“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela


Electricity in Korea
With the announcement of an agreement in which it appears the sociopath dictator once again gets his way (50K tons of fuel oil now and another 950k tons later) it is being pointed out on the BBC that North Korea, when seen from space at night, is a vast area of darkness between South Korea and China.

Cigarettes in Cuba
In Cuba, a shortage of cigarettes has driven the per pack price in Santiago from the equivalent of 33 cents to 95 cents.

It seems a government retail company in Santiago owes about $430,000 to the government's regional cigarette wholesaler, which in turn owes $95,000 to the government cigarette manufacturer.

The manufacturer stopped shipping cigarettes to the wholesaler after the debt extended past 30 days.

Juventud Rebelde said that officials were working to solve the payment problems and had begun to ease the shortage by bringing in cigarettes from other areas.

Meat and Sugar in socialist Latin America.
Just to the south of Cuba, in the nascent socialist paradise of Venezuela, the news via the AP from CARACAS, is about a shortage of meat and sugar:
Meat cuts vanished from Venezuelan supermarkets this week, leaving only unsavory bits like chicken feet, while costly artificial sweeteners have increasingly replaced sugar, and many staples sell far above government-fixed prices. Shortages have sporadically appeared with items from milk to coffee since early 2003, when Chavez began regulating prices for 400 basic products as a way to counter inflation and protect the poor.

Yet inflation has soared to an accumulated 78 percent in the last four years in an economy awash in petrodollars, and food prices have increased particularly swiftly, creating a widening discrepancy between official prices and the true cost of getting goods to market in Venezuela.

"Shortages have increased significantly as well as violations of price controls," Central Bank director Domingo Maza Zavala told the Venezuelan broadcaster Union Radio on Thursday. "The difference between real market prices and controlled prices is very high."

President Hugo Chavez's administration blames the food supply problems on unscrupulous speculators, but industry officials say government price controls that strangle profits are responsible. Authorities on Wednesday raided a warehouse in Caracas and seized seven tons of sugar hoarded by vendors unwilling to market the inventory at the official price.

Major private supermarkets suspended sales of beef earlier this week after one chain was shut down for 48 hours for pricing meat above government-set levels, but an agreement reached with the government on Wednesday night promises to return meat to empty refrigerator shelves.

Common Sense in the West
The world has gone mad and there seems to be a severe shortage of common sense in the politically correct, multi-culti, environmentally panicked west. It refuses to believe the bellicose threats of Ahmadinejad or the lying Kim il Jong but it also refuses to believe the constant reassures of Tony Snow that the US is not preparing for war with Iran. The world discounts or ignores the threat posed by the Wahhabists and their banished cousins, al-Qaeda but it sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace. Crying "overpopulation will be the death of us" the west has gone into a demographic death spiral and is not replenishing its population while the third world which evidently didn't get the message, exports its children at alarming rates. Communism has collapsed, Fidel Castro is not long for this world, socialist Europe is living on borrowed time, Hugo Chavez is screwing South America and Democrats in the United States still want socialized medicine. Sometimes I feel as though I am in an alternate reality.


  1. Even in the US the government employees cannot help but sell their influence, as well as their souls.

    SAN DIEGO (Associated Press) -- The CIA's former No. 3 official was indicted Tuesday on suspicion of accepting lavish vacations, helicopter rides and private jet flights from a defense contractor who was also charged.

    A federal grand jury returned 11 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering against Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, executive director of the CIA until he resigned in May, and his close friend, San Diego defense contractor Brent Wilkes.

    The charges stem from the same investigation that sent former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison last year.

    The indictment said that Wilkes paid for Foggo and his family to join Wilkes and his family on a vacation in Scotland in August 2003, doling out $12,000 for private jet flights, $4,000 for a helicopter ride to play golf and $44,000 for a stay at an estate.

    It's one thing to sell out, but for so little? An extra fancy vacation?

    Ahhh, but I bet he thought he was a player. The #3 at the CIA, yep, bet he did.

  2. Shortages. Shortages. Shortages.

    Those deep relationships that took root in the endless Moscow lines are not to be forgotten, and only possible when people are thrown together for hours on end in the cold. Socialism is not just about economics, you know?

    "Yes, we have no bananas, today".

  3. Whit, keep the faith and don't fall prey to the seductive siren of pessimism. Here's a link that may provide encouragement; it did for me. In fact, in the last week or two, i have seen a good number of positive and encouraging developments in the Middle East. Not enough to deem a trend, but enough to sustain hope.

    Link to Threatswatch

    By the way, its worth following the link at Threatswatch to Timmerman's article at Frontpage.

  4. I think we would all agree that fear and admiration are the primary progenitors of respect, with fear probably being the greater. As that post suggests, dialogue does not generate respect; negotiation does not generate respect. Power and its use do, by invoking fear, and in some cases, admiration. Among enemies, the only respect that one can hope for is fear. Let's hope that Bush, Gates, Fallon & Patreaus (sp?) can succeed at that now.

    Gotta run for now; dinner is served and I am very respectful of the wonderful lady serving it!

  5. O/T, but tiger has this awesome post over at his blog that debunks the "Global Warming" meme, and even a reference to the EB.

    Another horse that deserves to be flogged - a Trojan one, in this case, of transnational progressivism.

  6. Here's the link

    Has bobalharb perfected the art of link-making yet?

  7. Duece

    I'm with you on the alternate reality...Spill the Wine

    I thought to myself, what could that mean
    Am I going crazy, or is this just a dream
    Now wait a minute
    I know I'm lying in a field of grass somewhere
    So it's all in my head

  8. That was reported a day or two ago.
    It is standard operating procedure for Iraqi politicians.
    They fine refuge in Iran, Jordan or Syria, depending upon their sectarian orientation.

    Mr al-Hakim and Mr Maliki have both found sanctuary in Iran, in the past. Saddam's family is in Jordan, today.

    Guarentees his eventual return, rather than his possible death, in theater. Another window of opportunity slammed shut.