Monday, September 1, 2014

Obama, Is He Our Boabdil?

Apologies for the very long delay in blogging. I had to deal with some boring health issues. The lab results were, well, what can I say? Just this: as with most of what happens in life, the results were worse than I hoped, but better than I feared. So, as one does in response to the majority of life's events, one muddles on and through. As the Brits, back when Brits were Brits, used to say, "Keep Calm and Carry On," or was it "Keep Clams with Curry On"? One or the other . . .

This will be a minor rant. I don't have the energy for a full-blown one. Besides, I have said so much of this before that I don't know whether it bears repeating anymore.

I am not going to link to all the Diplomad postings on the disaster that is Obama's foreign policy. You might want to entertain yourself on a dull evening doing that. Suffice it to say, that the disaster was foreseen. One did not have to be Nostradamus to see that Obama's sneering disregard for American and Western interests, and the institutions and principles which maintained those, would have dire consequences for the West and the world. We see those consequences in the arc of insanity that runs from Mauritania to Iran; in Putin's gleeful mocking of the West and in his drive to rebuild the empire of the Tsars; in China's growing aggressiveness; in the collapse of our foreign policy in Central and South America epitomized by the wave of illegals blatantly crossing our southern border and the increasingly bizarre politics of Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil. Everywhere we look around the world, the interests of the West--not just of America--are in retreat or collapse.

We see the disaster that has become Iraq. Obama has thrown away a stunning military victory and done so in exchange for what? Well, the same folks for whom just a few short months ago we were going to go to war for in Syria (remember the "red line" days?) are now on a Jihadist rampage in Syria and Iraq; known as ISIS they vow to set up a Muslim caliphate and to exterminate all the infidels. It now seems that we are discovering that the pencil-necked dictator of Syria, the very same one we were preparing to attack, is now our possible ally against the Islamist murder machine. We are now conducting a desultory bombing campaign against the very people we were preparing to defend with a desultory bombing campaign. Orwell must be having a laugh, "We were never at war with Eastasia." And at the State Department, the NSC, and the CIA? Nobody gets fired, nobody resigns, nobody stands up and says this is wrong.

The saddest, most frustrating matter of them all is that these opponents we face today are weak. They are nothing compared to Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. They should present no real challenge for the United States and the West. Russia is a gangster state kept afloat by oil money and bluff. China is largely bluff and kept afloat by our tolerance for their trade practices and the cupidity of Western governments and businesses willing to give, "lend," sell, and turn a blind eye to the theft of technology and industrial processes in exchange for, in essence, cheap or even slave labor. Islam is a hoax when it comes to warfare. Despite its chest beating and violent language, its "warriors" are good at killing the unarmed, the defenseless, and the weak. They do not do well when confronted by a determined Western army. These Jihadis, too, benefit financially from our refusal to become fully energy independent and to develop realistic and, yes, self-serving immigration laws.

When discussing Obama and his foreign policy, the range of options are that he is stupid, uninterested, or an evil little worm out to destroy the West. I think, others might disagree, that he is, in fact, all three. I will discuss that further in a subsequent post.

One of the things I have been doing on my down time these past weeks, has been  brushing up on one of my favorite topics, Spanish history. I am surprised that Hollywood has not done more with the amazing, at times, even unbelievable history of Spain. I was re-reading, in particular, accounts of the final days of the once great Muslim empire in Spain. The war to retake Iberia from the Muslims lasted nearly 800 years from a small but important victory in Covadonga to the final dramatic capitulation of Granada in 1492--an event, supposedly, witnessed by Christopher Columbus.

It was on reading the accounts of Granada's surrender to the forces of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, that I thought a good name for Obama is Boabdil. Bear with me. I know there's football on the tube. Boabdial, aka Mohamed XII, was the at-times confused, somewhat hapless, and at others conniving and always desperate last Muslim Emir of Granada. It fell to him to surrender Granada when it became clear that help was not on the way from the rest of the Muslim world and that he was facing alone the rampaging and victorious Christian forces of the Catholic Monarchs. The story, perhaps apocryphal, is that as Boabdil, his family, and his reduced band of hanger-ons left Granada, he paused on a hilltop to look back at the magnificent city he had just lost. The story goes on that he began to cry on viewing that sight. His mother, Sultana Aixa, who had been urging a fight to the death against the Christians, reportedly said to the son who had so disappointed her, "No llores como mujer lo que no supiste defender como hombre" ("Don't cry like a woman over what you could not defend like a man.") (NOTE: There are slightly different versions of what she supposedly said, but the thought was the same.)

Is Obama the Boabdil of the West? Nah, he won't cry when the West collapses, he'll go play golf . . .

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Reminisce: Grand Theft Auto Murder

Still not feeling great. I have no appetite for reading or commenting too much on all the appalling news, including "our" Commander-in-Chief's appalling half-baked announcement of "his" going to half-baked sort-of "war" in Iraq. My stomach churns when I hear him talk about sending our folks into harm's way. He so obviously does not believe his own words that it makes me want to scream. The new Islamist horror in Iraq is on him; he built that.

So, instead of dealing with all that mess, I will tell a little tale of which my wife (the Camaro driver) reminded me. It has to do with our time in the wonderful, strikingly beautiful, and often violent country of Guatemala.

When we lived in Guatemala in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was a country still grappling with a thirty-year communist insurgency that had been backed by the Soviet Union, Cuba, Mexico, and later Sandinista Nicaragua. By the time we got to Guatemala, the insurgency--the URNG--was in its death-throes but it was hard to tell. It was like a mortally wounded gator thrashing its powerful tail and snapping its jaws: it was dying but still looked pretty dangerous. The Soviets were preoccupied with the impending collapse of their empire in the "Near Abroad"; Cuba was running out of money for foreign adventures; and Mexico was tiring of the rebellion--which eventually turned around and bit Mexico--and sought a NAFTA deal with the US. The Sandinistas did not have much to give, either, as they had their own serious internal problems. The guerrillas, however, continued to draw support from North American and European "human rights" activists and church groups. The Guatemalan military had proven successful at defeating the insurgency; cut off from significant assistance from the outside, they had developed their own doctrine and tactics--often brutal, but effective. The Guatemalan Army was one tough outfit; along with the Colombian and Sri Lankan militaries it had to be one of the most combat experienced militaries in the world. Every officer from lieutenant to general was a combat vet.

The poor campesinos were caught in the middle of this war. They hated and feared their "liberators" in the URNG. They hated and feared their "protectors" in the military. They wanted to be left alone. No such luck: libertarianism was not the ruling philosophy on either side.

Aside from the war and the politically motivated violence, Guatemala had an extremely high ordinary crime rate. Murders, kidnappings, robberies, the vast majority non-political in nature, were very common. I don't know what the situation is now in Guatemala City, but when we were there easily two-thirds of all the cars and trucks on the road had been stolen, principally in Texas, and were carrying around false papers, switched plates, and even homemade tags. There was, for example, a Ferrari for sale on a car lot that we suspected had been stolen in the US. It still had Texas plates. When we ran those plates, they came back belonging to some sort of farm machinery.

Numerous car import brokers had offices in Guatemala City. One could go to one of these and order a car, "I want a late model blue 4x4 Toyota with under 20,000 miles and a good roof rack." They would take a deposit, and transmit the "order" to Central American and Mexican gangs mostly in Texas but also in California who would go "shopping" for the car. Most of the time they would boost it off the street or a parking lot, and make for the Mexican border as fast as possible before the car was reported missing. The more sophisticated gangsters, however, would approach the owner, especially on high-end cars, and offer a sum of money to delay reporting the car's theft. The crooked owner would take the money and then, of course, eventually would get reimbursed by his insurance after the theft got reported several days later. There was, of course, violence implied throughout the deal. In Mexico, paid off officials and well-organized smugglers would get the cars down to Central America.

OK, the scene is set. I don't want to make this too long.

At that time, US Embassy employees had to find their own residences in Guatemala. The Embassy provided a monthly stipend for rent, some guidelines on what houses we could and could not rent, and off we went into the local market. Since my wife and I spoke fluent Spanish, we did not rely on the usual crowd of realtors that hung around the diplomatic corps. We found a spectacular house in, admittedly, one of the rougher neighborhoods. The house had huge walls topped with concertina wire, a beautiful courtyard, a wood-panelled "pub" with a large hart's head on one wall and a magnificent bar. It even had a "discotheque" with a mirror ball and a modern sound system built in.  We convinced the Embassy security officer to OK the rental, and there we were.

The house belonged to a wealthy Lebanese family who lived in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Lebanon. They owned properties in all three countries and ran an ill-defined "export-import" business that would probably not have withstood too much scrutiny. We dealt mostly with the elderly grandmother but upon her death, we were told to deal with one of her grandchildren, Francis. From the beginning, I found Francis, in his late twenties, a bit odd. Even after we were living in the house, he, often drunk or high, would show up unannounced "to check on things." Showing up unannounced in a yard in Guatemala at night--he had the gate key--is a good way to get yourself shot. I came very close on one occasion to putting a .45 slug into his drunken body. I complained to his father about these visits, but he did nothing. I had the locks changed and told the guards that Francis was not to have access.

Francis liked money. He wanted to make his own. He got himself involved with a car theft ring run by some crooked military officers operating out of the Presidency. As we later found out, ol' Fran, who spoke French, Arabic, and English, in addition to Spanish, and passed himself off as a sophisticated man of the world, convinced these somewhat unsophisticated and unworldly military that he would be the perfect guy to go to Texas and deal directly with the car theft gangs there, and cut out the brokers. He proposed bringing cars down to Guatemala and selling them directly to interested customers. Well, Fran went off to Houston one fine day with around $250,000 of his military backers money, and, as luck would have it, immediately fell afoul of a well-planned Houston PD sting operation. He got arrested along with several members of a car theft gang. He appeared before a judge, and despite the prosecutor's sensible argument that Fran posed a "flight risk," was freed on bail in the amount of, you guessed it, $250,000. He deposited his Guatemalan passport and the money with the court; using one of his other passports, he took off for Mexico and back to Guatemala.

Returning to Guatemala proved a major mistake; I never understood what he thought would happen. He, certainly, did not get a hero's reception. His military business partners put the various family properties under surveillance. My wife, who worked in our security office, noted that a certain Jeep Cherokee kept driving past our gate, and that many nights it was parked half a block from our driveway. I took down the plate numbers and gave them to our security officer. The plates on the Cherokee came back belonging to a VW minivan in the Presidency's motor pool. Our security officer raised this with his contacts who assured him that the Jeep was there for our "protection." A day or so later, we never saw it again.

For months, almost nobody knew what had happened to Francis: He was reported in El Salvador, in Lebanon, still in the US, and on and on. Meanwhile, my rent allotments from the embassy were piling up in my bank account, and I could not find anybody from the family willing to take my checks. My wife concluded that we now owned the house. No, not quite. Fran's sister eventually came into town from her usual abode in Lebanon and swung by to collect several months of rent. She was very evasive about the fate of Francis, but did buy all of our personal furniture.

It wasn't until an intrepid local reporter found Francis's very decomposed body that we learned his fate. This reporter had a source inside the smuggling ring who described Fran's final moments as a would-be car smuggling kingpin.

His uniformed friends had found him near the Salvadoran border which he apparently sought to cross. The officers "interrogated" Francis with considerable energy. They then drove him out to a field, stood him up and asked one last time, "Where is the money? Where are the cars?" Francis tried, again, to explain the intricacies of the American bail system; one of the officers reportedly said, "Oh, Francis, that is such a bad answer," and put two 9mm rounds into Fran's head.

Isn't this a nice story? Hope it cheers you up. It has done wonders for me.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Still out of Commission

Waiting on the lab results as I continue to do battle with a range of issues that befall FOGs (Fat Old Guys).

Did read an interesting article about a statement by Congressman Brooks accusing the DNC of launching a war on white people. He must be reading the Diplomad who discussed this very issue some three weeks ago.

Hope to get writing soon, sorry for the delay.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Fluff

I am back. Feeling mightily awful. Too much sun, airplane, and general stress produced by having the kids back in our house for their summer vacations. Hope the antibiotics work for all that.

Spent a few days in Miami--one of my favorite cities. As luck would have it, our motel in Coral Gables had its wifi go down just before we got there, and had it come back just as we were leaving.  That meant that I was almost entirely off the grid, and disconnected from the world--I am not much of a TV watcher. At first this lack of access to Drudge and all my other webby friends was intolerable, but after a bit, it became kind of nice. I forgot about Obama, Holder, Reid, Pelosi, Putin, and the other whackos who are running and ruining our country. I had wonderful coffee, great breakfasts, and totally pigged out on massive quantities of meat at my favorite Argentine restaurant in Miami, The Knife. I tormented the very nice Argentine manager by telling him I was adopting the Argentine government position on debt. I freely without coercion would have his very nice dinner, and refuse to pay. Didn't work. He made me pay. You cannot default at The Knife.

Got back to California and gave my wife her birthday present. A very nice Aussie-designed, Canadian-built "American" car, a convertible Chevy Camaro. The Aussie designers did a great job of capturing the spirit and sheer fun of an old-time American muscle car--kind of makes you wonder if the "American" spirit hasn't moved on to places such as Australia.

It's a nice machine even if I had to buy it with an automatic transmission as my wife has gotten it into her head that she can't drive stick--she most certainly can. Anyhow, the Diplowife seemed happy as a clam (are clams happy?) driving her big black Camaro around town. I, of course, would run the thing at 80 mph and above. Under the Diplowife's reign, however, I don't think the beast will ever see life above 35 mph. All of this makes the point that cars are about personal choice and, yes, having fun. The hideous progressives would deny us both of those facets of life, and force us all into absurd "Smart" cars, or, even better for them, public transportation all in the name of polar bears, children, transgender rights, or something else. Buying big fast cars is one of the few legal acts of rebellion still open.

Enjoyed being back with my dogs, and watching them behave without a care in the world. The younger one had finished destroying the screen door and done a good job of modifying one of the window frames outside. He also has eaten the cable connecting the thermostat to the a/c unit, thereby leaving me without a/c in the blistering SoCal heat. I can't punish him. He is so genuinely happy to see me. The only time I have seen anybody else that happy was my personnel guru at State when I told him I was fed up and leaving State.

Anyhow, I am back. I hope to have my head clear up and be able to start posting something useful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Surprise! The Progressives and Their Media Have No Shame.

Making my bags as I prepare another trip. Will be off the grid or only briefly on it for the next several days. Wife and I are sneaking off to get away. Hope she likes her birthday present which will be waiting for her in the garage when we get back.

Anyhow, I saw that finally some politicians are coming out and calling foul on the Obama misadministration and its reprehensible media allies in the ongoing criminal alien invasion. I note that these politicians seem concentrated in Texas, holder of one of the last pools of sanity left in the Western world. Senator Cruz has been onto the scam from the start; Gov. Perry seems willing to use his executive powers to send the Texas National Guard to the Mexico border; and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, in an interview,  has noted what this blog also noted before that the VAST majority of those coming across the border in the great Summer surge are NOT unaccompanied children. They are adults, many of them with criminal records.

I will comment further as I get the chance.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

For the Sake of the People of Gaza, Support the IDF

Regular readers of this blog know my view on how to deal with the self-proclaimed jihadis of the Muslim world who seek victory or martyrdom. Give them option "b."

I hope that this time, at long last, the Israelis will not listen to the voices of "caution," of "moderation," of "reasonableness," of "humaneness," etc. For the refugees in Gaza, who, in fact, overwhelmingly are not, the greatest weapon on their side is the IDF. It is the IDF which can liberate Gaza and the "refugees" from Hamas and the other jihadi lunatics and authoritarian corruptocrats who have turned Gaza into the widely recognized model for corruption and chaos that it is, and, of course, into a vast killing field.

Generations of bureaucrats around the world, including at State, have made careers and very nice salaries, working on the Arab-Israeli peace process. They seek to make it sound complex and beyond the understanding of ordinary mortals. It is not. There will be peace when Muslim leaders accept the existence of Israel. Period. The rest is nonsense.

It is probably impossible to count the billions of dollars the international community, including the USA under both Democrats and Republicans, has poured into Gaza and the coffers of its evil rulers. It is that same international community which conveniently has erased the history of how Gaza and the "refugee" camps came into existence and on repeated occasions has saved the rulers of Gaza from the retribution they so richly deserve.

It is Hamas which insists on civilians remaining in place when combat looms; on placing military stockpiles, including missiles, in civilian areas such as housing complexes, schools, and hospitals.  It is Hamas which wants bodies of "Palestinians" strewn about the streets.

The only way to put an end to Hamas' war on civilization, it to put an end to Hamas. I have written too many times to cite that the lunatics now leading the Muslim world must suffer defeat after defeat. Only that long and painful process will bring the rotten Muslim house down and let its miserable residents build something new, something not insane. Let that begin in Gaza.

For the sake of the people of Gaza, destroy Hamas. Support the IDF.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Progressives: Destroying Western Civilization for the 1%

Well, well, and well, again! Who'd a thunk it could be so?

It hasn't gotten much media attention because it's not what the narrative demands, but the CDC has put out a thorough report which notes that only 2.3% of Americans identify themselves as either gay, lesbian, or bisexual. About 1.6% of the population identifies itself as either gay or lesbian, what used to be called homosexual. The Washington Post grudgingly covered the report's release but noted that,
The figures offered a slightly smaller assessment of the size of the gay, lesbian and bisexual population than other surveys, which have pegged the overall proportion at closer to 3.5 or 4 percent. In particular, the estimate for bisexuals was lower than in some other surveys.
Ah, yes, 3.5-4.0%? I remember being lectured at the Foreign Service Institute during the Clinton years by an "expert" who claimed that 13% of the population was homosexual. Where did all the gays go?

The progs have insisted that we undo, inter alia, our military, the Boy Scouts, and the institution of marriage for about 1.6% of the population. We have been bombarded by the media, Hollywood, and an endless parade of bien-pensants about the huge gay and lesbian population yearning to breathe free. Hardly a TV series or major movie is now made without gay or lesbian characters and strong gay and lesbian propaganda. So much so, that a Martian watching these productions would reasonably think that about 40-50% of the population is homosexual. Our Martian would also conclude that major metropolitan police forces in the US and the UK are composed of about 60% women coppers who can whoop a man with no trouble at all.

The CDC is a den of political correctness and usually does not fail to march lockstep with progressivism when it comes to climate change, gun control, and how HIV/AIDS would make America a howling wilderness by about 1998. Reading the new report, one can tell the authors are uncomfortable with their own findings, and seek to turn their report into a search for equitable medical treatment for straight and homosexual in America. Even there, however, the data show that homosexual Americans generally engage in more risky health behavior than do straight ones, and are larger consumers of health services.  Tsk, tsk, tsk, another reason for Obamacare . . .

The science is settled!