…but he’s OUR sonofabitch!

Democratically elected, ratified, signed, sealed and delivered Hugo Chavez of Venezuela: BAD.

Despotic, nasty, homophobic real, live dictator of Uganda: GOOD.

President Bush met at the White House on Tuesday with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for talks that focused on trade, HIV/AIDS but seemingly ignored alleged human rights abuses of gays and lesbians.

The two emerged from the meeting to appear for a camera opportunity with Bush praising Museveni for his push to lower the AIDS rate in the African nation by emphasizing abstinence until marriage.

“Uganda is the epitome of how one can implement a comprehensive ABC strategy to achieve concrete and specific results for the sake of humanity,” said Bush.

Never mind that the A and B have been stressed at the expense of C, as has been criticized by no less a figure than Canada’s own Stephen Lewis. And guess who’s behind that lopsided approach?

BTW, Uganda hasn’t made that much progress against AIDS. This “progress” has been largely talk. But when you’ve been in power for over 20 years and your latest “victory” is in question, you need to point to something, however bogus, as an excuse to keep hanging on.

Queer folk are understandably miffed and alienated by this approach, but what the hey. He may be a nasty piece of work, but at least he can brag of having been a uniter, not a divider:

Anti-gay attacks are commonplace in Uganda but have been increasing since August when Ugandan LGBT rights groups for the first time held a public news conference to demand basic civil rights. Many of the participants wore disguises out of fears of government reprisals.

A week later supporters of a coalition of Christian and Muslim religious groups filled a downtown stadium demanding mass arrests of gays.

This month the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said that it had uncovered evidence that the Bush administration has funded groups in Uganda that actively promote violence and discrimination against lesbians and gay men.

Among those receiving money, according to US government records, is Uganda Muslim Tabliqh, and the Makerere University Community Church.

The church’s leader, Pastor Martin Ssempa, was a leading organizer of the anti-gay rally in Kampala.

Ssempa and his coalition, which includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelicals, also have threatened the safety of Ugandan LGBT rights activists by posting their names, photos and addresses on a website.

You must admit that’s an impressive show of unity. All those warring sects and factions, brought together by a common cause: hating the homos.

Is anyone else being reminded of the progress Israel recently made on this front?

And of course, there is the inevitable “family values” spin:

In 2005 Museveni has signed into law a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, making the country the only one in the world to have a specific constitutional reference outlawing gay marriage.

Never mind that in Uganda, AIDS is the disease of straight people, and there are villages where the entire young adult population was wiped out, leaving only orphans and grandparents. No, let’s just stop the queers from marrying, that’ll solve the problem. That, and marooning them on a desert island so they all die out.

Meanwhile, do you suppose BushCo will utter a peep about him for this?

This year Museveni pushed constitutional changes to allow him a third term and won re-election in voting last year, though Uganda’s main opposition party charged many people were barred from the polls and some returns were falsified.

Strain your ears, folks. Do you hear anything?

Me neither. Maybe because this paragon of liberal democracy would rather talk about the things that really matter.

“You need good infrastructure within a country like Uganda, as well as other African countries, so that you can produce goods at low cost,” Museveni said. “Therefore you can be competitive in the expanded markets, and also in the regional markets.”

Ah yes, the usual free-trade-will-save-us-all rhetoric. That, too, rings strangely familiar.

This guy is as bad a piece of news for Uganda as Pinochet was for Chile. But since he’s tootling the right rhetoric, all his very real human rights abuses will be overlooked, just like Pinochet’s were. Dubya is too busy demonizing Chavecito over imaginary abuses anyway.

Plus, how much oil is there under Uganda? Better get a real strongman lined up in Washington’s corner before that oil starts to flow in earnest. That way, they’ll have someone to hold up as an example for the unruly democrats of Latin America. It won’t work, but it’ll make them feel better to know that they can still have someone somewhere to refer to as “our sonofabitch!”

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