Obama to Chavez: Pound sand

posted at 9:04 am on December 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Well, well, well.  Do we detect a hint of sulfur in Barack Obama’s reaction to Hugo Chavez today?  President Obama has kicked the Venezuelan ambassador out of the US in retaliation for the rejection of Obama’s choice of ambassador to Venezuela:

Washington has revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the US, the US state department has said.

The move comes amid a diplomatic dispute between the two countries over President Barack Obama’s choice of ambassador to Caracas, Larry Palmer. …

The US move in effect expels Venezuelan envoy Bernardo Alvarez Herrera.

Alvarez Herrera isn’t in the US at the moment, which means Obama effectively locked him out of the country.  Venezuelan officials in Caracas confirmed the revocation on Twitter this morning.  That leaves both countries without an official representative in the respective capitals.

Obama essentially called Chavez’ bluff with strictly reciprocal action.  Chavez dared him to cut diplomatic ties altogether, but Obama didn’t go that far.  Officially, diplomatic ties remain in place and both embassies remain in operation.  If Chavez wants to cut diplomatic ties, he’ll have to do it himself.

Undoubtedly, Chavez will escalate his war of words against Obama and the US, but he’d better be careful.  The US is the major consumer of Venezuelan oil, the only real source of income Chavez has.  We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us — but Chavez may find it more difficult to unload his highly sulfuric crude elsewhere.  The US has the best ability to refine it, and his new allies in Iran and Russia are net oil exporters, not importers.  If Chavez manages to entirely kill the oil industry, which is the long-term direction he’s taking anyway, the shortages and poverty it will cause will eventually find him fleeing Venezuela for asylum in Tehran or Moscow, or perhaps on the wrong end of a military coup.


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President Obama has kicked the Venezuelan ambassador out of the US in retaliation for the rejection of Obama’s choice of ambassador to Venezuela:

si se puede, bendejos.

ted c on December 30, 2010 at 9:06 AM

…….or perhaps on the wrong end of a military coup.

Now we’re cookin’…….

BigWyo on December 30, 2010 at 9:08 AM

Sean Penn and Danny Glover hardest hit.

BigWyo on December 30, 2010 at 9:09 AM

So, Obama and Chavez have something in common – a desire to destroy their own oil businesses?

OldEnglish on December 30, 2010 at 9:13 AM

Sean Penn and Danny Glover hardest hit.

BigWyo on December 30, 2010 at 9:09 AM

heh. But I thought Sean Penn got a case of “a$$ cancer” or something…. I hear that they have doctors for that in Havana.?? er, maybe not…

ted c on December 30, 2010 at 9:13 AM

If we were a country that wanted to survive, we wouldn’t be buying Venezuelan oil anyway. Chavez may force us to do what we should be doing anyway.

thuja on December 30, 2010 at 9:13 AM

Obama’s also ordered all White House vehicles not to fill up at Citgo stations anymore. Take that, Hugo.

jon1979 on December 30, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Obama, no one is fooled. Anyone who has been through high school knows you can’t dump someone who has already dumped you.

flyfisher on December 30, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Chavez will escalate his war of words against Obama and the US, but he’d better be careful. The US is the major consumer of Venezuelan oil, the only real source of income Chavez has. We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if this was a coordinated effort to bring an oil crisis to the US and exponentially raise the cost of gas.

The Marxists will never let us use the massive reserves we have here. We need a Republican president in 2012 who will issue some executive orders of their own, freeing our oil and industry.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 9:17 AM

Alvarez Herrera isn’t in the US at the moment, which means Obama effectively locked him out of the country.

There’s always the sanctuary cities.

Rovin on December 30, 2010 at 9:18 AM

Obama’s also ordered all White House vehicles not to fill up at Citgo stations anymore. Take that, Hugo.

jon1979 on December 30, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Now that WILL hurt Venezuela. No joke.

Geronimo on December 30, 2010 at 9:18 AM

Awwwww, trouble in paradise?

Tony737 on December 30, 2010 at 9:21 AM

Don’t try to out-socialize me, cousin Hugo. We’ll see who destroys their country’s private industries first!

RedRedRice on December 30, 2010 at 9:22 AM

It has to be amazing to be in Obama’s head and watch every idealistic notion of his on how the world works come to abject failure. He has to suffer bruises from his confrontation with reality every day. I doubt he’s feeling them, but nothing he tries works.

I wonder if he threw that book away from where he kept it on his nightstand…

beatcanvas on December 30, 2010 at 9:23 AM


We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us …

I seem to recall Obama saying “But that’ll take 10 years.”

Tony737 on December 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

I seem to recall Obama saying “But that’ll take 10 years.”

Tony737 on December 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

yeah, but global warming will consume us all in <10 years so what's the use right? I mean, look how hot it is in NYC these days….oh wait!

ted c on December 30, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Good point Rovin
:)

cmsinaz on December 30, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Obama to Chavez: Pound sand

or, “When Socialists Compete for the Insanity of the Year Award”

MikeA on December 30, 2010 at 9:29 AM

For the love of God, Ed, please stop with the double-spacing between sentences.

illustro on December 30, 2010 at 9:29 AM

So, Obama and Chavez have something in common – a desire to destroy their own oil businesses?

OldEnglish on December 30, 2010 at 9:13 AM

The scary truth here is yes, both of them would prefer their nations be in a state of economic dependency. The further this economy sinks, the more the people will depend on their government for relief. Killing free markets and private enterprise puts Obama right in the driver’s seat to nationalize the petro industry. “Welcome to Government Oil” and restricted government gas cards.

Rovin on December 30, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Obama has a testicle?

Who would have thunk?

percysunshine on December 30, 2010 at 9:33 AM

That leaves both countries without an official representative in the respective capitals.

pero amigos unoficial‘, verdad?

ted c on December 30, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Good for Obama i’m glad he did this. The other action I would’ve enjoyed would have been if Obama just kept sending Palmer over and over to Venezuela but that’s a bit childish.

MFn G I M P on December 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

I hope Zero handles this one right, The Water’s Edge and all that, but I also hope the ‘Pubs use this picture in their 2012 campaign ads. Obama shaking hands with Hugo, then show that R. Lee Ermey clip from last night!

… look how hot it is in NYC these days….oh wait! – Ted

haha

Tony737 on December 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

A good START.

percysunshine on December 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

“Welcome to Government Oil” and restricted government gas cards.

Rovin on December 30, 2010 at 9:30 AM

And the return of the spivs. Good times./

OldEnglish on December 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

Obama has a testicle?

Who would have thunk?

percysunshine on December 30, 2010 at 9:33 AM

On loan from Michele.

44Magnum on December 30, 2010 at 9:39 AM

First Ahmedinajad rejects him then North Korea disses him and now Chavez ditches him. All the loves of his carefree academic youth are abondoning him. And worst of all the Chinese communists are embracing the evil of capitalism and Raul Castro is seeking to employ some market reforms. Who can a left wing progressive turn to? Who can you trust to stick to Marxist principals? Only Pelosi and she has been cut off at the knees.

KW64 on December 30, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Guess this means Evil Clown will be asking for his book back, huh?

pilamaye on December 30, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Quarrels between lovers are the hardest to watch and it’s best not to get in the middle of it.

Kafir on December 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Maybe Obama felt personally disrespected after previously accepting that book from Chavez. That seems to be the one way to get a rise out of him. Just ask Reverend Wright.

Drained Brain on December 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Alvarez Herrera isn’t in the US at the moment, which means Obama effectively locked him out of the country.

Oh please, as if anyone is really ever locked out of this country. He’ll just come back through the Mexican border.

ctmom on December 30, 2010 at 9:42 AM

This move may force the new congress to force the EPA ET AL to issue permits to use our resources(oil) for National defense since hugo has a few missiles.
“If Chavez manages to entirely kill the oil industry, which is the long-term direction he’s taking anyway, the shortages and poverty it will cause will eventually find him fleeing Venezuela for asylum in Tehran or Moscow, or perhaps on the wrong end of a military coup.” boma would like to strangle our oil also but this would entail him making it past 2012 cause now he is laser focused on something,golf,economy,spring break,who knows.
Which country will boma hang out in once he is the former pres is the question?
Darwin has it right.
The Marxists will never let us use the massive reserves we have here. We need a Republican president in 2012 who will issue some executive orders of their own, freeing our oil and industry.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 9:17 AM

Col.John Wm. Reed on December 30, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Col.John Wm. Reed on December 30, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Then why didn’t Bush open ANWR with an executive order?

ctmom on December 30, 2010 at 9:46 AM

Ed, great article. But, President Obama should have turned up the heat, and told President Chavez that we will pound the sand into glass.

MSGTAS on December 30, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Here we go again. Obama does something good, & plenty of HA comments slam him for it. The same thing happened less than a week ago.
We need to choose our battles more carefully.

itsnotaboutme on December 30, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Then why didn’t Bush open ANWR with an executive order?

ctmom on December 30, 2010 at 9:46 AM

Votes? Remember these are the guys that pushed the massive Medicare prescription plan and wanted amnesty. It was all about politics, not what’s good for the country.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Here we go again. Obama does something good, & plenty of HA comments slam him for it. The same thing happened less than a week ago.
We need to choose our battles more carefully.

itsnotaboutme on December 30, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Nothing the democrats do is what it seems on the surface. Two years of Obama’s lies and decades of democrat deception have me questioning every move they make.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Officially, diplomatic ties remain in place and both embassies remain in operation. If Chavez wants to cut diplomatic ties, he’ll have to do it himself.

You say this like it means something. It means nothing. It certainly isn’t some show of toughness.

Jaibones on December 30, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Iran is an oil exporter, but as I’ve read elsewhere, it has to import gasoline.

Normally I oppose military coups. But I’m willing to make exceptions for Iran and Venezuela.

rbj on December 30, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Well, kudos to Obama for coming up with an appropriate response; strong enough, but not too strong. The blind hog does occasionally find a truffle.

michaelo on December 30, 2010 at 9:57 AM

There is little quite as spiteful as a liberal warfare. But, I do applaud O(this once)for standing up to Chavez.

jeanie on December 30, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Sulfur? What exactly are you trying to say Mr. Morrissey? I don’t want to presume and make diabolic assumptions…

President Obama has kicked the Venezuelan ambassador out of the US in retaliation for the rejection of Obama’s choice of ambassador to Venezuela:

Yet Syria is whispering sweet-nothings to Obama with his Executive Order appointing Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria (overriding the Senate who would not approve the guy). See, he can vacation and get some work done.

conservative pilgrim on December 30, 2010 at 9:58 AM

There is little quite as spiteful as a liberal warfare. But, I do applaud O(this once)for standing up to Chavez.

jeanie on December 30, 2010 at 9:58 AM

I know. The bar is set so low for Obama, and he barely clears the jump.

conservative pilgrim on December 30, 2010 at 10:00 AM

We should have embargoed Venezuelan petroleum years ago. We would have had a great deal of leverage with Venezuela and maybe been able to prevent their arming the radicals in neighboring countries. It would hurt them much more than it would hurt us because of the refining problem. We should reimburse those of our refiners who handle Venezuelan crude for making those parts of there refiners which specialize in handleing sulfer useless. I commented on this idea years ago in Captains Quarters.

burt on December 30, 2010 at 10:03 AM

In other ‘great moves’ by socialist governments, Cuba has cut state-subsidized soap!

I wonder how those wonderful doctors at those wonderful Cuban medical centers will now wash in prep for dealing with Sean Penn’s raging a$$ cancer.??

ted c on December 30, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Obama’s also ordered all White House vehicles not to fill up at Citgo stations anymore. Take that, Hugo.

jon1979 on December 30, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Who buys Citgo gas anyway? I haven’t since the clown show at the UN some time back.

darwin-t on December 30, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Do we detect a hint of sulfur in Barack Obama’s reaction to Hugo Chavez today?

Bad sulfer between those two is good for the rest of us.

petefrt on December 30, 2010 at 10:12 AM

See, he can vacation and get some work done.

conservative pilgrim on December 30, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Recess appointment, the only time he does anything is on recess.

darwin-t on December 30, 2010 at 10:16 AM

but [Chavez]’d better be careful. The US is the major consumer of Venezuelan oil, the only real source of income Chavez has. We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us — but Chavez may find it more difficult to unload his highly sulfuric crude elsewhere.

Umm… China?
And, even if you start drilling off the US’ shore today (which won’t happen) you won’t see any usable oil for 10 years.

Chavez’s got the US by the bollocks, like it or not.
Maybe Canada can compensate. We’d surely welcome the business, but our green whiners won’t let us produce more oil for you.

AlexB on December 30, 2010 at 10:18 AM

If Chavez manages to entirely kill the oil industry, which is the long-term direction he’s taking anyway, the shortages and poverty it will cause will eventually find him fleeing Venezuela for asylum in Tehran or Moscow, or perhaps on the wrong end of a military coup.

Viva la Revolution!

Dr Evil on December 30, 2010 at 10:20 AM

China wants to buy oil from Venezuela, and wants oil to the US cut off. Chavez agrees to sell oil to China. So Chavez now has an excuse to embargo crude shipments to the US.

Remember all those ‘experts’ predicting $100/barrel crude and $5 gasoline? Did someone in the White House tell those experts this was going to happen?

Skandia Recluse on December 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM

A good START.
percysunshine on December 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

A start to what? That’s not a facetious question; I genuinely have no idea what this means.

There are literally hundreds of diplomatic ways for countries to show contempt for one another. But kicking out ambassadors is the diplomatic equivalent of a guillotine. It is the very LAST resort in a breakdown of negotiations, generally taking place after a declaration of war.

But doing it as the FIRST indication of some sort of tiff between two leaders who had been acting like they had a high school crush on each other? This is frankly bizarre.

logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Great. Glad he showed some balls for once, BUT. Barry and kids won’t know what to do next and will end up mishandling this whole thing.

mimi1220 on December 30, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Yes and we will deploy a missile shield against those missiles Venezuela is getting from Iran…

Oh, wait a second…

I’m sure that ‘Smart Diplomacy’ is at hand as Obama and the signers of the latest treaty try to explain just why, exactly, they don’t think the southern US should be protected against ballistic missiles bought by Venezuela from Iran. Of course Barry could just rip up the treaty and declare it null and void, but that would mean admitting it was a mistake to make it in the first place.

Catch-22, Barry. How does it feel to be out manuevered by blow-hards?

ajacksonian on December 30, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Then President Clinton did not want drilling in Anwar because it would take 10 years, he said. How long ago was that?

GaltBlvnAtty on December 30, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Obama should appoint John Bolton ambassador to Venezuela. See how Chavez likes THEM apples.

The Monster on December 30, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Well, this would be peachy keen if he would lift the moratorium on the gulf and restricitons in ANWAR. Not gonna hold my breath.

bitsy on December 30, 2010 at 10:33 AM

A good START.
percysunshine on December 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

A start to what? That’s not a facetious question; I genuinely have no idea what this means.

There are literally hundreds of diplomatic ways for countries to show contempt for one another. But kicking out ambassadors is the diplomatic equivalent of a gu1llotine. It is the very LAST resort in a breakdown of negotiations, generally taking place after a declaration of war.

But doing it as the FIRST indication of some sort of tiff between two leaders who had been acting like they had a high school crush on each other? This is frankly bizarre.

logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:36 AM

The whole things sounds orchestrated.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 10:38 AM

itsnotaboutme on December 30, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Unfortunately, for Obama “Its all about me.” I agree more with
Drained Brain on December 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM
“Maybe Obama felt personally disrespected . . .”

As for picking our battles, we should be slamming him hard and as often as we can before 2012. This isn’t bean bag. You can bet ol’ “punish our enemies” Obama will give no quarter.

Bob in VA on December 30, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Then why didn’t Bush open ANWR with an executive order?

ctmom on December 30, 2010 at 9:46 AM

Votes? Remember these are the guys that pushed the massive Medicare prescription plan and wanted amnesty. It was all about politics, not what’s good for the country.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Sadly all y’all are correct on this.We were still drillin’ n pumpin’ back then in most places, Now we lean on congress and tell the WH to buzz off.2012 can not get here soon enough.

Col.John Wm. Reed on December 30, 2010 at 10:47 AM

“Hey Hugo! I need to look tough, and in charge. Gimme som’tn to work with here, will ya?”

IronDioPriest on December 30, 2010 at 10:51 AM

START = Recent START treaty that limits anti-missile defenses for the US.

That leaves the southern tier of States exposed to Iranian IRBMs sold to Venezuela. Range up to just a bit south of TN, if memory serves… sleep well, America.

Be a hell of thing to wake up with a city missing, you know?

ajacksonian on December 30, 2010 at 10:53 AM

I did a test post to make sure. The word “gu*llotine” (if properly spelled) gets bounced by the Hot Air server.

Quick Question: WTF?

Here’s an idea; if you get some psychopath who’s publically planning m*ss m*rder, then ban the freak and report his ISP info to somebody in law enforcement.

In the meantime, why not just let people who want to allude to the French Rev*lution; the Industrial Rev*lution; the W*r Between the St*tes; the H*locaust; or any one of a thousand other highly relevant historical references out of it?

Of course DOING some things involving some of those words can be evil. But that is precisely why TALKING about them is a very good and necessary activity, which should never ever be discouraged – especially on a putatively “political” forum.

logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:58 AM

The scary truth here is yes, both of them would prefer their nations be in a state of economic dependency. The further this economy sinks, the more the people will depend on their government for relief. Killing free markets and private enterprise puts Obama right in the driver’s seat to nationalize the petro industry. “Welcome to Government Oil” and restricted government gas cards.

Rovin on December 30, 2010 at 9:30 AM

……Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.

-Saul Alinsky, in the prologue to “Rules for Radicals.”

Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Prepping the battlefield.

iurockhead on December 30, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Hitler vs Stalin lite.

Hening on December 30, 2010 at 11:05 AM

The far left wing loons, who adore dictatorships, turn on Obama in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……..

I support Obama on this. Now…he just needs to stand by it. Something tells me, he’ll be the first to back down though.

And why aren’t we drilling for our own, rather than paying Venezuela, and supporting this dictatorship? Shame on Obama for that one!!!

capejasmine on December 30, 2010 at 11:07 AM

I’m pleasantly surprised, but not overly impressed.

cs89 on December 30, 2010 at 11:10 AM

This is frankly bizarre.
logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:24 AM

I agree. There’s a story behind this story.

Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Prepping the battlefield.

iurockhead on December 30, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Yes. And the only sane and effective response or antidote is freemarket populism at the executive level. Among those rumored to be candidates, the only demonstrably freemarket populist is Sarah Palin.

rrpjr on December 30, 2010 at 11:10 AM

I call BS

Always watch the right hand when the left hand is making distracting moves. This is planned. No way these two are at odds, no way.

scituate_tgr on December 30, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Who buys Citgo gas anyway? I haven’t since the clown show at the UN some time back.

darwin-t on December 30, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Admittedly I don’t get out much and my range of travel is much narrower these days but I haven’t even seen a Citgo sign in a long time. Are there still places around that sell Citgo gas?

Oldnuke on December 30, 2010 at 11:14 AM

This is planned. No way these two are at odds, no way.
scituate_tgr on December 30, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Completely right. It isn’t possible.

rrpjr on December 30, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Here we go again. Obama does something good, & plenty of HA comments slam him for it. The same thing happened less than a week ago.
We need to choose our battles more carefully.

itsnotaboutme on December 30, 2010 at 9:49 AM

We need to wait and see how the ensuing “energy crisis” is not wasted . . .

Meanwhile, can we expect Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and Oliver Stone rush to the White House to huddle with Barry in an attempt to defuse the imbroglio?

tpitman on December 30, 2010 at 11:28 AM

The US is the major consumer of Venezuelan oil, the only real source of income Chavez has. We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us — but Chavez may find it more difficult to unload his highly sulfuric crude elsewhere.

Our oil imports is no lever with Chavez. Oil, like money, is fungible on the world market. Sheesh, you would think that some people would learn such basic facts.

MJBrutus on December 30, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Welcome to Hugo-Hussein Kabuki Theater.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on December 30, 2010 at 11:57 AM

But…but….but…didn’t Barry say that he’d have no problems meeting with Chavez and introducing him to “Smart Power”?

GarandFan on December 30, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Danny Glover won’t know who to blow…

SurferDoc on December 30, 2010 at 12:11 PM

We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us —

You had me going until that point… Obama has specifically stated he wants oil prices to rise – albeit gradually, like a frog in a pot of water having the heat slowly turned up but doesn’t notice due to the gradual nature.

Why nobody calls Obama out for raising taxes on the poor due to that philosophy I’ll never know. Purposefully high oil prices = tax on the poor.

scotash on December 30, 2010 at 12:13 PM

“…[Chavez] better be careful. The US is the major consumer of Venezuelan oil, the only real source of income Chavez has. We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us — but Chavez may find it more difficult to unload his highly sulfuric crude elsewhere.”-Mr. Morrissey

It is the US that better be careful. Chavez, along with the rest of the world, are busily planning for the US collapse by making deals with the rest of the world while the US is busy bombing the rest of the world. Here are some recent headlines:

“Belarus planning to import 10 mln tonnes of Venezuelan oil in 2011”
Russia & CIS Business and Financial Newswire
December 15, 2010 Wednesday 6:18 PM MSK

“China will pump 40 billion dollars in Venezuela energy”
Agence France Presse — English
December 3, 2010 Friday 4:55 AM GMT

“ITALY : Petroleos de Venezuela and Italy’s Eni SpA decides to invest $17 billion in a pair of joint ventures”
Tendersinfo News
November 25, 2010

“Venezuela’s PDVSA and PetroVietnam have signed a 25-year contract to form a joint venture to produce and refine crude in the Orinoco delta area, the Venezuelan state oil giant PDVSA said June 30.”
“Venezuela, Vietnam form long-term Orinoco JV”
Platts Oilgram News
July 5, 2010 Monday

Connie Mack seems to agree that Venezuela’s deals are a problem for the US, not vice versa:

“Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s mission was clear as he met with the leaders of Belarus (also known as Europe’s last dictatorship) and Ukraine last week in an effort to open Venezuelan oil and gas fields to diversified development. During his trip, Chavez ensured that Kiev could act as a transit route for Venezuelan oil shipped to Belarus via the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline. The nation’s leaders also agreed to build a refinery in Belarus with the capacity to refine Venezuelan heavy crude…While Chavez reaches out to nations across the world to explore and refine Venezuelan oil, what is the Obama administration doing? The Administration is failing to protect U.S. national security interests by ignoring the fact that we currently rely upon Venezuela for approximately 10 percent of U.S. oil imports. Instead of strengthening oil reserves or working with important U.S. allies such as Canada – who is well poised to increase the flow of crude oil to our refineries – the Obama Administration has not made it a priority.” –C. Mack
US Fed News
October 27, 2010
“Debunking the Chavez Tour: Chavez’sTrip to Belarus & Ukraine Highllights Need for US Action”

dave742 on December 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Our oil imports is no lever with Chavez. Oil, like money, is fungible on the world market. Sheesh, you would think that some people would learn such basic facts.
MJBrutus on December 30, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Crude oil in the ground is exactly as fungible, and as valuable, as dirt. A Third World nation in the process of nationalizing (i.e., stealing) its natural resource extracting capital investments puts itself in a very precarious position. They are completely dependent upon foreign help to run and maintain all this fancy infrastructure.

In other words, the simple act of BUYING the oil is the tip of the iceburg. A totalitarian government has to form contracts with large multi-national corporations who have no rational reason to trust them.

There are literally a thousand ways to disturb this network. But a “tit-for-tat” wholesale love/hate relationship form of bilateral diplomacy is not among them. Like all aspects of foreign policy, this requires a rare combination of finess and resolve. And those are two qualities that Barack Obama has proven absolutely no capacity for whatsoever.

logis on December 30, 2010 at 12:22 PM

If Chavez manages to entirely kill the oil industry, which is the long-term direction he’s taking anyway, the shortages and poverty it will cause will eventually find him fleeing Venezuela for asylum in Tehran or Moscow, or perhaps on the wrong business end of a military coup.

The ReWrite Service™ has fixed another comment.

I SOOOOOO wanted to use “right”, but discretion is the better part of valor.

steveegg on December 30, 2010 at 12:44 PM

… as gasoline prices, currently above $3 a gallon nationwide, continue to creep up towards $4 a gallon, maybe higher…

Why is there NO OUTRAGE in the lame-stream media over this!?

Khun Joe on December 30, 2010 at 12:45 PM

FTA: If Chavez manages to entirely kill the oil industry, which is the long-term direction he’s taking anyway, the shortages and poverty it will cause will eventually find him fleeing Venezuela for asylum in Tehran or Moscow, or perhaps on the wrong end of a military coup.

One can only hope.

Wood Dragon on December 30, 2010 at 1:07 PM

The oil market is fungible. If we don’t buy Chavez’s oil, someone else will and won’t buy other oil that we end up buying. Nothing changes.

If we drill our OWN oil, then that leaves the unbought Chavez oil floundering in the market! That’s a good thing.

Dandapani on December 30, 2010 at 2:16 PM

logis on December 30, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Chavez has the capacity to extract crude all on his own. While he may not have much if any refining capacity, the crude is readily sold to a broad market outside the US. From there it will probably come to the US anyway via the third party that bought the crude.

MJBrutus on December 30, 2010 at 2:21 PM

I am pleasantly surprised Obama gave a very appropriate response to Chavez. Shocked even.

WannabeAnglican on December 30, 2010 at 3:04 PM

The oil market is fungible. If we don’t buy Chavez’s oil, someone else will and won’t buy other oil that we end up buying. Nothing changes.

Dandapani on December 30, 2010 at 2:16 PM

I made the mistake of saying this once, and an oil industry engineer pointed out to me that Venezuela’s oil — as Ed notes — is full of tar and sulphur, nothing like the light, sweet crude which comes out of the ground in Saudi Arabia. It apparently requires a full additional step in refining, a very expensive step.

As I understand it, the only major refining capacity in the world that is engineered for this crude is in the U.S. Is China willing to build a mess of brand new refineries just to buy this oil? Yeah, I guess so. But they will be making a deal with the devil at the same time, and they’ll need to play awfully rough when the Fat, Angry Clown decides to nationalize their oilfield investments.

Jaibones on December 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Note: Stratfor has a 2008 analysis of the relationship, but you have to register to read it. I’m not gonna.

Jaibones on December 30, 2010 at 3:23 PM

The US is the major consumer of Venezuelan oil, the only real source of income Chavez has. We can find our own oil — if Obama lets us — but Chavez may find it more difficult to unload his highly sulfuric crude elsewhere.

A big IF. Didn’t Obama put a moratorium on new offshore drilling for 7 years? Of course, a new President might rescind that in a little over two years…

Meanwhile, didn’t Obama send $2 billion to Brazil to drill for oil off their east coast? If Chavez throws a hissy fit, the Brazilians would gladly sell us some of their oil.

Brazilian Socialist President Lula and Chavez used to be good buddies, but money talks, and sometimes the client is king. Will Lula still cozy up to Chavez, or follow the money to the White House?

Steve Z on December 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Brazilian Socialist President Lula and Chavez used to be good buddies, but money talks…
Steve Z on December 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

As I recall Chavez and Obama were palling around quite a bit not so long ago.

Socialists lie about everything. But you can always trust them them to make every decision based on two factors:

1. Greed, and

2. Absolutely nothing else.

logis on December 30, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Jaibones is right about the quality of the crude that comes from Venezuela and where it can be refined. The Iranians are already low on refining capacity and importing gasoline. They are mildlly competent but don’t have to deal with similar extraction problems, so they are unlikely to be unable to help Hugo much.

Hugo will trash the VZ oil industry. He can’t hire anyone but political allies and has used PDVSA money everywhere but to help PDVSA work better.

It isn’t that he may not understand where his money comes from, he can’t do it without substantial expertise from the outside and the Chinese are unlikely to be able to provide it. Even really stupid capitalists resent having their assets nationalized, so most of the Western countries will not put people or assets into Hugoland.

Hugo is less competent than Robert Mugabe. Look at Zimbabwe. That’s the future.

Harry Schell on December 30, 2010 at 4:48 PM

Brazilian Socialist President Lula and Chavez used to be good buddies, but money talks…
Steve Z on December 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Lula is no longer president. At least in two more days.

Look at Zimbabwe. That’s the future.
Harry Schell on December 30, 2010 at 4:48 PM

I’ve been hearing this for a decade. How long does this process take?

dave742 on December 30, 2010 at 4:56 PM

No American patriot should ever consider buying gas at Citgo. Yes, I know oil is fungible and Venezuelan oil is everywhere, but Citgo is Chavez. Stay away from it. And if that hurts local franchisees, too bad. They can always sign up with another company.

fleiter on December 30, 2010 at 5:04 PM

si se puede, bendejos.

ted c on December 30, 2010 at 9:06 AM

The correct spelling and punctuation in Spanish is:

Si se puede, pendejos!

slp on December 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM

logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Allah almost banned me for doing what you just did — trying to go around the word restrictions by spelling the word differently. This is one of the problems with having followed Ed from Captains Quarters over to here; as I’ve said elsewhere, the libertarians treasure their rights so much that they take them past the point of civility — and then the lawmakers pass laws. The laws might not be the right laws, but whom do you blame?

unclesmrgol on December 30, 2010 at 6:40 PM

There are literally hundreds of diplomatic ways for countries to show contempt for one another. But kicking out ambassadors is the diplomatic equivalent of a gu1llotine.

It is the very LAST resort in a breakdown of negotiations, generally taking place after a declaration of war.

But doing it as the FIRST indication of some sort of tiff between two leaders who had been acting like they had a high school crush on each other? This is frankly bizarre.

logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:36 AM

It would appear our president has taken the whole personally. There’s no faster route to the underbelly of Obama’s bus than to personally diss the man himself.

SukieTawdry on December 30, 2010 at 10:01 PM

The oil market is fungible. If we don’t buy Chavez’s oil, someone else will and won’t buy other oil that we end up buying. Nothing changes.
Dandapani on December 30, 2010 at 2:16 PM

I made the mistake of saying this once, and an oil industry engineer pointed out to me that Venezuela’s oil — as Ed notes — is full of tar and sulphur….
Jaibones on December 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM

That’s not even the tip of the iceburg. Communism is exactly the same today as it was when Karl Marx “invented” the concept of legalized theft. But the WORLD has changed drastically since then.

Every step technology has taken away from brute resource extraction into the Information Age has made centralized control less and less feasible.

Don’t feel too awfully bad about making that “mistake,” though. Chavez is probably no more qualified to manage the oil industries he confiscated than Obama is to manage the financial institutions he is now running.

A hundred years ago, a Socialist takeover could retain (at least for the short term) over fifty percent of the productive capacity of the businesses it confiscated from its owners. Today, that is nowhere near the case. The world is far too complicated for that now; the dominoes will have to fall much faster than in Communism’s “good old days.”

logis on December 30, 2010 at 10:55 PM

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