faustaby Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

What do the following have in common?

  • Hillary Clinton in 2008
  • Eastern Orthodox Christians
  • Muslims
  • 52% of California voters
  • Brendan Eich

They all opposed gay marriage.

Brendan Eich resigned from Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox Web browser, after intense criticism over a six-year-old, $1,000 donation he made in support of a 2008 California ballot initiative to ban gay marriage.

The record of that donation appeared on the Internet soon after Mr. Eich, who invented JavaScript and helped start Mozilla in 1998, was appointed as CEO in late March. After he was named, some Mozilla employees took to Twitter to call for his resignation. Mr. Eich then apologized for causing “pain” and made a commitment to promote equality for gay and lesbian individuals at Mozilla.

Invent JavaScript, start a successful company, and your qualifications don’t matter, Mr. Eich. What matters is elsewhere.

Prof. Robert George explains,

You are disqualified from employment, however, if you reveal your alleged “bigotry” and “cause pain” by stating your convictions. And you are certainly disqualified if you do anything to advance the historic understanding of marriage as a conjugal union in the public square. You see, that’s what Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was discovered to have done—he made a contribution of $1000 to the successful effort to defend marriage in California in 2008. Like the majority of California voters, he thought it best for the state to retain its conjugal marriage law. Recently that historical fact came to light. And in less than a week Eich was gone.

You can bet its not just Mozilla. Now that’s [sic] the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer. They will pressure them to refuse employment to those who decline to conform their views to the new orthodoxy. And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage. Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause that will be treated as moral turpitude in the same way that support for marriage is treated. Do you believe in protecting unborn babies from being slain in the womb? Why then “you are a misogynist. You are a hater of women. You are a bigot. We can’t have a person like you working for our company.” And there will be other political and moral issues, too, that will be treated as litmus tests for eligibility for employment. The defenestration of Eich by people at Mozilla for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on marriage is just the beginning.

My friends at Gay Patriot point out that Even Andrew Sullivan Is Disgusted with the Gay Left (saying that “If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us”), but that Sullivan’s

flaw lies in assuming the progressive left wants a “tolerant and diverse society.” They don’t.

Tammy Bruce realizes that,

Back to Prof. George,

When tactics of intimidation succeed, their success ensures that they will be used more and more often in more and more contexts to serve more and more causes. And standing up to intimidation will become more and more difficult. And more and more costly. And more and more dangerous.

Mozilla gave in to the bullies and apologized for Mr. Eich’s appointment.

Shame on them.

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

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Friday and our weekly goal sits at $128 out of $365 meaning April is looking to start as bad as February & March.

We are 10 $25 tip jar hitters away from making our weekly goal that we haven’t seen hide nor hair of since February.

Help us start Arpil strong, please hit DaTipJar below.

 

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

For that you not only get my work seven days a week but consider the lineup you get for that price, 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 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?

This:

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.

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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.


 

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.

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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

 

If 61 of you hit Subscribe at $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year and things will be a lot more like Alito and Kagan around here than Kennedy & Roberts reliable..


 

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.

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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

 

If 61 of you hit Subscribe at $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year and things will be a lot more like Alito and Kagan around here than Kennedy & Roberts reliable..

Beanie : $2.00USD – weeklyCap : $10.00USD – monthlyHat : $20.00USD – monthlyFedora : $25.00USD – monthlyGrand Fedora : $100.00USD – monthly

 

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

The Economist‘s cover story:

Mr Putin’s new order, in short, is built on revanchism, a reckless disdain for the truth and the twisting of the law to mean whatever suits those in power. That makes it no order at all.

Some of the more unsavory heads of state in Latin America have been borrowing a page from Putin: Last year I posted on Mary O’Grady’s article on how Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips

behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

It’s not only indirect “putinismo”: Putin has been interested in Latin America all along.

Russia has been cruising through the region for quite a while. On November 2008, the day before Thanksgiving, I was at Fox News talking about Russian warships holding military maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean, and a Russian ship was docked in Havana last month.

Following John Kerry’s announcement last year that the Monroe Doctrine is over (thereby sticking a “Kick me” sign on America), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in February this year that Russia is negotiating with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua for establishing permanent military bases in those countries.

One could say that Putin interpreted Kerry’s announcement as a license to ride on in the Americas.

Frances Martel at Breitbart reports on PUTIN’S SLOW AND STEADY RECONQUISTA OF LATIN AMERICA

While the United States has maintained close ties with Colombia and Chile, helping the former end a guerrilla warfare crisis perpetrated by left-wing leaders in the nation, the generation of leaders calling themselves Bolivarian socialists in Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and, to a lesser extent, Peru have all expanded their ties with Russia.

You must read Martel’s article in full. She is definitely not exaggerating when she concludes,

Vladimir Putin has spent more than a decade investing in the loyalty of a continent often left behind by the puppetmasters of international diplomacy. When–not if–he decides to continue his westward expansion, he will be able to rely on the support of the assorted wayward leftist regimes of Latin America.

Venezuela’s oil props up Cuba, so Putin (at least for now) doesn’t have to bother supplying Cuba’s ruined economy for as long as Venezuela does. But for his long-term game, Putin’s been gaining the loyalty of a continent the US seems to neglect.

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

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Friday the tip jar sits still at $155 for the week.

Only 8 $25 tip jar hits stand between me and not only this week’s goal but an outside chance of making the monthly goal and the mortgage.

We’ll have at least a fighting chance if you hit DaTipJar below.

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below. If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better. A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.


 

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.

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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.

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below.  If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better.  A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.


 

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Vice-president Joe Biden was in Chile for the presidential inauguration of Michelle Bachelet.

Bachelet previously served as President from 2006–2010, but could not serve two consecutive terms, so she ran, and won this second term. Bachelet has already proposed increasing corporate taxes and closing tax loopholes to sponsor a system of free college education, changes to the constitution, and more spending to address inequality. This does not bode well for the most successful country in South America if she steers the country away from its free-market economy.

Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico compose the Pacific Alliance, a trade block created in 2011 which aims to

  • Build, in a participatory and consensual manner, an area of deep economic integration and to move gradually toward the free circulation of goods, services, capital and persons.
  • Promote the larger growth, development and competitiveness of the Parties’ economies, aiming at achieving greater welfare, overcoming socio-economic inequality and achieving greater social inclusion of their inhabitants.
  • Become a platform for political articulation, and economic and trade integration, and project these strengths to the rest of the world, with a special emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.

Biden scheduled face-to-face meetings with each of the Pacific Alliance presidents, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Ollanta Humala of Peru, and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, having already met with Bachelet.

Earlier during his visit, Biden had

called the unstable situation in Venezuela “alarming” and said the Caracas government lacked even basic respect for human rights.

The Pacific Alliance arose as a free-trade, pro-democracy answer to the pro-Communist, pro-Cuba UNASUR that was the brainchild of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Hugo’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, was scheduled to attend Bachelet’s inauguration, and had called an emergency meeting of UNASUR to take place in Chile, saying that the UNASUR heads of state are “welcome” to condemn the opposition’s violence.

Maduro had certainly made his agenda clear.

In anticipation of Maduro’s visit, several Chilean congressmen wore #SOSVenezuela buttons to the inaugural, showing their support for the protesters:

Maduro decided at the last minute to skip Chile altogether, and took a hike. He sent his Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua.

Brazil, the largest UNASUR country, demurred on taking a stance on Venezuela. Biden was not invited, and it’s a good thing he’s not perceived as being involved with any of the UNASUR doings.

Better yet, I applaud Biden’s attention to the Pacific Alliance presidents. That is the kind of organization the hemisphere needs.

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

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Wednesday and we remain at $66 dollars toward this week’s goal of $365 to keep the bills paid. That’s $299 short

If you think our work here is worthy of your support I ask you consider hitting DaTipJar below.

 

 

With 61 more $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year.

I would ask that you do subscribe by hitting the button below.  If your finances allow it, consider choosing Hat level or better.  A subscription comes not only with exclusive commentary, but on a weekly basis you will have the opportunity to get direct access to me by phone to provide feedback or suggestions to make sure this site is worthy of your financial support and patronage.


 

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

I can not attend CPAC this year, but have been paying attention to the speakers; yesterday Senator Marco Rubio’s speech on American exceptionalism defined America’s post-Obama foreign policy, as Mediate rightfully said:

He defined the threats he warned that the United States will face in the near future and defined current and long-term America’s economic challenges in terms relating to the preservation of free trade guaranteed by American military and diplomatic strength.

All the threats come from totalitarian regimes, regimes who do not respect their citizens’ God-given rights: “Any government and any leader who violates those rights is an illegitimate one.”

Rubio asserted that “America must be involved in leading the world”. “There is only one nation on earth capable of rallying and bringing together the free people on this planet to stand up to the spread of totalitarianism. The United Nations cannot do this. In fact, they cannot do anything.”

“If you think high taxes and regulations are bad for our economy, so is global instability and the spread of totalitarianism,” Rubio continued. “What we have in America is the exception, not the rule, in human history. Almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet didn’t’ get to choose their leaders, and they didn’t get to choose their life either.”

Ed Morrissey:

Rubio nails it on foreign policy, and in a way explains why the Obama administration fell into the trap of their own arrogance. Barack Obama campaigned on “hope and change,” and later implied (if not quite stated outright) that he was the change and the hope. The administration seemed to have bought its own hype. The mere fact of his election was supposed to argue that America had already fundamentally changed, and that all that was needed to get imperial-oriented nations like China and Russia to see the light was a reset button or two.

That’s the “fantasy” world inhabited by the Obama administration, as the Washington Post described it last weekend. Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry all seem to believe that just talking about change and hope will mean that nations run by power-seeking leaders will suddenly embrace Utopianism, because — as Kerry explicitly said — that’s the right side of history, and the geopolitical manipulations of Russia and China are on “the wrong side of history.” There is absolutely no evidence for that claim, except for their own declarations that it’s so.

Video of the full spech:

Memeorandum thread.

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

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan

found that New York lawyer Steven Donziger and his litigation team engaged in coercion, bribery, money laundering and other misconduct aimed at securing a 2011 verdict against the company in Ecuador.

The judge concluded that Mr. Donziger and his team fabricated evidence, promised $500,000 to an Ecuadorean judge to rule in their favor, ghostwrote much of the final verdict in the case and took other actions that “perverted” the course of justice.

In the 2011 lawsuit, Chevron accused Donziger and Ecuadorian plaintiffs of fraud and racketeering in the 2003 Lago Agrio trial that resulted in a US$19billion verdict against Chevron, which had never operated in Ecuador but had inherited an environmental clean-up case when Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. (The Wall Street Journal has a timeline, and you can read the 500-page Kaplan ruling here.)

Last November Ecuador reduced the $19 billion to $9 billion.

The Aguarico-4 site became a favorite cause among celebrities like Sting, Danny Glover, Cher, Daryl Hannah and Mia Farrow (who on January 27 tweeted that she was “in Equador to check out the toxic #mess left by Texaco-#Chevron” but appears to have deleted that tweet and turned her attention to other matters). These same celebrities have nothing to say about tribal warfare in the Amazon killing hundreds of people, the government’s war against freedom expression, and China’s control of Ecuador’s oil.

The government of Ecuador gives tours to the site, which is actually owned by its own oil company, Petroecuador.

Chevron is right to continue to fight the (now) $9 billion judgement.

I expect that Donziger will appeal: Jack Fowler reported in late January that

Donziger has cobbled a fourth legal defense team, led by Deepak Gupta, who will be assisted by University of Denver Law School professors Justin Marceau and John Campbell.

Judge Kaplan probably expects him to, also, considering his 500-page decision plus 89-page appendix.

Judge Kaplan points out that Donziger is a master at public relations, and Donziger’s strategy of a media campaign “shifting the focus from the fraud on Chevron and the Lago Agrio court to the environmental harm that Donziger [and the plaintiffs] claim was done” will most likely continue.

Over in US, however, the Chevron Case Helped Wreck a Big Law Merger between Patton Boggs of Washington, DC, and Locke Lord of Texas,

Chevron has filed a counterclaim against Patton Boggs in the case, and two sources familiar with the matter told The Am Law Daily that the firm’s potential liabilities on that front contributed to Locke Lord’s decision to call off merger talks.

Last month Locke Lord managing partner Jerry Clements told The Am Law Daily that the potential liabilities and “reputational aspects” of the Chevron matter were a key part of her firm’s due diligence efforts in evaluating a merger with Patton Boggs.

“Reputational aspects” indeed.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on Latin American and US politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog. You can read her posts on the Chevron case here.

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Olimometer 2.52

Speaking of reality, Wednesday is here I leave for DC in a few hours and DaTipJar is at $57 toward this weeks goal of $365 to be on track to pay the mortgage and our writers.

We need 12 tip jar hitters at $25 to get that goal and if that trend doesn’t change it’s going to be very rough around here very fast.

Be part of the solution to fight back against the media meme. Hit DaTipJar below

Now there is another reason to kick in on a more permanent way

DaGuy low rez copy-psd

Please consider being a subscriber. With additional writers we need 61 subscribers @ at $20 a month are necessary to secure the cost of Da Magnificent Seven & the monthly mortgage on a permanent basis AND if you so at the $25 level
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by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

We turn our attention away from porn stars (and no, looking up a Twitter feed is not a good idea), if we may, to a more vexatious problem: The economics of ruinous populism in Latin America, and how to avoid that in the USA.

Samuel Gregg, in his essay EXORCIZING LATIN AMERICA’S DEMONS
Its populist cultural norms are a killer
, explains that reversing decades’ worth of damage,

such as food-shortages, electricity-blackouts, endemic corruption, the disintegration of rule of law, utterly insecure property-rights, and wild inflation — all of which have helped ArgentinaVenezuelaBolivia, and Ecuador achieve the ignominious distinction of being categorized as “repressed economies” in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom

will take more than just

a dramatic shift of economic incentives away from the relentless cultivation of connections with politicians and bureaucrats, . . .mandated price-and-wage controls, government restrictions on currency and capital movements, the nationalization of industries, import-substitution policies, and the manipulation of official statistics.

A drastic shift in culture will have to also take place: it will require the embrace of “the habits and institutions of freedom.”

Gregg lists abandoning three mindsets:

  •  the widespread clientelismo, where government  dispenses favors and largesse to their followers,
  • the idea that if only the “the right leader” can be found, everything will be fine,
  • the widespread use of the language of conflict.

In other words, abandon Chicago-style politics.

We are experiencing in the USA many of the  ruinous policies that Gregg lists: “the relentless cultivation of connections with politicians and bureaucrats”, wage controls, government dispensing favors and largesse to a select few who can afford the lobbyists, a cult of personality where anyone disagreeing is accused of racism, a language of conflict accompanied by attempts to curb free speech, and the manipulation of official statistics.

It behoves us as citizens to stop these policies. The question is, how?

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on American and Latin American politics at Fausta’s blog.