“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."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

While Pelosi Dithers, Chavez Undermines Colombia

Leader and Master Pelosi

Call is a pelosis of political cowardice, ignorance, or cynical doctrinaire pandering; holding up the Colombian Free Trade Bill is playing with fire, and Hugo Chavez is there to fan the flames.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office late on Thursday released a letter to Pelosi from the ambassadors of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras urging approval of the free trade pact with Colombia. The leaders in these countries as well as Colombia have spent considerable political capital supporting an alternative to the Chavez model. That alternative requires more US involvement and economic integration with Latin America. That is in US interests. We need to avoid a Lebanon developing in the Americas. :

Hizbollah seizes Muslim west Beirut

By Roula Khalaf, Middle East Editor Financial Times

It took Lebanon’s Hizbollah group just a few hours on Friday to seize control of Muslim west Beirut and bring the country’s western-backed government to its knees.

  • Feb 2005 Popular ‘Cedar revolution’ follows assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri. Syrian complicity suspected
  • April 2005 Syrian troops end 29-year presence in Lebanon
  • July 2006 War between Israel and Hizbollah sparked by the capture of two Israeli soldiers
  • Dec 2006 Power struggle deepens between Hizbollah and pro-west government after Hizbollah and Shia opposition party Amal ministers resign
  • Nov 2007 Lebanon is left without a president after Emile Lahoud steps down and the divided parliament repeatedly fails to agree on a successor
  • May 2008 Hizbollah seizes control of several Beirut neighbourhoods and shuts down a pro-government newspaper and television station. Sunni leader Saeed Hariri calls on Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to end the ‘siege’ of Beirut
Amid scenes reminiscent of the 1975-90 civil war, the country’s most heavily armed and disciplined force deployed its gunmen around al-Mustaqbal newspaper – owned by Saad Hariri, the leading Sunni in the pro-western governing coalition – at about 7am, setting the fourth floor of the building ablaze.

The Lebanese national army, no match for the Shia militant group and eager to stay out of the domestic battle, quickly arrived. But instead of confronting the gunmen, it turned into the negotiator, asking staff to evacuate and thus avert a storming of the building.

Could this happen in Colombia? Read on...

Chavez agreed to arm rebels, files indicate
By Sara A. Carter and Carmen Gentile
Washington Times
May 10, 2008
Documents from a captured laptop show Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez agreed to help arm the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
U.S. intelligence officials said yesterday that members of the Venezuelan government have tried to "facilitate the shipment of arms" to Colombian rebels.

The charge follows a published report that documents from a captured laptop computer show Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez agreed to help arm the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The documents appear to be authentic, U.S. intelligence officials said.

"One of the chief concerns is that the documents reveal closer links between Chavez and the FARC than had been previously been known," a U.S. intelligence official said yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. "It's clear that certain Venezuelan officials have tried to facilitate the shipment of arms to the FARC," the official said.


  1. Not to worry about Hezbollah. They are a responsible, admirable organization that will bring badly needed social sevices to the people, a role they are noted for.

  2. What you have to ask yourself, bob, is where is our counter balance to Hezbollah?

    Where are the radicals for the democratic revolution?

    Where in the third world do the democratic forces supplly those badly needed social services?

    Oh, wait, the democrats are the Hamas and Hezbollah guys, chosen in free and fair elections. al-Sadr, too.

    Kinda a bummer to be on the reactionaries side, every time.

    Now that we support Muammar al-Qaddafi with Trade Agreements and make the Colombians wait. When it is Muammar al-Qaddafi that has killed US citizens through terrorist attacks

    Hugo and the Wahabbists of Saudi Arabia with huge oil revenues and Mr Maliki with 160,000 US troops. All of which stand against US interests of extending democratic rule of law in the third world.

  3. Funny thing about the Colombian Trade Deal, it opens their markets to US goods, as the US is already open to Colombian exports.

    The Democrats, posturing politically, play it just the other way, claiming to be defending US jobs, on the campaign trail.

    The ignorance of the electorate continues to astound me, though it has always been pretty constant. Few care, fewer know the where, what or why of any issue.

  4. "The ignorance of the electorate continues to astound me, though it has always been pretty constant. Few care, fewer know the where, what or why of any issue."

    - sweet

  5. Throughout Latin America, high oil prices have infused new vigor into the old struggle of the indigenous people and poor versus the landowners and elites.

    Bolivia's coco farmer President Evo Morales has just nationalized his country's largest telecom company as well as four foreign owned natural gas companies.

    Fearing the socialist on-slaught, a province of Bolivia recently held a referendum (Santa Cruz Autonomy vote) aimed at given local governments more say over their natural resources. In effect, an attempt to keep large land holdings and energy resources in private hands.

    The leftist governments of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba have denounced the Santa Cruz autonomy vote which was boycotted by the left and passed by 80%.

    The old social problems of South America are being exploited by the vestiges of communism and socialism. The alignments are forming and no surprise, this once again looks like a left versus right conflict.

    Change is coming. The question is can the change agents be trusted?

  6. "The ignorance of the electorate continues to astound me, though it has always been pretty constant. Few care, fewer know the where, what or why of any issue."

    That's why we are a Republic.

  7. The United States is a Republic
    America is a democracy.

    Listen to the speaches, they are all about America, the words United States barely mentioned.

  8. Gasoline is 14 cents a gallon in Turkmenistan, which has large natural gas reserves.

  9. In 1985, Barack Obama made his pilgrimage to sit at the knee of Fidel Castro.

    Today, the downtrodden of the US are in sympathy with the disenfranchised working peoples of South America. More importantly, they join in the liberating struggle for change.

    Today, Pelosi quietly undermines US efforts. Next year, if the Democrats regain control of the White House the struggle could move into a more visible and vigorous phase.

  10. "Turkmenistan has the second largest reserves in the gas-rich former Soviet Union, generating high revenue for the state. The government has used central planning, such as state control of production and procurement, direct bank credits with low interest rates, exchange rate restrictions, and price controls, since it existed as a Republic within the U.S.S.R.[4]

    In 1991 Niyazov's government put forth a decree granting "the free use of water, gas and electricity by the people of Turkmenistan."[2] In reality, the population receives the lowest possible minimum wage and then the state distributes free water, gas and electricity.[4]

  11. The MSM continues to supplement the ignorance of the electorate.
    Iran is spreading chaos as predicted to fulfill the prophesy of the 12thImam's return. Sadr's boys jumped the gun by a couple of weeks or we noticed his hornets stirring and poked the nest. Look for more speed boats buzzing and or a missile "test".
    Will someone in one of the good guy enclaves in Lebanon request outside assistance?
    Thug Hugo has pledged his support to Ahmad in exchange for no doubt weapons and he stands to benefit if the chaos disrupts middle east oil distribution.
    Try as she may to do what she thinks is right Ms. Pelosi ends up acting like a tool of the anti American left who's forces appear to be getting their act together of late. Of course the MSM as mentioned above aides this effort. See the article from last week doubting the presence of Iranian weapons in Iraq.
    Deuce, I am in Delaware to do a bit of surf fishing. I looked for some "flower of the cane" but could locate none. I settled for Gosling's. I'll keep looking though.

  12. Surf fishing...sounds good. Have fun, be careful.

    We saw this coming:

    Hickjacked and trickled down:

    YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise.

  13. hickjacked?...


  14. DR: Where in the third world do the democratic forces supplly those badly needed social services? Oh, wait, the democrats are the Hamas and Hezbollah guys, chosen in free and fair elections. al-Sadr, too.

    Caesar provided badly needed social services (free wheat, land for veterans of foreign wars, spectacular entertainments at Circus Maximus) but he sure as hell wern't no democrat. Yet I wish the Kill Caesar Club hadn't succeeded. He was a dictator with an ego so big he reformed the calendar and named a whole month after himself, but he wasn't a cruel and merciless tyrant.

  15. Whit: Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise.

    In a perfect universe, there would be a giant vat of boiling hyena vomit waiting in hell for those generals.

  16. Hickjacked is when you stop at a gas station in rural Alabama where Goober and Billy Jack are plinking empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon with 22s and they tell you to get out of your Mustang GT and the next time you see it, it's a bare chassis up on concrete blocks in someone's front yard, with three dogs sleeping under it.

  17. hickjacked, that's what we do out here.

    I got hickjacked once. Some other hick stole a trailer, a 120 gallon diesel tank, full, and the electric pumps and hoses, the bastards. Just drove right up one night, hitched up, and hickjacked.

    So, I passed the hickjacking onto the insurance company, with a little value added tax, so to speak.:)

  18. as the US is already open to Colombian exports.

    Temporarily, no? It would make this permanent, isn't that the idea? And lower or eliminate their tariffs on our stuff?

  19. Blame Rumsfeld!

    Fri May 09, 07:21:00 PM EDT

    That motherfucker claimed all of the privileges and none of the responsibility of his office. Dishonorable sack of shit gave Franks the order to scrap Phase IV then tried to cover his tracks just before he left the Pentagon.

    How many US and Iraqi lives did that cost? And it still costs.

    Fell off the face of the motherfucking earth when he left and no one has to wonder why. Nor does a goddamned soul in that place miss him.

  20. Tonight on C2C--

    In a re-broadcast, hear Art interview a Libertarian candidate of yesteryear(Art is pretty much a Libertarian himself)--

    6-10pm PT: During Art Bell: Somewhere in Time take a trip down memory lane to November 30, 1995 when Art Bell and Libertarian Party candidate for the 1996 Presidential race, Harry Brown, discusses his party's beliefs on government, taxes, immigration, and many other topics of the day.

  21. Just so we all understand Pelosi: She's not making the argument that the FTA will hurt the US. She and her labor buddies are making the argument against the FTA on human rights grounds, which is equally a bunch of garbage but much easier to get away with among those that, like I said, know fuck-all about this country.





  23. Yeah, take that, you scum! HA!

  24. "Could this happen in Colombia?"

    Soon after my arrival someone said to me, "At least here we're winning."

    No, FARC is running on fumes, whittled down a little more each week, and its unpopularity among the Colombian people (as important a factor as this government's efforts) cannot be overstated.

    What does FARC have?

    Hostages. To include three Americans that bear the awful distinction of being the longest such held in captivity. One recent Colombian escapee owes his success in doing so to one of the Americans, who taught him how to swim.

    Many families of the captives want direct engagement of Chavez (and or recognition of FARC) in order to facilitate hostage release. Not gonna happen, however. There's only one way those hostages are going to be freed. And first they have to be found.

  25. Trish: She and her labor buddies are making the argument against the FTA on human rights grounds

    It's called union-busting by death squad.

  26. Tes,

    That's still a better proposition than China.

  27. Instead of talking out of your ass, look at the stats, T. Look at the stats.

  28. Trish: Instead of talking out of your ass, look at the stats, T. Look at the stats.

    Okay. The last 3,500 murders of trade unionists in Colombia have resulted in only six convictions.

  29. My morning fishwrap says Hillary is going to fight on to the convention, and is moving the goal posts, saying 2,209 deleqates are now needed to win, which includes Michigan and Florida. All votes must be counted, you know. No voters disenfranchised. Good ol' Hillary.

  30. I agree with T, "Again." When will this Ever End?

    They're not killing as many Union Members/leadership, down there; but, they're still killing them. They're going to have to stop it.

  31. latins, best dancers on the planet.

  32. Enough to make a baby weep for joy.



    Violence is a real issue for union members in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 2,200 union members have been assassinated, mostly by right-wing paramilitaries. Colombia is the most dangerous country in which to be a union mem­ber, as a recent publication from the AFL-CIO points out.3 And the justice system has failed in most cases: Out of so many murders, there have been only 37 convictions.4 However, Democratic leaders and their union allies fail to credit the Colombian government with the dramatic progress it has made against what only a few years ago seemed to be hopeless odds.

    The real story in Colombia is not the current level of violence but its dramatic fall in a relatively short period, and the credit due the Colombian government for the progress. The number of assassinations of union members in Colombia has dropped sharply since 2001, a year before Colombian president Álvaro Uribe was sworn into office. From about 200 assassinations a year in 2001 and 2002, the number fell by half in 2003 and has continued to fall since then. (See Figure 1.) The AFL-CIO claims 38 unionists were assassinated in 2007, while the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection counts 25. Even if the higher AFL-CIO fig­ure is accepted, that would mark a plunge of more than 80 percent in assassinations of trade unionists during President Uribe’s time in office; the decrease would be nearly 90 per­cent if the Ministry of Social Protection figure is accepted. Either number represents remarkable and welcome progress under President Uribe.

    Trade unionist killings must also be seen in the context of a society that for decades has been one of the most violence-plagued in the world. Since independence from Spain in 1819, the country has been engulfed in violent civil conflicts that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. In the 1960s two Marxist armed groups, the FARC and ELN, started a guerrilla war against the Colombian government. Later in the 1980s, power­ful drug cartels battled the authorities and each other in the streets of important cities such as Medellin and Cali. Medellin was, until a few years ago, the deadliest city in the world. In the early 1990s, right-wing paramilitary groups were formed by landowners to battle the left-wing guerrillas. These groups soon became criminal forces of their own.

    In the mid 1990s, once the drug cartels were dismantled, both guerillas and paramilitary groups moved into the nar­cotics business. Colombia’s rugged geography makes it an ideal place for growing illegal crops such as marijuana and coca. It is estimated that 90 percent of powdered cocaine consumed in the U.S. comes from Colombia.5 This repre­sents a multimillion dollar business that illegal armed forces have exploited for over a decade.

    Against this daunting backdrop, the Uribe administration has taken decisive action. The government has established a protection program for vulnerable groups of society. Currently 1,504 union members have enrolled in the program, more than any other group of civil society. Working with the International Labor Organization, Colombia has created a spe­cial unit under its Attorney General to investigate priority cases of violence against trade unionists.6 Union members still get assassinated, but they account for less than one in ten civil­ian assassinations by illegal armed groups.7 Other groups tar­geted for violence include teachers, journalists, business lead­ers, and politicians, most of whom are members of President Uribe’s own party.

    The AFL-CIO repeatedly cites the figure of 2,245 labor union members killed in Colombia since 1991 as a central argument for not approving the trade agreement. But that fig­ure is heavily front-loaded, with more than four out of five of those killings taking place prior to President Uribe’s adminis­tration. Instead of giving Uribe due credit for the dramatic decline in killings, the AFL-CIO insists on punishing the cur­rent president and the people who elected him for the failures of past administrations.

    Unfortunately, left-leaning groups in Colombia have col­luded with labor interests in the United States to convince the Democratic leadership in Congress that this FTA should be defeated on humanitarian grounds. There is more ideolo­gy behind the opposition to the agreement than real concern for union members in Colombia. For example, Gustavo Triana, an official at the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, Colombia’s largest labor federation, says that "Free trade is killing us as much as bullets are."8 Equating peaceful, volun­tary trade with murdering bullets is a gross comparison that shows the ideological agenda behind much of the opposition to an FTA.


  34. latins, best dancers on the planet.

    Sat May 10, 12:42:00 PM EDT

    You ain't kiddin'. Put us gringos to shame.

  35. Flor de Caña Centenario 18 year old received top ratings in Wine Enthusiast Magazine's ìBest of Yearî issue which showcases the Top 100 Wines, the Top 100 Values and the Top 50 Spirits of the Year.

    Have a Flor de Caña or two when you watch the dancing.

  36. Thanks for the recommendation. Wonder what it runs?

    My wine shop gives a third off. If you pay cash and don't need a receipt.

  37. Buy it in the duty free in Colombia. In Costa Rica the eight year old is about $8 , 12 years in the 20'ies and 18 when you can find it $30ish. The four year old is good enough, get the dark. Mix the youngers, but promise to do the 18 neat.

  38. See if you can find a bottle of this.

    Yoichi 18

  39. anyone notice the infant on the floor in front of the dancer? Nothing like a front row seat!

  40. "Buy it in the duty free in Colombia."

    I'm sure I can find it here at my end of town.

    Ixnay on the airportay.

  41. Just sayin'. That traffic's a killer.

  42. trish wrote:

    "making the argument against the FTA on human rights grounds"

    Isn't that kinda the general argument against free trade in general? The playing field isn't level, blah blah blah, therefore "fair trade"! We got similar arguments here in Canada against the FTA with the US - lower taxes in the US, no Universal Health Care - we'll join the US in spiral downwards...kinda funny hearing USAer's saying the same.

    The general line here in Canada- boyo if the 'mericans want to reopen NAFTA we've got issues, yeppers we've got issues.

  43. "Isn't that kinda the general argument against free trade in general?"

    It's one of the arguments - its practical twin (employed far more often) being that trade liberalization is harmful to domestic industry in the long run.

    By the time NAFTA was implemented, there had ceased for years to be duties on goods imported from Mexico. And still that "giant sucking sound" propelled the populist Ross Perot into (momentarily) viable third party status.

    I'm waiting - waiting, waiting, waiting - for a goodly portion of GOPers to hive themselves off in the same sort of political set-up, following their Let's Be Cuba! But With Elections! instincts.

  44. There they can join with all the Willy Lunchmeats of the "progressive" left. That's my dream anyway.

  45. Trish,
    Deuce is referring to rum as opposed to wine. D see my comment up thread I have been looking hereabouts with no luck. Weather broke this afternoon and I caught one flounder. Threw him back. Calling for more rain tmrw but hopefully the weather will break later in the week and the bluefish and or stripers will show up.
    Jeha's Nail is a blog from Beirut with an interesting map of the past couple of day's action. scroll down.

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. I know, joe.

    My wine shop is a wine/spirits shop.

  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. "Dishonorable sack of shit gave Franks the order to scrap Dishonorable sack of shit gave Franks the order to scrap Phase IV "
    Link, please.
    Pretty, pretty please.
    This ignoranat peasant does not know what "Phase IV" IS.
    (pardon my mere civilian existence)