Finally! A politician I have no hesitation endorsing and who, if I lived there, I would actually vote for!
– Perry de Havilland at a
ruinous piss up get together of thoughtful political analysts.
Finally! A politician I have no hesitation endorsing and who, if I lived there, I would actually vote for!
– Perry de Havilland at a
Bernard Levin wrote this about a deceased leader much-lauded by progressives when certain domestic grievances became public after the icon’s death:
Tito’s widow has been claiming (unsuccessfully) her inheritance; he had got rid of her a few years before his death, no doubt to instal something more agreeable and up-to-date in her place, and they clearly parted very non-speaks indeed – so much so that she seems to have lived under conditions not far removed from house arrest ever since.
– Bernard Levin, from an article originally published in the Times on January 24th, 1986, and reprinted in his collection In These Times.
I have never heard that the late Commandante Hugo Chávez went so far as to put his troublesome ex under house arrest, but he has certainly had wife trouble. Marisabel Rodriguez, his second wife, claims that he made use of his official position to bully her. Not just wife trouble, woman trouble generally. Like Tito, Chávez was something of a Don Juan. His longest lasting paramour, Herma Marksman, told the Sunday Times in 2006 (subscription required to see full article) that he was a romantic lover but was “imposing a fascist dictatorship”. The similarities between Tito and the now presumably re-reincarnated reincarnation of Bolivar do not end there. Chavez seems to have done well for himself. I would prefer to have more than one source before endorsing the oft-quoted estimate of his personal fortune at a billion dollars made by Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), but An Argentinian journalist, Olga Wornat, can be heard here being interviewed by ABC News in 2007 and she does provide sources to suggest he liked the high life. Wornat wrote a book about several Latin American leaders called “Accursed Chronicles”, for which she interviewed Chávez himself and many of those close to him including cabinet members, his two ex-wives, his long time lover Herma Marksman mentioned above, his tailor and his psychiatrist. She says that he had collections of luxury watches and Italian suits, spent $65 million on a private Airbus (with a $500,000 bill to repaint the flag on the jet so it would look the way it did when he used to draw it in school) and that his family, despite the turbulent relations between him and them, were the “richest in Venezuela” and were the “royal family” of their home state. His daughter Rosines flashing wads of dollars on Instagram caused widespread irritation among less well-connected Venezuelans, who face severe restrictions when trying to obtain dollars.
Comnandante Chavez had the waistline to match Marshall Tito’s. Did he feel obliged to pay his restaurant bills? I did not find any specific claim that he did not, but it would be a brave restaurant owner who presented El Presidente with a bill when said Presidente had displayed such a penchant for expropriations, often done openly on his personal whim and in revenge for trivial thwarting of his desires; who, for example, seized the Hilton resort on Margarita Island in with the words,
“To hold the conference we had to ask for permission… and the owners tried to impose conditions on the revolutionary government. No way,” AFP quotes Chávez as saying. “So I said, ‘Let’s expropriate it.’ And now it’s been expropriated.”
Chávez is one up on Tito; Josip stole the meal, Hugo stole the whole building. In response, let it be noted, to the rightful owners having had the gall to expect that their permission was required before the revolutionary government could use their building.
So, when’s the reading of the will?
Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez kicks the bucket. At times like this I almost wish I believed in an afterlife and the whole eternal damnation shtick.
David Pryce-Jones, eviscerating the sort of people who look up to thugs such as Chavez. There is nothing wrong with admiring a political leader, democratically elected, who respects the checks and balances of a genuine liberal order, and who has the necessarily humility to realise the limits of office. I can admire such a person, but I find the sort of worship for political leaders, both democratic and non-democratic, that we see still today, to be alarming.
On a related point, I can recommend a study by Gene Healy – of the CATO Institute – about the glorification of the role of president in the US in recent times. There has been some creepy behaviour around those who venerated Mr Obama, although perhaps some of the mockery of him suggests not all of this should be taken seriously.
A few days ago I nearly photoed someone wearing one of those idiotic Che T-shirts, but I missed the shot.
This is the kind of thing such T-shirts ought to be saying:
Although, I’m not quite sure about the wording, the bit at the bottom I mean. Truly, I’m not sure. It looks to me somewhat like an admission of defeat, rather than an assertion of victory. It’s like the bad guys really have succeeded in burying the truth about this appalling person, and the good guys are conceding this. But the first bit digs up that truth and proclaims it, and that’s good.
I found it here.
More about the real Che in this earlier posting here.
One of our commenters has made what I think is a very important point about the rapidly snowballing ‘Fast & Furious’ scandal that may well consume the Obama presidency:
– Samizdata commenter ‘Disillusionist’ making a very germane point about the ‘Fast & Furious’ scandal.
Here is a pretty good article in the Telegraph, by Nancy Soderberg (who she?), arguing that taxpayers of the UK should not be giving money to Argentina. It is a country that, with hardly a shred of legal or other justification, wishes to claim back territories (the Falkland Islands) that it unsuccessfully attempted to capture 30 years ago by force of arms:
Argentina is refusing to let UK-registered vessels enter any of its ports, and has also sought to enlist other Latin American countries in putting the squeeze on the UK. Now of course some of this can be dismissed as “sabre-rattling”, and no doubt, in their quieter moments, many Argentine people who have endured a variety of useless or vicious governments will think that the latest antics of their government are absurd. But it is clear that bullies need to be confronted eventually. The UK government should terminate any aid to Argentina without delay. Indeed, it should terminate aid, full stop, to any country, democratic or otherwise.
One of the things that stuck in my mind when reading the late Christopher Hitchens’ brilliant “Hitch 22” memoirs was his description of how he felt about the Thatcher administration in confronting the military junta of Argentina in 1982. I think it was Hitchens’ first realisation that his youthful leftism meant he had to take sides with some pretty stupid people, and that he began a long, slow reappraisal of some of his ideas. As the Falklanders no doubt asked themselves in 1982, do we really want to be taken over by this lot?
Of course, it is all about ooooiiilllll!
For a bit of background, here is a reasonably fair account of the history of the Falkland Islands, which have been attached to the UK since the 1830s, an era when Argentina had only begun to exist as an independent nation in its own right.
On the 15th of February, I was sitting in a pub in London. As is often the case nowadays, this pub had flat screen televisions on some of the walls, and they were switched to the BBC’s 24 hour news channel. This too is common, as is the practice of switching down the sound and turning on the simultaneous subtitles that are transmitted with the broadcast, theoretically for the benefit of the deaf, but also useful in other places (such as pubs) where it might not be possible for viewers to listen to the audio. For live broadcasts such as news, the audio is being thrown through computer voice recognition software and the subtitles generated automatically. It appears that particularly egregious or hilarious errors are then corrected by a human, but not until after viewers had seen them.
In any event, the news was of Sean Penn’s trip to Argentina, where he had been prancing around, referring to the conflict over the “Malvinas”, and just generally behaving like a self-important Hollywood star talking about things he does not understand. Yawn, actually. What was more interesting to me was the BBC coverage. The studio talking head in London said a few words, and then crossed to someone somewhere else, a South American reporter who was presumably somewhere nearer to Buenos Aires. (I didn’t record the names of the talking heads, unfortunately). The two had a conversation on air. The South American correspondent more or less repeated what had been said already. Then he uttered this lovely line.
Huh? I mean, huh? Disregarding the fact that the BBCs South American correspondent should actually know where Sean Penn has gone before going on air to talk about Sean Penn, there are other things that helpful to know. Uruguay – nice place on the coast on the other side of the River Plate from Buenos Aires – in fact in many ways almost an extension of Buenos Aires and so close that one can almost sneeze and discover that one is there. Exactly the sort of place that a shallow Hollywood star likes to go to to be fawned on by the President. Also, the “He has gone there today” thing. You have a schedule of events in BA and someone throws an event in Uruguay in the middle of it. That works.
Paraguay on the other hand – dubious and rather lawless inland place that Sean Penn wouldn’t be seen dead in.Getting there from BA is a bit more work, and going there is not quite such a casual thing, so it is much less likely he would have an engagement there the day after one in BA.
They are not, in fact, very similar, and they are impossible to confuse if you know anything at all about them. However, they are small countries between Argentina and Brazil that have similar names, which I suppose makes it likely that today’s BBC reporters will confuse them. Is this guy based in Rio or something? Or is he in the next studio just pretending to be in South America. One does at least hope they can occasionally employ people who can deduce B from A, but not here.
Perhaps the budget has been cut. If so, am I admitting that my feelings about this are mixed?
My wife and I are off to Cuba next week for a fortnight.
We have to be quick if we’re to catch a glimpse of the place before it changes irreversibly. Every piece of news seems to be in the right direction for Cubans, the wrong direction for tourists seeking picturesqueness.
Yes, got to move fast before Cuba’s USP as the Western Hemisphere’s only communist paradise slips away. Perhaps to pass to Venezuela.
But Venezuela hasn’t got the Hemingway connection to trade on.
I am only a very occasional Guardian reader, of things like classical CD reviews and cricket stories, but thanks to Mick Hartley, of whose blog I am a regular reader, I found my way to this classic of the grovelling courtier genre, perpetrated by a ridiculous creep named Stephen Wilkinson.
Wilkinson’s piece concerns the content of a two and half hour speech recently given by Fidel Castro’s younger brother. Although, Raul Castro is young only in the Young Mr Grace sense. Which is what I think we should now call this junior monster: Young Mr Castro. If a full-on comedy TV show about the Castro brothers happens, let it be called: Are You Being Shafted? But I digress.
The only people who will be unreservedly admiring of this piece by Stephen Wilkinson will be the geriatric despots on whose behalf and in pursuit of whose money it was presumably written, although if they realise how little anyone else will be impressed by it, other than for its comic appeal, even they may grumble. What Stephen Wilkinson feels about having written such a thing, one can only imagine. → Continue reading: Stephen Wilkinson slobbers all over Young Mr Castro
From – where else – The Guardian: Bolivia enshrines natural world’s rights with equal status for Mother Earth
The first comment to the Guardian piece said, “So much for evolution.”
Votes for bacteria now!
With the newly-enfranchised bacteria supporting him, I’m not surprised.
Nice to see Bolivia following
Tim Worstall writes, “You know the Bolivarian Revolution is toast when…”. His criteria for Bolivarian toastiness is “when even the Guardian is running reports on how socialism makes the food supply go tits up.” He links to a Guardian article about the “economic war” launched by Chavez in Venezuela which does indeed make it sound as if Chavez has defied reality once too often.
Trouble is, as The Remittance Man says in the comments, we saw the same and worse from Mugabe – and he is still in power, sort of. Indeed we saw the same and much worse in the Soviet Union and that lasted seventy years.
How do these regimes hold on for so long? Shopkeepers in Venezuela are being ordered on pain of imprisonment to sell at a loss. One would think they would just walk away. Why does it take so long for Atlas to shrug? Perhaps most of his economic war is just bluster and shopkeepers know this. Perhaps there is some mechanism of benign corruption operating that means that the shopkeepers do continue to make money regardless. Perhaps Chavez is right and they do have a lot of money stashed away and can afford to run at a loss for a time, and also have some reason to believe that this episode will be sufficiently brief that it is worth their while to do so.
Or perhaps the toast is about to burn.
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