Category ►►► Southern Exposure

January 14, 2013

Gun Defense: Worldwide, Police Are Not Always Your Friends

Gun Rights and Occasional Wrongs , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Sachi

During the recent and ongoing gun control debate, I've heard many people ask, "Wy does an average civilian need an assault weapon?"

I have a fundamental problem with this line of question: Why should we have to prove a "need" to demand our fundamental rights, or any one of them, which are guaranteed by, but predate the United States Constitution? But even with that caveat, here is a beautiful example of why we civilians do need access to so-called assault weapons.

For more than a decade, drug cartels and criminals have actually controlled a large part of the Mexican state of Guerrero (the state which contains the resort city of Acapulco); they have extorted, kidnapped, raped, and killed many thousands of people, as the government helplessly looked on. The police, the national guard, the Mexican marines are no help: They're outnumbered and outgunned, and they are corrupted by the very evil they're supposed to fight.

Fed up with the years of violence, townspeople in several Guerrero cities finally took up arms and made a stand:

Several hundred civilians have taken up arms in two towns in a southwestern Mexico state and are arresting people suspected of crimes and imposing a curfew, leading authorities to promise to reinforce security forces in the area....

People in the area said about 800 residents were participating in the armed groups acting as unofficial police. The vigilantes ordered a 10 p.m. curfew for the two towns and are looking for suspected criminals. Schools have suspended classes....

A man in a ski mask at one roadblock told reporters that townspeople had to act against criminals.

"They kill, extort, rape. You do not know if they are drug dealers, thugs, who want to grab everything," he said. "We want to return peace and tranquility to the entire population. Only the people can restore order." [Emphasis added -- SY]

Although more corrupt than the United States or Canada, Mexico is nevertheless a democratic country. Compared to other coutries under Communism, socialism, or other dictatorial regimes, it is relatively civilized. And they have much stricter gun control laws than any state of the United States. And yet, the law has not, cannot protect them. People are suffering from the extreme violence of organized criminals, drug lords, revolutionaries, and terrorists, despite living where the entire country is legally a "gun-free zone."

The anti-gun radicals in America may dismiss Mexico as "totally different" from the U.S.: Our police are more effective, our government is still under our control. But take a long look at Chicago, whose murder rate, at 19.4 per 100,000 is actually worse than Mexico's murder rate of 18 per 100,000.

In most firearm killings in Chicago, including of many minors, the criminal's weapon of choice is a hundgun. So why does a gun-control fanatic such as Pierce Morgan talk only about banning assault weapons, which are rarely used in crime and the primary purpose of which is not murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping, or even (despite its name) assault, but to defend against a large number of assailants -- as during the L.A. riots of 1992?

It's hard to resist concluding that Mr. Morgan is less interested in preventing the deaths of children and young adults in ordinary violent crimes in Chicago, and much more anxious to prevent the sort of self-defense uprisings, against a corrupt and compromised government, that we're now seeing in Guerrero.

I think the curtain concealing Mr. Morgan's statism is slipping.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, January 14, 2013, at the time of 7:37 PM | Comments (2)

December 27, 2010

The Turn of a Fiendly Card

Military Machinations , Psychedelic Syllogisms , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

The dangerous flip-side of an independent military

There's a war on down south; south of the Rio Grande, I mean.

As most are aware, the drug cartels in Juarez and other Mexican states have become almost as big a problem in Mexico as they were in Colombia. The government is fighting against well-entrenched, heavily armed, deep-pockets banditos, and Mexican soldiers are fighting this "police action" as an all-out, even existential war.

Unfortunately, they're also accused of killing innocent bystanders, then planting evidence to make them look like narcoterrorists:

[American murder victim Joseph Proctor's] mother, Donna Proctor, devastated and incredulous, has been fighting through Mexico's secretive military justice system ever since to learn what really happened on the night of Aug. 22.

It took weeks of pressuring U.S. diplomats and congressmen for help, but she finally got an answer, which she shared with The Associated Press.

Three soldiers have been charged with killing her son. Two have been charged with planting the assault rifle in his hands and claiming falsely that he fired first, according to a Mexican Defense Department document sent to her through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

It is at least the third case this year in which soldiers, locked in a brutal battle with drug cartels, have been accused of killing innocent civilians and faking evidence in cover-ups.

I think it fairly can be said that Mexican President Felipe Calderon is fighting an existential war against the drug-runners... but does that mean that "anything goes," a tarjeta blanco for the military? Is it acceptable, in the name of fighting such brutal and depraved evil, to protect Mexican soldiers -- who are functioning as domestic law-enforcement agents -- from the consequences of their own sloppy investigations and hair-trigger reactions, to the point of falsely painting innocent victims of overzealous police executions as criminals?

A good case can be made that we in the United States have gone too far in allowing civilian judicial interference in the war against radical Islamism (WARI); but I think it equally clear that Mexico has gone too far in the opposite direction; they're flirting frighteningly with out and out military dictatorship.

When Mexican soldiers are found to be tampering with evidence, or are reasonably accused of such by the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico, the trials are held in secrecy; even the rest of the Mexican government can get virtually no information about the case. Thus when the military acquits its own soldiers of abuse, assault, or murder, it's hard to imagine anyone taking the "verdict" seriously:

Such scandals are driving calls for civilian investigators to take over cases that are almost exclusively handled by military prosecutors and judges who rarely convict one of their own....

President Felipe Calderon has proposed a bill that would require civilian investigations in all torture, disappearance and rape cases against the military. But other abuses, including homicides committed by on-duty soldiers, would mostly remain under military jurisdiction. That would include the Proctor case and two others this year in which soldiers were accused of even more elaborate cover-ups....

The military justice system operates in near total secrecy, choosing what to publicly reveal and when.

What disturbs me most about the example of our nearest neighbor to the south is that I myself have argued against civilian federal courts having jurisdiction over purely military matters, including the holding of POWs and the treatment of unlawful enemy combatants; I have condemned the two Supreme Court cases, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006) and Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), that essentially gave full civilian defendant rights to captured terrorists. But the Mexican war against the cartels demonstrates the horrific dark side of allowing the military to proceed unchecked, unmonitored, and unaccountable.

I believe our own situation is very different from the Central American example for several reasons:

The Mexican army is operating as a domestic law-enforcement agency, arresting, prosecuting, and engaging in summary executions of Mexican citizens suspected of committing crimes.

It is not engaging in "purely military matters."

Our own military is forbidden from acting as police under the states' general police authority by two legislative acts of 203 years and 132 years standing: The Insurrection Act of 1807 and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prevent any use of the military to conduct ordinary police activities within the United States, except during times of actual insurrection, rebellion, or martial law.

But even if the president declared martial law in some section of the United States, that still does not give the military authority to act in secret, to shield its activities from the (civilian) governmental branches of Congress, the administration, and the courts, or to quash criminal or civil cases alleging banditry, abuse, assault, or criminal homicide by military personnel... which appears to be exactly what the Mexican army is doing.

The Mexican civil authorities appear to be powerless against the army, which smells suspiciously like military rule.

The United States, by contrast with our southern neighbor, has a wealth of civilian authorities which can investigate members of the military -- and are themselves armed, granted jurisdiction over crimes committed by the military, given subpoena power, and with the authority to imprison or even execute military officials who are convicted of abuse of authority or other serious felonies, even if the military services in question oppose the prosecution.

First, there is the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense; the DoD IG is appointed by the President of the United States and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, civilians all. But in addition, each branch of the service has a criminal investigations divison; and each CID employs many civilian investigators and agents, along with military personnel:

  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps
  • United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) for the U.S. Army
  • Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) for the U.S. Air Force
  • Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) for the U.S. Coast Guard

Our Founding Fathers were greatly worried about even the existence of a standing Army; they certainly insisted that the entire military be under civilian command, which is why the Constitution specifies that the President, an elected civilian official, be the supreme Commander in Chief. And we have seen a number of occasions where the President has indeed exercised his authority against the wishes of the military -- for example, when President Harry S. Truman fired five-star Gen. Douglas Arthur MacArthur for insubordination during the Korean War.

[I originally wrote "four-star" above; but MacArthur was appointed General of the Army in December 1944, and the uniform at that time specified five stars. I don't believe anyone in the American military forces has been authorized to wear five stars since Gen. Omar Bradley in 1950, but I'm not a military historian, so don't take my word for it. Thanks to commenter DK for the correction.]

Mexico has a history of its military seizing power from civilian leaders, for good or for ill.

The United States has never been ruled by a military dictator, but Mexico has had several -- for example, Field Marshal Anastasio Bustamante, Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, and Gen. Porfirio Díaz, whose last electoral fraud triggered the 1910 Mexican Revolution. It is far more likely that the Mexican generals would seize control from President Calderon than that our own military would execute a coup d'état against Barack H. Obama.

Think a second time... then a third.

Even so, it's well to bear in mind that we set up a system of civilian control of the military for a reason... and we should think many times before advocating, e.g., that the President declare that the civilian courts have no jurisdiction over the military's machinations.

Still, that does not mean that it's inconceivable that, after such thinking, we still reject judicial interference in what really are -- in our case, not Mexico's -- purely military matters. As it happens, even after pondering the current situation south of the Rio Grande, I have not changed my mind about the unAmerican, unconstitutional ruling of the Court in Hamdan and Boumediene.

It's always good to reevaluate one's conclusions in light of new facts; but to reevaluate means to reconsider... it's not a synonym for "to reject." Even upon further consideration, I stand on my previous opposition to Hamdan and Boumediene, the Mexican experience notwithstanding.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 27, 2010, at the time of 11:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 2, 2010

Chavez Charade: Simple Solution Unsolved

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

A quick quote, then simple syllogism:

Venezuela's government has seized control of 11 oil rigs owned by U.S. driller Helmerich & Payne, which shut them down because the state oil company was behind on payments.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez announced that Venezuela would nationalize the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company's rigs. He said in a statement Wednesday that Helmerich & Payne had rejected government demands to resume drilling operations for more than a year.

Helmerich & Payne announced in January 2009 that it was stopping operations on two of its drilling rigs, because Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA, owed the company close to $100 million. It said it would shut down the rest of its rigs by the end of July as contracts expired unless PDVSA began to make good on its debts.

That's the set-up; now the pay-off:

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he hopes Helmerich & Payne is compensated and suggested the takeover and other recent nationalizations are scaring off private investment in Venezuela.

"We would just call on them, if they did make such a move, to compensate the owners of those wells," Toner said. [Pretty please? Sugarcane on top? --DaH] "This is the latest in such an instance where international investors, their investments are being nationalized by the government of Venezuela. It doesn't speak or bode well for the investment climate there."

That's it? That's the sum total of the Obamic Statist Department's response to a foreign prince seizing the private property of an American company?

I have but a single question: How much money does Venezuela have socked away in Western banks based in friendly nations? Or in American banks, for that matter.

Given that Venezuela's President Oogo Chavez is BFF with an Iranian chap named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with active military cooperation between the two nations, is it really too much of a stretch to the imagination to suggest that there is a ready-made source of compensation for Helmerich & Payne, and any other company which has seen its assets "nationalized" (stolen) by the Venezuelan Kleptocracy... a money source that should spring immediately to mind at the State Department?

'Nuff said.

Oh well. Perhaps the problem is that the Barack H. Obama administration doesn't recognize private property in the first place; and in the second place, is loathe to raise any sticky questions about the nationalization of private capital.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 2, 2010, at the time of 2:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 10, 2010

Border Petrol

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Two recent killings of Mexicans by American Border-Patrol agents have roiled the relationship between Mexico and the United States. The first occurred on May 28th, when illegal immigrant Anastasio Hernandez began fighting with U.S. Border Patrol agents; one of the agents used a stun gun on Hernandez, and the 42 year old man -- who had illegally resided here and migrated back and forth across the border for 28 years -- died from the electrical discharge.

Then on Monday, a 14 or 15 year old "youth," Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka, illegally attempted to enter the United States. When the Border Patrol arrived, Huereka fled back across the border -- whence he began pelting the agents on the American side with rocks, attempting to prevent them from arresting other illegals who were still north of the Rio Grande. When Huereka ignored several orders to stop throwing rocks, an agent returned fire, fatally shooting the youth.

The shooting drew Mexican soldiers to the scene. In apparent retaliation, they pointed their rifles at the agents on the American side of the Rio Grande, threatening to kill them; the agents were forced to withdraw.

The Mexican government claims Huereka was killed on the Mexican side by a Border-Patrol agent who crossed the dry Rio Grande to murder the boy, driven by "racism" inculcated by passage of the Arizona illegal-immigration law:

Chihuahua state Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza blamed the two killings on racism fueled by Arizona's law.

"We believe that this killing, the second in recent days in the border between the two countries, is due to xenophobia and racism, derived from the approval of Arizona's anti-immigration law," Reyes said.

The evidence cited by Mexico in support of the claim that the agent crossed into Mexico to kill Huereka is a .40 calliber shell casing, which Mexican officials claim was found on the south side of the river. But videotape taken by the Border Patrol (and a copy given to Mexican authorities) appears to show that the agent never crossed into Mexico... and also apparently shows Mexican soldiers crossing to the American side, picking something up -- a shell casing, perhaps? -- then returning to Mexico:

A U.S. official close to the investigation told the AP that authorities have a video showing that the Border Patrol agent did not cross into Mexico. In fact, the official said, the video shows what appear to be members of Mexican law enforcement crossing onto the U.S. side, picking something up and returning to Mexico. The official was not cleared to speak about the video and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The agents said they acted in self-defense, shooting at the rock throwers; assaults by Mexican nationals on U.S. Border Patrol agents rose dramatically over the past seven months. But Mexican authorities "ridicule" that defense:

T.J. Bonner, president of the union representing Border Patrol agents, said rock throwing aimed at Border Patrol agents is common and capable of causing serious injury.

"It is a deadly force encounter, one that justifies the use of deadly force," Bonner said.

Mexicans ridiculed that stance.

"Let's say that Anastasio and Sergio Adrian attacked the border agents, one with his fists and the other with rocks," columnist Manuel Jauregui wrote in the newspaper Reforma. "Does that mean that killing them was the only valid option?"

Mexican officials deny that throwing stones constitutes assault with a deadly weapon; try telling that to teenaged girls who have the misfortune to be caught on unauthorized dates in Saudi Arabia, or whose Moslem fathers think they have dishonored the family in some obscure fashion.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 10, 2010, at the time of 4:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 4, 2010

Mexico Opens Faux ID Supermarket in California, Claims Sanctuary in Church

Immigration Immolations , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

No, this is not a rib.

It appears that the Mexican government opened a storefront in the resort island of Catalina -- as in "twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me" -- where they have been distributing "matricular consular identification cards" to Mexican nationals illegally in California:

The Mexican consular office in Los Angeles issued a flier, a copy of which was obtained by The Examiner, listing the Catalina Island Country Club as the location of its satellite office. It invites Mexicans to visit the office to obtain the identification, called matricular cards, by appointment.

What the heck is a matricular consular identification card? I'll let Sara A. Carter of the Washington Examiner explain:

The matricular consular identification card, is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals residing outside the country, regardless of immigration status. The purpose is to provide identification for opening bank accounts and obtaining other services. But the cards are usually used to skirt U.S. immigration laws, since Mexicans in the country legally have documents proving that status, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

In 2004 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI officials called the card an unreliable form of identification. The agency said that Mexico lacks a centralized database for them, which could lead to forgery, duplication, and other forms of abuse.

Since Catalina Island is technically still part of California (we tried but failed to give it away to Aruba), there is ordinarily no border security or checkpoint or search or ID check when one travels there; if the passenger doesn't want to produce ID for a plane flight, he can fly there in his own plane or ask a friend to fly him. He can take a ferry, or a pleasant glass-bottomed boat ride. For that matter, he can sail his own sailboat, motor his own motorboat, or swim. It's a resort island, easy to travel to.

I seem to have drifted from my point, which is that any Mexican illegal immigrant can motivate himself to Catalina, head to the Catalina Island Country Club, and get what looks like a legal, legitimate resident's ID... but is in fact worth exactly nothing, as Mexico has no serious controls over who gets them, or how many duplicates of each card exist in the hands of other people -- including drug smugglers and potential terrorists.

For that matter, since there is no internal Border Patrol traveling from one American state to another, any illegal anywhere in the U.S. can drive to California (carefully skirting the Grand Canyon state), ferry to Catalina, and get his "ID card."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apparantly wanted to shut down this Mexican-government operation; however, Mexico has requested that it forbear:

Officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said their agency was asked by Mexican officials not to enforce U.S. immigration laws on the island while the cards were being issued.

"It amazes me every time that the Mexican government has the gall to tell us what to do," said an ICE official, who asked not to be named. "More surprisingly is how many times we stand by and let them. This is just an example of one of hundreds of requests we've had to deal with."

But in a late-breaking addendum, Mexico appears to be nervous about its chances; so it has shifted the location of the fraudulent ID handout operation away from the Catalina Island Country Club... into St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, also on Catalina.

It appears that Mexico lied to the country club, telling the club that it only wanted to set-up a "multi-cultural celebration;" when the country-club management discovered it was an ID shop instead, it rejected Mexico's request. But now, having shifted operations to a church, Mexico is trying to rely upon the same anti-border-enforcement "movement" that has led many cities in the United States to declare themselves "sanctuary cities" and order their police forces not to cooperate with ICE:

Mexican government officials have moved their satellite consular office from the Catalina Island Country Club to a Catholic Church -- citing protection under the Vienna Convention [the what?] -- after it was discovered that they did not have the appropriate paperwork to issue the island’s illegal immigrants identification cards.

I have no idea what "Vienna Convention" Ms. Carter means; I contacted her, but she did not respond by the time this post went to phosphor. So far as I know, there is no convention to which we are signatories that allows issuance of fraudulent IDs to illegal immigrants, so long as it's done on church property. (I have no way of knowing if Carter accurately reported what the government of Mexico argued; I wish she had responded.)

But I find the entire situation illuminating, to say the least. Mexico President Felipe Calderón just returned from the United States, where he chastised America for allowing Arizona to pass a law enforcing existing immigration law. In fact, California's own very, very moderate Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has grown in office (or perhaps in marriage), made it clear he likewise opposes Arizona's immigration law; and of course, several cities in California, including the enormity of Los Angeles, have voted to "boycott" Arizona, whatever that means.

Mexico cheerfully displayed its gratitude for such support: It picked the Golden State for its newest fake-ID boiler-room operation. With friends like these, who needs enemas?

As most of you know (and are infuriated by), I completely support comprehensive immigration reform... though I add the bizarre twist that it should include actual reform of the legal immigration system. I believe that a huge percent of illegals are only illegal because our system is arbitrary, unpredictable, and unjust.

But that does not compel me to support illegal immigration -- or "migration," as Mexico chillingly calls it, bringing to mind the mass movements of entire populations. Nor does my support for reform of legal immigration lead to support for a foreign government deliberately and with malice aforethought aiding and abetting the use of fraudulent IDs (even "matricular consular identification cards") to facilitate illegals hiding in the United States -- and even making it easier to obtain government subsidies and handouts, whether from hick towns too dumb to realize matricular cards are not actually valid IDs, or from putative "sanctuary cities" who know exactly what they're doing: conspiring with a foreign power to commit a felony against the United States.

ICE should round up some Israeli commandos and paintball guns and launch an immediate raid on the fake-ID supermarket, even if that means having to batter their way into a Catholic church. Or a mosque, if that's the next spot Mr. Calderón picks for his ongoing RICO operation.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2010, at the time of 11:35 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 2, 2009

Join the Senate and Don't See the World

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

From the very day (June 28th, 2009) that José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales was impeached and removed from office by the Honduran supreme court and arrested by the military -- the organization tasked with removing presidents under the Honduran constitution -- the Barack H. Obama administration cast their lot with the so-called "Bolivarist." Zelaya was impeached, arrested for treason, and exiled to Costa Rica.

Like many who claim the appellation "Bolivarist," Zelaya is actually a Chavezista. Far from being a liberator from foreign domination, like Simón Bolívar, Zelaya is a pure fascist, just like his old pal (and Obama's), Oogo Chavez. (Chavez gave Obama a copy of his own book as a present; I wonder if the One is still poring over it, highlighting relevant passages and adding triple exclamation points?)

The Obamatons, aided and abetted by the congressional Democrats, insist that Zelaya was removed by a coup d'état, which is a military takeover of the civilian government; as such, they have cut off all sorts of financial aid and have leaned heavily on de-facto President Roberto Micheletti to resign and somehow reinstate the would-be dictator-for-life Zelaya. This would allow Z-Mel to continue his quest to become the Oogo of Honduras, regardless of any crybaby objections by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Honduras government.

(Micheletti is a civilian and happens to be of the same political party of Zelaya himself. Some coup! Perhaps the Honduran "coup-mongers" need to reread Edward Luttwak's operations manual on the subject.)

But this is all prologue for a different point. Anybody who travels to Honduras and honestly investigates the current situation will see that there is no military dictatorship, hence no "coup d'état." Honduras has an elected civilian government, a functioning supreme court, and it's headed for presidential elections next month. One would think that before our own Congress acts to overturn this putative "coup," they would at least send a few people there to check things out.

One would be wrong. I don't know of any congressional delegation that has journeyed to that nation to check on the claims made by Obama or his Number Two, Hillary Clinton. But of course, if a senator is unwilling even to read a bill prior to voting for it, it's ridiculous to expect him actually to look at on-site evidence before making up his mind about events in a foreign country.

But in fact, a very good senator, Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%), wants to do just that: fly down to Honduras with three Republican representatives -- Doug Lamborn (CO, 100%), Peter Roskam (IL, 96%), and Aaron Schock (IL, not yet rated) -- on a fact-finding tour.

DeMint is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which has oversight over President Obama's foreign policy... including, of course, the president's attempt to withhold funding to Honduras -- in the hope, one can only presume, that Honduras will use its military to overturn its entire civilian government. (Say, isn't that just what the One accused Honduras of doing in the first place?) Since the committee might be voting on the issue, it makes some prima facie sense for members of that committee to take a look-see for themselves.

But the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee is none other than our ancient enemy, Sen. JFK (D-MA, 95%); Kerry is angry at DeMint for holding up confirmation hearings on a couple of Obamic appointees; DeMint wants an impartial investigation of the Honduras brouhaha before he'll cooperate on confirmation hearings -- a time-honored position most recently employed by, let's see if I can recall, by the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate during the Bush administration. I seem to recall quite a lot of blocked appointments; evidently, it's not such an outre maneuver, as far as Democrats should be concerned.

But it seems to have infuriated Sen. Kerry, for he canceled all funding of DeMint's trip and even ordered our armed forces not to fly DeMint to Honduras:

A simmering feud over U.S. policy toward Latin America burst into the open Thursday when Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) tried to prevent a fact-finding trip to Honduras by a Republican senator who is blocking two important diplomatic appointments....

As head of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry can withhold committee funds for travel and deny permission for the use of military aircraft. But he had never before used that power to block another senator's travel, his aides said.

Kerry makes no bones that he's abusing his authority in order to extort DeMint into lifting his hold:

"These bullying tactics by the Obama administration and Senator Kerry must stop, and we must be allowed to get to the truth in Honduras," DeMint said in a statement. His spokesman, Wesley Denton, called Kerry's action "unprecedented."

Kerry fired back in a news release: "Senator DeMint's statement wins an A for 'audacity.' Thanks to his intransigence, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can't even hold hearings on our policy in Central and South America."

The statement, issued by Kerry's spokesman, Frederick Jones, added that when DeMint allows a vote on the appointment of the two diplomats, "the Committee will approve his travel to Honduras."

Kerry did not explain how blocking two executive appointments would prevent his committee from "hold[ing] hearings on our policy in Central and South America." It would seem the senior senator from Massachusetts could hold hearings anytime he chose.

Perhaps what JFK really means is that DeMint's refusal to rubber-stamp the Obamacle's oracular decree (that the legal impeachment of a president is the same thing as a coup d'état) threatens to force the committee actually to examine the issue, when all they really want to do is applaud the president and MoveOn.

This is turning into a huge and unexpectedly rancorous argument:

The administration, along with all other governments in the hemisphere, branded the action a "coup." It also cut off millions of dollars in aid and suspended the U.S. visas of Honduran officials....

DeMint and a handful of other conservative Republicans have said Zelaya's removal was legal because he had violated a constitutional ban by trying to extend his presidential term. They have protested that the Obama administration is supporting a politician with close ties to Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez.

By "a handful of other conservative Republicans," the Post means to include, without note, a certain fellow named Miguel Estrada. Estrada was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court -- his appointment was blocked by Democrats, who didn't want a conservative Hispanic on that court, whence he might rise to become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court; thus he never got an up-or-down vote -- say, there seems to be a lot of that going around!

Prior to his nomination, Miguel Estrada was an Assistant to the Solicitor General during the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is also a Honduran immigrant, born in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

He published an excellent legal analysis of Zelaya's removal in the Los Angeles Times, of all places; we covered it, of course; see "The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor," linked below. (The "traveling traitor" in question is Zelaya, not Estrada.) Estrada concluded:

As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.

It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement.

But Miguel Estrada is just part of that rag-tag gaggle of conservative carpers against hopey-changitude.

Finally, Jim DeMint appealed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%); McConnell pulled some strings and got DeMint his Air Force plane. Thus was the Kerry gambit thwarted.

But this begs the question: What the heck is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee doing, preventing a member from traveling to a political hot spot on a fact-finding mission, about an issue that is certain to come up before the committee, if it's not there already?

Remember this arrogant attempt by John Kerry well: When minority members of the United States Senate are prevented from traveling to see the world -- when seeing the world might turn them against the policy of the majority -- that's just part of the "hope and change" and the "new era" of "civility" and "post-partisanship" that President Obama has promised us.

Seeing as it's not unlikely that the Democrats will find themselves in the minority in either 2011 or 2013, it's good to bear in mind the new powers that the GOP may soon enjoy.

Here are the earlier chapters of this continuing soap opera:

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2009, at the time of 6:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 28, 2009

Backyard Barbecue

Iran Matters , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Okay, this is the story:

Venezuela's science and technology minister said his country is working with Russia to detect deposits of uranium but withdrew an earlier denial that the country was also working with Iran....

Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Friday Iran is helping Venezuela to detect uranium deposits and that initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant. His announcement was made the same day world leaders criticized the Islamic republic for secretly building a uranium-enrichment plant that could be used to make an atomic bomb.

Sanz declined to respond to reporters when questioned Saturday about Chacon's remarks. President Hugo Chavez said only that Venezuela "has a lot of uranium."

Oogo + Putin + Ahmadinejad, all cozying up in our own backyard. What could possibly go wrong?

Asked about how Venezuela will use its uranium reserves, Chacon said that they would be exploited to develop "nuclear energy for medicinal purposes, for peaceful purposes."

Huh, there's that dad-burned déjà vu feeling again.

Asked about how Venezuela will use its uranium reserves, Chacon said that they would be exploited to develop "nuclear energy for medicinal purposes, for peaceful purposes."

Huh, there's that dad-burned déjà vu feeling again.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly has said U.S. officials have "concerns" about the possible exchange of nuclear material between Venezuela and Iran. But analysts say Iran, which has its own uranium deposits, doesn't have any immediate need to import the metal.

Ah... am I the only one who thinks that Yahoo News is missing the point here? No danger, Iran's already got plenty of uranium; they don't need to import yellowcake from Venezuela to fuel their nuclear technology.

But has nobody in the Department of Neutralizing Hillary thought that maybe, just maybe, the arrow of causality is pointing in the opposite direction? That rather than Venezuela exporting uranium to Iran, Iran and Russia might be interested in exporting nuclear technology to Venezuela, to exploit Oogo's already existing stockpiles of nuclear materials? Cargo ships do travel both directions across the Atlantic, to the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, to the Arabian Sea, around Yemen and Oman, and into the Persian Gulf.

Of course, none dare suggest that the next time there is a serious conflict between the goals of an American president and the aspirations of President for Life Oogo Chavez, a nuclear armed Venezuela might threaten to barbecue us. True, we wouldn't have any ballistic-missile defense to protect us; but if he ever tried such a thing, then after some American city was incinerated, we could retaliate and really hurt Venezuela right back!

Fortunately, Venezuela doesn't really have the technology to exploit its own uranium and thorium reserves. Yet. They wouldn't be able to develop it for years and years. Venezuela is just too backwards a country. Unless, I don't know, they got help or something.

Chavez's project remains in its planning stages and still faces a host of practical hurdles, likely requiring billions of dollars, as well as technology and expertise that Venezuela lacks.

Russia has offered to help bridge that gap, but Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom, has said there are no concrete projects and that any joint mining of uranium or the radioactive metal thorium is still a long way off.

Any joint mining or transfer of nuclear technology is a long way off. So what could possibly go wrong?

Huh, there's that dad-burned déjà vu feeling again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 28, 2009, at the time of 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Obamic Record-Setting Achievement

Iran Matters , North Korea Nastiness , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In the early days of the presidency of George W. Bush, shortly after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan a month later, Friend Lee and I speculated how many vile "thugocracies" Bush would manage to overthrow, by hook or by crook -- or at least leash -- during his presidency.

The final count was six, as I recall: Afghanistan (under the Taliban) and Iraq (Saddam Hussein) were invaded and dismantled as terrorist states; Libya was cowed further (building on the hide-tanning that Reagan administered after the Lockerbie terrorist bombing); Syria was muzzled; Iran was kept nervous and fairly quiet -- though they actively participated in killing American soldiers and Marines in Iraq, we also seized a number of Qods Force personnel; and North Korea was pretty much stymied, unable to get extortion negotiations off the ground.

Not too shabby for a supposedly "failed" presidency.

Now we have a new president... and I propose a new game: By the end of Barack H. Obama's (single) term in office, how many thug nations will he have un-leashed? That is, appeased, allowed to go nuclear, and/or let alone to threaten, extort, and even "assimilate" (in a Borg sense) Western nations and allies.

I think B.O. already has George W. Bush "beat" hands down -- and hands up, and hands middle. Consider...

  1. Afghanistan: Obama is dragging his heels deciding whether to accede to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's urgent request to switch to a COIN operation there, and his request for a significant troop increase; if Obama fails to approve this plan, McChrystal more or less says we'll lose the war in Afghanistan, and the Taliban will return in force -- along with al-Qaeda.

    (Recall that this is the war all the Democrats have been saying we should be fighting, instead of Iraq, ever since -- well, since 2003.)

    As Power Line's John Hinderaker concludes, "The moral of the story seems pretty clear: when President Obama announces that he doesn't intend to accept General McChrystal's recommendation, we will all understand that this is the prudent course advocated by most knowledgeable military and civilian leaders" (meaning Obama's own political staff, of course).

  2. Costa Rica: See Honduras.
  3. Georgia: See Russia.
  4. Honduras: If the One has his way, Honduras will cease to be a democratic state and will instead become a "Chavezian" despotic dictatorship, run by delusional socialist thug Manuel "Mel" Zelaya. Costa Rica is already trending that way, as are several other Latin American nations. We'll just stick with these two.
  5. Iran: Obama has strongly signaled to the mullahs and President Ahmadinejad that we not only intend to do nothing to stop them getting nuclear weapons capability, we will eagerly seek their input in what to do with Iraq; we will release all Qods Force operatives captured in Iraq under the Bush "regime;" and our president will crawl on his hands and knees, if that is what it takes to get a desperately desired face-to-face meeting, in order for Obama to appear "presidential" before 2012.
  6. Iraq: Obama still wants a quick pull-out, before the country and its fledgling government is secured against a hostile merger by Iran..
  7. Israel: It seems increasingly clear that Obama, swimming in a sea of Jew hatred since he was a young adult, has decisively sided with the Arabs who call themselves "Palestinians" and against the Jews of Israel.

    He is allowing himself to be pushed by his top Middle-East foreign policy advisors -- the antisemites Samantha Power (of the National Security Council) and former President Jimmy Carter (antisemitic qualifications too numerous to enumerate here), along with such "luminaries" as antisemite Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), who "supervised" the Durbin Jew-bashing hatefest in 2001.

    If they have their way, Israel would be pushed into a catastrophic "peace" treaty with Iran-financed Hamas; this could even lead to the destruction of Israel... an event that would be wildly celebrated by a disturbingly large percentage of Democrats, liberals, and members of the Obama administration.

  8. Lebanon: See Syria.
  9. North Korea: Like Iran, Obama is busy sending signals, communiques, and "gestures" that he has accepted the "inevitability" of a nuclear DPRK. I'm sure the denizens of South Korea are ecstatic.
  10. Russia: As the bear surges under Prime Minister (formerly President) Vlad "the Impaler" Putin, Obama has reneged on the the ballistic missile-defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    This signals the Soviet Union Russia that we have lost all interest in defending the hard-fought freedom of those two countries, along with other border countries that were once utterly dominated by the USSR but became free after the collapse of Russian Communism, including Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Khazakhstan, Uzbekistan -- and perhaps even Hungary, eastern Germany, and Finland. In the interests of brevity, let's just call this a serious threat to the two countries that Russia has invaded or blockaded recently: Georgia and Ukraine.

  11. Syria: President Obama has made it clear we will not pursue the persistent claims and stubborn facts that point to Syria being behind the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Such discretion is a green light informing Syrian "king" (in all but formal title) Bashar Assad that he has carte blanche to retake Lebanon.
  12. Ukraine: See Russia.
  13. The United States of America: The economy; energy production; health care; taxes; federal regulatory regimes; rule by "Czar," with no meaningful congressional oversight; permanent taxpayer funding of partisan leftist advocates; nationalization of banking, automobile manufacturing, newspapers; federal control of all executive salaries in the United States; a return of Woodrow Wilson's Sedition Act and the criminalization of dissent -- with the eager cooperation of those who dissented against George Bush.

    'Nuff said.

This coven of cravenness is a rather impressive, even remarkable beginning for a community organizer who has only been in office for eight months and eight days. Keep plugging, man! You may yet eclipse the record set by your idol, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who with the stroke of a pen at Yalta consigned hundreds of millions to the famines, tortures, and gulags of the Evil Empire.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 28, 2009, at the time of 1:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 24, 2009

Meet Manuel Zeloonie-Toons

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Now that erstwhile Honduran President José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales appears to have mentally collapsed into paranoid ravings and hysterical delusion, and his brain has turned to lime Jell-O, how long before he gets to see the undercarriage of the Obamabus?

According to the Miami Herald:

It's been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He's sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries'' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.

"We are being threatened with death,'' he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

Darn Jews... they're everywhere!

Our previous spelunking expeditions into the Twilight Zone of the Obamic Honduran policy are legion:

Zelaya was ousted in what it pleases the One (and his Number Two, Hillary Clinton) to call a "coup d'état"... by which they mean having been properly and legally arrested and removed from office for the crime of treason, which in Honduras includes plotting to alter the national constitution to allow the president to serve indefinitely (President for Life Mel Zelaya, like President for Life Fidel Castro and President for Life Oogo Chavez):

[De facto President Roberto] Micheletti took Zelaya's place after the military, executing a Supreme Court arrest warrant, burst into Zelaya's house and forced him into exile. The country's military, congress, Supreme Court and economic leaders have backed the ouster, arguing that Zelaya was bent on conducting an illegal plebiscite that they feared would ultimately lead to his reelection.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November, and Micheletti -- who is a civilian and of the same political party as the ousted Zelaya -- is not even running (I remember the good old days, when a "coup d'état" meant the coup leaders actually, you know, took over). The United Nations, friends of democracy everywhere, is right on the job:

On Wednesday, the U.N. cut off all technical aid that would have supported and given credibility to that presidential race. Conditions do not exist for credible elections, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Lizardian translation: There is virtually no possibility now that Zelaya, Chavez's "little buddy," will be able to pull off his unfriendly takeover of Honduras and "socialize" it to be more in line with other countries in the region, such as Venezuela (Chavez), Bolivia (Evo Morales), Costa Rica (Oscar Arias), Nicaragua (Sandinista Daniel Ortega), and of course, Cuba (los bros Castro). So what's the point of holding elections, legitimizing some free, democratic, capitalist regime? "That's not the Latin America I know," U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo is saying.

So how long will President Barack H. Obama continue to tie his Latin American policy to a guy who thinks Israelis mercenaries are beaming radiation and hallucinagenic gas into his room at the Brazillian embassy in Honduras? On the plus side, as I wrote last time:

The radical Left's bottom line is clear: Zelaya must be returned to full dictatorial control; no matter how he was trying to subvert the Honduran constitution (which constitutes treason in that country), no matter how in bed he was with Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez, and no matter that Zelaya personally led a violent mob to attack the customs building to retrieve the illegal ballots that he got his pal Chavez to print in Venezuela; the ballots -- intended by Zelaya to give him cover for rejecting the clause in the Honduran constitution limiting presidents to a single term -- were confiscated by Customs officials when Zelaya tried to smuggle them into Honduras.

On the minus side, this raving, delusional lunatic may not be the Mel Zelaya that Obama knew.

I think I hear that Greyhound bus a rumblin'...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2009, at the time of 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 17, 2009

Gonna Lay Down My Missile Shield

Russkie Resurgence , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In Nukes for Kooks, we noted the mounting cooperation between Putin's Russia and Oogo Chavez's Venezuela, particularly on giving Venezuela nuclear technology... for peaceful purposes, naturally:

Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez has just announced a joint venture with the Soviet Union Russia to develop "peaceful" nuclear power. At last, his poor, energy-starved country can stop shivering and provide power for its citizenry.

I suggested the tack that President Barack H. Obama would surely take to deal with this threat to American security:

I'm quite certain that the Obamacle, furthering his standard policy of friendly negotiations with all of our bitterest enemies (while snubbing and working against the interests of our closest allies), will immediately announce a diplomatic initiative to Oogo... run by the WMD Czar, Gary Samore, and a newly appointed Venezuela Czar, Jalapeño Spice, rather than by the Secretary of State (whoever he is).

The negotiating team (Samantha Power, Van Jones, Sen. Al Franken, and Keith Olbermann) will insist that Venezuela and Russia issue ironclad assurances, written in bold black ink on creamy white paper, that they never, ever, ever will help Oogo Chavez obtain nuclear weapons.

Oogo will be brought to the White House thirty-eight times over the next two years, where he will be feted and wined and dined. Then Obama will bow at the waist, kiss Oogo's Bolivarian hand, and call him "your highness."

In the end, the One will get his agreement, signed at the Western White House (Al Capone's old headquarters in Chicago). He -- Obama, not Capone -- will hold the piece of paper up for CNN to video, and his teleprompter will announce that Obama has achieved "peace in our time." We will then launch a massive foreign-aid money drop into Venezuela, to ensure they have enough aluminum tubing and nuclear-blast analysis software for the venture to succeed.

Well he hasn't yet gotten around to thinking of a response -- to Oogo; and it's puzzling, since our president is known world-wide for the roadrunner-like alacrity with which he responds to crises (such as backloading the recession stimulus plan so that nearly all the spending occurs two, three years out -- rather than, you know, during the recession itself). But at least he believes in firm but fair negotiations with Russia, the other half of the deadly equation; kind of like "tough love":

The Obama administration will scrap the controversial missile defense shield program in Eastern Europe, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Thursday....

The Bush administration had cited the perceived nuclear threat from Iran as one of the key reasons it wanted to install the missile shield in eastern Europe.

The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the plans.

Our president displays the magnanimity that characterizes the American heart: He did not even demand some equivalent concession from Russia (such as abandoning the Venezuela nuclear deal), as some haggling Republican would have; Obama simply gave generously, as one friend to another, without insisting upon any quid pro quo.

But it's wonderful policy for America as well, dismantling our ability to defend ourselves from missile attack. To explain the deep, thoughtful reasoning behind the abrupt switch in policy to what Vladimir Putin has demanded, in increasingly bellicose tones, B.O. sent out America's top nuclear-policy expert, the man with more experience in the subject than any homo sapiens sapiens since Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Kissinger: Vice President Joe Biden:

Vice President Joe Biden earlier refused to confirm to CNN that the George W. Bush-era plan was being shelved.

But he did explain the logic of doing so, saying Iran -- a key concern for the United States -- was not a threat.

"I think we are fully capable and secure dealing with any present or future potential Iranian threat," he told CNN's Chris Lawrence in Baghdad, where he is on a brief trip.

"The whole purpose of this exercise we are undertaking is to diminish the prospect of the Iranians destabilizing that region in the world. I am less concerned -- much less concerned -- about the Iranian potential. They have no potential at this moment, they have no capacity to launch a missile at the United States of America," he said.

Now crabby, hysterical, Nazi-regalia sporting critics of the One We Have All Been Waiting For might raise the point that the purpose of ballistic missile defense in Eastern Europe is not necessarily to protect us from an Iranian ICBM launched against the continental United States, but rather to protect our European allies from Iranian threats from the intermediate-range ballistic missiles that they already have, ready and waiting for the nuclear warheads that they are so desperately trying to obtain (by hook or by Russian crook).

Those who are simply trying to kill the policy point out (in an enraged and emotional tone of voice) that the flight path from Iran to every country in Western Europe passes very near the Czech Republic or Poland -- or directly over them.

The missile shield was also intended (say those crybaby critics, who are all wee-weed up) to deter Russia itself from trying to reconquer the lands it lost when the Soviet Union collapsed, obliterating (perhaps temporarily) Communism's motherland. There are some loons who still insist, despite all evidence, that Russia herself has access to ICBMs that could be launched towards CONUS.

Such an argument is of course racist, so we need not bother responding.

But in fact, as anyone understands who has been paying attention, Russia has pointed all those missiles away from us and at other, more pressing threats to the Russian republic. I'm thinking Georgia, or maybe Tibet. Therefore, Putin poses even less of a threat to us than Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly refuted the cockamamie right-wing notion that he wants nuclear power for any but peaceful purposes -- just like Oogo.

The decision to unilaterally tear up our agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic shows the Obamacle's mastery of diplomacy, pleasing enemy and ally alike:

Czech Prime minister Jan Fischer said in a statement that U.S. President Barack Obama told him in a Wednesday phone call that the United States was shelving its plans. Fischer did not say what reason Obama gave him for reconsidering.

A spokeswoman at the Polish Ministry of Defense also said the program had been suspended.

"This is catastrophic for Poland," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with ministry policy....

Poland and the Czech Republic had based much of their future security policy on getting the missile defenses from the United States. The countries share deep concerns of a future military threat from the east -- namely, Russia -- and may now look for other defense assurances from their NATO allies.

Our lifelong, beloved national friend Russia has yet to respond, but we must assume this will cement the alliance between two countries joined by a common goal: the complete transformation of humanity to more closely match the spiritual qualities, ideology, and bipartisan outreach of, well, the One Himself:

By contrast, Russia may view the move as a diplomatic victory after complaining about the program consistently for years.

There was no comment Thursday morning from Russian officials. But the issue has been a sore point in relations between Washington and Moscow, with Russia believing the shield would ultimately erode its own strategic nuclear deterrent.

Any fair-minded supporter of world peace, security, and United Nations hegemony must agree; it's patently obvious that a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic threatens the nuclear deterrent of Russia.

After all, if we had the capability to intercept Russian missiles and prevent them from obliterating American cities, think how that would throw a monkey wrench into their ability to deploy Mutual Assured Destruction -- their only gambit to frighten us out of launching an unprovoked first strike against them. Such a savage and senseless American first strike would kill hundreds of millions of innocent civilians for no reason whatsoever -- beyond the sick love of genocide that riddles American history. And it's very likely, if a Republican ever manages to steal another presidential election, as in 2004, 2000, and 1980.

Thank the One I have seen the light. I shall spread the Good News -- that we finally have a president, the first since Jimmy Carter, who honestly believes in real negotiations (without preconditions) as the only arrow in the quiver of American foreign policy!

Truly we live in the New Millennium of hope and change.

Cross-toasted by Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 17, 2009, at the time of 2:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 14, 2009

Nukes for Kooks

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure , Weapons of Mass Disputation
Hatched by Dafydd

Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez has just announced a joint venture with the Soviet Union Russia to develop "peaceful" nuclear power. At last, his poor, energy-starved country can stop shivering and provide power for its citizenry:

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said the South American country plans to develop a nuclear energy program with Russia and doesn’t want to build an atomic bomb....

“We’re not going to make an atomic bomb, so don’t bother us like with Iran,” he said on state television. “We’re going to develop nuclear energy with peaceful purposes.” [Hey, if you can't trust a lying socialist dictator, who can you trust?]

So a Latin American country...

  • In our own backyard --
  • Controlled by a strongman who has made himself "president for life" by winning fantasy elections --
  • Who hates America above all things on this planet --
  • Who has a close working relationship with Iran, a country working feverishly to develop a nuclear weapon --
  • Who has announced his intention to ship gasoline to Iran, so that we cannot use the Herman Option to stop Iran from getting its nukes (though I don't understand why, if we decided to blockade Iran -- which admittedly the current American president would never do -- we couldn't keep Venezuelan oil tankers out as well) --
  • Who has invited Hezbollah, the world's largest and most aggressive Islamist terrorist group, into Venezuela to "counter" American power in the western hemisphere --
  • Who brutally oppresses his own people with fascist policies (nationalizing industries -- both domestic and foreign owned) while spouting pseudo-Marxist rhetoric --
  • Who has exported putative "Bolivarian" revolution to a dozen other Latin American countries --
  • And whose country is swimming in oil and natural gas (which is the only reason it's still in existence, despite its abysmal economy) --

...Now wants nuclear power as well. But it assures us that it's "not going to make an atomic bomb;" and orders our hapless, cringing President Barack H. Obama -- who has just agreed to enter into extortion negotiations with one member of the axis of evil trying to develop nuclear weapons (North Korea), and appears to have utterly capitulated on nuclear weapons for the other remaining member of the axis (Iran) -- not to interfere ("so don’t bother us like with Iran").

I'm quite certain that the Obamacle, furthering his standard policy of friendly negotiations with all of our bitterest enemies (while snubbing and working against the interests of our closest allies), will immediately announce a diplomatic initiative to Oogo... run by the WMD Czar, Gary Samore, and a newly appointed Venezuela Czar, Jalapeño Spice, rather than by the Secretary of State (whoever he is).

The negotiating team (Samantha Power, Van Jones, Sen. Al Franken, and Keith Olbermann) will insist that Venezuela and Russia issue ironclad assurances, written in bold black ink on creamy white paper, that they never, ever, ever will help Oogo Chavez obtain nuclear weapons.

Oogo will be brought to the White House thirty-eight times over the next two years, where he will be feted and wined and dined. Then Obama will bow at the waist, kiss Oogo's Bolivarian hand, and call him "your highness."

In the end, the One will get his agreement, signed at the Western White House (Al Capone's old headquarters in Chicago). He -- Obama, not Capone -- will hold the piece of paper up for CNN to video, and his teleprompter will announce that Obama has achieved "peace in our time." We will then launch a massive foreign-aid money drop into Venezuela, to ensure they have enough aluminum tubing and nuclear-blast analysis software for the venture to succeed.



What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2009, at the time of 10:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 27, 2009

Meanwhile, Back in the Murmuring Pines and the Hemlocks...

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Occulted by the momentous national slugfest about TeddyCare, the explosion of Medicare spending (or draconian rationing), the imminent collapse of Social Security, the mind-numbing deficits, the looming tax attax, the energy-production cripple-and-tax bill, the slow American retreat in Afghanistan, and the rapid Obama-decreed rout in Iraq... tucked in away among all this political misdirection, the gnomes of Foggy Bottom still pick-and-shovel away at the foundations of Honduras, trying to engineer the forced reinstallation of fled President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (a.k.a. "Mel" Zelaya) -- little buddy of Oogo Chavez, tireless crusader for Marxist revolution in Latin America, and putative President-for-Life of that democratic country of Honduras:

U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be declared a "military coup," a U.S. official said on Thursday, a step that could cut off as much as $150 million in U.S. funding to the impoverished Central American nation.

The official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said State Department staff had made such a recommendation to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has yet to make a decision on the matter although one was likely soon.

Washington has already suspended about $18 million aid to Honduras following the June 28 coup and this would be formally cut if the determination is made because of a U.S. law barring aid "to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."

Note that the gnomes want to oust the current Honduran government for doing to Zelaya pretty much just what the Democrats did to Richard Nixon in 1974: Push him to resign by threatening to prosecute him for his many criminal activities.

Our previous excursions into the dead zone of the Obamacle's (and Hillary's) Honduran policy are legion:

The radical Left's bottom line is clear: Zelaya must be returned to full dictatorial control; no matter how he was trying to subvert the Honduran constitution (which constitutes treason in that country), no matter how in bed he was with Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez, and no matter that Zelaya personally led a violent mob to attack the customs building to retrieve the illegal ballots that he got his pal Chavez to print in Venezuela; the ballots -- intended by Zelaya to give him cover for rejecting the clause in the Honduran constitution limiting presidents to a single term -- were confiscated by Customs officials when Zelaya tried to smuggle them into Honduras. As D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada (denied a confirmation vote by Democrats) recounts the precipitating incident in the Los Angeles Times:

Zelaya had the ballots printed in Venezuela, but these were impounded by customs when they were brought back to Honduras. On June 25 -- three days before he was ousted -- Zelaya personally gathered a group of "supporters" and led it to seize the ballots, restating his intent to conduct the "survey" on June 28. That was the breaking point for the attorney general, who immediately sought a warrant from the Supreme Court for Zelaya's arrest on charges of treason, abuse of authority and other crimes. In response, the court ordered Zelaya's arrest by the country's army, which under Article 272 must enforce compliance with the Constitution, particularly with respect to presidential succession. The military executed the court's order on the morning of the proposed survey.

Yet despite the clear and undeniable fact that Zelaya was removed according to the rule of law in Honduras, and the equally clear fact that it is Zelaya, not his acting successor of the same party (Roberto Micheletti), who is the coup plotter, the Obama/Hillary Statism Department has redoubled its efforts to overthrow the legitimate, democratic, pro-American government of Honduras -- to install in its place an il-legitimate, un-democratic, il-legal, Marxist, anti-American government, instead. The stupidity of this policy can only be explained, though not excused, by leftist ideology run amok, as ably documented by Victor Davis Hansen in the August (and august) webpages of National Review Online.

Attacking the economy of the impoverished nation appears to be a fait accompli:

Diplomats said that the United States had held off making the formal determination to give diplomacy a chance to yield a negotiated compromise that might allow for Zelaya's return to power....

"The recommendation of the building is for her to sign it," said the first U.S. official said of the 'military coup" determination, saying this was a response to the de facto government's refusal to accept a compromise that would allow Zelaya to return to power ahead of November elections.

Attacking, but not necessarily defeating; let us hope that the Hondurans are made of stern enough will and self-determination that they will reject the diktats of Hillary Clinton's politburo and the machinations of the "progressive" nomenklatura that infests virtually every federal and state bureaucracy in the United States. Perhaps the democrats down south will dig in their heels and accept that they must scratch for their own seed if they want to remain sovereign... I hope they do, "pour encourager les autres."

There is hardly anything in foreign policy that would please me more than a bunch of American "client states" telling us to take that foreign aid and shove it, they ain't kow-towing to us no more.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 27, 2009, at the time of 7:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

HeistWatch - Day 1

Media Madness , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Day 1 after the Washington Times reported that the chief of staff to impeached Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, Enrique Flores Lanza, may have stolen millions of dollars in cash from the Central Bank of Honduras, three days before Zelaya himself was arrested for treason...

So far, I have found only one newspaper that has even so much as mentioned the charges: the Miami Herald -- which, for obvious reasons, has a greater interest than most in reporting stories connected to Red Cuba and Baja America. But even the Herald only gives it a single, cursory sentence:

In addition, Zelaya's chief of staff, Enrique Flores Lanza, is accused of abuse of power and misuse of public funds for withdrawing about $2.2 million [sic] in cash from the Central Bank on June 24.

(The "sic" above denotes that the Washington Times in fact reported that Lanza withdrew a total of $2.75 million -- not $2.2 million.)

One might expect a newspaper to wonder: If the chief of staff of the current president -- a president attempting to do an end-run around a constitutional prohibition on a referendum to extend his rule -- "is accused of... withdrawing about $2.2 million in cash from the Central Bank" it possible that chief of staff might have done so under orders from his boss? Perhaps to pay for the referendum -- or to buy votes. Isn't the question at least worth investigating?

So far, the answer is "Yes, it isn't even worth investigating;" not even by a newspaper that does not stand in lockstep with Fidel and Raul Castro, Oogo Chavez, and Daniel Ortega. I find that sad, very sad.

Once and future Zelaya posts on Big Lizards and Hot Air's rogues' gallery:

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Did Zelaya Pull a Bank Heist Before Skedaddling?

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

The Washington Times reports that Honduran prosecutors have witnesses and a surveillance video indicating that then-President Manuel Zelaya or Chief of Staff Enrique Flores Lanza may have done exactly that.

More precisely, prosecutors claim that on June 24th, somebody went to the Central Bank of Honduras and "withdrew" $2.2 million equivalent in Honduran lempiras; the money was driven to Lanza's office, allege the witnesses. A second withdrawal of $550,000 equivalent was ordered by Lanza some hours later, according to government documents the Times says it obtained.

Supposedly, the cash was to be used during the "referendum," which the Honduran supreme court declared illegal; but I don't know for what. One would expect that ordinary government expenses for plebescites would be handled by means other than ferrying bags of currency around Tegucigalpa. The obvious implication (if the accusation is true) is that Zelaya was trying to "buy" his own illegal vote.

But this is more a tease than an accusation; I am not yet convinced by the Times' reporting that this really happened, or that if it did, Zelaya himself had anything to do with it. But I believe there is enough evidence at least to warrant posting a heads-up; it will be interesting to see whether the antique media ever catches up with this story -- and catches on to the pathetic astroturfing they've engaged in nonstop since he fled the country, trying to make it appear that a "grassroots" groundswell of support was erupting from the bowels of massed humanity, crying out for Zelaya to return in triumph.

Will they investigate the charge? Will they even bother reporting it? I think it's worth the risk of getting burned by a bum lead, if this turns out to be nothing, in order to test the mettle of the media: Will we see one word of this in the Washington Post, the New York Times, or CNN?

Keep watching the skies...

Earlier posts on Big Lizards and Hot Air's rogues' gallery:

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 5:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2009

Coup on You!

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In mounting desperation, Barack H. Obama and his band of merry men now demand the restoration of Manuel "Mel" Zelaya as dictator of Honduras on the same time schedule as the typical "revolutionary" (radical leftist, that is) Obamic legislation -- e.g., government-run health care, crippling energy production, and shooting trillions of dollars of Monopoly money at every problem, hoping something sticks: The administration demands the legitimate impeachment of Zelaya be overturned and the dictator reinstated right now, this very minute -- and to hell with the Honduran constitution, Honduran law, and the Honduran supreme court:

The United States and Europe stepped up pressure on Honduras' de facto government on Tuesday as deposed President Manuel Zelaya and his supporters called on Washington to pave the way for his return....

The U.S. government threw its weight behind Arias' proposal that Zelaya, who was toppled in a June 28 coup, be reinstated to set up a coalition government.

"We're in constant contact with a number of countries in the hemisphere regarding the situation in Honduras, and we believe the Arias mediation is the right way to go, and the time is now to ... resolve this issue," State Department deputy spokesman Robert A. Wood told reporters.

"We think that this is the best (way) ... to restore the constitutional order in the country, and we want to see that happen now," he said.

Do not argue with us, do not question us; you'll do what you're told to do -- and be quick about it!

Submitted for your approval, our previous profferings:

Why the hysterical haste and high-pressure tactics? Because, just like the radical legislation, the One knows that Mr. Time is not his friend: The more time passes, the more opposition grows among Republicans and even moderate Democrats.

Republicans are finally fighting back hard against the unprecedented kow-towing to America's enemies in Central and South America. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) has exercised his authority under Senate rules to put the kibosh on two confirmation hearings, at least for a week or so. And he and other Republicans are demanding the administration explain why we're siding with Venezuela's Oogo Chavez, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, and los bros Castro (two Stalinists and a fascist)... and why we're lining up against the rule of law in Honduras:

Conservative Senator Jim DeMint, who has expressed concern over Washington's call for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated, invoked his right to ask the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone voting to confirm Arturo Valenzuela, currently a professor at Georgetown University, to be assistant secretary of state.

DeMint also asked for a delay in confirming Thomas Shannon as U.S. ambassador to Brazil. Shannon currently holds the assistant secretary's post.

(The definitive analysis so far of the legality of the Honduran supreme court's removal of Zelaya is by Miguel Estrada, in an opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times, of all places.)

But back to the first story. Reuters completely accepts Zelaya's own narrative of what happened, of course; that's to be expected. Then they roll out a new supporter of Zelaya, besides those leftist regimes already outed (Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica): Now Brazil joins the chorus of yapping Yorkies who insist that Zelaya be reinstated, so he'll have a legitimate shot at perverting the constitution with an illegal "referendum," stage-managed by Venezuela, making Zelaya in effect President for Life... just like his pals Oogo, Raul, and Fidel.

On a complete unrelated note, Brazil's President Lula da Silva, a former union organizer, is a founding member of the Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), whose main objectives are workers' rights and land redistribution. According to da Silva's Wikipedia entry, the Workers' Party "was formed as a loose confederacy of trade unionists, grassroots activists, left Catholics, left-center social democrats and small Trotskyist groupings." Da Silva still maintains a close friendship with Oogo Chavez.

See? International support for Zelaya has expanded far beyond just a couple of socialist-headed, U.S.-hating, Latin American countries -- Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua -- plus the socialist-headed, U.S.-hating Organization of American States and the socialist-headed, U.S.-hating United Nations General Assembly; it now includes two more socialist-headed, U.S.-hating, Latin American countries: Costa Rica and Brazil.

It should be clear why the Obamacle chose up sides so rapidly; it was a no-brainer!

Here's the punchline... a perfect demonstration of how, no matter how tightly a lie is nailed across the doors and windows, truth will nevertheless find a crack and leak out:

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim called U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week to complain that talks were dragging on too long and that Zelaya should be reinstated without conditions, a Brazilian diplomat said.

"The negotiations must not reward a coup, which could in turn encourage other coups," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Hear, hear!

Come to think of it, using the tendentious redefinition of "coup d'état" that Zelaya, Castro & Castro, Chavez, Ortega, and Barack H. Obama use -- i.e., "legally removing a leftist president from office for attempting to seize dictatorial powers" -- perhaps the fear of "other coups" is precisely what so very much worries our own "Zelaya," currently sitting in la Casa Blanca and openly speculating about repealing the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 21, 2009, at the time of 7:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2009

Reuters Still Stuck on "Coup"-pid

Media Madness , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure , Untied Nations
Hatched by Dafydd

I reckon the antique media still thinks they're living back in the days of "Uncle Walter."

Reading this Reuters story about "talks" between negotiators for deposed leftist wannabe-dictator and the legitimate government of Honduras is a little like reading Pravda: It all seems perfectly sane, perfectly rational -- but originating from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

Prospects for a breakthrough in Honduras' political crisis looked dim on Sunday, with negotiators for deposed President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders divided over his proposed reinstatement....

Envoys sent by Zelaya, a leftist ousted in a June 28 military coup, and interim leader Roberto Micheletti said the main stumbling block was [Oscar] Arias' proposal that Zelaya return to power and form a government that shared power with his rivals.

Our previous offerings on this subject are:

Perhaps Reuters thinks that if it just keeps saying "coup" often enough, eventually everybody will start to believe it! It's a magical spell. In all, the story uses the word "coup" to describe the arrest and impeachment of Manuel Zelaya three times; one time it uses the phrase "the army toppled Zelaya;" they refer to the impeachment as "Central America's worst crisis since the end of the Cold War;" and they inform us that "Zelaya has wide international support for his desire to return to power" -- by which they mean:

  • The Castros in Cuba;
  • Oogo Chavez in Venezuela;
  • Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua;
  • The Left-dominated and controlled Organization of American States (see "Piddling Away Greatness," linked above);
  • And the U.N. General Assembly... currently run by President Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, a liberation-theology Catholic priest (almost defrocked) and a former Sandinista leader (foreign minister under Ortega).

(Just five years ago, shortly before Ronald Reagan's death, Brockmann referred to him as "the butcher of my people." Rev. Brockmann has never apologized for, or even explained the rationale of, the Sandinistas' butchering of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, as they struggled to maintain their stranglehold on that country.)

We do learn a couple of actual facts, so the story is not a total waste of phosphor:

  • Zelaya is no longer in Costa Rica; he is now ensconced out in Nicaragua... probably lunching in one of the palatial estates that his pal, President Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and raper of his 11 year old stepdaughter, "liberated" just after being voted out of office.

(Was that coup by the Sandinistas -- an actual coup d'état, by the way -- also a "crisis?" I don't recall the "unbiased" news media thinking so at the time.)

  • The United States is in constant contact with Zelaya -- the enthusiastic chum of Ortgega, Oogo Chavez, and los Bros Castro -- and feverishly working to restore him to power in Honduras.

On that last point, if this doesn't make you wince, you haven't been paying attention:

"We are indeed concerned about (Zelaya) going back," the second official said [anonymously -- of course], adding that Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon "is in practically daily contact with him, urging him to allow (the) Arias process to play out."

The "Arias" referred to is Oscar Arias -- Nobel Peace Prize winner, also winner of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and recipient of "over fifty honorary degrees, including doctorates from Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Oberlin College, Wake Forest University, Ithaca College and Washington University in St. Louis," according to his Wikipedia entry.

He is a member of Economists for Peace and Security, as well as the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He is a member of Costa Rica's National Liberation Party. Hey, kids -- see if you can guess Arias' political ideology...!

Incidentally, speaking of creeping socialist Newspeak revisionism, here is Wikipedia's description of the 1980s and 90s in Central America, the crisis that Oscar Arias resolved in order to win his Nobel Fleece Prize:

Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords. This was a plan intended to promote democracy and peace on the Central American isthmus during a time of great turmoil: popular indigenous movements and guerrillas were struggling against repressive governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were backed by the United States under the auspices of the Cold War; the reactionary Contras, supported by the United States in the now-infamous Iran-Contra affair, were fighting an insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; Honduras, only recently wresting political power from its military, was caught in the middle as a base for U.S. military forces; and on Costa Rica's other border, Panama faced the oppression of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship. With the support of Arias, the various armed conflicts ended within the decade (Guatemala's civil war finally ended in 1996).

Either Oscar Arias rewrote his own Wikipedia entry -- or else maybe Lt. John F. Kerry did. Either way, yeah, that's how I remember that "time of great turmoil"...!

Arias is, of course, the most perfect envoy to mediate between the two sides in Honduras -- the dictator, Zelaya, and the legitimate president, Roberto Micheletti; he certainly has no conflicts of interest.

True, Arias, too, was frustrated by a Costa Rican constitution that strictly banned presidents seeking a second term. True, Arias, too, tried to get the Costa Rican Supreme Court to overturn that clause, but he was completely rebuffed by the Court.

But in Arias' case, rather than turn to Venezuela to print illegal "ballots," so that the Dear Leader's followers could hold a sham "referendum" to allow him to run for as many terms as he wanted, Arias took a different path: He packed the court with hand-picked cronies, who then overturned the previous decision.

See? Arias' personal experience at illegally circumventing term-limits is totally different from Zelaya's. No conflict of interest there!

Ye gods. Do reporters actually live in a literal cone of silence? Or do they just consciously and with ignorance aforethought ensure that they never, ever, ever come into contact with anybody whose worldview differs from theirs in the least degree? Heavens, their ideological purity might be tainted by the serial heresies of neocons.

I picture an entire newsroom full of journalists who still, to this day, boycott grapes; who jump up and do "the wave" whenever they see Oogo Chavez on the tube; who tie the knot at Che Guevara-themed wedding ceremonies; who casually write that Cuba has the greatest health-care system in the whole world... and insert that lecture into a breaking-news story about Paula Abdul no longer being a judge on American Idol.

They're the lost media generation, and they're irredeemable. We shall have to wait until today's middle-school kids grow up to see a return to adult supervision of the nation's newswriting... our "first draft of history."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 19, 2009, at the time of 7:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 15, 2009

The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

I highly recommend the excellent Los Angeles Times commentary-analysis by filibustered D.C. Circus nominee Miguel Estrada; he makes an excellent legal (and moral) case that:

  1. The ouster of former Honduran President (and now accused traitor) Manuel Zelaya was perfectly legal (and a darned good idea), not only in accord with the Honduran constitution, but also at the express direction of the Supreme Court of Honduras;
  2. The arrest of Zelaya by the military was also properly carried out under both an arrest warrant and a search warrant issued by the Supreme Court;
  3. That the replacement of Zelaya with Roberto Micheletti (as acting president until the November elections) was also completely legitimate: Vice President Elvin Ernesto Santos Ordóñez had already resigned (to run next November for president); the newly-minted "Vice President Commissioner" (Arístides Mejía Carranza) -- a position that had never before existed -- was not in the line of succession; and that left Micheletti, as President of the National Congress, next at bat;
  4. And that this ouster satisfies no element of the basic definition of a "coup d'état." It was in fact what we would call an impeachment and conviction under the rules established by the Honduran constitution.

On point 4, as Estrada -- who himself immigrated here from Honduras at age seventeen -- sums up:

As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.

It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement.

But Estrada leaves us with one very curious mystery worthy of Perry Mason: Why was accused traitor Zelaya sent into immediate exile in Costa Rica instead of being prosecuted?

(In an amusing synchronicity, Sen. -- yecch -- Al Franken, D-MN, not yet rated -- the Clown Prince of Recount Crime -- quizzed self-described Perry Mason fan Judge Sonia Sotomayor, asking which one case did Perry lose? She could not answer... but astonishingly, neither could Franken! One would think, while preparing his climactic question, that he would have sense enough to find the answer himself, even if he had to restort to Google -- as I did. The answer, discovered in about a second with one query, is "the Case of the Deadly Verdict," season 7, episode 4, first aired October 17th, 1963. Oh, and in case your jaw is still hanging open, worry not... the case is reversed at the end when the real murder is caught.)

Before we get too deep into the Honduran jungle -- excuse me, "rainforest" -- our previous offering on the Zelaya impeachment was Piddling Away Greatness, also cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery.

Here's how Estrada describes the case (the Honduran case, I mean, not the Deadly Verdict):

It would seem from this that Zelaya's arrest by the military was legal, and rather well justified to boot. But, unfortunately, the tale did not end there. Rather than taking Zelaya to jail and then to court to face charges, the military shipped him off to Costa Rica. No one has yet explained persuasively why summarily sending Zelaya into exile in this manner was legal, and it most likely wasn't....

True, Zelaya should not have been arbitrarily exiled from his homeland. That, however, does not mean he must be reinstalled as president of Honduras. It merely makes him an indicted private citizen with a meritorious immigration beef against his country.

I believe I have found the key to the mystery (with apologies to nineteenth-century French occultist Éliphas Lévi, who of course wrote La Clef des Grands Mystères, the Key to the Mysteries -- which has nothing whatsoever to do with this post.) My key to the present mystery is contained in the two sentences I highlighted in blue above: Micheletti (and a plurality of the National Congress) share membership in Zelaya's Liberal Party.

And it's a fairly thin plurality at that: 62 Liberal Party seats to 55 National Party seats (out of a total of 128 congressmen). This is almost an exact reversal from the previous election in 2001, when the Liberals had 55 seats to the National's 61. And of course, the next election is just around the corner, less than 20 weeks away, on November 29th.

It seems to me a no-brainer that the removal of Zelaya from office, his replacement with another president (of the same party), and arrest, all for the crimes of treason and abuse of authority, stands a good chance of tainting his political party in the elections a few weeks hence, no matter what else may happen. Even though the party moved swiftly to remove Zelaya once he began angling to make himself "president for life," like his buddy Oogo Chavez in Venezuela, the reality is that some percent of marginal Liberal voters will switch to the rival (and more conservative, and very much more pro-American) National Party.

A swing of just 3% - 4% from Liberal to National could easily mean a swing of four seats, giving the National Party a plurality of 59-58. A swing of six seats -- which often happens when the previous election was close -- would put them nearly back where they were in 2001, with the National Party up 61 to 56.

Even worse for the Liberals, in the last election, Zelaya only beat National Party nominee Porfirio Lobo Sosa by 49.9 to 46.2 (3.7%). Again, a tiny switch of less than 2% from Liberal to National would give Honduras a new presidential party.

At the moment, the National Party has a (very narrow) working majority, being allied with other parties; but the Liberals control the presidency. If, as I suspect, the Zelaya scandal throws a cocked hat into the electoral ring, the Liberals could find themselves in the position the American Democrats were in 2001 or the Republicans are today: Exiled from all banches of national government.

So how does this explain the mysterious exiling of Zelaya? Fairly well, I believe: The only chance the Liberals have is to bury the Zelaya scandal in a shallow grave; so the very last thing they would want is an actual court trial, for heaven's sake.

With Zelaya in exile, and if Micheletti can possibly persuade him to shut his pie hole and stop making trouble, maybe things would quiet down, giving Liberals a chance to get beyond that whole "treason" flap. Perhaps the Liberals could even play off Micheletti's few months of incumbency to persuade voters at least to let them retain the presidency, even if their functioning deficit in the National Congress gets worse. With divided government, there is always hope one can get one's way at least some of the time.

So it again seems obvious which party benefits from hustling Zelaya off to neutral Costa Rica... at least until after the election.

But a vital question remains unanswered: Who actually ordered Zelaya sent away? The military arrested him under Supreme Court orders, but they would need separate, explicit orders to exile him. I can't find a precise enough timetable to see whether the exile was ordered before or after Michelitti was declared acting president.

If after, then the exile was probably ordered by Michelitti himself, under his acting presidential authority. But if before, then it would have to have been ordered by the Congress, since nobody else is left: I can't see the Supreme Court going to such great lengths to follow the law -- and then issuing such a flagrantly illegal order. If Michelitti is the culprit, then all the legal blame for exile rests on the Liberal Party; but if it's Congress, then the Nationalists must also share that blame.

It would be very illuminating to find out; alack, the elite media are too busy obsessing about the Honduran "coup d'état" of a "democratically elected president" to trouble to find out such basic facts as who actually ordered Zelaya's exile.

But in either case, if Zelaya is actually brought back to Honduras before November, and his crimes fully aired just before the elections, that will almost certainly provoke a long string of pointed questions about the complicity of other members of the Liberal Party in those felonies -- and their participation in and support for the machinations of Oogo Chavez and Los Bros Castro. Not to overlook the "secondary allies" of Zelaya, including Iran and their pet terrorist group, Hezbollah, who have been very active in Latin America in recent years (with Oogo's aid, comfort, and complicity).

If all the poison that lurks in the Honduran mud hatches out, as Robert Graves might put it, then almost certainly, the Liberal Party, the "presidential party, will get re-tagged as the "treason party." This could cause a much more significant vote shift, and might give the National Party not only the presidency but even an absolute majority in Congress.

Why didn't Miguel Estrada mention this possibility? I'm sure he closely follows the politics of the country in which he was born and raised. I can only conclude that, in true judicially conservative fashion, he chose to decide the case on the narrowest possible grounds. And speculating as to why Zelaya was sent into exile was not essential to finding that the removal, replacement, and arrest (though not the exile) of Manuel Zelaya was entirely legal -- which was the only case he was interested in making.

Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 15, 2009, at the time of 6:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 7, 2009

Piddling Away Greatness

Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- presumably speaking for her boss -- doubled down on supporting erstwhile Honduran president and would-be dictator José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (a.k.a. Mel Zelaya) instead of rule of law in Honduras:

A day after failing to land in Honduras to confront the interim government that ousted him in a coup, Zelaya boarded a plane bound for Washington, where U.S. officials said he would meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Zelaya told a news conference Monday night that he hopes to ensure U.S. support for diplomatic efforts to see him restored to power.

"Tomorrow we hope to get support for these pronouncements," Zelaya said before heading to the airport in Managua.

Clinton and President Barack H. Obama superficially seem to be oblivious to the sequence of events that led to Zelaya's arrest, removal from office, and voluntary exile... but are they really just misinformed? (The full timeline of events in Honduras make clear what really happened, which is the polar opposite of what our antique media tell us.)

I believe at first mere ignorance was exactly the problem: The first time the ongoing, fluid situation in Honduras was explained to Obama, I suspect that all he heard was, "Wugga-wugga liberal wigga wagga union supporter woggle boggle ousted by the military roggle doggle coup d'état." He chose to stitch this muddle together into a narrative that reads, "The liberal, democratically elected President of Honduras was overthrown by a military junta."

Alas, Obama is probably the most impulsive man ever to sit in the big chair in la Casa Blanca; he appears allergic to debate, discussion, deliberation, contemplation, thinking things through, weighing consequences, examining the pros and cons, hearing from all sides before making a decision -- and of course retrospection.

By now, of course, he knows full well what really happened; but it seems he simply cannot bring himself to admit that he misunderstood so egregiously in the first five minutes -- which, coincidentally, was when he committed himself to supporting Zelaya, come what may; see our earlier Big Lizards post "Old Shoes and Barackends."

The military has a term they use for the decision-making process; they call it the OODA loop, for "Observe, Orient, Decide and Act." But the Obamacle appears to have found a different route to decision making.

He Partially listens to a random aide, acts on his first Impulse, angrily and bitterly Defends whatever snap-judgment action he took, Doubles-down on that first impulse, Laughs off any subsequent, game-changing information... then furiously Echos the pronunciamentos of any allies he might have gathered on the issue, no matter who they are -- or whether their own interests align with or are diametrically opposed to America's.

We can call this the Obamic PIDDLE loop, which generally morphs quite rapidly into an infinite regress. Let's see it play out in the Honduras case:

  1. Partially listen: Somehow, President Obama got the idea stuck in his brain that there was an actual military coup in Honduras, where the entire elected government was overthrown and some generalissimo or military junta took command.
  2. Impulsively decide: Stung by constant accusations of fence-sitting and waffling, Obama often "demonstrates his leadership" by making a snap decision based on his instincts. Alas, those "instincts" are formed on the basis of bullet (1) above: Outraged that such a fine, decent man as Mel Zelaya was ousted by a military junta (sic), Obama immediately ordered Honduras to reinstate the socialist apparatchik, and he aligned his interests (thought not the nation's) with Zelaya cronies in Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, and Cuba.
  3. Defend his decision: Once he'd made the decision to strongarm Zelaya back into power, President Obama was stunned by the democratic pushback even here in the United States. Instead of rethinking his position, he backed and filled, trying retroactively to justify the unjustifiable decision he made based upon an ill-formed conclusion. (Obama always defends, never discusses.)
  4. Double-down: It frequently happens, in the course of human events, that a snap decision made on the basis of erroneous information doesn't pan out (now there's a revelation!) A smart feller backs off and thinks it all through a second time -- for example, George W. Bush picking a new general (David Petraeus) with a new strategy (counterinsurgency) to turn around the Iraq war.

    Alas, Barack Obama's response to failure is not to rethink, rework, rewrite... it's to retrench, rinse, and repeat, ad infinitum. Thus, the doubling down we see in today's Hillary story: The Obamacle cannot back away, because that would be to admit that he goofed it up in the first place; so he goes "all in" on a bad bluff, hoping for a miracle -- or a chance to accidentally kick over the table, forcing a misdeal.

  5. Laugh off subsequent facts: As more and more facts have become available -- e.g., Zelaya's pre-arrest antics, the Honduran constitution, the participation of the Honduran Supreme Court, the fact that Zelaya's replacement, Roberto Micheletti, is next in succession to the presidency and from Zelaya's own Liberal party anyway -- a greater number of ordinary American voters will begin to realize that the White House is on the wrong side of this crucial issue. The only two responses available to Obama are (a) to do a one-eighty and start supporting the rule of law, democracy, and the Honduran people... or (b) to mock, hoot, scoff, and laugh away the inconvenient truth, lest it take root. Pish tosh. Nonsense. Who you gonna believe, me or your own lyin' eyes?
  6. Echo his allies du jour: In the end, like every poor debater, Barack H. Obama must turn to the only argument left to try to salvage his reputation: the appeal to authority. In this case, he can but turn to his only allies in this disgraceful betrayal of Western and American values... a murderer's row of dictators, Communists, and fascists -- and the American press, which continues to haul water for the president on this one -- as if a lie becomes truth when sung in chorus.

    As Michael Ramirez so wonderfully lampooned (see the Power Line link up top), the President of the United States has relegated himself and his administration to "parroting" the denunciations and diktats of the vilest demagogues in the Western hemisphere: President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua -- premier of the Stalinist "Sandinista National Liberation Front;" Oogo Chavez -- "il Duce" of Venezuela; the Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann -- President of the UN General Assembly, liberation theologist, and former foreign minister to Ortega's Sandinista government; José Miguel Insulza -- the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and also a Socialist, the man who declared last year that Venezuela had "no connection" with any terrorist groups; and of course los bros Castro, Fidel and Raul.

In practice, step 6 occurs within 24 hours of the beginning of the PIDDLE loop... and it dominates the latter stages, as President Obama relies more and more on his friends and allies in whatever action he has decided to take. Eventually, he simply takes on their characteristics as protective coloration, like a chameleon takes on the colors of its surrounding environment, and for the same reason: to hide from predators.

In effect, Obama's temporary allies become his tribe, and he turns to them over and again for advice, comfort, and friendship. As a consequence, he turns away from those critics whose unwanted facts and uncomfortable observations make him feel bad -- the worst sin in the liberal pantheon.

Far from bridging the ideological gap in Washington, Obama's de facto tribalism segregates administration officials and lawmakers more than at any time since the Second World War. And his PIDDLE loop decision making apparatus guarantees even more presidential isolation from dissenting opinion, both here and abroad.

He is not only piddling away any greatness his administration might have exhibited -- having been gifted with extraordinary times -- he is also piddling away America's greatness; that should never be tolerated... not even by other liberals who are not quite so radical, if there is any such rara avis left.

Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 7, 2009, at the time of 10:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 17, 2008

Shock News: Sandinista Ortega Snatches Land for Pals... Again

Commies , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

The reign of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas -- the Stalinists who held that country hostage for 11 years, against whom we supported "Contra" freedom fighters -- came to a strange end in 1990 when Ronald Reagan's "Contra" policy managed to force free elections in Nicaragua (held under Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush), and the Sandinistas were voted out of office. But before leaving, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega seized millions of acres of land and gave it to his friends and allies in the movement... thus committing one of the largest land snatches in Latin American history.

And proving once again -- it seems to need relearning every generation -- that if you scratch a Socialist, you'll turn up a thief.

Those who thought they had finally seen Ortega's backside (especially after the land grab) were stunned when the Nicaraguan people once again elected him as president just two years ago... with a scant 38% of the vote (worse than Clinton!) in a crowded field. But I don't think anybody is shocked in the least that, having once again wormed his way into power, he is back practicing his favorite hobby: Grabbing other people's property for himself:

President Daniel Ortega Saavedra beams from the billboards, promising "Citizens Power" as a solution to Nicaragua’s endemic poverty. "The world’s poor arise!" the signs say. But beneath the billboards, on walls and benches all over town, others have scrawled "No to CPC. No to dictatorship."

The graffiti alludes to Citizens Power Councils -- or C.P.C.’s. In December, Mr. Ortega established the neighborhood committees, which are controlled by his left-wing Sandinista party and administer antipoverty programs, despite a vote against the plan by the National Assembly.

Mr. Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader [former?], maintains that the councils are meant only to let community leaders have a say in where and how government money is spent.

But opposition leaders say the councils are another step in what they call the Ortega administration’s drift toward an authoritarian and secretive government that does not have to answer to the legislature -- mostly because the president controls tens of millions of dollars a year in aid from Venezuela.

Some of the president’s opponents charge that the Citizens Power Councils are nothing more than patronage mills, channeling government largess to supporters of the party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight. So a Stalinist thief is once again given the levers of power, and once again he abuses them to enrich himself and his pals; this is news?

But there is much more to this story; for what we are seeing in Nicaragua is stately but relentless "progress" from liberal democracy to Communist dictatorship, yet again under the direct command of the Sandinista Party... with Oogo Chavez as puppetmaster in Venezuela. These putatively private CPCs -- which are funded by low-cost loans from Chavez (and kept strictly off the books), and which are completely dominated by Sandinistas, despite that party's much smaller presence in the National Assembly -- have been given governmental power over many critical aspects of Nicaraguan society; they essentially take the place of government but are completely immune from legislative oversight.

Sandinista President Ortega has given these CPCs control over:

  • Distribution of government food aid -- both who receives the food and which stores are picked to supply it; this is a critical function for a country that constantly mambos on the brink of utter economic collapse, and where a great many citizens are literally starving;
  • Paving the roads, what few Nicaragua has left after decades of war;
  • Approving small-business loans, typically the only funding source standing between poor villagers and welfare;
  • Disbursement of free cattle, pigs, and seed stock as welfare for ranchers and farmers -- this way, Ortega gains control of both major sectors of society: the farmers and all other small businesses;
  • Vaccinations for Nicaraguan children ('nuff said);
  • And reading instruction for the poor, who are typically illiterate.

Overall control of the CPCs is in the hands of Daniel Ortega's communications director, Rosario Murillo; it's an irrelevant coincidence that Ms. Murillo also happens to be Ortega's wife. Council members are not elected; they are appointed by the president (or by his communications director). And while other party members can join the councils, the Sandinistas maintain a huge majority and can outvote everybody else combined.

This raises two interesting academic questions:

  1. At what point does a private organization, run by the president's wife and funded by a foreign dictator, which seizes control of many functions traditionally associated with government, and which proclaims itself to be the real intermediary between the proletariat and the government, become the de facto new government of Nicaragua?

The rhetoric is quite suggestive:

Jeannette Suazo, a Sandinista, is the chairwoman of the committee in a Managua neighborhood known as September 14th. She insists that aid is handed out without regard to politics, and she said that her committee had four members who belonged to the opposition party [the remaining 11 members, including the chairwoman, are Sandinistas, a nearly 3-1 voting advantage]. All are volunteers and get no pay, though some have government jobs, she said.

“We are the communicators between the people and the government,” she said. “It’s easier to solve these problems with an organized people than with a disorganized people.”

The other academic question:

  1. How do these "Citizens Power Councils" differ in any significant way from Argentina's Fundación Eva Perón?

To recap, the Sandinistas dominate these "private" councils about 3-1... even though in the National Assembly, the two Sandinista parties together comprise 46%, while the two liberal parties together add up to 53%.

In the election of 2006, Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front received 38% of the vote. Sadly, the two liberal parties, the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance and the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, split the anti-Sandinista vote, 29% and 27%. Had they unified, they would have had a clear majority of 56%, and Nicaragua would not be headed back towards Communist tyranny and government looting again. (Let that be a lesson to conservatives here who plan to "send a message" by voting for Bob Barr this November.)

This rolling catastrophe really makes one appreciate the hand of the divine that gave Colombia the brilliant Álvaro Uribe Vélez... instead of some Ortega-clone, who would have gotten his financing from either Oogo, the drug lords, or both. Too bad Barack H. Obama and the Democratic Congress are intent upon breaking our word to Colombia by tearing up the Colombian Free Trade Agreement and stamping on it; if we were simply to ratify the treaty, we could sell our own goods in Colombia and support freedom and democracy at the same time. Of course, that's almost certainly the exact reason the Democratic Congress won't even bring CFTA up for a vote.

Perhaps Democrats are hoping they can create some CPCs right here, ready to leap into the fray... just in case John S. McCain "steals the election" from the man who bought and paid for it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 17, 2008, at the time of 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 2, 2008

McCain vs. the Poets

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Even Ronald Reagan never did this!

McCain denies claim that he roughed up Sandinista

McCain's longtime nemesis within the Republican senatorial conference, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS, 83%) -- one of the pork kings on our side of the aisle -- chose this precise moment to imitate a monkey at the zoo, flinging poo at Republican nominee John S. McCain:

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., told a Mississippi newspaper that he saw McCain, during a trip to Nicaragua led by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., grab an Ortega associate by his shirt collar and lift him out of his chair....

"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said in an interview with The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever....

"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched... him."

(Only the eplisis at the end of the first paragraph is mine; the rest were in the original. I have no idea what cuts they indicate.)

Closely questioned about the timing of Cochran's attempted (and failed) body slam -- why now, during the presidential campaign, when McCain's opponent is the most liberal senator in the body? -- Cochran's spokeschick, Margaret McPhillips, offered a full, complete, and precise explanation:

"I think Sen. Cochran went in to as much detail Monday as is necessary to make the point that, though Sen. McCain has had problems with his temper, he has overcome them."

"Decades have passed since then and he wanted to make the point that over the years he has seen Sen. McCain mature into an individual who is not only spirited and tenacious but also thoughtful and levelheaded," McPhillips added. "He believes Sen. McCain has developed into the best possible candidate for president."

Oh. Now I understand.

Three amusing points raise Cochran's sandbagging of his own party's nominee to the level where it deserves notice:

  1. There is real bad blood between Cochran and McCain; last month, the former said the idea of nominating McCain sent "a chill" down his spine. I'm a tad skeptical of Ms. McPhillips' suggestion that in today's comment, Cochran was only trying to show how much McCain has "matured."
  2. With (1) in mind, it's especially telling that Cochran evidently thought he would hurt McCain's standing by describing an incident -- hotly denied by McCain and the only other witness AP could find -- where McCain grabbed some scrofulous Sandinista by the scruff of the neck and worried him like a rottweiler with a miniature poodle.

For the historically challenged, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional) were Communist thugs who allied with Castro and the Soviets (a great band, by the way) to seize control of Nicaragua in a 1979 coup. They called themselves the "revolution of poets;" I'm sure you're all very shocked to learn that the leftist Democrats of the 1980s embraced these Communist dictators. I mean, that's so out of character for the post-Vietnam Left.

As Fidel Castro's lapdog, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega attempted to destabilize the rest of Latin America. (Oogo Chavez is today's Ortega; well, actually, as Ortega was just elected president of Nicaragua again, it's fair to say that Daniel Ortega is today's Daniel Ortega.) They struck a long-term deal with the Soviet KGB to help spy on us.

President Reagan had a long-term plan to drive the Sandinistas out of power; among other policies, the "Iran-Contra" scandal is so-named because it was an attempt to use arms sales to Iranian rivals of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini -- such as Hashemi Rafsanjani -- to support the "Contras," guerillas for freedom who fought against the Sandinista machine.

Eventually, the Sandinistas ran Nicaragua into the ground, and they were voted out of office in 1990. As they departed, they took the opportunity to seize massive tracts of land from private and public owners... and handed it out to their friends and cronies, in one of the biggest land-snatching schemes in a continent known for land-snatching schemes.

One assumes that when Ortega is again voted out of office, his personal real-estate holdings will undergo another huge expansion.

It's somewhat puzzling why conservatives -- the group McCain most needs to court now -- would do anything but stand up and cheer him having bitch-slapped some commie thug "down there," as Reagan used to refer to South America. For that matter, the Sandinistas no longer have the support of centrist Republicans and Democrats; maybe their poems weren't good enough. About the only people left who still think of them as the "revolution of poets" are ultra-liberals from the Barack H. Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

Oh yes -- I promised three reasons why this bizarre episode in Thad Cochran's political career deserves attention, but I've only given two so far. Here's another entry in the "you'd think you'd listen to your own words" contest:

  1. Per above, Cochran said, "I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.'"

Er... a "diplomatic mission" -- where "everybody... has got guns?" Evidently, they learned well at the feet of their master, Fidel... who regularly showed up at United Nations meetings sporting a loaded sidearm.

Yep, that's the Sandinistas for you. I'm sure you're shocked, shocked to discover that John McCain doesn't suffer murderous, tin-horn commie dictators gladly. He's always been so pacific towards them, live and let live.

I wonder what would happen if we took one of those polls asking, "now that you know, would you be less likely to vote for McCain -- or more likely? I suspect Thad Cochran's response would be, "Curses, foiled again!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 2, 2008, at the time of 5:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 19, 2008

Oogo Fever: After Big Oil, Can Big Food and Big Gun Be Far Behind?

Econ. 101 , Liberal Lunacy , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Nothing much happened this week. Oh, yes, I almost forgot: A plurality of likely Democratic voters said the federal government should nationalize the entire oil industry. (By the end of next week, I expect George Will to join them, preening all the way.)

According to Rasmussen Reports:

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 29% of voters favor nationalizing the oil industry. Just 47% are opposed and 24% are not sure.

The survey found that a plurality of Democrats (37%) believe the oil industry should be nationalized. Just 32% of voters in Barack Obama’s party disagree with that approach. Republicans oppose nationalizing the oil industry by a 66% to 16% margin [16% of Republicans think we should follow the lead of Oogo Chavez? Great leaping horny toads.] Unaffiliated voters are opposed by a 47% to 33% margin.

I blame public schools.

Meanwhile, marginal Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA, 85%) called for "socializing" the oil industry on a House panel in May:

John Hoffmeister from Shell Oil: I can guarantee to the American people because of the inaction of the United States Congress ever increasing prices unless the demand comes down and the five dollars will look like a very low price in the years to come if we are prohibited from finding new reserves and new opportunities to increase supplies.

Rep. Maxine Waters: And, guess what this liberal will be all about? This liberal will be about socializing... uh, will be about, basically taking over and the government running all of your companies.

Then last Monday, another Democrat in Congress, this time a much bigger fish, has joined the call... at least to nationalize the nation's oil refineries. From a video clip shown during the "all-star" panel on Special Report With Brit Hume last night:

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY, (D) NEW YORK: Do we own refineries? No. The oil companies own refineries. Should the people of the United States own refineries? Maybe so. Frankly, I think that's a good idea.

Just in case the above seems vague, here is Hinchey (D-NY, 100%), who sits on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, clarifying his position... this time on a video played on Neil Cavuto's show on Fox News:

If there’s any seriousness about what some of our Republican colleages are saying here in the House and elsewhere about improving the number of refineries, then maybe they’d be willing to have these refineries owned publicly, owned by the people of the United States, so that the people of the United States can determine how much of the product is refined and put out on the market. To me that sounds like a good idea.

The dirty, little secret is that Democrats really do believe that there's no connection between supply and price... because they sincerely believe in a secret oil-company Illuminati-like conspiracy to keep prices high. Thus, they "reason," it doesn't matter even if we triple or quadruple the world oil supply: Somehow, Big Oil will conspire to hide the oil and raise the price even more.

An article in yesterday's Investor's Business Daily makes the point:

Others have found a new culprit: speculation in oil markets.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a close ally of Obama, held an Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday into just that.

"Increasing evidence shows that the run-up in crude oil prices and gasoline is being driven by larger trader banks, pension and hedge funds. Speculation may have as much, if not more, to do with high gas prices than any Saudi sheik."

Well, yes: The oil futures market has a huge influence on the current price of oil and gasoline. But that doesn't mean it's all controlled via illegal manipulation by a cartel of speculators and oil companies... it just means that investors consider future supply when they decide how much they're willing to value a barrel of oil today.

When you combine a deeply conspiratorial mindset with a propensity to believe in State control over private control, it's no wonder that the Democratic mind tends to see Capitalism itself as a giant pyramid scheme: They don't trust markets, they don't trust the profit motive, they don't trust Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Food, Big Gun, or Big Garment. Heck, they don't even trust the very people they claim to speak for... which is why they must speak for them, of course.

Democrats as a collective (how apt) trust only one "big" on the planet: Big Government. What does that profound difference in worldview mean? Slither on to read more...

The further from the apex of power you look, the more blatant Democrats are about wanting a "progressivist" tyranny of the proletariat, guided by the invisible fist of the Party. Thus Maxine Waters, lower on the DNC totem pole, is willing to come out and say "This liberal will be about... basically taking over and the government running all of your companies;" but the much more powerful Maurice Hinchey only suggests nationalizing refineries, not the entire industry.

And even further down the progressivism food chain, 37% of Democratic voters answer Yes to the question, "Should the government nationalize all the oil companies and run them on a non-profit basis?", while they're evenly divided on the following question: "Suppose a major oil company discovered an alternative energy source that would dramatically reduce the price of gas and other energy sources. If that new energy source would make a lot of money for the oil company, should the company be allowed to keep those profits?"

They don't stop to ask themselves, if this "major oil company" isn't going to be allowed to keep the profits of their invention that would "dramatically reduce the price of gas and other energy sources," why would they bother inventing "an alternative energy source" in the first place?

When you begin shuffling down the Socialist superhighway, you are quickly faced by two reality-based questions that have bedeviled progressivists for more than a century:

  • If you remove the profit motive, with what incentive do you replace it? Why should people work hard if they won't personally benefit? We're not angels in the forms of proles.
  • Once you nationalize an industry, you also "own" the consequences: You can no longer blame the opposition, impersonal forces, or external enemies. What do you do if things get worse, not better?

To resolve the first question, many Democrats now call for a "Manhattan Project-like" crash program to completely substitute "alternative energy sources" for fossil fuels (geothermal cars, windmill-powered airplanes, whatever). They believe that virtually all great inventions and innovations come from government, not the private sector -- which merely hijacks what belongs to "the people" and exploits it to line their own pockets.

But the reality is that aside from very limited and special circumstances such as the pressures of world war, government almost never innovates anything anywhere. It can fund, it can organize, it can certainly help secure exploitation rights of the private developer. But it, itself, does little to bring new products onto the shelves.

Even enormously valuable federal projects, like the nuclear labs, NASA, and DARPA, generally work to demonstrate broad, fundamental engineering principles and concepts; they leave the process of actually making those concepts workable and bringing them to market to the private sector. (And even for basic research, private companies give the government stiff competition: Who has developed more useful inventions, DARPA or Bell Labs?)

The second question is more devastating to the progressivist theory: If the State "owns" energy produciton, in all senses of the verb, then when things begin going badly, everybody will necessarily blame the State. What does a progressivist lawmaker do then?

We see this Catch-22 playing out today: To placate the environmentalist lobby, Democrats have prevented us obtaining oil offshore, from shale, along the outer continental shelf (OCS), in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and in ANWR. But now we have premium gas approaching $5 a gallon here in California.

For some unfathomable reason, voters are pointing the finger at the Democrats who actually caused the problem, rather than accepting the Democratic mantras that it's all the fault of the "failed policies of the Bush-McCain administration" and that "We can't drill our way out of an oil shortage."

Democrats are going to have to do something; something other than haul oil-company executives before congress and harangue them for three hours. But that "something" will probably be to double-down: They will pull drilling bills from the Congressional docket and not let them be voted; they will push an extension of the drilling ban through the House and will try to do so in the Senate (where Republicans will stop them by filibuster); and they will attach ludicrous environmentalist riders to bills that have nothing to do with energy or the economy.

Each of these somethings will be to the same effect: To drive up the price of gasoline higher and higher, because the anointed ones simply know better. They have the vision, and they deserve to rule.

Democrats clearly take their cue from the Marxist machinations of Venezuelan President Oogo Chavez, who nationalized the Venezuelan oil industry starting in May, 2006. So how well did that work out?

In fact, it appears to have been about as successful as Robert Mugabe nationalizing all the farmland in Zimbabwe (where in this case, "nationalizing" means butchering the white owners, their wives, and their children, seizing the land, and handing it over to tribal Mugabe supporters... remarkably similar, if rather more thuggish, than the mass land-snatch committed by the Sandinistas the last time they ran Nicaragua).

Chavez first ordered all oil companies operating in Venezuela to pay a huge chunk of their revenues to the government, unilaterally rewriting longstanding contracts... in the name of the People, naturally. Democrats defended this as "social justice;" real Americans saw it as State extortion.

When that didn't get Oogo enough cash, he went ahead and nationalized the entire industry... and then he fired all of the geologists, engineers, and other professionals at the State-run oil company, PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.), and replaced them with Oogo cronies:

The Venezuelan government claims that between 2006 and 2012 it will reinvest $76 billion of its earnings to increase production, but analysts canvassed by the three reporters who wrote the story think that the figure comes closer to between $2 and $5 billion a year--a drastic short-fall. Moreover, many of PDVSA's activities are now unrelated to oil--it has hatched subsidiaries to distribute powdered milk, or to mill corn, or even to build boats. (Anyone who knows Venezuela can imagine the lush opportunities this offers for illicit enrichment by the agency officials or the military who work with them.) Meanwhile, as oil production falters, the state company has decided to take on more employees. When Chavez took office PDVSA had 48,000 workers. It now has nearly 75,000, and the president-dictator has announced plans to hire an additional 30,000 by the end of next year. (One cannot help recalling the case of the Argentine YPF, which was the only oil company in the world that lost money in the go-go 1970s!)

This kind of crony capitalism is pushing Venezuela to the edge. Under these circumstances it won't take much of a decline in oil prices to destabilize Chavez's regime.

Meanwhile, Venezuela is experiencing a collapse of its (national) health-care industry to respond to epidemics of infectious disease, a collapse of its food industry, and a sweeping crisis of confidence by its people -- even the poor -- in the Venezuelan strongman:

But for each minor policy shift or good economic statistic from the government, Mr. Chávez has stirred deeper anxiety by intensifying threats to expand state control of the economy and society. For instance, Mr. Chávez warned Monday that he would nationalize large food distributors caught hoarding groceries.

Pedro E. Piñate, an agricultural consultant in the city of Maracay, said: “We live in two countries, one inhabited by officials who think they can alter reality by sending soldiers to intimidate citizens. The other country is where the rest of us live in fear of being killed or kidnapped or of our businesses being seized.”

But how can these trivial setbacks dampen the enthusiastic support of Democrats who still think that Fidel Castro is the savior of Cuba, the Sandinistas were a revolution of poets, and who still wear their faded, tie-dyed Che t-shirts? They are far more apt to follow Oogo even farther down that road, because the alternative is for Democrats to admit that they have been wrong all this time -- and to spit in the face of the special-interest lobbyists that maintain them in power. (That is, they would have to commit political suicide.)

The Great Dictator has now begun to nationalize other industries and threatens to nationalize the entire economy. He even tried to give himself full dictatorial powers last December, via a new constitution -- including the power to remain president-for-life. How long before Democrats seize upon a weak-tea version of that "solution" to the second problem?

All it requires is to identify some sector of the economy, no matter how small, which is not yet under direct control of progressives... and nationalize that, too. When that fails, find another. And another. And yet another. Thus they can stave off complete collapse until the current crop of Reids, Pelosis, Obamas, and Murthas retire.

But Democrats are unwise to rely upon the unwisdom and lack of intelligence of the people; the people have a refreshing tendency to be smarter than the Left thinks them. For example, Oogo himself was resoundingly defeated in his attempt to become the Supreme Tyrant of South America six months ago... and now, per the New York Times article above, there is for the first time in years a very strong political opposition building in Venezuela for the regional elections this November, in response to Oogo's overreaching.

And I believe we're going to see the same dynamic here as well: The overreach by Barack H. Obama and the Don't-Drill, Windfall, Nationalizing Surrendercrats is at least as egregious, relatively speaking, as that by Chavez: We expect more sanity from our leaders than they do in South America. (For example, Chavez was overwhelmingly elected in 1998 even though, just six years earlier, he had attempted to seize power in a coup d'état.)

I believe Obama's risible pandering to every nutty theme and meme of the New Left will finally drag him down, ensuring John McCain's election; and I believe the Democrats will not do anywhere near as well as they hope in the Congressional elections. They might even lose some seats, which could mean losing one or both houses of Congress.

I never bet against the wisdom of the American people; but Democrats stake their party's entire future doing just that every two years. They filled a gut-shot straight on the river in 2006, but the odds are against them doing it twice in a row.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 19, 2008, at the time of 6:16 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

It's Not the Crime, It's the Cover Up: NYT Still Shielding Obama On "No Preconditions"

Iran Matters , Media Madness , Mysterious Orient , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, even AP admits that Barack Obama did indeed say that he would hold summit meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Venezuelan President Oogo Chavez, and North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il "without precondition"... the very policy that prompts many in the GOP (including Big Lizards!) to dub Obama an "appeaser."

(Actually, Obama is even more feckless than Neville Chamberlain: Great Britain had no military to speak of in 1938; they used the eleven months between the dissection of Czechoslovakia -- "peace for our time" -- and Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in a massive mobilization and buildup for a long war. Obama has no such easy excuse.)

Yet amazingly, the New York Times continues to run interference. Even today, they still pretend that what's at issue is meeting with our enemies at all, rather than meeting with them at a presidential level without any prior agreement to moderate their behavior.

Here is the Times blog the Caucus on the dustup today between John McCain and Barack Obama:

Mr. McCain, who was in Mr. Obama’s hometown to address the National Restaurant Association, diverged from prepared remarks on economic issues to get in his jab at Mr. Obama.

Believing keeping the focus on national security is advantageous to Mr. McCain, his campaign has been continuing to try to make hay over Mr. Obama’s stated willingness to sit down with the leaders of rogue nations.

The Caucus follows this bare-faced mischaracterization of the nature of the dispute with a spirited defense of Obama, just in case any readers were still confused which side was "right":

Arguing for engagement with the country’s foes, Mr. Obama said in a speech on Sunday that “strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries.”

“That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev,” he said, adding, “I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we’re going to wipe you off the planet.”

He went on to argue that Iran spends “one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen.”

To which, according to the Caucus, John McCain had no answer and was reduced to impotent harumphing...

Mr. McCain seized upon those comments today, his voice stern and dripping with contempt: “Obviously, Iran isn’t a superpower and doesn’t possess the military power the Soviet Union had. But that does not mean that the threat posed by Iran is insignificant.”

How weak! How embarassing! Things certainly look bleak for McCain's chances, when even a wimp like Obama can spank McCain like a stripper at a stockholder's meeting.

By the way, just to correct the record: Reagan certainly did not, as Obama claimed, talk to Gorbachev when the Soviet Union was saying "we’re going to wipe you off the planet." It was Nikita Kruschev who said "we will bury you" in 1956, three decades before Reagan's summit. The whole point of that meeting was that General Secretary Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev had already drastically reformed the Soviet Union -- remember perestroika and glasnost? -- long before Reagan agreed to that summit.

This summit represents the polar opposite of what Obama actually proposed, and which the Times continues to work overtime to suppress: You won't read a word about Obama's promise to hold summits "without precondition" in this article... nothing.

By contrast, here is AP's version of that same exchange:

Republican John McCain accused Democrat Barack Obama of inexperience and reckless judgment for saying Iran does not pose the same serious threat to the United States as the Soviet Union did in its day. McCain made the attack Monday in Chicago, Obama's home turf.

"Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment. These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess," McCain said in an appearance at the restaurant industry's annual meeting....

McCain listed the dangers he sees from Iran: It provides deadly explosive devices used to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq, sponsors terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East and is committed to the destruction of Israel.

"The threat the government of Iran poses is anything but tiny," McCain said.

AP goes on to characterize -- correctly, we note -- the nature of the dispute:

At the heart of the dispute between the candidates is Obama's assertion that, as president, he would meet with leaders of these rogue countries without preconditions. Obama insists that direct engagement with the Soviets helped prevent nuclear war and, over time, helped to bring down the Berlin Wall.

McCain strongly disagrees with Obama's position; he argues such a meeting would lend international prestige to U.S. foes.

"A summit meeting with the president of the United States, which is what Senator Obama is proposing, is the most prestigious card we have to play in international diplomacy," McCain said.

"An unconditional summit meeting with the next American president would confer both international legitimacy on the Iranian president and could strengthen him domestically, when he is very unpopular among the Iranian people," McCain said.

As to Obama's assertion (as paraphrased by AP) that "direct engagement with the Soviets helped prevent nuclear war and, over time, helped to bring down the Berlin Wall," I refer you to our earlier post, Appease Porridge Hot, Appease Porridge Cold: There's engagement (Kennedy style), and then there's engagement (Reagan style).

Back to the Times. The Caucus takes no judicial note of the about-face Obama took after McCain called him out. Responding to McCain, Obama today denied he had said Iran posed no threat to us:

Speaking during a town hall meeting in Billings, Mont., Senator Obama fired back at Senator McCain. “Let me be absolutely clear: Iran is a grave threat.” But the Soviet Union posed a bigger threat, he said.

A grave threat? "Grave," in the sense used here, means "fraught with danger or harm," "portending future disaster," "involving or resulting in serious consequences : likely to produce real harm or damage," "very serious : dangerous to life." But here is what Obama said over the weekend, while he was still trying to defend his promise to meet "without precondition" with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea by pretending that was a commonplace diplomatic act in which U.S. presidents always engage:

“That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev,” he said, adding, “I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."

He didn't say "they don't pose as serious a threat," he said "they don't pose a serious threat." But maybe he just misspoke. He's a Democrat; he has a license to flub. But what about the overarching point?

Suppose Iran completes development of its nuclear warhead. Then suppose it passes a couple of nukes to Hamas, which passes one to al-Qaeda, which smuggles it into a busy American port and detonates it. (Hamas uses its other nuke on Tel Aviv.)

Wouldn't that be far "graver" than anything the Soviet Union actually did to us? Remember, in one sense, the threat from the Soviets was weaker: Unlike Islamist "martyrs," the Soviet Union wanted to live. We deterred them by threatening nuclear retaliation... a strategy we called "mutually assured destruction," or MAD.

Iran could make retaliation unlikely by putting several cutouts between itself and the nuclear bomb; and al-Qaeda or other apocalyptic, human-sacrificing death cults cannot be deterred by threats of retaliation, because they long to die in the blast anyway, believing that's an express ticket to paradise and the 72 virgins and 72 wives (or perhaps chilled raisins instead).

But evidently, none of this has occurred to the first-term senator from Chicago. He cannot conceive any way in which Iran could pose a serious threat to the United States. Except that he simultaneously believes that it constitutes a "grave threat!"

And the Times doesn't notice any contradiction. This raises an interesting thought... Given the New York Times' inability to stay afloat financially, and given their clear ideological leanings -- maybe it would make more sense for them simply to disband the company and reorganize themselves as the Democratic Party of the Times Square District.

I think they would be a lot more financially secure with a piece of Barack Obama's fundraising action than they are now trying to peddle their "newspapers."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 19, 2008, at the time of 3:46 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 7, 2008

Colombian Red

Congressional Calamities , Liberal Lunacy , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

President Bush is formally submitting the U.S. -- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (a free-trade agreement, FTA) to Congress today for ratification or rejection; once he does, senators and representatives have 90 days to act. But many congressional Democrats -- and a few RINOs, such as Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 36%) -- have already signalled that they will fight to defeat it:

The agreement with Colombia, negotiated in 2006, has become a subject of fierce controversy, dividing Republicans from Democrats and Democrats from one another. Supporters of the agreement argue that, by opening new markets in Colombia for American farm goods, machinery, chemicals and plastics, the pact would stimulate the United States economy at a moment in history when the economy sorely needs it.

Opponents say the agreement would accelerate a depressing trend, encouraging American companies to transfer their manufacturing operations to Colombia and adding to the woes of sagging Rust Belt areas in the United States.

This FTA, signed in December, 2005, by President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, mirrors the one also signed by Peru, which the Democratic Congress was eager to accept after some minor amendments on labor and environmental issues (mainly accepting a general right to collective bargaining and agreement that Peru would enforce its environmental laws). The House and Senate both approved the Pervian FTA at the end of December, 2007. A similar FTA with Ecuador is on hold while negotiations are frozen.

The case for the agreement is primarily economic, with no serious dissent that the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement would dramatically increase the ability of American companies to compete in Colombia on a "level playing field" with local companies; this would certainly boost the American economy at a time when that issue is very much on the minds of voters. Opponents assert that it would lead to the "export" of U.S. jobs to South America, though I haven't seen much of an argument to that effect:

President Bush, who has been speaking in favor of the trade agreement for weeks, conceded on Monday that there could be some harmful effects at home, but he said the benefits would far outweigh them. The United States imports grains, cotton and soybeans from Colombia, much of it duty-free under temporary accords already in place. But American exports to Colombia — agricultural products, automobile parts, medical and scientific equipment -- remain subject to tariffs.

“I think it makes sense to remedy this situation,” the president said. “It’s time to level the playing field.” Trade between the United States and Colombia amounted to about $18 billion in 2007.

(As expected, John McCain very much supports the FTA, because it strengthens Capitalism; Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama oppose it for the same reason.)

The Left is very unhappy with the agreement with Colombia, however, because of the ongoing war between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a communist naroc-terrorist "people's army," and so-called "right wing" paramilitaries -- which arose in the 1990s to combat the rising power of the FARC, then consolodated in 1997 as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC); this war has led to many murders of trade-union activists... some of whom may well have been (as the paramilitaries claim) fronts for the FARC, but most of whom were only attempting to "organize" peasants and workers -- albeit using the traditional strongarm tactics of labor movements everywhere.

But leftist and unionist organizations in the United States and other countries have made these deaths into a human-rights crisis; and while they admit that the killings are very much diminished and the paramilitaries mostly disbanded, they still demand -- and the Democrats jump to obey -- that Colombia do "much more" to bring the killers to justice before the Left will support an FTA:

President Bush asserted on Monday that approval of the agreement “will advance American national security interests in a critical region,” in large part because Colombia’s president, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, has done much to eliminate internal violence, including attacks on labor activists, and root out the drug-traffickers who for years linked Colombia and cocaine in the public’s mind.

Moreover, Mr. Bush said, Colombia is a vital counterweight to neighboring Venezuela, where the socialist president, Hugo Chavez, is openly anti-American. Many Democrats have said it is important, in view of the attitude of Venezuela, to bolster relations with Latin American allies of the United States.

But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said on Monday that President Bush’s perspective was skewed....

“Many Democrats continue to have serious concerns about an agreement that creates the highest level of economic integration with a country where workers and their families are routinely murdered and subjected to violence and intimidation for seeking to exercise their most basic economic rights. And the perpetrators of the violence have near total impunity.”

Where this argument utterly fails, however, is in the fact that of all recent Colombian presidents, the current one -- Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who won by more than twenty points over his nearest rival -- has done the most to curb and even dismantle the AUC paramilitaries, and to give unprecedented government protection (bodyguards, security perimiters around their houses and offices, intel from government police) to the very trade-unionist leaders that the Left supports... more than 1500 of them.

Because of these and similar policy changes, deaths of trade unionists and other civilians in Colombia has plummeted almost as much as it has in Iraq. A spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch, testifying before Congress, admitted that killings of trade-unionist leaders has dropped by nearly two-thirds (197 down to 72) from 2001 to 2006; and the first five months of 2007 saw only 13 deaths, for an annual rate of 31... which would be a drop during Uribe's administration of 84%.

(It's of more than passing interest that the enemy driving the bloodiest violence in Iraq is Iran... and Iran is fast becoming the closest collaborator with Colombia's most dangerous enemy -- Venezuela and Oogo Chavez. Meet the new thug, same as the old thug.)

Uribe also fought a brutal and very successful war against the FARC and has stood up to Oogo Chavez and his rampaging Stalinism; and I believe this is the real reason the Latin American Left (hence their me-too parrots in the United States) hates Uribe. That, and the fact that Uribe is a great friend of America -- the man doesn't even hate George W. Bush! What kind of Latin American is he anyway? Uribe has embraced Capitalism, and because of that, has led Colombia to an extraordinary GDP growth rate of 7.5% per year.

Worse, he is an apostate from the Colombian Liberal Party. He replaced the largely ineffective Conservative Party president, Andrés Pastrana Arango, who negotiated a calamitous "safe haven" for the FARC, inside of which they were allowed to operate freely (also for another Communist insurgency, the Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Colombia, ELN). Pastrana was rejected after only a single term, and the safe haven for terrorists dissolved.

But an 84% drop in murders and a dynamic growth rate that is lifting all Colombians out of poverty is evidently not good enough.

Despite Uribe's extraordinary record (or, as I believe, because of it), the Democrats in Congress are trying desperately to stop the Colombian TPA from being enacted... until a Democrat is in the White House, of course. I think it would pass in the Senate, but it's going to be very dicey in the House: Today on Hugh Hewitt's show, he asked Rep. David Dreier (R-CA, 72%) about its prospects, and Dreier refused to predict victory.

But if the Democrats do kill the agreement, it will be a potent economic argument for Republicans to use against them in November: On the one hand, they Democrats gleefully proclaim that we're "already in a recession" (or, per George Soros, de facto kingmaker of the Democratic Party, a "depression"); but on the other hand, they want to raise taxes and prevent American goods from being sold in South America.

The claim that they're only trying to prevent job losses makes no sense, because Colombia can already sell freely in the United States with no tariff; so if an American company wanted to relocate its plant to Bogota for the cheap labor, they can already do so and still sell to the American market. All that this FTA will do is open up Colombia's markets to American companies... which would unquestionably be good for the American economy.

Thus, the only logical conclusion to draw is that the Democrats are not only "talking down" the economy, they're directly trying to drive it down... all just to hurt Republicans in the upcoming elections, without regard to how many American workers and consumers get hurt.

Democratic leaders may find themselves scrambling to defend such anti-Capitalist, anti-American economic policies, given how many Americans are more economically sophisticated than they were just a couple of decades ago. (I blame new media.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 7, 2008, at the time of 6:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 7, 2008

Another FARCing Rebel Taken Single-Handedly

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Ivan Rios, yet another high-ranking leader of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was evidently just killed, in this case by his own bodyguard:

A top rebel leader was killed by his own chief of security, who gave Colombian troops the leader's severed hand as proof, the defense minister said Friday. Ivan Rios was the second top rebel killed in a week, a major setback for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's largest rebel force.

Just a few days ago, as we reported, FARC number two Raul Reyes was slain, slightly inside Ecuador, by Colombian forces in a cross-border airstrike.

Ivan Rios was the first high-ranking, articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking FARC terrorist Colombia has gotten, and only the second top leader period:

The 46-year-old Rios became known across Colombia as one of the rebels' main negotiators in failed peace talks that ended in 2002. Unlike the FARC's mostly peasant leadership, he was a former university student who engaged journalists and foreign envoys in political and economic discussions.

"He was the youngest member of the secretariat. He was very important to the rebels," said Alfredo Rangel of the Bogota-based think tank Security and Democracy. "This shows the army is capable of taking down the rebels' most important pillars and that any of the leaders can fall at any time...."

[Rios] commanded the FARC's central bloc, which operates throughout Colombia's northwestern coffee region. [No wonder they had a hard time handling Rios... he was too jittery to stay in one spot too long.] Security forces say he frequently accompanied the FARC's senior leader, Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, in recent years.

No, I didn't make up that nickname.

They're dropping like thieves. Sure as shootin', some Colombian special forces sniper will shortly sureshoot Sureshot Marulanda.

I don't know why "Rojas" -- Rios' bodyguard -- killed him; there are many possible reasons:

Thursday night, [Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos] said, a guerrilla known as Rojas came to the troops with Rios' severed right hand, laptop computer and ID, saying he had killed his boss three days earlier. [Was the severed right hand clutching the ID card, or what it still busily typing away at the laptop?]

It was unclear what motivated the killing, but Santos said it was to "relieve the military pressure" because the rebels were "surrounded, without supplies and without communication."

The U.S. State Department has a bounty of $5 million for Rios' capture.

Maybe for the money, maybe to appease Colombia and get them to back away from the rest of the frightened "rebels." But whatever Red's motivation, I think we should all give him a big -- round of applause.

(Yeah, I know what you thought I was about to say, you morbid creatures!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 7, 2008, at the time of 11:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 3, 2008

FARCing Follow-Up: Oogo Is Funding the Narco-Terrorist Group

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

By way of a follow-up to our previous post, The King of France Marched Up the Hill With Thirty Thousand Men...

According to the International Herald Tribune, after a Colombian air strike killed top FARC leader Raul Reyes and sixteen of his terrorist cohorts, the Colombians recovered Reyes' laptop (hat tip to commenter MTF). From that laptop, they extracted data that indicates that Venezuelan President Oogo Chavez has been funding the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC -- the Marxist narco-terrorists who have been trying to destroy the democratic, America-friendly Colombian government for decades.

Colombia's police chief said Monday that documents recovered from a slain rebel leader's computer reveal financial ties between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombia's largest guerrilla group, including a recent message that mentions US$300 million in Venezuelan support for the rebels.

The official, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, didn't say if there was any indication in the Feb. 14 message that Venezuela actually delivered this money to the rebels.

This may well explain why Chavez was so devastated by FARC's loss during that raid: It might have been less mourning the passing of Reyes as nervously wondering what evidence Reyes may have had with him when he went.

Bloomberg has a more detailed story; evidently, it wasn't just one laptop the Colombians found, but three. And included among the FARC data recovered is news that the terrorist group has recently attempted to purchase 50 kilos of uranium:

Naranjo said the computer files, which will be subjected to outside analysis, also provided details on the drug-funded group's plans to obtain 50 kilograms of uranium to make bombs as part of a bid to branch into international terrorism. He didn't provide details about the alleged plot.

Buried within the Bloomberg story is this amusing tidbit that puts the whole story in a nutbag:

Among Latin American countries that called for explanation from Colombia on the cross-border raid were Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Argentina and Peru.

So why would those particular countries rush to object to the incursion, while other Latin American countries did not? Well, let's take a look at them:

  • Brazil's president is the socialist head of the Worker's Party, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has close ties to Oogo Chavez.
  • Chile is run by President Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party of Chile. While she is not personally connected to Oogo, it is revealing that, when the UN Security Council needed to fill the Latin American seat, and when the vote among Latin American member states was deadlocked between Venezuela and Guatemala, Chile's vote became a major "litmus test" for support of Oogo Chavez; Bachelet's initial impulse was to vote for Chavez, according to the Chilean ambassador to Venezuela... but eventually, worried about the political implications, Chile abstained from any vote at all. It's not hard to guess where Bachelet's sympathies lie.
  • Nicaragua is now run (again!) by President Daniel Ortega, head of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front), now allied with the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (Constitutional Liberal Party). According to the Beeb, Fidel Castro sent Ortega a congratulatory note after his 2006 election, and Ortega is very close to Oogo Chavez.
  • Argentina is headed by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (wife of former President Néstor Carlos Kirchner), a lifelong member of the leftist branch of the Justicialist Party, founded by Juan Perón. Oogo Chavez stands accused of trying to funnel $800,000 (in cash) into Christina de Kirchner's campaign. Chavez and Kirchner angrily deny it happened; but just today, Carlos Kauffman became the second man to plead guilty in a plot to smuggle a suitcase full of American cash into Argentina from Caracas, Venezuela -- stupidly passing through Miami, where the courier, Guido Antonini, was nabbed.
  • And finally, Peru is bossed by President Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez, a member of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance, APRA), a hard-left socialist party; APRA acts as a "gateway drug" to Marxist revolutionary movements in Latin America. Curiously, not only was Garcia not supported by Oogo, Chavez actively campaigned for Garcia's opponent, revolutionary leftist Ollanta Humala. In fact, Chavez's involvement almost certainly scared Peruvian voters into voting for Garcia.

    However, since his election, Garcia has sucked up to Chavez big time.

We haven't heard protests yet from Bolivia, run by President Evo Morales, another hard-core leftist and Oogophant; but I'm sure we will soon.

But we also haven't heard from -- and likely won't -- countries such as El Salvadore, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Uruguay, or even Mexico... some Left, some Right, but none with any close connection to Oogo Chavez. While it may come as a shock to Americans that Chavez is closely associated with the FARC terrorists, evidently both Oogo's friends and his enemies were well aware of this connection, and they have already chosen up sides.

Finally, one more quotation that I find perversely amusing for some reason, this one from the Earth Times, of all places:

"In the same way that there is information compromising Ecuadorian Security Minister Gustavo Larrea (in dealings with FARC), there is information compromising [Venezuelan Interior Minister] Rodriguez Chacin. We have found photographs of people who met with the rebels," Naranjo said....

However, the Ecuadorian government denied the allegations and claimed that Colombia is only seeking to distract attention from the gravity of the violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty that it incurred in to kill Reyes.

I think I understand: Ecuador is incensed that Colombia violated Ecuador's sovereignty by crossing one mile into Ecuador to kill Raul Reyes... who was operating with impugnity in Ecuador -- a mile from the Colombian border and with full knowledge of Ecuador -- in an attempt to overthrow the Colombian government and usher in a revolutionary Marxist narcostate.

Yes, I can see Ecuador's point. How dare Colombia violate Ecuador's sovereignty to violate Colombia's sovereignty. I can see why a country would get upset when its neighbor violently interferes with its attempts to violently interfere with its neighbor... and not only do I no idea what that means, I'll lay you 2 to 5 I couldn't even repeat it!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 3, 2008, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The King of France Marched Up the Hill With Thirty Thousand Men

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd
There was a goon named Oogo,
Who drove off in his Yugo,
The revolution to go,
Boogo, bloogo, blew...

Today, pudgy Venezuelan strongman Oogo Chavez warned that Colombia was about to start a war... and so saying, he ordered six thousand troops, tanks, artillery, and cinematographers up to the Colombian border.

This was in response to the jaw-droppingly warlike act on the part of Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, ordering Colombian troops to follow the narco-terrorist guerillas of FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) across the Ecuadorean border... where they fell upon the Communist drug lords and killed seventeen of the murderers, including top butcher Paul Reyes.

It's not exactly clear what connection Oogo has with FARC, other than the obvious: Colombia is an American ally; therefore, any enemy to Colombia is brother to Oogo.

But when he found the border
Corrupt and in disorder,
And steenkin' just like Mordor,
The Oogo went where few go,
And stepped into the ordure --
Blowder, glowder glow

But here's where the fun begins. Oogo, you see, has an ego the size of a planet (and not just a little rockball like Venus or Mars; I mean a gas giant... Saturn, at least). He truly believes that he is a god... or perhaps the God, to the extent to which he believes in any god at all. And he quite evidently believes that he (and his ally Ecuador) can simply brush aside the Colombian military -- and any military aid America sends -- like so much cotton candy. He believes the hype of his MoveOn friends that he can conquer Colombia and add it to Venezuela as the twenty-fourth state without consequence because America is "bogged down" in Iraq:

"This is something very serious. This could be the start of a war in South America," Chavez said. He warned Colombian President Alvaro Uribe: "If it occurs to you to do this in Venezuela, President Uribe, I'll send some Sukhois" -- Russian warplanes recently bought by Venezuela.

He called Uribe "a criminal" accusing him of being a "lapdog" of Washington saying "Dracula's fangs (are) are covered in blood."

The slaying of Reyes and 16 other guerrillas, Chavez said, "wasn't any combat. It was a cowardly murder, all of it coldly calculated."

One begins to believe that Oogo has imbibed a bit too much caliphate liquor from his pals the Iranians, and he begins to believe that with Allah (and R. Castro) on his side, he can conquer the entire continent of South America. The influence of the caliphatists is evident, as Oogo adds:

"The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America," an agitated Chavez said, mentioning another country that he has criticized for its military strikes. "We aren't going to permit Colombia to become the Israel of these lands. ... Uribe, we aren't going to permit you."

"Someday Colombia will be freed from the hand of the (U.S.) empire," Chavez said. "We have to liberate Colombia," he added, saying Colombia's people will eventually do away with its government.

This doesn't sound to me like a world leader issuing veiled threats of unnamed diplomatic sanctions, but rather like a belligerent drunkard tossed out of a bar, working himself up to bringing his shotgun back and taking out everybody what ever done him wrong -- in reality or in a whiskey delerium.

He was a petrol hoarder,
A snub and slight recorder,
This Oogo with his
And military nouveau;
This larder overlorder
And terrorist resorter
Said "Uribe, now you go,
And that's a FARCing order!"
Oogo snoogo snew

Believe it or not, if Oogo decides to make good his threat and invade Colombia in support of FARC, it may be the best thing that could ever happen to the bumptious Bolivarian bumpkin... from our perspective. It's hard to imagine that President George W. Bush would pass up the opportunity to crush Oogo's army... legitimately, no "pre-emptive" strike required, and without violating the troop cap put in place in 2000 and 2004.

All we need do is shift some of our SOUTHCOM Naval air forces and special forces from Florida to Colombia, but make it clear this has nothing to do with the drug-eradication program "Plan Colombia," thus is not subject to the 800-troop cap put in place by Congress in 2004. Of course, the American troops already present -- including quite a few special forces -- can function as the anvil against which the hammer of the new forces strikes, pulverizing the Venezuelan army in between them

And the best part is... what are the Democrats going to say, that we should simply let Oogo Chavez annex an entire nation and American ally to boot? The obvious analogy would not be to the Iraq war of 2003 but the Gulf war of 1990-1991; it would be virtually impossible for the Left to argue either that this was a war of American aggression (driving Oogo out of Colombia) or that it was too far away to matter to us -- since it's right in our own backyard.

And the upshot could well be that a defeated, mockable Chavez slinks back to Caracas and is promptly deposed by the dissenters, who currently number at least as many as his supporters. Who knows? He may even have to flee to his new best friend, Raul Castro -- if not to his traditional best friends, the mullahs of Iran.

Of course, he could just be bluffing. Perhaps he's only trying to whip his people into a patriotic, bloodthirsty fervor, the better to militarize Venezuelan society even more than it already is. He could stand at the Colombian border and shake his fist at the running-dog imperialist lackeys of the Great Satan, then lead the troops home in a glorious victory parade. Sure, nobody will quite be able to articulate what, exactly, was won; but when has that ever stopped demagogues?

Sadly, I suspect this is the more likely scenario. But perhaps a stern warning or two might so inflame the Oogo that he flings caution to the winds, hops on his horse, and gallups madly off in all directions.

We can only hope.

The Oogo and his crew go,
Like pirates from Tortugo,
Across the magic border,
Snorder, snooder snoo...

The border in short order
Is filled with bloody morder,
And Oogo's armored Yugos
Become taquito to-gos.

Caracas sues for quarter,
And Oogo's now a porter
(Hauls your bags where you go,
Trujillo up to Juneau)

No mullah more may through go
Our border thanks to Oogo;
The hydra's one head shorter --
Florder, flewder flew!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 3, 2008, at the time of 6:20 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 3, 2007

Venezuelan Strongman Throws Hissy Fit - the Rest of the Story

Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

This is by way of an update to our previous post, Venezuelan Strongman Throws Hissy Fit.

As most of you know by now, in an amazing and joyous slap in the face of the pudgy premier, the voters of Venezuela appear to have actually turned down Oogo Chavez's bid to become El Presidente for Life... and the concomitant bid to consolodate all governmental power within his bloated fist:

Voters in this country narrowly defeated a proposed overhaul to the constitution in a contentious referendum over granting President Hugo Chávez sweeping new powers, the Election Commission announced early Monday.

An opposition group celebrated after the referendum. Venezuela had remained on edge since polls closed Sunday afternoon and the wait for results began. More Photos >

It was the first major electoral defeat in the nine years of his presidency. Voters rejected the 69 proposed amendments 51 to 49 percent.

I say "appears to have" because with Oogo, you never know for sure; he could do an about-face tomorrow, declare a recount, and pronounce that the recount showed he had really won... once the Election Commission (controlled by Chavez) and the Supreme Court (controlled by Chavez) rejected a few tens of thousands of "fraudulent" ballots cast by traitors and American dupes.

He has already threatened to cut off our oil supply if we "interfered" with the anti-constitutional election; and of course, interference is clearly "proven" by Chavez's loss. This is, however, a particularly feeble punishment, considering that oil is basically fungible: If Venezuela sells the U.S. less oil, instead selling to China, then other members of OPEC on the world oil market will (necessarily) be selling less to China by that same amount -- and will happily sell it to us to make up the difference.

Of course, we could simply bypass all the malarky by drilling for our own oil in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Santa Barbara, and yes, even in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); that would yield more oil per year than we currently get from Venezuela.

If only the Democrats would deign to let us use our own oil, rather than forcing us to buy from Wahabbis and Venezuelan communists. If you don't want to be paying $5 - $6 a gallon for gasoline -- then vote Republican.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 3, 2007, at the time of 3:41 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 2, 2007

Venezuelan Strongman Throws Hissy Fit

Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

President Oogo Chavez of Venezuela has threatened to nationalize (that is, confiscate) the Venezuelan subsidiaries of two Spanish banks, Banco Santander SA (BS) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA).

BBVA purchased the Venezuelan Banco Provincial a decade ago; BS purchased nearly all of Banco de Venezuela in 1996 for about $350 billion. Both transactions occurred before Hugo Chavez was first elected president of Venezuela in 1998 -- but after he attempted to overthrow the government by coup d'état six years earlier.

So why is Chavez threatening to seize the Spanish banks? Let's allow him to tell it in his own words:

"Are we going to turn the page, are we going to forget? No!" Chavez told hundreds of thousands of supporters at a campaign rally ahead of a vote Sunday on changes to Venezuela's constitution.

"The only way this is going to be fixed is for the king of Spain to offer an apology for having attacked the Venezuelan head of state," Chavez said.

Otherwise, "I'll start thinking about what actions to take," he continued. "Spaniards bought some banks here, and it doesn't cost me anything to take those banks back and nationalize them again, and put them in the service of the Venezuelan people."

So... how exactly did King Juan Carlos of Spain "attack[] the Venezuelan head of state," as Chavez said, speaking about himself in the third person again? Why, King Juan told Chavez to "shut up" at a conference in Chile?

And why did he do that, other than the obvious (that Chavez is a pissant bully whose very forte is boorish behavior)? Because the thuggish Chavez called former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar a "Fascist."

I see the adults are once again running things in South America. Meanwhile, word from the electoral front is that voting is strangely light in areas known to be friendly to Oogo:

The referendum, which follows several weeks of street protests and frenetic campaigning around the 69 proposed amendments, appeared to unfold largely without irregularities and violence. Still, turnout in some areas was unexpectedly low, particularly in poor districts that are traditional bastions of loyalty for Mr. Chávez.

We don't know yet whether the Venezuelan people are going to vote today to allow Oogo to essentially remain president for life, without having to worry about future elections or recalls, and to give him a Castroite level of dictatorial power to "formally establish a socialist state". We can only hope the Venezuelan people have finally come to their senses; we should find out late today or early Monday.

Nobody knows how the tyrant-in-waiting will react if his referendum fails. Perhaps he can threaten to nationalize the entire electorate if they don't give him what he wants.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 2, 2007, at the time of 2:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 25, 2007

The Pentagon's New Map - Simplified

Grand Strategy , Military Machinations , Moslem Miscellany , North Korea Nastiness , Southern Exposure , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I just realized I can boil down much of what Thomas P.M. Barnett writes in his book the Pentagon's New Map to a single pair of sentences. This drops all the fine detail, of course; its advantage is that it makes the central point as clear as a nutshell.

Barnett divides the world into two regions: the Functioning Core and the Non-Integrating Gap. And I can define those two thus:

  • The Functioning Core comprises the nations whose people say "We love life." This includes all those countries that are taking advantage of globalization to interconnect their economies, their communications, and their legal systems to the rest of the civilized world, hoping to "immanentize the eschaton" -- or at least create la dolce vita.
  • The Non-Integrating Gap comprises the nations whose people say "We worship death." This includes all jihadist states, of course, but also places like Rwanda-Burundi, Congo, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Haiti... places where life is a flickering spark, and murder is a negotiating tool or an expression of tribal triumphalism.

I use the verb "to worship" with great deliberation: it's not an abstract love of death that animates these cultures; rather, it's almost like human sacrifice -- as if they must appease a dark and terrifying Chaos Lord by feeding him blood and souls.

Although the details are important, it's also critical to understand that our Grand Strategy over the next few decades (what replaces the Cold War) is the fight between the culture that loves life and the culture that worships death. Our task is to shrink the geographic area that comprises those nations that are members of the latter... to deny our enemy territory.

Clear enough?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2007, at the time of 4:33 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 20, 2006

Reruns of the Zarathustra of Zocalo Plaza

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In our last chapter of the never-ending Mexican soap opera, discussing this summer's presidential election in Mexico -- in which the more-or-less conservative candidate, Felipe Calderón, beat the leftist candidate who (he says) speaks for the poor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- we posed the 701,696-peso question:

The "Mexican Left" has gathered to mull the great question of the day: should they actually accept the democratic decision, or should they try to start a civil war and kill thousands of fellow Mexicans, just to install their own dictator in Los Pinos?

That's a toughie.

Well, today we know the answer. Today, in a farcical ceremony just eleven days before the actual inaugural of Calderón, defeated presidential candidate López Obrador had himself "sworn in" as the "legitimate president" (did the Rev. Al Sharpton preside?) His followers, gathered as usual in Zocalo Plaza, have sworn to raise violent street protests and national strikes until the courts overturn the election and declare the leftist candidate el presidente.

And in a more ominous turn, at least one of López Obrador's followers predicted that Felipe Calderón would not serve out his term:

"We are going to make Calderon realize at all times that he is an illegitimate leader," said 55-year-old Beatriz Zuniga, an unemployed professor of Latin American studies. "He's got a limited amount of time. This man will not finish his term."

Let us hope that Professor Zuniga -- presumably no relation whatsoever to Markos Moulitsas Zúniga -- only means that he expects Calderón to be legally removed, as unlikely as that seems, rather than something more sinister.

Our previous blogging on this critical topic is here:

  1. Teleblogging 2: I Think Calderón Has Won...
  2. "Democratic" López Obrador Threatens Revolution If He Loses
  3. The More I Hear From the Obradorians...
  4. Felipe Calderón Wins
  5. Mexico Headed for Civil War?
  6. The Zarathustra of Zocalo Plaza
  7. Eeny-Meeny Lesson Learn, Should We March Or Should We Burn?

An earlier story on Reuters predicted that huge numbers were going to turn out to see López Obrador enthroned, even if only as the "parallel president," as he sometimes styles himself:

Mexico's leftist opposition leader was to swear in as "legitimate president" on Monday to revive his flagging campaign against a July election he says was rigged and to prevent his conservative rival from running the country.

Tens of thousands of supporters were expected to cram into Mexico City's vast Zocalo square to see Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador take an oath of office in a ceremony that has no legal weight but could mark the start of new street protests.

Alas, I can find no word on how many of them actually made it. In any event, it's one thing to "cram into... Zocalo square;" but if Andrés Manuel López Obrador thinks the same number will grab torches and pitchforks and charge the Mexican parliament to drive away the man who actually won the election, the parallel president may suddenly look up and mutter, "say, where'd everybody go? And who turned out the lights?"

From the AP story:

It remains to be seen whether Lopez Obrador can keep up the momentum. Some members of his leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, have already expressed disagreement with Lopez Obrador's strategy of using Congress - where the PRD is now the second-largest force - as an arena for protests rather than negotiations.

Writing in the Mexico City daily Reforma, columnist Armando Fuentes described Lopez Obrador's "swearing in" ceremony as "laughable" and "a circus act, a farce."

But in fact, big lizards has been predicting just such a circus act for months now. López Obrador suffers from the dread afflicition of Post-Election Trauma, or PET, which is what he's in. PET begins with an endochronic phenomenon:

  1. An election is scheduled;
  2. Months before the vote, the Left decides that the election is in the bag, there is no way they can lose;
  3. By a mysterious process, "we can't lose" morphs into "we already won." (See Zippy the Pinhead: "am I reelected yet?") The election itself is demoted to a mere formality to announce to the world the results that have already occurred (in the minds of the leftist candidate and his supporters);
  4. Election Day comes, and bizarrely enough, the conservative ends up with more votes;
  5. The irresistable force, a "leftist win" that was preordained months earlier, collides with the immovable object: a vote count that runs counter to the duly recognized ante-election;
  6. The Left reaches the only logical and rational conclusion: the bloody vote was rigged, and everybody to the right of Hugo Chavez is involved in the vast conspiracy to steal the presidency.

(PET is also know by its synonym, Albert's Derangement.)

Alas, unlike most other diseases, sufferers of PET do not become weaker, aren't confined to their beds, and the only fluids they tend to drink are adult beverages, which actually fuel the disease. Thus, they can do a lot of damage as they rampage through a community; or in this case, an entire country.

López Obrador himself seems to embrace PET in every particular, right up to using force to get his way after failing at the ballot box:

Some of Lopez Obrador's closest aides have suggested they will follow Bolivia's example and try to use protests to force Calderon from office, as demonstrators did with a succession of leaders there. Lopez Obrador has not ruled that out.

"Nobody wants violence in our country, but there are people who give grounds for violence," Lopez Obrador said last week. "There are a lot of people who say that, after July 2, the path of electoral politics in no longer viable." [Translation: elections are quaint but so old fashioned! We "liberals in a hurry" have faster means to select a national leader.]

I am utterly certain that somehow, by some occult connection, Squeaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight/Ashbury, 100%) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) will find a way either to cure this disease within our southern neighbor... or at the very least, discover a way to blame it on President Bush.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 20, 2006, at the time of 10:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 18, 2006

Eeny-Meeny Lesson Learn, Should We March Or Should We Burn?

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

The "Mexican Left" has gathered to mull the great question of the day: should they actually accept the democratic decision, or should they try to start a civil war and kill thousands of fellow Mexicans, just to install their own dictator in Los Pinos?

That's a toughie.

Our previous blogging on this critical topic is here:

  1. Teleblogging 2: I Think Calderón Has Won...
  2. "Democratic" López Obrador Threatens Revolution If He Loses
  3. The More I Hear From the Obradorians...
  4. Felipe Calderón Wins
  5. Mexico Headed for Civil War?
  6. The Zarathustra of Zocalo Plaza

Here is the conundrum of the week, as the Obradorians ponder whether to light the fuse:

Supporters of leftist Andres Manuel López Obrador will hold an open-air convention in the capital's sprawling Zocalo square to hammer out strategy after losing the July 2 vote by a marginal 234,000 votes.

Organizers predict 1 million people will turn out at the event, which could name López Obrador the leader of a civil resistance campaign or the head of an alternative government.

Delegates will likely take the second path and symbolically declare López Obrador president, a softer option which means fewer street protests against Calderon, who is set to take office on December 1.

Say... who does this remind you of? Are López Obrador and his acolytes going to end up a bunch of sore-losermen?

Leftists had paralyzed the Zocalo and main streets in the capital for six weeks to protest what they say was vote-rigging but ended those demonstrations this week to allow a military parade to be held on Saturday.

Some other protests are planned before Calderón takes office, Camacho Solis said, and López Obrador supporters are adamant they will not go quietly.

"It is going to be very rough for Calderón. Wherever he goes, we'll be there to remind him he became president through fraud," said nurse Lidia Alvarado, 51, in the Zocalo.

Maybe Markos Moulitsas Zúniga can open a southern branch office. He grew up in El Salvadore, so the language is certainly no barrier. Perhaps Daily Kos will have more luck influencing future elections in Mexico than here.

In any event, I haven't seen anything in the news about what momentous decision the portentous and pretentious Obradi-Obradorians made, if any. We'll keep our ear to the grindstone and let you know what develops.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 18, 2006, at the time of 5:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 5, 2006

The Zarathustra of Zocalo Plaza

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In Mexico Headed for Civil War?, we fretted that the continued defiance of leftist loser Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his announced refusal to accept his defeat -- even now that it has been certified by Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal, the "top electoral court" -- has the potential to develop into an outright civil war.

What does a civil war entail? The organized mass killings we see in Iraq don't rise to the level of a civil war, for example, and there isn't even any similar deadly violence sweeping Mexico -- yet -- over the presidential election. So what is needed for that definition?

One requirement of a civil war is the creation of a "shadow" or "parallel" government, run by those who were not elected (either because they lost or because they never even ran). The parallel government issues proclamations as vox populi, the "voice of the people."

López Obrador appears on the cusp of taking exactly that step:

López Obrador barely mentioned the impending decision Monday during his nightly address to followers in the Zocalo.

Instead, he focused on an upcoming national convention of his supporters to decide if he should declare himself head of a parallel government whose members would propose a series of government reforms. [Ah yes... "reforms." If (false) "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel," as Samuel Johnson said, then false "reform" is the first refuge, as Big Lizards declares.]

"This movement is now about transforming the country," [López Obrador] said.

The lack of a shadow or parallel government is one reason there is no civil war in Iraq. But such a formation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a civil war; Great Britain, along with many other parliamentary democracies, has a "shadow cabinet" comprising the opposition leader and those who would be the real government were control of Parliament to shift. Thus, the Conservative shadow secretary of state for defence in Britain, Liam Fox, would ordinarily become the actual secretary of state for defence (minister of defence) if the Conservative (Tory) party were to win the next election. It's not required; he could be replaced; but it's customary. (And note the British spelling of defense, which should solidify my coolness factor.)

But this doesn't imply imminent civil war in the UK. Nobody suggests that David Cameron is going to declare himself the new prime minister, absent an election, and storm Westminster.

The other factor required would be for López Obrador's parallel government to raise its own army and put it in the field against the official Mexican army, with the intent to put López Obrador in Los Pinos, the presidential palace. So far, that has not happened; but we're still concerned about López Obrador's mob, which he controls from his tent-city in Zocalo Plaza:

Neither candidate was at the session. López Obrador ate breakfast with lawmakers from his Democratic Revolution Party, then arrived at his protest tent in Mexico City's Zocalo plaza where he has been sleeping for nearly two months....

The convention is planned for Sept. 16, Mexico's Independence Day in the Zocalo, where the armed forces traditionally gather for a march down Mexico City's main Reforma avenue. Both places have been occupied by protesters for more than a month.

The clock is ticking. López Obrador must realize that the longer President-elect Felipe Calderón, soon to be President Felipe Calderón, continues to function as he was elected to do, the more people will lose interest in López Obrador, eventually forgetting about him altogether. If he is going to move, he must move swiftly.

So we'll keep a patient, unsympathetic, lidless, lizardly eye upon events down south; it would be terrible if our next-door neighbor had to fight a civil war.

But better by far a war, than to allow a leftist revolutionary, close friends with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez (who himself is buddies with al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iran), to simply seize power in Mexico without a shot, because the Mexicans were too indecisive to defend their democracy. So if López Obrador looks ready to move -- please, President Calderón, move first.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 5, 2006, at the time of 4:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 1, 2006

Mexico Headed for Civil War?

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

(And if they are -- think of the refugees!)

This AP story builds upon the increasingly violent antics and agitation of losing leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the "Democratic" Revolution Party (not enough Democratic, too much Revolution). Evidently, he has completely rejected the very concept of democracy: Leftists always love democracy... when they win. When they lose, it's a bourgeois running-dog imperialist plot against the people:

Vicente Fox was forced to forego the last state-of-the-nation address of his presidency Friday after leftist lawmakers stormed the stage of Congress to protest disputed July 2 elections.

It was the first time in modern Mexican history a president hasn't given the annual address to Congress....

"Whoever attacks our laws and institutions also attacks our history and Mexico," he said [in a written version of the speech that was blocked], a thinly veiled reference to leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The opposition lawmakers took over the stage in Congress, waving Mexican flags and holding placards calling Fox a traitor to democracy. They ignored demands that they return to their seats, shouting "Vote by Vote" - a rallying cry for López Obrador's bid for a full recount in the election.

Hm... does "vote by vote" sound anything like "count every vote?" I wonder if the Obradorians are as hypocritical, cynical, and mendacious about their slogan as the Gore campaign was about its. (Probably so.)

We've blogged on this curious contest several times before; for those interested in spelunking, here are the earlier posts:

  1. Teleblogging 2: I Think Calderón Has Won...
  2. "Democratic" López Obrador Threatens Revolution If He Loses
  3. The More I Hear From the Obradorians...
  4. Felipe Calderón Wins

I reckon number 2 was the most prescient of the lot:

The standoff came six days before the top electoral court must declare a president-elect or annul the July 2 vote and order a new election. So far, rulings have favored ruling party candidate Felipe Calderón, who was ahead by about 240,000 votes in the official count.

López Obrador has already said he won't recognize the electoral court's decision, and he plans to create a parallel government and rule from the streets.

So we have a close presidential election -- Calderón won by about 244,000 votes out of 41 million, or 0.6% -- and the leftist sore loser won't concede, instead calling out his supporters to riot in the streets. Again, the name is unfamiliar, but you should at least recognize the odor.

Only López Obrador goes even farther than simply trying to sue his way into the presidency, as Gore did; López Obrador has more guts: he clearly plans the violent overthrow of the Mexican government (perhaps with help from his close friend, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías in Venezuela), then to install himself as the new "people's president," assuming Al Sharpton is finished with the title. More than likely, People's President for Life -- just like Chávez.

If he's serious, if he doesn't plan to back down, then there will be civil war in Mexico, something we haven't seen since the days of Santa Anna and the Pastry War of 1828 and 1838-9. But it looks grim down there:

Protesters occupying Mexico City's center said they were ready to do whatever it takes to support Lopez Obrador. Fernando Calles, a 26-year-old university professor, said he was ready to fight for the former Mexico City mayor "until the death, until the final consequences."

"We lived 500 years of repression, and now we represent the new face of Mexico," he said.

The tight election left the nation deeply divided, with Lopez Obrador - who portrayed himself as a champion of the poor - alleging that fraud accounted for an official count showing him 0.6 percent behind Calderon.

Rival Reuters has a few more facts:

López Obrador's supporters have paralyzed central Mexico City with protest camps and he has vowed to make Mexico ungovernable if Calderón's victory is confirmed....

López Obrador railed on Friday against what he says are Mexico's corrupt institutions, such as the courts.

"To hell with their institutions," he told a rally of supporters in Mexico City's central Zocalo square. But he called on them not to march to the Congress building, where violent clashes had been feared.

To me, this truly reads like a gang banger hyping himself up to start shooting; you know, when they start running the dozens with the rival bangers in the parking lot, getting more insulting and vitriolic with every exchange... until someone busts a cap.

It's hard to believe López Obrador can raise his mob of tens of thousands to a fever pitch... and then just walk away without a war.

This affects America hugely: if Mexico degenerates into a civil war, the first thing that will happen is hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of hysterical Mexicans will pour across our border, where we have no hope of stopping them at the moment... particularly since they will claim "refugee" status -- and not without a good case.

But the next problem is that the Bush administration and Congress will have a very difficult decision to make: do we just stand idly by and watch a Communist dictatorship take over our southern neighbor and ally? Or do we take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them -- maybe.

If you think we have a threatening "southern exposure" now, with a relative conservative like Vicente Fox (former high executive at Coca-Cola) as president, just imagine how bad it would be with Communist-leaning Andrés Manuel López Obrador... especially having seized power by force of arms.

Recall that López Obrador is extremely close to Venezuelan People's President for Life Hugo Chávez -- who has a tight working relationship with Iran, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. A Mexico run by López Obrador is a continuously open invitation for Moslem terrorists to flood into our country... probably hiding amongst the mass wave of legitimate refugees fleeing the forced-labor camps that López Obrador will start building.

But on the other hand, do we really want to intervene in Mexico yet again? I would rather we did, if the alternative is to allow López Obrador to seize control by civil war or coup d'état. But it might be a hard sell to Congress right about now, just before the elections.

On the third hand (yeesh, Kerryitis strikes again!) it would be another perfect opportunity for Democrats to prove themselves childish and feckless about national security, perhaps also waking people up to the dangers all around us -- and especially the danger of an unsecured border, with a goon like López Obrador lurking in the shadows.

Remember... every challenge is an opportunity! Unfortunately, it's as much an opportunity for failure as success. We must choose, and we may have to choose quickly.

I sure hope somebody in la Casa Blanca is on top of this.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2006, at the time of 10:07 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 6, 2006

Felipe Calderón Wins

Elections , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

As Big Lizards first predicted in Teleblogging 2: I Think Calderón Has Won..., conservative Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) of Vicente Fox has been officially declared the winner of the Mexican election:

The ruling party's Felipe Calderon won the official count in Mexico's disputed presidential race Thursday, a come-from-behind victory for the stiff technocrat. But his leftist rival refused to concede and said he'd fight the results in court.... [Why do I have this curious sense of déjà vu? -- the Mgt.]

With the 41 million votes counted, Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party had 35.88 percent, or 14,981,268 votes, to 14,745,262, or 35.31 percent, for Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party. The two were separated by 0.57 percent, or 236,006 votes.

This is, of course, nearly identical to the unofficial, preliminary tally of Sunday, which ended with Calderón ahead by 0.6%. In this age of computerized ballot counting, recounts usually are.

And right on cue, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is calling out his supporters for an "informational" protest -- which I still predict will turn into violent street battles, as Big Lizards suggested. From the AP story linked above:

On Thursday, the former Mexico City mayor said that widespread fraud - not campaign missteps - cost him the election, and he called on his supporters to gather Saturday for an "informational assembly."

"We are always going to act in a responsible manner, but at the same time, we have to defend the citizens' will," he said.

He denounced election officials for going forward with an official count of poll-workers' vote tallies, as required by election law, and ignoring his demand for a ballot-by-ballot review.

"We are going to the Federal Electoral Tribunal with the same demand - that the votes be counted - because we cannot accept these results," Lopez Obrador said.

So keep a weather eye to the south, but don't let López Obrador cause you to lose sight of the fact that, regardless of "the citizens' will," the voters willed that Felipe Calderón should be the new president of Mexico.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2006, at the time of 4:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The More I Hear From the Obradorians...

Elections , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

...The more convinced I am that the conservative Felipe Calderón has won. Even though the current (incomplete) recount has Obrador slightly ahead.

With nearly 95 percent of tally sheets recounted at 300 district headquarters across the country, former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had 35.9 percent, compared with 35.3 percent for Calderon. The preliminary count completed earlier in the week had Calderon winning by 1 percentage point.

Officials from Calderon's party said Lopez Obrador was only leading because more votes had been recounted in areas where he was strongest, and they insisted the trend would not hold.

They also accused the Lopez Obrador's party of stalling tactics in states where the conservative Calderon was strongest, saying it was deliberately trying to give the impression that Lopez Obrador was ahead as the count progressed.

All right, so that's the claim. How is the López Obrador campaign reacting to the count as it proceeds? Are they reacting as people who are confident of their victory -- or as people who are getting nervous, because they suspect it's not going to hold up? You be the judge:

Lopez Obrador insisted he was victorious and said there was "serious evidence of fraud."

Leonel Cota, president of Lopez Obrador's party, accused election officials of deliberately mishandling the preliminary count to confirm a win for Calderon, the ruling-party candidate. He said Lopez Obrador won Sunday's vote.

"We are not going to recognize an election that showed serious evidence of fraud, that was dirty from the start, manipulated from the start," he said.

I have no crystal ball (and my Magic 8-Ball says "Ask again later"), but people who really believe they've won an election typically don't scream about fraud or threaten not to recognize the election results, eh?

Cota said Democratic Revolution would not recognize the results without a ballot-by-ballot recount. But IFE President Luis Carlos Ugalde said that was not possible....

Cota said the party might take its case to international tribunals.

That's the view from inside the campaign: clearly, the Obrador camp does not believe its current lead is going to hold up. But how about the view from the masses of Obrador voters, the ones who might engage in violent street protests if they don't get their way? So far, the outlook is not good -- but it's not yet scary, either:

About 35 people set up camp Wednesday outside IFE's gates, draping banners that accused electoral officials of being traitors, and about 300 protesters marched down Mexico City's broad Reforma Avenue carrying a banner reading: "Respect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's victory!"

"We're not going to let them get away with this," said 62-year-old Enrique Flores, a retired Mexico City school teacher.

Well, I'd have to say they don't believe the lead will stand either, and they're already setting the stage for their grievance and riot when Calderón is declared the winner. I still can't say for sure that he will be, of course; when an election is this close, anything can happen.

But that's quite obviously how voters on both sides of the aisle expect the count to go. What do we make of that?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2006, at the time of 1:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 4, 2006

"Democratic" López Obrador Threatens Revolution If He Loses

Elections , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) edged away from "democratic" and closer to "revolution" today as Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in a throwback to the days before there was democracy in Mexican elections, vowed street action if he is not declared the winner:

Mexico's leftist presidential candidate, narrowly trailing his conservative rival in the vote, will call street protests if necessary to challenge an election he says was plagued with irregularities.

Senior aides to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he was first taking his challenge to election authorities but may then bring out supporters to back his fight against the apparent razor-thin victory of ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon.

"We are not calling for immediate demonstrations but of course it could happen at some point," Manuel Camacho Solis, the candidate's main political operator, told Reuters.

But of course. López Obrador thus lives down to every negative campaign ad run by his opponent, conservative Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) of Vicente Fox, comparing López Obrador to anti-Democratic thugs Oogo Chavez of Venezuela and his sock puppet, Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Yesterday, we asked the question, "has any political party whose name contains any variant of the word 'revolution' ever done anybody any good?" Yesterday, López Obrador was still pledging, per the New York Times, to follow the democratic process, even if he lost:

Mr. López Obrador said at a downtown hotel he would respect the decision of the election institute even if he lost by one vote. Yet in the same breath he maintained he was convinced he had won by 500,000 votes. "This result is irreversible," he said.

Today he dropped the respect and embraced the irreversibility:

Camacho Solis said supporters were already pushing Lopez Obrador, the combative former mayor of Mexico City, to take his cause onto the streets. Many militants remember the 1988 election when fraud was widely believed to have robbed a leftist of victory.

"People do not want a negotiation, they do not want us to accept the result, but we have to guide the movement politically so it doesn't end up in a greater confrontation."

Algore must be Green with envy, asking himself, "why didn't I think of that?" After losing the election, Gore clumsily tried to sue his way into the White House on the widely recognized legal theory that if the Democrat and the Republican are neck and neck in the vote, then there is no conceivable way the Democrat could have lost.

(A Gore-ollary: if a Democrat flips a coin and calls "tails," and it lands temporarily out of sight, then there is no conceivable way the coin could have landed "heads.")

The current count, with nearly all precincts reporting, has Calderón ahead of Orbrador by 1% of the vote, or 380,000 votes:

Unofficial results from more than 98 percent of all polling places showed Felipe Calderón, the fiscal conservative backed by big business, with a lead of one percentage point over Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the fiery leftist whose campaign championed the country's poor.

Several political and financial analysts said they believed that Mr. Calderón's 384,000-vote lead, narrow as it was, was unlikely to be reversed, with only about 800,000 more votes to be tallied, but Mr. López Obrador said that the preliminary tally was flawed and that he planned to challenge it in court.

For López Obrador to reverse the result in the remaining 800,000 votes, he would have to win 590,000 to 210,000, or 74% to 26%.

Late in the afternoon, Mr. López Obrador denounced the preliminary results, saying they could not be trusted, and showed copies of reports from polling places that did not conform to the results announced by federal election officials. He also asserted that three million votes were missing and had not been counted.

Assuming that is true, for those three million votes to turn the tide, he would have to win them by better than 56% to 44%; even if these phantom "three million votes" actually exist, López Obrador has not given any reason to believe they're all from poor and Socialist-leaning parts of Mexico. And what does he mean by "missing," anyway? Has he examined the voting machines? Or is he basing this on the fact that turnout in pro-López Obrador states fell short of PRD's expectations?

I suspect what he is actually doing is preparing a "battle cry" for the upcoming violent street protests, as he tries to seize by the bullet what he lost by the ballot: "Remember the three million disappeared!"

The PRD believes that it was robbed in a previous election in 1988:

The Democratic Revolutionary Party, or P.R.D., has come close to the presidency once before. In 1988, its candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas, lost the presidency to Carlos Salinas de Gortari of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

In that race, the computers whose tallies showed Mr. Cárdenas with a comfortable lead over Mr. Salinas mysteriously blacked out, and when they came back on line they showed Mr. Salinas in the lead.

The claim of electoral theft is not universally accepted by any means; but even if it were true, it's one Socialist/Leftist party (the oxymoronic Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI) cheating another Socialist/Leftist party (the PRD). The National Action Party of Fox and Calderón played at most a peripheral role.

This isn't the World Cup: even if the PRI stole an election from the PRD eighteen years ago, that doesn't give the PRD license to steal an election from the PAN today.

Mexico stands at a crossroads. On the left hand is the López Obrador-driven return to the dark days of Socialism, poverty, corruption, and violence; on the right is the dawn of capitalism and rule of law, led by Felipe Calderón and the National Action Party. If Mexico chooses the right path, confirming the stunning break of 2000 -- when Vicente Fox defeated the PRI, which had controlled Mexico under single-party rule for seventy years -- then I believe it will be democracy in Mexico, not Socialism, that is "irreversible."

And the fiery Andrés Manuel López Obrador can return to his home state of Tabasco or to Mexico City and give up his dreams of joining Fidel, Hugo, and Evo in trying to return Stalinism to Latin America.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 4, 2006, at the time of 12:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 3, 2006

Teleblogging 2: I Think Calderón Has Won...

Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

...But nobody is in a position to say for sure yet.

We're talking about the critical Mexican election yesterday, of course; both the mostly-capitalist candidate Felipe Calderón, of the National Action Party of Vicente Fox, and the Socialist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party, claim to have won (has any political party whose name contains any variant of the word "revolution" ever done anybody any good?), and the election is too close to call via the cursory count Sunday night.

But look at the difference in what the candidates themselves say:

Lopez Obrador said late Sunday that he would respect the delay in declaring a winner, "but I want the Mexican people to know that our figures show we won...."

Calderon spoke minutes later, saying he too will respect the results -- but that the official preliminary results, as well as the exit polls, show that he's the winner.

Now, anything can happen; and I suspect Mexico is a lot less rigorous about their polling (and possibly their counting) than even we are. But it's very, very rare that when both the exit polling and also the preliminary count show one person winning, the other person ends up winning instead with the final count.

Of those two, the exit polling is the weakest reed; but it is a completely separate measure than the preliminary count. If both point to Calderon (and not even López Obrador disputes this), I have a hard time believing that both will be proven wrong. It's not unheard of, but it's very unlikely.

In a longer AP story, we get some actual figures:

Preliminary results posted by the electoral institute showed that, with 44 percent of polling stations counted, Calderon had 38 percent, Lopez Obrador 36 percent and Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party with 19 percent. Those results were tallied at polling stations, and had yet to be certified....

Exit polls indicated National Action did well in three governors races - Morelos, Guanajuato and Jalisco - while Marcelo Ebrard of Lopez Obrador's party easily won the Mexico City mayor's post.

As for Congress - key to determining whether the next president will be able to push through reforms - none of the parties received a majority. Two exit polls, both with a 1.5 percent margin of error, gave National Action 35 percent, Democratic Revolution 31 percent and the PRI 28 percent of the lower house of Congress.

Obviously, nothing is set in stone; but a 2% lead is good to carry into more detailed counting... and it's not as small as originally intimated (not within 1%). It's also not a good sign for a candidate when the only polls he can cite to show he's ahead are those conducted by his own campaign.

This election plays as a mirror of American politics. According to the New York Times:

Mr. Calderón, 43, said he would create jobs through securing more private investment and by cutting taxes. Mr. López Obrador, 52, said he would spend $20 billion on social programs and public works to jump-start the economy.

It's Bush vs. Gore! And another cliff-biter!

So keep your fingers crossed, and let Mexico get on with the counting.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 3, 2006, at the time of 1:53 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Jungle Fever

Southern Exposure , Unuseful Idiots
Hatched by Dafydd

The insanity continues in Venezuela, which rapidly heaving towards becoming the Zimbabwe of South America. Dictator Hugo Chávez is desperately continuing the charade that the United States plans to invade Venezuela any day now... so they must immediately rearm with massive shipments of Kalashnikovs from Russia:

Chavez hands out rifles, says US won't defeat him
Jun 14, 2006
by Patrick Markey

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Wearing his old army uniform and red paratroop beret, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handed new Russian-made rifles to troops on Wednesday, vowing Washington would not defeat his socialist revolution.

Venezuela received a shipment of 30,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles earlier this month [on June 3rd] just weeks after Washington banned U.S. arms sales to Caracas over concerns about Chavez's close ties to longtime U.S. foes Cuba and Iran and what it called his inaction against Marxist FARC guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.

One of the surest ways of recognizing a military dictatorship is that it incessantly warns that the Great Satan plans to invade at any moment, so therefore they must crack down, re-arm, and throw all political opponents in la calabooza. So far as I know, the United States has never invaded Venezuela.

The rifles in question are AK-103s; the 103 is an upgrade on the famous AK-47, probably the most widely dispersed and used rifle in the world today... and especially popular among murderous terrorist and revolutionary groups, to the chagrin of the rifle's creator:

Mikhail Kalashnikov says he designed the assault rifle that bears his name to fend off the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

But six decades later, he laments its transformation into the worldwide weapon of choice for terrorists and gangsters.

"Whenever I look at TV and I see the weapon I invented to defend my motherland in the hands of these bin Ladens I ask myself the same question: How did it get into their hands?" the 86-year-old Russian gunmaker said.

Big Lizards can answer that question.

The AK-47 became the "worldwide weapon of choice for terrorists and gangsters" because Mr. Kalashnikov's motherland, the Soviet Union, and its successor, the Russian Federation, madly exported it to every brutal terrorist, tinpot dictator, and revolutionary wannabe on the planet, so long as they were loud and angry anti-Americans.

And that is exactly how Hugo Chávez got the upgraded version, the AK-103, this month: from Russia, with love. It's the first installment of 100,000 rifles that he bought from Russia -- along with their blessing for him to build an AK-103 rifle and ammunition factory in Caracas, to spread even more misery, revolution, and terrorist thuggery around Latin America. From Reuters again:

Soldiers, sailors and airmen, in battle fatigues and faces daubed with camouflage paint, took turns marching up to hand Chavez old rifles and receive new AK103 rifles -- the first batch of 100,000 Venezuela purchased [from Russia] last year.....

With Russian help, Venezuelan [sic] plans to build a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition factory near Caracas that will start producing the weapons in about three years.

Venezuela has already purchased 10 Russian attack helicopters and plans to buy more. Chavez said his government had also decided to buy Russian Sukhoi 30 jets to replace its U.S.-made F-16 fighters, but gave no details.

Big Lizards can answer that question. Chávez is switching to Su-30s because the United States has ceased supplying Venezuela with spare parts to maintain their small fleet of Fighting Falcons, due to Chávez's flirtation (I think it's more like heavy petting now) with China, Iran, Cuba, and narco-terrorists in Colombia.

The Russians, however, happily sold a hundred thousand of Mr. Kalashnikov's children to the Robert Mugabe of the Western Hemisphere despite knowing that he consorts with jihadi terrorist groups that engage in mass murder and preach genocide of the Jews, such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

[Thomas A. Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs], a career diplomat serving in a post usually held by a political appointee, also expressed concern about "groups and individuals" in Venezuela with "links to terrorist organizations in the Middle East."

He declined to be more specific, but U.S. military officials have in the past noted the presence in Latin America of groups linked to Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization. [Sic; Hezbollah is actually based in and funded by Iran. Lebanon is just their biggest FOB. -- the Mgt.]

Chávez has also cemented ties with revolutionary terrorist groups, such as FARC and ELN, in order to meddle by force of arms in the internal affairs of Venezuela's neighbors, such as Colombia. Unquestionably, some of these very AK-103s will be slipped into the hands of butchers in Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana, as well as across South and Central America... and particularly into Peru.

In addition, [Shannon] said, "the western part of Venezuela has always been a wild place," and members of Colombian guerrilla groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC] and the National Liberation Army [ELN] have "moved with a certain amount of ease."

"But over time, we've seen what appears to be a more structured relationship," he said. "There appears to be more movement of weapons across the frontier into Colombia, and some of it comes from official Venezuelan stockpiles, and it almost certainly involves the participation of Venezuelan officials, either corrupted or not."

Chávez nakedly meddled in the recent election in Peru, where he suffered a setback when the candidate he backed, Ollanta Humala, was convincingly humiliated at the polls; he lost to former President Alan García, generally considered the worst past president in Peru's history, by 55 to 44... after earlier leading the pack by a substantial margin.

Perhaps the next time a neighboring country holds an election -- say, Peru again in a few years -- rather than simply campaign with the most rabidly Stalinist, anti-American candidate running, Hugo Chávez will simply use his gifts from Russia to cast his vote in a more emphatic manner.

Thank you, Vlad.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 14, 2006, at the time of 4:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 5, 2006

The Lesser Evil In the Andes

Elections , Politics - Internationalia , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In Peru's election runoff yesterday, populist former President Alan García seems to have beaten Communist rebel leader and Hugo Chávez accolyte Ollanta Humala:

With 77 percent of the vote tabulated, electoral authorities said Mr. García had captured more than 55 percent of the vote versus 44 percent for his opponent, Ollanta Humala, an upstart nationalist who promised to redistribute the country's wealth.

(This margin of victory will surely narrow as more of Peru's rural districts, Humala's stronghold, are counted.)

The previous term of Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez, 1985-1990, was marred by corruption and economic collapse:

Voters had seen the race as an unappealing choice between a former president whose first administration had been an unmitigated disaster and a former army officer who once led a military rebellion. But voters saw Mr. García as the lesser of two evils. "It is sad, but what can we do?" said Víctor Rondoy, 48, an electrical engineer, moments after voting for Mr. García. "At least García will be more democratic."

Mr. García's return is one of the most startling in a region where former presidents, even those who left in disgrace, have returned to power years later. His rule from 1985 to 1990 was characterized by four-digit inflation, food scarcity, rampant corruption and growing violence by the rebel group Shining Path.

Wikipedia is rather more specific:

Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez (born May 23, 1949 in Lima) was President of Peru from 1985 to 1990. His presidency was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, social turmoil, human rights violations, increasing violence, increase of blackouts in Lima, international financial isolation, a failed attempt to confiscate the 2 main banks and economic downturn.

Humala was seen as being in thrall to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, whose stolen recall election was tainted by fraud. This was on the minds of Peruvian voters Sunday, and many appeared to consider García the lesser evil.

NOTE: I had originally written that the recall election of Chávez was so tainted by fraud that even Jimmy Carter refused to approve it. But I misremembered, as reader and blogger Xrlq noted. In fact, the Carter Center did indeed accept the results of that very tainted election, where right up through election day, polls and even exit polls by Penn, Schoen, and Berland showed the recall winning by up to 18% -- but when the Chávez people counted the ballots, it turned out, miracle of miracles, the no votes had actually won... by 18%. See, for example, Richard Baehr writing on the American Thinker. When exit polls are off by a couple, three percent, that's normal and unremarkable; it means nothing. But when a well-designed exit poll is off by 36%, that is a very strong indicator of fraud on somebody's part. (Some other web sources go to bat for Chávez, including Wikipedia... but of course, by the very nature of Wikipedia, we have no idea who wrote that article or what were his biases.)

Big Lizards has been following the Peruvian election, even though our preferred candidate, conservative Lourdes Flores Nano, came in a very close third in the first round of voting in April. She had been leading the pack before the April 9th round of voting; but when Humala came out of nowhere to take first place on April 9th with 30% of the vote, Flores and García found themselves neck and neck (alas, this quotation is from an AP story that is no longer available):

Humala had 27.3 percent of the vote with 46.2 percent of the ballots counted. Pro-business former congresswoman Lourdes Flores had 26.5 and Alan Garcia, a center-leftist ex-president, got 26.1.

But Humala had a wider lead in an unofficial voting sample more representative of the nation. Those results, from the widely respected election watchdog Transparencia, showed him with 29.9 percent of the vote, while Flores and Garcia had 24.4 percent and 24.3 percent respectively. The projection, based on 928 voting tables, had an error margin of less than 1 percentage point.

Sadly, center-right Flores was edged out in the end by center-left García; but at least García was able to beat Humala, the "Chávez-lite" of Peru, which isn't chopped liver.

Flores is only 46 years old, and she can certainly run for the presidency again in 2011 (she will be 51) -- Peru's 1993 constitution forbids incumbent presidents from running for re-election, so it may well come down to Flores vs. Humala... a contest we're very hopeful Flores will win.

The question is whether, in the meantime, García will institute real capitalism in Peru, or give in to his old "demons" of corruption, nationalization of banks, and printing money like the New York Times prints newspapers.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 5, 2006, at the time of 3:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006

Peru Flirts With Chavez-Lite...

Elections , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

...But none of the twenty presidential candidates is even close to a majority, so a runoff is almost unavoidable.

According to AP, Peruvian populist Lt. Col. Ollanta Humala likes to style himself in the mold of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez; his deepest support comes from the rural, Andean mountain provinces once controlled by Peru's "Shining Path" Communist insurgency, which has been more or less moribund for nearly fifteen years now. This part of Peru is still a hot-spot for Marxist-Leninism, as well as virulent anti-white racism.

Humala managed to score a plurality in the presidential elections; but he did not achieve a majority. He will face a runoff against either a center-right former congresswoman, Lourdes Flores, or against center-left former failed Peruvian President Alan Garcia. Both Ms. Flores and Mr. Garcia are much lighter-skinned than Col. Humala, which may play a roll in Peru's racial-charged electorate.

Humala threatens to rule like Chavez; Flores and Garcia promise to maintain Peru's fairly Capitalist economy.

Humala had 27.3 percent of the vote with 46.2 percent of the ballots counted. Pro-business former congresswoman Lourdes Flores had 26.5 and Alan Garcia, a center-leftist ex-president, got 26.1.

But Humala had a wider lead in an unofficial voting sample more representative of the nation. Those results, from the widely respected election watchdog Transparencia, showed him with 29.9 percent of the vote, while Flores and Garcia had 24.4 percent and 24.3 percent respectively. The projection, based on 928 voting tables, had an error margin of less than 1 percentage point.

Assuming that these numbers hold up -- and that whoever takes the second slot (Garcia or Flores) starts with at least the same base of voters as he or she had on the first ballot -- that means that to win against Humala, the Capitalist candidate will need to take about 56% of the vote of those who voted for one of the eighteen other candidates. Since both Garcia and Flores consider Humala anathema -- and assuming their followers by and large do as well -- there is a very good chance that one or the other will be elected instead of the Leftist, authoritarian light-colonel.

  • Lourdes Celmira Rosario Flores Nano has been a member of the Partido Popular Cristiano (Popular Christian Party) for her entire adult life. She is very well known in Peru, having run for president in 2001 and having served for several years in the Congress of the Republic. She was also one of the constitutional commissioners who helped write the new constitution after President Alberto Fujimori threw out the 1979 version.
  • Alan Garcia served a catastrophic term as president. As Wikipedia puts it:

    Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez (born May 23, 1949 in Lima) was President of Peru from 1985 to 1990. His presidency was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, social turmoil, human rights violations, increasing violence, increase of blackouts in Lima, international financial isolation, a failed attempt to confiscate the 2 main banks and economic downturn.

    Other than that, though, he did a great job. His argument today is that his wretched decisions, corruption, and power-drunk dictatorship were all the result of youthful exuberance and high spirits.

Big Lizards is keeping its claws crossed for sanity -- and Ms. Flores -- to prevail in the runoff election. The last things that Latin America needs right now are another Hugo Chavez... or another Jacques Chirac.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 10, 2006, at the time of 5:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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