Biden looks to Venezuela for a bailout

Joe Biden is in a bind.

Like everything else, he's blown it. Energy prices have gone through the roof, with gasoline prices at the pump pushing $6.00 a gallon in San Diego alone. They're expected to get higher, and each tic upward takes Joe down another notch in the polls. Biden has throttled U.S. capacity to produce its own energy by ending domestic drilling leases on federal lands. He's also scuppered the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. In place of that domestic and Canadian energy, we now buy Russian oil, some 600,000 barrels a day -- which just happens to finance Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine. The idea of putting sanctions on Putin, while keeping his oil money stream open, is like putting a bath plug on the bottom of a boat and ignoring the huge gash on the side.

"Don't underestimate Joe's ability to f*** things up," as President Obama used to say.

What's an incompetent president to do? Not reverse his bad decisions on domestic energy production, of course. Joe's looking for a bailout -- from Venezuela.

His latest scheme is to turn to Nicolas Maduro, the odious Marxist dictator who turned oil-rich Venezuela into a Cuba-style ruin to replace Russian oil.

According to Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Senior U.S. officials traveled to Venezuela on Saturday for talks with President Nicolas Maduro's government, seeking to determine whether Caracas is prepared to distance itself from close ally Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The trip, the highest-level U.S. visit to Venezuela in years, came as part of a U.S. effort to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some analysts also see U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela as a potential alternate source of oil supplies should Washington attempt to restrict Moscow's energy shipments.

Unlike Putin, Maduro's been under sanctions for years. The U.S. buys no oil from him and has frozen Venezuela's assets in the states. Not that long ago, Venezuela was one of our biggest foreign suppliers. The big U.S. oil companies that partnered with Venezuela to ship it to the states have since cut their losses and pulled out. But now there are hopes from Joe to make nice with the Beast of Caracas in order to stop those news stories about the U.S. sending Putin his war-bucks.

Instead of buying Russian oil, we will buy Venezuelan oil. And we will keep our own oil and gas in the ground because under Biden, we're all about "going green." What's wrong with this picture?

U.S. sanctions are a multi-layered thing in Venezuela -- they've been slapped on for various reasons on many officials -- for corruption, running drug cartels, torturing dissidents, and other outrages, as well as the big one that President Trump laid on -- which was stealing an election and refusing to recognize the country's rightfully elected president, Juan Guaido.

None of this bothered Maduro much. Maduro had a big brother to look to for succor -- Vladimir Putin -- and he kept himself and his cronies in cash by selling oil to Russian, Chinese, and Iranian oil customers. Mostly, though his country's oilfields have gone fallow based on socialist mismanagement of resources, impossible investment conditions including the jailing of foreign oil executives, and the general looting and thievery so rampant in his socialist hellhole.

All the same, swapping Putin's oil for Maduro's oil is kind of skeezy stuff. The first issue, right off the bat, is that lifting the energy sanctions on Venezuela pretty well signals that Joe Biden is not bothered by election fraud which is why the sanctions are there.

Well, yeah. Memo to Joe: This calls attention to the election fraud both of you have gotten away with.

Two, Joe has already screwed up his bargaining power with Maduro in that he's partially lifted some of Trump's tough sanctions in July 2021, the one about prohibiting Venezuela to export natural gas -- which has left him with less bargaining power. Apparently, Biden did that for nothing, he just wanted to reflexively reverse Trump's actions. That leaves him with less to work with.

Three, dropping sanctions on Maduro as a means of sticking it to Putin is a tough proposition for Maduro, who likes Putin's strongman loyalty and is undoubtedly grateful for Putin's custom and security guarantees. If he drops Putin, he'll have to face Venezuela's voters. Not likely he'll bend on that one, especially since he's doing fine for himself even under sanctions.

Big Oil and Wall Street have been doing his work for him since February, calling for an end to sanctions, while Maduro himself has been issuing the siren call for foreign investment.  Sure, he wants it. But he also wants the comforts of Putin, who has the money and muscle to keep him in power.

Biden being Biden, he may drop sanctions unilaterally on Maduro and ask nothing in return. But that will open a Pandora's box of hideous things -- drug dealing, terrorism, and a far more powerful Maduro who can harass and torture dissidents. 

All he has to do is open the U.S. to energy production. It says something nefarious that he'd rather go begging Maduro for a bailout. That soft spot that Democrats have held for hardcore socialists over the years, always denied, is pretty soft and rotten indeed.

Image: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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