26 September 2009

Thinking outside the Venezuelan box

So the Telegraph paid 110,000 Sterling to a mole that leaked all the juicy information about MP's expenses in Westminster. And I question myself: what is the combined amount of funds that victims of Chavez have taken out of Venezuela in the past 5 decades? I am talking about media barons, businessmen, bankers and so on, all of whose lives and assets can, as of today, disappear at Chavez's whims.

What will it take for one or two of them to think outside the Venezuelan box? More expropriations? More kidnappings? More hardship? How difficult it is to pool some funds together and offer a couple of million bucks to anyone that leaks, for instance, information about Chavez's relationship with FARC in possession of the government of Colombia? Internally it won't do much, but internationally it can make a difference.

And this is how Venezuela's caudillo deals with independent press

See how Eva Golinger gets all worked up in the background: you have made it to revolutionary Olympus Eva, well done!!

17 September 2009

The Love of Money

The BBC has produced what it calls a "Series offering a definitive account of what happened to create the greatest financial crisis for eighty years", entitled The Love of Money. The series is remarkable in that it provides a window into the thinking of the people that were/are in the driving seat, and whose decisions for better or worse brought us to the current mess.

To be frank I am completely shocked by former Lehman Brothers boss Dick Fuld's admission that he simply didn't know what had happened. Fuld can be seen chastising the media, as if journalists had anything to do with his irresponsible business decisions. The icing has to be another interviewee explaining that Lehman's owed 44 dollars for every dollar they had. How can that be sustained over the long run? It can't, it couldn't, but one of Wall Street's puportedly greatest minds just "didn't know what had happened", couldn't read the writing on the wall.

So if Fuld was the initial villain, now Alan Greenspan is meant to have caused the problem, many years ago, for having failed to regulate properly credit defaut swaps, despite warnings from financial authorities, and for keeping interest rates too low for too long, contributing to the creation of the notion of free money. Given that Greenspan was the figurehead that dictated the line to be towed by chiefs from central banks from around the world, his oversight is the ultimate culprit. Greenspan defended his position by arguing what any commonsensical person would: i.e. if you own or run a large financial institution, or any business for that matter, it is in your best interest to look after the shop and not do anything stupid, such as lending money to people that you know have no means to pay back, regardless of whether or not the money you're lending was given to you "for free". That's pretty straightforward, isn't it? Obviously no one told the bankers that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Greenspan's position was informed, I think, on the belief that any businessmen out there is trying as hard as she/he can to earn as much money as possible, while factoring risk in its appropriate dimension and ensuring that investments are backed by tangibles of some sort, not by a ratio of 44 to 1. Greenspan is of course a man of principle, he acted as such, his err was to think that everybody in the business world shared that particular premise with him.

And how about the politicians that were in charge and pushed the banks to lend money for electoral gain? Enters Fuld, he must have thought that if the government was short of forcing banks to lend, so that poor folks could get on the property ladder, then it stood to reason that when Joe Doe refused to meet mortgage payments, triggering a crisis of cataclysmic proportions, then he could pass the buck to those doing the pushing, or to anyone but himself. He miscalculated, and in doing so he did away with the trust that shareholders and associates placed on him and, of course, his reputation.

This whole affair is meant to be incontrovertible proof that capitalism does not work and I beg to differ. For what it proves, rather clearly, is that for human beings greed, and the prospect of betterment, self-enrichment, a quick buck, a freebie, in sum personal gain, stand in the way of reason, or of collective welfare, in almost every case. That is not a problem endemic to capitalism, rather it is human nature, and it is precisely why communism will never win the day. Examples of this behavior are seen everywhere, from Wall Street to Westminster, passing through Harare, Havana, Caracas or Seoul. Human errors are to be faulted, Capitalism continues to be the system that offers the greatest amount of individual freedom.

16 September 2009

Stalinist Calvin Tucker ridiculed by Marxist

It appears that someone else has got Calvin Tucker's number. It turns that a Marxist fellow, called Louis Proyect, has taken the trouble to ridicule Stalinist Tucker, well known in the Venezuelan blogosphere for his threats of physical violence, open support for Hugo Chavez's violent attempt to overthrow democratically elected Carlos Andres Perez, admirer of Fidel Castro, and all round apologist of about any leftist totalitarian regime, and fundamentalist and narcoterrorist 'insurgent' movements.

Mind you Calvin Tucker is the sort of person who takes pride in having disfigured someone so badly that it needed reconstructive surgery to his face, and then turns indignant when someone else questions his mental sanity. However there is one allegation by Tucker in the comment section of Proyect's blog that caught my attention:

No doubt Proyect is unaware that Hugo Chavez has quoted me at great length on prime time Venezuelan TV.

So here's a public invitation to Calvin Tucker, or to any chavista for that matter, to provide evidence that Hugo Chavez has quoted crackpot Calvin Tucker at great lenght on prime Venezuelan TV. At a time when the Venezuela Information Office is allegedly being dismantled owing to its sheer uselessness in crafting a positive media image of the dictator in the USA, it seems that Chavez apologists are losing all sensible relation to reality. Now Tucker is meant to be worried that current (?) and future employers can access his questionable past and dirty little connections with rogues online, but he does not think of that when he spreads all over the web baseless allegations against me. What a hypocrite.

Global Warming debate: some scientists are more equal than others

A while ago I wrote this post, which sent my detractors into a frenzy. It seems that time and science are proving my arguments right.

Venezuela's finance minister comes out of FONDEN closet

For some time Hugo Chavez, his officials and assorted apologists have maintained that FONDEN, meant to be a rainy day/development fund of sorts, had $57 billion. Today the truth has been revealed: Ali Rodriguez, Minister of Finance, has said that the fund had "accumulated" $57.8 billion worth since 2005, of which $44.5 billion have been 'invested."

Does that mean that FONDEN's balance sheet shows only $13 billion in cash now? What investments are those? Who valued those investments at $44.5 billion, Dick Fuld? Is that the reason, shrinking of cash account, why Venezuela has accepted $3.5 billion from the IMF?

Spin that shit Weisbrot!

9 September 2009

Hugo Chavez's credibility tally...

So Hugo Chavez latest is that he added Oliver Stone to the list of useful idiots that cheer for him. Who do we have on our side (whereby we refers to the camp of rule of law and democracy-supporting people)? Let's keep a tally of the score, shall we? We have:
  1. Human Rights Watch,
  2. Amnesty International,
  3. Inter American Court of Human Rights,
  4. The European Union,
  5. Colombia,
  6. Brazil,
  7. Mexico,
  8. Sweeden (and basically all the countries that consider Colombia's FARC narco-guerrillas as a terrorist organization),
  9. The US of A,
  10. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,
  11. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State,
  12. U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control,
  13. US Government Accountability Office,
  14. International Labour Organization,
  15. The Church,
  16. The WaPo, the NYT, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde...
  17. and now, Robert Morgenthau.
While Hugo has the clowns mentioned above and:
  1. Robert Mugabe,
  2. Fidel Castro,
  3. Aleksandr Lukashenko,
  4. Vladimir Putin,
  5. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
  6. Muammar Gaddaffi,
  7. FARC,
  8. Omar al-Bashir,
  9. The Kirchners,
  10. and Bashar al-Assad among other terrorism-supporter governments outside the Andes.
Hugo has military muscle, no doubt. He is friends with about every rogue, fundamentalist, dictator and terrorist organization, no doubt. But credibility he ain't got. How about his mates, are they anymore credible?

Now then, shall we worry about some propaganda film by Stone, or shall Bolivarian Transnational Crime Groups come up with creative financial architecture to be able to triangulate stream of illegal, or stolen, funds into allied countries, after Morgenthau's warning about money laundering in Venezuela? There's precedent of him catching some Venezuelan criminals in the past...

Hat tip: Pedro B.

4 September 2009

No Mas Chavez? Think again...

A group of Colombians are meant to be behind the organization of a worldwide protest against Chavez, aptly named "No Mas Chavez" or no more Chavez. This is the same group that organized in 2008 a similar, and very successful, protest called "No mas FARC" against Colombia's narcoterrorist group. There's so much wrong with this event that I will give a bit of context.
  1. Colombia has a trade surplus with Venezuela that runs north of $7 billion per annum. How many of today's protesters have thought about raising the issue with Colombian companies, and, more importantly, what are the chances of those companies to stop trading with Venezuela over political issues?

  2. President Uribe of Colombia is sitting on a pile of evidence that demonstrates, beyond reasonable doubt, that Chavez supports, aids and abets the FARC. Given that organizers first rallied around the issue of FARC, how many of them are pressuring President Alvaro Uribe to use that evidence against Chavez once and for all, instead of dosing it in private dealings like bargaining chips?

  3. What power, real and tangible, to change things internally in Venezuela has a facebook collective, same as twitters in Iran perhaps?

  4. In light of the release by Scottish/English authorities of the Lockerbie bomber on the basis of oil/gas deals to be had with Libya's dictator, can anyone with a modicum of understanding of realpolitik contemplate goals of event as anything more than a catharsis opportunity?

  5. Did those protesting in London's Trafalgar Square arranged, at the very least, an appearance in the Fourth Plint?
No more Chavez is akin to no more Venezuela. Only those ignorant of our contemporary history and idiosyncrasy can come up with such an impossible to achieve motto. The fight against Chavez won't be won by standing in the Fourth Plint or handing petitions to his Chilean minister at the OAS. That much is certain.