Venezuela

Left Mocks Wife of Venezuelan Political Prisoner; Right Celebrates Venezuelan Media Ban

U.S. foreign policy as another battleground for petty partisan politics.

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White House

Last night, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) brought Lilian Tintori, the wife of imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, with him to the White House. Afterward, President Trump tweeted a photo of himself with Tintori, Rubio, and Vice President Mike Pence (pictured right), and a message that the Venezuelan government should let Lopez out of prison immediately. Lopez was jailed in 2014 after being accused by the authorities of inciting violence during a round of mass protests against the socialist government of Venezuela. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government banned CNN from the country after a report on alleged passport fraud at the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq or another on school food shortages.

The responses from the increasingly normalized fringes of the left and right to these two stories came through the prism of domestic politics—helping to reveal how U.S. foreign policy is often subordinated to petty partisan domestic concerns. ThinkProgress' Ian Millhiser asked on Twitter if Tintori was Rubio's wife and why she was dressed as a pirate. The same evening the photo and message, which identified Tintori, was tweeted out, it became an internet artifact of it its own, separated from its original tweet. TPM's Josh Marshall tweeted asking whether Tintori had been captured and "was is Marco off the island?" Such thought leaders may not see a serious president in Trump, but the president's lack of seriousness doesn't make U.S. foreign policy any less so.

The U.S. has spent years funding opposition groups in Venezuela, with the result largely being to give the Maduro government more of a pretext to use the U.S. and opposition support for (classically) liberal values as a reason to dismiss, delegitimize, and suppress opposition political movements. President Obama declared Venezuela a "national security threat" in 2015, imposing sanctions on a number of government officials and calling on the government to release Lopez and other opposition leaders.

The White House recognized at the time how the U.S. posture toward Venezuela was being used. "We've seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela," read a White House statement. "These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces."

The most effective foreign policy tool to alleviate the suffering of Venezuelans—the encouragement of free trade with and within South America while offering a deregulated environment for new products like cryptocurrency that afford people more freedom despite governments' efforts—doesn't seem a likely decision in the protectionist Trump administration. Trump said on the campaign trail the U.S. had to be on the side of oppressed people in Venezuela and across South America, pointing out its socialist government had ruined Venezuela. Maduro in 2015 resisted comparisons to Trump by some opposition leaders after he closed several border crossings and deported hundreds of Colombians. Earlier this week, President Trump imposed new sanctions on a Venezuelan vice president, accusing him of being involved in drug trafficking.

Trump supporters, meanwhile, this week celebrated the same socialist government Trump decries—because of its ban of CNN. Gateway Pundit, a peddler of fake news that nevertheless has acquired White House press credentials, reported the story under the headline "Venezuela Kicks CNN Out for Making Up Fake News," citing a report that attributed the ban to the story on school food shortages. Maduro was "just the latest world leader to call them out for being downright dishonest," according to Gateway Pundit, which joins far left apologists in denying the self-inflicted horror socialism has visited on Venezuela. In the Trumpkin oppression stack, CNN apparently trumps bona fide socialists.

The ascendance of Trump has encouraged some on both sides to turn off their critical thinking skills. Yet the perceived lack of seriousness in Trump doesn't make what happens at home or abroad any less serious. Trump has so far generally embraced a lot of the established positions on U.S. foreign policy despite an anti-establishment tone to his campaign. But perhaps his haphazard and often repellant approach will be a cause to pause and reflect for foreign opposition leaders who instinctively turn to the U.S. for support they believe they need to succeed. Their successes can be more substantive and lasting, and more immune to attempts at delegitimization via accusations of U.S. "interference."

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  1. “The ascendance of Trump has encouraged some on both sides to turn off their critical thinking skills.” It’s not just some. It’s damned near everybody.

    1. Some more than others.

    2. And it’s not just in the last month. How does someone write that sentence with a straight face?

      1. Trump’s ascendance has been going on for longer than a month, as has the decline in critical thinking skills among partisans wrt things related to him.

        1. To be fair, having critical thinking skills in the first place strongly limits the appeal of political partisanship.

          1. Another chicken or the egg dilemma.

            1. That’s a silly dilemma. The answer is clearly egg unless you’re some kind of silly creationist.

              1. Oh yeah, and who laid that egg???

                1. A proto-chicken, and an anatomically modern chicken hatched out of it.

                  1. Implicit in all chicken or egg questions is the fact that no matter which was first, they were organic and free range.

                  2. KDN, you are just defining “chicken” to fit your argument. You are defining “chicken” as a certain genotype that started with a certain egg. But a species is defined by the ability to breed and produce offspring. And your first chicken would almost certainly be able to breed with its parents, thereby including the parents in your definition of chicken.

    3. We live in the dumbest of times.

      1. +1 a tale of two tribes

      2. It’s a Dark Age.

        Seriously.

        1. No, just a very, very dim one.

      3. It’s like one of the Matrix worlds that didn’t work. This is why the machines had to set the year to the late ’90s.

        1. It’s like one of the Matrix worlds that didn’t work.

          That would explain a lot.

        2. The notion that the guy who inexplicably wins even though all the conventional rules say otherwise would literally be named “Trump” is not something that would happen in reality. He’d be Donald Walker or something random like that.

          Plus there’s all the random anti-Democrat optics — the stand in the schoolhouse door, the blackshirts, the racial pins, the talk of secession. We get it, the author hates the left, so he’s written them as insane, one-dimensional villains.

          1. Well in fairness they mostly are insane one dimensional villains.

        3. I never got why they did that. Wouldn’t it have been better to set the year to something like the 10th century? Then there would be no hacker community to join the resistance.
          Also why keep the people alive to “use as batteries”? Humans consume more energy than they produce (stupid laws of thermodynamics). A whole lot of that movie just made no more sense.

          1. Yeah, the Matrix would inevitably consume more power than it could possibly produce. I’ve seen quite a bit of debate on the subject. My favorite theory is that the Matrix is multi-layered. Neo & co. haven’t actually broken out of the Matrix, they’ve simply broken into another layer. This would explain a lot, like why Neo’s super-powers suddenly work “outside” of the Matrix. The true nature and purpose of the Matrix have yet to be revealed, so we can at least pretend there’s an explanation that makes any sense.

    4. Have we reached TDSDSDS stage yet?

  2. You’d think Ian Millhiser would have stepped away from Twitter by now. The guy embarrasses himself every day.

    1. I’m sure Mr. Milhiser apologized immediately for making light of a woman whose husband is a political prisoner of a dictatorial regime, right?

      1. Well he deleted the tweet and pretended he is a wonderful guy who would never make fun of someone like that. That’s close to an apology, right?

    2. For someone who thinks criticism of fashion is salient or funny, Twitter is likely the appropriate intellectual depth.

  3. The White House recognized at the time how the U.S. posture toward Venezuela was being used. “We’ve seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela,” read a White House statement. “These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces.”

    Man that’s rough. I wonder what it would be like to live in a country where hysterical fearmongering over vague but sinister foreign threats was used as a distraction from substantive problems that the government was only making worse.

    1. Yeah Hugh. The US is just like Venezuela. No fucking moral difference at all. And you being an American, totally understand and are suffering the same things Venezuelans are.

      You called it.

      1. That’s not what Hugh was saying, John. Redirecting popular anger about domestic problems towards an external Other is a common flailing of nations.

        1. BUT BUT BUT ZE RUSSIANS

        2. Either he was saying that or he had no point. Given the Hugh never has anything interesting or important to say, maybe he did have no point. Forgive me for giving him the benefit of a doubt he didn’t deserve.

          1. Welp, far be it from me to question your mind-reading abilities.

            1. John is our Amazing Kreskin.

          2. Get this fucking guy a turban and an envelope.

      2. Don’t let anyone get away with criticizing your guy John, not even the subtlest of criticismcan be tolerated. Otherwise America will never get great again.

        1. Actually the criticism was of the American government. Trump is just the last of a long line of distractors.

      3. Isn’t that exactly what Obama and Hillary were doing with the whole “Russia hacked the election!!!”?

        Our sins may not be on the same level as Venezuela’s, but the American government aren’t fucking angels.

    2. Well, if Trump doesn’t succeed in kicking out illegals and limiting immigration of low skilled workers, you may yet find out. The Venezuelan model is, after all, what the Democrats are going for.

  4. Christ, what droves of assholes.

    1. A new collective noun, my day is complete.

  5. The most effective foreign policy tool to alleviate the suffering of Venezuelans?the encouragement of free trade with and within South America while offering a deregulated environment for new products like cryptocurrency that afford people more freedom despite governments’ efforts?doesn’t seem a likely decision in the protectionist Trump administration.

    No. Free trade with the kleptocracy in Venezuela might be good for the US, but it would not do Venezuelans a damn bit of good. Trade with socialist hell holes accomplishes nothing except enriching the elite and funding the police state. Why is that so hard for the reason staff to figure out? If the trade comes in the form of trading with government owned and or government controlled entities, you are just funding the government. You are not helping the economy.

    And shadow currencies are at best a band aid to the problem. it doesn’t solve the problem and to the extent it helps, the government is going to use its power to stomp it out to the greatest extent possible.

    1. I am so crazy I think that there should be some free in that free trade and I don’t see any free in communist or socialist dictatorships

      1. Just because the Chavezists looted the country into abject poverty and desperation doesn’t mean the benefits of free trade won’t go to the people and not them.

        Ed actually believes that. It is kind of amazing really. How can someone think that?

    2. Well, I’d back-up a bit and first start by questioning the use of the term free trade here. I mean, I guess on the American side, it would be. It frees up restrictions on Americans on one side of the exchange. But that hardly justifies the usage of the term to me.

      Reason has its mantra here and it isn’t going to change. But their overall policy is less harmful than the alternative or what our government does now.

      it doesn’t solve the problem and to the extent it helps

      How often do sanctions actually work?

      1. South Africa for one. The reason why they didn’t work in Cuba was because Cuba first had the USSR and then Venezuela to prop it up. The point of sanctions is to make things bad enough the government no longer has the money to pay off enough prison guards to keep the regime in power. That doesn’t work when there is an outside entity that will fund them, like Cuba had. it can, however, work if they don’t.

        Sanctions might work. Trading with them will do nothing but enrich those running the country and give them the means to stay in power. That much is certain.

        1. Who is backing Zimbabwe?

          1. No one and it is falling into complete chaos as a result. If we traded with them, there would be less chaos likely but that would be just because the government was better funded and could build more prisons and buy more bullets.

            There are no good solutions. But no solution is worse than trading and enriching and funding the people running these places. Why don’t you just write them a fucking check and get it over with.

            1. Why don’t you just write them a fucking check and get it over with

              Why don’t you just stop conflating trade with handouts? I have no interest in writing checks to Zimbabwe but that doesn’t justify a ban on other people trading with Zimbabweans.

              1. Why don’t you stop fucking acting like trading with a government like Zimbabwe or Venezuela is trading with their people. They people there trade now. Yet, they are starving. Why? Because the government steals everything and then doles out based on politics and power. That is how socialism works. Why do you think “foreign trade” is going to be any different. The people there don’t benefit from trade. The government does. That is why they are starving. If you can’t understand that, maybe you should reconsider your objection to Marxism.

                1. So then don’t trade with them. Can you really not separate government policy from your personal preferences?

                  1. You can trade with them all you want. But don’t piss on my head and tell me its raining by claiming you are benefiting anyone but the government and prison lords. If you don’t give a shit and want to trade with them for your advantage, that is your call. If you want to have that debate, that is fine. You might be right.

                    What is not right is all of this rationalizing bullshit about how we need to trade because it helps the people there. it doesn’t. IN fact, it likely harms them. But if the advantage of buying their goods makes that worth it, have fun. I won’t say you are wrong to do that. Why should you or I give a fuck about these places? It is their problem not ours. But don’t feed me bullshit about how this is going to make those places or the people in them any better off. That is all I am saying.

                    1. I never made any promises. I am only arguing against the imposition of sanctions.

                    2. This is the real “trickle-down economics”. Trade with a socialist country. The benefits accrue to the government, which then trickles down to the peasants.

        2. Wait, are you saying South Africa had no external supporters in the late 80s? And that is why it fell, because the South African government became so poor they couldn’t afford to keep apartheid?
          That narrative may make Westerners all proud of ourselves since it allows us to say we caused apartheid to end. But it’s far from true.

      2. It seems like sanctions on consumer goods don’t impact the political classes because they can source their stuff elsewhere. That pain gets shuffled down to the peasants. Other kinds of sanctions seem to be somewhat effective, but only if everyone involved plays along. The Russians, for instance, rendered Iranian sanctions moot by ignoring them.

      3. The US should do the opposite of sanctions, and engage in state-sponsored smuggling.

    3. Free trade is always better than the alternative. I thought even conservatives like you understood that.

      [checks some conservative websites]

      Nm. They don’t.

      1. It is better than the alternative for the US. We get the goods. it is not better for the average Venezuelan. The average person there won’t benefit from it. If he did, there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. All “free trade” will do for him is fund his oppressors.

        1. Not so sure about that. Sure, it probably would enrich the state and entrench their power, but that doesn’t mean it won’t also help the starving masses by making things like food more available; they’re not mutually exclusive. If your goal is to undermine the Venezuelan state at all costs, even to the citizens, so that it implodes and socialism is abolished as soon as possible, then it might be a valid strategy. But there will be short term pain until that happens.

          1. Sure, it probably would enrich the state and entrench their power, but that doesn’t mean it won’t also help the starving masses by making things like food more available;

            No it won’t. Venezuela went from functioning nation to starving because of socialism. They were running out of food when we were trading for them. If the trade meant more food for the average person, they wouldn’t be starving. its a socialist dictatorship. Everything that goes there belongs to and will be stolen by the government. If trading with socialist countries made any difference, socialism wouldn’t be so bad.

            And there is no short term solution or plan as long as the current government is in power. Anything that is sent there will be looted and go to prop up the government.

            1. Sure, all the surplus food would be looted. The ruling class gets to eat first. But what do you think they’ll do once they’ve had their fill? Export the food for more money? Or hand it out to buy votes and attempt to satisfy the unrest? They’re already doing that, but there just isn’t enough food to go around. I think they’d continue to do that.

              1. looted. The ruling class gets to eat first. But what do you think they’ll do once they’ve had their fill?

                They will export it and sell it make money. Or they will let it rot. Whatever they do, they will only hand out food and everything else as a weapon to punish and starve their political enemies and reward their cronies. That is what government’s like that do. They are about power and money. There is no “hey after we had our fill maybe we can give some to the dissidents”. It doesn’t work that way with these people. If it did, they wouldn’t be socialists or Marxists, which is what they really are.

        2. It is better than the alternative for the US. We get the goods. it is not better for the average Venezuelan. The average person there won’t benefit from it. If he did, there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. All “free trade” will do for him is fund his oppressors.

          Ever heard of this nifty idea?

          1. Ever heard of fucking socialism? What the fuck does comparative advantage have to do with it? Yeah, they would sell us goods and that would be great. But every dime of value that was produced by those goods would go to the government and be stolen or used to fund the police state. Do you think the average worker in Venezuela gets to keep his lawful wages? If he did, they wouldn’t be starving.

            What in the hell is the matter with you? How can you be so fucking stupid that you think that trade with a place like that is going to benefit the population just like trade with Canada or Mexico does/ I can’t believe anyone could be that fucking stupid. I really can’t.

            1. John, your argument is totally retarded. According to you argument, New York should not be allowed to trade with other states, because New York has high taxes and trade will put more money into the coffers of the New York government, which will fund the New York government to oppress the residents of New York

              1. New York is not Venezuela you fucking retard. Do you not understand how Marxism works? New York sucks but it is nothing like real Marxism or socialist dictatorships like Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

                Again, that the fuck is wrong with you?

                1. The only thing that is wrong with me is that I somehow talk myself into entertaining your moronic ideas as worthy of a rebuttal. I am sure if I dug deep enough, I would find some raging diatribe from you about how New York is a socialist hellhole. But apparently it is not THAT socialist when you are making some other pointless point about another country.

                  Why do you think Vietnam, which used to be one of the most economically repressive countries in the world, is doing so much better now? Because we started trading with them. The average poor citizen of Vietnam is much better off now. They have a long way to go, but I guarantee imposing sanctions or other types of trade restrictions would hurt the average Vietnamese citizen.

                  So shut the fuck up and learn some basic economics.

                  I am only using this tone with you, because you started it, as you always do. You seem incapable of going a single paragraph without berating someone and shitting ad hominems out of every orifice. This leads me to believe it is the only tone that resonates with you and gets through your little perception tunnel.

              2. The only moral trade is the gray market!! ‘Tis the only way it won’t entrench and reward the State!!

          2. I don’t think that covers the situation where, after you trade with the other party, someone comes and steals everything that you just gave them. I mean, it still works fine for you, but it doesn’t really help them any.

          3. Sorry to Godwin and note, I’m not saying Venezuela is equivalent to Nazi Germany, but that’s the question: was it moral to trade with Nazi Germany?

            I’m not saying the answer is obviously no in all situations, though history has judged “neutral” Switzerland as anything but, due mostly to trading.

            The point here isn’t whether we should trade with Venezuela or if I think it was OK to trade with Germany, though I have opinions on both I’ll share….

            But the point is only that if you can see there might be moral questions to free trading with Nazi Germany, then you should be able to see that the word “free” in free trade cannot be the highest or only goal in many situations.

            Furthermore, Venezuela is a situation where we wouldn’t normally trade – same with North Korea, Zimbabwe, and others.

            Also consider many terrorists see the US as evil simply for buying so much oil from despots. Not that they’re right or that we have a choice, but I think it proves most see trade, even free trade, as having other, serious impacts to a given society.

      2. I think you get into dogma when you say always (plus, you continue to use the term free trade – what goes on in socialist hellholes where we have trade deals is hardly free). No matter the argument, you have to end up making counterfactuals. Neither side really has a wealth of historical examples to hang their hat on.

        Opening up China is often used, but its just as likely that the trade has allowed the communist regime to maintain power and the long hoped for liberalization of politics with corresponding recognition of human rights hasn’t really materialized. It’s been better for the world, perhaps. Plenty of Chinese have benefited. And the collapse of the PRC is no guaranteed way to increase human freedom in its own right.

        I’d much rather ground this argument in the incompetence of the American government and principles, frankly, than some dogmatic slogan that free trade is ALWAYS the bestest in foreign policy because it always produces optimal outcomes.

      3. But is ‘free trade” with communists free?

        I think at best its licence, not freedom.

        1. Maybe more like “managed trade”. In other words, not so different after all.

        2. Is a trade ban free?

        3. As other as have said, the whole issue is that it isn’t actually free trade or a free market. So how does one deal with corruption in the market? Do you trade with thieves and slave-owners for their stolen loot? It’s a difficult question. Libertarians typically pivot to the utilitarian side, that it benefits the victims more to trade. But that conclusion isn’t obvious. The more people are willing to buy stolen property like iphones ets, the more it costs and the more incentive there is to steal more.

      4. I think the best way to understand conservative dogma right now is in terms of the worthiness of the people who would benefit the most from a particular policy.

        So from a conservative point of view, entitlement spending is fine, as long as the benefits go to real downhome hard-working Muricans. But if entitlement spending goes to deadbeats or illegals, then it’s no longer good.

        If the benefits of free(r) trade flow to decent people in decent nations, like Britain, then that’s good. If the benefits of free(r) trade flow to socialist people in socialist nations, then that’s bad.

        So the merits of a policy are not to be evaluated in isolation, They are to be evaluated in the context of who benefits.

        That is the best way I can explain how modern conservatives have come to reject formerly orthodox conservative positions, like on entitlements or trade.

        1. Principals over principles has long been a steadfast rule in politics.

        2. Wow you made that obvious observation about human nature and charitable giving sound so one-sided and sinister.

    4. I think that’s half true. The goods themselves do end up making it to the people eventually (this isn’t foreign aid, after all – somebody has to be willing to actually buy what is being traded and the army can only afford so much toilet paper), and American traders’ influence does seem to make the regimes less extreme over time. I would agree that it allows the regimes to prevent structural reform, taking the boot off the neck only because it no longer needs to be there to prevent collapse.

      1. I think that’s half true. The goods themselves do end up making it to the people eventually

        No they won’t. The people there are starving. They have no money or means to buy anything. And even if they did, the government controls everything and would steal the goods before they were sold.


        1. Definition of eventually

          : at an unspecified later time : in the end

          I’m not talking about in a day or even a month. Chinese peasants were dead broke and starving in 1978 but 25 years later they were clamoring for every newly released sneaker just like the rest of us. The Venezuelans would get theirs after the state has had its fill.

          1. I’m not talking about in a day or even a month.

            China decided to go at least partially capitalist. These people have not. They are there to steal. And the only people who will buy any foreign products are the ones who have looted the country and need to spend their millions. This is a totally different situation.

            1. “China decided to go at least partially capitalist.”

              And why did they do that??

              1. To maintain the wealth generation of Hong Kong when it was returned to their empire.

            2. No, not really. They’re essentially where the Chinese were in the mid-70’s, complete with the loony bin zealots running the show. I would sit back and offer up an FTA with significant strings attached immediately after Maduro leaves office, regardless of if he’s replaced by another nominal Chavista.

              1. Good point on China. Trade has changed that nation-state rather significantly since the 70s.

        2. Well, if they are starving it sounds like the problem will pretty much fix itself.

      2. Concur. Even in a kleptocracy there is leakage. The more wealth sloshing around, the more that occasionally spills onto the hoi polloi. Really shitty places (read North Korea) tend to stay really shitty longer at least in part due to lack of trade. Hey, didn’t we spend most of the 60s and early 70s “fighting communism” in Vietnam only to have trade (at least in part) solve the problem 25 years later?

        1. Concur. Even in a kleptocracy there is leakage

          Sure. So your case for trade is that we should fund the elites and the prison state and all of the means of oppression because surely some of that wealth will leak down to the average person.

          Again, there is trade going on in these countries now. If trade benefited anyone but the people running the government, they wouldn’t be in such desperate shape. Foreign trade is no different. The government steals everything. it is what socialist dictatorships do.

          1. We’re not funding the elites. People who are comfortable with the regime would be trading goods and services for whatever the government and those it allows are willing to pay. And I’m sure that plenty of bribes will be paid to allow the commercial interests to steadily expand their scope to whatever Venezuelans can afford to trade.

            Maduro is enough of a twat that I don’t think we should dangle that carrot until he’s defenestrated or otherwise removed, but you’re really straining things here.

          2. Of course trade benefits people other than the elites and the prison state. On what planet is government so efficient as to steal “everything.” It doesn’t require wealth to have oppression or a police state. Ask North Korea. Hey, poor people get screwed in pretty much every scenario… but the screwing is a bit less draconian in wealthy kleptocracies (where there are invariably black markets) than in dirt-poor-making-sawdust-bread places. Trade is never simply goods and services. With trade comes the exchange of ideas, culture, etc. Trade changes nations, generally for the better.

      3. They don’t necessarily make it to “the people”, though, they may just make it to the people the regime chooses to reward. In essence, the tyrant has a carrot and a stick, and we could be providing the carrots. Knowing that, it would be better to eliminate open trade while supporting black-market trade/smuggling of civilian goods to enemies of the state for them to use to reward disloyalty. So much the better if all their illict food supplies have Made in the USA stamped on them.

    5. You’re an idiot John. Just thought I’d remind you.

      Restricting trade with socialist countries doesn’t help them; it galvanizes the ruling party and allows them to blame their woes in the US. See Cuba, or the fact that sanctions against Russia have helped Putin domestically, or Iran, or pretty much any country we’ve restricted trade against. Then compare to China and Cuetnam, where international trade had been a liberalizing force.

      Since you’re now out against free trade, why are you here still? What do you share with libertarians again?

      1. Don’t make John leave. If he goes, who will explain to us what we’re really thinking?

      2. You a fuckin moron. You are. You believe in magic words. You don’t understand trade or economies or how they work. I said it would benefit the US. It wont’ benefit the average person because no trade that happens in these countries does. That is why they are poor.

        I have more contempt for idiots like you than I do for leftists. Leftists don’t understand markets but at least they claim to hate them. People like you claim to love markets but have no idea how they work. There is something especially fucking galling about that kind of ignorance. You don’t even understand your own beliefs. You just emote and say magic words like they will create a spell. God I hate that.

      3. So libertarians are compelled to support free trade with murderers and thieves because of utilitarian arguments about how the ends are better?

    6. I tend to agree with this sentiment. Mainly because it isn’t really ‘free trade’ at that point, now is it? It would be more accurate to describe it as trade with a country that effectively uses slave labor which enables the slave state to undercut market rates below what any other liberalized nation can compete with.

      To me, Free Trade is trade between two free nations. Not trade by one ostensibly free nation and one socialist centrally planned nation where you’re assigned your job. That’s something entirely different, but few people seem to agree with me on that.

      I’ll admit that trade with those nations may, eventually, lead to those nations becoming more free and more liberalized but how long of a timeline and how much slave labor are we willing to endure before that happens? Are our hands ‘clean’ in that scenario? Does anyone give a shit?

      1. You are just a moron BYOB. The reasonites are sure of it. You just don’t understand how Marxist kleptocracy ensures the benefits of free trade goes to their population. They actually believe that. They think as long as you use the magic word “trade” everyone will benefit, because COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE. It is just amazing.

        1. I suppose “human history” is my abra cadabra. As I read history, trading nations (or peoples) have generally fared better than insular nontrading nations (or peoples). It would be silly to argue that trade always benefits everyone. And sure, trading with a kleptocracy certainly may benefit the ruling class far more than the peasants. But mercantilism hurts the poor far more than the rich/ruling elite.

        2. “You just don’t understand how Marxist kleptocracy ensures the benefits of free trade goes to their population. They actually believe that.”
          Marxist kleptocrats aren’t all powerful. To trade someone has to produce something valuable and they have to gain a benefit from exchanging that with others. Since MCs don’t produce anything but pain and isolation the people have to produce the things. They can only do this if there is a benefit to doing so. Trade therefore ALWAYS has benefits to the population, it is physically impossible for trade to only benefit the MCs. Now you can argue that the strengthening of the MCs position makes the population worse off even after that benefit, but you haven’t made that case. You’ve just called people idiots for not believing your mistakes.

      2. Mainly because it isn’t really ‘free trade’ at that point, now is it?

        Yes.

    7. It’s delusional to think that we can do anything about Venezuela at all. Venezuela’s problems are structural, cultural, and social.

      What we should worry about is not letting the US turn into Venezuela, something Democrats in particular are keen to accomplish.

  6. The Maduro government has been using the US as its boogieman, as socialists are prone to do. But it doesn’t seem to have helped them much, given their plummeting popularity. It’s hard to deny that anti-Americanism becomes a strong rallying cry that helps to strengthen regimes. It gives them something to galvanize around. But let’s look at the flip side – when American politicians endorse those policies, who is it really aimed at or what’s the goal? Is it really an attempt to conduct foreign policy, or about sending the right signals domestically?

    I’d say democracy breeds shitty foreign policy as was traditionally believed, but it seems to be par the course for most nations.

    1. If we just suck up to him enough and help him fund his police state and give him more money to steal, he would stop using us as a boogie man and then he would be in real trouble.

    2. Militarism combined with nationalism breeds shitty foreign policy more than democracy. A U.S. spending less than one percent of GDP on the military would have better policy, if only because there would be fewer shitty choices.

  7. Their successes can be more substantive and lasting, and more immune to attempts at delegitimization via accusations of U.S. “interference.”

    “Do it yourself” said nobody in government ever.

  8. *whines* I don’t wanna be a pirate!

  9. The U.S. has spent years funding opposition groups in Venezuela, with the result largely being to give the Maduro government more of a pretext to use the U.S. and opposition support for (classically) liberal values as a reason to dismiss, delegitimize, and suppress opposition political movements. President Obama declared Venezuela a “national security threat” in 2015, imposing sanctions on a number of government officials and calling on the government to release Lopez and other opposition leaders.

    Did we hear any screeching about the capitalist overlord Obama interfering in their election and undermining their democracy and socialist utopia, while being a filthy foreigner?

      1. I know that. I’m referring to the MSM, who had an aneurysm over alleged foreign influence after Trump was elected. I think Welch already pointed out the hypocrisy.

    1. Thanks to our corporation owned Supreme Court, dark money is allowed to polllute our elections. When Putin saw Hillary raising vast amounts of money from capitalists intent on buying the election, he knew he had to intervene to level the playing field to save our democracy.

      Putin will save us from ourselves until we have the good sense to pass common sense campaign finance laws.

  10. Absurdist fuel is the agitation stamp of hyper-animated Globalist media cliques.

    Comment sections are no longer the churn and burn factory where scribes once tossed bored glances and irritated smirks at digital spittle foaming from the basements of their screeds.

    Instead, they’ve have morphed desperately into professionalized versions of that which they largely despise compounding the acrid fumes of hostility which once laced the underneath battlegrounds of trolls and ideo-tribes banging and dicing out invisible battles strewn across hours and days.

    The vile from the deep has cracked open its gloom. Creeping from their underground chambers into an effulgent sweeping highland thronged with other blinking wobbling scribes girded with acidic tools at the ready… the media has become the greatest troll of them all.

    1. Sorry, but I fell asleep after the second sentence.

    2. Agile,
      You should look on am/pm links for the alt-sites. I bet glibertarians would give you a platform with which to amaze all.

    3. Now you’re just quoting from the Bible.

  11. Serious question: what would the us get in trade from venezuela? They dont seem to have anything of value

    1. Better question: what does that have to do with anything? If there’s no value to be had, then there will be no trade.

      1. Until Venezuela has a GDP of zero, there’s something to trade.

        1. GDP is probably not the right metric. Production or natural resources would be more appropriate.

          1. Perhaps i should clarify. What i was driving at is the here and now. I normally would support free trade with them.

            But i was just wondering thanks to the socialists killing the productive members of their nation (like they always do)…i was thinking that free trade NOW would not help them at all since there isn’t much goods

            1. Maybe not. I don’t make promises that I have no power to keep. But there will definitely be no benefits from trade if there is no trade.

      2. First we loan them a bunch of money, then they use that to buy stuff from us. Simple.

    2. They produce a lot of oil and they used to produce a lot of beef, though both sectors have been pretty thoroughly destroyed by socialist mismanagement.

      1. Well that is my point. Im not sure how trading with them will be helpful…at best it helps the folks in charge

      2. There isnt going to be much to trade due to socialists

    3. Cheap labor from socialism-induced poverty?

    4. Oil, shortstops, and Bolivian cocaine.

      1. The Venezuelans tend to do a little better when it comes to outfielders.

    5. Serious question: what would the us get in trade from venezuela? They dont seem to have anything of value

      Huh?

    6. Oil and tar. And communism… there was a huge (but no cigar) demand for communism recorded in the US popular vote count this last election.

    7. Well.

      Just allow businesses to trade with Venezuela.

      If there’s nothing of value, no American will trade with them anyways.

      If there’s something of value to find, people will buy it.

      Magic of the market.

    8. Serious question: what would the us get in trade from venezuela? They dont seem to have anything of value

      Amsoc, see my link above about comparative advantage. Even if Venezuelans have no products of value, which is doubtful, both sides would benefit from free trade. This is because Venezuelans would be able to produce some things cheaper (e.g., lower cost of labor) than Americans, freeing American labor to be more productive.

      1. Again i just want to be clear (sound like obama) im not against trade with them.

        Just was thinking here and now since it is hellhole run by socialists who will just give gains to themselves.

        Was just curious who american companies would exactly trade with as do they even have free businesses. I dont know

  12. Ed must be picking up some of the language, congrats! In Venezuela, as in every other Spanish-speaking country AND every Portuguese-speaking country, and in EVERY civilized country where proper as opposed to ku-klux redneck English is spoken (Canada, Oz, Britain, India, New Zealand) liberal means something like laissez-faire neocon or castrated libertarian. In redneck Murrica liberal is anyone opposed to national prohibition of beer, the Volstead act, Blue Laws, the Klan or the Tennessee law banning the teaching of evolution. Everywhere in the world US antiabortion fanatics screeching against “liberals” are correctly recognized as National Socialist preachers of Positive Christianity exactly like Hitler. It is sad, but the average Frenchman, German or Swede understands simple English better’n gubmint-school brainwashees of the post-Herbert Hoover era. When Ed injected (classical) to modify liberal, that was a huge leap forward for literacy.

    1. That is unusually unhinged, even for you.

    2. Your Hihn impression needs more bold font and accusations of fascism.

    3. Man, I’d pay to hear what ku-flux ‘red neck English’ in India sounds like.

    4. Having met and interacted with quite a few Swedes, I can attest that their English is better than that of the average Midwesterner.

  13. Remember ian thought SC packing by FDR was a good thing

  14. In the Trumpkin oppression stack, CNN apparently trumps bona fide socialists.

    What the fuck does that even mean?

  15. what would the us get in trade from venezuela?

    Once upon a time, we got oil from Venezuela.

    Citgo Petroleum Corporation (or Citgo) is an American refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petr?leos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of Venezuela.

    hier

    1. Yea agreed but i meant in now. I support trade with them but the socialists wrecked everythin me thinks any trade benefits for them would be funneled to maduro to keep him with high life

  16. ‘his haphazard and often repellant approach’

    As opposed to the last four presidents’? releasing international ‘stateless’ actors, often referred to as terrorists, burning peaceful people in their home, pissing away a trillion buck on trying to rebuild a sand dune, borrowing our kids into eternal debt (okay, that one goes for a lot of presidents)?

  17. This fake news shit is getting old, the mainstream media has always been pockmarked with fake news, nothing new.

  18. The alt-text made me cry.

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  20. The responses from the increasingly normalized fringes of the left and right to these two stories came through the prism of domestic politics?helping to reveal how U.S. foreign policy is often subordinated to petty partisan domestic concerns. ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser asked on Twitter if Tintori was Rubio’s wife and why she was dressed as a pirate. The same evening the photo and message, which identified Tintori, was tweeted out, it became an internet artifact of it its own, separated from its original tweet. ???? ?????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ????? ???? TPM’s Josh Marshall tweeted asking whether Tintori had been captured and “was is Marco off the island?” Such thought leaders may not see a serious president in Trump, but the president’s lack of seriousness doesn’t make U.S. foreign policy any less so.

  21. The responses from the increasingly normalized fringes of the left and right to these two stories came through the prism of domestic politics?helping to reveal how U.S. foreign policy is often subordinated to petty partisan domestic concerns. ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser asked on Twitter if Tintori was Rubio’s wife and why she was dressed as a pirate. The same evening the photo and message, which identified Tintori, was tweeted out, it became an internet artifact of it its own, separated from its original tweet. ???? ???? ????? ????? ???? TPM’s Josh Marshall tweeted asking whether Tintori had been captured and “was is Marco off the island?” Such thought leaders may not see a serious president in Trump, but the president’s lack of seriousness doesn’t make U.S. foreign policy any less so.

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