An update on Venezuela by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz:

The country, well into Communism by now, continues its descent into chaos.

Nine senior government officials, including military officers, one diplomat and pro-government politicians, are in the most recent U.S. government’s list of active drug kingpins and terrorists, the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN).

Price controls wreck the economy. CNN reports how fist fights have broken out outside bakeries, and price controls lead to smuggling goods to be sold in Colombia, where the goods can be sold at (higher) market price.

The government’s talks with the opposition are falling apart. Caracas Gringo looks at the official opposition party, the MUD, and finds,

First, the handful MUD “representatives” participating in the farcical dialogue brokered by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil were exposed last week in Washington, DC as regime bootlickers who don’t represent anyone.

Second, if these MUD characters engaged in the “dialogue” ever had any claim to being the official “representatives” of the “organized opposition,” it’s now clear that there isn’t any “organized opposition” and the MUD’s dirt bags only represent themselves.

The MUD has now announced they will no longer participate in the “talks”.

The government, however, is cracking down on protesters. Last week hundreds of students were arrested; of those, 155 were released. Eleven are being held on

charges including weapons offenses, criminal association and incitement to violate laws, as well as drug violations.

Reuters estimates that 160 people remain in jail from round-ups since February. They may remain there indefinitely held up on procedural delays, as Leopoldo López, leader of the Voluntad Popular (People’s Will) has been since turning himself in on February 28.

There’s more oppression to come: Yesterday National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello singled out 14 Venezuelans as conspirators. Cabello has been banned from entry into the U.S. from his participation in the 1992 coup.

Human Rights Watch’s report on the state of repression in Venezuela proves that

the government of Nicolás Maduro, which has been battling anti-government protests since February, routinely uses unlawful force against unarmed protesters, and even against bystanders or people just passing by demonstrations. Common practices include severe beatings, the indiscriminate use of bullets, rubber pellets, and teargas against civilians, and the shooting at close range with rubber bullets of people in custody. It also proves the continued and systematic mistreatment of detainees; in some cases, these abuses clearly qualify as torture.

American lefties would have you believe that the continuing struggle is a matter of pro-U.S. versus anti-U.S., left versus right, rich versus poor, socialism versus capitalism; Moisés Naím asserts the truth:

It is between those who defend a government that violates human rights as a state-sanctioned policy and those who are willing to sacrifice themselves to stop it.

What is at stake? Assemblywoman Maria Corina Machado spells it out:

it is not a matter of asking the regime to change its policies; it will not. Our struggle is for regime change by constitutional means, as soon as possible; and it is therefore essential to maintain peacefully public pressure in the streets.

A fellow Barquisimetan impeccably expressed it these days “it is not about improving the conditions of captivity , it is about living in freedom.”

Not only for Venezuela, but for the region.

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

OK, I admit it: I have used Twitter hashtags on my posts on Venezuela as a means to both promoting my blog posts and keeping track of Venezuelan news, but now the “#hashtag” thing has me puzzled.

Last month we had hashtag diplomacy: State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki issued this,

To this day I do not know exactly what “the promise of hashtag” means, represents, or refers to, but I’m quite certain that Vladimir Putin, former head of the KGB, is not quaking in his boots. But, hey, Psaki stands for “the social media approach to foreign policy”, and she’s sticking to it . . .

. . . much to the amusement of the Twitchiers.

Fast-forward to this week’s news of the horrific crimes committed by Islamist terrorists Boko Haram in Nigeria, which have kidnapped 250 girls. This is front-page news, but Boko Haram has a horrifying history.

Pete wrote about Boko Haram this morning. If you read the Ayaan Hirsi Ali article he linked to, she points out,

The group was founded in 2002 by a young Islamist called Mohammed Yusuf, who started out preaching in a Muslim community in the Borno state of northern Nigeria. He set up an educational complex, including a mosque and an Islamic school. For seven years, mostly poor families flocked to hear his message. But in 2009, the Nigerian government investigated Boko Haram and ultimately arrested several members, including Yusuf himself. The crackdown sparked violence that left about 700 dead. Yusuf soon died in prison—the government said he was killed while trying to escape—but the seeds had been planted. Under one of Yusuf’s lieutenants, Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram turned to jihad.

In 2011, Boko Haram launched its first terror attack in Borno. Four people were killed, and from then on violence became an integral part, if not the central part, of its mission. The recent kidnappings—11 more girls were abducted by Boko Haram on Sunday—join a litany of outrages, including multiple car bombings and the murder of 59 schoolboys in February. On Monday, as if to demonstrate its growing power, Boko Haram launched a 12-hour attack in the city of Gamboru Ngala, firing into market crowds, setting houses aflame and shooting down residents who ran from the burning buildings. Hundreds were killed.

So excuse me if I am perplexed by the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. A bevy of celebrities are on it, including Michelle Obama,

and the always-relevant and chic Bianca Jagger,

By the way, under Hillary Clinton, the State Department repeatedly declined to fully go after Boko Haram. I don’t expect we’ll be seeing a photo of Hillary holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign any time soon.(SEE BELOW FOR UPDATE 2)

To me, it all amounts to Operation Pouty Face. Larry Correia, who’s been a guest in Da Tech Guy on the Radio, doesn’t mince words,

One thing I’m fairly sure of about the kind of people who do that sort of thing for a living, is that they really don’t give a [expletive deleted] about a bunch of American movie stars taking pouty selfies of themselves holding up signs with hash tag give our girls back. The disapproval of fat, soft, Americans on Facebook really doesn’t move them. They care about getting paid or getting killed, that’s about it. The self-righteous pouting is useless.

Larry’s post must be read in full, and he drives home the point that,

The real solution? Nigeria is one of dozens of screwed up countries. If Nigeria wants to be truly safe from slavers and madmen, it is going to require the Nigerians defend themselves from
[expletive deleted], and if the Nigerian government won’t do it, then the Nigerian government needs to be replaced by Nigerians who want something better. For the thousands of other evil events that don’t trend on Twitter, replace Nigeria with whatever lawless [expletive deleted]hole country is in question and you get the same answer. People get freedom when they demand it for themselves.

faustaHashtagging to Putin, to Boko Haram, to the evil in this world? I mean, this is pathetic, the message this sends to people around the world.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz is old enough to remember the Nixon era, and believes the term expletive deleted should be timely for the upcoming Benghazi hearings. She writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Update DTG: Gotta add this quote from Iowahawk:

UPDATE 2 FRW:
I was 1/2 wrong: Hillary did use the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, but didn’t post her photo holding up the sign,

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Back in the day, Milton Friedman said,

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

The U.S. federal government is not in charge of the Sahara, but the Venezuelan government is in charge of the country’s water supply.

Small wonder water is now in short supply, along with many other basic goods:
Caracas to begin four months of water rationing

Water use in Caracas will be rationed for at least four months due to drought, authorities said Tuesday, as Venezuela grapples with shortages of basic goods which have spurred massive anti-government protests.

One in every four goods including basic food, hygiene products, medicine and auto parts, however, have already become difficult to find, resulting in long, lengthy lines.

The irony is that Venezuela has the highest water resources and greatest hydroelectric capacity (except for Brazil) in South America. The country has a dry season and a rainy season, but what’s important is this:

Even when fully operating and unaffected by drought, water supply levels in the capital area are below international standards, capable of providing 340 liters per person per day, which is sufficient for household consumption but falls short of commercial and industrial demands.

The deterioration of Venezuela’s infrastructure is nothing new. Back in 2011, The Economist had an article about the disastrous results of Hugo Chavez’s nationalization program:

After opposition candidates were elected to many state governorships in 2008, the president re-centralised many public services, taking them out of the hands of the states. These included roads, ports and airports, all of which have experienced accelerated deterioration ever since.

faustaAs we in the U.S. are facing ever-increasing federal government intrusion into all aspects of the economy (including the proposed federal tolls on interstate highways), remember Milton’s immortal words.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

By Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Before you read this post, keep in mind that an attack on an American embassy or consulate is an attack on American soil. The attack occurred on the 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack.

The Twitchy guys had a field day with The Breakfast Club-like response from former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor:

Bret Baier: According to the emails and the timeline, the CIA circulates new talking points after they remove the mention of al-Qaeda, and then, at 6:21, the White House, you,
Tommy Vietor: Me.
BB: add a line about the administration warning of September 10th, of social media reports calling for demonstrations. True?
TV: I . . . believe so.
BB: Did you also change attacks to demonstrations in the talking points?
TV: Maybe. I don’t really remember.
BB: You don’t remember?
TV: Dude, this was like two years ago.

Let’s interrupt this for a second to raise the issue of the video:
Andrew McCarthy, who convicted the Blind Sheik over the first World Trade Center attack, points out (emphasis added),

In the weeks before September 11, 2012, these jihadists plotted to attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo. In fact, the Blind Sheikh’s son threatened a 1979 Iran-style raid on the embassy: Americans would be taken hostage to ransom for the Blind Sheikh’s release from American prison (he is serving a life sentence). Other jihadists threatened to burn the embassy to the ground — a threat that was reported in the Egyptian press the day before the September 11 “protests.”

The State Department knew there was going to be trouble at the embassy on September 11, the eleventh anniversary of al-Qaeda’s mass-murder of nearly 3,000 Americans. It was well known that things could get very ugly. When they did, it would become very obvious to Americans that President Obama had not “decimated” al-Qaeda as he was claiming on the campaign trail. Even worse, it would be painfully evident that his pro–Muslim Brotherhood policies had actually enhanced al-Qaeda’s capacity to attack the United States in Egypt.

The State Department also knew about the obscure anti-Muslim video. Few Egyptians, if any, had seen or heard about it, but it had been denounced by the Grand Mufti in Cairo on September 9. Still, the stir it caused was minor, at best. As Tom Joscelyn has elaborated, the Cairo rioting was driven by the jihadists who were agitating for the Blind Sheikh’s release and who had been threatening for weeks to raid and torch our embassy. And indeed, they did storm it, replace the American flag with the jihadist black flag, and set fires around the embassy complex.

But back to the Baier-Vietor interview:

10 seconds into the video:
TV: A couple of things: One, I was in the situation room that night, ok?, and we didn’t know where the ambassador was definitively,
BB: Was the President in the situation room?
TV: No, and the fact that your network at one time reported that he watched video feed of the attack as it was ongoing is part of what I think is being innacurate
BB: Let me get to the bottom of that. Where was the President?
TV: In the White House.
1 minute into the video:
BB: Where was the President?
TV: In the White House.

Watch the whole interview:

Only after a series of edits — with various State, White House, and CIA officials massaging the talking points — do the talking points themselves “spontaneously evolve” to include a direct claim that there were demonstrations in Benghazi. Vietor will have you believe “that’s what bureaucrats do all day long.”

The fact remains that

The most serious attack on a US mission since the storming of the country’s embassy in Tehran in 1979 has occurred in a nation that Washington claims to have liberated from tyranny.

A retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general who was on duty at U.S. African Command headquarters in Germany during the Benghazi attacks said today said commanders quickly concluded that the event did not evolve from a protest, but that it was “a hostile military action.” This took place in the height of the 2012 presidential campaign, with the talking points of “Obama killed Bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s on the run.”

Where was Obama? Where was Hillary?

So where were they on the fateful night of September 11? Tommy Vietor–formerly Obama’s van driver, now, apparently, a foreign policy spokesman–says that Obama wasn’t in the situation room. Where was he? Resting up for his big fundraising trip to Las Vegas the next day? And how about Hillary? As Paul wrote earlier this evening, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell testified today that the military should have tried to rescue the besieged Americans in Benghazi. Why didn’t they? They were waiting, he testified, for a request from the State Department that never came.

Now there’s another Benghazi email,

The private, internal communication directly contradicts the message that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated publicly over the course of the next several weeks.

BUT!
Jay Carney’s now saying those emails aren’t about Benghazi.

More questions: Why was Chris Stevens in Benghazi? Why were requests from an ambassador for additional security denied?

One more question: How did the attackers know the ambassador would be at the consulate in Benghazi rather than at the embassy in Tripoli?

But, hey, nothing to see here. “It’s all a partisan issue,” a phony scandal.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

The World Cup is scheduled to open in Sao Paolo on Thursday June 12th, with performers Claudia Leitte, Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez, but 223 miles away the Rio favelas are in the middle of a worsening crime wave:
Rio chaos in countdown to kick-off
Gunfights and killings in shanty towns have escalated just weeks before the World Cup begins in Brazil
(emphasis added)

“There are two drug gangs and one militia. So it won’t be in two days, it won’t be in a year, that we bring peace quickly,” said Luiz Pezão, the new governor of Rio, after meeting with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

Characterised by its chaotically-built red-brick shanty homes and illicit energy connections, Maré has been a strategic stronghold for Rio’s drug gangs for years, given its location near the airport and one of the main thoroughfares through the city.
. . .

The authorities believe that criminals in Maré have been coordinating attacks in other favelas on the police who have been stationed there as part of the ongoing pacification programme. Since the start of the year, at least 16 officers have been killed.

Street protests continue to rock the country just 45 days away from the opening, so Luiz Felipe Scolari, the coach of Brazil’s national soccer team, is worried as he

told Brazilian television Sunday that protests calling for social change and criticism of the amount of money spent on the tournament “could big-time” be a negative influence on his team.

And call the Bar Rescue guy, folks, since instead of the World’s Most Interesting Man, Usama bin Laden bars are taking over Brazil

Though it may be in poor taste, Fernandes’ hot spot was only the first of bin Laden themed hangouts in Brazil. Mac Margolis of Vocativ found “nearly a dozen Brazilian establishments” named after the former Al-Qaida leader- including a sport where thirsty fans in Rio can shoot a game of pool at Caverna do Bin Laden.

What could possibly go wrong?
faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.

faustaby Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Johns Hopkins economics professor Steve Hanke has been looking at the old misery index, that is, a simple sum of inflation, lending rates, and unemployment rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth, and Venezuela’s on top:

When measured by the misery index, Venezuela holds the ignominious top spot, with an index value of 79. 4. But, that index value, as of 31 December 2013, under states the level of misery because it uses the official annual inflation rate of 56. 2%. In fact, I estimate that Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate at the end of last year was 278%. That rate is almost five times higher than the official inflation rate. If the annual implied inflation rate of 278% is used to calculate Venezuela’s misery index, the index jumps from 79. 4 to 301, indicating that Venezuela is in much worse shape than suggested by the official data.

Since the government has imposed price controls on mostly everything, the inflation rate appears to be low, but so are the store shelves,

There’s one thing Venezuela has plenty of: guns. Olympian Gabby Franco describes how Venezuelan citizens are not allowed to own guns, but the country has the highest murder rate in our hemisphere,

John Hinderaker posts,

Now, socialist Venezuela is in a state of collapse, with rampant inflation and shortages of basic necessities, like food. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, probably millions, have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the government’s corrupt incompetence. The socialist government, now headed by Nicolas Maduro, has responded with a brutal crackdown in which dozens of anti-socialist Venezuelans have been murdered by government forces or paramilitary, pro-government gangs that–who could have guessed?–are heavily armed, despite the country’s “progressive” firearms laws.

In addition to the marauding gangs armed to the teeth, the country is armed. Russia is Venezuela’s largest supplier of weapons and armored vehicles, but China and Iran are involved, too.

Joseph Humire explains,

Using civilian militias to shoot students and beat protestors is only one tool in Maduro’s repressive apparatus. Other tools have come at the hands of one of Venezuela’s top benefactors — China. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, at least two Chinese-made military systems have recently been battle tested on the streets of Venezuela.

The first is the Norinco VN-4 armored personnel carrier that has been recently deployed by the Bolivarian National Guard to patrol Venezuelan neighborhoods and intimidate its residents. The VN-4 is a multi-role, light armored vehicle with a light machine gun mounted on top. Venezuela purchased 141 of these armored vehicles in 2012 for this type of contingency, and they are now rolling through the streets of Venezuela in the face of the protests. The other system is the Shaanxi Y-8C military transport aircraft, of which Venezuela purchased eight from China for $353 million back in 2011. These Y-8C aircraft were seen on the tarmac of several Venezuelan airports last month, made public through an array of photos posted on Twitter that claimed Cuban Special Forces were disembarking this Chinese-made aircraft.

. . .  on February 26th, a Russian Vishnya-class intelligence ship, the Viktor Leonov CCB-175, was identified in the Havana harbor, just hours from Venezuela. This spy ship arrived unannounced, fully equipped with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry. That same day, several Russian-made surface-to-air missiles were relocated from the Venezuelan military industrial hub of Maracay, to the capital of Caracas. These particular missiles, the S-125 Pechora 2M, were sold to Venezuela by Russia in 2009, and delivered to the Bolivarian Republic as recently as a couple weeks before the mass mobilizations began.

These low altitude surface-to-air missiles are the same kind of anti-aircraft weapons that Vladimir Putin sold to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which limited the option of placing a “no-fly” zone over Syria as Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his people. The repositioning of the Pechora missiles to Caracas is an ominous indication that the repression in Venezuela will get much worse if the protests continue.

Cuba, China, Russia and Iran are involved in Venezuela’s dictatorial regime.

No wonder the country is #1 in the misery index.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

faustaYesterday the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-2 that states have the right to ban racial preferences, what we call “affirmative action”, which the French refer to “discrimination positive“, or positive discrimination – an oxymoron if there ever was one, but overly optimistic, or the newest euphemism for academic settings, “race-sensitive admission policies” (emphasis added):

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, in the opinion that controlled the outcome, insisted that the Court was saying nothing new on the constitutionality of public policies that take race into account. “This case,” he wrote, “is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it….The holding in the instant case is simply that the courts may not disempower the voters from choosing which path to follow.”

He added: “There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this Court’s precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”

Justice Sotomayor dissented, but her dissent was framed in emotional terms, having conceded that the Michigan law itself did not violate equal protection:

Race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and, unlike Justice Sotomayor, do not consider myself to be a “wise Latina“:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor

Certainly it wold be ridiculous, if not downright foolish, to assume that accident of birth in the form of ethnicity has made my life experiences “richer” than anyone who hasn’t lived my life. During the decades I’ve lived in the Continental U. S. I have been “addressed by a stranger in a foreign language” – in German, in Italian, and in Spanish – which did not offend me; to the contrary, I see it as a compliment that a person would like to communicate with me in their language.

But I pose to Justice Sotomayor this question, does race matter when Asian (East Asian and Indian) students are denied admission to top colleges because quotas favor a different minority?

The real issue on college admissions is the quality of public school education,

As a practical matter, the fact that non-white students do relatively poorly under race-neutral admissions standards at our public universities is an indictment mainly of our K–12 education system and of the cultural anarchy that has imposed especially high costs on the children of black and Latino families. It is not an indictment of race-neutral standards. Unable or unwilling to do a better job of preparing black and Latino students for college in the public institutions controlled by its most reliable footsoldiers, the Left insists on anathematizing the very standards under which the incompetence and negligence of our government-run schools, the very model of progressivism, are revealed. If that takes a bit of doublespeak — non-discrimination is discrimination — it wouldn’t be the first time the Left has relied on it.

Or, as my colleague Juliette Akinyi Ochieng correctly names it, The Great Indoctrination.

Back when Justice Sotomayor was nominated, I said,

Identity politics is, in a word, wrong.

Elevating ethnic-identity politics over the law doesn’t make it right.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.

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Olimometer 2.52

This blog exists as a full time endeavor thanks to your support.

The reporting, the commentary and the nine magnificent seven writers are all made possible because you, the reader choose to support it.

For a full month of all of what we provide ,we ask a fixed amount $1465, under $50 a day.

This month we are behind with 7 days to go we need $1115 for a full pay month. We can make our goal if we can get $159 per day We need 6 $25 Tip jar hits we can make that goal.

If you think the work we do here for the conservative movement is worth it, please consider hitting DaTipJar below .

Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

Consider the lineup you get for this price, in addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly Fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

 

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, died yesterday. Cuba’s government-run media mourned Fidel’s friend, who even worked for Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency in Bogota and New York. He was 87 years old.

One of the giants of Spanish-language literature, García Márquez’s most renowned novel is A Hundred Years of Solitude, which brought magical realism to the forefront,

“In Mexico,” he says, “surrealism runs through the streets. Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America.”

It may at times, but it also helps to bear in mind that he had books to sell, and his own staunch support of Castro verged on the surreal: Cuban author Carlos Alberto Montaner, who knew Garcia Marquez well (they shared an agent), narrates (link in Spanish, my translation with emphasis added),

With no other factor than compassion for [Cuban political prisoner and former union leader Reinol González] Reinol’s wife, who had gone to Mexico to meet the novelist and ask for his help without ever having met him, García Márquez interceded with Fidel to release him. And so it happened: the Dictator not only released González. He gifted him to García Márquez right in the middle of the street, as one gives away an inanimate object, and, suddenly, the Colombian found himself in Havana with the strange gift from his powerful friend, owner of the lives and deaths of all his subjects.

That a human being would waste his prodigious talent in the service of a monstrous dictator after having witnessed such event speaks of a blindness, a void of the soul.

But then, Fidel had gifted García Márquez a fully-furnished mansion in Havana’s best neighborhood (link in Spanish), and a Mercedes, complete with staff, after the 1982 Nobel award was announced.

Regardless of the house and slaves, García Márquez lived in Mexico, where the government kept him under surveillance as a Cuban propaganda agent.

faustaIf you would like to borrow García Márquez’s novels from the local public library, I recommend Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude while in college and it blew my mind, but decades later attempted to re-read it both in the original Spanish and in the Gregory Rabassa translation, and found it unreadable.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.

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Olimometer 2.52

Friday is here and the worst week of the what is shaping up to be the worst month financially for this blog is again taking shape.

That’s wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that prior to this month February & March were respectively the worst financial months the blog had before it.

I’d like to think this site and our writes are worth your support. Frankly we are sitting $1254 shy of the mortgage and the payroll. It’s going to take a $100 a day each day to the end of the month to get this done and turn this three month slump around. (And the establishment certainly isn’t going to provide it).

I think the site and the work done here is worth it, if you do too then please consider hitting DaTipJar below .

Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

Consider the lineup you get for this price, in addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly Fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

 

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Unlike the prior season, this season’s opener had me glued to the TV set from beginning to end. The episode is titled Time Zones, and Joel Murray as Freddy Rumsen opened it with an entrancing monologue (an ad for Accutron watches) that also serves both as a metaphor on time, and on the value of objects for those of us who are fond of our material possessions – especially our watches.

The pitch of Rumsen’s voice, the flat delivery, and the use of this monologue as the opener for the final season brings us into a Twilight Zone* of sorts, in keeping with the T-Zone title.

Rumsen’s appearance bracketed the episode. Keep in mind that he was forced to take a leave of absence from the ad agency after drunkenly urinating in his pants and then passing out right before an important meeting. At the end of the episode he pleads with Don, “Why don’t you stop this Cyrano bit, and march your ass in there and get us both a job”. Murray is magnificent as Freddy.

Roger’s descending into depravity, and yet his daughter forgives him – which he can not understand.

Don Draper continues his downward spiral and there’s enough foreshadowing compressed in this season’s first episode to make us certain of his destiny.

Or is there?

Walter Dellinger, Supreme Court Advocate, writes at the WSJ,

I liked this episode a lot. In part, that is because I am an incurable optimist. This episode is so grim that there is only one way to go for its central characters and that is some version of up.

There seems to be a minor anachronism: Don glides through LA airport on a background of colorful mosaics. In 1967, for The Graduate‘s opening sequence, Dustin Hoffman’s character did the same, but the tile were white. By 1997, the tiles were small and colorful for the Jackie Brown credits.

As for the clothes, the women’s clothes signal the direction of their lives:

  • Joan in respectable suits,
  • Peggy in Mary Tyler Moore’s tam,
  • Meghan in ever-more-short miniskirts signaling desperation.

Among the men, Pete’s preppy early-metrosexual style shows him for the ___ [fill the blank!] he is. Don’s still wearing a trilby, which makes him slightly out of step with the times.

The year is 1969, and, unlike the earlier seasons, by 1969 I was in the continental US, and old enough to remember the news events that took place. Mercifully, I was not surrounded by adults sinking into alcoholism.

You can watch the full episode for a limited time online at the Mad Men website.

And,
Of course AMC practices the 4 P’s of marketing, and, for promotion, you, too, can have a Mad Men avatar! Mine’s a pretty good likeness:

madmen_standard

*The Twilight Zone aired from 1959 to 1964.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

faustaby Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Back when other middle school girls were reading Nancy Drew, I discovered Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes books and became a life-long fan.

They used to play Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes movies on TV when I lived in Puerto Rico, back in the days when TV sets had no remotes, so I watched those, too, even when Holmes (Basil) verbally abused Watson (played by Nigel Bruce) in the likes of:

Nigel: How did you solve that, Holmes?
Basil: It was elementary [snotty/condescending explanation follows]
Nigel: I see! Even a child could have solved it!
Basil (sneers): Not your child, Watson.

I’m a moderate, low-key, FaceBook-type fan; not one that joins Sherlock Holmes fan clubs (I did take a Holmes-themed walking tour of London years ago) or remembers much trivia, but a fan all the same. In addition to having read all the Conan Doyle books, over the years I’ve watched several Sherlock incarnations, including Michael Caine in an awful movie aptly named Without a Clue to Robert Downey Jr.’s martial arts Sherlock. The supreme, definitive, Sherlock is Jeremy Brett, who was able to develop his character over the years and whose Sherlock lived in nicely-appointed Eduardian lodgings.

So last night I thought I’d watch CBS’s Elementary. Its Sherlock lives in modern squalor (inexplicably he has a $10,000 Viking range but his walls need paint), the plot didn’t exactly grab me, and my room needed tidying up so I watched while doing light housework. The suspect responsible for some deadly Anthrax poisonings turned out to be some dude with “extreme radical leanings. . . They hate the government, including the NYPD, but they’re big fans of violence and the Second Amendment.”

Now, in my ripe old age I know propaganda when I see it: A love of violence is equal to a love for one article of the Bill of Rights, because guns. It was 15 minutes or so into the show, and in my ripe old age I don’t waste time turning off the TV, either.

Bye-bye, Elementary.

Over the pond, where they have very restrictive gun laws, Sherlock (whose apartment is a museum of ugly wallpaper) is packing heat, big time.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

 

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