Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Venezuelan X-Mas

My favorite story of the week so far occurred yesterday, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thumbed his nose at the Bushies for only the 30th time this year. In the process, however, the freely elected dictator pledged to help out more than 40,000 low-income Americans, bringing Christmas early from Venezuela to New England.

You might remember Mr. Chavez from such recent public relations fiascos as "Pat Robertson Wants to Assassinate Me", "I'm Cozying Up to Fidel Castro Like a Wet Sailor Trying to Avoid Hypothermia," "How to Ruin the President's Latin America Trip By Beating Back the Proposed Free Trade Bloc Through the Western Hemisphere," and "Constantly Accusing our Imperialist Government of Plotting an Invasion Against Venezuela," starring Chavez as the crazy man who said the U.S. will "bite the dust" if we decide to invade.

Yet Chavez doesn't really hate America. Like many of us, he just despises the path this president has taken the country. Well...and he's crazy. Certifiably. And maybe he hates some things about America. But yesterday Chavez accomplished two goals: sticking it to and embarrassing this administration and playing Santa Claus to Americans in need.

CITGO, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, announced plans yesterday to sell 12 million barrels of heating oil at a steep discount to low-income families in Massachusetts. But the timing is perfect, really. Congress just passed an energy bill with billions in tax breaks for everyone but the home-owning consumer and the recent stunt of a hearing featuring the oil executives on Capitol Hill did nothing to find a solution to helping families heat their homes.

No, U.S. citizens have to rely on the insanity of an authoritarian populist to get any sort of price break for a commodity they basically can't live without. Score one for an "enemy of the state," and chalk up another indictment of the bedfellow combination of corporate America and Washington politics. Bastards.

Sorry for the political aside, but this story is too full of spite and irony to pass up posting. We'll be back with jokes about pushing old ladies in wheelchairs down the steps later on today.

Slack Link of the Day: Hey buddy, you're the one who agreed to move there. Now shut up, ya big dick.

Slack Song of the Day: "You can't hold no groove if you ain't go no pockets." Former Bela Fleck bassist Victor Wooten taught me that once. And now the virtuoso wants to teach you that little life lesson. So pay attention to U Can't Hold No Groove from 10/4/97 at the Wetlands (aka the Sweatglands) in New York City. As an added bonus, here's What Did He Say from the same show.

Slack Video of the Day: On 12/2/03, the popular rock band Phish celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Fleet Center in Boston, and at setbreak played a half-hour video showing the band as the fellas progressed through the years. The video kicks off with the anti-coiffed boys playing Fluffhead in a dorm room and runs through some memorable shows in their history. I'm not sure how long this link will be active, so download away: The 20th Anniversary Video.

And it looks like the Mets just got Carlos Delgado...hmmmm.


At 10:08 AM, Blogger MDS said...

"Sorry for the political aside"

Ace, don't be sorry. If I find a writer who's intelligent and insightful, and this blog certainly qualifies, I want to know the writer's thoughts about politics. I think it's a real shame that many in our society think it's somehow rude to express political opinions. This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks that we live in a country where we can criticize our leader. Then let's spend Thanksgiving dinner browbeating any of our idiot relatives who voted for him.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Trix said...

mds: I couldn't agree with you more about the browbeating. I'm the only card-carrying liberal in my family. Holiday dinners usually entail my sister kicking me under the table in an effort to get to not pick a fight.

Regarding Mr. Fisk of Dicks Street: It could be worse. My gynecoligist's name is Dr. Bush. No really, it is. Now THAT'S embarassing.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Getting outsmarted (repeatedly) by Hugo Chavez is perhaps more embarrassing than walking into a locked door.

While I'm against our government doing anything about oil prices, (those congressional hearings were so very stupid, by which I mean "fun to watch") if some other country wants to give us a bunch of cheap X, where X is basically anything, I'm all for it. Especially if there's a lunatic dictator involved.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

I, too, am the only card-carrying liberal in a family of uber-Republicans who still think segregation should be legal and that Hitler was just "misunderstood". This is especially rampant among the septagenarians in my family, of which there are many. Out of all of them, only one is a liberal, and she is super liberal. Therefore, I feel that it is not only my right but my duty to stir up some shit during any and all family gatherings. I creep in real quiet-like (cue Cleveland's brother, the doctor, from Family Guy) drop a bomb about how Bush sucks or proudly display my "Fuck Bush" t-shirt, let the argument ensue, the slowly back away and enjoy the work I created. It gets downright nasty sometimes and I love it.

Sometimes, when I am feeling a bit, how do you say, "impish", I will bring one of my Jewish and/or black friends over to a family gathering just to make the old folks feel uncomfortable.

True story: My best friend happens to be Jewish. During a family dinner at which he attended, my aunt and leader of the Darkside (Republicans) was telling a story and mentioned how she was at some store and tried to "Jew down" the lady at the counter. Now, in her day 113 years ago, apparently that was okay thing to say and she thought nothing of it. However, I found this ample opportunity to cause a riot. I asked her to explain what she meant, then asked where she thought the phrase came from, then kindly explained that my friend sitting next to me was in school to be a Rabbi. He is not, of course, and could have cared less about what she said. But, I had to do something to set the room on fire. Needless to say, all the efforts that I made to have the 78 year old woman kicked out of my mom's house were all for not, it was fun though. Happy Thanksgiving.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Dr. Bush, the Ob/Gyn? That's too good. You remember when the president said this about tort reform?

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Practice their love...That was priceless.

I apologize for political stuff because it's mostly preaching to the choir, and it's mostly preachign to people that couldn't care less. I know, it's my blog, I'll do what I want, but I still don't love writing about stuff people aren't interested in. This post though was too good to pass up.

And I don't think those energy hearings were stupid...we just gave those fuckers BILLIONS in tax breaks, they made more profits than ever (literally), and Americans are left wondering why gas prices are expensive as shit and home heating bills will rise 50 percent this winter. If we can bring baseball players in to talk about steroids, we can't bring in dudes who make more money in a day than most people do in a month? I say next time we bring 'em in and whip them with a horsewhip. And it turns out they lied, so it's a good thing Ted Stevens didn't make them take the oath, fuckin dicks.

Delgado can be a monster, but how will he handle NY? He seems like a quiet guy that will get eaten up by the media...

At 12:07 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Congress brought in baseball players to testify about steroid use. Good use of government time there.

Tax breaks can be bad, m'kay, if they're driven by special insterests, but taking someone's cash away from them and then giving some back does not entitle you to drag said people into a hearing where you get to demonstrate your lack of understanding of the concept of supply and demand.

They did make more profits than ever, but so what? Their profit margin isn't that big, (about 10% in peak times, under 8 normally) indicating that they're in a competitivie business, and with all of the shocks to the system recently (hurricanes, etc.) it would have been downright weird for them not to have big profits. For the sake of comparison, Proctor and Gamble, seller of toothpaste, gets about 13%.

Microsoft is often over 30%.

And, if we have some other shock, or a new release of oil, or people adjust their behavior based on higher prices, they'll take big losses, as occasionally happens.

It's also worth noting that the net profits that the government (Fed, state, and local) derives from oil, tax breaks and all, are larger than what the oil companies net from oil.

Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.

So who's the greedy gouger?

At 12:42 PM, Blogger offpeak34 said...

first... go mets!!! i'm so pumped about that, if only we had him last year. second...chavez isn't nearly as crazy as people make him out to be. if crazy means socialist, then i guess he's crazy, but what it comes down to is the fact that a lot of people in this country (and these people tend to be the ones who like the "with us or against us rhetoric") still think the cold war is still alive and fear the rise of latin american socialism. when our government accuses chavez of helping the "drug dealers" in colombia, that is a form of rhetoric on its own. what he's really doing is helping latin americas longest standing socialist revolution, which taxes coca growth among the peasants in its region. coca growth is the most lucrative way for these peasants living far below the poverty line to make a living. a lot of the drug dealers work in that area, but an equal number is allied with right-wing militias which are trying to take out the commies. although, all in all, chavez is kinda off the wall, but he's learning from castro's example of how to survive as a renegade commie in the us' backyard.
lastly...that 20 year anniversary video is amazing! i remember sitting at my computer checking setlists every second on therhombus and there were tons of reports that fluffhead was being played.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I love the fact that the comments section of this blog is always smarter than the post itself.

Noonan, just quickly, I'm not saying the tax breaks were bad, I'm just saying it's ironic that we just gave them so many breaks and yet the president of a country that hates us was the white knight that helped out our citizens. Fuck all the shit about profit margins, that's just too funny. And of course government is greedy, I think it's their fault as well -- that's why I pointed to the bedfellow relationship of corporate America AND the oil companies.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

Yes, because my comments are always so smart and on the money. Actually, no they're not. Not even close. I know nothing about politics, at least compared to the comment posters that frequent this heady establishment. I feel so used.

Again, I love lamp.


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