American Elephants


Venezuelan Oil Can No Longer Support a Communist Government by The Elephant's Child

Some of you might remember when Venezuela was a beautiful and prosperous nation. But Americans mostly don’t pay that much attention to South America, I suppose because of the language barrier, which is why we pay more attention to our English-speaking allies, and Europe.

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels, as of January 1, 2014. In early 2011 the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chavez announced that the nation’s oil reserves had surpassed those of Saudi Arabia, the long-term leader. OPEC said the Saudi reserves stood at 265 billion in 2009.

Wikipedia says “Venezuela’s development of its oil reserves has been affected by political unrest in recent years. In late 2002, nearly half the workers at the state oil company PDVSA went on strike, after which the company fired 18,000 of them.” I think it has been pretty well proven that “state owned” is not a particularly good idea, nor is business trying to play politics.

Reuters reported that state-owned PDVSA is completely falling apart, with workers walking off the job at a frightening pace. The conditions for oil workers have been deteriorating for years with shortages of food, unsafe working conditions, and hyperinflation destroying the value of paychecks. President Nicolas Maduro has sacked the head of PDVSA and handed control to the military in order to keep the armed forces on his side. Major General Manuel Quevado has only accelerated the decline. Apparently every Venezuelan military officer has a Cuban minder.

Venezuelan oil is a very heavy crude, which needs more in the way of refining than light crude, but Venezuelan refineries are breaking down from neglect and lack of investment.

Reuters reports that about 25,000 workers have quit PDVSA between January 2017 and January 2018, a staggering sum. PDVSA employs roughly 146,000 people. Thousands of workers are walking off of job sites, fed up with going to work hungry, putting their lives at risk at rickety refineries, all for a paycheck that fails to cover even the most basic expenses.

Fires have broken out, and the loss of both top-level engineers and managers as well as experienced workers means the losses will only get worse. Refineries are falling apart, and ports are reducing operations because of a lack of workers.

PDVSA accounts for about half the nation’s oil production — the rest are joint ventures. Last Tuesday, Chevron said that two of its workers were arrested. Chevron has not fled the country as many of its peers have, but the arrests may change matters. This is the first direct hit on an international company operating in Venezuela. At some point the costs of operating will become too high. The amount of oil available on the market will decline, the price of oil will increase. Maduro’s grip on the nation will become even more shaky. There’s not that much more available for him to squeeze.

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Raul Castro Has Resigned From the Presidency of Cuba by The Elephant's Child

The General Assembly has voted in a new president, the hand-picked former Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The Constitution of Cuba is modeled after the Soviet Union’s and similar to modern-day China’s meaning the legislature has full control over who becomes president and who joins his cabinet. The former vice president has a reputation for following orders very successfully.

Many of our news outlets assumed that this was a big deal, but it is not. Raul Castro remains to run the Communist Party, which runs everything else.

Chapter I, Article 5 of the Cuban constitution makes the Communist Party “the superior directing body of society and the State, which organizes and orients the common efforts towards the end of the construction of socialism and advancement of communist society.” This makes the head of the Communist Party—Castro—the “superior” director of the State, above his future successor.

Who remains as commander in chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba is not entirely clear from the constitution, as Fidel and Raúl Castro have typically been both president and comandante.

The head of government’s powers are fairly limited:

  • Represent the State and Government and manage general policy
  • Organizing and lead activities by the Council of Ministers
  • Control and attend to the development of activities at the ministries

Last year, Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote in the Wall Street Journal about a brief uprising of a” Venezuelan National Guard Captain and some 20 others who had gotten some 120 rifles, ammunition and grenades from an armory at Fort Paramacay in Valencia. There were unconfirmed reports of similar raids at other military installations. ”

“The Cuba-controlled military regime put tanks in the streets and unleashed a hunt for the fleeing soldiers.” She added that “Cuba had embedded about 50 high-ranking Cuban military officers, 4,500 Cuban soldiers in nine battalions, and 34,000 doctors and health professionals in Venezuela,  with orders to defend the tyranny with arms. Cuba provides Maduro’s personal security and thousands of other Cubans hold key positions of the State, Government, military and intelligence and counterintelligence services.” What their part is in the starvation in Cuba is unknown.

Burning Cuban flags, when they can be had, is now practically a national pastime in Venezuela because Venezuelans understand the link between their suffering and Havana. The Castro infiltration began over a decade ago when Fidel sent thousands of Cuban agents, designated as teachers and medical personnel, to spread propaganda and establish communist cells in the barrios.

In an August column, O’Grady pointed out that Cuba is not “simply a dictatorship.” For the regime it is a “historical political project” aiming for the establishment of a Cuban-type regime throughout Latin America. The Cubans have taken Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and are now going after Columbia. Castro is dependent on Venezuelan oil and the money from the narcotics business. Fidel died at 90, and Raul is getting up there. There are a number of younger Castros in government, but future succession is unknown.

Now Venezuela cannot afford to export oil, and is having to import oil itself. The people are starving, and trying to get out of the country. Lefties are always sure that those other people just didn’t do it right, but Communism has a way of always ending up very, very badly.

ADDENDUM: According to Humberto Fontova, writing at Front Page Magazine, “Much of the vital day-to-day functions of the Stalinist regime will remain in the hands of Raul Castro’s son Alejandro Castro-Espin, a KGB-trained colonel in Cuba’s secret police and a fanatical Stalinist. Alejandro denounces the U.S. as “an Empire of Terror” and shrieks that “Cuba will never return to capitalism.” He was the one secretly in charge of “negotiations with” (demands upon) the Obama administration in 2014. Nothing was more vital to the Castro-Family-Crime Syndicate than securing and growing that multi-billion-dollar lifeline from the U.S.  So naturally fanatical Stalinist and secret policeman Alejandro was put in charge of securing and protecting this flow through the Stalinist regime’s jugular.” Fontova adds:

“The annual cash flow from the U.S. to Cuba for almost the past decade (mostly in remittances and travel expenses after Obama opened the spigot) exceeds what the Soviets used to send Cuba at the height of their sponsorship back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In brief, thanks to Obama, the U.S. became Cuba’s new Sugar Daddy—and just in the nick of time. President Trump has closed this economic lifeline only slightly. We’ll see what happens now with the clear-eyed on Castroism Pompeo and Bolton in charge.”



Donald Trump’s Generals: The Most Renowned Wartime Commanders of Their Generation by The Elephant's Child

A blog called “Breaking Defense” has written well on Trump’s Generals. The Left, constantly looking for something horrible in Trump’s plans, finds the naming of so many retired military men to top positions will possibly undermine the principal of civilian control—as if Constitutional niceties are of enormous concern to the  Left—who have been ignoring that ancient document at their convenience for the last eight years. I’m getting really tired of the Left and their antics.

Donald Trump’s decision to lean heavily on generals in building his national security team has been received with sighs of relief by many foreign policy and national security experts. By the nature of their profession, senior military leaders tend to be pragmatic internationalists who know how to run large organizations. They understand from experience how the world works. They are generally disciplined and well-read. Having come of age on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, these generals are also intimately familiar with the horrors of war, and the second- and third-order consequences of firing the first shot. …

Indeed, the generals likely to form the top ranks of a Trump administration are among the most renowned wartime commanders of their generation. As the presumptive Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis will have as his chief military adviser Marine Corps General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, appointed by Obama as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both flag officers earned their nicknames the old fashioned way during multiple combat tours. They are also close to retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, another combat veteran and the former commander of US Southern Command, who will reportedly serve as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. According to a knowledgeable source, it was Mattis who took upon himself the heartbreaking task of telling John Kelly that his son, 1st Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, had been killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump’s Generals, Part 2: Jim Mattis vs. Iran

Trump’s Generals, Part 3: Mike Flynn vs. Al Qaeda

Trump’s Generals, Part4: John Kelly vs. The Narco-Terrorists

Like many Republicans, when President Elect Trump announced his first nominees for cabinet positions, I was reassured that Mr. Trump knew what he was doing and was getting excellent advice. After 8 years of an administration that assured us that they were completely in control of foreign policy, but could not manage to call the enemy by name or even admit that it was an enemy (junior varsity?) I was delighted. It’s a pretty impressive national security lineup. Get acquainted.



It’s Been a Really Bad Month for the Left: Fidel Castro Finally Dead at Age 90 by The Elephant's Child

trudeau_transparency_20140611Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately gathered the mockery of the internet as he issued praise for the dead Cuban tyrant.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie [Trudeau’s wife] and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader,”

He also called 90-year-old dictator “larger than life” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator.” Uh huh.  Twitter had great fun with that:

Go here for the long, long list of people not impressed and having fun:

castro-island

 



Two Videos That Everyone Needs to See! by The Elephant's Child

I am endlessly fascinated with what the Left attempts to accomplish with their recognition of the fact that most people are not very knowledgeable about the daily news, and only somewhat familiar with what the government is doing. They are thus enabled to tell major whoppers in the knowledge that if repeated frequently, people will believe them. Here is Hillary in her calm, executive, see how capable I am voice (rather than the screaming harridan of the campaign trail). This interview is a little over 25 minutes long, and if you don’t have much time, skip to 11.37 when it begins to get interesting, or to 15 min when you really get to the spectacular lies. if you have the time (27 min) it’s a good look at what Hillary proposes to do if she gets the chance. We should see to it that she doesn’t.

It’s a great interview Chris Wallace does a superb job of trying to pin her down, but she knows if she repeats her version of the emails often enough everybody will forget Trey Gowdy’s questions for FBI Director James Comey regarding the emails.

If you haven’t seen Trey Gowdy’s hearing  with FBI Dir. James Comey. don’t miss this one. Devastating for Hillary.



“Notable & Quotable” by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal included these lines from the Mayo Clinic’s online entry on narcissistic personality disorder in their “Notable & Quotable” column.

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement—and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything—for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection. . . .

[The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5] . . . criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate . . .

Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner



Socialism Does Not Work. Not Anywhere Nor Any Time. by The Elephant's Child

Venezuela-waiting-line
President Obama is back from Argentina, where he danced the tango, and announced that there was no difference between capitalism and communism, and his earlier visit to  Cuba, where he  plunged into the prickly issues of civil liberties and free elections — and announced pompously that “I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas”on his last day in Havana, and said “It is time for us to look forward to the future together.” He met with a group of Cuban dissidents, but they were clearly the not very dissidenty kind, since the secret police had put the serious dissidents back in prison.

He received some sharp criticism for a lack of concern for the attacks in Brussels, but said he preferred the reaction of Boston’s quick return to everyday business after the Marathon killings. He did make it back in time for a round of golf on Saturday though.

Nothing has changed in Havana. Cuba remains a prison state where the people live on a $20 a month allowance to buy their food, medical care and whatever else  they need. The old cars and crumbling buildings may look “quaint” to American eyes, but that’s all they have.

Cuba has passed their form of socialism on to Venezuela, in exchange for Venezuelan oil, and it’s all going swimmingly in Venezuela. They stand in line for hours to buy toilet paper. Inflation is well over 700%. Basic goods are unavailable.

Bernie Sanders gets irate when anyone compares his brand of socialism with current events in Venezuela, Bernie insists that he is speaking of Democratic Socialism, like Denmark, where Danes say life is really difficult since you can’t buy much, things are too expensive, and there’s nowhere to go because no one has a car. The Honda Accord, so popular here at roughly $22,000. costs $44,000 in Denmark.

Socialism does not work. It doesn’t work anywhere, nor at any time. Venezuela is on the verge of becoming a failed state. President Nicholas Maduro has called out the army to distribute lower wattage lightbulbs. The oil rich nation is not rich anymore now that the price of oil has dropped so far. The break even price for  Venezuelan oil is estimated to be $151 a barrel, and the current price for Brent crude is around $34. And the country is suffering from a drought, and little water in their hydroelectric dams. Everything imported is scarce, including basic medicines.  When the government asks you not to go to work for five days, to conserve power—you know your country is in trouble.

Maduro replaced Hugo Chavez after he died in 2013. Maduro was Chavez’s chosen successor, though he had no qualifications for the presidency. Typically of the successes of socialism, Hugo Chavez’s second eldest daughter, Maria Gabriella Chavez, is the wealthiest woman in Venezuela who has reportedly stashed away a cool $4,2 billion. Odd that a dictator’s daughter should amass so much wealth? That’s what socialism is all about. The leaders aren’t obligated to suffer along with the people.




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