January 31, 2007
The Kennedy, Chavez & Chomsky PipelineBy Marc Sheppard
Have you seen the latest Citgo-sponsored commercial for Citizens Energy Corporation? At first glance you may have mistaken it for a Saturday Night Live sketch and watched it prepared for a good laugh. That is, until you'd realized it was all too serious. Until it struck you that a member of one of North America's most powerful political families may well be in bed with one of South America's most notorious and dangerous men. But it gets even more disturbing. The language used to rationalize this unholy alliance appears to be right from the playbook of the devout anarchist many refer to as the Ayatollah of anti-Americanism.
The bizarre 30 second pitch (video) opens with a man who complains he needs 2 pairs of long underwear and a jacket to stay warm inside his house. We then fade into the image of an elderly "84 and alone" woman dragging an iron cot into her kitchen from her basement so she can, as her voice-over tells us, "sleep by the oven." The next voice we hear is that of Joseph Kennedy II, who assures us that "help is on the way." The son of Robert Kennedy then explains that heating oil is available at 40% off thanks to "our friends in Venezuela at Citgo." In closing, tyrant Hugo Chavez's good buddy asks us to give him a jingle at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL because "no one should be left out in the cold."
It's Nothing Political Joey, Strictly Benevolence
Of course, this wasn't the first time that the former Massachusetts congressman's name and company have been attached to a Chavez oil for fool scheme. In 2005, an ad with the banner HOW Venezuela Is Keeping the Home Fires Burning in Massachusetts ran in major U.S newspapers and offered cheap heating oil to America's poor as a "simple act of generosity." A November 20, 2005 story in the Boston Globe outlined this earlier CEC creepy covenant with CITGO, the Houston-based subsidiary of Chavez's state-owned petroleum company Petróleos de Venezuela.
The Globe reported scuttlebutt that Chavez had helped broker the deal partly as a jab at President Bush. Larry Birns, executive director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a group that tracks Latin American politics and government agreed:
No doubt. For starters, the move curries favor among segments of the U.S. population most likely duped by his class warfare gamesmanship. This diaphanous tactic works quite well on weak-minded, self-hating Americans - just ask Chavez-bots like actor Danny Glover and singer Harry Belafonte. And, as a bonus, El Commandante gets to portray the United States as a country that can't even keep its own people warm in the winter without charity from marginally civilized Latin American socialists.
Not surprisingly, Kennedy dismissed all of this and assured critics he was not concerned with the politics of the man whose allies represent a virtual who's who of America's enemies:
As usual, to a Kennedy (any Kennedy), welfare (any welfare) from the state (any state) is always the cure for want (any want).
With friends like these who needs loyalties?
But it was the curious reference to "our friends in Venezuela" in this most recent commercial that caught the eye and ire of a January 19th USA Today editorial, which fittingly noted:
The column, which also reminded readers that only his nation's mammoth oil reserves distinguish Chavez from other cruel and murderous Latin American tyrants, elicited an immediate indignant reply from Kennedy. After drearily repeating the lame moral equivalency argument he put forth in 2005 and mentioning that poor cot-dragging woman we met in the commercial, he continued with words which placed his earlier disregard for Chavez's politics in serious doubt:
Hey Joe, could it be that mutually-beneficial business deals don't leave either party beholding to the other, whereas charity from a socialist expansionist madman with an agenda obvious to everyone but you does?
Needless to say, outside unwashed circles Kennedy's explanation didn't quite satisfy. A week's worth of ongoing critical commentary prompted a decidedly emotional supplementary response on January 24th. In it, he suggested that windfall tax revenues on oil and gas be used to finance increased public assistance. As to the deal with Venezuela and those who critique it:
Did he say Socialism for the Rich?
You bet. In fact, Kennedy had made prior use of that silly idiom, including in his aforementioned January 19th rebuttal. Interestingly enough, his brother Robert also employed the puzzling phrase when he accepted a Sierra Club Tree-Hugger Award in September of 2005.
More interesting still, almost a decade earlier, American political dissident Noam Chomsky wrote an article which commenced:
Sounds a lot like Joseph the Second's January 24th comments, doesn't it? Don't be surprised. You see, Joe's buddy Hugo has a buddy named Noam who's been whining about the evils of capitalism in general and as practiced by selfish Americans specifically for decades.
You'll recall the stir Chavez caused addressing the U.N last September when he opened his speech by waving a copy of comrade Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States in the face of the General Assembly. The Latin nutcase claimed that the book contained proof that the greatest threat looming over our planet is the
In an uneven tirade which included his referencing President Bush alternately as the world dictator and the devil himself, he gushed over the book so convincingly that it jumped to number 1 on Amazon's best-seller list overnight. There must have been an abundance of Libertarian socialists, Anarcho-syndicalists, and otherwise-aligned America haters in the gallery that day.
I told you, we're an Anarcho-syndicalist Commune
A recurring theme in Chomsky's work of late has been the evolving symbiosis between Venezuela and Cuba which he holds forth as a shining model of the virtues of Chavez's socialist petro-charity. Chavez provides low-cost oil while his dying hero and mentor Castro reciprocates with literacy and medical programs. Take that premise and add another familiar Chomsky fantasy -- Chavez's brave struggle to overcome American backed trade agreements which exploit workers and perpetuate unfair economic and social strata. Now, mix well in a large Margarita pitcher and Voila -- Kennedy's argument exactly.
And by the way, the man who favors a social revolution whereby freely co-operative workers' unions would replace all forms of competition, leadership and executive power is no stranger to Kennedy's ploy. It just so happens that in December of 2005, Chomsky penned an article addressing the hoopla over the Citgo-Kennedy connection. The anarchist linguistic genius begins by making disappointingly generic moral equivalence points similar to Pal Joey's - and then manages to degrade farther still. True to form, the piece quickly descends into his signature rhetorical abyss -- blaming all things Capitalist America for all things awry in South America, advocating Chavez as the natural, if imperfect, outcome. And, of course, adding the requisite socialist-expansion academic spam:
Curiously, the man once voted the world's top public intellectual also failed to ask one obvious question. If even Hugo's best friend is expected to pony up recompense for cheap Latin-tea, why would he provide the same to his worst enemy without similarly anticipating his due pound of flesh?
The Three Ameriphobic Amigos
Okay, so Hugo loves Noam and Joey loves Hugo and maybe Noam but Noam loves Hugo and, while no fan of Kennedys per se, maybe even Joey. So just what is it that connects these three contrasting socialists -- one dictatorial, one anarchistic and one welfare-state?
On the day following the September 11th terrorist attacks President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías mumbled,
In an interview a week later, one Avram Noam Chomsky Ph.D proclaimed:
And while a prominent American who might agree wouldn't be stupid enough to say so, Joseph Patrick Kennedy II certainly isn't lacking stupid things he is willing to say. For instance, last November, he told a Wall Street Journal Reporter questioning his assisting "an anti-American tyrant at the expense of the Venezuelan people," that as to democracy, there is,
So then, it would appear that there's one thing the three share much more congruently than their underlying common dream of wealth redistribution.
Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.