Doing Rather Well


Remember this?

Yup…two months ago Dan Rather told us president Chávez would be dead by now.

Ermmmmm…is it maybe time put in another call to that highly respected source of yours for an update, Dan?

It’s funny how all the air has gone out of the cancer story. Chávez may well be dying, but he sure doesn’t look like he’s dying, which in narrowly electoral terms is all that really matters. And so it’s all gone quiet over on RunRun land. A campaign that was supposed to work itself out under Chávez’s increasingly inexplicable absence just hasn’t gone that way at all.

And the economy is still in full petro-boom mode, so…

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  1. F-A-C-T-S. Particularly those which the interested parts would not like to admit to. We should stick to them whenever possible. What a liar cannot hide or even distort, and has to admit to can be taken to be a piece of the truth, at least until the whole truth surfaces.

    Fact: We don’t know precisely what Hugo Chavez has. Fact: It’s a well-developed cancer in some soft tissue of the pelvic region, it has been treated with three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it did recur. Fact: His being in this condition raises serious doubts over fitness to govern and long term survival… My opinion: Unless you believe in miracles on demand, which I don’t. Fact: Any assertion that he is cancer-free is BS, unadulterated. Fact: A person in his condition should be resting, and a hard ad tiring electoral campaign is not going to help his condition. My opinion: His followers and handlers are willing to try to sacrifice the man for the political idol. My opinion: If he kills himself thus, I shan’t shed a single tear or feel the slightest of pities for this obstinate and sociopathic Mofo, or his followers.

    • And my point is that predictions like he has “n-months to live” amount to hogwash unless you actually have exam results and can claim they are authentic, honestly reported by doctors that have had access to Hugo Chavez. That the partial picture we have is of a pretty serious and potentially deadly condition. That the claim that he is free of cancer is hogwash too. What type of cancer, to begin with, is the one he has allegedly beaten?

    • Exactly as you say it, Loroferoz, we have only the information given by him, and at least partially appears plausible. All the physical changes were not for nothing. If it was true, he has a very bad prognosis, and don’t forget, he was doing rather well mid-february too. Cancer outcomes are probabilistic, there is no certainty and no n-months to live. The best you can get is something like “25% survival probability at 5 years” or “mean survival time 4 months at this stage” (but it could be a day or 2 years).

    • Well, if it is facts we are talking about, then few of the above are. Maybe only the first one: “We don’t know precisely what Hugo Chavez has.” The second one, specially the part of the number of surgeries/treatment is speculation based on meager evidence and his majesty’s public statements. Third fact, based on what are you determining his ‘condition’? Fourth, again, based on what is that BS? I mean, he has done a great job of keeping us in the dark, so, speaking strictly in facts, the only fact in your text is the first.

      • Okey, I stand corrected. Given

        -The opacity of H.R.S.H.C (His Royal Majesty Hugo Chavez) statements.
        -That H.R.S.H.C. is a dissembler and a narcissist, who wants to appear strong rather than weak and will resort to obfuscation of any bad news.
        -That present the physical changes, the simpler hypothesis is that he is sick.

        I shall modify my statements of slightly, by adding the qualifications appropriate: It’s a well-developed cancer in some soft tissue of the pelvic region or worse, it has been treated with three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy or more that we don’t know about, it did recur once, maybe even more than once. His being in this condition raises serious doubts over fitness to govern and long term survival (are we agreed?)… Fact: Any assertion that he is cancer-free is BS, unadulterated or worse yet, an attempt at covering a hopeless prognosis. A person in his condition should be resting, and a hard ad tiring electoral campaign is not going to help his condition it can worsen it unless there’s no possible worsening and no hope.

  2. I don’t think a 17% TD increase in M2 qualifies as “petro-boom mode” in Venezuela these days.For comparison, recall than in 2006 M2 grew at a 6% monthly clip.

    And on the topic at hand, there is a difference between “enfermo” and “desahuciado”. Chavez might be sick and dying inside, but he’s not done. And he probably won’t until after the elections…

  3. IMHO at this point it’s a mute point.

    A few months ago we were all waiting for him to die to allow an exit to the problems.

    Now it looks like he’s done from an election point of view.

    His terrible results in El Valle/Coche & Petare & now the strong MUD win in the union elections at Ferrominera indicate that he’s on the road to a significant general election loss. Capriles pulls more people to his rallies in small towns without coercion than Chavez can bus in from all over the country in a huge area like Petare.

    The point is that alive or dead the change is coming. The change MUST come.

    • Unless an independent medical report confirms it, his true condition is completely unknown. He has said before he was cured and later, he admitted a recurrence and even prayed to God on live TV to be spared. Cancer is a very deceiving disease.

      Mr. Rather’s source was wrong or was played for a hidden agenda. Who knows?

      Chavez’s double fail in Caracas this week speaks louder. The failure of El Valle last Thursday was epic in scale. And losing the unions in Guayana is a huge loss.

      At this point, nobody knows anything.

      • “The failure of El Valle last Thursday was epic in scale” – you are really grasping at straws this time. Were you there? I was! And if you think that workers in Guyana will vote for Capriles you really need your head examining.

        • I saw you running, “Arturo”, but before the clash broke out between 2 groups of Chavez attendees, with 2 dead, and a shutdown of the El Valle InterComunal thoroughfare by the enraged residents. Not just Guayana, but all of Bolivar will go with Capriles, against the anti-labor Chavez corrupt Chulos!

    • Canuck: I agree the Ferrominera results are very important, but Ruben Gonzalez doesn’t represent the MUD, but a trotskyte faction which has its own presidential candidate, Orlando Chirino.

    • “moot” point. Other than that I agree that sometimes things end up working themselves out in unexpected ways. I sure hope so anyway …

  4. Just to keep things honest, Quico, while you’re in journo-groupie-flashback mode ..
    “I’d normally let it go, except that Rather’s a guy with 40 years’ experience, 7 peabody awards, and no obvious axe to grind.”

    • History to repeat itself?
      “NDP Leader Jack Layton stunned Canada’s political arena on Monday, announcing he is taking a temporary leave of absence to receive treatment after doctors discovered he has a new cancer.

      The surprise announcement comes just OVER TWO MONTHS AFTER Layton led his party to record gains in the federal election and Official Opposition status in the House of Commons.”

      • Doris:

        I would not compare Chavez and Layton and how they handled their illnesses. First, Layton was not the head of state and second , he never hid what what type of cancer he had. He also kept the whole treatment in private. He never made a show of it and used it to gain sympathy.
        In fact, it was quite a surprise to see him so bad and thin when he announced he was taking a leave of absence.
        Layton was a man with tons of integrity and I would not dare to compare him with Chavez.
        Also, I disagree that he “led his party to record gains in the federal election”. Everybody was taken by surprise with the results, including the NDP, and everybody knows too that this was a punishment vote against the liberals.

      • Carolina, I am totally in agreement with all that you said.
        I reproduced a press release?, and raised a rhetorical question,
        sorta freshman style like – right half of the class defends abortions, left half of
        class attacks the concept of abortion. Having said that, you may notice that
        our illustrious cancer patient was nowhere mentioned by me.
        As I said, I totally agree with you, and many family members
        vote ndp. 🙂

  5. The truth is that nobody can know if they are cured of cancer. It may be that in Cuba are as much in the dark with their condition as we are, and at least they are learning from experience and not claiming that he is cured and flying like a condor.

    Here is the best explanation of what the probabilities in cancer remission mean.

  6. If he is avoiding the symptoms of treatment by ignoring the problem, that would be consistent with his entire approach to governing.

    • Chavez ego is massive and fixed. Chavez believes that he has no more cancer and that is enough to make it true. If he has a cancer recurrence, it will be hard for him to find the usual minister or other scapegoat to take the blame. Chavez could never blame the Castros for their fine Cuban cancer treatment programs.

    • But probably he could do nothing anymore, it is not like if you took vacations you would defeat cancer. He probably opted for the 2nd Bolivar option, heroically dying in fierce campaign against the Empire, etc… The mausoleum is large enough, isn’t? (hint, it is not Bolivar’s Mausoleum but Bolivarian Mausoleum)

  7. I don’t see a problem. Rather’s source is the one that made the estimate, not Rather. All Rather did was report what a “highly respected source close to Chavez and who is in a position to know his medical condition and history” said to him. Whoever else believed the source was just as wrong as Rather was in believing the source. If a person of high respect and in a position to know a medical condition and history makes a wrong prediction, why is the journalist’s credibility trashed as if he were the one to have made the wrong prediction?

    Besides, as Quico put it back then, Cuban double-bluff?

    • “why is the journalist’s credibility trashed as if he were the one to have made the wrong prediction?”

      Because, ET, it points to a lack of fact-checking, a critical component of serious mainstream media, and the use of only one unnamed source. Poor showing.

      That Rather can play

      + loosey-goosey with those facts, under his own banner;

      + the old deep-throat “This is a person whom your reporter has very good reason to trust, but you should know that there is only one source so far”, without revealing names;

      + little reporting tricks used to frame his source, while stating what is really an unsubstantiated fact;

      does not exculpate Dan Rather from responsibility. That is, for “a guy with 40 years’ experience, 7 peabody awards, and no obvious axe to grind.”

      • p.s. D.R.’s presentation was grotty journalism, which smelled then, at least for me. But it got a lot of Vzlans and others worked up. It also revived Rather’s name in the news. If I didn’t take Rather’s ego-needs too seriously, after earlier fiascos/conflicts, he’s certainly toast for me, now.

        • syd, what would you prefer:

          A) D.R. telling us what a source in a unique position to have exclusive information regarding chavez’s health told him, or

          B) D.R. keeping to himself said source’s statements only because D.R. could not substantiate it with an independent source, or a verifiable evidence?

          Personally, I prefer A with the kind of disclaimer that D.R. provided. I would bet that you choose B, yet it makes no sense to me since you are clearly very critical based on the source of information. So, if you know that the source is iffy, and, therefore, you wouldn’t buy it, what does it matter to you that the information is given to you, anyway.

          Do you really want to relinquish your choice to D.R.’s judgement? I don’t. I say let him tell me what his source told him, and I’ll decide whether I believe it or not. And I didn’t. Had chavez died, it would have been on me not to believe the same that it’s to my and your credit not to have believed and been right.

          • Ms. Ex of Torres,

            I do not share your deep-grained need for convoluted thinking, in this case, that which aims to justify journalism of low-standards, so that you can be free to make up your own mind.

            The concept of standards, of excellence, evidently eludes you. That has been clear. And most particularly when you show your unfamiliarity with the mechanism and validity of peer-review journals. That is, for your cobbled-together economic theory on UCT, or whatever name/concept you recently switched it to.

            It’s why you use us commenters on these political blogs, so that you can be free to cherry pick those which validate your theory-in-evolution, for your hush-hush salon/academic purposes.

            You stick to A, my dear.

          • syd, may I point out that

            A) you started replying to me
            B) I replied very rationally and with civility to yours, explaining my position and hoping for an explanation of yours
            C) you started with the diminishing of character, starting with a play on my nick, which can be construed as a form of disrespect
            D) you brought up UCT, not me, about which, by the way, you have never cared to discuss your point of view
            E) perhaps you don’t realize that in the case of UCT I did provide you with other respected sources supporting the concept, but you refused to consider even those with all the credentials you required, so there is really no analogy between the Dan Rather case and the UCT case (perhaps demonstrating your projected deep-grained need for convoluted thinking to tie the two together)
            F) you’re the one showing no standards of excellence in polite, rational discussion
            G) that’s not why I discuss UCT on the blog, but that you think you know my reasons speaks to what seems a deep-grained superiority complex
            H) I’ll stick to A, because the person with whom I tried to have an exchange regarding B refused to back up B with rationale.
            I) your last statement says it all, with your use of sarcasm and “my dear”, you demonstrate in a nutshell your polite facade of abusive behavior.
            J) I’ve told before, I’m immune to people who treat others the way you do.

            You syd, bully and troll.

          • Whatever, Ms. ex de torres. Troll, that’s funny!
            I stand by my comments. That is, after months of having to read through your push-through theory-in-evolution, without the disclaimers you say you prefer (from Dan Rather), but can’t provide on these blog commentaries.

            All very hush-hush. I got your mechanism.

          • syd,

            As to Dan Rather, he was responsible and truthful. In journalism you’d learn that there are situations in which there are no second, corroborating sources. In such cases, the journo has to take a leap of faith on the single source, yet be responsible in admitting the limitation, allowing the audience to decide. Clearly, in chavez’s health scenario, it’s very difficult to imagine having two insiders on his health. So I was not at all surprised that a journalist would have to depend on a single source. I stand by choice A, in which D.R. let me be the judge; I do not relinquish judgement to him nor you who would prefer that even those who prefer A hear what he has to say about his single source.

            As to the rest of your comment, once again I point out that it is you pulling the comments towards UCT. I’ve provided sources of respected, published and reknown credentials supporting cash transfers. I’ve provided countless other related links with supporting studies and results. I challenge you to provide links to three comments of yours countering the rationale behind UCT. After all, after months and such a strong stand against it, you should find it easy to provide at least three where you’ve replied to any of the material I’ve provided or logic I’ve presented with anything that could be considered non bullying, non trolling, discussion.

            Regarding my position and statements on UCT, I’ve provided more than a disclaimer: I’ve put the material on the table for all to see and tear apart, if they can find any seams in it. And even when people you think have more credentials than I do fail to discuss the tears in their arguments against Distributed Spending, you side with them, demonstrating that you consistently relinquish judgement to others based on their credentials, not on the soundness of their argumentation or information.

            Here’s your mechanism, syd, bully and troll others into silence. I’ve told you before, I’m immune.

          • I just realized: you consider the choice of having D.R. say or not say, convoluted?! That figures.

  8. Careful. Both cancer and electoral results are hard to judge based on visuals alone. La paciencia es la madre de la ciencia and viceversa.

  9. One must be very skeptical about any allegations that Chavez has an uncurable disease, specially those that dare speculate he’ll die before the elections. Really, what information has been aired about his condition but that of speculative nature?
    For Chavistas and Cubans, it’s clear the task of remaining in power is a battle, one of the many fought in the war against the bourgeois and capitalism -(yeah, we all know it’s really the battle to keep on looting the nation). An old war tactic is to lure your enemy into a trap by presenting yourself as a weaker opponent. To me, it’s starting to look as if Chavez’s Cancer was just a strategy to entice the opposition into becoming fractured. If this is so, then “the operation” might have been cancelled for lack of effect or it might have just come to an end as planned.

    • there’s only one problem with this theory, in my unauthorized opinion. Would a man subject himself to the amount of steroids he was taking, to a bulging ‘nuca’, to puffy eyes and face, in sum, to a visual mess, in order to fracture the oppo?

      • Then he was cured, perhaps temporarily. But that man is not sick, at least not with a terminal disease. Conclusion: Bocaranda and friends are just a bunch of noise-making, spotlight seekers. Great sources of reliable information!

  10. Yeah, I considered the Cuban double bluff. The problem is El Presidente still looks less healthy than your average punter.

  11. Three months ago Chavez was “visibly dying” and was obviously not going to carry out a normal campaign. Now we’ve changed our mind and Chavez “sure doesn’t look like he’s dying” but we ‘re still hoping that he croaks very soon!

    I think reading this blog (especially the comments section) is the clearest proof of how clueless the Venezuelan opposition really is. Thanks guys!

    • He has looked like he was “visibly dying” at least twice, once last year after his first operations in Cuba, and early this year. This was no fake. That he’s probably in remission (temporarily) is probably also true. A friend of mine, M.D.Anderson patient, was fine for 9 months after his initial cancer operation, worked 12-hour days at the office, then, one day he didn’t go to work, and 2 weeks later he was dead. As per Chavez, he lived tubed up with pain-killers/meds, which one could feel under his loose-fitting shirt, also like Chavez, except only the GAC’s/Arturo’s/Etc’s on this Blog can get close enough to know for sure.

    • Very sick he is anyway. Very sick and not going to be helped by carrying out even a relaxed campaign. What he has admitted to is enough to conclude that he has a deadly disease. Note I don’t say had.

      You chavistas must want him dead worse than anyone here.

  12. For now, I don’t wish to excuse Dan Rather for his use of only ÓNE hush-hush source, while he aimed to sensationalize his report (and call attention to himself).

    But to give some leeway, D.R. or his one source did not say that Dhávez would die in two months. As I said back in May, a couple of months is often not considered two. When I think of “a couple” of months, I usually think in terms of 3 and 4.

    • Wow, I bet your husband is *thrilled* with your understanding of the word “couple”.

      “Of course we’re a couple dear, you, me and these two lifeguards I met down at the beach…”

      • whatever, quico. suggest you take a straw poll of native (meaning, first language) english speakers, and ask them for their opinion, when it comes to quantifying “a couple of MONTHS”.

          • It would be more precise to ask what they believe “un par” de meses means.

            I have to say that a couple of months to me means two months, not 4.

            LOL on the lifeguards Quico! No te arreches Syd, he could have said two barflys.

            Por lo menos los “lifeguards” estan buenotes!!! 🙂

          • In the span of, say, a decade, what does a “couple of years” mean to you, Roberto? Two, as well?

            As for the clichéd lifeguards (assuming well-built male specimens), well that depends if building muscles are their priority .. (nothing much else there). But evidently Quico is panting .. lol.

          • I think we are splitting hairs and counting angels on pinheads here Syd.

            Yes, couple can mean an indefinite small number as well as two, depending on usage and who is listening, but to imply 4 as a couple is too much. So max 3.
            (now who’s splitting hairs?) 🙂

          • My premise, Roberto, was only this: that Dan Rather (whose linguistic capabilities are top-notch, say what you will about his journalism) knew enough to build or report some wiggle room when he reported this on May 30, 2012:

            “Chavez is now not expected to live “more than a couple of months at most.” “.

            Rather didn’t report back then that Chávez would be dead in two months. That would have been foolhardy.

            Nonetheless, Rather added that “several sources–including the one who revealed the exact kind of cancer — have told me that they believe it is doubtful the dictator will live to see the results (of the elections).”

            Unless the primary source is Chávez’ oncologist, whose access to all test results lead him/her to a best guesstimate of Esteban’s remaining time, based on historical oncological patterns, no human can “precisar” the week or the month of death.

            P.S. Splitting hairs for linguistic precision is critical in many professions, as is waffling for imprecision in others.

            Can you imagine a judge’s ruling on the lawyer’s contention that “a couple of months” means exactly two? That was my point. I say, give Dan Rather (and his deep throat source) the benefit of the doubt for another month or so. Then, and only then, throw the rotten tomatoes!

          • Oh, I meant I was the one splitting hairs, Syd.

            I agree that one cannot hold Rather’s feet to the fire over the timing aspect.


            14. a couple of, more than two, but not many, of; a small number of; a few: It will take a couple of days for the package to get there. A dinner party, whether for a couple of old friends or eight new acquaintances, takes nearly the same amount of effort. Also, Informal , a couple.

            Usage note
            The phrase a couple of, meaning “a small number of; a few; several,” has been in standard use for centuries, especially with measurements of time and distance and in referring to amounts of money: They walked a couple of miles in silence. Repairs will probably cost a couple of hundred dollars. The phrase is used in all but the most formal speech and writing.

      • I am a native speaker of English and can say that Quico is correct.A couple means 2.If you want to say 3 or 4 you would probably use “a few’.

  13. It wouldn’t be the first time a patient defies the odds and actually lives more than predicted. I can’t see the point in arguing why it’s not happening. A friend’s dad was sent home because his death was imminent, he survived two whole months. If Ch is still on Earth in a couple of years’ time then you have point. Until then…

      • The family was told he was going to die that precise night. My point is doctors predict something, and then life does something else.

        • Then Life gave your friend’s dad a real gift in those two months.

          Since I’m not a medical doctor, I don’t know what types of tests are involved in providing the data that correlates with historical patterns, in order to reach an approximate timing in end-of-life scenarios. I suspect that there are several tests, producing complex measurements (blood gas comes to mind). Naturally, no test results are foolproof; they are merely guidelines, based on historical pattern. Certain other variables can always trump these results. And, if Ch.s cancer is legit, then I say good for him for wanting to do everything he can to prolong his life. (Too bad that the majority of his countrymen don’t have that opportunity.)

  14. It is totally ‘out there’ to think that anyone can know the time of death of anybody.Going into multiple examples would only be tiring.

    More important than doing guess work is to develop the ability to deal with surprises.Chavez often dupes the population through its lack of awareness of multiple possibilities, and inability to develop tactics that do not depend on Chavez.

    • Chavez could be involved in one too many elections. While he is friends with a couple of dictators, he could have his hands in one too many illicit ventures…

  15. Definition of COUPLE
    a : two persons married, engaged, or otherwise romantically paired b : two persons paired together
    : pair, brace
    : something that joins or links two things together: as a : two equal and opposite forces that act along parallel lines b : a pair of substances that in contact with an electrolyte participate in a transfer of electrons which causes an electric current to flow
    : an indefinite small number : few

    • After 6 years living and working in Canada I have learned that COUPLE when reffered to as a number means ussually a pair; …Although I still struggle and use it as #4 above:indeterminate small number: few.

      To bring some venezuelian flavour to the mix i would ask our liguistic residents to define Burda, and in the case of Burda x Burda, or burda squared=trulda!

      chupate esa!


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