The Success of Socialism: Part 4 — Venezuela moves further toward dictatorship The National Assembly seeks to oust President Nicolás Maduro; he will ignore the Assembly. In the end Socialism cannot survive democracy.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Venezuela’s Congress Votes to Start Proceedings to Oust President Maduro

Lawmakers have summoned country’s leader to respond to charges at session next week

By Anatoly Kurmanaev | Updated October 25, 2016 6:48 p.m. ET

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress voted to start proceedings to oust President Nicolás Maduro for what lawmakers call his violations of the constitution, a move that deepens the polarization in this oil-rich country.

“In this crisis situation, Nicolás Maduro is responsible for breaking the constitutional order,” said opposition majority leader Julio Borges.

The hearings Tuesday were mostly symbolic, because Mr. Maduro’s government has used the Supreme Court, whose members are allied with his administration, to rule against every bill or measure approved by the congress. But opposition leaders say they are using the only public arena they have to keep the pressure on the embattled president and force him to permit a recall referendum on his rule, as permitted in the constitution.

“The National Assembly does not exist, legally speaking,” Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz said on his radio program Tuesday, referring to the Supreme Court ruling.

The congress voted Tuesday to begin investigating whether Mr. Maduro has forsaken his duties as president by causing the deepest recession in the country’s modern history. The lawmakers have summoned the president to respond to charges at next Tuesday’s session, another symbolic move given that all members of his administration have ignored similar summons in the past.

There’s more at the link.

I wonder: is it a coup d’etat if the sitting President simply ignores a legitimate impeachment and removal, and the military backs him?

Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves, has managed to take the oil wealth which has given such riches to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and turn itself into a fetid and festering sewer of Socialism1 which cannot feed its own people, and cannot afford to buy food and other necessities from abroad.

What has Socialism wrought? In the countries in which the government has continued to enforce socialist economic policies, Venezuela and North Korea being the primary examples, the result has been widespread poverty. The nominally socialist but really new capitalist countries, China and the southeast Asian nations mainly, prosperity has been steadily increasing, and if political repression continues, at least there is enough economic growth that those countries are not being crushed by widespread poverty.

So, where does socialism still thrive as an intellectual idea, as something to be admired or aspired toward? Only in the thus-far unsuccessful revolutionary movements, seeking some sort of philosophical justification to mask the simple power-ambition of the leadership, and in Western universities, where people who are responsible for nothing are trying to teach students who are themselves responsible for nothing — other than writing home for more money from mom and dad — that socialism is some sort of greater good.

Socialism has never worked, because it cannot work. It’s just unfortunate that the people of Venezuela have to suffer under a Socialist dictatorship to learn this hard lesson.

  1. Hey, I worked hard on getting that alliteration right!

Brexit: Not all doom and gloom The sun is shining and the birds are singing and Britain is open for business!

From the Daily Mail:

Britain is the most business-friendly major economy, World Bank rules as its annual index casts fresh doubt on doom-laden Brexit warnings

  • UK comes top of G7 group of industrialised countries in annual index on ease of doing business
  • Britain is one place ahead of the US and significantly higher than any nation in the Eurozone
  • In the overall league table Britain ranks seventh. New Zealand tops the list 

Britain is the most business-friendly major economy on the planet, the World Bank has said – casting fresh doubt on predictions of economic collapse after Brexit.

The UK came top of the G7 group of industrialised countries in an annual index on ease of doing business, one place ahead of the US and significantly higher than any nation in the Eurozone.

In the overall league table, Britain ranked seventh.

New Zealand – which has signalled its enthusiasm for a trade deal after we leave the European Union – topped the list.

It was followed by Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Britain was better ranked than its G7 peers America, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Germany was in 17th place, while France was 29th.
Supporters of Brexit said the study scotched claims that Britain would cease to be attractive to investors after leaving the EU.

EU flag after BrexitThere’s more at the original.

We have previously noted that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal vote from the European Union hasn’t been an all bad thing. Certainly not everything has worked out in the UK’s favor over this, as Microsoft and other overseas producers have raised prices in the UK significantly due to the lower pound Sterling, but eventually things will settle down.

FTSE 100The FTSE 100 index has certainly taken off since the Brexit vote. The vote was held on June 23rd, and you can easily see that the FTSE index skyrocketed following the vote. Certainly some businessmen saw the vote as a bad thing, but clearly the majority of investors did not. Perhaps the economic acumen of the plebeians was a bit better than that of the patricians.

This is, of course, just the short run; the actual Article 50 separation isn’t even scheduled until next March. But at least thus far, the vote of Her Majesty’s subjects has been vindicated.

The Democrats and Gun Control: What do they do when they are in charge? The Democrats are for gun control aimed at the law-abiding, and against gun control targeting actual criminals!

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats want to restrict the rights of law-abiding people to own firearms. Specifically, Mrs Clinton believes that the decision in District of Columbia v Heller, which first held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms,1 was wrongly decided.2 Yet, just what do the Democrats do when people who are legally barred from possessing firearms are caught? From The Baltimore Sun:

Arrests in Baltimore for illegal guns often lead to dropped charges or little jail time

by Justin Fenton | October 22, 2016 | 2:23 PM EDT

Baltimore police and prosecutors race to tamp down a sustained spike in violence, many of the charges against people caught with illegal guns aren’t sticking, or defendants are only jailed for a fraction of their sentence.

About one-quarter of such gun cases are dropped before defendants go to trial, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis. Even when convicted of illegally possessing a firearm, prosecutors say, defendants are sentenced on average to 16 months in jail, with a substantial portion of their sentences suspended.

At the same time, police data show that fewer people arrested with illegal guns are ordered held without bail.

In one case, a 23-year-old man was granted bail after being arrested in the city with a fully loaded revolver and is now accused of fatally stabbing a man in Baltimore County five days after his release. The arrestee had a felony record and faced a mandatory five years in prison on the gun charge.

“There’s no certainty of a consequence,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said of the Baltimore justice system, adding that he believes carrying an illegal gun should be viewed as a “pre-murder” crime.

Daniel Webster, a Johns Hopkins University professor who studies gun crime and has been consulting with city leaders, says the criminal justice system has been re-examining sentencing and bails, and not everyone deserves lengthy prison time. At the same time, he said, research shows “focusing on gun offenders very consistently, when done well, correlates with fewer people getting shot.”

The city is on track for more than 300 homicides this year, and last year’s count reached a historic per-capita high. In Baltimore, one of every three people shot dies, making it one of the most lethal cities in America, a recent Sun investigation found.

There’s more at the link, but the important fact to remember is: Baltimore is, and has long been, controlled lock, stock and barrel — phrase very deliberately chosen for this context — by the Democrats, yet when the city’s police actually catch someone who is legally barred from having a weapon, very little, if anything, is actually done to them.3

Let me be blunt here: melding their words with their deeds, the Democrats are for gun control aimed at the law-abiding, and against gun control targeting actual criminals! Oh, they’d certainly never say that, never admit that, but what else can be deduced from their words and their actual deeds?

The supposedly evil National Rifle Association’s position is, and has been, that the government shouldn’t seek to further restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens, but prosecute the violations of laws that already exist:

Violent crimes occur most frequently in more densely populated urban areas, and our most densely populated cities are almost all under Democratic rather than Republican party control. The Obama Administration has not been doing very much to enforce existing federal gun control laws, and our cities haven’t been doing all they should about prosecuting gun crimes in their jurisdictions.

Rather, the Democrats have found it easier to politicize gun control, to claim the need for passing more laws, laws aimed at people who do not have criminal records, than it is to enforce the laws already on the books. What can we conclude other than the Democrats prefer talk about gun control to taking action against criminals?
Cross-posted on RedState.

  1. The Heller decision applied only to federal enclaves, such as the District of Columbia. The subsequent case of McDonald v Chicago extended Second Amendment guarantees of the individual right to keep and bear arms to the states.
  2. Mrs Clinton said, at a small, private fundraiser, the audio of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon:

    “I was proud when my husband took (the National Rifle Association) on, and we were able to ban assault weapons, but he had to put a sunset on so 10 years later. Of course (President George W.) Bush wouldn’t agree to reinstate them,” said Clinton.

    “We’ve got to go after this,” Clinton continued. “And here again, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
    “I’m going to speak out, I’m going to do everything I can to rally people against this pernicious, corrupting influence of the NRA and we’re going to do whatever we can,” she said.

    Clinton argued that the NRA has “so intimidated elected members of Congress and other legislative bodies that these people are passing the most absurd laws.”

  3. CNN ran a story noting the lack of federal gun prosecutions, which President Obama tried to blame on wicked Republicans cutting funds, but the Baltimore story is about the failure of state prosecutions for firearms offenses.

Orange is the new black: Kathleen Kane is out on bail, pending her appeals She received a very light sentence; she ought to just go ahead and get it over with

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Despite plea for leniency, Kane gets 10 to 23 months in jail

by Angela Couloumbis and Craig R. McCoy, Staff Writers

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D-PA) is led away from the Montgomery County Courthouse in handcuffs.

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D-PA) is led away from the Montgomery County Courthouse in handcuffs.

A tearful Kane pleaded for leniency, urging the judge to consider the impact on her sons.

“I would cut off my right arm if they were separated from me and I from them,” she said. “Please sentence me and not them.”

But (Judge) Demchick-Alloy was not swayed. “It’s a shame that they had to go through all of this,” she told Kane. “But that’s a decision you made, not this court.”

Unable to immediately post $75,000 bail, Kane was led in handcuffs from the courtroom to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville. She was released hours later – and might not have to return any time soon. She will remain free on bail until she exhausts her state appeals, a process that could take months.

As long as Mrs Kane behaved in prison, she’d be released in ten months, if she’d just go ahead and start serving her sentence. She got off easily, and it would simply make sense to go ahead and do her time, now, and get it over with. “Until she exhausts her state appeals” will probably take longer than the ten months it would take her to complete her sentence. As a first-time offender, convicted of crimes which had no violent component, and a low escape risk, Mrs Kane would almost certainly be assigned to a reasonably safe, minimum security facility.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, glamorized by The New York Times and called the “Democrats’ new ‘It’ Girl” by Real Clear Politics. (Photo: Mark Makela for The New York Times) Click to enlarge.

Instead, she’s going to rack up millions more in legal fees, in a case that was so open-and-shut it took the jury only 4½ hours to deliberate and convict on all charges.

Mrs Kane is currently receiving $350,000 in alimony and child support from her estranged husband, Christopher Kane of Kane is Able trucking, and is anticipating about $6 million in the final settlement. I suppose that as long as she’s out on bail, that alimony and child support will continue, but with the legal expenses she’s accruing, $350,000 won’t do much more than pay the lawyers. Unless Mr Kane does not want custody, Mrs Kane would seem likely to lose custody, now being a convicted felon.

Their sons are aged 15 and 14; they would still be minors when Mrs Kane completes her sentence, if she would just go ahead and serve her time and get it over with! “The Democrats’ new ‘It Girl‘s'” reputation is in tatters, and all that an appeal can do at this point is to keep her name in the news, and not in a good way.

She can do her time, and then live quietly on the millions she’ll get from her soon-to-be ex-husband. That might not be what she envisioned when, as a newly-elected Attorney General, the first Democrat ever elected to that office in Pennsylvania, she was being touted as a challenger to then-Governor Tom Corbett (R-PA), with perhaps a US Senate or even presidential race in her future, but it’s really the best she has left.

For Kathleen Kane, orange is the new black.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Facing prison, Kane pleads for mercy for her sons

by Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis, Staff Writers
Updated: October 24, 2016 — 2:47 PM EDT

A tearful Kathleen Kane apologized Monday to the state of Pennsylvania and begged a judge to impose a sentence that would show mercy not on her, but on her teenage sons.

“I would cut off my right arm if they were separated from me and I from them,” Kane told Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy. “Please sentence me and not them.”

Kane’s comments came amid a daylong hearing in Norristown, where the disgraced former Attorney General is to be sentenced for perjury, obstruction and other crimes. After a short break, the judge was expected to announce Kane’s punishment later Monday afternoon.

There’s more at the link. The former Attorney General, who promised to take on the Old Boys Club in the office, wound up going the mommy route, pleading to be sentenced to some form of house arrest. When it came to the crunch, she tried to play the woman card. It didn’t work: Judge Demchick-Alloy sentenced Mrs Kane to 10 to 23 months in the state penitentiary.

It’s difficult for me to feel sorry for Mrs Kane. Her husband gave her $2.3 million to run for Attorney General, and now she’s divorcing him, for reasons not made public. Mrs Kane anticipates a settlement of $6 million from her estranged husband, receives $350,000 per year in alimony and child support, and retains the family’s sprawling home in Clarks Summit. If she actually receives all of that, she’ll wind up a heck of a lot better off than the vast majority of Pennsylvanians. Her estranged husband, Christopher Kane:

has spent more than 30 years at the Scranton-based Kane is Able, a trucking, warehouse and freight company that specializes in consumer packaged goods. Kane is a board member and the chief customer strategy officer.

Kane’s grandfather started the business in 1930 and his late father, Eugene “Gene” Kane, Sr., took it over in 1955, according to Kane Sr.’s obituary.

The company is also identified as Kane Freight Lines, Kane Warehousing and Kane Trucking in court records and Federal Election Commission documents.

In other words, Mrs Kane will (probably) receive a big chunk of money from the company created and built up by her husband’s father and grandfather. She’ll walk out of prison, twenty-three months from now at the latest — barring an appeal and delaying serving her sentence on bail — a wealthy enough woman that she won’t need that now-lost law license.

Mrs Kane trashed then-Governor Tom Corbett (R-PA) in her campaign of 2012, arguing that the Governor, who had previously been Attorney General, had dragged his feet in the Jerry Sandusky case, for political reasons, and put other children at risk due to it. But despite her claims, no new victims of Mr Sandusky’s were harmed during the time the investigation began, and the case, which did take a long time to craft, was iron-clad, resulting in multiple convictions, and Mr Sandusky sentenced to so long in prison that if he gets out — which is unlikely — he’ll be 97 years old. An investigation vindicated Governor Corbett and the Attorney General’s office, but it turned out to be Mrs Kane who was the criminal.

This isn’t just justice, it’s karmic justice!
And an update: this tweet shows Mrs Kane leaving court, in custody, in handcuffs.

Karmic justice indeed!

AT&T CEO pledges journalistic independence for CNN Meaning: CNN will still be a partisan voice for the Democrats

From CNNMoney:

AT&T CEO pledges journalistic independence for CNN

by Brian Stelter | @brianstelter | October 23, 2016: 5:43 PM ET

AT&T has never owned a news division before. Now, assuming its $85 billion deal to acquire Time Warner passes regulatory muster, it will take control of CNN, one of the world’s biggest news organizations.

Journalists at the network, myself included, immediately had questions about how AT&T will approach its role as a steward of news.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has already given some thought to this subject.

“Ensuring the public that CNN remains independent from an editorial perspective is critical,” Stephenson said in an email shared with a group of top journalists and media CEOs on Sunday.

Stephenson’s email described CNN as “an American symbol of independent journalism and First Amendment free speech.”

In a phone interview with CNNMoney Sunday afternoon, Stephenson elaborated: “We are fully appreciative and cognizant of that kind of independence.”

“I think you can begin to destroy a brand like CNN if you begin to meddle in its independence,” he said.

There’s more at the original, but let’s tell the truth here: while the story makes it seem as though CNN is an honest broker, an impartial reporter of the news, that’s anything but the case. I’ve said it before: CNN is totally in the bag for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and for Democrats in general, just as Fox News Channel might as well be the Donald Trump Channel. The CNNMoney sector seems a little less partisan than the regular CNN news services, but it, too, demonstrates at least some bias in favor of Mrs Clinton.1

I have long since given up any illusions that journalists can be, and are, impartial. Freedom of speech and of the press means, inter alia, that journalists have just as much right to think and say what they believe as anyone else. Naturally, their companies exercise editorial control over what is published or broadcast, as is their right. I just wish that they were a little bit more honest about their editorial biases.2

If I want to watch the news from a reasonably fair perspective, I’ll watch CNBC, the financial news network. But, most of the time — in part due to my poor hearing — I prefer to read the news, not watch it on television.

  1. CNNMOney balanced this morning’s story, I’m a Republican and I can’t vote for Trump, with Heather Long’s Meet ‘Joe the Plumber’ of 2016 on the 18th, chronicling two long-time Ohio Democrats planning to vote for Donald Trump.
  2. I appreciated it when MSNBC basically announced that it was going full-left wing; at least they were telling the truth. That didn’t work all that well for them, and they tried to be a little less blatant about it in early 2015. Nevertheless, I virtually never watch MSNBC.

Major League Baseball wastes more money

With the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, this story caught my attention. From The Wall Street Journal:

Major League Baseball Expected to Move Headquarters to Midtown

Major League Baseball is expected to sign a lease as early as Thursday at the former Time & Life Building

By Keiko Morris | October 19, 2016 8:27 p.m. ET

Major League Baseball is expected to sign a large lease as early as Thursday to consolidate its Manhattan operations at the former Time & Life Building, according to people familiar with the deal.

The league intends to establish a 400,000-square-foot headquarters at the renamed 1271 Avenue of the Americas, a 48-story skyscraper that sits between West 50th and West 51st streets.

Earlier this year, the tower’s owner, the Rockefeller Group, began a makeover and restoration. The landlord has said it expects to spend about $600 million for the redevelopment, with construction costs running about $325 million.

The lease deal with the baseball organization will provide the Rockefeller Group an anchor tenant for its redevelopment.

The league and its digital subsidiary will relocate from offices at 245 Park Ave. in Midtown Manhattan and 75 Ninth Ave. in Chelsea, taking floors four through nine at the new location. Major League Baseball will have access to an outdoor terrace overlooking Sixth Avenue.

There’s more at the link. But an obvious point occurred to me: There are two Major League Baseball teams in New York, neither of which is in Manhattan; the other twenty-eight clubs are spread out across the country. Wouldn’t it make more sense for MLB to find office space in Cincinnati, where it could be secured for a tenth of the cost? Heck, even if they had to stay in New York, why not Brooklyn — which is getting almost as pricey as Manhattan — or the Bronx?

MLB could (slightly) improve the economy of the Queen City — or whatever other small market it chose in which to locate — and save itself money at the same time, but no, they’ve just got to be in Manhattan. I guess that Commissioner Manfred just can’t give up his Manhattan dining.

The Success of Socialism: Part 3 How stupid do Socialists have to be to take the world's largest oil reserves and turn them into junk?

From The Wall Street Journal:

Venezuelan Oil Is Largely Staying in Ground or Going Up in Smoke

By Anatoly Kurmanaev

PUNTA DE MATA, Venezuela — This fading oil town has an eerie glow at night, illuminated by dozens of oil wells burning off precious oil and gas for lack of functioning equipment to process it.

Every month, Punta de Mata’s smoke columns grow higher, a staggering waste at a time when Venezuela, the holder of the world’s largest oil reserves, desperately needs cash from every barrel to import scarce food and medicine. The wells are, quite literally, burning money.

Making matters worse, for every barrel of light crude burned off at Punta de Mata’s wells, Venezuela needs to spend dollars importing a barrel of diluent to mix with the very heavy oil produced in the country’s south.

“This is pure mismanagement,” said Carlos Bellorin, an oil analyst at IHS Inc. in London. “There’s no other rational explanation for such waste.”

The decrepit state of aging fields like Punta de Mata, which provide the bulk of Venezuela’s revenues, is a crucial reason why the country’s oil output is falling faster than that of any other major oil producer bar insurgency-riven Nigeria.

Venezuelan crude production shrank 11% to 2.3 million barrels a day in a year to September, according to government figures, and the consulting firm Medley & Associates expects the fall to accelerate in the next 12 months. Barring a spike in oil prices, falling production will plunge Venezuela ever deeper into economic crisis.

The decline in output deepens Venezuela’s economic pain at a time when the economy is already forecast to contract by 10% this year. The government is struggling to earn enough dollars to import food and medicine and pay almost $16 billion due to foreign creditors between now and the end of next year.

There’s a lot more at the original, and it gives the thorough explanation for Venezuela’s economic problems related to the oil industry. I’ll be far briefer: the problem is socialism, and the cockamamie attitudes it creates. Rather than relying on experienced managers and oil executives, “government expropriations, corruption and collapsing wages” robbed the oil companies of skilled workers and managers, leaving the industry in a shambles. Socialist President Nicolás Maduro blames, as always, the United States, but while worldwide oil production has decreased slightly — just 0.5% — Venezuelan production is down sharply, 11%, and if prices have dropped dramatically, that loss of production means even fewer dollars coming in.

There’s some real irony in all of this. Venezuela has been suffering significant shortages of basic necessities due to the artificially low ‘official’ government-set prices. Finally, the government decided to stop enforcing those prices, and let the market set the value for food, which led to skyrocketing prices but the actual availability of food. Yet, in that one area of the Venezuelan economy in which the socialist government was happy to let the market set the price — or at least was happy when the price was over $100 a barrel — when the market price came down, the industry started to collapse. To paraphrase Lady Margaret Thatcher, the socialists ran out of other people’s money on both ends of the economic spectrum.

Socialism, as Karl Marx defined it, is dependent upon a developed class consciousness, one which stems from economic conditions, and that, eventually, the working classes would develop a fairly homogeneous class consciousness, one which would have a share-and-share-alike economic attitude with all one’s class fellows. Leaving aside for the moment just how silly that is — are we to expect fathers to have just as much regard for fellow workers, people they might not even know, as they do for their own children? — the Venezuelan government has been so rife with corruption and empire-building that the powerful have been nothing but the enemies of the producers and the workers. Born into a poor family, President Maduro has nevertheless managed to accumulate a fortune of $275 million. Of course, that pales in comparison to the Chavez family fortune: the daughter of late President Hugo Chavez is reported to be worth as much as $4.2 billion. The Socialists in power have nothing but contempt for the masses they claim to serve; if only leftist Americans understood that!

Socialism doesn’t work because socialism cannot work. It is based on false premises formulated by a (supposed) intellectual who never understood human nature, and based his ‘economics’ on a crackpot theory. It has failed everywhere it has been tried.

Support for capital punishment is fading among Republicans Republican support didn't seem to matter in getting executions actually carried out

From The Wall Street Journal:

Some Republican Lawmakers Back Ballot Measures to Overturn Death Penalty

New opponents see a costly government program that isn’t working or cite religious objections

By Zusha Elinson | Updated Oct. 23, 2016 7:29 a.m. ET

Campaigns fighting to overturn the death penalty at the ballot box are getting unlikely support from some Republicans, who cite a growing concern that it has become a costly and ineffective government program.

In November, voters in Nebraska and California will decide whether to abolish the death penalty, while Oklahomans will vote on a measure that would give the state more leeway in the methods used to kill death-row inmates.

“Republicans are starting to take the lead on this issue, they’re starting to say we’re going to use our conservative principles and get rid of this,” said Colby Coash, a Republican state senator from Nebraska. “Here’s a broken government program, if you want to fix broken government programs.”

Mr. Coash rallied the Republican-majority state Legislature to ban the death penalty last year. Now, the question has landed on the ballot, but his opponents argue that voters in the Cornhusker State won’t be so easily convinced.

There’s more at the link.

There are ten men on death row in Nebraska; since the reinstitution of capital punishment in 1976, just three condemned men have been put to death in the Cornhusker State, all between 1994 and 1997. No one has been executed in Nebraska since December 2, 1997.

None of those three men ‘volunteered’ for execution, by voluntarily dropping their appeals. Here in Pennsylvania, where we have a whopping 175 men and two women on death row, there have also been just three executions since 1976, two in 1995 and one in 1999, and all three men voluntarily dropped all of their appeals.

On January 14, 2015, outgoing Governor Tom Corbett (R-PA), signed the last four death warrants of his four-year term, for a total of 48 death warrants signed. Yet, despite having a Republican-controlled state legislature, and a tough-on-crime former Attorney General as Governor, and as much support for executing criminals as the political machinery of government could provide, not one single condemned man was executed. Current Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) signed an executive order putting a moratorium on all executions in Pennsylvania pending a state Senate-ordered review of capital punishment, and the state Supreme Court upheld the Governor’s authority to grant the reprieves.

In Pennsylvania, the district attorneys use capital punishment as a political tool, to show how they are Tough On Crime, pressing death penalty cases for criminals they know will never be executed even if convicted and sentenced to death. It imposes serious additional costs to the state, not only for the numerous appeals which are granted, dragging out over decades, but also the special housing conditions for death row inmates. The death penalty in Pennsylvania is simply a way of saying that we think you are a really, really bad guy, and a way for prosecutors to score political points, but it isn’t anything which results in criminals actually being executed, and everyone involved in the system knows it.

Further down in the Journal article:

California has the largest death-row population in the country, with 743 inmates sentenced to die. But the state has put to death just 13 people since 1977; the last execution was 10 years ago.

Ron Briggs, a retired El Dorado County supervisor and a lifelong Republican, helped his father, a state senator, pass a proposition in 1978 that expanded the death penalty in California.

But Mr. Briggs now calls his early work “a terrible mistake,” and is campaigning to abolish it. He opposes it in part because of the price tag. California could save $150 million a year by eliminating the death penalty, due to the cost of extensive appeals and housing for inmates, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office estimated.

“We’re spending a $150 million a year on a government program that does nothing but enrich lawyers and protect criminals,” said Mr. Briggs.

Yup, that’s right: the system does not work, and really it cannot work, not unless we go back to taking condemned men outside and hanging them from an oak tree right after conviction.

For some Republicans, a new take on the death penalty has to do with religious convictions as well.

“The pro-life position never squared with the death-penalty position,” said Dan Parsons, a spokesman for the Nebraska campaign to end the death penalty and a Republican who previously supported the penalty.

The Catholic Church has been opposed to capital punishment for many years, the Church’s position being that while capital punishment is allowable for the defense of society, it should not be used when alternative methods of punishing murderers and protecting the public exist. That is my position as well: if you have a murderer in custody, and are able to execute him against his will, you have, by definition, reduced him to a position of helplessness, and thus there is no need to execute him.

Nationwide, there have been 17 executions so far in 2016. Seven of them were in Georgia, and another seven in Texas; Alabama, Florida and Missouri each executed one man. Not one single condemned man has been executed in the other 45 states this year. We appear to be far more pro-life when it comes to capital punishment than abortion!

Capital punishment has simply passed away from any point of usefulness: it is so infrequently applied, and so long delayed, that it has lost any deterrent value, if it ever had any in he first place. All that it is now is an additional drain on taxpayer dollars. It makes more sense to abolish it than to maintain it.

The Success of Socialism: Part 2 Nicolás Maduro ends what was left of democracy in Venezuela

From CNNMoney:

Venezuela’s food prices skyrocket as people go hungry

by Patrick Gillespie and Osmary Hernandez | October 21, 2016: 9:21 AM ET

Earlier this year, Venezuelans suffered through acute food shortages.

Now food is starting to reappear on more and more supermarket shelves. But the prices are prohibitive for almost everyone.

“The prices are really really high…people are just shocked by the price increases,” says Alejandro, a 24-year old who works at a law firm in Maracaibo, Venezuela, near the border of Colombia.

It’s the latest reality in a country where people are going hungry: food within eyesight but out of reach.

To ease the shortages, Venezuela’s government has quietly stopped enforcing some of its price controls on food in parts of Venezuela that border Colombia and Brazil where food is shipped in.

It wasn’t feasible for many Venezuelan businesses to bring in basic goods from other countries. That’s because no matter what price they paid, they were forced to sell at super low prices dictated for years by the socialist government.

There’s more at the link, but the details all boil down to one thing: real prices are set by the free market, and when governments try to impose artificially low prices, producers quit producing and sellers quit selling, because they would be losing money. Now, Venezuela has been forced to stop imposing price controls on some basic foodstuffs, and these things are now becoming available, but because they are still scarce, the market prices are now artificially high. Eventually, if the government doesn’t do something stupid — a big ‘if’ in a country like Venezuela — supply and demand will come into some sort of equilibrium, and prices will stabilize at lower levels, but still levels that are higher than the ‘official’ government prices, prices which can still support a profit.

And how is the government reacting? Just as you’d expect from Socialists! From The Wall Street Journal:

Venezuela’s Moves Signal Gutting of Democracy

Action to end constitutional recall effort against President Nicolás Maduro comes after postponement of state elections and weakening of Congress

By Anatoly Kurmanaev | Updated October 21, 2016 6:05 p.m. ET

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela’s government has steadily become more authoritarian in recent years, but many citizens feel it cast off the last vestiges of democracy Thursday night, when electoral authorities extinguished the opposition’s efforts to recall President Nicolás Maduro by referendum.

The action came days after the government postponed December elections for governors that it would have badly lost and stripped the legislature of one of last powers it had left: its constitutional right to pass a federal budget.

Taken together, the moves signal the end of any hope that Mr. Maduro could be removed from power through referendum, as provided for under the constitution, or even have his executive power checked. And they fuel growing doubt about whether Mr. Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will hold presidential elections scheduled for 2018.

Public figures and intellectuals here have this week decried an official end to democracy in a country with one of Latin America’s longest and strongest democratic traditions.

“Democracy doesn’t exist without the separation of powers, without elections and without votes,” Alberto Barrera, a noted author here, said in an online column this week. “That has another name.”

The government followed the referendum’s suspension by issuing travel bans for 11 opposition leaders, including former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and Jesús Torrealba, the general secretary of the opposition alliance. The move was likely aimed at preventing the opposition from drumming up international support for their cause, one of the few avenues of action left to them.

Again, there’s more at the original. Since his (legitimate) election in 1999, Socialist President Hugo Chávez engaged in several periods of ‘rule by decree,’ or one-man dictatorship. The majority of his presidency, which he held until his death on March 5, 2013, was under the states of emergency to allow that dictatorship. President Maduro, his successor, continued Sr Chávez’ socialist policies, which continued the decline in the standards of living of his countrymen, leading to civil unrest, and opposition electoral victories, so he, too, has been ruling by decree ever since November of 2013.

Remember when those paragons of the American left made their paeans of praise for Sr Chávez? Allen West noted what he called the ‘cricket effect,’ as these loudmouthed leftists have now stopped talking, as their Socialist heroes became dictators — what they were accusing President George Bush of being — and his Socialist country was run into the septic tank:

But, where are those voices when it comes to the apparent disaster and failure evidenced in Venezuela? Yes, the cricket effect. Once upon a time, folks like Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and Oliver Stone sang the praises of Hugo Chavez. Where are their voices now?

The truly idiotic Cindy Sheehan, the mother who sullied the memory of her son’s sacrifice in Iraq, didn’t have enough sense to just shut up; she wrote this article of praise for Sr Chavez in March of this year, well after anyone with eyes could see that the Venezuelan presidents had turned into dictators, and well after anyone who could read knew that Venezuela had descended into economic chaos, monumental corruption, and one of the worst murder and crime rates in the world.

Revolution cannot be achieved or accomplished by one person, no matter how dedicated he/she is. Was the way of Chavez perfect? I don’t think so, but that’s the beauty of revolution — it’s a continuing process that takes everybody working together to achieve as close to perfection as mere humans can.

Now, reflecting on three years since his passing, and being with my own sister as she fights a cancer battle of her own, I am reminded that the dedication Chavez brought to fighting the cancer that eventually robbed him of life was only matched by his unrelenting dedication to the people of Venezuela. Chavez was young and vibrant, he was not ready to go. I can imagine his agony over leaving his children and grandchildren, and his beloved Venezuela. Three years ago today, the world lost a great human, father and leader. I was at a grocery store when I received a text telling me he had passed: I put my head on the cold door in the frozen food section and openly wept. I wondered if people were thinking I was crying because my favorite frozen pizza was not in stock. I didn’t care. I replaced the items I had in my basket, quickly left and cried all the way on my walk home.

I wept for my friend Chavez and myself, for the people of Venezuela and the world.

In my opinion, Hugo Chavez was a figure of enormous significance in the 21st century and history will recognize not only his leadership, but his profound humanity and compassion for the oppressed and downtrodden. Venezuela is fortunate that it had such a strong personality, even for such a short time.

A person like Chavez is not born every day and his passing was a tragedy, but I believe his legacy and spirit are strong enough to inspire his people to eventually and completely create a nation that is by and for everyone.

What idiocy! While I’m sure that the irony is lost on Mrs Sheehan, I had to laugh when I read that she ‘openly wept’ and put back the items that she was about to purchase in a grocery store! That she was able to buy food, in a grocery store, was a direct result of her being an American, of living in the United States, rather than in the Socialist paradise of empty food shelves that is Venezuela. At a time when the people of socialist Venezuela are starving, the capitalist United States can’t keep people from Central and South America from streaming across our borders in search of a better life. At a time when working people in socialist Venezuela can’t buy enough food, poor people in the capitalist United States are more likely to be obese than those who are not poor.

The facts are clear: socialists are stupid, and you just can’t fix stupid.
Cross-posted on RedState.