The lie – that central planning and a command economy run by enlightened socialists is superior to capitalism.
As usual, that’s been proven to be false … again … and as irony would have it, capitalism is their savior.
Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.
His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late president and critic of what he called U.S. "imperialism."
I know, you’re just surprised, right? I mean, Venezuela, pre-Chavez, was pretty much self-sufficient. And the new, better way that Chavez promised – *cough* socialism *cough* – was going to make Venezuela the economic jewel of South America. That is, after he stripped the foreign companies of their assets and nationalized or took over the businesses of the home-grown capitalists first, and then put himself in charge of the economy.
And, as usual, the result of that tired old plan played out exactly as it has everywhere else in the world. It failed miserably:
It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez’s self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor.
But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. "The rice industry has been very good to us," Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.
It isn’t just rice. Production of steel, sugar and many other goods has fallen in Venezuela, leading to occasional shortages. Until recently, Venezuela was largely self-sufficient in beef and coffee. Now it imports both.
In this year’s first half, the U.S. exported $94 million of rice to Venezuela, a 62% jump from a year-earlier, making Venezuela the U.S.’s fourth-largest rice market, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Overall, Venezuelan imports have quadrupled since Mr. Chávez took office, to $59.3 billion in 2012 from about $14.5 billion in 2000, according to Venezuela government figures and economists at Barclays PLC. Exports to Venezuela from the U.S. hit $12 billion in 2011, up 16% from the previous year, the latest U.S. government figures show.
I remember the US bailing out the Soviet Union year after year when its wheat harvests again failed to produce the needed grain. Socialism fails again. Command economies have never worked (except in the short periods of warfare). Complex systems like economies do not lend themselves readily to central control and function properly. No central authority is able to a) know all the variables that comprise a healthy economy, or b) how to weight them or c) understand their complex interactions. Healthy economies are true grassroots systems. They are driven by billions upon billions of buying decisions made by individuals – something the socialists would prefer to ignore.
Venezuela is just the latest in a long line of countries and economies who have fallen for the utopian promises of socialism and again proven that it is and always will be a leftist fantasy. Unfortunately, real people end up suffering for the “dream” of something for nothing. But the belief must be ingrained somewhere in the genetics of our species because time and again a new group falls for the promise and ends up flat on their face while the capitalists are thankfully there to bail them out.
You know, the folks who promised us engagement … “reset”, etc. The one’s who told us how bad the other guy and his terrible foreign policy were. You remember. Well, here’s a CNN columnist’s view:
America’s foreign policy has gone into a tailspin. Almost every major initiative from the Obama administration has run into sharp, sometimes embarrassing, reverses. The U.S. looks weak and confused on the global stage.
Hey, if even CNN can’t spin this mess positively who can, and this lady doesn’t even try (well, she tries, but not very hard and certainly not very convincingly). In fact, she hits upon a very concise description of our foreign policy’s state. In fact, they’d like to have the state of foreign affairs George Bush left them.
For instance, recently in The Washington Post recently said, concerning our “reset” relationship with Russia:
U.S. relations with Russia officially settled into a trough this week when President Obama canceled a summit planned for next month with Vladimir Putin, familiar surroundings for two countries that regularly approach each other only to turn away in disappointment.
The White House decision to call off the summit, announced Wednesday, marked the end of Obama’s attempt to revive a relationship that by 2008 had reached its lowest point since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union!? … and some say before its fall. Quite a “reset” – back 30 years. Does anyone wonder why Russia felt froggy enough to keep Snowden? See “weak and confused on the global stage”.
A headline in a major Egyptian state newspaper this week referred to the proposed U.S. envoy to Egypt as the “Ambassador of Death.” Posters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a center of pro-government rallies, depict President Barack Obama with a beard and turban, exclaiming his “support for terrorism.”
Another large Egyptian newspaper alleged Sen. John McCain, who traveled to Cairo this week in an effort to break a deadlock between the government and its Islamist rivals, has chosen sides by employing Muslim Brotherhood staffers in his office.
The moves highlight the depth of public distrust of U.S. policies, and draw from a “reservoir of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial theories,” said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior Obama administration adviser.
America, he says, has few fans in the country after the 2011 overthrow of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak and last month’s military ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi. “We’re caught in a situation of having to essentially try to find a balance between our values and our interests. It satisfies nobody,” Mr. Nasr said. “The Mubarak people are unhappy with the way he was shoved off without a thank you. The military thinks we coddled the Brotherhood and didn’t intervene to control them. And the Brotherhood thinks that we never supported them when they needed support, and then gave the green light to the military.”
Or said another way, this administration screwed the pooch about every way it can be done. And that’s after that fabulous Cairo speech too. Go figure?
Then there’s Benghazi, al Qaeda setting our open and closed times on Middle Eastern embassies, spying on Europe and giving Israel the cold shoulder … not to mention the apology tour.
Yes, it’s an unmitigated disaster.
But don’t worry – when Hillary finally runs for president, my guess she’ll still be haled as the greatest Secretary of State evah!
Just hide and watch.
The old means of changing government is back. The Egyptian military is reportedly staging a coup.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is reportedly under house arrest after the military ultimatum expired Wednesday, reports Al Hayat TV.
Morsi’s spokesman denied the report, according to ABC News, but word of the house arrest provoked cheers in Tahrir Square.
This comes as Egypt’s military moved to tighten its control on key institutions before their afternoon ultimatum expired.
The military stationed officers in the newsroom of state television on the banks of the Nile River in central Cairo. Troops were deployed in news-production areas.
Officers from the army’s media department moved inside the newsroom and were monitoring output, though not yet interfering, staffers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the arrangements.
Apparently, this is the plan:
Under a plan leaked to state media, the military would install a new interim leadership, the Islamist-backed constitution suspended and the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved.
And our position, as reported by ABC?
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is urging Morsi to address the people’s grievances and the White House is also warning Egypt’s military that a coup could jeopardize relations with the United States.
Oh, and where in the world is John Kerry?
You remember the US position when the supposed “Arab Spring” began in Egypt – Mubarak had to go and the Muslim Brotherhood was not a radical organization, but a benign one which had trasformed itself over the years. And their candidate for president would bring democracy to an oppressed people and make Egypt an even better ally of the US.
Yeah, right. If that passes for “smart diplomacy”, then I’d hate to see dumb diplomacy (although, in this context, “smart diplomacy” seems rather Orwellian, doesn’t it?).
So now where are we? Well certainly nowhere near where we’d like to be. And, in terms of the best interests of the US, Mubarak looks pretty good right now. Meanwhile Obama and Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador to Egypt are about as popular in that country as Paula Deen at an NAACP convention.
The demonstrators maintain Morsi has become a power-hungry autocrat who is intent on making the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt’s permanent ruling party.
They also blame the Obama administration and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson for propping up Morsi and facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood’s power grab.
“We are very critical of the Obama administration because they have been supporting the Brotherhood like no one has ever supported them,” Shadi Al Ghazali Harb, a 24-year-old member of Egypt’s Revolutionary Youth Coalition, told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday afternoon during a telephone interview from Cairo.
The White House is “the main supporter of the Brotherhood,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the American support this president would have fallen months ago.”
Al Ghazali Harb specifically dubbed Patterson “the first enemy of the revolution,” claiming “she is hated even more than Morsi.”
Activists hung pictures of Patterson with a red “X” drawn across her face at Egypt’s Defense Ministry during smaller protests Friday afternoon.
“She’s done a lot to harm our relations with the United States,” Al Ghazali Harb said.
Oh. But … we’re the good guys, right?
Well it all depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? Mubarak was bad but Morsi is worse and the coalition that opposed Mubarak now oppose Morsi. But what they know without anyone having to have anyone spell it out is the US went to some lengths to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And now that faction has become as bad if not worse than what it replaced.
I don’t believe the opposition coalition is much better organized than it was when Egyptians were trying to oust Mubarak. But there is no question, given the huge numbers of protesters, that they’re not happy with Morsi or the Brotherhood.
They’ve discovered what we were telling you from the beginning – the Muslim Brotherhood is a radical, Islamist organization with marked totalitarian tendencies. That argument is over. The debate now is whether or not they can hold onto power in Egypt. If I were a betting man, I’d be taking the protesters and give points.
Meanwhile, our rudderless foreign policy boat continues to drift without direction with Swiftboat Kerry and Lead From The Rear Admiral Obama at the helm.
And it has primarily happened under this administration as Bret Stephens outlines in his Wall Street Journal piece. The Snowden chase has been most instructive in how little influence American now has. When your naive foreign policy is to have other countries “like” you instead of understanding the respect is currency you should be dealing in (and also understanding how you earn that), then the results are predictable:
At this writing, Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive National Security Agency contractor indicted on espionage charges, is in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insists his government is powerless to detain him. “We have nothing to do with this story,” says Dmitri Peskov. “I don’t approve or disapprove plane tickets.”
Funny how Mr. Putin always seems to discover his inner civil libertarian when it’s an opportunity to humiliate the United States. When the Russian government wants someone off Russian soil, it either removes him from it or puts him under it. Just ask investor Bill Browder, who was declared persona non grata when he tried to land in Moscow in November 2005. Or think of Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, murdered by Russian prison officials four years later.
Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong, where local officials refused a U.S. arrest request, supposedly on grounds it “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.” That’s funny, too, since Mr. Snowden had been staying in a Chinese government safe house before Beijing gave the order to ignore the U.S. request and let him go.
“The Hong Kong government didn’t have much of a role,” Albert Ho, a Hong Kong legislator, told Reuters. “Its role was to receive instructions to not stop him at the airport.”
Oh … so those freedom loving countries couldn’t do anything? Both just ignored us. That’s right, because they knew what? There’d be no reprisal nor would they suffer any harm for ignoring us. In fact, today it was decided that ignoring the US would have no lasting or negative effect on US-Chinese relationships. In fact, China shot back:
China rebuked the United States on Tuesday for accusing it of facilitating the flight of fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, and said suggestions that it had done so were “baseless and unacceptable”.
Oh, what the heck. We all know a toothless tiger when we see one and the US is perceived as such right now. Don’t believe it? Look at how well our new SecState “negotiated” our position in Afghanistan:
Merely to get the Taliban to the table for a bogus peace process, the administration agreed at Pakistan’s urging to let Mullah Omar come to the table on his owns terms: no acceptance of the Afghan Constitution, no cease-fire with international forces, not even a formal pledge to never again allow Afghanistan to become a haven for international terrorism. The U.S. also agreed, according to Pakistani sources, to allow the terrorist Haqqani network—whose exploits include the 2011 siege of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul—a seat at the table.
Yet having legitimized Haqqani and given the Taliban everything it wanted in exchange for nothing, the U.S. finds itself being dumped by its own client government in Kabul, which can always turn to Iran as a substitute patron. Incredible: no peace, no peace process, no ally, no leverage and no moral standing, all in a single stroke. John Kerry is off to quite a start.
Stunning. Not surprising, given the cast of characters, but stunning in its demonstration of the level of incompetence this administration demonstrates daily.
And Russia – they’re so unimpressed with this administration that they’ve redefined “reset” to mean they can pretty openly cheat on the 1987 missile accord and fear no consequences. That while the Taliban, after getting all they wanted from Kerry, then turned around and attacked the Afghan presidential palace in a brazen attack. Obviously they fear no meaningful consequences for that either.
Oh, yeah, they’re on top of it all aren’t they?
So sure, after doing such a great job in the areas mentioned, and don’t forget Libya and Egypt, by the way, this disastrous crew want to involve us in Syria?
You remember the grand promises a certain candidate made in 2008. And in the area of foreign policy he told us how huge a mess it was and how he was going to clean it up and how the world would love us again. He was going to “reset” relations with Russia and get us out of all these wars. Oh, and of course, solve the problems in the Middle East.
Yeah, that was then and this is reality:
The [Middle East] is unraveling and American policy is in deep disarray. Our strategic options are getting worse, and the stakes are getting higher. When former President Bill Clinton is warning that his successor risks looking “lame” or like a “wuss” or a “total fool,” it’s a safe bet that the Kremlin and Tehran aren’t impressed by White House statements. Meanwhile the Obama administration seems to be locked into a sterile, short-term policy approach driven by domestic considerations; it is following the path of least resistance to a place that in the end will please no one and is increasingly likely to lead to strategic disaster.
An insightful article by the Democratic-leaning Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg offers a deeply unsettling view of a Syria foreign policy process gone off the rails. If Goldberg has the story right—and he usually does—Secretary Kerry and the bulk of the White House security team want the President to authorize a no-fly zone and other strong measures in Syria, in part because they fear that American dithering in Syria is empowering the hardliners in Tehran and that by avoiding a small war in Syria now the White House risks a much uglier confrontation with Iran not all that far in the future. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants nothing to do with it, pointing to the difficulties and costs of the military mission.
And rightfully so. It has also really “reset” relations with Russia … to the Cold War era. Well done, Mr. President. But that’s not the real problem is it? It is how we got in this mess in the first place: Amateur Hour at the White House:
As Goldberg tells it, the biggest problem for the administration is that its early aggressive, poorly judged rhetoric that Assad “must” go now makes it impossible to avoid Obama’s looking like an irresolute bluffer if the Butcher stays put. This is the conclusion, anyway, that both Russia and Iran will draw, and they will respond by pushing the US along other fronts as well.
This is an entirely self-created problem; there was absolutely no objective reason for the administration to lay those markers on the table. There was no requirement in America’s foreign policy that the administration bounce in with the categorical demand that Assad step down.
That is absolutely correct. But as is mentioned further on it was fighting for re-election and didn’t what there to be a wimp factor. As usual, politics trumped what was best for the nation.
So in every real way, this administration has lived up to few if any of it’s grand promises of 2008. In fact, if truth be told, the honeymoon is over with Europe. The proof, as they say, is in the turnout:
When John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him. Fifty years later a far more subdued invitation-only crowd of 4,500 showed up to hear Barack Obama speak at the same location in Berlin. As The National Journal noted, “he didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one-hundredth the size of JFK’s,” and far smaller than the 200,000 boisterous Germans who had listened to his 2008 address as a presidential candidate.
As for the Middle East … well there’s no love lost there either. This administration has fumbled everything to do with the region during it’s tenure and has no one to blame but themselves. They’ve totally and without any help, managed to bottom out our image in the area in the same way they’ve bottomed out the economy. If this guy isn’t the worst president with the worst team we’ve ever had inflicted on us … twice … then I don’t know who might be. And don’t even get me started on the “leadership” in Congress – from both parties. They’re absolutely the worst yet. That may come as small consolation to the administration, but the combination of the two is killing us.
A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.
And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.
Look, Obama’s legacy is important to Democrats because it may mean victory or defeat for the next Democratic presidential candidate. And like it or not, a scandal plagued 2nd term isn’t going to help his legacy or the Democrat’s next chosen presidential candidate. In fact, one of the reasons Obama is in the White House now is the successful negative portrayal of the Bush years by the left and the press.
In the case of Obama, the press and done it’s best to dampen the reach of the scandals, but it is, for once, failing in it’s endeavor. The scandals are too wide ranging and hit too close to home to fears the citizenry has held concerning government’s abuse of power. And make no mistake, these scandals are all about abusing power.
Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.
“Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”
Of course naive youngsters who really haven’t been around for or paid attention to scandals of the past, certainly might want to believe their idol, Barack Obama, is involved in this. But you can see as well as I can, as more and more info comes out, that minds are changing. This is a serious shot at the Obama legacy. Or at least that’s what 51% of Americans are saying:
Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government’s massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.
Ironic, no? The 4% drop I mean. It has dropped as a “very important issue to the nation” because another scandal has popped up.
So what’s the Obama playbook say you do when it goes from bad to worse?
Hello Syria ….
Our local Noble Peace Prize winner has put himself in quite a quandary, hasn’t he? He’s decided that since he thinks Syria has used chemical weapons, it is our business to intrude on what is essentially a civil war, and give arms to an opposition whose makeup includes Islamic terrorist groups. Because, you know, some “bright line” has been crossed … or we think has been crossed, and according to R2P (apparently) we have to “P” or something (I guess the horrific numbers of death just weren’t enough to invoke that until chemical weapons, huh?).
Of course an obvious possibility in this case, since the Syrian government thinks that it is being punished for the use of chemical weapons, is they’ll now say “screw it” and use them liberally. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Even if they haven’t used them, there’s no “up” side anymore for them not using them now is there? World condemnation? We’ll we’re in the middle of manufacturing that right now, aren’t we?
Meanwhile you might remember that we “reset” relations with Russia because that darn Bush administration had screwed them up so royally.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.
“I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario,” Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.
Oh. Wait. Didn’t they tell us if a Republican was elected we’d see relations with Russia head back toward the Cold War era (btw, what Russia is alluding to is hurrying the deployment of the advanced S-300 missile system if we persist in this nonsense)?
Syria is a “no-win” situation for us if we intervene. Most of the intel I read says the opposition is riddled with Islamic extremists and Islamic extremist groups. Is it wise to arm such people? Well, a sane person would say “no”. A sane person would also stay the heck out of interfering in Syria.
But there are scandals to be dampened and distractions to be made. Because, you know, the Chosen One’s rep is much more important that a sane foreign policy or the lives of our military members.
I assume you’re aware of the riots in Turkey. The people of Turkey, or at least a unhappy group of them, are making themselves and their feelings known in a very direct way. According to the WSJ, it began over a park in Istanbul that was going to be replaced by a housing development and shopping center (since the Turkish government controls the media, this “cause” could be as flaky as the anti-Islamic video causing Benghazi). The natives, or at least some of them, are not happy about that.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not happy about the situation either. Why, how dare these people question his government and its motives. They’re pure as the driven snow:
“If you can call someone who is a servant of the country a dictator, then it leaves me speechless,” he said in a televised speech. “I have no aim other than serving the nation.”
The siren song of every dictator I’ve ever heard of or read about. My guess he borrowed the words from Mr. Assad in Syria, who, may have gotten them from Saddam Hussein, who … well you get the picture. And add a little “Bolivarian revolution” to the statement and the dead but unlamented Hugo Chavez or his mentor Fidel Castro could have said them.
Perhaps the most interesting statement, however, came from someone in the street:
People are angry because the government is interfering in everything, be it the alcohol restriction, building of the third bridge, or the new Taksim Square. Everything has piled up, and that’s why people protest,” said Erdal Bozyayla, a 29-year-old restaurant worker who supported the protesters and condemned the violence.
I’d like to believe that’s the real sentiment behind those riots and protests. It may not be. But it got me to thinking what it would take in this country for people to actually take that sort of direct action (and no I’m not condoning or calling for violence … direct action doesn’t have to be violent – witness the civil rights movement). Oh, sure, we’ve had the “Tea Party” rallies and the like, but what is happening in Turkey is obviously much different than that. And if they sentiment expressed is the true cause, why is it that a country like Turkey, with only a short history of freedom (now under concentraged attack by the latest “servant of the country”) apparently have the gumption to say “enough”, when we simply roll over each time another of our freedoms is taken or pared down.
Now, I recognize there could be all sorts of other factions, to include extremist Islamist factions who don’t think Erdogan is moving far or fast enough, could now be trying to co-opt the protests and turn them into something else. But still, was the spark really “the government is interfering in everything” and if so, when, if ever, will that spark be struck here?
Well, there’s been a significant amount of silence from those who were "there" and a lot of smoke thrown by those who were in charge. You have to wonder if this is about to break big or it will continue to be swept under the rug: