by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Yes, I blog on Latin America and its politics and culture, but I’m not one-dimensional. I love food, too.

One of the great joys in life is a freshly-toasted bagel, spread with a big dollop of Philly cream cheese, and perhaps – if you’re feeling fancy – some lox and a slice of Jersey tomato fresh off the vine. Mmmmm. . .

But, as I was biting on my cream cheese and bagel (those who know me, know I have a little bagel on my cream cheese), what do I find in the WSJ?


Philadelphia Cream Cheese Gets a Makeover

What the hey?? Is nothing sacred? Is this an April Fools’ joke?

The Marketing Decoder: Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Kraft is changing its recipe—and altering its tub design—to appeal to health-conscious shoppers

I don’t care what they package it in, since most of the time I buy the “brick” and not the tub. But change the recipe?

Ironically, the article (by subscription) says “The tubs now include the year 1872, which Kraft says is the year its cream cheese was invented,”

to show consumers “we have been doing the same thing for 142 years,”

Doing the same thing is good, and then change the recipe?

Kraft has done an excellent marketing job in Spain, where cream cheese is called fili, and the Spaniards are not going to like the change. Certainly my ancestors didn’t sail from Asturias just to have the recipe changed on them.

The article points out that “the cost of ingredients such as milk have increased,” as anyone can tell you. Not many people realize that the core inflation rate eliminates food and fuel due to their volatility. Eliminating food and fuel from the inflation numbers is politically convenient, too, as us peasants may raise up with our pitchforks and torches if we are reminded of the inflation in food and fuel costs, but I digress. I’d rather pay more for the old recipe.

The Kraft people have had a perfect product for 142 years. Let’s hope the new-recipe Philly cream cheese goes the way of the New Coke.

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US & Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog. She feels very strongly about the Philly cream cheese on her bagel.


If 61 of you hit Subscribe at $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills and all the writers for a full year.

It’s a small price to pay for a lineup including  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 Dillion (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.


by baldilocks

With everything economic coming to a head for almost all, one is forced to become creative in finding methods of survival, leaving aside those methods which would prick the conscious of the Christian.baldilocks

I find myself in that situation and the great thing about being “hungry” is that it spurs creative thinking. It’s one of the ways in which we are made in our Creator’s image–imagination.

As has been listed in my signature since Peter blessedly invited me to begin this column, I have my already-published novel, Tale of the Tigers, and my two projects: the novel, Arlen’s Harem, and The Kenya Project. The latter must be put on hold, however, for a least a month, while I finish Arlen’s Harem. In addition, I must creatively use methods of immediate funding and, aside from the great blessing of this column—sent by God—there are two methods I plan to use, those that do not involve, but which produce immediate goods and services to a consumer.

The first involves Tale of the Tigers. As is often so for the books penned by non-famous authors, my novel is “self-published.” I put that term inside quotation marks because one does not do that alone, but with a print-on-demand business—a business in which one must pay for each lot of books.

I have no problem with the service, but when one is feeding self, clothing self, fueling one’s car and paying one’s utilities with individual book sales, it’s difficult to pay for the next lot. But, remember, “hunger” breeds creativity.

I have been selling many items—mostly books written by others—on eBay, and through that means, I discovered that I can sell my own book that way! I don’t have any dead-tree copies and eBay does not allow sales of digital documents, but I can sell copies via snail-mail CDs! So, that’s what I’m doing. (Both dead-tree and eBook versions are still available at Amazon, but if you buy them form me, I get the money right away instead of three months from now.)

The other method of surviving involves something I’ve observed over the last few years: there are many adults who don’t have a clue about things-Internet, things which we nerdim take for granted. Many people over 40 have laptops and smart-phones which serve as barely more than dust collectors. I run into people all the time who don’t know what a browser is, or how to download an attachment from their email, or who don’t know which attachment not to download. Therefore, I’m going to set up a basic computer and cell phone literacy class for adults in my neighborhood. (Any suggestions are welcome.)

So there. If you’re inclined to do so, please pray for my success, and buy the novel CD, if you haven’t already (see below). As soon as I get things a bit more solvent, I will make the CD available on both of my websites. And I will be selling them in meat space.

Oh, yes, and please point me to a service site or DIY link for labeling CDs. This is a professional operation!

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. That novel is available on CD in PDF form at eBay. Contact Juliette there at j_baldilocks.





by baldilocks

This week’s racial controversy involved Ebony Magazine senior editor Jamilah Lemieux  and RNC staffer Raffi Williams—son of Fox News commentator Juan Williams. When you’re reading the conversation, stop seeing red and try to see green.

#SMH @JamilahLemieux is harming the Ebony brand. Questioning “blackness” is something @EBONYMag has fought for yrs!

— D.J. Jordan (@_DJ_Jordan) March 27, 2014

I’ve had this happen to me before; commented on some Twitter topic regarding black persons and been told by some self-appointed guardian of Twitter blackness—a member of the “Black Twitter Mob” (BTM)–to “stay out of black folks’ business.” I guess the photo of my sandaled and very dark foot, which serves as my Twitter avatar—not tbaldilockso mention my African surname–was not enough of a clue for another of these guardians.

One might wonder why this sort of thing occurred at all. Why would a senior editor of a venerated publication like Ebony behave in this manner? And, regardless of Mr. Williams’ race, if she really didn’t want to talk to white people, why would she be commenting on Twitter in the first place?

Why don’t these conversation segregationists create a “Black Folks Only” version of Twitter, and go spew there?

I’ll tell you why not; because they don’t have to. It’s easier and free to attract the like-minded via a Twitter-feud. (Conceiving an innovative means of communication, building it and attracting users/customers, however, is a much more difficult set of goals to meet. Plus, work is involved.)

Here’s how to further understand the financial reason as to why this happened. The first thing that needs to be observed about Ebony Magazine is this: it’s a corpse; its heyday was in the 60s and 70s. They were putting copies in the mail gratis during the last few years of my great-aunt’s life (she died in 2012 at age 91). They couldn’t even get her to buy the magazine, not even on past subscription or reputation. Therefore, its publisher and editors are attempting to re-animate it by any means necessary.

Therefore, this Lemieux person is attempting to attract BTM Internet bada**es to the magazine by doing the thing which the BTM will always applaud: attempt to intimidate white people.  A slap-down on a “white” guy or one of these dreaded, scary black Republicans—the same thing in their minds—might serve this purpose, and, at the same time, help to shed Ebony’s old-school, grandma and grandpa, Uplift-the-Race image.

And even though the publisher of Ebony responded to an open letter from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus with a real and classy apology, the tactic can be considered an initial success, since BTM sorts are still in a froth.

Only Ebony’s accountants can determine if the tactic has long-term success.

I predict that there will be none, however. Black Twitter Mob types don’t read anything longer than 140 characters.

(Thanks to Ace and to Twitchy)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel,Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

Update: (DTG):  Welcome Instapundit readers  I’d like to remind you that Juliette (Tue & Sat) is one of my Magnificent seven writers (now nine).  Yesterday we had John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  Later today you’ll see Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) and tomorrow Tim Imholt joins Juliette.  Fausta of (Fausta Blog) writes Wed & Fri, AP Dillion (Lady Liberty1885) is  Thursday, Pastor George Kelly (Fri) & Steve Eggleston (Sat) completes our crew.


Olimometer 2.52

Dire Straits isn’t just a music groups it’s when it’s a Saturday and you need $817 to pay the mortgage and have only 3 days to get it.

That’s better than $250 a day when we haven’t met a weekly goal all month, but as Yogi Berra says, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Keep it from being over, hit DaTipJar below.


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Pastor Kelly By Pastor George Kelly

The decade of the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s marked a watershed moment in the cause of freedom and the fall of Soviet sponsored Communism throughout the globe.

Three world-class leaders Pope John-Paul II, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and President Ronald Wilson Reagan all arrived on the world scene within 4 years of each other (1978-1981).

These three powerful statesmen / stateswoman began their tenures while facing what appeared to be insurmountable odds.  Yet, these leaders not only tackled the obstacles that they faced with great gravitas and grace, but they conducted themselves in such a way that they left us with unique paradigms which assist us with viewing the crises in which we face.

When Pope John-Paul II arrived at the Vatican, much of the Roman Catholic faithful were enslaved in Europe under the aegis of Soviet sponsored communism. Furthermore, “liberation theology” (Catholic theology combined with Marxist overtones) was gaining strength in Latin America.

And to make matters worse, the Catholic Church’s influence in both Europe and American was dwindling as the two continents drifted into a lapsed Spiritual Consciousness that scholars have referred to as Postmodernism.

Briefly stated, “postmodernism” is a concept which describes the phenomenon that the “Judeo-Christian value system” (which is championed by all three branches of Christendom:  Roman Catholicism; Greek and Russian Orthodox; and Evangelical Protestantism) – no longer drives the ethics, morality and thinking of the culture.

This is no small occurrence once one considers that Christian thought infused the lifeblood of Western Civilization for nearly 2,000 years!

Fortunately for Europe and America, the second Pontiff selected in 1978, a Polish Cardinal named Karol Józef Wojtyła became the 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church; we refer to him by the name that he chose:  Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II ascended to the Roman Pontificate less than two months after the Pope that preceded him John Paul I died after only serving his church for 34 days!  (This writer remembers these events vividly as he was born, baptized, and raised in the Catholic faith.  My fellow Catholic brethren waited with eager anticipation to find out who would be the next “Holy Father” of our beloved Church.)

Pope John Paul II did not disappoint.

It is important for us to remember that every Pope possesses his own unique “spiritual signature.”  By this it is meant that each Pope brings his own set of unique experiences, educational attainments; spiritual acumen and clairvoyant foresight into the office that he is appointed to.  John Paul II was no different.

John Paul II’s life and character was forged under the violent crucibles of the carnage of World War II and the Soviet dominated Communism that ensnared his beloved Poland for a great many years.  While he was a young man growing up in Poland,  Karol Józef Wojtyła had Jewish friends among his circle of cherished relationships.

Karol Wojtyła witnessed anti-Semitism in its worse forms.  Futhermore, while he was a bishop, archbishop and later a Cardinal in Poland, he saw through the nature of communism for what it was – an empty, agnostic, and violent belief system that paraded itself as the champion of the poor and dispossessed but in reality made the poor worse off spiritually, mentally, and economically.

While contrasting the free enterprise system with the Soviet command economy, the late Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once remarked that “the greatest fault that one has with capitalism is that it leads to an unequal sharing of blessings.  The greatest virtue of socialism is that it leads to an equal sharing of misery.”

Perhaps the greatest legacy of Karol Józef Wojtyła is that once he became the Pontiff he never forgot those who were enslaved behind the Soviet sponsored “Iron-Curtain” or those in Latin America who could not discern that much of what posed for the  “liberation theology” that swept through South America was nothing more than Marxist-Leninist (agnostic) thought dressed up in theological drag.

Pope John Paul II made it his life mission to speak up for the oppressed and for those who had no voice and who could not speak up for themselves.  Two Scriptures (and there are many more) come to mind when describing the zeal of this Pope who like the prophets of old “spoke truth to the worldly powers”:

Proverbs 31.8-98“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.  9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Isaiah 58.5-7 – 5Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Perhaps a look at the immediate Popes that preceded him will enable us to view him in his proper historical context:  Pope John the XXIII revolutionized the Catholic Church and led her into the modern world when he commenced Vatican II in the late early 1960s; Pope Paul VI steadily guided the Catholic Church as it moved away from being the Tridentine Church (1546 to 1966) and into what theologians have dubbed “The Pilgrim Church” (1966 to the present day).

John Paul II inspired many youth to embrace the Catholic Faith and to come to accept Christ as Savior and accept the teaching of the Catholic Church in order to experience true inward peace on earth – and in the world to come eternal life.  Pope John Paul II inspired millions of people with his example of Christ’s love that manifests itself to all people with open and outstretched arms.

The pope’s life reflected truths that were spoken by Christ and witnessed and recorded by Saint John the Evangelist:  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3.16-17).

Karol Józef Wojtyła, the world is a much better place because of the extraordinary life of faith and conviction that you lived and modeled before a watching world.  We salute and graciously thank you.


Olimometer 2.52

It’s Friday, $817 shy of the mortgage. Four days to get it.

It can still be done but only if you if you hit DatipJar below


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faustaby Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

In today’s morning news, I see that Joe Biden, in yet another episode of pandering, said that ‘11 Million Undocumented Aliens Are Already Americans in My View’

“Eleven million people living in the shadows I believed are already American citizens,” Biden said. “These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully, and by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.”

Yes, it’s a free country, and yes, Joe has a right to his personal opinions, but the fact remains that citizenship is a privilege granted to few, either by birth, or by a lengthy and expensive process.

Biden took a quote from TR,

“Teddy Roosevelt said it better. He said, Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed or a line of descent. It’s a question of principles, idealism and character,”

while bypassing this part of TR’s True Americanism speech, which emphasizes the importance of national cohesiveness (emphasis added),

It is this spirit of provincial patriotism, this inability to take a view of broad adhesion to the whole nation that has been the chief among the causes that have produced such anarchy in the South American States, and which have resulted in presenting to us not one great Spanish-American federal nation stretching from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn, but a squabbling multitude of revolution-ridden States, not one of which stands even in the second rank as a power. However, politically this question of American nationality has been settled once for all. We are no longer in danger of repeating in our history the shameful and contemptible disasters that have befallen the Spanish possessions on this continent since they threw off the yoke of Spain.

Indeed, the mission statement for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, whose 2014 Legislative Summit Joe was addressing, clearly states “While the USHCC advocates for business owners who happen to be of Hispanic descent, we are first and foremost American businesses.”

Rather than jump to the conclusion that “11 million undocumented aliens” are “already Americans”, I’d recommend that Joe look into a number of possibilities:
1. That integration into “American principles, idealism and character” is essential.
2. That legal residents who share “American principles, idealism and character” can be contributing fully to American society, without wanting to become citizens. Every person has different circumstances and reasons to immigrate. Some have their reasons to not get full citizenship.
3. And that comprehensive immigration reform may not be the optimal way to maintain broad adhesion to the whole nation, to use TR’s words. For instance, read about The Red Card Solution,

The basis of this solution is simple. Separate the guest workers and immigrants in the debate, and in the legal system, on two completely different and unrelated paths. And use the powerful incentives of the free market system to guarantee the success of the guest worker program.

As to Joe’s other statement that aliens keep coming here, where “no one seems to want them”, the evidence points to the contrary.

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


Olimometer 2.52

It’s Friday, $817 shy of the mortgage. Four days to get it.

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faustaBook review by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Eyes On Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs by Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter, is a gripping read in many ways:
It tells the story of a group of men who will give their all to protect our country, from the point of view of several of the men themselves.
It is the history of the most-feared anti-terrorist force in the world.
And, as the book jacket aptly describes, it

is an inside account of some of the most harrowing missions in American history-including the mission to kill Osama bin Laden and the mission that wasn’t, the deadly attack on the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi where a retired SEAL sniper with a small team held off one hundred terrorists while his repeated radio calls for help went unheeded.

The book could be divided in three sections: The history of the SEALs, and how they evolved ‘from pirates to professionals’; the missions in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Benghazi (which actually was not a mission); and the Appendix and notes, which includes The US House Republican Conference Interim Progress Report on the events surrounding the September 11, 2012 Terrorist Attacks in Benghazi.

Not to be missed is chapter eleven, “Why the Unique Culture of the SEALs matters,” where McEwen and Miniter make the case for why

We must, as a society, keep a group of warriors free of politics and bureaucracy, free of the distractions that keep them from doing their vital work.

While the Obama administration and its apologists continue to refer to the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi as a fake, phony scandal (a Google search yields 553,000 results on benghazi fake scandal), the details of the attack, as itemized on chapter ten, belie this “fake, phony scandal” narrative.

Authors Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter thoroughly researched the official timelines of the Defense Department, the State Department, congressional reports, Arabic-language newspapers and American media to construct the most detailed timeline of the 9/11 attack in Benghazi. They go back to April 5, 2011 and start with Ambassador Chris Stevens’s arrival in Benghazi, ending with the September 12 arrival of the Marine FAST platoon in Tripoli at 8:56PM, a full twenty-four hours after the attack began.

Eyes On Target is a gripping, well-researched, moving account of a group of heroic men, a book both for history lovers and especially for the general reader who wants to know the facts on Benghazi.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on US and Latin America politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.


Olimometer 2.52

Wednesday is here and and we remain $831 away from a paid mortgage with only six days to get it.

$139 a day six tip jar hitters a day at $23 will get us there. Unfortunately this business is as reliable as Justices Kennedy & Roberts you never know day to day what will come.

But you can make it happen if you hit DatipJar below


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barking dogby baldilocks

woof tickets

a slang phrase meaning a verbal threat, criticism, or insult used to intimidate an opponent. The phrase originates from woofing, meaning aimless talk, an onomatopoeic reference to the sound of dogs barking.

(It’s a sad day when Wikipedia has a better definition for a black slang phrase than does the Urban Dictionary.)

Victor Davis Hanson says aloud what many observers of everyday-life already knew:  in the run-up to a fist-fight, the one who talks the loudest and who talks the most feces is the one to fear the least. This is an over-arching aphorism in that it’s applicable to brewing bar fights as well as to brewing global conflicts—and to nearly every other type of tussle in between.

President Obama’s pivot has now joined his stable of deadlines, red lines, step-over lines, and “I don’t bluff” and “I’m not kidding” assertions. The problem with such rhetoric is not just that it is empty, but that it is predictably empty. If Obama cannot lead, can he at least keep quiet about it?

A Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran is not just unimpressed but encouraged, seeing such sermonizing as an assurance of nothing to follow. Obama’s threats are like a gambler’s involuntary tic, which astute poker players read always as a forewarning of a bluffed empty hand to follow.

He does this because that is what he thinks is expected of him: to talk. He thinks the presidency is about saying the proper set of words under a given set of circumstances. (Anything else is too much like work.)


Racial issue involving black person? Make speeches implicitly blaming the other party, especially if the other party is white.

Crappy program promoted by the Obama administration or by the Democrat Party? Make speeches promoting the program and/or bribing an interest group into accepting said program.

And for the topic at hand, war not involving USA? Make “don’t make me come over there” speeches while shaking your finger at the “children” in this manner

…the president or his secretary of state lecture an aggressor about its unacceptable 19th-century behavior, the Third World about its homophobia, or the world about the dangers of climate change.

Vladimir Putin knows that the Obama Administration will do nothing and will continue to treat him like a little yappy dog as long as that latter keep running his mouth. (I would imagine that this gives Putin no joy. Guys like that prefer to match wits with an able foe, rather than a specially-abled[i]  one.)

Professor Hanson spells out the price we will pay for electing this simpleton of a leader: another war. But this time I fear it will be right in front of us, and I don’t mean on the device.

There will come a point in time for all Americans during which each of us will be unable to ignore the folly of sending Barack Hussein Obama to the White House—an illuminating moment.


[i]I’m sure that the specially-abled are indignant at the comparison.

baldilocksJuliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!


by baldilocks

I’ve grown weary of methodically laying out the chains of occurrences, premises, conclusions and examples which have served as under-gird to my opinions.  Fact is, whether I make the effort or don’t make the effort, I get this sort of thing—this one from an old acquaintance via Facebook:

I object to you and almost everything you say. I think you are full of sh*t. That plain enough? I’m [here] to object to you and your invective, which I find personally offensive. At some point, people have to say, I object.

This guy kept insisting over and over again that he objected; I imagined him punctuating each objection with a foot stomp.

And, using the fact that he objects to me and everything I say, this “gentleman” came to the conclusion that I must be crazy and delusional.  Surely, that is the only reason that I could possibly be 180 degrees from him in all opinions.  Right?

The funniest thing, however, was that, in this man’s repeated exclamations of objection, there was never any specific direct object. (Linguists will groan at that pun.)  He never did pick out a topic about which he and I are in opposition and defend his viewpoint on that topic, even after I repeatedly invited him to do so.

It’s plain, [name redacted], but it’s still pretty generalized. There has to be a specific reason tha[t] you think that I am full of sh*t and you certainly should be able to take a specific issue and explain why I am wrong about it–in a sane and non-delusional, invective-free and sh*t-less manner, of course.

Come on. I know you can do it.

To which, I received this charming response:

I don’t have to defend it to you — or explain it — anymore than I expect you to do the same [sic]. You have an opinion — I think you’re full of sh*t. My opinion. I don’t really TRULY have to say anything else.

My nine-year-old niece would call such a response immature.  I wouldn’t, however.  It’s obvious that either the man is intellectually incapable of defending his opinions or he is too lazy to think his premises through to a conclusion and, afterward, articulate either.  Due to the puling, I vote the former.  Petulance in adults is usually a cover-up.

Then again, hasn’t our president repeatedly claimed that the time for talk is over? It almost is.


Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!


If you become one of the 55 3/4 subscribers @ at $20 a month are necessary to secure the cost of DaMagnificent Baldilocks miniSeven & my monthly mortgage on a permanent basis but do so at the $25 level you can receive one of several Exclusive Original Chris Muir high Res Graphics of the original members of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Seven Gang  like the one on the right.

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In the column that this journalist wrote last week, he opened up by stating that “The time period of 1981 through 1991 was a time of breath-taking change.” 

(There might be those who did not like the conservative nature of that change that transpired in the 1980s, but that is another story to be explored at another time.)

In the United States, former Governor Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States.

At the Vatican in Rome, Italy, Pope John-Paul II was inspiring a new generation of Roman Catholics to cheerfully embrace their faith as “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

And in 1979 in London, England, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher – affectionately referred to as “The Iron Lady” – arrived at 10 Downing Street as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain.  Mrs. Thatcher was the first Conservative leader of England since Sir Winston Churchill’s second tenure which ended in 1955.

Prime Minster Thatcher came to 10 Downing Street with a resolve to reverse much of the policies that had been initiated by the British Labor Party from 1945 to 1978.  This was a daunting task!

The preceding 35 years right after the Second World War (WWII) marked a watershed moment in how most of Europe began to see their relationship to their federal or “centralized governments.”  Prior to the end of the WWII most of Europe was still dominated by the economic writings of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” (1776).

Adam Smith postulated that the “natural system of liberty” (what we currently refer to as the free enterprise system) was by far and away the best means of producing goods, commodities, and national prosperity.  From 1776 through the late 19th Century, Smith’s seminal work on economics was taken as a reliable authority on economic subject matter.

In the early 1900s Great Britain along with many other European nations underwent a paradigm change with regards to their views of how wealth should be “equitably distributed.”  The emphasis moved away from economic / wealth creation to wealth redistribution.  The new mantra of the day was government was responsible for the welfare of its citizens from the “cradle” to the “grave.”

Sir Winston Churchill was a brilliant War Time Prime Minister; however, the citizens of Great Britain rejected the domestic conservatism of Churchill for what was perceived to be the cheery liberalism of Clement Atlee’s Labor Party.

Mr. Atlee proceeded to nationalize Health Care, embrace Keynesian economics, provide for greater governmental control over the economy and strongly back labor unions.  Mr. Atlee and his Labor Party scored impressive electoral wins with both the changes that they enacted and with public opinion behind them it seemed that the era of “progressive politics” meant that their momentum could continue indefinitely.

Well, as the late Paul Harvey would say, “And here is the rest of the story.”

Through the 1960s and 1970s, it appeared that the nation’s taxes continued to expand and that there was no end to “labor shortages” and crippling “labor strikes” that imperiled the spiritual, moral, and economic health of Great Britain.

Yet, through this time of “cradle to the grave” Governmental expansion there arose in Mrs. Margaret Thatcher – the leader of the Conservative opposition – a call for the British people to remember that not all of their problems could be nor should they be solved by their central government.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a conservative in the mold of the late British philosopher Edmund Burke (please see his 1790 masterpiece “Reflections On the Revolution In France”) who believed that people should pursue their duties and pleasures in a multitude of “little platoons.”

Little platoons would be units of organization such as the family; the extended family; Churches; Synagogues; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts – 4H Clubs; Rotary Groups; et cetera.  It is in these little platoons that values, principles and belief systems are transmitted and reinforced.

The health and freedom of a society depended on having many little platoons or intermediating structures that act as a barrier to too much central governmental power grabbing over the lives of the citizenry.

Mrs. Thatcher brought her Judeo-Christian and cultural conservative belief system to her country and helped her nation undergo a spiritual, economic, and cultural redivivius.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her people once again became important actors on the world scene – and from an economic perspective the country’s Gross Domestic Output began to grow, expand, and accelerate.  People began to experience a boon in their pocketbooks.

Finally, Europe and the rest of the world owes Mrs. Thatcher a debt of gratitude in the fact that she like President Ronald Reagan across the Atlantic Ocean was a tireless champion of freedom who stood strong against Communist oppression and the expansion of the Soviet Union expansion in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Edmund Burke once stated that “the easiest way for evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing.”

Mrs. Thatcher was a principled-centered stateswomen who stood athwart against the forces of evil, tyranny, and economic stagnation.  She surely deserves her own Profile in Courage.


by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Lefties firmly believe the deceased Hugo Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically” because GDP went up, and fewer people were living below the poverty line by the time he died last year.

The numbers are there: GDP did go up, and yes, fewer people were listed as living below the poverty line. Whose numbers?

The numbers came from the Venezuelan government.

The International Monetary Fund keeps a List of IMF Member Countries with Delays in Completion of Article IV Consultations or Mandatory Financial Stability Assessments Over 18 Months. As of the writing of this post, Venezuela hasn’t held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 99 months.

Let me translate that into plain English: The Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade.

It also stopped reporting a number of standard indicators several years ago:

Heavy government spending has fueled rampant inflation, which averaged an annual 22% during Mr. Chávez’s tenure. Its anticapitalist rhetoric and broad state intervention into the economy have led to a dearth of investment. Gross fixed capital formation declined to 18% of gross domestic product in 2011, from 24% in 1999, according to the World Bank. Net inflows of foreign direct investment stood at 2.9% of GDP during that same year, his first in office, nearly double the 1.7% in 2011. Capital flight from Venezuela intensified as Mr. Chávez pursued more interventionist policies, including capital controls and a fixed official exchange rate that — if you can get it — offers dollars at a quarter of the exchange rate that the greenback fetches in the black market. Stock market capitalization of companies listed on the Caracas Stock Exchange has gone from a paltry 7.6% of GDP in 1999 to a minuscule 1.6%.

Rather than pursue policies that might stimulate investment, the government’s response to shrinking productive capacity and high inflation has been price caps. The result? Shortages of food and other basic necessities, periodic electric brown- and blackouts, and far fewer jobs: the labor force participation rate has dropped from 52% to 46% in the Chávez era.

Does that sound like a “drastically improved” economy?

But let’s look at GDP some more, with the numbers that are available: Chavez made the Venezuelan economy increasingly dependent on oil exports. In 1999, oil accounted for 80% of all exports. Back then the Annual Average Domestic Crude Oil Price (AADCOP) was $16.56. By the time of his death last year, the number had risen to 95% at an AADCOP of $91.17. GDP had to go up, if only because all the eggs in that one basket got pricier; even then Chavez didn’t do all that well:

There was strong economic growth from 2004 to 2008 but GDP fell in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010. From the time Chávez took office in 1999 to 2011 Venezuela’s economy grew by an average of 2.8% per year. During this same period Latin America as a whole grew by 3.3% per year and Brazil grew by 3.4% per year.

While Venezuela’s oil production decreases, Cuba still receives 100,000 barrels of its oil per day.

How about reducing poverty?

According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America, the percentage of the population living under the poverty line in Venezuela fell from 49.4% in 1999 to 27.8% in 2010. That is a pretty good record but there were similar trends across Latin America. In the region as a whole poverty dropped from 43.8% in 1999 to 31.8% in 2010. A few countries, like Peru, Brazil and Panama, faired even better than Venezuela. Poverty rates in Peru dropped sharply from 54.7% in 2000 to 31.3% in 2010—all three have solidly capitalistic economies.

There are no verifiable data available on income distribution, but again, according to government numbers

The country now boasts the fairest income distribution in Latin America, as measured by the Gini coefficient index.

In 2011, Venezuela’s Gini coefficient fell to 0.39. By way of comparison, Brazil’s was 0.52, in itself a historic low.

So every Venezuelan now has a more equal slice of the cake. The trouble is, that cake has not been getting much bigger.

“Venezuela is the fifth largest economy in Latin America, but during the last decade, it’s been the worst performer in GDP per capita growth,” says Arturo Franco of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

The Gini numbers do not include moneys kept by corrupt officials or “Tier II Kingpins” drug lord Cabinet members.

Venezuela ranks 181 out of 189 in the World Bank Economy Rankings.

Chavez’s true legacy is a ruined country with murder rates doubling or tripling over a decade, Communist control of all institutions and media, falling oil production, crumbling infrastructure, a moribund private sector (what little is left of it after the expropriations and nationalizations), soaring inflation, fleeing capital, power outages and food shortages, and now, electronic food rationing cards.

Drastically, yes. Improved, no.

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


Olimometer 2.52

It’s Wednesday and yesterday a pair of tip jar hits moved us to $101 toward our goal of $365 to pay the mortgage and the writers.

After two dismal weeks it’s vital to get those 11 $25 tip jar hits necessary to make the weekly goal to even have an outside chance of making the mortgage this month

We’ve done a lot in the last 10 days from CPAC to NLRC. but it can’t be done without you.


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