything the Bushies do, because I’m not. It’s been Kristallnacht clear to me for years now that this group of homicidal chickenhawks is capable of doing anything and quite willing to do it, no matter how, um, fowl. Even so, I’m still caught off-guard now and then by their sheer chutzpah, their cheekiness, their gall.
And Rummy’s gall is galling, by golly. Just how gallible, er, gullible, does he think we are? (“We”, meaning the approximate half of the country that isn’t gullible. The other half? More credulous’n a half-continent-sized sack full of tire irons.)
His attempt to conflate the genocidal Hitler with the president of a country that, as far as I know, has not yet invaded Poland nor seems all that inclined to do so, came in an appearance at the National Press Club (NPC) in which Rumsfeld offered the following “history” lesson regarding Latin America:
“We saw dictatorships there. And then we saw most of those countries, with the exception of Cuba, for the most part move towards democracies. We also saw corruption in that part of the world. And corruption is something that is corrosive of democracy.”
I can see why Rummy’s upset about corruption “in that part of the world”: Republicans want to keep it all in ours. The good news is we don’t have to worry about it corroding our democracy since we no longer have one, a condition firmly cemented into place with Samuel Alito’s recent Extreme Court confirmation, the crowing, er, crowning glory of the egregiously demented but ingeniously-implemented longtime neocon plan to unassailably control all three branches of government and saddle the country with their very own brand of American fascism for decades (at least) to come.
When the movie’s made, they’ll call it The Perfect Stormtroopers.
It’s pretty interesting, too, to hear what qualifies as a “dictatorship” in the Bushies’ fevered pea(NAC) brains. Rummy’s dictatorial declaration brought to mind something I saw a few months back on Fox Spews. (You may be asking what possessed me to watch Fox Screws. Well, I was possessed, obviously. Actually, the truth is, I’d been feeling particularly well-informed that day and decided to ratchet it down a notch or two.)
I’d channel surfed into Hannity & Colmes. Sean Hannity wasn’t there; he was out on assignment boiling kittens or something. Performing guest-whore duties was none other than Ollie North.
Speaking of things disgustingly slick and slippery, North was “interviewing” another loathsome creature whose name the mere mention of which shall forever unfairly slander the salamander: Newt Gingrich. Out of the blue, North pipes up with:
“Mr. Speaker, current national security concern -- we talked about oil a moment ago -- 16 percent of America's crude oil comes from a place called Venezuela, where the current dictator-in-charge, Mr. Chavez, seems to have taken a decidedly anti-American slant. Big threat here, or is it just blowing in the wind?”
Gingrich: “No. We have a significant need to pay a lot more attention to Latin America. Cesar Chavez is now very much anti-American. He has a lot of money. And what you have is a growing alliance between Venezuelan money and Cuban Communist organizational capabilities.”
“It's having an impact on Bolivia. It's having an impact in Colombia. It's having an impact in Peru and Ecuador. It's in danger of having an impact in Central America. This is a very significant problem for us, and we need to be paying a lot more attention to it.”
To Gingrich, apparently, all commies/lefties/espresso sippers/spitter-outers look and sound alike, whether it's a long-deceased farm labor leader from California or a possibly soon-to-be-deceased political leader from a troublesome South American country, but why trifle with minor details like keeping names straight when freedom (to continue raking in astronomical oil industry profits) is at stake?
Note Gingrich’s use of the sentence “He has a lot of money.” After consulting with some of the world’s top code-breakers (in all honesty, I only conferred with my cousin Manny, but he swears he’s never had any trouble with codes; or maybe he said colds), it was determined the Newtster’s words might actually be a subliminal message with content suspiciously similar to that of the following highly cryptic utterance from Rumsfeld at the NPC:
“We’ve got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money.”
You be the judge.
In fairness, Rummy did point out Chavez was legally elected, so I’m sure North and Gingrich that night on Fox Ruse were just kind of shootin’ the breeze, you know, like a couple of old amiguetes fascistas who’ve nothing else better to do than sit around and chat idly, just battin’ around batty ideas that they -- and they only -- happen to come up with right there on the spot, with no discussion beforehand or previous participation in, say, extreme right-wing plotting with folks like Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz to help set the stage for a U.S. attack on oil-rich Venezuela by publicly casting Chavez as the next Really Bad Guy, just as I’m also certain that Gingrich’s and Rumsfeld’s remarkably alike assertions about Chavez’s finances (didn’t their parents/the people who found them under their rocks ever tell them how rude it is to discuss others’ money matters?) are purely coincidental and not a transparent effort to frame the debate.
Anyway, Rumsfeld’s grudging admission that Chavez did, indeed, legally ascend to power via the ballot box (known in contemporary America as “the magic vote-switching device”) was contained in the same statement in which Rummy trotted out remembrances of Fuhrers past and Fidels present:
“[Chavez is] a person who was elected legally -- just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally -- and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and [newly-elected Bolivian president Evo] Morales and others.”
This is why Rumsfeld should start reading history instead of making it (badly): Hitler was not elected chancellor, the position from which his evil destruction was truly unleashed; he was appointed to office. You know, just like Rummy’s (alleged) boss has been.
Twice. (Thereby out-Hitlering Hitler.)
Rumsfeld, a modern-day Torquemada, torqued me primarily, though, with his purported concern over Latin American democracy. Let’s take an extremely brief look at how previous American “concern” has helped our southern neighbors’ “democracies” along:
Guatemala: A CIA-backed coup there in 1954 ousts freely-elected Jacobo Arbenz Guzman from power; 36 years of civil war ensue, killing 100,000-200,000 people (a number now known as the “Bush range”).
Chile: A cruelly repressive Gen. Augusto Pinochet controls the country from 1973-1990 after a U.S.-assisted coup topples freely-elected Salvador Allende, killed in the takeover.
Nicaragua: More than a century of U.S. intervention and destabilization efforts there include supporting the 43-year long brutal (is there any other kind?) Somoza family dictatorship. The Reagan administration illegally funds and aids the “Contras” in an effort to topple the Sandinistas and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, freely elected in 1984.
El Salvador: The Reaganites support a murderous ruling right-wing junta whose death squads kill tens of thousands of Salvadorans. (It was reported last year that Rumsfeld’s Defense Department was discussing “the Salvador option” -- employing death squads -- as a method of dealing with those pesky “insurgents” in Iraq. I can’t imagine what the decision was.)
By necessity, this is a woefully incomplete synopsis, but no matter how many column inches or pages or books are written, there is no way ever to do justice to the injustice done to Latin Americans throughout their region resulting from U.S.-abetted murder and mayhem there for muchos, muchos years.
But maybe it’s crummy to pummel Rummy. Maybe he’s really referring to another Latin America, like the one on his home planet, Jerkury.
Or maybe he’s just crazy. For those betting the funny farm on the latter, I’m with ya. In fact, I’ve been thinking there should be a twelve step program for all the people who suffer from the Bushies’ insane policies, you know, like how Al-Anon exists for friends and relatives harmed by those who are chronically, powerfully drunk. We’ll call it Neocon-Anon, and it’ll be for folks harmed by those who’re chronically drunk with power. (There is a small, but critical, difference, however: When an alcoholic gets bombed, we’re talkin’ pukin’. When a neocon bombs, we’re talkin’ nukin’.)
So Hugo Chavez is the new Adolf Hitler. Right. And George W. Bush is our legitimate president. (Hell, he’s not even our illegitimate president; Head Bastard dishonors go to Cheney.)
But the egomaniacal and supremely oblivious Dubya, coming from America’s number one family of Assumed Privilege, certainly was an inspired selection to serve as the perfect point patsy for wealth-and-power-addicted thugs like Rummy and the other rapacious ruling “Republican” rats. They’ve toiled hard to completely dismantle our democratic republic for a long time and now that they’ve fully succeeded, they’re not about to let anyone prevent them from making their killing, no matter how much killing it takes.
Control of resources, wherever they’re located, is what the neocons are all about. Leaders like Chavez and Morales who espouse wildly crazy ideas like equity and justice for the masses threaten America’s power players’ status quo for one sick and simple reason: it means less for them, and anyone who examines their actions for deeper motives misses the mark.
Which reminds me of another thing Rummy said. When asked to comment at the NPC about the widening rifts between the U.S. and certain Latin American countries, the Pentagon poohbah pooh-poohed it by stating such an assessment “misses the mark.”
For years now, an all-too common right-wing knee-jerk response to anyone daring to criticize the mind-numbing slaughter engendered by Bush’s illegal, immoral, imperialistic, unjustified, unhinged war in Iraq has been to sneeringly ask: “Is the world safer with or without Saddam Hussein in power?”
I contend such straw men questions, and bogeyman warnings about populist leaders like Chavez, are really what miss the mark. By a long shot. Without a doubt, the most pressing query has to be: “How can George W. Bush be stopped before he destroys the world?”
You know, just like people asked about Adolf Hitler.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who lives in Sacramento, California. His e-mail address is: email@example.com.