Archive for August, 2009

The last Monday in August Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. Among the big news this week, Hugo Chavez is visiting his friend Muamar Gadafi in Libya, Oscar Arias wants to extend his term, and the US continues to pressure Honduras to reinstate Zelaya.

Kicking Bolivarian butt in Bariloche

Chávez’s Covert War
Obama needs to call Venezuela’s president what he is: a terrorist and a drug-trafficker.

Strategic Challenges in Latin America

Buenos Aires y Río de Janeiro compiten por ser el “Mejor destino gay del mundo”

Bolivia’s Planning Stifles Development

Latin American Journalists Face New Opposition

Colombia says president has swine flu

Costa Rican President Calls for New Constitution

Gumshoes wanted, preferably educated

Rep. Watson: Che and Fidel were right to ‘kick out the wealthy’

Chavez and Correa: Dual Suspension (of Freedom)

La ONU viola la Declaración de Principios del Derecho Internacional

Interview with Honduras Supreme Court President Video here

17 Honduran Diplomats Removed For Support Of Democratic Process In Honduras

New Honduran blog, El pergamino de la derecha

Taiana to visit Honduras with OAS delegation

OAS, US, UN pile on Honduras: another important story being smothered by the media

Honduras makes Zelaya an offer he can’t refuse

Traffic Accident in Panama: What You Must Know and Do

Chávez ya llegó a Libia como parte de su gira para “fortalecer alianzas” Chavez in Libya, on the eve of celebrations to mark 40 years of Moamer Kadhafi’s rule.

Financial Times: Fears over Chávez threaten oil auction

Ding, Dong, Seniat Calling

Venezuela’s Assault on Freedom of the Press and Other Liberties


Venezuela Price Rises Mean that Caracas is Now More Expensive than London

Special thanks to the Baron, Dick, Eneas, Maggie,

This week’s posts and podcasts:
Obama vs Honduran Democracy
Global Anti-Chavez Day
U.S. moves toward formal cut off of aid to Honduras UPDATED
The fashionable traveling tyrants
Chávez’s manipulation, Chávez’s repression: 15 Minutes on Latin America
US to Reduce Visa Services In Honduras: 15 Minutes on Latin America
US to Reduce Visa Services In Honduras

At Real Clear World:
Honduras Rejects Zelaya Deal, Reasserts Sovereignty

“What is your economic forecast for 2010?”

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Forbes managing editor Carl Lavin asked members of the Forbes Bloggers Network,

September 15, 2009 marks the first anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers and the global financial meltdown.

What is your economic forecast for 2010? Are there specific economic markers that you find particularly useful and upon which you rely on in making your prediction?

When the Federal Reserve Bank doubled the monetary base to pump out the financial system, they essentially set us up for high inflation. At the time people were hoarding money so inflation was not immediate.

However, such a large influx of money will produce inflation unless it is pulled back. Presently the Fed is concerned that a fast pullback will worsen the recession.

In addition, the prospect of even higher taxes, such as cap and trade, investment taxes, the prospect of a healthcare bill that will increase the cost of doing business, and the fact that the Community Reinvestment Act is still law, does not bode well for the economy next year. The recession will continue, but not accelerate. Inflation, however, will increase.

I would keep an eye on inflation and unemployment numbers.

In 2010 equities will continue to rise as some of the excess money makes its way through the markets. Once the Fed gets serious about pulling back all the excess money stocks will go down again. Will it happen as early as 2010?

Not until after the mid-term elections.

Conservative investors should invest in government-protected securities (TIPS) or in a low-cost bond fund that invests in TIPS.

Investors looking at stocks should diversify into foreign markets in countries with positive GDP readings, keeping in mind that most stocks are still overvalued due to low earnings. Once earnings improve the P/E ratio will decrease and make stocks more attractive.

“Enhanced penalties” on the healthcare bill

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion continues its series, looking at page 692 of the House healthcare bill.

Throwing Darts at HR3200 – Day 2 (Enhanced Penalties)

Namely, HR3200 (the House healthcare bill) imposes penalties of $15,000 for each day on non-compliance for any provider or supplier who refuses to grant access for an inspection under applicable regulations. Which, by the way, grants the government more powers allowing it to subject your business to inspection at any time.

Go read the whole post.

And, by the way, may I remind you that we haven’t seen the finalized bill yet.

Captain Underpants and the WaPo

Monday, August 31st, 2009

captUnlike Captain Underpants, who believes in “Truth, Justice, and all that is Pre-Shrunk and Cottony,”, the media goes spinning bad economic news, yet again:

One more story on how the economy is getting better because it’s on a slower decline:

But the men’s underwear index — or, conveniently, MUI — may also have a silver lining. Mintel predicts that next year, men’s underwear sales will fall by 0.5 percent, and as with many economic indicators, a slowing of a decline can be welcomed as a step in the right direction.

Is that like being in a car that’s slipping in ice and is about to hit the barrier at a slower speed than it would have a few seconds ago? Or is it more like getting a wedgie at a better angle?

I didn’t know men would spend $30 for one pair of boxers or jockeys, but apparently some do(*),

The company sells high-end men’s underwear that can run as much as $30 per pair, along with brands that cost less than $10. Kleinmann said that such less expensive pairs have had double-digit-percentage sales growth recently, while demand for pricier pairs is slowing.

Overall demand for men’s underwear is down by 2.3%, its first decline in six years:


But hey, don’t get your shorts tied in a knot. The WaPo says that if the economy was really bad no one would have enough money to buy underwear in the first place. Well, guys, give it time.

Cassandra pokes fun at the WaPo’s sun shining where the sun don’t normally shine.

(*) Here’s a survey for you guys,

Obama vs Honduran Democracy

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Considering how the US is moving towards formally cutting off aid to Honduras, the following is not surprising at all: Mary O’Grady of the WSJ reports on the Obama administration’s behind-the-scenes shenanigans:

Obama vs. Honduran Democracy
The Obama administration is using its brass knuckles to support Latin American thugs.

Mr. Obama’s methods are decidedly uncool. Prominent Hondurans, including leading members of the business community, complain that a State Department official has been pressuring them to push the interim government to accept the return of Mr. Zelaya to power.

When I asked the State Department whether it was employing such dirty tricks a spokeswoman would only say the U.S. has been “encouraging all members of civil society to support the San Jose ‘accord'”—which calls for Mr. Zelaya to be restored to power. Perhaps something was lost in the translation but threats to use U.S. power against a small, poor nation hardly qualify as encouragement.

Elsewhere in the region there are reports that U.S. officials have been calling Latin governments to demand that they support the U.S. position. When I asked State whether that was true, a spokeswoman would not answer the question. She would only say that the U.S. is “cooperating with the [Organization of American States] and [Costa Rican President] Oscar Arias to support the San José accord.”

In other words, though it won’t admit to coercion, it is fully engaged in arm-twisting at the OAS in order to advance its agenda.

The other day Ed was saying,

If Zelaya doesn’t accept these [Micheletti’s] terms, it’s difficult to see how Zelaya can keep claiming that he never intended on building a presidency-for-life. A refusal would make it much more difficult for the Obama administration to keep defending and championing Zelaya, although so far, no one seems embarrassed enough at the prospect to think it will change.

Not so. The Obama administration is committed to one course of action, and one course alone. Their behind-the-scenes behavior shows it.

Jennifer Rubin:

There have been more dangerous and serious missteps by the Obama administration, but few are as shameful as this one.

Mad Men Sunday: Vanity Fair goes mad UPDATED

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

It’s Sunday, so the Mad Men are back tonight at 10PM Eastern on AMC

Don and Betty’s Paradise Lost

Entering its third season on a fresh wave of Emmy nominations, AMC’s Mad Men is the most stylish—and perhaps best—show on television. Inside its meticulous reconstruction of the precipice that was New York advertising circa 1960, where the men and women of Sterling Cooper smoke, drink, love, and lie, the author learns about the struggle of Mad Men creator (and former Sopranos writer) Matthew Weiner, the casting of Jon Hamm and January Jones as Don and Betty Draper, and the obsession that fuels each episode. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz.

Vanity Fair video, and recap of episode 2 under the fold:

William throws darts at HR3200

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Blogger William A. Jacobson of Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion is starting a series,
Throwing Darts At HR3200 – Day 1

For the Democratic proposals, I’m going to work off of HR3200, which also is known as the ‘‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,’’ but for current purposes, the “House Bill.” I’ve chosen the House Bill, rather than the Senate version, because the House Bill is just over 1018 pages, which works better with my random selection method. The Senate bill is 615 pages, and contains some real doozies, so I hate to pass up the opportunity, but the House Bill will work better.

I will look at my Sitemeter page count in the morning for seven straight days, and whatever the last three digits are on the page count, I will turn to that page in the House Bill. I will use whichever section of the House Bill appears at the top of the page, even if the section starts on prior pages.

I will try to explain what the section and provisions on the page mean. There is no guarantee that I will be able to do so, as some of these provisions may be incomprehensible. The fact that a particular page or section is incomprehensible is interesting in itself, considering there are over 1000 pages.

Go read what he found on page 780.

Yes, I’ve tried to read the damn bill in both the Senate and House versions. I can read English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, (and at one point even Middle English), but for the life of me I can not understand HR3200’s patois.

I’ll be linking to his posts on this series. He’s demonstrating how incomprehensible this piece of legislation is, while we’re supposed to swallow it whole and unquestioning.

Let us pray,

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

“Dear god, please grant us the strength to privatize social security and construct a robust missile defense shield. We pray to the Lord.”


Saturday night tango: El Indio & Virginia

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

In Buenos Aires,

Qaddafi won’t be pitching his tent in NJ

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Being a fashionable traveling tyrant isn’t all it’s cut out to be.

Fresh from celebrating a hero’s welcome to the Lockerbie bomber, Muammar el-Qaddafi, he of the many spellings, won’t be pitching his tent staying in Englewood after all:

Qaddafi Cancels Plans to Stay in New Jersey

Amid pressure from New Jersey political leaders, the Libyan government has canceled plans for its nation’s president, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, to stay in New Jersey during his visit to the United States next month.

Colonel Qaddafi’s change of plan was confirmed on Friday night by Representative Steven R. Rothman, a New Jersey Democrat, and by the State Department, according to The Associated Press.

In an interview, Mr. Rothman said Colonel Qaddafi and his delegation had decided instead to stay in New York City. He said he spoke to a top lobbyist for the Libyan government on Friday afternoon “who informed me that a final decision had been made to the effect that Muammar el-Qaddafiwould be confining his stay to Manhattan.” It was unclear precisely where the Libyans intend to stay, he said.

Ah, don’t you ever wonder what would we do without “top lobbyists for the Libyan government”?

Unlike Seville, Rome and Paris, where Muammar had pitched his tent before, the tent wasn’t welcome in Englewood,

Colonel Qaddafi, who is to address the United Nations during his visit, had planned to erect a Bedouin-style tent on a Libyan-owned estate that sits next to a yeshiva in Englewood, a New Jersey suburb with a sizable Orthodox Jewish community.

That announcement ignited an uproar, prompting city officials to seek an injunction to stop renovations on the property and leading local leaders to schedule a rally near the estate over the weekend.

Many residents were bothered by the Libyan leader’s past sponsorship of terrorists, and were particularly angered by his warm reception of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of the 1988 bombing of a jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, who was released from prison last week.

Working with the State Department and the White House, Mr. Rothman — a former mayor of Englewood — pushed for Colonel Qaddafi to be restricted to Manhattan.

Yes, but where will the 30 virgin bodyguards go?

Considering how Qaddafi has already managed to insult Obama, should we expect a warm welcome from the administration?

Bonus question,
Who looks worse, Qaddafi/Gadafy/Kadhafi, Keith Richards, or Gene Simmons?