I had the good fortune of being one of the folks in the audience at Cooper Union when Hugo Chavez came to speak. As the yellow corporate media here in New York City continue to lie and obfuscate about Chavez's appearances, all in the interest of fomenting yet another conflict, I felt compelled to write.

First, let me say that all of the blue state Democrats who have crawled out of the woodwork (Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NYCoward), and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calidumbass)) should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. For all the bluster they have mustered against Hugo Chavez telling the truth about George Bush, they would have heard the same thing from their constituents -- if they bothered to listen to them.

Second, let's set the record straight about what Chavez spoke about at Cooper Union (and likely riffed off of in Mt. Olivet Church), and why perhaps this proved so upsetting:

President Chavez spoke, at first, about education -- about the difficulties of the people in obtaining it in an indebted nation like Venezuela, as well as the programs the Bolivarian state has funded and encouraged that have brought education to hundreds of thousands of impoverished peoples. He spoke of the programs to end illiteracy, even to those who are in the rural areas in the hills and jungles and isolated. He made clear that age and lack of means should not be a bar to education -- any education, from preschool to college -- and that the state is now working on taking those enrolled in the "Yes I Can" program (a free education program for primary-school level, given with an instructor using videos) and bringing them further along with the "Yes I Can Continue" program for continuing education.

This quite possibly rankles the New York press all around. The New York Post and Daily News -- this tandem have done more to speak against the freedom and funding of the City and State University of New York system than even the worst Republican flaks. Perhaps an educated public of native New Yorkers is exactly what these two papers, written at first grade level with a similar level of maturity, fear most.

Chavez also spoke of his inspirations from "the belly of the beast" -- Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain. On Lincoln, he spoke at length on what he viewed as the similarities between Venezuela and the United States, in terms of the history of civil wars that were necessary to end the institution of slavery. In passing, he spoke of how it was poet-intellectual Whitman who captured America in all its facets, as he discussed his prior visit to the Bronx. He spoke highly of Twain, for his anti-imperialism in response to the Spanish-American War, and dared to insist -- horror of horrors! -- that Americans should read Twain and be like Twain.

Of course, what draws the ire of the New York press is likely that Chavez actually bothered to speak of the Bronx and its people beyond George Steinbrenner and the Yankees. And moreover, he has actually done something for the Bronx, in providing discount heating oil.

For being too kind to the Bronx, and speaking well of the people they brand "thugs" like transit workers, they call Chavez a thug too.

As for what draws the ire of the Bush administration since el jefe George has made clear that he would rather get a stick to the eye than read anything other than than the Book of Revelations. Or maybe reading Twain would remind him that, at base, the Bushes are Connecticut Yankees who just got into the Texas oil trade. Or perhaps Whitman's just plain too much of a faggot for the red states.

But what really got the goat of the press, nationwide, was that Chavez had the temerity to criticize the foreign policy of the United States. To tell the truth, as far as I can tell: Chavez was far too charitable.

When Chavez spoke on this topic, he made the distinction between the U.S.'s government and its people. That's a standard, boilerplate text when a foreign leader speaks to a foreign audience -- George Bush always made the same distinction with regard to Iran in his speech at the UN. Of course, a key difference: when Chavez makes that speech, he is not putting on airs. When Chavez makes that distinction it is clear as crystal, because he has yet to use control of oil against Americans, even as the Bush White House collaborates with those who call for Chavez's outright assassination. Bush, hypocrite that he is, speaks of "liberating" Iraq's civilians -- then imprisons its children and allows troops to rape with impunity -- and not just in Iraq.

At any rate, Chavez did not simply call Bush a liar, a devil, and a drunkard -- all of which are true, and on the lips of any American with an ounce of common sense -- but were our press not simply interested in a diplomatic slapfight, they'd see that he spoke at length on the why and how this administration has only further perpetuated the debts of South America (who already lost so much during the reign of his father as Vice President and President, in the "Lost Decade" of the 1980s).

In other words, Chavez can actually speak "off the cuff" and do so intelligently, without resorting to gently massaged talking points -- a thing few American leaders (of either party) could ever do.

I do not expect the U.S. corporate press to understand a damn thing about where Chavez is coming from (either literally or figuratively speaking). But this is yet another round of how the New York media -- the Murdochs and Zuckermans, parasites on this area -- proving just how out of touch they are with the world, and with their own city.