Common Sense Is Slowing Arriving In America Regarding The United Nations

Yesterday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the United States will be withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Some of the current members of the Human Rights Council are Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. The Human Rights Council does not have a history or actually protecting human rights.

The following is from Wikipedia, but still is noteworthy:

Since its creation in 2006—the Council had resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel than on the rest of the world combined. The 45 resolutions comprised almost half (45.9%) of all country-specific resolutions passed by the Council, not counting those under Agenda Item 10 (countries requiring technical assistance).[1] From 1967 to 1989 the UN Security Council adopted 131 resolutions directly addressing the Arab–Israeli conflict. In early Security Council practice, resolutions did not directly invoke Chapter VII. They made an explicit determination of a threat, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, and ordered an action in accordance with Article 39 or 40. Resolution 54 determined that a threat to peace existed within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter, reiterated the need for a truce, and ordered a cease-fire pursuant to Article 40 of the Charter. Although the phrase “Acting under Chapter VII” was never mentioned as the basis for the action taken, the chapter’s authority was being used.

One thing to consider when looking at how the United Nations began and where it is now is the creation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1969. In 2011, this group was renamed the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. The original charter of the organization emphasized the goal of “revitalizing Islam’s pioneering role in the world.” The group consists of 57 members, including Sunni and Shia states. Its membership is not limited to Arab states. This group has become a major power bloc in the United Nations and bears much of the responsibility for the anti-democratic turn the United Nations has taken. The United Nations no longer supports freedom–it has become a place where dictators can parade as great leaders while their people are starving or imprisoned.

Leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council is the right thing to do. The next step is to leave the United Nations entirely.

Freeing American Hostages In Diverse Places

The Daily Caller posted an article today about one impact of the Trump Presidency that the mainstream media seems to have overlooked. Since he became President, President Trump has freed seventeen American prisoners detained by foreign governments.

The article reports:

“We’ve had 17 released, and we’re very proud of that record. Very proud. And we have others coming,” Trump said Saturday evening as he welcomed home Joshua Holt, an American citizen who had been detained in Venezuela for two years without trial.

Unlike his predecessor, the president has managed to bring these prisoners home without freeing terrorists or paying millions of dollars in suspected ransom payments.

The article lists the people brought home and the circumstances of their becoming prisoners in foreign countries. Please follow the link above to read the entire article–it is very interesting.

President Trump’s success in bringing these Americans back home is something he is to be praised for. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a lot of these stories in the mainstream media.

Reaping The Benefits Of America’s Energy Development

On Monday, Investor’s Business Daily posted a commentary on the current global oil market. The commentary noted that Russia has been working with OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to cut oil production in an effort to keep oil prices artificially high (after all– it worked in the 1970’s).

The commentary reports:

Despite an uptick in oil prices, a closer look at the oil market unveils the real winner of curtailing crude exports: America. U.S. oil output broke through the 10 million barrels a day mark for the first time in half a century. And, according to a recent statement by the Director of the International Energy Agency, it could reach a record of 12.1 million barrels a day in 2023.

Although the price of a barrel of oil has somewhat retreated from the January $70 heights, it is still $10 above its level a year ago and more than double what it was during the price collapse in early 2016. This has been helped along by phenomenal discipline within OPEC+, as the agreement on production cuts between OPEC, Russia and nine more exporting countries is informally known. Apparently compliance has reached a surprising 138% — exporters have made bigger cuts than initially pledged.

The details of this show that one reason for the drop in production is the collapse of Venezuela‘s oil industry. Last year oil production in Venezuela shrunk by 20 percent– roughly 500,000 barrels a day. When the government nationalized the oil rigs in Venezuela, they had no idea how to maintain the rigs and maintain production, so production has continued to drop since that takeover. What has happened (and is happening) in Venezuela is a living example of the fact that socialism does not work.

The commentary concludes:

Arguably, leaders of the Gulf states and Russia are falling victim to politics, a field in which it’s better to be seen doing something than nothing. Especially when no one is sure what (if anything) would work. But who is the biggest economic winner in this game? Ironically, it’s America yet again.

Each time Saudi Arabia and their allies restrict exports, they prop up the price and create a vacant market share which then gives a boost to those producers outside the agreement that are not bound by quotas. The biggest among them is the United States. Naturally, thousands of American companies are keen for a free ride.

All of that is happening already. The U.S. has just overtaken Saudi Arabia in oil production and is expected to rival Russia soon. No wonder U.S. oil companies were expected to be especially cordial with the Saudi delegation during the princely visit. But one might imagine that on the sidelines of the meetings many Saudis will be scratching their heads and wondering how and why did they get themselves into this pickle.

America needs to be energy independent. It allows us to be in control of the fossil fuel that is the backbone of the current world economy. The 1970’s proved that was important.

Not Comforting News

Katie Pavlich posted an article at Townhall today about an investigative report done by CNN. The report states that the Venezuelan government has been issuing official passports in Iraq  to anyone who is willing to pay for them–even if they have ties to terrorism.

The article reports:

One confidential intelligence document obtained by CNN links Venezuela‘s new Vice President Tareck El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and ID’s that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to the terrorist group Hezbollah.  

The article at Townhall reminds us that Venezuela is a close ally of Iran. Iran is the backer and money behind Hezbollah. Until 9/11, Hezbollah was the most prevalent terrorist organization in the work, and before 9/11, responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization. A dubious honor at best.

The article further reports:

ISIS, which has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, has hundreds of millions of dollars at its disposal to purchase official passports. Additionally, the terror army has set up their own fraudulent passport system. 

President Trump recently signed an executive order barring all refugees and visas holders from seven countries, including Iraq and Syria, without proper vetting procedures.

I think this report shows the wisdom of that ban.

 

 

This Is How You Handle A Tyrant!

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday about Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. I have to say that after reading the article, I like Rex Tillerson’s style. The story that follows is an example of quietly outsmarting someone who tries to take advantage of you.

The article quotes a Washington Post story that details what happened shortly after Tillerson became CEO of ExxonMobil. Hugo Chavez needed money and demanded more of the profits of the western oil companies in Venezuela. All of the companies agreed except ExxonMobil.

The Washington Post reports what happened next:

Chavez responded by nationalizing ExxonMobil’s considerable assets in the country, which the company valued at $10 billion. The losses were a big blow to Tillerson, who reportedly took the seizure as a personal affront.

Only Tillerson didn’t get mad, at least in public. He got even.

In the deep blue waters 120 miles off Guyana’s coast, the company scored a major oil discovery: as much as 1.4 billion barrels of high-quality crude. Tillerson told company shareholders the well, Liza-1, was the largest oil find anywhere in the world that year.

For tiny Guyana (population 800,000), the continent’s only English-speaking country and one of its poorest, it was a fortune-changing event, certain to mark a “before and after” in a country long isolated by language and geography.

The Stabroek block where ExxonMobil and its partners struck oil is off the coast of a patch of wild South American jungle known as the Essequibo territory. Venezuela and Guyana have haggled over it with oscillating levels of vehemence for more than 100 years. Amounting to two-thirds of Guyana’s surface area, it is, by any practical measure, a part of Guyana and populated by Guyanese people, albeit sparsely.

But Venezuelan claims on the land have long kept foreign investors out. In 2013, a research vessel exploring the area for U.S.-based Anadarko was intercepted by a Venezuelan warship, which temporarily detained the 36-member crew. It was a warning to other companies thinking of partnering with Guyana. Tillerson’s ExxonMobil went ahead anyway.

Maduro ordered military exercises along the border, appealed to the United Nations to intervene, and cast his country as a victim of “imperialist” aggression.

But Maduro was boxed in. Tillerson had taken him to school. And he was just getting warmed up. The company has moved quickly to drill more wells since then, racking up new discoveries in the area.

Think about it. Tillerson refused the wishes of a bully, elevated a more reasonable government in a South America country without violence, and made a profit. I like his style.

 

 

Propaganda Or Ignorance?

The dream of the political left is to have a successful socialistic state. The idea of everyone having everything they need and everyone being financially secure is wonderful. The only problem is that is doesn’t seem to work in real life. Europe is an example of government spending to provide government benefits, but does not seem to be prospering. A few years ago, the political left thought Venezuela was going to prove that socialism worked.

An article appeared in Salon Magazine with the title, “Hugo Chavez‘s economic miracle” with the subtitle, “The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains.” Chavez’s early years were very successful. He served as President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013. So what happened?

The article at Salon reports:

For instance, according to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez’s first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez’s brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardian reports that its “extreme poverty” rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, “college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.”

 Part of Chavez’s success can be attributed to the high cost of oil during that time.

OilPricesHowever, the Venezuelan government began to take over private companies that were keeping the oil flowing. The government did not have the technical skill to continue to operative those companies successfully. (rightwinggranny) As the price of oil began to fall, there was no one to help increase the efficiency of oil production–the companies had been nationalized so there was no incentive. The free market was not allowed to work.

So where are they now. CBN News posted a story yesterday.

CBN News reported:

Venezuela, a country rich in natural resources, is the fifth largest exporter of oil in the world. Despite its assets, however, the economy is disintegrating.

Basic necessities are scarce, and inflation is skyrocketing, with some reports suggesting it could go as high as 700 percent.

“The people of Venezuela are suffering from violence, a world record of daily murders and random kidnappings,” European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said.

“They are suffering permanent shortages of food, basic goods, most medicines and medical care,” she continued. “Water is scarce and no longer guarantees the former sanitary standards. Even electricity is subject to frequent rationing.”

Socialism doesn’t work–when there is no incentive, people do not innovate. Even though it is not perfect, the free market is the only economic system in the world proven to lift people out of poverty and give everyone the opportunity to achieve. That is the history of socialism and the history of free market economics. I don’t know if the people at Salon knew that history and were hoping that Venezuela would be different, or if they didn’t know that history. Either way, the article misled anyone who does not understand economics.

Does the ignorance of economic policies and their consequences explain the acceptance of Bernie Sanders as a Presidential candidate?

Socialism Can Be Defeated

The Center for Security Policy is reporting today that the voters of Venezuela allocated 99 out of 167 seats to the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) garnered 46 seats, with the remaining 22 seats still to be adjudicated. This vote represents the end of the socialist regime in Venezuela.

The article reports:

Founding organizations such as the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the government propaganda satellite channel Telesur, as well as sponsoring economic partnerships like the Caribbean Petroleum consortium (PETROCARIBE), the Chavez administration curried favor and goodwill throughout Latin America, as other left-leaning governments were elected in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

These institutions were meant to supplant the International Government Organizations regime which has been in place since the end of WWII and led by the United Nations and the Organization of American States.  In fact, Chavez had a very contentious relationship with both bodies, routinely denouncing the UN as a “stooge of imperialism” and the OAS as a “shameful” organization every time his authoritarian and undemocratic actions were criticized.

This is the beginning of a new day in Venezuela.

The article concludes:

The MUD now has its work cut out for them. The first order of business is to determine exactly how many deputies will take their seats in the new session on January 5th.  A super majority of 110 is needed to enact meaningful reforms, especially as the Venezuelan economy has been in a death spiral due to gross mismanagement combined with the decline in oil prices.

Congratulations to the voters of Venezuela for voting for freedom.

This Is A Very Interesting Statement

Fox Business posted a story today by Maria Bartiromo. The story included an amazing statement by Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The Prince stated that we will never see $100 a barrel oil again.

The article includes the following quote:

Saudi Arabia and all of the countries were caught off guard. No one anticipated it was going to happen. Anyone who says they anticipated this 50% drop (in price) is not saying the truth.

Because the minister of oil in Saudi Arabia just in July publicly said $100 is a good price for consumers and producers. And less than six months later, the price of oil collapses 50%.

Having said that, the decision to not reduce production was prudent, smart and shrewd. Because had Saudi Arabia cut its production by 1 or 2 million barrels, that 1 or 2 million would have been produced by others. Which means Saudi Arabia would have had two negatives, less oil produced, and lower prices. So, at least you got slammed and slapped on the face from one angle, which is the reduction of the price of oil, but not the reduction of production.

This is an interesting situation–the Saudis kept the production up so the price would go down. This seriously impacted the economies of Iran, Russia and Venezuela, and indirectly Cuba. It also made oil production in America less attractive–smaller profits. If the Saudis cut production to raise the price, American production comes back up and reduces the price. If the Saudis keep the price low, American production will be less, but will still exist.

I love the idea that we will never again see $100 a barrel oil. I am tired of being blackmailed by the Middle East oil producers. Maybe now we can stop funding terrorism.

Timing Is Everything

Yesterday the big news item was the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. There is, however, a part of the story that is not being widely reported.

Bill Gertz posted an article yesterday at the Washington Times about an agreement signed between Russia and Cuba in May.

The article reports:

Months before President Obama announced on Wednesday that he is seeking to do away with decades of U.S. economic sanctions against the communist regime in Cuba, Russia concluded a security deal with Havana aimed at bolstering intelligence and military ties to the island dictatorship.

The Russia-Cuba agreement was announced May 16 when a memorandum was signed in Moscow establishing a joint working group between Russia’s Security Council and the Cuban Commission for National Security and Defense.

The security agreement comes amid fresh U.S. intelligence agency concerns that Russia is taking steps to follow through on plans to conduct strategic nuclear bomber flights over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, possibly with the help of Cuba and Venezuela.

Sometimes it just feels like Putin is playing chess while Obama is playing checkers.

Russia has been increasing its presence in the southern half of the Western Hemisphere for years. Russia has close ties to Venezuela. At the present time, however, both countries are in dire straits due to falling oil prices and are really not able to help each other very much. But in recent years, Venezuela has been extending the runway at Maiquetia international airport near Caracas. Some American officials believe that the extended runway will be able to accommodate the Russian Bear Hs, possibly equipped with nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

The article further reports:

The Russia-Cuba security agreement reached in May was announced by Nikolai Patrushev, former director of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, and currently secretary of the Security Council, the key arm of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The situation in the world is changing fast and it is dynamic. That’s why we will need the ability to react to it promptly,” Mr. Patrushev told reporters May 16 in Moscow.

The Cuban delegation to Moscow at the time was headed by Col. Alejandro Castro, an Interior Ministry officer and son of current Cuban leader Raul Castro.

In July, Russian news outlets reported that Cuba had agreed to re-open the Soviet-era electronic listening post at Lourdes, Cuba. The facility, which spied on U.S. communications in the southern United States, was closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Mr. Putin later denied the spy post was being reopened.

Mr. Patrushev is Moscow’s point man for relations with Latin American states. In 2008, he traveled to Venezuela for talks with then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the time Russian and Venezuelan navy ships conducted joint exercises. Russia has supplied military equipment to the Venezuelan military.

This is not the time to do anything to bolster Cuba’s economy or standing in the world. All we are doing is propping up Cuba as its former sources of revenue, Venezuela and Russia, run out of money. This should have been the time for tough negotiations–not caving into anything the Cuban government wanted. President Obama has just made America less safe.

The Unintended Consequences Of American Oil Production

The Wall Street Journal today included an article by Daniel Yergin about the falling oil prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met Thursday and decided not to cut oil production. That is a major policy change and will have worldwide impact. The demand for oil is no longer the basis for OPEC’s decisions–now the deciding factors are the surge in U.S. oil production and the new oil supply from Canada.

The article reports:

Since 2008—when fear of “peak oil,” after which global output would supposedly decline, was the dominant motif—U.S. oil production has risen 80%, to nine million barrels daily. The U.S. increase alone is greater than the output of every OPEC country except Saudi Arabia.

The world has experienced sudden supply gushers before. In the early 1930s, a flood of oil from East Texas drove prices down to 10 cents a barrel—and desperate gas station owners offered chickens as premiums to bring in customers. In the late 1950s, the rapidly swelling flow of Mideast oil led to price cuts that triggered the formation of OPEC.

Oil is currently selling at about $69 per barrel after hovering around $100 per barrel for the past three years. The shale oil being drilled in America is still economical to produce with prices between $50 and $69 per barrel, so the lower prices will not drive America from the world market.

So what are the international implications of cheap oil? The Russian budget is funded over 40% by oil, but Putin has built up a reserve of a few hundred billion dollars that will help Russia cope with the falling oil prices. Venezuela and Iran are also negatively impacted by falling oil prices. Just for the record, the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline would have a severe negative impact on the Venezuelan economy–the Gulf Coast refineries would replace the heavy oil from Venezuela with the Canadian oil.

There is, of course, the possibility that OPEC could change its mind in the Spring and cut output, but even if they were to do that, they would only be hurting themselves, as Canada and the United States would simply increase their production to make up the difference.

Socialism Doesn’t Work

In November of last year, the government of Venezuela seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services. The company had shut down the rigs because the Venezuela oil monopoly was behind on payments.

On November 3, I posted an article about the takeover (rightwinggranny.com):

Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, has not taken over any industries during the six months he has been President of Venezuela. This is the first move he has made in that direction. When Hugo Chavez began taking over industries, one news analyst observed that it would be difficult for him to keep those industries running at their profit levels without the knowledge of the companies that owned them. The seizure of these two rigs, which are repair rigs, is an illustration of that point.

So where are we now? The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that despite being an oil-rich nation, Venezuela has now introduced food rationing.

The article states:

Here at Maracaibo’s supermarkets, hot and cranky consumers who were waiting in line recently pointed to the irony of Venezuela, a country with $114 billion in oil sales last year, having to ration toilet paper.

“It sort of makes me want to laugh, but I can’t,” said Nayibi Pineda, a hotel housekeeper. “How is it possible we’ve gotten to this extreme?”

Shoppers said the time waiting in line can stretch to more than five hours, a delay they chalk up to malfunctioning fingerprinting machines.

“I’ve spent hours standing in line, suffering in the sun,” shrieked a tearful Luzmarina Vargas, clad in a bright pink robe typical of the area’s Wayuu Indians.

Salvador González, the Zulia state finance director who oversees machines, said officials were requiring machines to be installed at each checkout point in order to shorten lines. Supermarkets must bear the cost of the machines, around $150 each.“Our objective is to guarantee cheap food,” he said in an interview.

It isn’t just food that’s rationed here. Officials shut off water to homes for up to 108 hours a week, say residents, because of problems with the water delivery system.

In the birthplace of Venezuela’s oil industry—the first well was drilled here in 1914—the sale of gasoline is also tightly controlled. Scanners read bar codes that are required on car windshields to limit drivers from filling up their sedans more than twice a week. The measure is designed to curb the sale of Venezuela’s heavily subsidized gasoline—which costs less than a penny per gallon—in neighboring Colombia, where a gallon goes for $4.50.

America learned in the days of the Pilgrims that communal property was not a good idea. The Free Republic has an article entitled “How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims” on its website.

The article states:

Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

 At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.
So the land they worked was converted into private property, which brought “very good success.” The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community. Bradford also suggests in his history that more than land was privatized.

The system became self-policing. Knowing that the fruits of his labor would benefit his own family and dependents, the head of each household was given an incentive to work harder. He could know that his additional efforts would help specific people who depended on him. In short, the division of property established a proportion or “ratio” between act and consequence. Human action is deprived of rationality without it, and work will decline sharply as a result.

There are a number of basic principles that can be followed by a country that lead to prosperity. One of these principles is private property rights, another is free markets. When the government attempts to control the economy of a country, they find that they are in charge of an increasingly shrinking economy. Human nature says that people work the hardest when they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. If governments want financially successful countries, they need to remember that.

Trouble In Paradise

The Middle East oil countries have done very well during the past thirty or so years. The have combined to form the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and have raised the price of oil from somewhere near $5 a barrel to over $100 a barrel (although the cost of oil is currently dropping).

The Wall Street Journal reported today that as the Western countries begin to develop their oil resources, OPEC members are fighting over production quotas and prices.

The article reports:

But even modest cooperation between many members has broken down, and Saudi Arabia, in particular, has moved to act on its own. While it cut output earlier this summer, other members didn’t go along. Since then, it has dropped its prices.

Each member has a different tolerance for lower prices. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia generally don’t need prices quite as high as Iran and Venezuela to keep their budgets in the black.

Late Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, who represents Caracas in the group, called for an urgent meeting to tackle falling prices. The group’s next regular meeting is set for late next month.

But on Sunday, Ali al-Omair, Kuwait’s oil minister, said there had been no invitation for such a meeting, suggesting the group would need to stomach lower prices. He said there was a natural floor to how low prices could fall—at about $76 to $77 per barrel—near what he said was the average production costs per barrel in Russia and the U.S.

The history of oil prices has often been that when the Middle East begins to drop their prices, Americans stop looking for cheaper oil in their own country. Considering the current instability in the Middle East in the OPEC nations, that would be a big mistake.

America needs to be energy independent for both economic and security reasons. It is time to develop our own resources.

An Opportunity Lost

Breitbart.com is reporting today that the Canadian government has approved plans for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, which will move 600,000 barrels a day of Alberta oil to the pacific coast town of Kitimat, British Columbia, where a new state-of-the-art super tanker port facility will be built to ship the oil to thirsty Asian ports. Obviously, this will create a large number of jobs for Canadians. I don’t begrudge the Canadians the economic boom that will be the result of this decision, but it is frustrating to me that America had the first chance to enjoy the economic boom the Keystone XL Pipeline would have brought. That chance is gone, and the oil will be used to build the Canadian and Chinese economies instead of the American economy. The environmental impact is no less than it would have been if America built the Keystone Pipeline, but because of President Obama’s continuing putting off of the project, America has lost the opportunity to have a reliable energy source close to home.

The article reports:

Rather than purchasing crude from a friendly and allied neighbor, the United States will most likely need to continue its reliance upon hostile sources like Venezuela. Energy analysts had hoped that construction of Keystone could have replaced almost half of the current U.S. daily crude purchases from that volatile, anti-American dictatorship, depriving Venezuela of the resources it relies upon to stay in power and fund its Cuban allies. 

Refusal to approve Keystone has forced suppliers to deliver their flammable crude via thousands of trucks and railcars traveling on America’s highways and railroads, rather than in a pipeline.  

The negative economic growth in the first quarter of 2014 is not the result of weather–it is the result of the bad economic policies of the Obama Administration. We need a Congress with the backbone to institute good economic policies regardless of what the President does.

Blocking American Prosperity

There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in America. Sometimes that spirit gets a little overzealous, as in the tech boom of the nineties, but generally speaking, that is the spirit that drives the American economy. One reason for the slow recovery from the financial crisis of 2008 is that the entrepreneurial spirit is being blocked by the government.

On May 7, The Heritage Foundation posted an article on the development of American oil resources.

The article reports:

Production of crude oil in the United States is up to 8.36 million barrels per day—the highest since January 1988. The increased supply of oil has widespread economic benefits, but a new Congressional Research Service report shows that when the numbers are broken down by ownership it becomes clear that the situation could be even better. Although oil production overall has almost doubled in less than six years, production continues to fall on federally owned land areas.

The article included the following chart:

At the present moment, the federal government is subsidizing ‘green’ energy before the technology is workable and blocking the development of America’s own fossil fuel resources. The development of America’s oil resources is a national security issue as well as an economic issue. How would American diplomacy change if we were not dependent of Venezuela and the Middle East for our energy needs?

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A Very Insightful Comment

Michael Ledeen posted an article at PJ Media yesterday about the current war in the Ukraine.

Mr. Ledeen states:

It’s not as if we’re at war, after all.

And we’re not.  Only our enemies are.  It’s like target practice for them.  Fortunately, they’re not very good at it, and so they miss a lot. When they win, they find ways to screw it up.  They took over Egypt, remember?  Then lost it in the “biggest demonstration in human history” (thus sayeth the BBC).  They were on the verge of taking over Tunisia, but no more.  They made a hash out of Ukraine and Venezuela, then lost the first and are facing the people’s wrath in the second.  They keep trying to organize lethal rocket and missile attacks on Israel, only to get destroyed.

 

But we choose not to be at war.

 

The article concludes:

 

For those who actually want to see the world plain, the global network is luminously clear, from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran and Syria, to Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.  Those are the nations aligned against us.  They support a variety of terror groups, from al-Qaeda to Islamic Jihad to the various Latin American guerrillas, and they work in cahoots with the narcotics mafiosi.

There are two keystones in this global network:  Iran and Venezuela, with Russia manipulating them both as best Putin can.  If we see the world plain, the current revolutionary turmoil in Venezuela is enormously important, arguably the most important hot spot on earth today.  For if the Castroite tyranny in Caracas were to fall, it would be a devastating blow to the Axis of Evil.  The bad guys know it;  that’s why, in addition to Cuban intel officers and special forces, Hezbollahis are moving from Damascus to Caracas.  Khamenei knows there’s an intimate connection between what happens in Venezuela and what happens in Syria.

But America has chosen to cut its defenses and remain at peace (until we are attacked by the part of the world who chooses to wage war). We need a President, a Congress, or a State Department smart enough to play chess. Evidently we don’t have one.

 

 

Standing For Something

Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article about two contrasting speeches given in the Senate that tell a lot about politics in America. The first speech was given by Senator Tom Harkin, who recently returned from a trip to Cuba. Senator Harkin offered a rosy view of Cuba’s efforts on literacy and health care.  Senator Harkin made no mention of the oppression of the Cuban people or the poverty of the vast majority of Cuban people. Senator Marco Rubio, who parents were Cuban exiles, was not impressed.

Here are Senator Rubio’s remarks, quoted from the article at Hot Air:

A few moments ago, the body was treated to a report from the senator from Iowa about his recent trip to Cuba. Sounded like he had a wonderful trip visiting, what he described as, a real paradise. He bragged about a number of things that he learned on his trip to Cuba that I’d like to address briefly. He bragged about their health care system, medical school is free, doctors are free, clinics are free, their infant mortality rate may be even lower than ours. I wonder if the senator, however, was informed, number one, that the infant mortality rate of Cuba is completely calculated on figures provided by the Cuban government. And, by the way, totalitarian communist regimes don’t have the best history of accurately reporting things. I wonder if he was informed that before Castro, Cuba, by the way, was 13th in the whole world in infant mortality. I wonder if the government officials who hosted him, informed him that in Cuba there are instances reported, including by defectors, that if a child only lives a few hours after birth, they’re not counted as a person who ever lived and therefore don’t count against the mortality rate.

I wonder if our visitors to Cuba were informed that in Cuba, any time there is any sort of problem with the child in utero they are strongly encouraged to undergo abortions, and that’s why they have an abortion rate that skyrockets, and some say, is perhaps the highest the world. I heard him also talk about these great doctors that they have in Cuba. I have no doubt they’re very talented. I’ve met a bunch of them. You know where I met them? In the United States because they defected. Because in Cuba, doctors would rather drive a taxi cab or work in a hotel than be a doctor. I wonder if they spoke to him about the outbreak of cholera that they’ve been unable to control, or about the three-tiered system of health care that exists where foreigners and government officials get health care much better than that that’s available to the general population.

I also heard him speak about baseball and I know that Cubans love baseball, since my parents were from there and I grew up in a community surrounded by it. He talked about these great baseball players that are coming from Cuba — and they are. But I wonder if they informed him — in fact, I bet you they didn’t talk about those players to him because every single one of those guys playing in the Major Leagues defected. They left Cuba to play here.

He also talked about how people would come up to him in the streets and not a single person said anything negative about America. Nobody came up to him wagging their fingers saying, ‘You Americans and your embargo is hurting us.’ I’m glad to hear that. Because everyone who wants to lift the embargo is constantly telling us that the Castros use that to turn the people against us. So obviously, that’s not true. So I’m glad to hear confirmation of what I already knew to be true. I heard about their wonderful literacy rate, how everyone in Cuba knows how to read. That’s fantastic. Here’s the problem: they can only read censored stuff. They’re not allowed access to the Internet. The only newspapers they’re allowed to read are Granma or the ones produced by the government.

I wish that someone on that trip would have asked the average Cuban, ‘With your wonderful literacy skills, are you allowed to read The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or any blog, for that matter?’ Because the answer’s, ‘No.’ So it’s great to have literacy, but if you don’t have access to the information, what’s the point of it? So I wish somebody would have asked about that on that trip. We heard about Mr. Gross, who is not in jail. He’s not a prisoner. He is a hostage. He is a hostage. And in the speech I heard a moment ago, I heard allusions to the idea that maybe we should — he didn’t say it, but I know the language, I know the code in this — that maybe there should be a spy swap. Here’s the problem: Mr. Gross was not a spy. You know what his crime was, if that’s what you can call it? He went to Cuba to hand out satellite radios to the Jewish community. But, we’re glad to hear that the Cubans are so nice to him that they let him walk 10,000 steps a day and do pull-ups and they let him build a necklace out of bottle cap tops. Very nice of them to allow him to do those things. How generous.

I wonder if anybody asked about terrorism, because Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. I wonder if anybody asked about the fact that, just a few months ago, a North Korean ship going from Cuba to North Korea was stopped in the Panama Canal and it contained items in violation of international sanctions against a government in North Korea that, a report just came out confirming what we already knew, has death camps and prison camps. And the Cubans are allowing them to evade these sanctions. Did that come up in any of the wonderful conversations in this socialist paradise in the Caribbean? I bet you it didn’t.

Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at, because they don’t know how to run their economy, they don’t know how to build, they don’t know how to govern a people. What they are really good at is repression. What they are really good at is shutting off information to the Internet and to radio and television and social media. That’s what they’re really good at. And they’re not just good at it domestically, they’re good exporters of these things. And you want to see exhibit A, B, C and D? I’m going to show them to you right now. They have exported repression in real-time, in our hemisphere, right now.

Let me show you the first slide here. This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez. And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government. He’s protesting against the government of Venezuela, which are puppets of Havana, completely infiltrated by Cubans and agents from Havana. Not agents, openly, foreign military affairs officials involved in Venezuela. You know why? Because the Venezuela government is giving them cheap oil and free oil, in exchange for help during these sorts of repressions. So here he is, he’s sitting in jail right now because he’s protesting against the government. He’s sitting in jail right now.

So here’s the next slide. This is Genesis Carmona. She’s a beauty queen and a student in a city called Valencia. She’s on that motorcycle because the government in Venezuela and the thug, these so-called civilian groups that they’ve armed — another export from Cuba, a model the Cubans follow — they shot her in the head. She died last week. This is the government that the Cubans support. Not just verbally, not just emotionally, but with training and tactics. This is who they export — this is what they do. And she’s dead. And this is her being taken on a motorcycle to the hospital where they were unable to save her life because she was shot in the head by Venezuelan security forces.

Here’s another slide. Remember I showed you Mr. Lopez? These are his supporters being hit with water cannons — by water cannons in the street because they’re protesting against the government. This has been going on now for two weeks. This is the allies of Cuba, Venezuela, the puppets of Cuba. And this is what they do to their own people. Water cannons knocking people to the ground. Why? Because they’re protesting the government.

Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.

Let me show you another demonstrator. This is a student — by the way, these are all students in the street. You see this young man here? He was also shot in the head by security forces and pro-government groups in Caracas. This happened on February 11. This is what they do in Venezuela. This is what the allies of the Castro regime does, this is what they export. This is what they teach. This is what they support. And it doesn’t stop here.

Who are Cuba’s allies in the world? North Korea. Before he fell, the dictator in Libya, the dictator in Syria, the tyrant in Moscow. This is who they line up with. This is this wonderful paradise? By the way, this in and of itself deserves attention, what’s happening in Venezuela, in our own hemisphere. It is shameful that only three heads of state in this hemisphere have spoken out forcefully against what’s happening. It is shameful that many members of Congress who traveled to Venezuela and were friendly with Chavez, some even went to his funeral, sit by saying nothing while this is happening in our own hemisphere. And this wonderful Cuban paradise government that we heard about? This is what they support. Just this morning, the dictator that calls himself a president — never been elected to anything, Raul Castro — announced he is there for whatever they need to help them do this.

I listen to this stuff about Cuba and I listen to what’s happening in Venezuela, they’re very similar. Not just in the repression part, but the economics part. You know Venezuela’s an oil-rich country with hardworking people? They have a shortage — we don’t have an embargo against Venezuela. They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.

What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They cut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government. Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is. Well, I wonder how come I never read about boatloads of American refugees going to Cuba? Why have close to one and a half million people left Cuba to come here? But the only people that leave here to move there, are fugitives from the law and people that steal money from Medicare that go there to hide? Why? How come no American baseball players defect to Cuba? Why don’t any American doctors defect to Cuba if it’s such a paradise?

He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba. But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up. And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?

Throughout this week, I will be outlining proposals and ideas about what we need to do, the sanctions we should be pursuing against the individuals responsible for these atrocities. So with North Korea, we have sanctions. Why? Because they’re a terrorist government and an illegitimate one. Against Iran we have sanctions. Why? Because they support terrorism and they’re an illegitimate government. And against the Cubans we have sanctions. Why? Well, you just saw why. Sanctions are a tool in our foreign policy toolbox, and we, as the freest nation on Earth, are looked to by people in this country, and all around the world, to stand by them in their moment of need when they clamor for freedom and liberty and human rights. They look for America to be on their side, not for America to be cutting geopolitical deals or making it easier to sell tractors to the government there. We should be clear about these things.

But here’s the great news. I don’t know if they get C-SPAN in Cuba. I bet you the government people do. I hope you see that in America, we’re a free society. You’re allowed to come on the floor and you’re allowed to say and spread whatever you want. You think Cuba’s a paradise? You think it’s an example and a model that we should be following? You’re free to say that, here, in the press and anywhere you want. But we’re also free to come here and tell the truth. We’re also free to come here and denounce the violations of human rights and brutality. And I would suggest to my colleagues, the next time they go to Cuba, ask to meet with the Ladies in White. Ask to meet with the Yoani Sanchez. Ask to meet with the dissidents and the human rights activists that are jailed and repressed and exiled. Ask to meet with them. I bet you’re going to hear something very different than what you got from your hosts on your last trip to the wonderful Cuba, this extraordinary socialist paradise. Because it’s a joke. It’s a farce.

And I don’t think we should stand by here with our arms crossed, watching these things happen in our hemisphere and say nothing about them. I can close by saying this: Over the last week, I have tweeted about these issues. I get thousands of retweets from students and young people, until they shut them out, in Venezuela who are encouraged by the fact that we are on their side. What they want is what we have, the freedom and the liberty. That’s what all people want. And if America and its policy-makers are not going to be firmly on the side of freedom and liberty, who in the world is? Who on this planet will? If this nation is not firmly on the side of human rights and freedom and the dignity of all people, what nation on the Earth will? And if we’re prepared to walk away from that, then I submit to you that this century is going to be a dangerous and dark one. But I don’t believe that’s what the American people want from us. Nor the majority of my colleagues.

A man with an argument never has a chance against a man with an experience!

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Nationalizing Oil Rigs In Venezuela

On Friday the Associated Press reported that PDVSA, the government-owned oil producer in Venezuela, seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services. The company had shut down the rigs because the Venezuela oil monopoly was behind on payments.

The article reports:

Centeno (Jesus Centeno, local operations manager for Superior in the city of Anaco) said Superior stopped servicing PDVSA in July after negotiations broke down over millions of dollars in unpaid bills stretching back to December. Removal of the equipment will take a few days, so Superior is also feeding and sheltering the police officers and PDVSA crew on site, he said.

During the seizure of the wells, PDVSA ordered the workers to load the rigs on to trucks to be deployed at “critical wells” elsewhere.

Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, has not taken over any industries during the six months he has been President of Venezuela. This is the first move he has made in that direction. When Hugo Chavez began taking over industries, one news analyst observed that it would be difficult for him to keep those industries running at their profit levels without the knowledge of the companies that owned them. The seizure of these two rigs, which are repair rigs, is an illustration of that point.

Like it or not, free enterprise generates more wealth for more people than socialism.

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Skewing The Definition Of Charity

I haven’t written about the death of Hugo Chavez. My only comment is, “If this man cared so much about the poor, why was he worth millions when he died?” In contrast, how much was Mother Theresa worth when she died? Just an observation…

Today’s New York Post posted a story about how the death of Hugo Chavez will impact Citizens Energy Corp, the organization founded in 1979 by Joe Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy‘s oldest son. The organization provides assistance to Massachusetts residents who need help paying for heating oil in the winter. The charity is able to do this by buying crude oil from Venezuela at below market price, selling it at the market price and using the difference to provide oil for people who need it. It really is a good idea and works well.

People should be paid fairly for their work, even when they work for a non-profit organization, but somehow I think we have forgotten that a non-profit organization is supposed to be supporting a cause of some sort and that’s where most of it’s money should go.

The article reports:

After Joe Kennedy left Congress, he returned to run Citizens Energy. That job paid him $86,311 in 2010. But the bulk of his income comes from his for-profit companies — Citizens Enterprises Corp. and Citizens Investments Ltd. — which together paid him $807,390 in salary and benefits. Kennedy’s wife, Elizabeth, raked in $346,764 from the nonprofit, where she is marketing director, and from the for-profit companies.

I would have left Congress too! Note that Elizabeth Kennedy was making more than $300,000 from the nonprofit company. I really think that is a little much.

The article concludes:

The oil started to flow in 2005 via two related nonprofits. Citizens Programs Corp., a charitable foundation, takes in the heating oil — $59 million worth in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. It immediately sells the supply to an undisclosed “prearranged buyer,” according to its tax returns. The proceeds are used to buy 100 gallons of heating oil for 200,000 needy households in 25 states and Washington, DC.

The distribution is done through Citizens Energy, which receives a $5 million management fee from Citizens Programs.

Citizens Programs uses some of its oil riches — $4 million in fiscal year 2011 — to pay for its ubiquitous advertising program. Running a call center and the “Joe-4-Oil” hot line costs $1.3 million.

A spokesman for the groups refused to answer questions about the operation.

Kennedy also funnels cash to his family’s own causes, including the Robert F. Kennedy Center in DC.

I think Joe Kennedy’s commitment to helping the poor stay warm in the winter is wonderful. The cost of living is high in Massachusetts, and a lot of people have been helped by Citizens Energy Corp. I just wonder about the details of how the money was spent.

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What Happens In Cuba Stays In Cuba

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today reminding us of the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s.” If you remember the movie, it dealt with a pair of party animals throwing a party at their dead boss’ house and trying to convince their guests that their boss was still alive. That seems to be where we are in the story of Hugo Chavez.

Meanwhile, the U. K Daily Mail reported yesterday:

Sources at the hospital in Cuba where he is being treated this week told a Spanish newspaper  in an induced coma being kept alive by life support he was showing ‘very weak’ vital signs, adding that doctors could decide to switch off the machines ‘at any moment’.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez last month designated as his heir apparent, said in an interview from Havana that Chavez had recognized the complexity of his post-operative condition.

Maduro said he was returning to Venezuela after several days visiting with Chavez and his relatives, which may quell rumors his trip to Cuba signaled the president was in his final days.

So what happens when Hugo Chavez dies? Ramon Aveledo, head of the opposition Democratic Unity coalition, has stated  if Chavez cannot make it back in time, he should hand power over to the president of Congress – who would temporarily run the country while elections are called.
Congress, controlled by Chavez allies, on Saturday elects a new president. Current Congress chief Diosdado Cabello, a close Chavez ally who could be reelected to head the legislature, has at times been considered a rival of Maduro (Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez last month designated as his heir apparent). The two have taken great pains in recent weeks to publicly deny this.

It really does sound like “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

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This is a graph from the Cato Institute posted by John Hinderaker at Power Line yesterday.

The article includes the following comments:

The following numbers come from the Economic Freedom of the World, which looks at all facets of economic policy, including regulation, trade policy, monetary policy, fiscal policy, rule of law, and property rights.

* Chile’s score jumped from 5.6 in 1980 to 8.0 in 2008, and the country now ranks as the world’s 4th-freest economy (ahead of the United States!).

* Argentina’s ranking has improved a bit, rising from 4.4 to 6.0 between 1980 and 2008, but that still only puts them in 94th-place in the world rankings.

* Venezuela, by contrast, is embarrassingly bad. The nation’s score has dropped from 6.3 to 4.4, and its ranking has plunged from 22nd-place in 1980 to 121st-place in 2006.

We have a choice in 2012. Which way do we want to go?

 

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Things That Are Not Conducive To A Good Night’s Sleep

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research posted a report this month on the growing Hezbollah Threat in Latin America. The report is written by Roger Noriega, a senior State Department official from 2001 to 2005, a visiting fellow at AEI and managing director of Vision Americas LLC, which represents foreign and domestic clients.

Some of the highlights of the report:

Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America dates to the mid-1980s, when it began sending operatives into the notoriously lawless region known as the tri-border area (TBA)—where the borders of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet—to use it as a principal safe haven for fundraising, money laundering, recruitment, training, plotting, and other terrorist-related activities.Their activity also includes drug and arms trafficking, counterfeiting, forging travel documents, and pirating software and music. Their resulting proselytizing has led to the creation of numerous Hezbollah cells, with an estimated 460 operatives in the TBA by mid-2000.

Hugo Chávez’s track record of anti-Americanism and support for terrorist groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is well-established, but his making common cause with a radical Islamic theocracy in waging asymmetric warfare (unconventional and irregular methods used by a weaker opponent against a stronger opponent) against the United States truly speaks to the depths of his fanaticism. He has allowed Iran to mine uranium in Venezuela and has worked assiduously to undermine economic sanctions against the Iranian regime (for which Venezuela has, in turn, been sanctioned). In recent years, moreover, Venezuela’s Margarita Island has eclipsed the infamous TBA as the principal safe haven and center of Hezbollah operations in the Americas.

The report concludes:

US and other government authorities have identified and sanctioned some of the leaders of these networks, and US law enforcement agencies—led by the Drug Enforcement Administration—have made great efforts to assess and confront this threat by building cases against foreign officials and sanctioning commercial entities that provide support to this criminal terror organization. However, this dangerous network requires a whole-government strategy, beginning with an interagency review to understand and assess the transnational, multifaceted nature of the problem; educate friendly governments; and implement effective measures unilaterally and with willing partners to disrupt and dismantle their operations.

The stakes are clear. In a May 2011 visit to Bolivia, Iranian Defense Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi proclaimed that in the event of any military confrontation between Iran and the United States, “The strong Iran is ready for enemy-crushing and tough response in case of any illogical and violent behavior by the U.S.”  There is every reason to believe that such a response would utilize every weapon in Iran’s arsenal, including Hezbollah. But we do not have to wait until an outbreak of military hostilities between the United States and Iran to confront Hezbollah’s continuing efforts to consolidate its presence and expand its influence in the Western Hemisphere. The United States and responsible governments in Latin America need to act now, precisely so that we do not have to respond later.

Please follow the above link and read the entire report. The report is footnoted and contains a lot of information Americans are not hearing from the American press. We need to wake up and start paying attention.

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The Roots Of Terrorism

The mechanism for a 400 km high-altitude burst...

Image via Wikipedia

As anyone who has ever had to deal with dandelions on the front lawn knows, you don’t get rid of weeds until you pull out the roots. We need to remember that as we continue in the War on Terrorism.

Reza Kahlili posted an article today at his website A Time To Betray entitled “Jihadist at the Gate.” Mr. Kahlili (not his real name) is a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard member who worked undercover as a CIA agent for several years in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

In his article, Mr. Kahlili points out some of the recent events regarding Iran:

In May, I reported that the Revolutionary Guards were building a missile base in Venezuela (Opinion: Iran is Building a Secret Missile Installation in Venezuela). The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship, saying they are united in efforts to establish a “New World Order” that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs.

He also reports:

The Islamic regime in Iran now has enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs. They continue to defy four separate sets of UN sanctions and will soon be arming their missiles with nuclear warheads. Not only will they destroy Israel, but with only one nuclear armed missile for an Electromagnetic Pulse attack, they could bring about the demise of America, as promised by the leaders of Iran. Should that attack occur,  over two- thirds of the U.S. population will lose their lives.

If that’s not enough, they have now announced the existence of Hezbollah cells in the U.S. and in the heart of Europe. Their only mission is to destroy the West. The radicals in Iran truly believe that the timing is right, that the time is now for the final glorification of Allah!

I have no idea how to deal with Iran. I do know that they are behind most of the terrorism in the world. Please follow the link to A Time To Betray to see Rahim Poor Azgadi, the theorist of the Iranian regime, explain the goals of the current government of Iran. We need to seriously consider how to deal with the root of world-wide terrorism rather than merely attacking the symptoms.

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One More Reason To Make Sure Our Borders Are Secure

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera is reporting that Hezbollah has opened a center of operations in Cuba. This was reported on Thursday by YNET News. The article states that a Cuban operations base is being set up in order to expand terrorist activity in South America and to facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America.

According to the article at YNET News:

The operation, titled “The Caribbean Case,” was reportedly allocated a budget of $1.5 million. The Cuba base is to be initially used for logistics purposes, including intelligence collection, networking and document forgery.

The attack being planned on an Israeli target is said to be in retaliation for the death of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, which Hezbollah claims Israel is responsible for.

The article in the Italian newspapers reports that Hezbollah has been active in South America for some time, mainly in Paraguay, Brazil and Venezuela.

We need to remember that right now there is a large part of the world that is simply not friendly to the idea of democracy or freedom. There are leaders in foreign countries that would like to take away the freedom of Americans rather than granting freedom to their own citizens.

The problem with a Hezbollah base in Cuba is the ease of crossing America’s southern border. This is a link to a response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request showing the native countries of people arrested for trying to enter America illegally. We need to keep track of who is entering our country.

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