Friday, December 08, 2006

Joe Kennedy

I was hoping to find a video of this because it was a beautiful sight. A lesson in man of the people,Teddy Roosevelt, populism. Unfortunately it is probably lost to the ages. Instead, take a few minutes and read the transcript. Notice he doesn't spend much time addressing the personal and political battle. He confidently states his case and lets the facts speak for themselves. It was the most impressive and instructional thing I have seen on TV news that I can remember:

COSTELLO: Yes, Wolf, that program is expanding this winter, and today it was Baltimore's turn. The first of 15,000 needy families there received their discounted fuel courtesy of Citgo and the government of Venezuela. Some call it a grand gesture; others, anti- American.
COSTELLO (voice-over): His is the mouth that roared, delighting in referring to President Bush as a madman, a tyrant. And while at the United Nations, the devil.
PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yesterday, the devil came here.
COSTELLO: Name calling that, in part, scored Hugo Chavez another big presidential win in Venezuela. And some political watchers say, oddly, Chavez's name calling didn't put a stop to a program he says comes from his big heart. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM TELEVISION AD)
JOE KENNEDY, CITIZENS ENERGY CORPORATION: I'm Joe Kennedy. Help is on the way. Heating oil at 40 percent off from our friends in Venezuela and Citgo. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Former U.S. Representative Joseph Kennedy now runs the Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit heating assistance program that's advertising its relationship with Citgo via television ads. Citgo, an oil company operated in the USA but owned by the government of Hugo Chavez, is paying for the commercials. It's an arrangement some find appalling.
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I mean you not only get oil, you get cheap, free propaganda.
COSTELLO: John Fund is with the "Wall Street Journal."
FUND: This is a temporary reprieve from what people believe are high fuel prices because Chavez wants to score cheap propaganda points. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
COSTELLO: But Kennedy seems unconcerned by the criticism, here he is in New York pumping the first delivery of discounted oil for this coming winter. KENNEDY: It is the leadership of President Hugo Chavez, who has recognized the struggles of so many poor people, that we need to be grateful. In 30 years, there was only one country -- only one country -- that ever gave us a price break. And that is the Venezuelans.
COSTELLO: What matters, he says, is the disadvantaged, like those depicted in Citgo's commercial. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wear two pairs of long underwear and a jacket. And that is inside my house. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: They will get help, despite critics who say the real price is too high to pay. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COSTELLO: Chavez has reportedly offered discounted oil to other countries, namely Britain. And, as I have told you, Citgo has now expanded its discounted program here in the United States -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Carol, thank you. And joining us now from Boston, the former Congressman Joe Kennedy. He is the CEO of Citizens Energy Cooperation. Congressman, thanks very much for doing this. I guess the logical question, how comfortable are you dealing with Hugo Chavez, given his record? KENNEDY: Well, Wolf, first of all, first and foremost, I should just point out that Citizens Energy has been in the business of delivering inexpensive heating oil and natural gas, electricity, and a range of other services for 25 or 30 years to low-income people in many states all across the country, not just in Massachusetts. But, in all the years that I have been doing this, I have never once been able to buy discounted oil. The only country that ever offered us that was Venezuela. And for those people who say that this is simply a -- some sort of propaganda item to try and offset the speech that -- the famous speech that he gave last fall, I would point out that we were running this program with the Venezuelans all last year. And nobody mentioned it that -- at that point. And I further would point out to those who say these -- you know, that I'm being used as a propaganda arm of -- for the Venezuelans, look, at the end of the day, if you have a problem with the fact that the Venezuelans are providing the poor of the United States with inexpensive heating oil, first of all, the Bush administration has supported it. Secondly, we should recognize it. If that's what your problem is, then, you should have a problem with the entire 588 million barrels of oil that the Venezuelans sell to the United States every year.
BLITZER: Here is the problem that some Americans have. And...
BLITZER: And I'm not referring to a conservative or Republican. I'm referring to Charlie Rangel, a man you used to serve in the Congress with. He's a very liberal Democrat.
BLITZER: He's going to be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a veteran. He represents a poor district in Harlem, as you also know. And they're grateful for any breaks they can get on heating oil.But he issued a press release condemning Hugo Chavez because of this attack on President Bush, his personal attack, comparing him to the devil. Then, he was on this program, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and he made this point. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM")
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: This is one country, whether we're Democrat or Republicans. And to come here, at the invitation of our people, and insult the president of the United States, you insult the flag; you insult the president; you insult the country; and you insult my constituents. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, he is pretty angry about all of this.
KENNEDY: Well, I mean, no one -- I'm certainly not going to defend the speech that President Chavez made in -- at the U.N. I also don't, you know, support the fact that the Bush administration was -- had its hand in the attempted coup against President Chavez. I don't condone the -- that fact that one of President Bush's major contributors and supporters in this country called for President's Chavez assassination, long before those speeches. So, there is a lot -- at the end of the day, Wolf, there's a lot of rhetoric that's way too hot on both sides. We have to remember, Venezuela -- in the OPEC oil embargoes against the United States, the only country that -- the OPEC country that continued to support the United States was Venezuela. In our own revolution, they...(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Well, that was long -- that was long before Hugo Chavez became the president.
KENNEDY: Well, but my point is that -- just that, that the relationship between the United States and Venezuela is a lot deeper than... (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: It used to be a very strong relationship. (CROSSTALK)
KENNEDY: But it is -- it still is. No, Wolf, wait. Hang on. Last year, GM and Ford sold 300,000 cars in Venezuela. We have imported 588 million barrels of oil. Should we say -- if you have got a problem with this, then, you should say, oh, no, Ford and GM, you can't sell any more cars down there. Oh, and, by the way, we shouldn't drive any cars that are using Venezuelan gasoline. We shouldn't fly any jets, whether they be "The Wall Street Journal"'s or anybody else's, that is using Venezuelan jet fuel. We shouldn't be using any trucks. BLITZER: But...KENNEDY: Oh, no. Come on, Wolf.
KENNEDY: If it's goose -- good for the goose, it's good for the gander. BLITZER: But...(CROSSTALK)
KENNEDY: So, don't just complain about a program that's helping the poor, and then give everyone that's helping the rich off the hook.
KENNEDY: That's the dilemma.
KENNEDY: And that is what is unfair.
BLITZER: I'm not complaining about anything. I'm just asking some questions. KENNEDY: Sure. Let's go.
BLITZER: Let me read -- let me read to you -- and I'm sure you saw that editorial in "The Wall Street Journal." (LAUGHTER)
BLITZER: "In his eight years in power, Mr. Kennedy's business partner has also polarized Venezuela with his class warfare. Freedom House now ranks Venezuela's -- Venezuela 34th out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere in press freedom. Only the Cuban press is more repressed. But Mr. Kennedy keeps on trucking."I know you saw the editorial. It was a very nasty editorial, directly accusing of you, in effect, of being a propaganda tool of Hugo Chavez. KENNEDY: You know, I have had so many negative editorials written about me by "The Wall Street Journal." It's like water off the back. You know, I -- it -- the -- that isn't the point, whether or not they attack me personally, or anything else. The crucial issue is whether or not we're going to say, we have, as a nation, a problem with Venezuela, because of a speech that the guy made, and so, therefore, we're going to cut off all business relationships with the Venezuelans. Or is it somehow righteous to say, no, let's just focus on the one country that is actually providing a little help and assistance to the poor, to help them pay their energy bills. And, if that's the problem, then, what we should do is, we should say, we're going to stop dealing with them altogether. And, in that case, we shouldn't be using their oil. We shouldn't be having our banks operate in their country. But why is it that I am the only focus of this? How come these discussions -- how come "Wall Street Journal" doesn't go after its own? How come they don't go after all the corporations that are making so much money out of the Venezuelans? How come they only went after a program that is designed to help? And it's a nonprofit. We don't make a dime off of this. Everything gets passed through to the poor. So, my only point is, it's duplicitous. It is, you know, people who have power who are threatened, those who have the capitalist system, who are threatened by a kind of compassionate capitalism that looks out after the poor and the vulnerable. That's what we're trying to do with Citizens Energy. And, if we can get some help and assistance from OPEC -- you know, I don't see the Saudi Arabians offering us this. I don't see the Kuwaitis offering us this. But I sure see an awful lot of business that goes on with these countries. Why is it that it's just the -- the Venezuelans that we -- that we are content to go after?
BLITZER: All right.
KENNEDY: We're content to do it because it's easy. That's why "The Wall Street Journal" did it. It's easy. (CROSSTALK)
KENNEDY: It's -- anyway, Wolf, that -- that's obviously my...(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: I -- you know, I hear your argument. You know, it's interesting. If you see behind you, near Fenway Park, you see a huge Citgo sign right behind you. It's a coincidence. We didn't deliberately put you in that location. But you can clearly see Citgo right behind you. Why is it, though, that you have asked all these other oil companies, these oil-producing companies, to do what the Venezuelans, what Hugo Chavez and Citgo are ready to do, give a discounted price for poor people in the country? What is their response to you when you say, why not follow Hugo Chavez's lead?
KENNEDY: You know, Wolf, it really is eye-opening. They -- you get a letter back. I write to the CEOs of the companies. You get a letter back from a mid-level bureaucrat, saying, you know, that they're doing something to help out with some illness or some, you know, disease or something like that. But, you know, Citgo gives $80 million to muscular dystrophy. Nobody is saying, hey, give the money back to muscular dystrophy. Then, when they give money to the Baseball Hall of Fame, nobody says, give money -- the money back to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's just when it helps the poor. Why -- Exxon Corporation, last year, in one quarter, made $10 billion. Their CEO himself made $1 billion. And, yet, what has he done? He's sat by and allowed the price of oil to skyrocket, from $25 a barrel to almost $60 or $70 a barrel. They haven't done a darn thing better.
BLITZER: All right.
KENNEDY: And, yet, what they're willing to do is take those profits, make themselves a boatload of money, and basically let the poor be damned. And that is just -- it doesn't feel right, Wolf. It just doesn't feel right.
BLITZER: Former Congressman Joe Kennedy, making his case, and doing it well, as usual, appreciate it very much.
KENNEDY: Nice to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, good.
KENNEDY: Thank you.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who Is The Enemy?

Glenn Greenwald again makes a logical point of something the rest of us have long been trying to point out to wingnuttia.

Hugo Chavez was overwhelmingly re-elected yesterday as Venezuela's President. Opposition to the United States played a significant role in his successful campaign, as he promised "a more radical version of socialism and [to] forge a wider front against the United States in Latin America."Over the last two years, the Palestinians democratically elected Hamas leaders. The Lebanese have democratically elected Hezbollah to play a major role in their parliamentary government. The Iranian-allied militias in Iraq are led by factions with substantial representation in the democratically elected Iraqi Government. And the Iranian Hitler himself was democratically elected (just like Hitler the First was, long before the parade of all the new Hitlers). If the leaders whom we are supposed to hate so much -- even the ones who are The Terrorists -- keep getting elected democratically, doesn't that negate the ostensible premise of our foreign policy -- that America-loving allies will magically spring up all over the world where there are democracies and they will help us fight The Terrorists?........ As this Bush follower lamented after complaining about Chavez's victory (h/t Instapundit): It seems to be a popular move this year to run an Anti-Bush, anti-US military campaign. It worked for the democrats, too. Good Luck...........(Those) changing other countries' governments at will, and invading whomever we want shouldn't really be that surprised when anti-American sentiment is a potent electoral tool. Independently, engaging in such resentment-producing behavior might also worsen what the President himself says is the reason the 9/11 attacks happened: "anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits." Perhaps we can soon come to the realization that it may not be such a good idea for a country which is intensely disliked by much of the world's population on every continent to urge that leaders be chosen democratically, since, by definition, that will likely produce leaders who are hostile rather than friendly to the U.S. And if spreading democracy is going to be our central goal, then maybe it does matter after all what the rest of the world thinks, since that is what will determine who the leaders are of other countries.
The idea that the right has any ability at all to fight terror effectively should have been fully debunked by now. These elections are symbolic attacks on America. Thank God most don't yet feel threatened enough to take up arms. We desperately need to turn this around. It is a blantantly obvious failed policy. Unfortunately with just 2 years left there will not be enough time for forgiveness. Our hope is that we can show the world with the next election that our intent is not that of the neo con cabal. The full post is here.