“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."

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Results of US Stupidity in Latin America

As trade with Costa Rica grows, so does Beijing’s influence in Latin America. US influence will decrease. The Colombian Free Trade agreement is a prime example. Why are we ruled by fools?

Hu’s Visit Reflects China’s New Clout

By Gillian Gillers
Tico Times Staff |

For the first time in history, a Chinese president has visited Central America, a former bastion of Taiwanese support and a region that the United States has long considered its backyard.

During Hu Jintao's visit to Costa Rica on Monday, the two nations agreed to begin negotiations on a free-trade agreement and work together to expand Costa Rica's national oil refinery.

China will also open a center here to spread Chinese language and culture, and the China Development Bank will offer $40 million in credit to the cash-strapped Banco Nacional.

Hu spent about 24 hours in Costa Rica with his wife, Liu Yongqing, and a delegation of about 110 people, including government officials, journalists and advisers. Separately, about 100 Chinese businessmen visited this week to meet with their Tico counterparts.

“China is ready to intensify its contacts with Costa Rica's government, Congress and political parties,” Hu said at a press conference Monday.

Hu's visit here, followed immediately by trips to Cuba and Peru, highlights China's growing influence in Latin America, where the U.S. has been largely politically absent.

In courting Latin America, China appears to be seeking raw materials, new export markets and diplomatic support from the region's 12 countries that still back Taiwan.

China's gifts to Costa Rica are a reward for President Oscar Arias' decision in June 2007 to recognize China and end a 63-year relationship with Taiwan, according to a secret memo that a Costa Rican high court recently made public.

During Hu's visit, China agreed to free up additional funds for a national soccer stadium in La Sabana Park, on the western edge of San José. China will invest $83 million in the stadium, to be built over the next two years by the Chinese firm Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group.

Also this week, China National Petroleum Corporation agreed to help Costa Rica expand its national refinery in Moín on the Caribbean coast. The expansion, set to more than double the refinery's capacity, could take up to five years and cost $1 billion, to be divided between the two nations, said José León Desanti, president of Costa Rica's National Oil Refinery.

After the United States, China is Costa Rica's second most important trading partner, and commercial ties are set to strenghten over the next few years.

Trade officials will hold the first round of talks on a free-trade agreement Jan. 19 in San José, and negotiations will likely finish by early 2010, said Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz.

China is also donating 320 square meters of space to Costa Rica at the next World Expo, an international fair scheduled in Shanghai from May through October 2010.

Some companies are ahead of the game. Florida Bebidas, a subsidiary of Florida Ice & Farm, signed an agreement with the Chinese distributor Powersun on Monday to sell fruit juice and Imperial beer to Chinese consumers. Florida Bebidas will also distribute the Chinese beer Tsingtao here.

Trade with China has grown dramatically over the last five years. In 2002, just 0.64 percent of Costa Rica's exports went to China, compared to 9 percent in 2007. Ruiz said he expects exports to China to grow 11 percent under a free-trade agreement.

China is also seeking to strengthen cultural ties with Costa Rica through a new Confucius Institute, set to open soon at the University of Costa Rica (UCR). The center, funded jointly by the two nations, will offer Mandarin classes to students, teachers and the general public.

Costa Rica will be the eighth country in Latin America to have a Confucius Institute, joining Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and Mexico.

China's generosity has impressed Costa Ricans and filled some of a niche once occupied by the United States. When asked in July to name Costa Rica's best friend, 25 percent of Ticos said China, while 29 percent named the United States. Two decades ago, 58 percent of Ticos considered Uncle Same the best, said Carlos Denton, president of CID-Gallup.

“The U.S. is disengaged,” Denton said. “That's why Costa Ricans aren't as conscious of the U.S. as a friend as they were 25 years ago.”

In the early 1980s, the U.S. pumped millions of dollars into Costa Rica's Central Bank to prop up the country's teetering economy. But the USAID mission in Costa Rica closed in 1996, and last year the Washinton, D.C., gave Costa Rica just $7 million in direct aid.

“The clasped hands have disappeared from Costa Rica,” Denton said, referring to the USAID emblem.

The United States is still Costa Rica's No. 1 destination for exports and the top source of tourists. And next month, Costa Rica is expected to join the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

Still, as Costa Rica diversifies its exports, commercial ties with the North American giant have become less important. In 2002, half of Costa Rican exports went to the U.S., compared to 35.2 percent in 2007.

While China's ambitions in the region have raised eyebrows in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Peter Cianchette seems unfazed. Stronger ties to China, he said, do not detract from Costa Rica's relationship with the United States.

“This isn't a zero-sum game,” he said.


  1. We don't have a back yard in Latin America, or the Middle East, or Vietnam, or Korea, or Germany, or Georgia, or Ukraine, or even Canada. Our backyard is places like Guam, Alaska, Texas, and Wyoming. And right now our back yard is under water, so lets worry about our own back yard before we worry about the neighbors.

  2. What Tes sayz.

    A great many places in the US look like they've been decimated by war. It's really frightening that people can live like that.

  3. I, actually, think this is a Good thing. It may help get the Dems off the schneid regarding Colombia, and Panama.

    I love the idea that we're going to compete in "trade," and not Bullets.

  4. Bobal: What I can't figure is if there's nothing to hide, why not show it? So it seems almost logical to conclude that's what happened. Maybe we'll never know.

    Bobal, there's no oil in that hole. The government was sufficiently satisfied that he's a natural born citizen that it issued him a passport. You can spend your time trying to overturn last years' superbowl on an instant replay, or you can gear up for the next superbowl.

  5. I've heard the passport argument before, T. What it means is some clerk somewhere was sufficiently satisfied to issue him a passport. The Supreme Court is going to talk it over, we'll see what happens.

  6. WASHINGTON (AP) - One of the government's witnesses against convicted Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska now says he wasn't truthful on the stand.
    David Anderson, who worked on Stevens' house for VECO founder Bill Allen, testified during the trial that there was no agreement with the Justice Department for immunity for him, his family or friends in exchange for his testimony.

    Anderson now says he did have an understanding with the Justice Department. This came out Friday in a letter Anderson wrote to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

    Stevens' lawyers want a hearing on Anderson's allegations. The Justice Department had no immediate comment.


  7. Besides the issue isn't whether he's an American citizen but a natural born one. The Austrian is an American citizen, but not a natural born one.

  8. The issue, bobal, seems to be one taken up by the lunatic right wing fringe. Enjoy pissing in the wind!

  9. He was unnaturally born?
    A ceasarian section birth, perhaps.

    That is "unnatural", aye?

    Or perhaps it means clones are not permitted to be President.

    The Hawaiian government stands by their documentation of his Hawaiian birth.

  10. Mat,
    re: Your comment with the Google news at:
    Fri Nov 21, 02:47:00 PM EST

    With due respect to you, and acknowledging you may be only passing on news, my opinion is it's more smoke and mirrors by the usual suspects, e.g., Gore, Pickens, and the others who are big on government mandates and picking pockets for government subsidies that favor them, or their agendas.

    No doubt.

    We all have an agenda. Your agenda is the status quo of big oil big cars big military big deficits and bankruptcy, and mine is the opposite.

  11. If the Government of the United States took Costa Rica seriously, they'd send an Ambassador that spoke Spanish.

  12. Bobal: I've heard the passport argument before, T. What it means is some clerk somewhere was sufficiently satisfied to issue him a passport.

    Bobal, you know its very important that our torpedoes work when the skipper says "fire", otherwise we've got boys on the submarines who could die. So when we ship something, aside from our experience, pride and workmanship going into it, we have the paperwork and hardware get stamped off by two sets of eyes on the floor, and then the packet goes up to QA for review. Since 9-11, it's been equally important that we don't have every Abdul, Kareem, and Mohammad who swims the Rio Grande and puts in for a US passport get one. Don't sell us Feds short.

  13. As the GOP fundraiser in Costa Rica says:

    “This isn't a zero-sum game,”

  14. DR: The Hawaiian government stands by their documentation of his Hawaiian birth.

    And there's the fact that the local newspaper printed the birth in the Vital Statistics section. Unless you are prepared to tell me that they knew this child was going to be a Messiah someday and the mother got the hospital to make a fake entry in their log and forward it to the newspaper. Ever hear of a Mr. Occam and his razor collection?

  15. "Hawaii Revised Statute 338-178 allows registration of birth in Hawaii for a child that was born outside of Hawaii to parents who, for a year preceding the child’s birth, claimed Hawaii as their place of residence," the document said. "The only way to know where Senator Obama was actually born is to view Senator Obama's original birth certificate from 1961 that shows the name of the hospital and the name and signature of the doctor that delivered him."

    Well, we'll see what the US Supreme Court does. I just can't understand why he won't put it all on the table.

  16. Amory Lovins on expanding nuclear power

  17. Amory Lovins, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, discusses alternative fuels and the future of energy with Charlie Rose

  18. So it looks like Iran has fenced off enough grazing land that they could make a hamburger someday. We better let Israel hit 'em, right?

  19. A fellow I know, he was going to Avanti's Italian restuarant, last night, he and his wife.

    Two burly boys with earpieces and shoulder holsters asked them to wait a moment before entering, as their "charge" was leaving.

    Sure enough, out of the door and into the waiting limo came the Governor of AZ, that Democrat, Ms Janet Napolitano.

    This, in and of itself, nothing special, but the next fellow out the door, flanked by his hurley burly boys, Sheriff Joe.

    Now those that "know Joe" know he has a thick Federal resume. If he goes back to DC, as number 2 at Homeland Security, guess then Joe'll be a RINO, too.

    Putting Country First.

  20. That's interesting. Like to hear their conversation there at Avanti's.

    Didn't Studebaker try to make a sports car called the Avanti?

  21. They did, Studebaker Avanti They might have improved on those bug-eyed headlights.

  22. bobal said...
    "George W. Bush Was't So Bad"
    Tell that to the friends and families of the 40,000 citizens that are no longer with us, thanks to W's refusal to carry out his oaths and responsibilities as POTUS.

  23. Yes they did, a car before it's time, in 1962
    Pictured, here

  24. ah, heck, Doug, I know, I just posted it, for a little balance. Probably shouldn't have. Won't do it again.

  25. Article says the round headlights were the earlier ones, the squares, later.

  26. Lowey designed the 53 Studebaker too, even more ahead of it's time.

  27. Still being built, it seems, bob.

    Wonder if they're in line for a hand out, I mean rescue?

  28. Studebaker Commander, nice looking car.

  29. Seems our host's concern for Citigroup, it's misplaced. They are not in trouble, not at all.

    Reuters reports Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit

    ... said Citigroup had a solid capital position, and that employees should not focus on the bank's falling share price because that is not what regulators and credit rating agencies worry about, ...

  30. Canada and Colombia signed a free trade agreement today--Here

  31. Better get that boy a parachute, though.

    The shares closed down 94 cents, or 20 percent, at $3.77, after earlier tumbling as low as $3.05. They closed at $9.52 a week ago.

    Citigroup's market value fell to $20.5 billion on Friday. That's less than the $25 billion taxpayer-funded injection that Citigroup just received from the federal government, and a fraction of the $75 billion of capital that Citigroup has raised since the credit crisis began last year. The bank's market value topped $270 billion in late 2006.

  32. Citigroup now worth 7.5% of its' peak book value,

    Such a decline in just two years, that Vikram Pandit fellow, if I was a Citigroup stocjhilder, he'd need more than a parachute.

    But he says "No worries", he'd know, no?

  33. Where are those 44 Senators, loyal and true, AZ sent two, how about you other fellas, what'd your States send?

    Florida = rino country, went for Obama and has split its' Senators, Bill Nelson (D) Mel Martinez (R.

    When it comes to liberal Republicans, does not Mel Martinez lead the pack, right there with McCain on Comprehensive Immigration

    Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A wall-sized poster of Earth hangs in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, an image that Chairman John Dingell once boasted showed the reach of his panel.

    Dingell will no longer rule the planet. House Democrats yesterday handed the committee's gavel to Representative Henry Waxman, 69, a Californian who promises a different agenda for a panel that touches nearly every sector of business -- climate change, health care, telecommunications and trade.

    Energy providers such as Allegheny Energy Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. and polluting industries including carmaker General Motors Corp. and Dow Chemical Co. will be most affected by the leadership shift. Waxman, whose district includes Beverly Hills, has long been at odds over environmental issues with Dingell, 82, a Dearborn, Michigan, lawmaker who during his 52 years in Congress has defended automakers and their unions.

    ``The champion of the environment has replaced the champion of the automotive industry,'' said Daniel Becker, an environmental lawyer and director of the Safe Climate Campaign in Washington.

    House Democrats voted 137-122 for Waxman in a secret ballot.

  34. In Alaska the GOP fielded a convicted felon, standing Mr Stevens up, representing the GOP version of family & American values in the home State of Mrs Palin.

    The convicted felon lost.
    Fancy that.

    Who'd have thought.

  35. Those rinos in Alaska, not voting for a felon, despite his non-Union label.

  36. Idaho replaced the disgraced Senator Craig with Governor Risch. Our other guy Senator Crapo has been around awhile.

    2 Republicans here. Whatever else they do they won't vote to confiscate your guns.

    I know Stevens got convicted, maybe rightly so, but there was a lot of misconduct in that trial, and he might get it overturned.

    Meanwhile the votes continue to get counted in Minnesota and all eyes on Georgia.

  37. Interesting thing, bob.

    Ayers was never convicted, due to prosecutor misconduct, but that was not factored into his being a called a terrorist.

    Stevens was convicted, perhaps due to prosecutor misconduct. So he should not be called a crook?

    The goose and gander standard,
    flown the coop

  38. In the House, our AZ represenative, Rezi, he cost the GOP a seat. Indicted for peddling his influence in Federal land swaps.
    Forty some counts, last I recall.

    He claims to be innocent, that the Federal prosecutors are "piling on", so he'll cop a plea.

  39. Ayers has admitted he did what he was charged with. "Guilty as hell, free as a bird."

    Stevens was probably involved in plenty of stuff, I'm not defending him. Maybe they'll both end up free.

    Meanwhile, Cold Cash Jefferson is set to go to trial on Dec. 2. Wonder where that trial will take place.

    Stevens maintains he would have been found not guilty if tried in Alaska.

    My Congressional district went democratic, due to some slight demographic changes I think, and Sali being honest but inept. I was saddened by that as this new guy is really kind of nuts. Wants to tear out all the dams, with no real idea how to replace the lost power, get wheat to Portland--jeez, people have to have electric lights.

  40. Also this Minnick that beat Sali is really rich, and used his own money to buy lots of advertising.

  41. Friday, November 21, 2008; Page A22

    "SEVEN YEARS . . . is enough."
    With those words yesterday, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the release of five Algerians held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since January 2002. A conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, Judge Leon also delivered a forceful indictment of the administration's detention decisions and provided indisputable proof of the importance of allowing federal judges to evaluate the secret evidence the government used to justify detentions.

    The case, known as Boumediene v. Bush, yielded the first ruling in a habeas corpus proceeding involving Guantanamo detainees. It first came before Judge Leon in 2004, and, at that time, he read the law as not allowing detainees federal court review. The Algerians appealed and ultimately prevailed this summer when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling empowering federal judges to review the government's basis for detaining people on the naval base.

    In Boumediene, the government relied on a single classified document from an unnamed source. Justice Department lawyers were unable to convince Judge Leon of the validity of the detentions, even though they were held to a low standard of proof. Judge Leon concluded that the document did not prove that the men, captured in Bosnia in 2002, were planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces. The fact that there was no corroborating evidence and that there was little information to help the judge assess the reliability of that source doomed the government's case. "To allow enemy combatantcy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this Court's obligation . . . to protect petitioners from the risk of erroneous detention," he wrote. He ordered the five Algerians freed "forthwith," but left the details to the government and did not specify where the men should be sent. He declined to order the release of a sixth man, concluding that the government had provided corroborating evidence that he was an al-Qaeda operative.

  42. Goodnight, got a big one tomorrow.
    Quite cold here now.

  43. Jeffersom, the trial should occur in DC, that's where the money was found and the crime committed, if crime there was.

    It seems that he is guilty, too, at least from afar.

  44. A detroit radio station called the Kenyan embassy after the election of Obama. After a lot of trouble they get

    through to the ambassador of Kenya.
    The ambassador of Kenya says that obama was born in Kenya and that his birth place has become a

    national shrine.
    Listen to the recording here
    The quote is around 12:35, so if you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, you can jump ahead.
    The transcript reads:

    Radio Jockey: President elect Obama's birth place over in Kenya -- is that going to be a national spot where he was born

    Ambassador: its already an attraction. his paternal grandmother is still alive

    Radio Jockey: his birth place...they'll put up a marker there
    Ambassdor: its already well known.

    Be sure to download the recording as well. The chances of it remaining online for long are remote.

    If you have the skills to post it on Utube...please do.

    The Arnold would have run for president long ago and likely won if he were a "natural born" american. He's not.

    He's naturalized. So he can't run. And he knows it. (though there were some trial balloons sent up a couple years

    back about changing the law.)

    Like the Arnold, Obama looks to be a naturalized citizen--but maybe he's not even that.

    In any case the supreme court--at Justice Thomas instigation-- is taking up the issue Dec 5

  45. Anonymous said...
    Donofrio v. Wells before SCOTUS may indeed be more singularly ominous than first thought, as the response of Justice Thomas may be more than ordinary, as Donofrio describes. Perhaps someone here can answer the questions he leaves open:

    "Published: Nov.20.2008 @ 9:20 pm | Last edited: Nov.20.2008 @ 9:31 pm


    I am awaiting clarification from the Clerk's office at the United States Supreme Court as to whether my stay application has now been accepted in lieu of a more formal full petition for certiorari (and/or mandamus or prohibition). Such a transformation is a rare and significant emergency procedure. It was used in Bush v. Gore, a case I have relied on in my brief.

    We do know the case has certainly been "DISTRIBUTED for Conference", a process usually reserved for full petitions of certiorari. Stays are usually dealt with in a different manner. As to a stay application, a single Justice may; a) deny the stay; b) grant the stay; c) refer the stay to the full Court.

    My stay application was originally denied by Justice Souter. So, under Rule 22.4, I renewed it to Justice Thomas who did not deny it. The sparse reporting on this issue I have seen today has failed to stress how unique such a situation is to Supreme Court practice. The vast majority of stay applications are denied. And once denied, a renewed application is truly a desperate measure the success of which heralds one of the rarest birds in Supreme Court history.

    The relief I requested, a stay of the national election and a finding that candidates Obama, McCain and Calero be held ineligible to hold the office of President, has also not been granted at this time. So that leaves option "c)": Justice Thomas has referred the case to the full court. That much is clear from looking at the docket.

    What isn't clear is whether the full court has already examined the referral and taken the extraordinary action of accepting the stay application as if it were a full petition for writ of certiorari which was done in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 at 98 (2000):

    "The court ordered all manual recounts to begin at once. Governor Bush and Richard Cheney, Republican Candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency, filed an emergency application for a stay of this mandate. On December 9, we granted the application, treated the application as a petition for a writ of certiorari, and granted certiorari." (Emphasis added.)

    It's not clear that SCOTUS precedent would allow a stay application to be "DISTRIBUTED for Conference" without it first having been transformed by the court into a full petition. I don't know if such a transformation could be sanctioned by Justice Thomas by himself.

    Again, I'm waiting for an official disposition notice from the Clerk's office. Regardless, either the full court has set this for Conference, or Justice Thomas has done it on his own. Either way, it signifies an affirmative action inside the US Supreme Court testifying to the serious issues raised by this law suit."

    This will only get more interesting as it weaves its way toward its final disposition. It appears Donofrio v. Wells has arrived. I think we are looking at a historic birthing of new law which ever way SCOTUS rules.

    November 21, 2008 1:33 PM

    Well, who knows, I sure don't, but Here's a good site to follow the action and argument.

  46. Democratfreeblog and the Donofrio Case.

    Here's a Hillary supporter hoping Obama gets his ass kicked out of the country:)

  47. Beats 72 Raisins

    A "Pleasure Brigade" of nubile retainers

    A revolving gold statue, pink champagne and a "Pleasure Brigade" of nubile retainers all feature in Times Money's list of history's most decadent dictators. While their people suffered, these men - and sometimes their wives and children - agonised over how best to spend their ill-gotten gains...

    1. Kim Jong-il, "Dear Leader" of North Korea since 1994. The son of the communist state's "Great Leader", Kim Jong-il has super-expensive tastes, with 17 palaces and collections of hundreds of cars and about 20,000 video tapes. On one state visit to Russia, he reportedly had live lobsters airlifted daily to his armoured private train. He is believed to spend around $650,000 a year on Hennessy VSOP cognac and maintains an entourage of young lovelies known as the "Pleasure Brigade"

    Car-buying spree for Kim Jong Il

  48. It'll be very, very, VERY interesting if the incredible happens and SCOTUS considers Obama not qualified for POTUS due to his birth background.

    IMHO, it's only a small chance of that happening, but what do you think will happen next? What will be the reaction from the various actors?

    The media?
    Joe the Plumber?
    The Dems?
    The Repubs?
    The people of the US?
    The left?
    The right?
    The centrists?

    It'll be bloody fun, that's my guess.

  49. Bobal, having the Ambassador from Kenya brag about Obama's birthplace reminds me very much of one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes:

    "In a museum in Havana, there are two skulls of Christopher Columbus, one when he was a boy and one when he was a man."

  50. It'd be Billary, wobbly, that gained the White House, if Obama is made ineligable to serve, prior to the Electoral College meeting.

    The electors to the College, they are legally "free agents" under no compulsion to follow the voters or to even choose from a list of designated candidates, though in practice they do, both.

    The Democratic electors would get to choose the next President, that's how the Constitution sets it up.