Friday, March 28, 2008

Colombians are probably too smart to believe this non-sense, but it could shake up the Venezuelan opposition 

It is a slow Friday so I am reduced to silly gossip. Still, even silly gossip can be entertaining and informative.

The Colombian defense ministry announced, with much concern, that they found that the FARC did in fact have uranium, just as the laptop they also supposedly found said they did.

Of course, what the Colombian government says belonged to the FARC was, according to news reports, just dug up along side a road near Bogota.

But that isn't what is revealing. What is revealing is what the Colombian government is making a fuss about is not what most people think of as uranium but rather something called depleted uranium.

Those who have followed all the little wars the U.S. has fought in recent decades know well what that is. It is a material that is made from uranium but is less radioactive yet VERY, VERY dense and heavy. The U.S. military therefore uses it in all sorts of weapons, mainly anti-tank projectiles (being so dense it can readily penetrate steel).

The U.S. has been putting this stuff in projectiles and firing it off and blowing it up for years from Iraq to Serbia with no one ever calling it a "dirty bomb" - yet that is what the Colombian government wants people to believe it is the material for.

Now of course, they didn't fool even the U.S. government, which as a heavy user of it knows exactly what it is and says it is harmless.

So you are probably thinking this obviously clumsy and silly propaganda effort by the Colombian government wouldn't fool or scare anyone. And in the main, you are right. But if you think that way you are probably underestimating the stupidity and gullibility of your average Venezuelan opposition supporter. Just read this foolishness (from someone who claims scientific training no less!):

Update: well, the rumors of Uranium accounts in the Reyes computer seems to be confirming as the Colombian defense ministry is right now digging in some Bogota neighborhood perhaps as much as 30 kilos of low grade Uranium. Low grade perhaps for a nuclear plant, but good enough for a small dirty bomb?

More silliness can be found here.

Again, there is nothing here for anyone to get worked up. Just an exercise in cluelessness by the Colombian military (which has to be causing some "pena ajena" for their U.S. handlers).

However, it did seem to cause some palpitations among their Venezuelan friends.

Going forward the Colombian government should keep in mind how credulous some of their Venezuelan fans are and take it easy on this stuff lest they give heart attacks to people they really don't want to give heart attacks too.

BTW, if you are wondering where this stuff came from who knows. The U.S. military could easily have given it to the Colombian military. But is also has lots of civilian uses sometimes being used in airplanes and ships as ballast weights for example. So they could have literally taken it out of an Avianca airliner, buried it by the side of a road, and scared the shit out of some people in eastern Caracas!!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary - the gringo version of CAP? 

I was going to post on this hysterical piece of garbage but unfortunately I don't have a way to upload the files onto my blog at the moment. Furthermore, anyone who can't see that this fool simply can't add or that still believes that Venezuela doesn't produce exactly as much oil as it says it does is holding a religious type conviction that simply isn't worth bothering with anymore.

However, there was something else that I thought was worth commenting on and that is Hillary Clinton's notion that bringing back the ghosts from past economic booms will somehow prove to be the elixir that the U.S. economy needs.

From today's edition of the Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Hillary Clinton wants Alan Greenspan on her high-level “emergency group” to deal with high-risk mortgages even though she admitted yesterday that she never understands “what he’s saying,” a reference to Greenspan’s vaguely worded “Fed speak” that he used in his 18-year tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

It seems a little bizarre to me that you would want to bring back Alan "I never met a bubble I didn't like" Greenspan to presumably solve a problem that in large measure he helped create in the first place as the article also noted:

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last year, Edward Gramlich, who was Fed governor from 1997 to 2005, said that he had personally proposed to Greenspan around 2000 that the Fed ramp up efforts to examine predatory lending. “He was opposed to it, so I didn’t really pursue it,” said Gramlich, a Democrat who was one of seven Fed governors.

And I am not the only one who thinks this way. Even one of Hillary's top cheerleaders, Paul Krugman, had to admit the idea was "pretty dumb"

What I found to be very interesting though was her reasoning for wanting him back:

But Clinton defended her naming of Greenspan to the commission because he has a “calming influence” and because he had backed away from his earlier emphasis towards deregulation. “He’s moved on his understanding and depth of the problem,” she told the editorial board of the Philadelphia Daily News.

The New York senator also admitted that she didn’t understand why he has a calming influence: “Don’t ask me why because I never understand what he’s saying.”

While she admits she doesn't have a clue about Greenspan's ideas or policies she wants him around again because ... things were pretty darn good when he was the chairman of the Federal Reserve. In fact that seems to some up her entire campaign - "Things were great when Bill was running the country so vote for me and the prosperity of the 90's will come back".

I wonder if she got this campaign strategy from former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez who presided over one boom in the mid 70s and was re-elected in the late 80s on the hope that having him back in Miraflores would bring back the good times? After all it did work for him as he was relected (things didn't turn out so well for Venezuela as rather than bringing back prosperity CAP proceeded to run the country into the ground). Given that Mark Penn and James Carville are two big Hillary advisers and both worked for the Venezuelan opposition a few years back maybe they brought some of CAPs brilliant ideas to Hillary.

Further, if you give it some thought the similarities between the Clintons and CAP extend beyond just this type of stupid campaigning. For example, both are good at campaigning as though they are left of center only to move to the opposite side of the political spectrum the second the last polling station closes.

Of course, Venezuelans bringing back CAP did nothing to bring back prosperity. Will Americans be smart enough to realize that bringing back Hillary (and Greenspan) will probably not re-inflate the stock market and housing bubbles and hence not bring back the 90s?

We shall see.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why CADIVI is not a subsidy 

A subsidy by definition something that is sold below market value, but a true market value is never defined by a black market price, if this were the case then everybody would be growing pot and making cocaine. Organ donations would also spike through the roof. Now under the same reasoning CADIVI exists in order to restrain capital flight, but unlike the drug wars CADIVI has shown results in dramatically reducing capital flight, having gone from around 10 billion in international reserves to around 50-60 billion if you include all national dollar holdings.

If CADIVI did not exist -the same people that can only take out 5000-6000 dollars at most- would be getting away with their entire fortune in dollars. They are therefore forced to invest in Venezuela.

That said CADIVI is changing, in 07 and 08 it morphed into a imports barrier into itself. The allotment for internet purchases was reduced to a fraction, and they have begun calling up people to justify what they "purchased" 60,000 at a time, when you consider that only a fraction of these can certifiably prove they did actually purchased anything, and therefore not lose their future allotment, then this could disqualify a lot of people using it in the future and reduce imports even more. Whether fair or not it has become the only tool the govt is using to stop imports, the only way to reliably beat the system is to actually produce a good you can sell abroad.


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