by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

From the BBC: Guatemala, Mexico and the United States have reached a deal to try to prevent migrants from jumping onto a freight train in an attempt to reach the US, according to Guatemalan officials.

The three countries said they would establish more checkpoints.

Let’s look at this for a moment: The Mexican government, which until rather recently had some of the strictest immigration laws in our hemisphere, is allowing tens of thousands of foreigners to travel unimpeded thousands of miles through Mexican territory to reach the U.S. border, and “more checkpoints” are going to change that?

Particularly considering the money the cartels are making from all the human trafficking?

“The Chinese are paying $50,000, the Indians are paying $10,000 to $20,000, [for] all the Central Americans the average is about $7,000 and the Mexicans are, especially [from] southern Mexico, are paying $3,000, so it’s a huge, huge money event for the cartels, probably even more lucrative than the drug business,” Dr. Michael Vickers of the Texas Border Volunteers told Infowars.

The border surge started during Obama’s first term:

President Obama’s executive actions on immigration did not begin with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in mid-2012. It began in 2011 with his announcement of “prosecutorial discretion” on deportations. A few months later the border patrol noted the first uptick in unaccompanied children at the border.

The campaign of misinformation goes on, but more and more questions add up; two days ago Pat wrote about Gov. Jindal’s questions,

He’d like to know, among other things, where the children are:

Jindal wants to know where the children are living, the timeline for determining their ultimate status and whether the federal government plans to kick in dollars for their education and health care. He also wants to know how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decided where to place them.

As the resources of the country as a whole and the states in particular are diverted to cope with this invasion, I leave you to ponder Mark Steyn’s words,

One of the reasons why so many Americans oppose amnesty and a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens is because, even if one buys it in utilitarian terms, to accept that an honorable American identity can be born from an illegal act seems to mock the very essence of citizenship and allegiance.

Yet, putting aside the soon to be amnestied millions, it seems to me the deformation of law necessary to accommodate the armies of the undocumented is having a broader corrupting effect on the federal bureaucracy. For example, can you think of anything more risible than working for something called “US Customs & Border Protection”?

How’s that for a “train deal”?

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

by baldilocks

When did being in a majority with respect to a given opinion become the sole prerequisite for the validity of that Baldilocks miniopinion? Even Christians, who have a long record at their disposal, can’t seem to grasp a simple pattern: when the majority is moving in one direction, it is often wise to move in the opposite direction.

This phenomenon is called the Bandwagon Fallacy, which is

committed by arguments that appeal to the growing popularity of an idea as a reason for accepting it as true. They take the mere fact that an idea suddenly attracting adherents as a reason for us to join in with the trend and become adherents of the idea ourselves.

This is a fallacy because there are many other features of ideas than truth that can lead to a rapid increase in popularity. Peer pressure, tangible benefits, or even mass stupidity could lead to a false idea being adopted by lots of people. A rise in the popularity of an idea, then, is no guarantee of its truth.

(Emphasis mine.)

There are countless examples from which to choose, but here’s one relevant to August of 2014: that raising the minimum wage benefits any employee base. It’s easy to figure out why this is false.

  • If an employer must pay his employees a higher minimum wage,
  • The fewer employees that employyer will be able to afford, and separately
  • Producers of goods and services will, naturally raise their prices.

Therefore high minimum wage produces fewer jobs and higher prices.

But don’t try to tell majority of minimum wage earners this or any minimum wage advocate this. Most of both groups think that more of anything–especially paper bank notes– is better. Tell to the Zimbaweans.

And then there’s the “majority opinion” Israel-Hamas conflict…

“Majority rules” are two words that should scare the crap out of any thinking person.

Like Dr. Sowell, I wonder if thinking has been abandoned. Or maybe it has merely been squashed by covetousness.

The results are the same, in the long run.

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 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

by baldilocks

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.baldilocks

–John 18:36 (KJV)

As the birth pangs of the new Caliphate intensify, I am mindful of the assertion of many atheists and pacifists that almost all wars and massacres are religious or sectarian in origin.

We need not look too far back in history to see  some of the truth of this: the Armenian Genocide, the Iran-Iraq War, the perennial wars between modern Israel and her Arab-Muslim neighbors, and of course the Holocaust.

But then, there are the recent wars and massacres which were not religious, per se: World War I, Japan’s crimes in World War II, Holodomor and Stalin’s other purges, Mao, Pol Pot, and the Rwandan genocide. (One might label the forgoing as tribal wars.)

But, if we go much further back we can see that the original assertion may be valid.

From a Christian perspective, however, I ask this question: why wouldn’t most wars be religious in nature? Since the successful temptation of Adam by the Enemy, that Enemy has been trying to con as many of us as possible in as many areas as possible, the primary one being the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with Him.

And, if we human beings are still prone to being conned, it seems to me that the con would be in this manner: adapting a religion or world-view that puts self before anything and anyone, including God. Or, overtly, considering oneself to be God. I’m not only referring to religions outside of Judaism and Christianity, but sects “within the fold,” such as Liberation Theologies and Prosperity Doctrines. I-deologies.

Our Enemy got thrown out of Heaven due to his pride and it seems to me that pride is the primary lure he uses to blind us to the true nature of God and, therefore, blind us to our own sinful nature. After all, it’s easy to love ourselves, but it takes a lot more work to “love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.

So, when self is primary—when self is worshiped–it’s a lot easier to view others as secondary or of no account whatsoever. If that’s so, then we might be able to say that all wars are religious in nature, even when one side has an objectively righteous grievance. That’s not to say that war is wrong; it is a byproduct of this world since the Fall and this world belongs to the Enemy. This means that some individual or group somewhere is always on offense in the name of “god” or on defense against the former.

It’s always about God—or about god, depending on which one you’re serving.

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 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

When one surveys the events taking place in the “international landscape,” it is quite easy to understand how a sense of appalling dread could consume a person’s emotional, mental, and physical faculties.

One might ask of what particular incident or incidents would this writer be referring to.

The rejoinder would be that the litany of tragic world events is too numerous to enumerate within the small confines of this article; however, a brief overview will suffice.

North Korea.

Kim Jong-un is the current premier and leader of the  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; he is 31 years old.   North Korea has been under the sponsorship of Communist China since the outbreak of the Korean War (1950 to 1953).  Over the last 50 plus years, The United States of America has placed as many as 28,000 to 40,000 or more troops into the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ); we (the USA) are also pledged to come to South Korea’s immediate assistance if Kim Jong-un and his country attempt a hostile takeover.

President Eisenhower ended The Korean War more than 60 years ago and yet the persistent effects of that war are still with the family of nations today.


During the height of the “Cold War” between the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the USA placed more than 320,000 troops into the European theater to protect the free European nations from possible Soviet inspired domination.

The “Cold War” officially ended in the 1988 through 1991 time period when the Soviet Union dissolved and today the United States’ actual troop deployment numbers are only 1/10 of what they were (32,000) during the “Cold War.”  The United States spent billions of dollars annually to assist with preserving the hard-fought gains won during World War II.


The former Soviet Union – today formally known as Russia – is led by President Vladimir Putin.  Mr. Putin is serving his second tour of duty as Russian President; he once remarked that “the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century was the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

One might ask, “Is Mr. Putin kidding and what world does he hail from?”

Those of us living in the West must be scratching our heads and wondering if this is what we bargained for after engaging in more than 70 years of strategic and at times often politically perilous gamesmanship (detente) against “Soviet-style” oppression against “Jews,” “Intellectuals,” “Free Speech advocates,” “Russian Orthodox Christians” – and anyone else who dared to buck the Soviet party line.  One would wonder what the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would think of Mr. Putin if he were still alive today to share his thoughts.

Finally, no discussion could end if one did not at least touch on the events in the Middle East which pertain to Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian state / land question.

Let the discussion first circle on some unassailable facts about the group known as “Hamas”:

It is a fact that “Hamas” is a terrorist organization that is devoted to destruction of Israel and to the Western Community.

It is a fact that “Hamas” uses propaganda and terrorism on a multitude of different fronts to achieve their strategic and military ends.

It is a fact that The United States of America was one of the first nations to formally recognize Israel’s right of existence in May of 1948.

Today the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is beleaguered on many different sides.  It appears that world opinion is turning against Israel as they seek to root out the terrorism of Hamas (as an aside the group Hamas is officially outlawed in the United States).  Secondly, Hamas is using “human shields” and making it appear that Israel is the villain in this conflict.  Thirdly, the Obama Administration is attempting to project a nuanced approach to this Middle Eastern conflict which makes Israel wonder if they could trust the USA to come to their aid if a more serious conflict occurred.

The Middle East has unstable governments in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria – to simply name a few – and may soon have a “nuclear Iran” added to this volatile mix.

What is one to make of all of this “International mess?

Perhaps the former political philosopher Thomas Hobbes was right when he warned us of what happens without a “stable world order.”

People who have flocked to the United States across the last 2 centuries know what many native-born Americans often fail to remember:  “The International community is and always has been one dangerous family of nations.”

The Peace and Security in which Americans have historically enjoyed is not the norm within the global family of nations, but rather the rare (freedom is a perilous experiment?) exception.

This is why it is imperative that our American governmental officials of all of the respective political parties must get a grip and seriously deal with the two aspects of immigration policy which are essential to our survival as a nation:(1.) Border Security and (2.) Legal Entry.

Immigration policy is not a panacea for the overall health and safety of the United States, but it would at least be one less variable that America would have to contend with in the midst of an unruly and unstable world order.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Hugo Carvajal a.k.a. “el Pollo” (the Chicken) is one of the guys who took part in Hugo Chávez’s unsuccessful 1992 military coup, later rising to the rank of general and chief of military intelligence, but with a sideline of drug trade: Here’s the indictment in the U.S. District Court accusing Carvajal of coordinating the transport of 5,600 kilos (6.17 tons) of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico.

Carvajal, according to the computers belonging to Raul Reyes, the FARC’s #2 man, that were captured by Colombian security forces in 2008, was one of Hugo Chávez government’s key liaisons to the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the murderous narcoguerrilla group).

Now, don’t ask me how a guy nicknamed el Pollo gets to be a general, in charge of military intelligence from 2004-2011, or, for that matter, Venezuelan Consul to Aruba, but current president Nicolas Maduro named him Consul to Aruba all the same, knowing that the U.S. Treasury Dept, the DEA and a U.S. District Court (mentioned above) had indicted Carvajal last year. Last week Carvajal presented himself in Aruba, where he was detained since the Dutch knew of the indictments.

Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo was very pleased. She has been following the Carvajal story for a decade and alleges that Carvajal is not only a drug kingpin, but also a torturer. Spanish journalist Emili Blasco reports that Carvajal allegedly “was in charge of procuring the drugs from the FARC and controlled the distribution process in the U.S. and Europe, along with laundering the drug money through PDVSA,” the government-owned oil company. Carvajal also is under investigation for his role on the attacks to the Colombian consulate and the Jewish center in Caracas.

According to reports, Carvajal was flown to Aruba by man from Texas named Roberto Rincón in a private plane leased by PDVSA president Rafael Ramírez.

The general came to Aruba in a plane that belongs to an associate of Rafael Ramírez, president of the oil company. Besides, they point to the extraordinary information Carvajal can provide regarding the relationship of Chávez’s Venezuela with Hezbollah and Iran. “It’s like Pablo Escobar and Vladimiro Montesinos rolled into one, an intelligence chief who is also a druglord,” claim the sources.

Getting Carvajal is a very big deal indeed.

Well, lo and behold, the chicken flew the coop on Sunday, when he was released by Aruban authorities, after Holland decided he did qualify for diplomatic immunity but declared him person non-grata. Immediately, Carvajal flew to Caracas, where he received a hero’s greeting by Maduro at a PSUV (Venezuelan Socialist Party) event.

One of my sources also mentions that the Obama administration had 30 days to hand over its Extradition Request to Aruba but failed to. It reminds me of drug kingpin Walid Makled, who was released to Venezuela by president Santos of Colombia after the U.S. dragged its feet.

I did a roundup of questions from Venezuelan bloggers regarding this sudden release.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuela pressured Aruba by threatening to withdraw from a contract to manage Curaçao’s refinery, which would have put at risk some 8,000 jobs, and Aruba’s chief prosecutor asserts that

the Netherlands’ release of a former top Venezuelan official wanted by the U.S. for alleged drug trafficking came after Venezuela raised economic and military pressure

as Venezuelan navy ships neared Aruba and Curaçao over the weekend.

Holland is a member of NATO and as such Aruba would be protected, as WSJ commenter Donald Hutchinson points out, but, in the Obama administration’s era of “smart diplomacy”, the Dutch couldn’t count on that:

Assuming that US intelligence was not asleep, all,it would take would be a fly over by US Navy jets and a notification that any offensive action would be met by the immediate destruction of their ships. Holland is a member of NATO and such actioned would clearly be sanctioned,
It would also be a devastating set back to the former bus driver running Venezuela for bringing shame to their military.
But what one might expect from a timid White House and a preoccupied State Department?

In addition to good’ol military thuggery, Miguel Octavio asserts that the Netherlands caved in (emphasis added):

Clearly, everyone applied pressure, but the weak link did not turn out to be Aruba as I suggested on my first post, but rather The Netherlands, as reportedly even Russia played a role, exchanging concessions on the Ucraine [sic, i.e., regarding the investigation on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot over Ukraine] plane for helping release Carvajal. No matter what anyone says or how this is interpreted, it was a severe blow to the US, who would have loved to get Carvajal onshore.

In reaction to the release, Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has lifted his hold on a bill that would impose asset and visa freezes on Venezuelan officials who perpetrated human rights abuses against protesters in recent months.

The U.S. State Department spokeswoman’s reaction to the Netherlands deciding that Carvajal qualified for diplomatic immunity and shipping him off to Venezuela after declaring him person non-grata? “This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled.”

At least she didn’t #hashtag it.

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

by baldilocks

At Storify, Brian Cates gets heated up about the new movie in the works which purports to tell the story of eyeny1RatherGate. Allegedly, the movie will portray former CBS anchor Dan Rather as a truth -teller with respect to his 2004 report on the Texas Air National Guard service of Former President George W. Bush.

I feel Mr. Cates’ pain, as I blogged quite a bit about the attempt to denigrate GWB’s service. And, though I was, at best, a minor player in the exposure of the elaborate fraud which Rather and company attempted put over on the American people, I’d like to think that I helped–if only to point the big boys and girls in the right direction.

Why did it mean so much to me? Not just because I voted for George Bush in 2000 and intended to vote for him in 2004–which I did. But because I had served in the USAF and the USAFR and, to anyone familiar with either–especially the USAFR–it was blindingly obvious that the document used to support the allegation that GWB had gone AWOL (sic) from his TANG position was a bogus one. And I’m not even talking about the typeface.

But instead of re-telling the reasons not related to the infamous memo, allow me to quote myself.

Why am I not surprised to find out that the “mainstream media” cannot manage to dig up one of their number who is/was a Guardsman/Reservist? […]

Interpretation [of GWB’s TANG attendance records from October 1972 to July 1973]? What is there to interpret? The document shown isn’t some obscure scroll written in a long dead language, found during an archeological dig at the foot of the Himilayas. It’s an objective document showing the amount of attendance points that President Bush earned during the last part of his ANG stint–the part that a certain segment of the population just can’t get out of their minds.

You have to actually be there for something other than a goose egg to be listed under “points.”

Yes, the fraud was fraudulent. But…

He’s right, you know. And it’s up to those of us who incredulously watched what happened to remember–and to tell those who weren’t paying attention at the time. After all, that last is how we got to place we are now; inattention.

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 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!


by baldilocks

41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 

–Luke 22:41-42; Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

Marine General James Amos—Commandant of the Marines– recently responded to the sacking of Iraq and President Obama’s subsequent inaction.

Speaking at the Brookings Institute Tuesday, Amos said the Obama administration paved the way for the emergence of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) by completely withdrawing American troops in 2011.

“I have a hard time believing that had we been there, and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, I don’t think we’d be in the same shape we’re in today,” Amos said.

Many know that it is a violation of the UCMJ for any active duty service member to criticize the Commander-in-Chief in public, but that’s exactly what General Amos did and, I suspect, that the timing of this was intentional, since he could have waited until his October 2014 retirement to make such a statement.

But he did not…likely because criticism of the C-in-C from an active duty 4-star general is more likely to get the attention of the public.

In the wake of this, I got into an “argument” with a well-meaning man who hard time getting around the illegal nature of the general’s actions. He couldn’t quite grasp the concept that someone might do something like this on purpose; do it and pay the fine or stick one’s arms out to be cuffed…or go to one’s execution meekly…all for the sake of truth and honor.

When I pointed out that this is exactly what Jesus the Christ, many of the Old Testament prophets and almost all of the Apostles did, then my friend began to get it.

But it isn’t necessary to go back 2000 years to find persons who stood up for truth in the face of given legal authorities.mlkjail

Any Marine is unique for a number of reasons, but one thing stands out, especially in relation to General Amos’ actions: Marines are willing to risk everything for honor and for their fellows. General Amos has charge over the entire Corps and, under his charge, many Marines have died or been permanently maimed. Marines all go into the Corps knowing that they may die or be maimed, but they hope that our country’s civilian leadership will not make their deaths/disfigurement meaningless by failing to lead—and that is exactly what President Obama has done.

So, I suspect that making this decision was easy for the general. I bet it was a piece of cake.

However, I bet that there are a lot more men and women like the general, many who aren’t even service members. At least I hope there are. I predict that this country will need them soon.

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 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!


Our Pilgrim Forefathers came to this nation in two waves:  First in 1607 (James Bay, Virginia) and secondly, at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts in 1620 (The Mayflower); they came here with the desire to find a land where they could experience “Freedom of Religion.”

The first European settlers came to this land as people who wished to worship GOD as their consciences dictated and not as they were told by either a governmental or external force.  These men and women were champions of liberty.

When one reads the words of The Mayflower Compact, one understands that these pioneers took their beliefs and convictions seriously.  As a matter of fact, the people who boarded The Mayflower came to this country and left their families, their way of life and even their children behind as they braved the perilous waters of the Atlantic Ocean in search of a better life.

Furthermore, the men and women who came to America also sought “Economic Liberty” as well.  In Europe, many people were locked out of lucrative occupations by restrictive “trade guilds” and “labor associations”; the Economist Dr. Walter Williams points out in his book The State Against Blacks that one of the chief reasons that the Pilgrims journeyed to our shores is that they sought a better material way of life – they pursued “economic freedom” for this children and their extended families.

From 1607 until this present day, people still as the song by Neil Diamond wonderfully states, “They come to America!

When we were children, many of us use to sing the song / motto of our great land entitled, “My Country Tis of Thee.”  The words flow like this –

“My Country Tis of Thee

Sweet Land of Liberty of Thee I sing

Land where my Fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride

from every mountainside let freedom ring!”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted these words in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech that he delivered in August of 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Songs like “My Country Tis of Thee” or “Of Thee I Sing” are important because the citizens of a nation must share a sense of collective identity and loyalty to one another and to the destiny of their country.

From 1607 until this very day the people who have come to our shores from all walks of life have directly bought into the narrative of this great land.

This is one of the reasons why the immigration dilemma that our nation has experienced over the last twenty to twenty-five years is so vexing.

The last comprehensive Immigration Reform that was signed into law took place in 1986 during the sixth year of the Reagan Administration.  At that time our nation had an estimated 3.25 million illegal aliens who were hiding in the shadows.  That law was supposed to fix a broken system.

Fast forward to 2014 and there is now an estimated 11 to 12 or perhaps 15 million illegal residents residing within the borders of The United States of America.

The existential question is this – What are we to make of all of these people and their children who came here illegally?

In one sense, the answer seems somewhat simple:  If we are a nation of laws and not of men, then we need to fully apply the immigration law of 1986 and close whatever loopholes may exist.

One of the things that has successfully bound our nation together is that people who came to this nation in the first high wave of immigration in years like 1848, 1880, 1900 to 1910, and 1920 adhered to the rules.

In the past both the Legislative and Executive branches were much more decisive in how they dealt with the issue of prolific immigration.

In 1924, Congress passed a very restrictive Immigration Law that was based on “Immigration Quotas.”  The thought behind this law at the time was that the social infrastructure of the nation was strained and taxed too far.  The law sought to put a brake on the great wave of immigration that had taken place during the forty-year period of 1880 through 1920.

The 1924 law was heavily weighted towards people of “northern European extraction” – dare we say of “WASP origin” (White, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant).

One of the tragedies of our immigration policies during the period of 1880 through 1925 was that our country was very restrictive of Asian immigration (or non WASP) – especially that regarding Chinese people who sought to come to this country (this type of discrimination was a terrible blight in our nation’s immigration history).

On balance, our nation has a unique, rich, and paradoxical way in which we have historically handled entry into the American mainstream.

In 1965, Congress passed a more open Immigration Law that reversed the restrictive clauses of the 1924 legislation.  Now for the first time Asians, Latin American, and men and women of Color from the West Indies to Africa were welcomed with “open arms” into America.  We particularly welcomed people who fled from totalitarian regimes as “prisoners of conscience.”

Which Immigration Law model should we follow today:  1924, 1965, or 1986?

This writer does not claim to possess a “crystal ball” or great powers of clairvoyance with regards to solving our nation’s immigration problems.

What is needed is for both Republicans and Democrats to realize that 9/11 was not too long ago and that there are enemies of this great nation who take a long view towards bringing down our great country.

Enemy sleeper cells exist within our nation and a country that will not enforce its borders will soon be a nation on the brink of disaster and possible dissolution.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Those of us who watch the dismal state of U.S. foreign policy will find the following DiploPundit post on Bolivia enlightening:

According to the OIG report on the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia released on July 17, just before the OIG inspection conducted in February and March 2014, the State Department “recalled the chargé and the political/economic section chief who served as acting DCM from August 2012 to September 2013 and took steps to mitigate some of the embassy’s leadership problems.”

This means that, during the period when the Bolivian Government expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Peace Corps, and the Department of State’s ended all U.S. counternarcotics programs:

  • There was no ambassador
  • The top 2 officials were removed before the inspector arrived to investigate the situation
  • DiploPundit points out (emphasis added): “Just before the inspection, the WHA bureau and the Bureau of Human Resources apparently agreed that, because a permanent ambassador is not likely in the foreseeable future, the Department would assign a permanent chargé d’affaires and a permanent DCM in La Paz. It only took them about five years to make up their minds.”

A rather unusual situation. What was happening?

To make a long story short,

nearly all American staff members told the OIG team that they did not understand mission priorities or their part in achieving goals. The OIG team frequently heard staff tell of instructions given one day only to have the former front office forget or reverse them the next. Skepticism about public diplomacy programming one month could be replaced by front office enthusiasm for a cultural project the next. Reporting officers, already in a difficult environment for contact development and reporting, stated that the front office did little to direct reporting or provide training and mentoring. Embassy staff members told the OIG team they wanted clear and steady guidance from the front office but did not receive it.

You, gentle reader, may ask, why fuss over Bolivia, a place most of us may have difficulty finding in a map, a place best known for cocaine production and Butch Cassidy‘s final destination?

Well, because Bolivia, which owns 70% of the world’s lithium reserves, is getting plenty of attention from

  • China, with whom it has a space satellite program, and which is investing billions of dollars in mining projects,
  • Russia, including Putin’s own attention to gas production with Gazprom; Putin has slammed the efforts of Evo Morales – who is president of Bolivia and was president of the coca growers’ union – to keep coca leaf consumption legal (perhaps not coincidentally, coca production has declined),
  • Iran, a buyer of Bolivian uranium and lithium, whose largest embassy in the hemisphere is located in La Paz.

A note on lithium:

a byproduct of lithium also has a little known and insidious application: It can be used as an alternative or as an enhancer to uranium, a key component needed to develop nuclear weapons. In particular, lithium-6 is an internationally controlled substance because of its “booster” role in smaller, highly efficient thermonuclear devices.

In other words, it makes bad bombs smaller, worse and also more portable. And thus policymakers should be concerned that the deal with Bolivia could bring the Islamic Republic one step closer to nuclear capability.

Indeed, in our age of America’s “smart diplomacy”, the neglect of, and lack of leadership in the Bolivian Embassy is emblematic of the “leading from behind” Obama era.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry, who declared The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over,” thinks of Bolivia as “our back yard.”

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

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Communism is all about control. Nothing the individual does can be allowed;  everything is done for the purpose of consolidating power around the ruling elite and no one else.

Of course, things like guns and automobiles are anathema to the Communist. Both grant the individual a degree of independence and self-reliance that can actively be used against the whims of the powerful.

I’ll leave the discussion on guns for another time. Let’s talk about cars now.

Cars would not have been possible without capitalism: Competition, creativity, invention, technology, artistry, craftsmanship, all are brought together from free enterprise creating the monetary means to develop, purchase, deliver – and, for the consumer – buy the car.

Cars speak of freedom: freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom to hit the road when you best feel like it, freedom to buy, lease, keep, sell, or trade up your car.

Cars speak of individualism: You can personalize your car, or not, as you best see fit.

No wonder Communists hate having the hoi-polloi own cars.

Real Communists want to be the only ones in the cars, not the great unwashed tying up traffic and polluting the air. For decades we’ve been subjected to hogwash about “Cuba’s classic, beautiful cars,” i.e., the remaining 1950s jalopies the Cuban populace must make do with since, a. the Communists keep people poor, and b. the country’s broke. The useful idiots praising the jalopies can admire classic vintage cars any time they want from the comfort of their prosperous societies (since none of them actually have to scrounge in Havana for parts with which they may keep their own jalopies running), while simultaneously ignoring that Fidel Castro owned dozens of limos, some of which are now being used as taxis in Havana. To add insult to injury, one of the articles talking about Fidel’s old limos says,

The new fleet will give tourists a quirky and lighthearted look at Cuba’s history.

I leave it to you, gentle reader to decide whether half a century of misery in the island-prison deserves “a quirky and lighthearted look.”

Venezuela’s Cuba-appointed dictator, Nicolas Maduro, is hell-bent on following Fidel’s footsteps, so, of course, the country is a wreck as chavismo continues to rip off the private economy for well over a decade.

While the ruling chavistas enrich themselves, the country went begging to the Chinese for a bailout. Like the rest of the country, the auto industry – in a country where gasoline is six cents per gallon – is brought to a standstill:
Venezuela’s Car Culture Fades
Production is drying up as big auto makers can’t obtain dollars to pay parts suppliers and sky-high inflation turns older cars into investment vehicles.

The car industry this year began on a particularly dire note, with only Toyota and Volvo AB’s Mack de Venezuela powering up their assembly lines. By March, Toyota halted production for three months, followed by Italian truck maker Iveco SpA in April. Ford, GM and Chrysler rolled back production amid big losses due to currency devaluations as President Nicolás Maduro’s government tried to address a shortage of dollars by weakening the value of the bolívar.

Behold, the assembly line:

But fear not: chavistas ride on, in bullet-proof cars.

LINKED TO by Babalu Blog. Thank you!

LINKED TO by The Lonely Conservative. Thank you!

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