Venezuela: Socialism Is Death

May 18th, 2016

When socialists run out of other people’s money, everything falls apart. In Venezuela, socialism is killing babies:

By morning, three newborns were already dead.

The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.

Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.

“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.

Also this: “At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table.” With a picture to match.

(Hat tip: Althouse.)

Is this the point where the bankrupt socialist regime changes course and implements economic reform? Of course not. “Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a sweeping crackdown Saturday under a new emergency decree, ordering the seizure of paralyzed factories, the arrest of their owners and military exercises to counter alleged foreign threats.”

Naturally the democratically elected opposition refuses to knuckle under to Maduro’s unconstitutional decrees.

“Opposition leader Henrique Capriles also said the army must decide whether it is ‘with the constitution or with Maduro,’ a day before nationwide protests demanding the president’s ouster through a referendum.”

The Atlantic offers up a photo essay on how little food Venezuelans have to eat. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

And all this has come to pass thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism™:

The government doesn’t just control the oil industry, imposing windfall taxes as high as 50 percent on the few private sector projects that remain. The government has nationalized rice mills, large producers of agricultural products, and expropriated millions of acres of farmland; it has acquired some banks and shut down others; nationalized the cement sector; tried to nationalize gold miners; nationalized the country’s largest steel mill and the country’s largest telecommunications company; expropriated the nation’s largest power producer (remember those rolling blackouts?), and more.

People close to the regime have benefited from many of those deals. Corruption has skyrocketed since the beginning of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian revolution.” According to the Cato Institute, $22.5 billion in public funds have been transferred from Venezuela to foreign accounts with no plausible explanation. Relatives of President Nicolas Maduro have been implicated in drug trafficking, with suspicions of drug money used to finance his campaign.

Oh, and Venezuela’s capital has earned the distinction of being the murder capital of the world.

All of these tragedies were avoidable. They are all the result of a mentality that sees only nails for the hammer of government control. Chavez and Maduro kept saying that everything that was wrong with Venezuela was the fault of markets and that if the government either eliminated or regulated those markets, things would get better. They implemented their agenda and it has been a disaster. This socialist brand of economic authoritarianism had the predictable consequence of political authoritarianism, corruption, and a breakdown of the rule of law.

How many more babies have to die before Venezuela abandons its failed socialist experiment?

Presidential Race Update for May 17, 2016

May 17th, 2016

Today Kentucky and Oregon have Democratic Presidential primaries, make it possible that “inevitable” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton could suffer two more losses.

Here’s a roundup of Presidential race links:

  • If Hillary does win, if after a string of state losses, after a blundering, scandal-plagued, email-tormented, Benghazi-haunted campaign she limps, staggeringly and breathlessly, across the finish line ahead, where, really, is she? Where’s her party? The Democrats are playing against the laws of cause and effect. Hillary’s campaign is dead, and she’s winning. Bernie’s is alive, and he’s losing.”
  • Hillary did much worse in West Virginia than she did in 2008:

    On Tuesday, Clinton lost the West Virginia primary to 74-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders 51% to 36%.

    That’s a stark contrast to 2008, when she trounced Barack Obama, 66.9% to 25.7% (John Edwards received 7.3%).

    But perhaps what’s more shocking is the raw vote total.

    In 2008, she received 240,890 votes. Yesterday, Clinton netted 84,176 votes, according to NBC — a 65% decline.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • If primary-to-general-election ratios hold, “we can plausibly estimate the number of votes for Donald Trump in November at 80 Million. Hillary plausibly tracks to 55 Million.”
  • Trump’s strength in Appalachia: “Of the 420 counties seen as sharing a culture that transcends state lines, Trump won all but 16, including a sweep of western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and the western uplands of Virginia with potentially profound ramifications for the general election.”
  • Hillary’s negatives continue to soar. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Trump can win. “Hillary Clinton also seems to quietly dislike (a) people, and (b) America, and you don’t need an advanced degree in election analytics to know this is not good.”
  • Ted Cruz is not interested in a Supreme Court seat. (Hat tip: Conservatoives 4 Ted Cruz, which is still running.)
  • Looking for someone to vote for rather than against? Ace of Spades HQ offers up a list of Republican senators, representatives and governors who supported Cruz.
  • Burlington College closes due to huge debt incurred under leadership of Jane O’Meara Sanders, Bernie Sanders’ wife. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who wasted millions to no effect in 2014, wants to do the same in 2016. Tiny problem: Lots of unions object to his job-killing green politics and refuse to pony up. (Hat tip: Powerline.)
  • Woman at the center of that “Trump is a jerk with women” story says that the New York Times reporters lied about what she said to make Trump look bad.
  • The Washington Post calls Hillary Clinton “Objectively offensive.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Clinton-supporting actor Wendell Pierce (Detective Bunk Moreland from The Wire) arrested for punching out a Bernie Sanders supporter. “There you go. Givin’ a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Cavalcade of Clinton Corruption

    May 16th, 2016

    There’s so much news about the corrupt dealings of the Clinton Clan popping up that I need to do a separate roundup.

    First up: Clinton Global Initiative money going to one of Bill Clinton’s “special friends“:

    The Clinton Global Initiative, which arranges donations to help solve the world’s problems, set up a financial commitment that benefited a for-profit company part-owned by people with ties to the Clintons, including a current and a former Democratic official and a close friend of former President Bill Clinton.

    The $2 million commitment was placed on the agenda for a September 2010 conference of the Clinton Global Initiative at Mr. Clinton’s urging, according to a document from the period and people familiar with the matter.

    Mr. Clinton also personally endorsed the company, Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant that year, said people with knowledge of the endorsement.

    Snip.

    Energy Pioneer Solutions was founded in 2009 by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who twice ran for Congress from Nebraska. An internal document from that year showed it as owned 29% by Mr. Kleeb; 29% by Jane Eckert, the owner of an art gallery in Pine Plains, N.Y.; and 29% by Julie Tauber McMahon of Chappaqua, N.Y., a close friend of Mr. Clinton, who also lives in Chappaqua.

    So just who is Julie Tauber McMahon? Since 2014, many Clinton watchers have tabbed McMahon as “Energizer,” the Secret Service code-name given to Bill Clinton’s “attractive, busty” blonde mistress.

    Paying off your mistress’s for-profit company with charity dollars isn’t exactly standard accounting practice.

    Such financial shenanigans are far from the only financial irregularity carried out by the Clinton Foundation.

    After more than a year of research, a Wall Street analyst is arguing the Clinton Foundation’s books are riddled with financial inconsistencies that rise to the level of “fraud.”

    Charles Ortel, who gained recognition for correctly identifying problems with General Electric’s financial statements in 2008, has prepared 40 reports highlighting discrepancies that he said proves the Clinton Foundation has covered up cash flow since 1997.

    The financial whistleblower said his 15 months of research revealed gaps in the amount of money donors claim to have given and the amount of money the foundation claims to have received.

    Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ, who notes:

    From 2000 until now, the Clintons were on their very best behavior, to preserve Hillary’s electoral viability.

    In that period, they created a sham charity for personal enrichment and to pay off their cronies they could get government jobs for and put American secrets online for the Russian and Chinese and Iranian intelligence agencies to pilfer.

    That was the Clintons at their finest.

    What happens when they no longer have to care about the law at all?

    So what sort of donors give money to the Clinton Foundation? I know you’ll be shocked to know that Arab sheiks were among the most generous givers.

    A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation reveals that Bill and Hillary Clinton received at least $100 million from autocratic Persian Gulf states and their leaders, potentially undermining Democratic presidential candidate Hillary’s claim she can carry out independent Middle East policies.

    As a presidential candidate, the amount of foreign cash the Clintons have amassed from the Persian Gulf states is “simply unprecedented,” says national security analyst Patrick Poole.

    “These regimes are buying access. You’ve got the Saudis. You’ve got the Kuwaitis, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. There are massive conflicts of interest. It’s beyond comprehension,” Poole told TheDCNF in an interview.

    Overall, the Clinton Foundation has received upwards of $85 million in donations from five Persian Gulf states and their monarchs, according to the foundation’s website.

    And all this news is popping up just when the Clinton Cash documentary is about to debut at Cannes:

    A few more Clinton Corruption tidbits:

  • Speaking of Bill Clinton, records show he took at least 26 trips aboard registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Flashback: This piece, where the late Christopher Hitchens nails the sleazy antics of the Clintons, remains as relevant as ever:

    What do you have to forget or overlook in order to desire that this dysfunctional clan once more occupies the White House and is again in a position to rent the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors and to employ the Oval Office as a massage parlor? You have to be able to forget, first, what happened to those who complained, or who told the truth, last time. It’s often said, by people trying to show how grown-up and unshocked they are, that all Clinton did to get himself impeached was lie about sex. That’s not really true. What he actually lied about, in the perjury that also got him disbarred, was the women. And what this involved was a steady campaign of defamation, backed up by private dicks (you should excuse the expression) and salaried government employees, against women who I believe were telling the truth. In my opinion, Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth; so was Monica Lewinsky, and so was Kathleen Willey, and so, lest we forget, was Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who says she was raped by Bill Clinton.

    (Hat tip: Instaundit.)

  • Secure cell phones frighten and confuse Hillary Clinton. She seems almost as technically savvy as Grandpa Simpson…
  • Hillary’s emails are almost certainly in the hands of Russian intelligence services that were monitoring Romanian hacker Guccifier. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Watch Hillary’s Tool Thwart Democracy

    May 15th, 2016

    Following up on yesterday’s story of Hillary’s minions rigging the Nevada Democratic convention, more detailed coverage and video is leaking out and it’s even more blatantly antidemocratic than I originally described:

    The Convention began on a negative note when controversial temporary rules were adopted. Sanders supporters had been worried about these rules for weeks and had collected delegate signatures to seek changes to the rules. According to Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks, this rule change involved going with the delegate count from the first tier vote and ignoring the delegate count from the second tier, which Sanders had won.

    A vocal vote was held to determine if these temporary rules should be adopted as permanent. The rules were voted on through a vocal “aye” or “nay,” led by Roberta Lange, the party’s chairwoman. The video above shows the voice vote, which doesn’t clearly show a majority…If it’s not clear who gets the majority, then the convention is supposed to have a “vote of division of assembly,” reported Jason Llanes, who stayed at the convention all day, reporting live from Periscope. A division of assembly vote involves having people stand on either side of the room to indicate their vote, he said.

    Lange, however, announced that the “ayes” won and that her decision could not be contested. The vote was taken at 9:30 a.m., while many delegates were still in line.

    And if you don’t believe the report, take a look at the video yourself:

    By the way, Roberta Lange is a Democratic Party superdelgate, though oddly enough, one that hasn’t officially pledged to Hillary. I don’t think there’s any question who she’s supporting now, is there?

    Some Hillary supporters have basically responded by saying: Hey, the rule change only gave Hillary one extra delegate! Get over it! Oddly enough, the fact that Team Hillary would cheat so blatantly when the stakes were so low does not exactly fill me with confidence.

    I’m seeing a lot of Sanders supporters saying that this has pushed them over the edge into supporting Donald Trump in November if Clinton is the Democratic party nominee.

    Pat Condell: “I Vote Against You”

    May 15th, 2016

    There’s some talk among the #NeverTrump about just sitting November out. Pat Condell explains why that’s a mistake: There’s always someone to vote against.

    Samples:

    “Safe space crybabies, left-wing authoritarians, social justice warriors, progressive utopians—whatever these people want from an election, I want the opposite, in spades, and then some.”

    “If you think group identity should trump individual liberty, I vote against you and against any group you identify with.”

    “If you think feelings are more important than truth, I vote against your feelings and against your truth. And if you are usually the first person to mention race in a political debate, chances are you’re the racist. I vote against racism, and against you, you racist.”

    “Free speech is absolutely non-negotiable.”

    Watch the whole thing.

    Clinton Machine Steals Nevada

    May 15th, 2016

    Hillary Clinton’s election machine has dropped the facade of even pretending to care what actual voters think. In Nevada, they all but told Bernie Sanders supporters “Fuck you. We’re rigging it for Hillary and you can’t stop us.”

    Team Clinton began the steamrolling by counting the delegates while Team Bernie was still in the registration process….

    The convention began with secret meetings within the rules committee and a quick collection of delegate counts prior to all of the attendees and Delegates actually having an opportunity to be present on the floor. Bernie Sanders supporters demanding delegate recounts, and requesting a re-vote.

    This was followed by Bernie Sanders supporters becoming angry over a voice vote that adopted a set of temporary convention rules as the permanent rules. The rules committee denied points of order brought up by the attending Bernie Sanders supporters. The Bernie voters were shut down and not allowed to have their voices heard.

    The only question now is: What wouldn’t Hillary do to steal this election?

    Great America PAC is Yet Another Dan Backer Scam PAC

    May 14th, 2016

    Hey, remember Dan Backer, the man behind such scam PACs as Stop Hillary PAC, Conservative Action Now and Patriots for Economic Freedom? Now he has a new Great America PAC ostensibly supporting Trump, run out of the same building as his other scam PACs.

    If past experiences with his other PACs are any guide, expect lots of money to disappear into the pockets of Dan Becker and his associates, and very little spent supporting Trump. Which is probably one reason the Trump campaign has already disavowed Great America PAC. As of the last reporting cycle, Great America PAC sent a whopping total of $10 to the Donald J. Trump For President campaign.

    Here’s another mystery: The top Great America PAC donor for the cycle was listed as Atlanta IT firm Revily Inc. giving $100,000. And the top recipient of Great America PAC expenditures? Revily Inc., who received…$100,000.

    I just sent Revily Inc. an email asking about the amount. I’ll let you know if they reply.

    Ted Cruz files for Reelection to Senate

    May 13th, 2016

    After dropping out of the Presidential race, Ted Cruz filed for reelection to the Senate in 2018.

    You would think this is pretty early, but at least three senators, Democratic Bill Nelson of Florida, Independent Angus King of Maine (who caucuses with Democrats) and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia), have also announced reelection bids. Given that Manchin is probably the last Blue Dog Democrat in the senate, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him cross the aisle to join the Republicans between now and 2018.

    Governor Abbot Brings the Wood

    May 12th, 2016

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivered a full-bore conservative speech to the Texas Republican Convention today. Thus far I have not been able to find the full text online, but Twitchy offered up some excerpts from Abbott’s Twitter account.

    A few samples:

    Life in Venezuela is Murder

    May 12th, 2016

    In the course of this piece on Venezuela’s bankrupt socialist government using tanks against “paramilitary” opposition, I came across this tidbit of crime information:

    The homicide rate in Venezuela is surging again in 2016, the Prosecutor General’s office warned in its first quarterly report of the year last week. Venezuela suffered 18,000 homicides in 2015 according to the Prosecutor General, but NGO’s put that figure closer to 28,000 murders for last year.

    Even given that Latin American murder rates are generally higher than North America and Europe, that’s shockingly high for a nation of 30 million. In fact, both figures are more murders than for all of the United States for 2013 (the last year full FBI figures are available). And U.S. figures include such idyllic peaceful environs as Chicago, Baltimore and Detroit.

    And life for Venezuelans who aren’t outright murdered continues to get worse. “The experiment with “21st-century socialism” as introduced by the late President Hugo Chavez, a self-described champion of the poor who vowed to distribute the country’s wealth among the masses, and instead steered the nation toward the catastrophe the world is witnessing under his handpicked successor Maduro, has been a cruel failure.”

    What our country is going through is monstrously unique: It’s nothing less than the collapse of a large, wealthy, seemingly modern, seemingly democratic nation just a few hours’ flight from the United States.

    In the last two years Venezuela has experienced the kind of implosion that hardly ever occurs in a middle-income country like it outside of war. Mortality rates are skyrocketing; one public service after another is collapsing; triple-digit inflation has left more than 70 percent of the population in poverty; an unmanageable crime wave keeps people locked indoors at night; shoppers have to stand in line for hours to buy food; babies die in large numbers for lack of simple, inexpensive medicines and equipment in hospitals, as do the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

    But why? It’s not that the country lacked money. Sitting atop the world’s largest reserves of oil at the tail end of a frenzied oil boom, the government led first by Chavez and, since 2013, by Maduro, received over a trillion dollars in oil revenues over the last 17 years. It faced virtually no institutional constraints on how to spend that unprecedented bonanza. It’s true that oil prices have since fallen—a risk many people foresaw, and one that the government made no provision for—but that can hardly explain what’s happened: Venezuela’s garish implosion began well before the price of oil plummeted. Back in 2014, when oil was still trading north of $100 per barrel, Venezuelans were already facing acute shortages of basic things like bread or toiletries.

    The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).

    A case in point is the price controls, which have expanded to apply to more and more goods: food and vital medicines, yes, but also car batteries, essential medical services, deodorant, diapers, and, of course, toilet paper. The ostensible goal was to check inflation and keep goods affordable for the poor, but anyone with a basic grasp of economics could have foreseen the consequences: When prices are set below production costs, sellers can’t afford to keep the shelves stocked. Official prices are low, but it’s a mirage: The products have disappeared.

    When a state is in the process of collapse, dimensions of decay feed back on each other in an intractable cycle. Populist giveaways, for example, have fed the country’s ruinous flirtation with hyperinflation; the International Monetary Fund now projects that prices will rise by 720 percent this year and 2,200 percent in 2017. The government virtually gives away gasoline for free, even after having raised the price earlier this year. As a result of this and similar policies, the state is chronically short of funds, forced to print ever more money to finance its spending.

    Though much of it will be familiar to anyone who follows this blog, read the entire story, if only for the factory owner who got in trouble for not stocking his bathrooms with toilet paper as per union rules (because it was unavailable at government stores), only to get in even more trouble for “hoarding” when he bought it on the black market…