Archive for March, 2011

Jimmy comes back empty-handed

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Remember that Jimmy Carter was heading to Cuba? He was invited by the Cuban government, and supposedly was going to get Alan Gross released.

Well, he got there, dressed like the natives, kissed up to the Castro brothers, called Fidel “an old friend”,

asked the US to release five convicts,

Bypassing ancillary issues such as the lack of freedom on the island and the enslavement of 11-million Cubans, Carter instead demanded that the U.S. release the Cuban 5. Those are the same five convicted Cuban spies who are serving prison time for espionage and the murder of four innocent American pilots who were shot down over international waters by Castro MiGs.

met with Yoani Sanchez, her husband, Claudia Cadelo and Laritza Diversent, and Alan Gross remains in jail

when the 86-year-old ex-president flew off in the afternoon without Alan Gross on board, it dashed the hopes of Washington officials and relatives who had hoped Carter would be able to bring the Maryland native home.

The Obama administration missed the opportunity months ago when it eased restrictions on Cuba without demanding Gross’s released.

As Instapundit puts it,

And we probably have decades of similar stuff to look forward to once Barack Obama is an ex-president.

Indeed.

Cross-posted at The Green Room and Real Clear World.

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More hypocrisy on energy

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Wednesday last week I posted on Hypocrisy on the fly: Obama does Latin America; Today Jennifer Rubin posts on Obama’s jaw-dropping hypocrisy on energy

It’s nice that he’s discovered the importance of domestic energy development, but his rhetoric overlooks his own policies over the past two years. Yesterday on the Senate floor Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted the president for comments he made in Brazil “when the President told the Brazilian president that the United States hopes to be a major customer in the market for oil that Brazilian businesses plan to extract from new oil finds off the Brazilian coast.”

Rubin notes,

Congress should test the president’s seriousness on energy development and put a bill on his desk that puts the breaks on the EPA and opens natural gas and oil fields.

The sooner, the better – gas prices have doubled under Obama.

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Obama authorized secret support to Libya rebels, gets award

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Reuters reports that Obama authorized secret help for Libya rebels “two or three weeks” ago,

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.

Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.

Well, it did: already C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels (emphasis added)

While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.

They are there in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.

When Jake Tapper asked, “What is going on behind closed doors?” White House press secretary Jay Carney asked back

“Who said anything was going on behind closed doors?”

What, indeed.

Andrew Sullivan simply cannot believe that president Obama has already ordered covert action in Libya on one side in a civil war, but he can believe that Sarah Palin didn’t give birth to her own child.

Yeah.

But fret not, Andrew. Obama got an award for “transparency”, which he accepted in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House on Monday. Since the meeting was not disclosed in Obama’s public schedule, and neither reporters nor photographers were allowed, it was awarded on hope for potential transparency

“And in that sense, one could say it resembles the award at the Nobel Peace Prize,” Aftergood said. “It’s not because Obama brought peace to anyone but because people hoped he would be a force for good in the world, and maybe that’s the way to understand this award.”

Perfect award, and meeting all the daily irony requirements.

Next thing you know he’ll get an award for “popular communication“.

UPDATE
Instapundit:

Prof. Stephen Clark writes: “By all means, rub their whole faces in the facts of this latest intervention. To be clear: if the left and Democrats generally do not savage this President in much the same manner they savaged Bush, if they are not out in the streets protesting, if they are not opposing his reelection, if they are not demanding his impeachment and trial, if they are not hoping for his very death, then they will have shown themselves to be every bit the craven hypocrites that many have long claimed.”

Rub it in!

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Cristina awards Hugo a prize for contribution to “popular communication.”

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I guess those suitcases full of money are worth it – Reuters/HuffPo has the story,
Hugo Chavez Wins Journalism Award In Argentina

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who critics accuse of stifling press freedom, was given a prize by an Argentine journalism school on Tuesday for his contribution to “popular communication.”

Cristina Fernandez is actively working against Clarin, (related post and podcast here); Chavez’s attacks against Globovision are well documented. ABC News:

Chavez’s government forced the opposition RCTV channel off airwaves in 2007 by refusing to renew its broadcast license. The telecommunications agency then ordered cable companies to drop RCTV International last year for refusing to carry Chavez’s speeches and other mandatory programming. The government also cited licensing issues in forcing 32 radio stations and two small TV stations off the air.

The majority owner of Globovision, Venezuela’s only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel, fled the country rather than be jailed pending a conspiracy trial for keeping two-dozen new vehicles at one of his homes. Guillermo Zuloaga, who also owns several car dealerships, said Chavez ordered bogus charges.

Venezuela still has independent newspapers and web sites, including the newspaper El Nacional, which on Tuesday editorialized against the award.

“That a South American university doesn’t know about this grave situation and dares to honor this military leader with the Rodolfo Walsh Prize says much about the destruction of values that the Kirchners have imposed on the Argentine nation. Walsh was a victim of military repression and his example is now stained absurdly,” the paper wrote.

Hugo was given the award at La Plata University, where

He told a supportive crown of hundreds of students that Venezuela is promoting “a new dynamic of communication and popular information free from the media dictatorship of the bourgeois, and of the empire.”

Just like Pradva in the olden days.

UPDATE
Cristina praises Hugo for his support (in Spanish), saying Argentina wouldn’t be where it is now without his help. I kid you not.

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Mexican cartel guns coming from Central America, not USA

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Howard Nemerov posts at the Tatler,
U.S. admits that Mexican cartels get military weaponry from Central America

Here’s a breaking story that’s only reported by Central American media and Fox.

“The most fearsome weapons wielded by Mexico’s drug cartels enter the country from Central America, not the United States, according to U.S. diplomatic cables disseminated by WikiLeaks and published here Tuesday by La Jornada newspaper.”

Inventory includes grenades and rocket launchers, necessary items for beating the Mexican army.

This corroborates an LA Times report from early 2009, which catalogued “hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets…”

The U.S. still blames American gun owners, by asserting that American guns “fuel” Mexico’s drug war. Even President Obama asserts: “More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States.”

“More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States”? That, of course is not the case. Stratfor looked at the data,

Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth

Last month I posted

The Stratfor report looks at the types of weapons and their sources. Go read the rest of the report – but the bottom line is this: “it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons and ammunition, it is by no means the source of 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican cartels, as is commonly asserted.”

However, Stratfor is not alone – FactCheck.org, back in 2009, was doing the same, along with the LA Times.

UPDATED
Also in 2009, Warner Todd Hudson.

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Krugman’s Freudian note

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Economist Steve Hanke explains it, Prof. Krugman: Ace of the Ad Hominem Smear

Prof. Paul Krugman’s New York Times column of March 27th, “American Thought Police,” made this startling assertion: “the hard right — which these days is more or less synonymous with the Republican Party — has a modus operandi when it comes to scholars expressing views it dislikes: never mind the substance, go for the smear.”  What would Dr. Freud say?  Well, after careful study of Prof. Krugman’s works and one trip to the couch, Dr. Freud diagnosed the patient and proclaimed, “projection bias.”  Yes, the ace of the ad hominem smear is simply projecting his own attributes and habits of mind and deed to others.

Speaking of “go for the smear”, read about The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics
The left’s obsession with the Koch brothers
. A lengthy article which illustrates at what lengths the Left will go.

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Armed Taliban gunned down, Rolling Stone calls “murder”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Michael Yon calls it when he sees it,
Calling BULLSHIT on Rolling Stone

Seldom do I waste time with rebutting articles, and especially not from publications like Rolling Stone.  Today, numerous people sent links to the latest Rolling Stone tripe.  The story is titled “THE KILL TEAM, THE FULL STORY.”  It should be titled: “BULLSHIT, from Rolling Stone.”

Here’s what it’s about,

The online edition of the Rolling Stone story contains a section with a video called “Motorcycle Kill,” which includes our Soldiers gunning down Taliban who were speeding on a motorcycle toward our guys.  These Soldiers were also with 5/2 SBCT, far away from the “Kill Team” later accused of the murders.  Rolling Stone commits a literary “crime” by deceptively entwining this normal combat video with the Kill Team story.  The Taliban on the motorcycle were killed during an intense operation in the Arghandab near Kandahar City.  People who have been to the Arghandab realize the extreme danger there.  The Soviets got beaten horribly in the Arghandab, despite throwing everything including the Soviet kitchen sink into the battle that lasted over a month.  Others fared little better.  To my knowledge, 5/2 and supporting units were the first ever to take Arghandab, and these two dead Taliban were part of that process.

The killing of the armed Taliban on the motorcycle was legal and within the rules of engagement.  Law and ROE are related but separate matters.  In any case, the killing was well within both the law and ROE.  The Taliban on the back of the motorcycle raised his rifle to fire at our Soldiers but the rifle did not fire.  I talked at length with several of the Soldiers who were there and they gave me the video.  There was nothing to hide.  I didn’t even know about the story until they told me.  It can be good for Soldiers to shoot and share videos because it provides instant replay and lessons learned.  When they gave me the video and further explained what happened, I found the combat so normal that I didn’t even bother publishing it, though I should have because that little shooting of the two Taliban was the least of the accomplishments of these Soldiers, and it rid the Arghandab of two Taliban.

VIdeo below the fold,
(more…)

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Obama: “after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I was reading the transcript of President Obama’s speech last night (as long-term readers of this blog may recall, I almost never watch televised speeches, preferring instead to read them), and this jumped out,

And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

Interesting turn of phrase, “after consulting the bipartisan leadership”. It implies that he went to Congress, when in fact he briefed them and then when ahead, when he was abroad.

And then Obama waited a full week to address the nation. James Jay Carafano,

This might have been an okay speech last week, when it was pretty clear that the right way forward was to minimize the commitment of the U.S. military, look after the best interests of Libya’s civilian population, and limit the spread of terrorism and instability throughout the region.

A week ago, too, the laundry list of what needed to be done was pretty clear: (1) Keep Qaddafi isolated until he is brought to justice; (2) establish a military presence to keep his forces from driving the opposition into the sea; (3) identify, support, and sustain a legitimate opposition that brings democracy to the country, rather than letting it become the next terrorist haven, and that looks after the humanitarian needs and the human rights of the people under its control.

If what needed to be done was common sense a week ago, hearing the president say it now hardly instills confidence.

All we really learned in last night’s speech is how that’s going to get done. The “international community” is going to do it.

Other than that,

it was yet another well-delivered, split-the-difference, mellifluous Obama speech that said essentially nothing of substance.

Cost of Libya Intervention $600 Million for First Week, Pentagon Says
Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, Precision Bombs, Crashed Jet Draw Millions from Pentagon Budget

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VP Dick Cheney locks reporter in closet, apologizes UPDATED

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers, the designated pool reporter for the mainstream media at a $500/plate dinner, was escorted to a storage closet instead by a Cheney staffer.

Oh, my bad – wrong VP!

By a Joe Biden staffer.

Now comes the non-apology apology:
Biden Team Apologizes to Reporter for Sticking Him In Closet

Sentinel_Closet

That is, they are not apologizing for having kidnapped him, but for where they placed him,

“Scott – You have our sincere apologies for the lack of a better hold room today,” wrote Vice President Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander last Wednesday to Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers.

The most transparent administration in history? Oh yeah

Powers was the designated pool reporter, there to record the proceedings for the press corps in general.

He told ABC News that he showed up at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday to cover Vice President Biden and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., attending a $500-a-head fundraiser at the Winter Park manse of developer Alan Ginsburg.

Not Allen Ginsberg, but reason enough to Howl, and Growl, too, particularly since Powers didn’t get to partake of the gorgonzola,

Powers didn’t even get the lunch, which consisted of caprese crostini with oven-dried mozzarella and basil, rosemary flatbread, grapes, honey, gorgonzola cheese, grilled chicken Caesar and garden vegetable wraps. Drudge reports that there were also bacon deviled eggs. The Daily Mail makes no mention of the deviled eggs.

Powers emailed from inside the closet: ’sounds like a nice party’ (h/t Nice Deb).

Free press?

UPDATE
Juan Cole tells the reporter what he would have done,

the bigger question to me is why does the press allow itself to be locked in a holding room in the first place? What kid of reporting is that? What self-respecting “reporter” would agree to those terms? It’s absurd. You’re a reporter, not a stenographer, you should have full access or refuse to cover it. If they just want you to print about Biden’s speech, tell them to send you a copy via email, that you have better things to do. And then savage them in the press until they realize not giving you access is worse than giving you unrestricted access.

Indeed.

UPDATE
Scott Powers:

They closed the door. I sat to wait, mistakenly thinking it would be only a few minutes. The door wasn’t locked, though every time I opened it and stepped out to see what was going on a staffer told me I couldn’t come out yet. He’d let me know.

It was more than an hour, and when I was finally led out, Ginsburg, Nelson and Biden were just getting ready to talk. I listened, recorded the speeches and took notes, then was led back to the little room to wait until they left, about 15 more minutes, before they led me to my car.

Juan Cole is right.

Meanwhile, the Koreans went nuts with the story, which you can see at Next Media Animation, and turned it into a kung-fu movie.

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The high caloric intake Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 28th, 2011

LatinAmerWelcome to this week’s Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. Since Hugo Chavez is urging the Venezuelan people to go on a diet as the country faces food shortages due to his ineptness, this week we have all the calories.

Chavez has lobbied in recent weeks against what he calls the evils of capitalism, including alcoholism, breast implants and violent television programs.

Since taking office in 1999, he’s preached against supposed capitalist-fueled vices ranging from alcohol to cholesterol, vowed to curb whisky imports and ordered beer trucks off the street.

But make sure to chew on coca leaves while attending a summit.

LATIN AMERICA
iPalestina Libre!

Oakland County Sheriff Confirms South American Drug Cartel Arrests

Drug Wars Push Deeper Into Central America

Responding to the pressure — and opportunity — the cartels have spread out quickly. Five of Central America’s seven countries are now on the United States’ list of 20 “major illicit drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.” Three of those, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, were added just last year.

A welcome as warm as the weather

ARGENTINA
Argentinean Government Sold Their Souls To The Devil Mad Mullahs (h/t Public Secrets)

BOLIVIA
Bolivian president: Isn’t it time to revoke Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize?

BRAZIL
From last year, Brazil’s huge new port highlights China’s drive into South America
Investments guarantee Chinese access to soy, oil and other badly needed resource

AP: Obama Playing ‘Grand Tourist’ in Rio ‘Sure to Endear Him Even More’ to Brazilian People

How the Wall Street Journal Set Off a Firestorm Against Petrobras

COLOMBIA
China syndrome
China plans to build alternative to Panama Canal

WikiLeaks: Colombia began using U.S. drones for counterterrorism in 2006

CUBA
Air Cover for Libyan Rebels, None for Cuban Freedom-Fighters

A Cuban Horror Story

VIDEO: Cuban dissidents repressed

EL SALVADOR
Obama abdicates commander-in-chief authority, Germans pull forces out of NATO Med operations

GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s First Couple To Divorce For Presidency

And, Julie Lopez, can you tell us first, is this a sincere divorce, or a divorce of convenience for the president and the first lady?

Ms. JULIE LOPEZ (Freelance Journalist): Well, both the president and the first lady have said that the reason why they are divorcing is to prevent their case going to the constitutional court because a divorce would make her qualify as a candidate.

Guatemala’s ruling couple
Divide and rule
The president and first lady split up—leaving her free to run for office

HONDURAS
New teacher union demands; same old chaos

An October 2009 cable, signed by Mr. Pascual, reported that Mexican Undersecretary for Governance Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez lamented that the early phase of the Merida Initiative ($400 million for the drug war approved by Congress in June 2008) did not contain “enough strategic thought.” There was too much focus “on equipment, which they now know is slow to arrive and even slower to be of direct utility,” and not enough focus on institution building.

The cable continues: “[Mr. Gutierrez Fernandez] went on to say, however, that he now realizes there is not even time for the institution building to take hold in the remaining years of the Calderón administration. ‘We have 18 months,’ he said, ‘and if we do not produce a tangible success that is recognizable to the Mexican people, it will be difficult to sustain the confrontation into the next administration.’” And: “He expressed a real concern with ‘losing’ certain regions.”

Mr. Pascual reported that soon after 15 Juárez high school and university students, with no links to the cartels, were massacred in January 2010, Mr. Calderón “created an unprecedented level of engagement by every level of government to address the violence in Juarez.” He also wrote that the U.S. was “well-placed to support efforts to implement new and creative strategies.” The 2010 drug-war death toll in Juarez reached more than 3,000.

In November 2009, Mr. Pascual wrote that Mexico’s security strategy “lacks an effective intelligence apparatus to produce high quality information and targeted operations,” and also that there was resistance to information sharing because some units viewed “local military commands as often penetrated by organized crime.” In another cable Mr. Pascual charged that the Mexican army sat on intelligence that the U.S. gave it in the hunt for drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was later killed by the Mexican navy.

MEXICO
Dispatches From the War on Drugs
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual loses his job for telling the truth.

TV Show Host Kidnapped, Murdered and Dumped, Local Police Investigated

PERU
Peru Candidate Offers to Give Up U.S. Citizenship

Peru’s presidential election
Inside out

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s Budget Gap Will Be Closed in 2 Years, Fortuno Says. Puerto Rico had its first credit-rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s this month.

ABC to Start Filming Pilots in Puerto Rico

VENEZUELA
Venezuela’s Oil Pledge to China Unlikely to Be Fulfilled

Chavismo Shows Its Non-Democratic Nature in Choosing Delegates to International Meetings

The week’s posts,
At the WaPo: President Obama’s weak message to Latin America
Hypocrisy on the fly: Obama does Latin America
Islamist terrorists crossing the border,
Memeorandum does the hemisphere
A Chavez terror network?

Post re-edited to include omission.

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