MAGA: The Not America Edition

Donald Trump has been so successful at Making America Great Again that he's taking a few moments out of his "working vacation" at his golf course in New Jersey to help Make Not America Great, too! Last Tuesday, he waddled in off the links to ad lib some bullshit about fire and fury at North Korea's Boy Despot. Then, on Friday, Trump put down the putter to shake his tiny fists at Venezuela and shout, DON'T MAKE ME COME IN THERE.

We have many options for Venezuela, including a possibly military option if necessary.

Venezuelan President Maduro's son Nicolás Maduro Guerra responded on Saturday by threatening to send his own armed troops to the White House.

If the unlikely event of defiling the homeland came to pass, the rifles would arrive in New York. Mr. Trump, we would arrive and take the White House.

He seems nice! Shhhhh! Don't tell him the White House is in DC!

That Escalated Quickly!

But, still...why on earth would we send US troops to invade Venezuela???

Sure, the country's a basket case. Ten years ago Venezuela had a strong, charismatic leader and oil was close to $100 per barrel. Now Hugo Chavez is dead, his successor Nicolás Maduro is wildly unpopular, oil is bumping along at about $50, and Venezuela's annual inflation rate is 2,000%. There are widespread food shortages, and the average citizen has lost close to 20 lbs on the "Maduro Diet." The ruling Socialist party is trying to maintain its hold on power by jailing political opponents. And the streets are filled with protesters, with over one hundred dead and hundreds more injured in police crackdowns.

But Donald Trump has never cared about civil liberties or humanitarian catastrophe before. Is this the pivot we've all been waiting for?

Spoiler Alert: NO. He only gives a shit because Venezuela sits on the world's largest oil reserves.

Wait, how did Little Marco get in here?

Last month, the US responded to the chaos in Venezuela with sanctions against members of the Maduro regime. The FBI subsequently uncovered a plot by a high-ranking Venezuelan government minister to assassinate Senator Marco Rubio, who had spearheaded the sanctions legislation. Which is bad form, indeed! And also a sign that the country is in free fall, so maybe our president shouldn't keep responding like a shit gibbon that thinks he's a silverback.

If You Have a Problem, Donald Trump Will Make It Worse!

Right now, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico are all pressuring Maduro to cut that undemocratic shit out. But no one has forgotten that the United States spent a century propping up dictators in South America. The only thing that could cause Venezuela's neighbors to rally around Maduro is if they think the US is going send in troops to depose his government by force.

And right on cue, the guy who complained that we didn't seize Iraq's oil or Afghanistan's mineral wealth starts yammering about sending US troops in to stabilize Venezuela. As the Financial Times reports,

Analysts said that the Trump threat simply played into president Nicolas Maduro’s hands, giving him a great excuse to blame the US for his woes. “And just like that, Christmas came early for the strongman in Caracas,” tweeted Raul Gallegos, a Venezuela analyst at Control Risks.

In Caracas the government accused Mr Trump of trying “to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that would permanently alter the stability, peace and security of our region”.

Inside the new assembly on Saturday, delegates made angry speeches against Mr Trump and “Yankee imperialism”.

Paging Mike Pence! Clean Up in the Latin American Aisle!

Vice President Pence has been dispatched on a South American Whispering Tour to ask that everyone please just ignore Poppy until we get his meds regulated. Yesterday in Cartagena, Colombia, Mike and Mother Pence prayed with Venezuelan refugees who fled starvation and violence. The US is cutting back on international aid and closing the door on refugees, but Mike Pence feels their pain! Per WaPo,

“President Trump’s made it very clear we will not stand by while Venezuela collapses into dictatorship,” Pence said, arguing that “a failed state in Venezuela threatens the security and prosperity of our entire hemispheres and the people of the United States.”

Venezuela's Interior Minister Ernest Villegas shot back that the country which had a race riot this weekend should maybe STFU about civil liberties.

“The US and its satellite in Bogota are trying to give classes in democracy to Venezuela while it provides cover for neo-Nazis in its own territory,” Villegas wrote, linking to photos of the recent deadly march in Charlottesville, Virginia involving far-right groups.

Fair point.

Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been largely silent on Venezuela -- although he's been largely silent on everything else, so perhaps we shouldn't read into it. On the other hand, Tillerson was CEO of Exxon in 2007 when Hugo Chavez nationalized the oil companies and kicked Exxon out. Presumably, Rex Tillerson isn't crying over anything that hurts Chavez's successor and has the potential to drive up international oil prices.

And speaking of oil, Vladimir Putin has swooped in to provide some extra cash to the Maduro regime in exchange for large stakes in the state-owned oil companies for the Russian government and Rosneft. Because all roads lead to Russia!

Couldn't Be Better!

Makes you nostalgic for the good old days! Remember when Hugo Chavez stood up at the UN and called George W. Bush the devil?

Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.

We were so innocent then!

[WaPoFinancial Times / Miami Herald / CNN / CNN, again / WaPo, again / Business Insider]

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Five Dollar Feminist

Your FDF lives in Baltimore under an assumed identity as an upstanding member of the PTA. Shhh, don't tell anyone she makes swears on the internet!

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