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.

Advertisements


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.”



Dr. Jordan Peterson Went to Australia by The Elephant's Child

Dr. Jordan Peterson went to Australia in Mid March to give a series of lectures. Here he meets with  John Anderson, who was a Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the rural-based National Party of Australia from July 1999 to July 2005. John Anderson has a marvelous voice. The conversation is passionate, deep, and powerful, and about deep things, essential things, like the meaning and purpose of memory, what is going wrong in the present and what we should do about it, how the Left is going wrong, and what is the wrong. And how do you do right?

Powerful stuff. It’s a long video, and you will want to have the freedom to listen to the whole thing, and then perhaps, listen again. Why is history so important, and why are our children not learning history, and how will they survive in our world if they do not. When is the last time you had a conversation like this? I thought so.



QQQ: Why Does Communism Fail? by The Elephant's Child

“In sum,  communism failed and is bound to fail for at least two reasons: one, that to enforce equality, its principal objective, it is necessary to create a coercive apparatus that demands privileges and thereby negates equality; and two, that ethnic and territorial loyalties, when in conflict with class allegiances everywhere, and at all times overwhelm them, dissolving Communism in nationalism, which is why socialism so easily combines with “Fascism.” In recognition of this reality, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, abandoned the slogan calling on all proletarians to unite.”
…………………………………….
……………………………………………
Richard Pipes: Communism: a History



Jordan Peterson: A Harvard Talk on the Mask of Compassion by The Elephant's Child

I am fascinated with Dr. Peterson from the University of Toronto, Professor of Psychology, Clinical Psychologist, Researcher. This talk is a long one, but so informative about Post Modernism and Neo-Marxism. Today’s students and a good percentage of today’s faculties are back on the Marxist program. Apparently completely unaware of the history of Marxism, the dreadful bloody, miserable history. The Holodomor, the deliberate starvation of the people of Ukraine, the Gulag, the repression, and under the guise of compassion, they’re swallowing it whole.

Dr.Peterson has remarkably fine connection between brain and mouth, says what he means and means what he says. The interviewer in this case left a great deal to be desired, but the conversation is endlessly fascinating. File it in that enormous folder of What’s Really Going On.

For goodness sakes, read The Black Book of Communism, or any of Richard Pipes books—Communism, A History; Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, or Robert Conquest: Reflections on a Ravaged Century; The Great Terror; or Harvest of Sorrow. Or for that matter take a look at Cuba and Venezuela today



North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un May Have Stubbed His Toe by The Elephant's Child

In a very surprising interview, an academic with close ties to the Chinese government has stated that war with North Korea is under consideration. China’s president Xi Jinping has become fed up with the erratic behaviour of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, in spite of the historic ties between the two countries.

Chong Sho-Hu, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said that Kim Jong-Un and North Korea were “seeking death.” Speaking to the BBC, the professor suggested that just one more missile test would “push the country off the cliff.”

President Jinping was said to be furious when North Korea tested a missile just as China was preparing to host a pivotal global economic conference. The professor said China is mad and wants to punish North Korea.

China’s leader XI Jinping told the Chinese Communist Party Congress that he would build the biggest army in the world, but wanted to avoid any conflict with U.S. President Donald Trump over North Korea. He told delegates that by 2050 China will become a global leader in terms of international influence and national strength, with the rule of law, innovative companies, a clean environment and a growing middle class. “The Chinese people will enjoy greater happiness and well-being, and the Chinese nation will stand taller and firmer in the world.”

This is a remarkable bit of world news, from one stray professor who is said to be close to the administration in China, so I don’t know just how accurate it may be or not, but it is certainly interesting.

President Kim Jong-Un seems to be the only plump person in the North Korean nation, and a good many of his military hangers-on have uniforms that seem too large for their bodies. Whenever Kim Jong-Un appears, everyone smiles broadly and they clap with their hands right up in front of their faces where their enthusiasm can be readily seen. Kim Jong-Un executed one of his uncles with a military howitzer instead of a firing squad, which may have something to do with the odd style of clapping.

 



Conflict, Delusions, Visions, Madness by The Elephant's Child

In Charlottesville, Virginia, a college town, protesters were attempting to tear down a confederate memorial and counter protesters variously described as neo-Nazis, KKK members, white nationalists, with Antifa, and Black Lives Matter.

Leftist news sources immediately  began referring to “white supremacists” to make the whole thing about race. The left has made a great effort to describe President Trump as “a racist president” (he isn’t) though that is simply their defensive cover, always calling any republicans “racist” to disguise their own long history as southern slave holders, Confederates,  opponents of reconstruction, opponents of full citizenship for blacks, and desegregation.

One of the curious things about political opinions is how often the same people line up on opposite sided of different issues. The issues themselves may have no intrinsic connection with each other.They may range from military spending to drug laws to monetary policy to education. Yet the same familiar faces can be found glaring at each other from opposite sides of the political fence, again and again. It happens too often to be coincidence and it is too uncontrolled to be a plot. A closer look at the arguments on both sides often shows that they are reasoning from fundamentally different premises. These different premises—often implicit—are what provide the consistency behind the repeated opposition of individuals and groups on numerous, unrelated issues. They have different visions of how the world works.  (emphasis added)

That’s Thomas Sowell: A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, 1987.

He goes on to explain that”the ever-changing kaleidoscope of raw reality would defeat the human mind by its complexity, except for the mind’s ability to abstract, to pick out parts and think of them as a whole. This is nowhere more necessary than in social visions and social theory, dealing with the complex and often subconscious interactions of millions of human beings.

We talk of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” to try to explain what is going on, but the thing is better described in a book by Charles Mackay written in 1841: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds  still available at Amazon. He writes about economic bubbles, the crusades, witch mania, alchemists, the tulip mania, fortune-telling and haunted houses. The book can be downloaded from the Library of Economics and Liberty for free.

An article from the Center for Inquiry contains more recent examples including the Salem Witch Trials, the Orson Welles broadcast of an alien invasion story, and a Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic in 1954.

Thursday, Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) posted an excellent article on his blog “How to Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble”.

The most visible Mass Hysteria of the moment involves the idea that the United States intentionally elected a racist President. If that statement just triggered you, it might mean you are in the Mass Hysteria bubble. The cool part is that you can’t fact-check my claim you are hallucinating if you are actually hallucinating. But you can read my description of the signs of mass hysteria and see if you check off the boxes.

If you’re in the mass hysteria, recognizing you have all the symptoms of hysteria won’t help you be aware you are in it. That’s not how hallucinations work. Instead, your hallucination will automatically rewrite itself to expel any new data that conflicts with its illusions. …

The reason you can’t easily identify what-the-hell is going on in the country right now is that a powerful mass hysteria is in play. If you see the signs after I point them out, you’re probably not in the hysteria bubble. If you read this and do NOT see the signs, it probably means you’re trapped inside the mass hysteria bubble.

This latter one is probably the most important link, because he is talking about understanding today and today’s bubbles. But Tom Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions belongs in your library.




%d bloggers like this: