I love cars.

What I love the most about cars is, cars represent independence: An individual with a car at their disposal is free to go anywhere they please, whenever they please, unfettered. All they need is a driver’s license and a full tank of gas. You may not even have to know how to drive, if you can avail yourself of a willing licensed driver. No need to look up mass-transit schedules or routes (unless your trip involves a ferry). No need to get tickets in advance.

Get in the car, and go.

Of course I love luxury cars: Luxury cars with Brits, like Mr. Steed in the 1960s The Avengers TV series and the Jaguar villains (you may enjoy the ad’s “making of” video, too) especially, and of course, beautiful classic cars. I even remember sighing the time I saw a 1930s Bugatti; but I also love new, modestly-priced cars.

Owners of 2016 Hyundai Elantras have at their disposal hundreds of technological and safety features – from paint quality to power steering to traction control systems – at a price that is lower than the annual median U.S. salary, that were not available to the purchaser of a 1930s Bugatti, which only the very rich could afford. The Bugatti’s buyer wouldn’t even have been able to imagine the Elantra’s many features, and the fact that it can be serviced most anywhere in the free world. The Elantra is one sweet ride.

Why is that? Competition: Hundreds of car makers marketing their products in the United States and around the world, competing for the consumers’ favor. A consumer economy beats a command economy, all the way.

I was thinking of this while writing yesterday’s post at my blog on the Venirauto.

What the hey is a Venirauto?, you’re probably asking. The Venirauto is a car manufactured by the Iranians exclusively for the Venezuelan market, now that nearly all foreign car manufacturers have left Venezuela once the government insisted that they could not be paid in U.S. dollars.

Venirauto is 51% Iranian and 49% Venezuelan, 100% government-owned.

Putting aside the extensive and aggressive Iranian presence in Latin America, a subject that ought to be of great concern but goes mostly ignored, the Venirauto embodies a command-driven economy:

  • Francisco Espinoza, president of Venirauto group, “Our achievement is based on inspiration given by our late commander, Hugo Chavez. He wanted Venezuela to ally with Iran, and we’re doing so.”
  • The first model, the Turpial at a price of Bs. 17 million (US$7,906), is a 4-door sedan based on the old Kia Pride model. The second is the Centauro, at a price of Bs. 23 million (US$11,069), and is based on the Peugeot 405 given that the French firm is the main supplier of engines and technology to the Iranian company.

Don’t expect to find those two in Kelley’s Blue Book Top 10 anytime soon: The Peugeot 405 was introduced on 1987 and, according to Wikipedia, is still produced under license in Iran and Egypt but ceased production in France in 1997. The old Kia Pride (not to be confused with the Kia New Pride) was in production from 1987 to 2000. In effect, the Venezuelans, who get government-subsidized gasoline almost for free, can now drive technology nearly thirty years old.

A picture’s worth a thousand words: Compare the new 2015 Venirauto plant with a Hyundai assembly plant at Kancheepuram district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu October 4, 2012.

For your automotive enjoyment, also compare the 10 iconic Soviet cars with the 10 iconic American cars.

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

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Alinsky rule #5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

This time ridicule came in the form of violations to the military dress code:

Cadets and cadre put on their favorite pair of high heels and marched in Temple’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to raise awareness of sexual assault against women.

The cadets, members and symbols of the heteronormative military-industrial imperialist hegemonic complex, had no choice,

“They were threatened with negative counseling statements and OERs if they didn’t participate. It was pretty much” do this or we’ll kill your career before it even starts.'”

To a Liberal’s mind, cadets in high heels are a boon:

  • First of all, they look ridiculous. Speaking as a woman who wears high heels, heels are not for everyone (including females).
  • The event, if you are to call it so, was symbolic. Wearing heels or not has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault.
  • Forcing the military to disrespect their own code (this time, the dress code) is a win to a Leftist: It diminishes the participants.
  • It was a public event for all to scorn/mock/titter.

Then there’s the “awareness raising” aspect. Like Mark Steyn, I’ve had it with “awareness raising;” I regard it as a manipulative maneuver by those who lack solid facts to support their points. I expect Vladimir Putin’s awareness was raised one notch.

Ace posted,

I blame the high command of the armed forces. There should be rampant resignations over Obama’s maladministration — instead, this cadre of careers throne-sniffers and apple-polishers just keep jockeying to see who can curry more of The Emperor’s kind favor.

I agree with Ace. However, to me, the most offensive part of this charade is that it’s a setback to women in the military. Courageous women have served our country in the military for decades, and this preposterous exercise reduced them to a stereotype of victimized girls in high heels.

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

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Anyone paying attention to the news yesterday has reason to worry, and to pray, since, in short, we lost, and lost big time.

But this Easter weekend let’s also not lose sight of good people doing good things, too. A little thing may inspire many. A little thing may bring joy to many. A little thing may shine a light to a greater truth.

Take, for instance, the story of the Tree Change Dolls.

Since I don’t have a daughter and my nieces were past the age of playing with dolls by the time the dolls were introduced in 2001, I only became aware of the horrible Bratz years ago standing in line at the local Marshalls. The Bratz look jaded and are made to look like ho’s, complete with extreme eye make-up, exaggerated lips and hooker boots. They are aimed at the pre-teen market, for an age where children are sexualized early on.

The Bratz are very popular, popular enough to spin off equally dreadful Bratz Babies.

I’m glad no child has asked me to give her one as a gift.

In a totally unrelated turn of events, over in Tasmania (the land down under from the Land Down Under), an artist named Sonia Singh was laid off her job. As a way to make a little money until she found a new job, she decided to buy discarded Bratz at a second-hand shop, give them a make-under (the Bratz come made-OVER, way over), dress them in hand-made clothes, and sell them on Etsy. The dolls actually look happy.

Behold, the Tree Change Dolls.

TreeChangeDolls

Ms Sing erases the original ghastly makeup, redoes the hair, and dresses them in hand-made clothes (her mom knits the little sweaters and hats).

The Tree Change Dolls are a huge success:

Within hours of the auction launch for the two dolls — one brunette doll in a sweater vest and jeans, and a blonde figure in a knit sweater and pencil skirt — each has collected bids exceeding $79 USD.

The winning bids for those two dolls were US$233.39 and US$167.25, not including shipping.

Ms Sing, who reportedly turned down an offer from a Spanish toy manufacturer, does video tutorials for the crafts-inclined, and is marketing knitting patters, coloring books, posters and greeting cards. Her Tumblr page features the story of each doll, including the one in the above photo,

This lovely doll was donated by the class teacher Grant Williams after I was invited to come along and give the class a demonstration on upcyling dolls. My visit generated a lot of discussion in the classroom (and at home) and the students helped me to develop a character for the doll while I demonstrated repainting her face. I decided it would be great if the class also choose the good cause that the doll could raise money for. They chose the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

Ms Sing is making a powerful statement: through her own creativity, she’s pointing out that the innocence of childhood shines through in spite of all, and she’s touching the hearts of people across the world.

On this Easter weekend, while we pray about the big things, let’s be glad about the little things.

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

 

 

 

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It’s April Fools’ Day, the annual event where the passive-aggressive take out their inadequacies on others.

As I see it, there’s no need for April Fools’ Day. No need to make up jokes and pranks, when you consider,

So there is bad news, and good news.

The bad news: every day is April Fools’ Day.

The good news: we’ll never run out of blogging material.

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

 

 

One of life’s seldom-asked, but very useful questions is, “Why am I here?”

It can be writ large, as “Why are we here”?, an existential question on the meaning of life, pondered by philosophers. It can be asked in a smallest way – when you momentarily get distracted and forget why you’re in the garage, ask yourself, “Why am I here?”, and presto! you remember that you need a pair of pliers.

So, when you are stuck with a couple of hundred people in a sealed metal cylinder traveling hundreds of miles an hour several thousand feet above the surface of the Earth after enduring security searches and long lines, the answer to, “Why am I here?”, is “To get from point A to point B.” It is most definitely NOT “To listen to a ranting lunatic indoctrinate me on Communism.”

Never mind that the ranting lunatic is a Penn State Abington sociology professor, who was interviewed following her release from jail,

Can you comment on your arrest and on the videos of you on the plane that are circulating?
I do have a comment. I know that I expressed an act of civil disobedience. But that act was necessary.

Why so?
I’m very knowledgable about that part of the world. I teach about U.S. imperialism in Latin America. And the U.S. has declared war against Venezuela. That means military aggression. They tried to take out Hugo with a coup, and then they took him out with cancer.

There’s a place and time for civil disobedience. Air travel is not it.

You can read the rest of the interview, but keep in mind that “Silence is golden” for very good reason.

It seems that Prof. Halnon took to heart rules 6 and 8

RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”

Which brings me to Starbuck’s #RaceTogether scheme, whereby baristas will impose upon you a script talk to you about race. But wait! There’s more,

The compendium called “Race Together” is the first installment in a year-long effort designed to stimulate conversation, compassion and positive action regarding race in America.

Apparently the Starbucks people enjoy (rule 6) this sort of thing, and will keep the pressure up (rule 8) for a year.

Their competitors must be delighted,

Silence indeed is golden, and could lead a great marketing strategy.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog. She was going to title this post “Shut the —- up”, but opted for the more genteel “Oh, for the days when silence was golden!”

Liam Neeson, Irish guy turned Hollywood star of gun-held thrillers, fired a shot for U.S. gun control following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris,

There’s too many [expletive] guns out there,” he continued. “Especially in America. I think the population is like, 320 million? There’s over 300 million guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it’s a [expletive] disgrace. Every week now we’re picking up a newspaper and seeing, ‘Yet another few kids have been killed in schools.’”

Now that Liam’s latest gunfest, Run All Night, is opening today, so are the posters:
Liam Neeson Mocked for Gun Control Comments in Fake ‘Run All Night’ Posters

Politically motivated street artists have plastered “redesigned” movie posters at various Los Angeles bus stops mocking Liam Neeson for his recent pro-gun control comments amid the release of his new action movie, Run All Night.

The studio marketing poster for the film features Neeson holding a handgun in a menacing pose. The artists altered the movie title to read “Gun All Right” with the tagline “One Hypocrite Laughing All the Way to the Bank.”

A closer look,

Looks like Sabo strikes again!

Sabo, the street artist behind Unsavory Agents, was a speaker at CPAC (you can view his work both at his website and during the slideshow playing in the background at CPAC).

The Liam poster has all the Sabo qualities: Pitch-perfect, hard-hitting, straight to the point, effective.

I hope it was Sabo himself who did it; if he wasn’t, Sabo’s inspiring others. Either way, GOOD!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog. A friend gifted her a Sabo poster of Ted Cruz.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II

The bard’s immortal words come to mind when one reads about Gitmo alumnus Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab, (a.k.a. Abu Wael Dihab, a.k.a. Jihad Ahmad Diyab, a.k.a. Abu Ammar, a.k.a. Abu Wail al-Suri, a.k.a. Abu Wail al-Falastini, a.k.a. Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Dhiab).

A 2008 Department of Defense JTF-GITMO Detainee Assessment (h/t The Tower) shows him as a high value, high risk detainee with affiliations to al-Qaeda, which he served as a recruiter, and who might provide information on Iranian support to al-Qaeda.

Jihad, who counts document forging among his skills, was a member of the “Syrian Group” of terrorists who escaped to Afghanistan, and was later sentenced to death in absentia in Syria. He apparently used his forgery skills at the service of the Global Jihad Support Network.

In short, Jihad lived up to his name.

Born in 1971 in Lebanon of an Argentinian mother and a Syrian father, Jihad was released from Gitmo last December 7, and sent to Uruguay, where he is provided free housing, board, and living expenses at Uruguayan taxpayers’ expense,

“They will be able to bring their families here if they want,” Uruguay’s defense minister, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, told a local news station. “They will be accompanied by people to help them adjust to the language and other things. They will have to find jobs.”

They will be able to “live in peace, sit in the stadium grandstand and become fans of some soccer team,” he added.

Cori Crider, a lawyer at Reprieve, a human-rights group that was representing him, went as far as saying that,

Mr. Dhiab once managed a restaurant in Syria and that he pondered opening a restaurant in Uruguay.

Once in Uruguay, Jidad underwent a makeover: Old Jihad, new improved Jihad (which vaguely reminds me of Christian Bale).

The new improved Jihad headed to Argentina, escorted by Uruguayan journalist Nora Fernández Espino, who’s currently working with the Fundación de Ayuda Humanitaria (IHH) (which owns the Mavi Marmara, one of the Free Gaza flotilla vessels).

No makeover and travel are complete without a press conference, so of course, one was arranged. Jihad declared that he was “ready to fight” for his fellow Gitmo detainees. Orange is the new black, so he wore orange in solidarity to Gitmo detainees.

During his press conference with Leftist media, Jihab claimed he was just a regular guy living with his family until the Americans dragged him out of his home and sent him to Gitmo. While he made these statements, the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas, or DAIA (Delegation of Israelite Argentinian Associations) is worried about the possibility of a new Islamist attack in Argentina, following the theft of a TOW 2 missile and 130 FAL rifles from the armed forces.

Back in Uruguay, Jihad and the other Gitmo alumni released with him are complaining that “we feel we have left one prison to be put into another.” while they turned down multiple job offers and dropped out of Spanish language lessons.

They were issued Uruguayan passports and are free to leave the country.

No word from Ms Crider as to whether that restaurant is still in the works.

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

The LIBRE Initiative

is a 501(c)4 non-partisan, non-profit grassroots organization that advances the principles and values of economic freedom to empower the U.S. Hispanic community so it can thrive and contribute to a more prosperous America.
LIBRE is dedicated to informing the U.S. Hispanic community about the benefits of a constitutionally limited government, property rights, rule of law, sound money supply and free enterprise through a variety of community events, research and policy initiatives that protect our economic freedom.

Notice the conservative values:

  • principles and values of economic freedom
  • a constitutionally limited government
  • property rights
  • rule of law
  • sound money supply
  • free enterprise

With a mission statement like that, it’s not surprising that liberals are mobilizing against LIBRE:
The liberal organization, People for the American Way (PFAW),

published a laughable smear earlier this week attacking a conservative group as being “Koch-funded” and “targeting Hispanic voters” as an exposé. It was laughable as an exposé because the information about the Koch connection has been publicly available for years.

Media Matters is mobilizing,

the Hispanic Media Project seeks to attack and silence Hispanic conservative voices, without any regard to position within the conservative ideological spectrum. It wasn’t that long ago that I discussed one of the fundamental tenets of what we’ve come to regard as the “liberal plantation”, a diversity that does not extend beyond skin tone, and a particularly vicious enforcement of progressive orthodoxy within. Well, there’s a new overseer in town.
The Libre Initiative appears to grace the top of the MMfA hit list, and are the subjects of a lengthy screed that may as well have been drafted by Harry Reid. This hit is not even the first on Libre in recent days.

With Media Matters mobilizing, could the HuffPo be far behind? This time LIBRE smacked the HuffPo back. Daniel Garza, LIBRE’s executive director, wrote (emphasis added)

Simply put, many Latinos — like others across the country — are looking for a changed agenda. They want a limit to regulations that prevent them from opening family businesses. (LIBRE has offered seminars on how to accomplish this.) They believe government should impose fewer mandates on how companies use any profits they make — leaving more for worker raises. And they want both parties to stop playing politics and get to the business of reaching agreement on immigration reform. LIBRE is in full agreement with the many Hispanics who are disillusioned with the big government agenda that has dominated Washington in recent years, and who believe government should be smaller. We won’t be intimidated into silence when it comes to discussing the real nature of the problems facing our community, and we will defend our convictions. It’s time to drop the personal attacks — which won’t work anyway — and instead engage on ideas and proposals. The people we all want to serve deserve at least that much.

LIBRE must be increasingly effective to be coming under such concerted attack. As Moe Lane said,

After all, who wants to work to convert other people to your views? It’s ever so much easier to simply have the field all to yourself. A win by default is still a win.

And it’s so much more comfortable (for liberals) to keep Latinos in the “liberal plantation.”

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

The Democrats’ reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Address to Joint Meeting of Congress (you can watch the speech in full at the link) offers a rare opportunity to highlight the disconnect between the Democrats-and-the-media (but I repeat myself, as Pete says) talking points and the consequence of a policy where the U.S. abdicates its position as leader of the free world.

Netanyahu’s brilliantly crafted speech was of sobering clarity

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.

Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.

And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.

Mark Steyn looks at the consequences of a weak U.S. policy:

Netanyahu was especially strong on the mullahs’ expansionism. He pointed out that Iran now controls four regional capitals – Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and Sana’a. The P5+1 negotiatiors talk about Iran “re-joining the community of nations”. Au contraire, a not insignificant number of the community of nations have joined Iran. How many more capitals would a nuclear Teheran be exercising control of?

Reality trumps talking points, no matter how the Democrats-and-the-media try to reframe it.

Elsewhere in the world, As U.S. Light Dims, A Season Of Assassins; not just the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also,

In Cuba, Lady In White leader Laura Pollan and top democracy campaigner Oswaldo Paya were almost certainly murdered by Cuban state agents. Pollan was the victim in 2011 of a mysterious illness, while Paya died in 2012 after repeated crashes with strange cars on lonely roads.

Castro paid no penalty for these crimes. Today he’s in talks with the U.S. for full diplomatic relations and a lifting of the U.S. trade embargo. On Monday, Paris Hilton posted exuberant photos of herself whooping it up tourist-style with the elites in Havana.
In Venezuela, top opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma were both hauled away by state agents to dungeons on trumped-up charges without trial. Again, Venezuela suffered no sanctions, only some verbal handwringing by the State Department.

In Argentina, meanwhile, state prosecutor Alberto Nisman was gunned down dirty-war style in his apartment a few hours before he was to charge the government with complicity with Iran. It was an act that clearly benefited the regime of Cristina Kirchner.
The U.S. response has been to merely urge Argentina’s government to get to the bottom of it, while looking away from the probability that the Argentine government is implicated.

While Nancy Pelosi decries with crocodile tears Netanyahu’s speech as an “insult to the intelligence of the United States“, each successive brazen act from our enemies, and the lame response it draws from the United States, determines an administration more worried about talking points – such as “smart diplomacy” – than about matters of substance.

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

At the end of the 1974 crime drama Chinatown, Walsh drags Jake away from the scene and says one of the all-time classic lines in movie history,

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown

Earlier in the film, the plot has established that Chinatown is a lawless, dangerous place, where even the District Attorney advises its men to do “as little as possible.”

Fast-forward 41 years to Buenos Aires and the murder of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, the day before he was schedule to testify in front of the Argentinian Congress on the civil lawsuit he filed accusing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of colluding with Iran to hide evidence of Iran’s involvement (including current president Hassan Rouhani) in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center.

Among documents found at his apartment (the crime scene) was the draft of an arrest warrant for Fernandez.

Nisman was the lead investigator of a terrorist attack involving Iran, and possibly the foremost expert on Iran’s expanding operations in Latin America.

At first Fernandez tweeted it was suicide, later that it was murder. The facts of the case point to murder. However, it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out what really happened.

Argentina is a beautiful country, blessed with a variety of climates and terrains, rich soil, and a great port. But the political condition of the once-prosperous country for the last seventy years is rife with a history of assassinations and suspicious suicides; indeed, when I first heard of Nisman’s death, I called it a murder, even while I was being told it appeared to be suicide.

Sebastian Rotella wrote a lengthy article that must be read in its entirety. Rotella explains the details of the Nisman investigations, and includes “an experience [he] had in 1999 with a mysterious witness in the AMIA case.”

Jeremy Adelman posits that “The Nisman affair is a saga that braids together incompetence, corruption, and murder on a global scale.“ He asks,

At this stage, it is hard to know what is worse: the rot in Argentine public institutions that can’t investigate an atrocity after 20 years, the depths to which Argentine hopes for truth and accountability have plunged, or the sordid spectacle of a president personalizing a crisis she helped to create?

For now, two judges have declined to review the civil complaint Nisman filed the week before his death.

UPDATE:
BREAKING NEWS: Argentina’s President Fernandez Charged in Probe of Alleged Cover-Up (emphasis added)

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was charged by a prosecutor with trying to cover up the alleged involvement of Iranian officials in the country’s worst terrorist attack. Now a judge must decide whether to pursue the case.

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