(Video) Senator Rubio makes a fool out Senator Harkin over Cuba

February 25, 2014

This is truly a popcorn-worthy use of your time, my friends.

Background: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the leading progressives in the Senate, took a trip to Cuba recently. Perfectly legal, members of Congress can go on such fact-finding missions when they wish. The senator must have visited an alternate-Earth Cuba, however, because, when he came back, he had nothing but praise for the Communist dictatorship:

It makes sense that as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Tom Harkin would want to check out how other countries are doing when it comes to public health. So he spent last week in Cuba, where he saw all sorts of things that made quite the impression on him.

Cuba is a “poor country, but they have a lower child mortality rate than ours,” the Iowa Democrat said to reporters Wednesday. “Their life expectancy is now greater than ours. It’s interesting—their public health system is quite remarkable.”

This was all a bit much for Marco Rubio (R-FL), himself the son of Cuban refugees who had to flee the island to escape that wonderful health system, and so much else. (1) So, in a speech before the Senate, he proceeded to mop the floor with Harkin’s useful idiocy. From the Miami Herald:

This wasn’t some Cold War-era fulmination about Castro’s regime.

Rubio’s speech was about current events: the protests in Venezuela, the Maduro government and the ties it has with the Castros, who repress their own people and helped inspire the suppression in Caracas.

Venezuela is becoming the new Cuba.

For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

Enjoy:

My only question is at what point did Harkin sneak out in embarrassment?

I know Rubio has lost his luster with conservatives because of his support for the Senate immigration bill last year. Indeed, he’s fallen well-off my own short list, as I came to question his judgment. But, in this speech on Cuba and Venezuela, on the fecklessness of the Obama administration’s policy in the region, and the fatuousness of Castro apologists such as Tom Harkin, all I can say is “Viva, Marco!”

RELATED: More at Hot Air.

Footnote:
(1) If you want to read one of the best books about what life under the Castro brothers has really been like, I recommend Armando Valladares’ memoir, “Against All Hope.” I’m tempted to send Tom Harkin a copy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Can’t wait until we reach this stage

September 22, 2013

satire socialist economics toilet paper shortages

Statist government policies create a toilet-paper shortage, ergo the solution is… a State takeover of the toilet paper factory!

Venezuelan troops will “occupy” the factory so that “the … People’s Defense from the Economy will not allow hoarding or failures in the production and distribution of essential commodities.”

“By the “People’s Defense,” Arreaza was referring to a government agency created on September 13 by President Nicolas Maduro to “defeat the economic war that has been declared in the country,” according to a report from state-run ATV. This group is charged with looking at inefficiencies across various industries in the nation, including foods and other products, and taking action presumably in the South American nation’s best interests.

Toilet paper is very much a part of the war.”

And war is a crappy thing.

Don’t wait for us, Venezuela; we’ll catch up just as soon as the Democrats are done destroying our health care system.


Obama gets crucial endorsement — from Hugo Chavez

July 14, 2012

Call it “simpatico:”

“Obama is campaigning. He’s a candidate. I hope the real revolutionaries understand well. I think that Barack Obama – aside from ‘the president’ – is a good guy,” he said.

He must see a kindred spirit:

Yeah, if it weren’t for that whole “president thing,” couldn’t you just see them sitting down for a couple of cervezas, kicking back, and chewing the coca paste (1) together?

We should see this endorsement all over the TV waves — in Mitt Romney commercials.

PS: Romney 2012.

PPS: Obama doesn’t think Chavez is a threat to the US. Fausta counts the ways he is.

Footnote:
(1) Oh, don’t look at me like that. President Choom admitted in his memoir that he used coke and grass.  I’m sure he could handle it like a pro.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Couldn’t happen to a more deserving fascist

July 1, 2011

Aw, my heart breaks. Venezuelan dictator and coca-addict Hugo Chavez, who’s been hiding out in Cuba for weeks, now, finally went on television to admit he has cancer:

However, and in spite of the favorable general course, throughout the process of draining and healing, there appeared suspicion of the presence of other cellular formations that had not previously been detected. Therefore, a series of special tests was started immediately, cytochemical, cytopathologic, microbiologic, and pathologic, which confirmed the presence of an abscessed tumor with the presence of cancerous cells, which necessitated a second surgery.

(Translation by Fausta, who also has the video)

To say I have little sympathy for Chavez would be to assume I have any sympathy at all — and I don’t.

This loathsome commie-caudillo, who thinks of himself as the new Simón Bolívar, has destroyed democracy in Venezuela (admittedly a feeble thing before he arrived, but he put the bullet in it), has stolen elections, wrecked his nation’s economy, made common cause with our deadly enemies, sponsored terrorist groups against our allies, and is a dirty little anti-Semite.

And those are his good points.

Meanwhile, the Diplomad loves the hypocrisy of a supposed “Man of the People” fleeing his own country to get medical treatment elsewhere:

Don’t you love the men of the people? When, for example, crazy leftist Forbes Burnham of Guyana got sick, he got himself some Cuban doctors–he had minor throat surgery and the Cuban docs ended up killing him, so he might have been better off going to Massachusetts General. When Castro was at death’s door in 2006, he spared no expense in bringing Spanish doctors to save him from his Cuban ones. When Chavez gets sick, he, too, hightails it out of the country. Now we can all understand when rich, corrupt, rightwing dictators go abroad for medical treatment, but aren’t these lefties supposed to be of, by, and for the people? Aren’t they giving their people the wonders and glories of socialism, including state-run medical services? In fact, the Chavez-drafted Constitution declares health care a right, and obligates the state to provide it. 

It says something about the state of medical care in Venezuela under Chavez that he would prefer to go to Cuba. Or maybe he’s just afraid of an “accident” on the operating table in Caracas?

So, if Hugo is in danger of dying, all I can say is … good. And I hope the end is an agony for him.

Heaven knows, he richly deserves it.

LINKS: Iowahawk was having too much fun on Twitter last night when the news broke.

UPDATE: The Venezuelan Army insists Castro’s Mini-Me is still in charge. Is this like a president expressing “full confidence” in an aide, just before firing him?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sunday Night Linkapalooza

May 15, 2011

Sorry for the non-posting this weekend, folks. Yesterday was a busy one, and today was spent enjoying a beautiful if windy day by the sea in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica(1). But, we do have some links of interest. Enjoy:

Border Security and Terrorism:

Our porous southern border (I’d call operational control over only 873 miles of a 2,000 mile border “porous,” wouldn’t you?) isn’t just a swinging door for migrants seeking work or drug smugglers looking to sell their poison. Verum Serum posts an interview a San Diego station did with an undercover agent about Hizbullah’s presence in Mexico and its growing cooperation with the drug cartels. Meanwhile, Fausta updates us on Iranian training camps in northern South America, again financed through the drug trade.

Comforting, no?

Man-Caused Global Warming Can Hurt You:

Not the phenomenon itself, which is either nonexistent or so insignificant as to be barely measurable. No, what will hurt you is the belief among policymakers that they have to do something to solve a problem that exists only in their own minds. The latest example comes from Britain, where an historic agreement was reached at the price of, as James Delingpole puts it, destroying Britain. Pirate’s Cove catches a whiff of fascism. Anthony Watts suggests we pray for Britain; that may not be inappropriate, as the government seems set on a course of taking the nation back to the Dark Ages — as in lights out.

By the way, an Australian scientist who used to be in the “climate alarmist” camp has broken with the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming and said the science behind it is garbage(2).

Israel and the Unending Middle East Peace Process:

Israel turned 63 this weekend. While the civilized world celebrates the birth of one of the most humane and ethical nations on Earth, Palestinians and other Arabs commemorate the occasion by calling it the “nakba,” the catastrophe, blaming Israel for the fact they shot themselves in the foot in 1948 and continue to do so to this day. The day was marked by mass-marches and border crossings, which may signal a new form of intifada.

Meanwhile, former Senator George Mitchell is resigning as President Obama’s special envoy to the region, a tacit admission of failure. Walter Russell Mead (always worth reading) takes this occasion to criticize the administration for its toxic mixture of arrogance and inexperience. Here’s a sample quote:

Let us hope that things change, but the bitter truth is that so far President Obama has the worst Middle East peace policy since US presidents first took a direct interest in the peace process back in the Nixon Administration.  No one has tried harder and accomplished less than President Obama.  After two years of high profile White House activism neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians think that this President can help them; neither side feels much need to work with Washington at this point.

An American president reduced to a nonentity in one of the most volatile regions of the world, one crucial to our security. Great.

Liberal Fascism Watch:

Finally, Bill Clinton says there should be a government agency to fight rumors and falsehoods on the Internet. Because Bill Clinton has always been a warrior for the truth. (Oh, stop laughing.) I mean, this would never be used to quash criticism of politicians, would it?

And we’re running a sale on the Brooklyn Bridge today, too.

Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, folks.

(1) Also known as “Berkeley South.”

(2) I might have editorialized a bit, there. Maybe.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Venezuela: the fruits of Obama’s energy policy

April 26, 2011

Thanks to the Obama administration’s refusal to explore and develop the vast oil resources we have in the United States, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez will likely wind up with an extra $11 billion slush fund heading into his next presidential campaign.

Hey, if you can’t help your friends…

Obama with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez


Leaked cables confirm: Jews are feeling danger in Venezuela

December 3, 2010

From Fausta comes news that, among the thousands of classified cables leaked by Wikileaks and Julian Assange, is evidence that the Jews of Venezuela are increasingly frightened of their own government:

Jewish community leaders told PolCouns the Venezuelan government’s (GBRV’s) attacks and “double-talk,” constant criticism of Israel, growing alliance with Iran, and increasing limitations on freedom of speech contribute to a heightened sense of vulnerability by the Jewish community. …

(…)

XXXXXXXXXXXX said anti-Semitic programs and articles have been regular features of government-owned media since 2004, and “international anti-Jewish campaigns have been tailored for use domestically.” XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasized that the anti-Semitism is “government-sponsored.” He noted that Emilio Silva, the author of a January 20 article on the government website aporrea.org which called for violent demonstrations at the Tiferet synagogue just 10 days before the synagogue was attacked, is still teaching at the pro-government Bolivarian University of Venezuela.

 

Visit her site to read more. If I were a Jew living under Hugo Chavez, I’d be feeling insecure, too.

RELATED: I’ve written about Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and antisemitism here and here. The Weekly Standard has an excellent backgrounder on this topic.


Ooops! Drug kingpin to finger Chavez in cocaine smuggling?

November 10, 2010

We already know the Hugo likes to chew on coca leaves supplied by his socialist buddy, Bolivian narco-trafficker President Evo Morales, but now it looks like he may finally get revealed as a major drug lord, too:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez should be very troubled that a man whom President Obama has branded one of the world’s most significant drug kingpins, Walid Makled-Garcia, may soon be telling U.S. federal prosecutors everything he knows about senior Venezuelan officials who have abetted his cocaine smuggling operations. Makled-Garcia’s devastating testimony comes on the heels of fresh evidence of Chávez’s support for terrorist groups from Spain, Colombia, and the Middle East and his apparent illegal support for Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Slowly but surely, Chávez is being unmasked as a mastermind of a criminal regime.

According to a federal indictment unsealed in New York last Thursday, from 2006 through August 2010, Makled-Garcia conspired with Venezuelan officials to ship tons of cocaine from airstrips in that country to Central America, Mexico, and, ultimately, the United States. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Makled-Garcia “a king among kingpins.” Indeed, the Justice Department has designated him a “priority target,” as one of the most dangerous and prolific narcotics traffickers.

Makled-Garcia was once known as one of Venezuela’s most wealthy entrepreneurs. He came on to the radar screen of U.S. antidrug authorities years ago, when he was suspected of using his family business operations in the Venezuelan port of Puerto Cabello and his close ties to the Venezuelan military and Colombian narcotraffickers to smuggle cocaine. With the active complicity of dozens of senior Venezuelan authorities, Makled-Garcia allegedly operated a drug smuggling network using airstrips in Venezuelan territory. The family also is suspected of being involved in more than a dozen murders, including those of a respected Venezuelan journalist and a Colombian narcotrafficker.

Based on the U.S. indictment, Colombian authorities arrested Makled-Garcia on August 18, and are currently considering a U.S. extradition request for the notorious suspect. In the meantime, in a jailhouse interview with Colombia’s RCN TV last week, Makled-Garcia said he has enough evidence of high-level drug corruption, including videos and bank records, “for the U.S. to intervene and invade Venezuela, as with [Manuel Antonio] Noriega in Panama.”

Read the whole thing. Makled-Garcia claims to have names and bank account numbers showing the involvement of Chavez’s inner circle and their relatives, and he’s making it very clear he will not play the fall-guy. As the article points out, it’s possible* that Chavez isn’t involved, himself, but then why was he desperately begging new Colombian President Santos to return Makled-Garcia back to Caracas for “investigation?”

No doubt because he has evidence implicating Chavez either directly or indirectly-but-uncomfortably-close, and, should he be sent back to Venezuela, Makled-Garcia would (regrettably, of course) be shot while trying to escape.

But Colombia isn’t playing along. They have several longstanding beefs with Hugo, plus they want to keep their American allies happy. It’s almost certain Makled-Garcia is heading for the United States, and, when he gets here, the tale he has to tell should be very interesting. Not that it would surprise anyone that Hugo Chavez was into drug smuggling, but having hard evidence on him would be sweet, indeed.

Via The Jawa Report.

*As in, it’s possible the sun could rise in the West, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oliver Stone: “I am an idiot!”

July 26, 2010

Well, he didn’t say that in so many words, but that’s the takeaway from the antisemitic, Hitler-apologetic interview he gave to the UK’s Sunday Times decrying Jewish domination of the media:

Director Oliver Stone belittled the Holocaust during a shocking interview with the Sunday Times today, claiming that America’s focus on the Jewish massacre was a product of the “Jewish domination of the media.”

The director also defended Hitler and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and railed against the “powerful lobby” of Jews in America.

Stone said that his upcoming Showtime documentary series “Secret History of America,” seeks to put Hitler and Communist dictator Joseph Stalin “in context.”

“Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support,” Stone told reporter Camilla Long during the interview, which can be found behind the paywall on the Sunday Times’ website.

Henry Ford was an antisemite, but that’s a long way from being a genocidal maniac, and Stone’s cry for “context” seems to be nothing more than a way to soften the crimes of two of History’s worst monsters. But Stone isn’t just fond of long-dead dictators; he has a soft spot for modern tyrants, too, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez:

The Scarface screenwriter had even more encouraging words for socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who Stone called “a brave, blunt, earthy” man. The director has recently been promoting his Chavez-praising documentary called “South of the Border.”

When the interviewer pointed out that Chavez has had a less-than-stellar record on human rights, Stone immediately dismissed the criticism.

“The internet’s fully free [in Venezuela],” said Stone. “You can say what the hell you like. Compare it with all the other countries: Mexico, Guatemala, above all Colombia, which is a joke.”

While Stone has not been as blunt about his views on Jews and the Holocaust in the past, he has been outspoken in his fondness for Chavez and his disagreements with the U.S.’s policy on Iran.

Oh yeah, he hearts President Gilligan Ahmadinejad, too.

It’s hard to work up any outrage over this -Stone’s been known as a conspiracy nut for years- but it’s still pathetic that someone holding these views can become influential in Hollywood. Sadly, in a town that a) leans strongly to the Left and b) can lionize the likes of Roman Polanski, I suspect this nauseating interview won’t hurt his career too much at all.

TANGENT: It’s a shame the Times has gone behind a paywall. I’ve heard (but haven’t had confirmed) that online readership is way down, as people refuse to pay the price. Perhaps the publishers will relent and make their site freely accessible once again.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the American Jewish Committee has denounced Oliver Stone:

“By invoking this grotesque, toxic stereotype, Oliver Stone has outed himself as an anti-Semite,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “For all of Stone’s progressive pretensions, his remark is no different from one of the drunken, Jew-hating rants of his fellow Hollywood celebrity, Mel Gibson.”

LINKS: More from Hot Air.


Hizbullah on the border

July 6, 2010

Following up on this post about the deteriorating security situation on our southern border, word comes that Mexican police have foiled an attempt to set up a Hizbullah network in Tijuana, just a stone’s throw from Public Secrets Global HQ:

Mexico foiled an attempt by Hezbollah to establish a network in South America, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Hezbollah (sic) operatives employed Mexicans nationals with family ties to Lebanon to set up the network, designed to target Israel and the West, the Al-Seyassah daily said.

According to the report, Mexican police mounted a surveillance operation on the group’s leader, Jameel Nasr, who traveled frequently to Lebanon to receive information and instructions  from Hezbollah commanders there.

Police say Nasr also made frequent trips to other countries in Latin America, including a two-month stay in  Venezuela in the summer of 2008.

Nasr was living in Tijuana, Mexico at the time of his arrest, the report said.

The report follows warnings from the United States that Hezbollah and its backer Iran are stepping up operations in the region.

Given our government’s notable lack of concern for border security and their recent incompetence in the Detroit, Ft. Hood, and New York City incidents, and bearing in mind the well-known corruptibility of the state and local police* in Mexico, I’m sure you can imagine just how secure I feel at the moment. Hizbullah mounted the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut on Iran’s orders, and I’ve no doubt they’re trying to establish sleeper networks in the US, “just in case.”

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: They’re still trying to kill us. Lots of us.

*(The article doesn’t specify, but I assume these were Mexican Federal police in the investigation.)

LINKS: Much more from Fausta and Flopping Aces.


Palin. Nightstick. Boom.

June 13, 2010

Perhaps giving in to exasperation, Sarah Palin unloaded on both President Obama and the (Social) Democrats on her Facebook page today in a post that links the need to expand domestic oil drilling to our national security:

Am I the only one who wonders what could possibly be the agenda of any politician who would thwart our drive toward energy independence? Continuing to lock up America’s domestic energy reserves, including the energy-rich Last Frontier of Alaska, only equips dangerous foreign regimes as they fund terrorist organizations to harm us and our allies. I’m going to keep speaking and writing about this in the simplest of terms until someone can provide a simple answer as to why liberal Democrats don’t understand that we have safe, warehoused onshore and shallow water reserves waiting for permission to be extracted. They either choose not to understand the geology, science, and technology behind an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy security, or they understand it, yet for whatever frightening reason choose to be lap dogs to Chavez and Ahmadinejad.

Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.

The former governor goes on to cite a Newsmax article about a letter from Republican senators challenging the administration over Venezuela’s ties to terrorism and our reliance on oil supplied by Hugo Chavez, who hates the United States. (Paging Joe Kennedy…)

While I’m not comfortable about relying on Newsmax (they’re given to sensationalism and have had to retract stories in a few embarrassing cases), she’s right to draw the link between the intelligent exploitation of domestic resources and our national security. In the Persian Gulf, many of the wealthy in countries from which we buy our oil use the profits from our purchases to support al Qaeda and other jihadist groups at war with America and the West.

In the case of Venezuela, Chavez has made no secret of his growing alliance with Iran, while the Newsmax article Palin quotes talks of Iranian security forces sealing off a Venezuelan airport in advance of an apparently high-value delivery. While the subsequent discussion of the ease with which some sort of nuclear explosive could be smuggled north is sensationalistic, the overall point is well-taken:

  • Iran is headed by a millenarian fascist regime that sees as its duty to do what it can to create the chaos that will herald the return of the Mahdi and the final victory of Islam.
  • Iran has been at war with the United States since 1979, even if we haven’t realized it.
  • Iran’s cats-paw, the terrorist jihad organization Hizbullah, has a significant presence in the United States and could be used to launch attacks within America.
  • Venezuela is allied with Iran and itself is seeking nuclear technology (supposedly for peaceful purposes).
  • Our southern border is undeniably porous.

And our dependence on Venezuelan oil is thus an example of how our freedom to act against potential threats posed by the Iranian-Venezuelan axis is potentially limited by our failure to intelligently exploit our own resources, relying instead on others.

If Sarah Palin is exasperated, she has every right to be.

I am, too.


Before the Mexican president lectures us again

June 1, 2010

Maybe he should concern himself with one of the many problems in his own backyard.


Honduras: An Obama-Clinton disgrace

October 30, 2009

Today’s Times Online brings news of a resolution to the months-long crisis in Honduras, in which a constitutional democracy defended itself from a budding dictator, President Manuel Zelaya, by removing him from office, replacing him with the proper constitutional officials, and sending the would-be caudillo into exile. Elections would be held as scheduled and the interim president, Micheletti, had promised not to run. Because Zelaya refused to accept his ouster and had gathered allies in the hemisphere, a standoff ensued. Now that standoff is over, with the result that … Manuel Zelaya will be restored to power:

The interim government of Honduras has yielded to international pressure and agreed to allow the return to power of Manuel Zelaya, the ousted President who was toppled in a military coup four months ago.

The breakthrough came after renewed pressure from senior US officials who travelled to Honduras this week for a last-ditch effort to end the crisis.

“It is a triumph for Honduran democracy,” said Mr Zelaya after the rival sides agreed to a deal under which he may be reinstated as President within days.

Roberto Micheletti, the president of the interim government that took power after the coup on June 28, announced that he had agreed to reinstate his political rival.

“I am pleased to announce that a few minutes ago my negotiating team signed an agreement that marks the beginning of the end” of the four-month stand-off, Mr Micheletti said in a statement from the presidential palace.

Mr Zelaya was sent into exile at gunpoint on June 28 but returned secretly to Honduras last month where he has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy.

For background on the crisis, see my earlier post.

This is another new low for American foreign policy under President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. Instead of gathering the facts and then backing the defense of constitutional order in Honduras, the White House and Foggy Bottom jerked their collective knees and condemned the legitimate government, demanding Zelaya’s restoration, which left them in the grotesque position of allying the government of the United States with its sworn enemies in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, who were backing their anti-democratic protege.

Not at all phased by this diplomatic cluster-frak, the administration kept beclowning itself by cutting off aid to Honduras, denying visas to its officials to visit the UN (while granting them to Burmese dictators), and supporting diplomatic missions meant to strongarm the Honduran democracy into surrender. At long last, it worked.  Congratulations on the win, Team Obama!

Let me make this as plain as I can: the President of the United States, the moral leader of the democratic  nations of the world, and his chief diplomat allied his administration with some of the hemisphere’s worst dictators in order to bully a constitutional democracy and ally into accepting the restoration of a man who is definitely anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, and probably mad. And all this was done in the face of a finding by the Law Library of Congress that the removal of Zelaya was legal under Honduran law (PDF). (For a strong dissent, see here)

Forget constitutionality, forget rule-of-law, and forget supporting a democratic ally defending itself from dictatorial neighbors. All that matters to Obama and Clinton is that they got what they wanted and once again showed that they prefer thugs and tyrants to genuine democrats. Israel versus the Palestinians, Iran’s mullahs versus Iran’s people, Russia versus our Central European allies and Georgia, and now Venezuela versus Honduras. In each case the administration has hugged the enemy and slapped the friend.

The only good in this is that Zelaya is bound by the agreement to honor the election results and that command of the Army is taken away from him. On the other hand, the Obama administration still has three years to go, yet it’s already an embarrassing disgrace.

LINKS: Power Line; Fausta (The best source on Honduras); Ed Morrissey; and Legal Insurrection.

RELATED: That staunch defender of democracy, Senator John “Don’t Question My Patriotism” Kerry wants the Law Library of Congress to retract its report as unhelpful. In return, the Law Library has told Kerry to drop dead.

UPDATE: Reader Karateka has posted a darkly funny (and sadly accurate) political cartoon at his blog, Innovation and Politics.


Coup in Honduras, and our flaccid foreign policy

June 28, 2009

This morning the Honduran military arrested the country’s president and sent him into exile in Costa Rica. While most reports are describing this as a coup d’etat, Honduras’ largest newspaper, La Prensa, claims that President Zelaya was removed from office under order from the country’s Supreme Court:

An official statement of the Supreme Court of Justice explained that the Armed Forces acted under lawful grounds when detaining the President of the Republic, and by decommissioning the
materials to be used on the illegal poll which aimed to bring forth Executive Power against a judicial order.

Other sources verified that the president of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, will assume the presidency of the republic in a few hours.

Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was detained this morning by the military in compliance with an order of the courts of law.

(translation by Fausta Wertz)

The most up-to-date coverage can be found in this post by Fausta, and I refer the reader there. Plenty of good links to follow.

My concern is with the United States’ response:

WASHINGTON — U.S. diplomats are working to ensure the safety of
deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and his family as they press
for restoration of constitutional law and his presidency.

President Barack Obama called Sunday for “all political and social
actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the
tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter” as the Central
American crisis unfolded.


For those conditions to be met, Zelaya must be returned to power, U.S. officials said.

Secretary of State Clinton also jumped in:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the action taken against Honduras’ president should be condemned by everyone.


She says Honduras must embrace the principles of democracy and respect constitutional order.

Two things I’ll point out about this:

First, how is it that it took days for the Administration to strongly condemn the theft of an election and subsequent massacres in Iran, yet the removal at the request of the legally constituted courts and legislature of a president allied to one of our enemies and who was trying to emulate his ally by becoming  populist dictator is worthy of immediate condemnation? Why do President Barack Obama and his State Department seemingly coddle dictators while giving constitutionalists the cold shoulder?

Second, do the Administration and State know the situation in Honduras? Even cursory research indicates a situation more complicated than it first appears. Zelaya is allied to Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the former a current enemy of us and the latter an old foe. He was violating the constitution and defying a court order by trying to hold a referendum seeking approval for extending his term, something prohibited by the constitution. Latin American constitutions often give the military the role of “defender of the constitution” (add irony as needed), and it’s quite possible, given the support and direction provided by the legislature and the court, that the military acted not to sieze power, but to prevent a seizure of power by the president. In other words, it may have been an act in defense of constitutional order and the rule of law. It may also not have been, but we should be aware of the subtleties here.

Is Washington aware of this? Did they consult with the embassy in Tegucigalpa before rushing to the microphones? (Again, if they could wait for days on Iran because they didn’t want to meddle, why the rush to meddle now?) Somehow I doubt it. Both statements look like variations on boilerplate used by the government for decades.

It’s been argued that Obama is simply more comfortable with, and therefore more solicitous toward, anti-American dictators than with genuine democrats, which explains his various moves. His background makes him open to thuggery. Perhaps, but it’s also possible that what we’re seeing are the spastic reactions of a foreign policy tyro, a naif who really doesn’t know what he’s doing, being far more interested in domestic affairs and having only the most superficial knowledge of the world beyond our borders. Both are possible, and both are in their way very disquieting.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey thinks this is another indication Obama’s priorities are out of step with the rule of law.


Axis of Evil watch

May 26, 2009

Are Venezuela and Bolivia providing Iran with uranium for its nuclear-weapons program?

 


Bad news for Venezuelan thugs and jihadi sponsors

January 20, 2009

Oil drops below $34 per barrel. Sucks to be you, losers. Phbbbttt

 


Venezuela needs regime change

January 16, 2009

And the call comes from a Democrat. Surprise

I may have to buy the book.

 


Mexico mayhem, Caracas crack up?

January 15, 2009

Two Latin American nations are in the news today, but not for reasons they’re happy with.

The first, Mexico, was the subject of a report by the US Joint Forces Command warning that the Mexican state could collapse under the pressure being put on it by the country’s drug lords:

Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.

The command’s "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."

(The full report is available here.)

Being compared to Pakistan, a basket-case nation and terrorist haven on the verge of collapse due to pressure from Islamist rebels, cannot please our friends in Mexico City, but the facts there are grim: the city of Juarez has been ripped by violence, suffering 35 murders since the new year — an average of 2-3 killings per day. The situation there is so bad that the Mexican government has had to send an additional 2,000 troops to restore order. Lest you think "so what," bear in mind that Juarez lies just over the border from El Paso, Texas.

Corruption is endemic in Mexico, and Ed Morrissey notes that it has spread deeply into the government and security forces — many in the army and police are in the pay of the drug cartels. The problem is apparently so bad that planners in the US worry about a sudden collapse of the Mexican state. It sounds ludicrous, to be sure, but Fausta reports that Mexicans of her acquaintance…

…don’t rule out the need for an invasion from the US military within the next five to ten years. Considering how territorial Mexicans can be, that is an astonishing statement on their parts.

We’ve had the benefit of a relatively un-militarized border with Mexico ever since we defeated the country in war 160 years ago. In fact, the porous, thinly guarded border has provided benefits to both countries: for example, as a safety valve for Mexico, through which to send people who can’t find work at home, and a source of cheap labor in the US. The transformation of Mexico into a failed state would require a far greater security presence along our border, create economic troubles for both sides, and raise the possibility of US military intervention. Ironic, since we’re nearing the centennial of the last US intervention in Mexico, which happened under President Woodrow Wilson.

President-elect Obama ran for office promising to get tough with Pakistan; he may well find himself facing a foreign crisis much closer to home.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez has so ravaged his country’s oil industry with his incompetence that he has had to do the unthinkable: open his oil fields to bids for exploration rights from the hated Western oil companies. And, having driven off anyone in Venezuela who actually knew something about running an oil business, the coca-paste caudillo has had to turn to foreigners to actually run his oil business, including that bete-noire of the Left, Halliburton.

Dick Cheney’s master plan has worked. Cool

I have a hard time imagining Chavez getting good terms from the oil companies: Venezuelan crude is harder to refine than other crude oils, thus it commands a lower price on the world market. With the price of oil futures tumbling to around $35 per barrel today, Venezuelan crude brings in even less money. And don’t forget that these companies have no love for Chavez, since he nationalized their holdings within the last year.

Somehow, I don’t expect Royal Dutch Shell to offer Caracas a sweetheart deal for its sour crude.

The collapse of oil prices raises all sorts of problems for Chavez. Like the boor who’s tolerated at society parties because he’s wealthy, Chavez has made all sorts of friends and allies in Latin America because he’s had the cash to spend like a drunken sailor at a brothel on payday. He’s also been popular with the poor in his own country on account of the money he’s spent to subsidize prices for staples and other consumer goods.

I wonder how many friends he’ll have when he next opens his wallet and a moth flutters out?

And, while I laugh at that thug Chavez, chaos in Mexico and Venezuela would not be good for us, especially in a time of economic weakness. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that PEBO appoints good people to the Latin American desks in his government.

Not that I expect him to, but one can always hope.

 


Kristallnacht in Caracas?

January 8, 2009

In November, 1938, the German government unleashed a reign of terror against the nation’s Jews. Thousands of businesses and synagogues were sacked and looted, and tens of thousands of Jews were placed in concentration camps, a vivid foreshadowing of what was to come just a few years later.

Now disturbing hints are coming of a possible anti-Jewish pogrom in Venezuela. The country’s coca paste-eating dictator, Hugo Chavez, is himself an anti-Semite and is heavily influenced by an Argentine Holocaust-denier named Norberto Ceresole. Chavez is allied with the fiercely anti-Semitic Iranian regime, which has regularly threatened Israel with nuclear devastation and sees itself as an agent of the Islamic End Times. Israel is currently at war with Iranian cats-paw Hamas, and Iran, which has a tendency to strike at Jews worldwide, might encourage Hugo to give in to his inner Jew-hater. Or perhaps the coca-addled thug might do it himself, thinking to please his new patrons in Tehran.

Regardless, it’s clear that Venezuela’s Jews live in a precarious situation, and one can only hope that, if it did come to pass, we wouldn’t stand on the sideline.

(hat tip: Kathy Shaidle via Twitter)

 


Every recession has silver lining

November 14, 2008

And, in this case, it’s the crash of oil prices due to falling demand:

U.S. crude oil futures rose more than $1 after Thursday’s settlement, extending the day’s earlier gain which was tied to a late stock rally on Wall Street.

December crude was up as much as $1.26, hitting $59.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Globex trading platform, after settling earlier at $58.24 a barrel, up $2.08 from Wednesday’s finish.

That’s up from about $55 on Wednesday, which is down about two-thirds from its high last July of around $147. While that’s given relief to Americans at the pump (I never thought I’d be grateful to see gas at "just" $2.89), it spells trouble for three of the world’s troublemakers: Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.

Each has depended on the high price of oil to fuel their ambitions. Russia needs a high price to make it worthwhile to drill for hard-to-extract Siberian oil and keep Kremlin accounts in the black while funding their newly aggressive foreign policy. Moscow simply has no other revenue earners that anyone wants, besides weapons, and those keep getting embarrassed every so often in confrontations with US military tech. Without oil revenues, Putin is in pain. If this keeps up, expect him to play more nicely with the EU over natural gas deliveries, which the Central and West Europeans depend on to heat their buildings in the winter. In the past, Putin has used winter gas cutoffs to strongarm the EU, but now he’ll need the money from those sales more than ever.

Iran needs high oil revenues for several reasons, the most basic of which is their need to purchase refined fuel from other sources, since Iran has almost no refining capacity of its own — a major oil producer, it has to buy its gasoline from the outside world. The state already subsidizes the price of gas there, and declining revenues from oil sales will force them to make painful choices between further angering their already restive population or cutting funds for their precious "secret" nuclear program. Iranian economic mismanagement has been so bad that any further drop in oil prices may throw them into a crisis.

If anything, Venezuela’s economic management has been worse. The state oil company is hemorrhaging cash, and, when prices drop, Venezuelan crude becomes much less cost-effective to refine. President Chavez has depended on that revenue to supply funds and bribes to allies around Latin America (and probably to pay for the coca paste he gets from Bolivian President Morales), subsidize consumer goods, and pay for all the fancy weapons he’s been buying from the now cash-strapped Russians. If he can’t do that any longer, he may soon find himself without friends and violently out of a job.

Darn.

Now, it would be nice to think President-elect Obama will take advantage of this when he assumes office next year, both to advance American interests and to pay down our debt, but I don’t hold out much Hope he will.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey and Fausta.