Archive for December, 2008

The End of the Subsidies, and other early morning must-reads

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Today promises to be a very busy day, but here are a few must-read posts:

Yoani Sanchez continues to post from Cuba: The end of the subsidies

The final speech by Raúl Castro reaffirmed the idea of ending subsidies. Hearing that phrase, we tend to think only of the end of the quota of rationed food we Cubans receive. But the call to do away with symbolic prices and unnecessary “free” services is a double-edge sword which could end up hurting whomever wields it. If we were to be consistent in eliminating paternalism, we’d need to start by reducing the burden of maintaining this obese state infrastructure that we feed from our own pockets. Workers who produce steel, nickel, rum or tobacco, or who are employed in the bar of a hotel, receive a minuscule portion of the sale of their production or of the real cost of their services. The rest goes directly to subsidize an insatiable State.

Go read it all.

Jon Swift has his Best Blog Posts of 2008 (Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves), a monumental roundup of the bloggers’ bests. Thank you, Jon.

Doug Ross found Hamas playing Family Feud: Hamas has a website survey: should it continue rocket attacks?

GM Roper, a Friend I Haven’t Met Yet, looks at a Hamas demonstration and has reason to ask, More Paliwood?

Prof. Richard Landes notices the Revealing Silence at the Egyptian Border: Why does Hamas victimize its own? Richard is blogging from Israel.

Sister Toldjah Gotta love liberal “social engineering”

Via Betsy, Top Ten Marketing Flops Bigger Than Caroline Kennedy

Ilya Somin has A Tale of Texas Takings, “a typical case of the use of eminent domain for the benefit of private interest groups under a thin veneer of advancing the public interest.”


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2008: A bad year for Chavez, a worse year for Venezuela – at RCW and BTR

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

My latest post, Venezuela: 2008 in Review is up at Real Clear World Blog. Please read it and follow the 40 + links.

This will also be the subject of today’s podcast at 10AM Eastern, which you can listen to here. Chat’s open by 9:45AM, and please subscribe to the podcast’s feed.

Please note the special time for today’s podcast at 10AM

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Denny and “the governor of all Puerto Ricans”

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Denny was playing Name That Party yesterday with this story:
Puerto Rican leader posts Facebook apology

Puerto Rico’s governor, indicted on corruption charges, posted a video on the popular social networking site Facebook admitting to making mistakes.
During the four-minute video, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila apologized to Puerto Ricans saying he “committed errors.”
However, he did not address specific charges against him or admit to any criminal wrongdoing, according to the video posted Sunday.
A federal indictment handed down earlier this year accused the Puerto Rican governor of conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws and lying to the FBI, among other charges.
Acevedo, who was voted out of office last month, faces trial in February.

Here’s the video (in Spanish)

The YouTube account says, “Mensaje del gobernador de todos los puertorriqueños, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá,” “Message from the governor of all Puerto Ricans,” unless of course one lives elsewhere.

Background: here, here, here,


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Obama rejects Senate replacement

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Obama rejects Senate replacement

Barack Obama says Democratic senators should reject the man proposed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to replace Mr Obama in the US Senate.

The president-elect said he agreed the Senate “cannot accept” a new senator chosen by Mr Blagojevich, adding that Mr Blagojevich himself should resign.

Earlier today, Larry Reid did, too. Rick Moran looks at it from the impeachment point of view

As they say, developing…


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New Jersey’s economic disaster as a bad example

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Via Instapundit,
New Jersey Is the Perfect Bad Example
Obama should look here to see what high taxes do.

It seems not to have dented the consciousness of our political class that New Jersey’s dismal economic performance might be linked to the state’s tax policy. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, New Jersey is home to the most hostile tax environment for business in the nation. We also bear the nation’s highest burden of state and local taxes. And on the list of the 10 counties with the highest median property tax, we claim seven of them.

During the last recession, we began to feel the full weight of these burdens. Other states responded by cutting back on spending and getting their houses in order. Not New Jersey. Then-Gov. Jim McGreevey added to the burden by borrowing and spending and raising the corporate tax — including the imposition of an alternative minimum tax on business. And we’ve been paying for these bad choices ever since.

Mr. Obama might pay special attention to what these measures have meant for jobs, especially given his expressed concern for the struggling middle class. Though the state did ultimately emerge from recession in 2003, private-sector job creation since then has been a pale shadow of what we enjoyed after the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s.

And just when you thought things were bad, they got worse,

Of course, there was one area where jobs did grow. From 2000 to 2007, says the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the government added 54,800 jobs. To put that in proper perspective, that works out to 93% of all jobs created in New Jersey over those seven years.

The state of NJ is now the largest employer in the state.

My friend and neighbor TigerHawk looks at the local level:

Sadly, it is not only Trenton that is incompetent. Local governments in New Jersey spend money as if it were without limit, and, in many towns, there really is no limit. Most Princetonians now pay about 3% of the value of their home and property in annual property taxes. For this we get excellent public schools, but virtually nothing else. The fire and the EMS are volunteer, and trash collection is privatized so homeowners pay separately for that. Many of the roads in town are so potholed that they damage cars, and whenever the township does get around to repaving a street it takes forever and, no doubt, costs a fortune because somebody decided we needed Belgian block curbs all over town. Oh, and the sidewalks are now made of special and expensive “permeable” asphalt, because somebody read somewhere that impermeable cover was suddenly a big problem. (Our property, which is about two acres, is as permeable as it gets with about 1.5 acres of wetland and “flood fringe,” and the Township engineer still forced us to buy the special permeable asphalt to rebuilt the sidewalk damaged by the construction of the house.) If it snows, all the begging in the world will not bring a snow plow past your home in time to make a difference. If you want to build something, you can delight in the deliberate speed of the building inspectors, notwithstanding their vested interest in your higher property taxes.

Both TigerHawk and I have been through the paces when it comes to the building process. But that’s not all, and TigerHawk’s commenter reminds us, all those folks are retiring with huge pensions,

While Princeton [Township] doesn’t let public employees retire at 90% of peak salary, it does allow for 80%. I believe the borough also grants lifetime medical care coverage, as perhaps the township also might do. No business in America pays these sorts of benefits, and no municipality in the country can possibly afford them.

The local electorate will not, I am absolutely convinced, will NOT vote them out because as long as they are Democrats, they will keep them in office. I’ve volunteered at the polls, I’ve worked on petitions, I’ve had the local candidates in my podcast, name it, by now I am convinced that’s that.

Local taxes are going up in 2009, and on top of that there’s going to be a real estate reappraisal in the Township so real estate taxes will be even more astronomical. How does $20,000 in annual real estate taxes look to you? How about $40,000? And they don’t even pick up your garbage.

The day nears when The Husband and I leave the area for more fiscally-sane parts. This is a lovely town, and I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years. But, like the net 75,000 taxpayers that NJ lost in the past 6 years, there are equally lovely places where to live where our hard-earned money (or what’s left of it after NJ’s done) won’t be squandered in Belgian block curbs and permeable sidewalks.


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Listening to the Israel Project’s conference call with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Sallai Meridor, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, is holding a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project. Here are a few of his remarks,
“One in every ten Israelis is under direct attack” from the Hamas missiles. “In only six months the number of Israelis under attack tripled.”

“The [Israeli] effort is focused on terrorists, trying to minimize damage to innocent people”.
Sixty-three trucks yesterday and ninety trucks today go into Gaza for humanitarian aid.

“Gaza is an arm of the octupus centered in Iran…Gaza is in many ways a Taliban state on the border of Israel”.

How does killing 300 Palestinians promote the cause of peace in the region? “Does killing terrorists advance the cause of peace in the region? Absolutely yes. When we are successful the chances for peace in the region will be higher, and people in the region will have more hope.”

As he spoke he was told that Hamas rockets had reached Beersheba.

“Only if we stand together, supporting each other, determined to prevail over this”, we can win.

Obama administration: “I don’t have an answer on the position of the incoming administration, I can only tell you what I heard when I accompanied Pres. elect Obama on his visit to Israel, he made his position very clear, stating that Hamas needs to accept the 3 principles: recognize Israel, stop terrorism and abide by previous commitments.” The Ambassador also quoted Obama’s reply on if his family was under attack he’d do anything to stop it.

“We want to live in peace and security and dignity next to a Palestinian neighbor who also wants to live in peace and security and dignity.”

Iran’s involvement, & Iranian nuclear threat: “What you see in Gaza is Iranian made: funded, led by Iran, training either in Iran or by Hizbollah, missiles are Iranian made & supplied. Iran is a terrible octupus with proxies in the region. The largest exporter of terror in the region and beyond the region, and moving ahead with a nuclear bomb. If there’s a nightmare, is the day when there’s this unsacred marriage between terror and nuclear. They’re fast-forwarding to that.”

“If world leadership is resourceful and doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the thirties, it has to act today. There is a chance because the Iranian regime, if it sees its nuclear program as a liability, it might change its mind, since oil at $40/bb is not the same as at $140, but it will take an immediate world action.”

“Terror is a threat that is global, crosses international borders, and if it goes global, the worst threat.”

“The challenge to us is to be together, be determined, promote our values, and not be deterred by terrori

Military action is necessary but not enough: “we need prevention, deterrence, and defense.”

“Education for peace is something we went over after Oslo in all the textbooks. We dealt with the challenge and continue so that this light of hope won’t ever die. And as much as we do, there’s always more to do. THe more you’re attacked, the more you have to invest in your children so that they continue to believe in the values you believe.” “Dealing with terror today is very painful but killing hope in the future by teaching children to hate Americans, and moderates, and Jews and Israelis, kills the hope for better days.”

Reaction to Ban Ki Moon’s statement on overreaction: The ambassador doesn’t react directly to anyone’s statement, but asks “everyone to put yourself in the same position. Think about your daughter, your parents, think about that happening to you day after day, year after year. Ask what would I do if it were my children.”

I’ll post a link to the transcript later today.

What YouTube Doesn’t Want You to See, plus link to the IDF YouTube channel.

MP3 audio of the call.

Welcome, EU Referendum readers. Please visit often.


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The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean – A day late, but still weekly! Due to a heavy cold, and my working on a year-end roundup for Real Clear World Blog, the Carnival is small today.


A stone-cold sober voice in Brazilian markets

Cuba finds go it alone economy still sucks after 50 years

U.S. Marine Special Operations train Dominican Forces, Enhance Relationships

Ecuador: Rafa sez; “Pssst! Wanna sell me your bonds… like?”

Canadian Company Threatens El Salvador

Free Trade Lawsuit Over Mining Project

Mexican Beauty Queen Arrested with Alleged Drug Traffickers

The on-going slaughter in Mexico

Mexico’s NAFTA shoppers

Puerto Rico governor-elect says aid to potilical parties needs to be cut

Puerto Rico bond sale tops expectations

Trinidad PM discharged from hospital, recuperating in Havana

Democracia Chavista

Chavismo with time on its hands: expropriating shops


ENTERTAINMENT: The Importance of Being Ernesto,
Hollywood Celebrates Che Guevara
But it makes no films about the Cuban resistance movement.

Che Guevara: First he took Havana, now he’s conquered Hollywood
Before the jungles of Bolivia swallowed him up, Che Guevara had enjoyed a run of success as a doctor, a revolutionary and, especially in his late career, as a student dormitory poster.

Special thanks to Maggie, Eneas and The Baron.


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Bristol Palin has a son

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Congratulations to Briston Palin and her boyfriend Levy Johnston on the birth of their son:

Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter of former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, gave birth on Saturday to a healthy 7 lb., 7 oz., baby boy in Palmer, Alaska.

The baby’s name is Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston and he was born at 5:30 a.m., according to Jones.

Now that Bristol Palin’s baby was delivered at full term, and in view that Trig Palin was born on April 18, 2008, it might be a good time for Andrew Sullivan to drop his embarrassing and shameful meme.

TigerHawk comments on the Palin clan nomenclature while Allahpundit links to the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

Fausta, if you were born to Sarah Palin, your name would be:
Bullet Bodycheck Palin


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Jeff Jarvis, “rightblogger”?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Reading through this list at the Village Voice’s Runnin’ Scared, The Top 10 Rightblogger Stories of 2008, this little item came up as a surprise:

BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis discovered a media conspiracy against Clinton.

Particularly surprising since Runnin’ Scared starts by saying

#5: Rightwing Hillary Love. As her star started to fade, Hillary Clinton won the applause of rightbloggers theretofore committed to her destruction.

I’ve been reading Jeff’s blog nearly every day for years and never once would have surmised from his writing that Jeff is/has been “committed to [Hillary’s] destruction,” particularly when you read Jeff’s post in its entirety (for some reason Runnin’ Scared’s links to the comments section instead of the main section of the post):

What does the Times have against Hillary?

I was amazed that on today’s New York Times front page, I couldn’t find a mention of Hillary Clinton’s victory in Florida — not even a reefer (jargon for a promo box), not a by-the-way paragraph inserted into the Republican story, not a news peg added into a story about 527 groups advertising on behalf of Obama (a positive story for him, nonetheless, since they say he’s working hard to repudiate them while they say Clinton is not). It’s the same story online: other than a line in the chart of results, there’s a mention of Clinton’s win only below the fold (that is, the first screen), in smaller type, under the label “more politics.”

I went to the Times Square newstand to look at the Washington Post. Clinton’s victory is right at the top of the page aside McCain’s. I would call that proper news judgment.

Yes, it’s true that Clinton officially won no delegates because the Democratic Party is punishing Florida. But that, itself, is a story: There’s a huge turnout in Florida for votes that supposedly don’t count. Where’s the outrage about disenfranchising these voters; it’s an undemocratic, unDemocratic, unconstitutional, and — considering Florida’s importance in November — just plain politically dumb move by the party. But the Times relegated the story to the bottom of page A16.

If I were a communications student, I’d be doing an analysis of the Times’ coverage of Clinton. There is a pattern here.

(Disclosure: I’ve said before and will repeat that I’m planning to vote for Clinton on SuperTuesday.) [emphasis added]

Runnin’ Scared and grasping at straws too fast to read what they link to.


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Today at 11AM: Hugo {Hearts} Hamas

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Today’s 15 Minutes on Latin America: Hugo {Hearts} Hamas.

Never to miss an opportunity to blame the USA while at the same time siding against Israel, Hugo Chavez has issued a statement condemning Israel’s attack against Hamas, even as Hamas continues their rocket attacks (6,000 rockets and counting). My post at Real Clear World.

Chat’s open at 10:45AM and the call in number is 646 652-2639. Please also subscribe to the podcast feed and listen to the podcast any time of day!

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