Archive for February, 2012

Hillary’s jacket, part deux

Friday, February 24th, 2012

First the green Mao.

Now this:

What’s with the insignia on her shoulder?

A James Bond villain?

But unlike Rosa Klebb, the killer KGB agent famous played by Lottte Lenya in “From Russia With Love”, Hillary hasn’t equipped her stilettos with razor sharp blades dipped in venom.

At least Lotte’s sleeves were the right length,


Pro-amnesty Latinos played for fools

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Obama had dominating Democratic majorities in 2009 and 2010, and could have chosen to press forward with his own plans on immigration reform.

For several months, Obama had a veto-proof majority in the Senate, as well as at least a few Republicans who would have been inclined to go along on the issue, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. He could have tackled immigration reform at any point in those first two years, and might have built enough bipartisan goodwill to boost his party’s chances in the midterms. Instead, Obama pushed it to the back burner and instead pursued an unpopular health-care overhaul that cost his party 68 House seats, ruining his chances to push through any more of his agenda in the final two years of his term.

So. Now he goes on Univision to say he’s taking the Latino vote for granted, and besides, he’ll get around to passing immigration amnesty sometime because he’s got “another five years“, while blaming Republicans in a meandering paragraph:

PIOLIN: We’re going to start right away because this is what our community wants to know. During your presidency, you have not delivered the immigration reform that we were hoping for. Thousands of families have been separated by deportation, leaving their children behind, alone in this country. Do you think that you still have the support of the Latino community?

OBAMA: Well, first of all Piolin, my presidency is not over, I’ve got another five years coming up. We’re going to get this done. And — and absolutely we have strong support in the Latino community because they have seen something we are working on. First of all, strengthening the economy, we were able to get the payroll tax done that provides 25 million Latinos with an extra 40 dollars in every paycheck and is going to strengthen the economy. We made sure unemployment insurance got extended because the Latino community has been so hard hit. A million Latinos are going to be benefiting from that. The housing settlement that we just passed, which will help Latino families all across the country who were taken advantage of by subprime lenders to be able to stay in their homes. The work we have done on education, to make sure millions of students — many Latino students are still getting Pell Grants and other scholarships and financial aid so that they can go to college. So, there are a lot of issues that we have worked on that have directly benefited millions of Latino families.

You’re right though, immigration reform is something we still have to get done and as I’ve told you since before I was elected president, the only way we are going to get this done fully is by getting Congress to do its job.

What we’ve been able to do is, administratively, we’ve said, let’s reemphasize our focus when it comes to enforcement on criminals and at the borders and let’s not be focusing our attention on hard-working families who are just trying to make ends meet. We’ve administratively proposed to reform the “three and 10” program so that families aren’t separated when they’re applying to stay here in this country.

So we are trying to do a lot to soften the effects of immigration, but ultimately, the only way we are going to do this is to get something passed through Congress, and that’s why we have to keep the pressure up.

Unfortunately, the Republican side, which used to at least give lip service to immigration reform, now they’ve gone completely to a different place and have shown themselves unwilling to talk at all about any sensible solutions to this issue and we are just going to have to keep up the pressure until they act.

My fellow Latinos and Latinas who favor immigration reform of any kind: if you fall for this line, the word best describing you is pendejos. Might as well wait for that algae fuel to gas up your car.

To my English-speaking readers who don’t know what the word means, the polite term is suckers.


Another reason to {heart} Allen West: His Hummer

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

As gas hits $5/gallon and it’s not even Spring yet, while the government bans by decree the exploration and exploitation of our natural resources,
Allen West fills Hummer, blames Obama

Rep. Allen West says he is not happy that he had to spend $70 this week to fill up the gas tank of his Hummer, and he’s directing his anger at President Barack Obama.

“People have asked me before is there any area where I could praise President Obama? Certainly, he has an impeccable penchant for understanding the power of the bully pulpit,” the Florida Republican wrote on his Facebook page Thursday. “President Obama is also very adept at promulgating deceptive language masquerading as policy, actually just insidious political gimmickry.”

He continued, “This ‘tax policy’ is an example as well as today’s speech on his ‘energy policy’ shall be. Here is the bottom line, last night it took 70 dollars to fill the tank of my 2008 H3 Hummer, what is it costing you? What does it cost the president to fill his gas tank?”

Truck on, Congressman!


How does Chavez’s surgery affect the election?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Juan Forero addresses the question, following Chávez’s announcement that he’s having surgery in Cuba, and a subsequent statement that,

“If it turns out to be malignant, well, that opens a new phase of radiation therapy that would be more focused,” Chavez said. “That will stop me, stop me, of course.”

New surgery for Venezuela’s Chavez throws election scenario into turmoil

This time, his opponent is a popular governor, Henrique Capriles, who has shown himself to be adept on the campaign trail. At just 39, Capriles presents an image of youth and vigor that stands in increasing contrast to the picture of a president hobbled by serious illness.

On Feb. 12, more than 3 million voters turned out to overwhelmingly select Capriles as the opposition’s candidate for the October elections from a field of anti-Chavez foes. His emergence has flustered Chavez, who has referred to Capriles as “a low-life pig” and “the loser” and depicted him as a pawn of the United States.

“The contrast between the two couldn’t be more dramatic: a young, telegenic Capriles against Chavez, who looks worse all the time,” Arnson said. “This can only help the opposition on the media front.”

The president’s condition also highlights the inherent weakness of a government in which Chavez’s power is unrestricted and uncontested, said Demetrio Boersner, a political analyst in Caracas. “All the powers are concentrated in his hands, so if he’s out, then the whole system starts to weaken,” Boersner said.

Chavez is scheduled to announce the date of the surgery today, as he heads for Cuba… which is the only country in the hemisphere (and possibly the world) that can guarantee secrecy, it being an island-prison.


Watching The Tudors…

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Henry’s now on his 6th wife, and he still didn’t get fat?!

OTOH, best that the actor playing Henry remain gorgeous. Henry IV was an unsavory character, after all.


Ecuador: The new hub for international crime

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Must-read article at Deutsche Welle on the upcoming report by The Financial Action Task Force (FATF),
Ecuador emerges as hub for international crime
Ecuador is emerging as a focus for transnational criminal groups, according to US and European officials. Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers as well as Chinese and African human traffickers use it as a business hub.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the inter-governmental body responsible for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, is expected at its meeting in February in Abu Dhabi to include Ecuador on its high-risk jurisdiction list at the request of G20 finance ministers.


Ecuador attracting transnational crime
FARC’s penetration of Ecuador’s government and judiciary, the country’s weak institutions and anti-money laundering laws and its nonexistent anti‐terror financing laws as well as its porous borders with its drugs producing neighbors have turned Ecuador into a place where transnational criminal organizations from Latin America, Russia, China, India and Africa can conduct business, according to a just-released report by the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC).

The report goes on to say that Ecuador is “increasingly attractive for Russian organized criminal groups, both for weapon sales to the FARC and to launder money” and that “Chinese triads, particularly those involved in smuggling human beings, have greatly increased their presence in Ecuador.” The Financial Action Task Force warned in 2007 that Ecuador had failed to comply with 48 of its 49 recommendations on money laundering and terrorist financing.
The officials say the lifting in 2008 of visa requirements for nationals of most countries and the adoption in 2000 of the US dollar as Ecuador’s national currency make it easy for Russian, Chinese, Indian and African criminal organizations to operate in Ecuador.
The dollarization of Ecuador’s economy, lax restrictions on the movement of large amounts of money and some of world’s strongest bank secrecy laws enable the laundering by Russian crime groups of proceeds of Mexican drug and Asian and African human traffickers. A recent study by Quito’s San Francisco University concluded that annually up to $1billion (0.7 billion euros) are laundered through Ecuador. US law enforcement officials say the figure could be substantially higher.
The lifting of visa requirements has allowed Chinese triads as well as Indian and African human traffickers to process people they are trafficking through Ecuador, the Washington institute’s report says. US diplomats say that virtually every non-Latin American immigrant caught since the lifting entering the United States from Central America and Mexico has transited through Ecuador. “They are mostly Africans or Central Asians, which raises security concerns,” one diplomat said.

DW also explains some of the shady financial dealings with Iran, and the corrupt judicial system.

If you are one of the many Americans considering retirement in Ecuador, I urge you to read this article.


Chavez: “The test in Havana found a lesion in the same spot where the other tumor was removed one year ago”

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Hugo Chavez Needs Surgery after Finding New Lesion during Trip to Cuba

The rumors about Chávez’s health began spreading when Nelson Bocaranda, a columnist at Venezuelan daily El Universal, posted an article to his blog and several tweets saying the president’s health had deteriorated and he had traveled to Havana to assess whether he needed surgery. Bocaranda based the reporting on unnamed sources in Miami and Cuba.

The report contradicted official accounts of Chávez’s health. The Venezuelan president has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy since his diagnosis in June and he has said since October that he is free of cancer.

Bocaranda added other colorful details. Chávez relies on steroids to maintain his strength and the appearance of good health as the campaign for the Venezuelan presidency against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles heats up, according to Bocaranda, who does not cite sources for the allegation.


Bocaranda’s blog post wasn’t the only report of Chávez’s supposed deteriorating health to appear over the weekend.

Merval Pereira, a columnist with Brazil’s O Globo, reported on Friday that Chávez’s cancer had metastasized and doctors expected it to spread to his liver. Pereira based the report on unnamed Brazilian doctors who he said had reviewed Chávez’s medical records.

In addition to the above,

unconfirmed reports from numerous sources are indicating that Chavez is suffering from a Stage IV Sigmoid Duke C adenocarcinoma, and cannot undergo chemotherapy because of an abscess in the tumor.

While Venezuelan bloggers speculated on whether the reporters were engaged in promoting rumors, Chávez himself has now come forward with that information.

You can hear him say it (in Spanish),

The next surgery he’s facing must be major surgery or he would not have released this news to the public.

Let’s hope the USA administration has contingency plans in case of Hugo’s demise.


When the dress code says “white guayaberas”, Hillary wears lime green Mao

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Aiming to “reset” the button, Hillary stands out in the crowd; perhaps she thought she was in Rode Island with Joe Biden,

Didn’t get the memo? Hillary Clinton dons lime green shirt for G20 ‘family photo’ while everyone else wears white (h/t Babalu)

Fashion faux-pas, or smart diplomacy? You decide!


Who gains from the Keystone cancellation? Venezuela

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Mary O’Grady asks,
Keystone XL and National Security
Who gains the most from Obama’s rejection of a new oil pipeline?

the U.S. should be seeking to defund the Chávez machine, and there is no better way to do that than with approval of the Keystone XL. The Alberta crude that will travel through the XL is of a similar quality to Venezuelan oil, and the U.S. could begin buying from Canada instead of from Venezuela if a pipeline were put in place.

There is one thing that Mr. Lugar and Venezuelans who don’t believe that Chávez has an oil weapon agree on, and that is the Venezuelan dictator’s vulnerability. “Divisions in Venezuela’s Russian-armed military, an inflation rate over 30 percent, a dilapidated oil infrastructure, widespread food and energy shortages, and soaring crime rates are all putting heavy pressure on [him],” the senator writes. Losing a customer like the U.S. might just push him over and with him, Iran’s strongest base of support in the hemisphere.

Read the whole thing.


Sixteen vacations in three years,

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

and we’re supposed to think that “the Obamas stand up for working Americans”?

A new Internet ad by the president’s reelection campaign features a portrait of the first family asking supporters to “help the Obamas stand up for working Americans.” The appeal, a departure from the typical Obama messaging, provides an early glimpse of the role the president’s wife and daughters are likely to play in his campaign.

The wife and daughters are skiing in Aspen, the most expensive town in America, where they hired five ski instructors.

Sixteen vacations in three years

– President’s Day 2012, Michelle and the first daughters in Aspen, Colorado to ski.

– Christmas 2011, the first family in Hawaii for an extended vacation.

– Summer 2011, in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., for the annual beach break.

– June 2011, the first lady, her mother and daughters traveled to South Africa and Botswana.

– President’s Day 2011, the first lady and first daughters travel to Vail to ski.

– Christmas 2010, in Hawaii.

– August 2010, the first family traveled to Panama City Beach, Fla., for some sun and fun at the beach.

– August 2010, Obama spent the weekend alone in Chicago for his 49th birthday bash.

– August 2010, the first lady and daughter Sasha traveled to Spain for a mother-daughter vacation.

– August 2010, summer vacation again at Martha’s Vineyard.

– July 2010, the first family went to Mount Desert Island, Maine.

– May 2010, the first family had a four-day trip to Chicago.

– March 2010, first lady and daughter spend Spring Break in New York City.

– Christmas 2009, Hawaii again for the annual break.

– August 2009, at Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon for a short vacation.

– August 2009, their first summer vacation as first family at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

If you’re working (a big “IF”), when was the last time you went on vacation? And forget about the 15% that are unemployed.

The Obamas stand for working Americans…only if those Americans own Aspen Skiing Co.

(h/t Maria)