Friday, January 30, 2015

Cuba Relations: Another Obama Fiasco in the Making?

The question mark in the title of this post is probably unnecessary.

I have written before about Obama's Cuba gambit. My argument then was regardless of how you feel about the "embargo" (more on that later) and the current state of USA-Cuba relations, the real question is, "Do you trust Obama to negotiate something in the US interest?"

Sending Team Obama to Cuba is not anything like Kissinger and Nixon to China. You might not have liked Dr. K and "Tricky Dick," but you knew they were tough SOBs, and that when it came to foreign relations they knew what they were doing. Nixon's China move, of course, was a major blow against the Soviet Empire and, as we see in retrospect, the beginning of the end for the USSR and its grand global ambitions. As brilliant on the international scene as he was clumsy on the domestic scene, Nixon drove home the growing schism in and fundamental weakness of the Communist bloc by visiting Beijing and Moscow in February and May, 1972, respectively, and then launching the massive Christmas bombing of North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese got the message: their Russian and Chinese "friends" were eager to cut deals with the US, and the Hanoi regime essentially was on its own. The North Vietnamese sued for peace: yes, my low info lefty friends, the US beat the North Vietnamese contrary to what you hear from universities, the BBC, the hideous MSNBC, or the Hollyweirdos. The Democrats, of course, unable to stand the thought of an American victory, subsequently threw it away some three years later--not unlike what Obama has done in Iraq and is doing in Afghanistan.

Is the Cuba "gambit" anything akin to the Nixon-Kissinger brilliant chess game? Uh, no, no it is not. Back to the basic question, can we trust Obama to do the right thing for the United States? While, as stock brokers will tell you, "past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results," it does provide a clue, a hint to what will come, and forms the basis for planning. Would you hire a roofing contractor, for example, who had devastated your neighbors' roofs and left them leaking messes? Despite the contractor's promises to do a good job this time, you most likely would find yourself inclined to look elsewhere.

As we look around the world at the shambles that is today American foreign policy we have a pretty good indication of what we can expect from Team Obama on Cuba. Team O is The One, after all, that has brought us the current fiasco in North Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East: Remember Libya? Benghazi? Syrian "red lines"? Swapping five terrorists for one Army deserter? Support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? ISIS as the JV? Who can forget Team O's "accomplishments" in Iraq where we now see the jihadis increasingly victorious and the only hope we have to prevent their final triumph is Iran? Yes, Iran: You know, the country that is busily building a nuclear weapon while John Kerry beats up on Israel?

Team O has made a mess of relations with Russia, telegraphing weakness and indecision as Russia pulls an Anschluss on Crimea. Putin has been slowed down not by Obama and his absurd "sanctions," but by rough and tough redneck frackers who have made the USA the world's number one oil producer despite the opposition of Team O--remember, "We can't drill our way to energy independence!" Russia's oil-based economy and government budget have gone into a death spiral because of Texas and North Dakota.

The demented regime in North Korea continues to threaten hellfire and damnation and eagerly awaits Team O's concessions. China is busy bullying its neighbors and building its military power, much of it with technology stolen from or bought in the US and Europe. Team O refuses to approve the easy import of oil from Canada, fighting the Keystone pipeline for years, and souring relations with our neighbor. Australia, probably our number one ally in the world, increasingly feels alone, and wondering whatever happened to its old friend the USA. Instead of serious engagement on dealing with China and jihadis, PM Abbott gets lectures on global warming as the biggest threat facing mankind. It seems, fortunately, that the Aussies are not listening.

Europe, the continent of "has-beens, never-weres, and never-will-bes," is adrift, amok, and amuck in a growing socio-political-economic crisis, with no adult leadership able to restore sanity. Instead of providing leadership in confronting the Islamic terror threatening Western Civilization, Kerry brings a "big hug" and a washed up folk singer to croon to the terrified Europeans, "You've got a friend."

In Latin America, we see similar disaster. Mexico and Central America are awash in drug-fueled violence. South America is circling the drain economically and increasing falling prey to authoritarian leftist "solutions," as we see in Argentina and Uruguay. Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador kick out our Ambassadors and openly support drug trafficking. Former allies such as Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Chile are trying to put distance between themselves and Team O as quickly as possible.

The most "successful" Team O policy in Latin America? Operation Fast and Furious: Team O "successfully" managed to fuel the false story about violence in Mexico being caused by US gun sales, "successfully" managed to "prove" it by declaring a covert war on the people of Mexico by secretly selling thousands of guns to some of the most vicious cartels on earth, getting hundreds of innocent Mexicans and at least two US federal agents murdered, and blaming it on law-abiding gun stores in the US--oh, yes, and "successfully" stonewalling Congressional investigators and getting the echo-chamber media to ignore the whole thing.

That, my friends, is The Team now dealing with the Castro brothers--and I haven't even gotten into the domestic side of things where Team O has a record of "successes" to rival its foreign "successes."

Now we turn to Cuba. From a US national interest perspective (Horrors!) whether we have good or bad relations with the decrepit Castro regime is irrelevant. It means nothing today. The Soviet Empire that the Castros so assiduously served is gone. For all its bluff and bluster, Putin's Russia is no substitute for the USSR. In the years since the death of the Soviet bloc, the Castro regime has managed to keep power by brutal repression and the largesse of Hugo Chavez's corrupt regime in Caracas. Now even Dear Friend Chavez is gone. Venezuela under the one-time bus driver and street thug Maduro has reached a state of near economic collapse--thanks, again, to US fracking and the inevitable consequences of socialist governance.

So we see, therefore, that Castroite Cuba needs good relations with the United States. That bears repeating, Castroite Cuba needs good relations with the United States. The United States does not. It does not matter at all to our core national interests. Not one bit.

It is Castro's Cuba that should be begging for "normalization" of relations. In Team Obama's world, however, that is not the case: the USA chases after the sibling dictators. Cubans are some of the smartest and most talented people on earth. There is something--I don't know what it is but I wish I could get a can or two of it--about Cuban culture, even under the Communists, that produces people with brilliant strategic minds. In all my dealings with Cubans, both friendlies and enemies, I have never ceased to be amazed at how they see several moves ahead; keeping up with them is no mean feat. These are very smart and talented people. The Castros have had decades of watching American politics and American presidents come and go. Fidel took power, let us remember, when Eisenhower was still our President. The brothers have an excellent intelligence service and other sources to keep them fully apprised of doings in the North. They know us much better than we know them.

It makes no sense from the US perspective to get into protracted negotiations with the Castros on "normalizing" relations. At most, we should lay down our two or three requirements that the Castros must do, leave our phone number, and walk away. But, no. Team O is allowing the United States to get sucked into the Castro world of endless talks, demands, posturing, and browbeating. It is the Castro regime making demands on the USA, and the USA making concessions, e.g., freeing up dollars for Cuba. The Castros are masters at negotiations and have learned to drive wedges into opponents. We see Senators going to Cuba trying to strike trade deals, for example, and to eliminate travel restrictions without getting anything in return.

The Castros "demand" an end to all trade restrictions--which in Castro talk means to get goods on credit. Despite the so-called embargo, the US is Cuba's third or fourth largest trading partner (depends on the year examined.) We sell a considerable amount of food, medicine, vitamins, and medical equipment to Cuba. The Castro regime, however, has to pay up-front for the goods. No credit. The US is Cuba's only trading partner with which Cuba has no running tab. In other words, they want us now to provide stuff in exchange for a promise to pay . . . and they do not have a good track record of paying. The Castroites are now also demanding the closing of Guantanamo Naval base and its return as a condition for "normalizing" relations. For now, the US has rejected the Guantanamo demand, but wait, I tell you, wait.

The brothers Castro understand something very important about our negotiators. One, the State Department is obsessed with reaching "successful" deals. People get promoted and get juicy assignments for bringing home a deal. Doesn't have to be a good one. Two, the rush by the US to "normalize" relations is an attempt by Obama to leave a legacy to his leftist fan base. This is something Obama wants, regardless of whether the USA needs it. The timeline is working against the US. Obama wants a deal before he leaves office. The Castros will squeeze him for all he can give before they agree to "normalize."

I was wrong: the question mark in the title of this post is definitely unnecessary.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Greece: At Last! The Honest Crooks Take Over!

Back on June 16, 2012, I posted a piece on Greece, titled the "Grecian Urn."  I had written on the eve of elections in Greece, and stated,
Yes, the Greeks are voting, again. They have two main choices. The first choice, and the favorite of the Eurocrats and Europe's diminished capacity political classes, is The New Democrat Party, which sort of pledges a sort of allegiance to a sort of austerity program that will sort of guarantee a continuing bail-out from Germany, oops, I mean the rest of Europe. The NDP "promises" to push for "austerity" in exchange for staying with the Euro and getting lots and lots and lots of money from, well, you know. In the other corner we have my favorites, the Syriza Party. The Syrizans are open and honest about their thievery. They want to keep the Euro, reject austerity, and demand that the Germans keep underwriting Greek expenses forever and ever.
Back in 2012, the Greek electorate gave a narrow victory to the dishonest crooks, favored by the dishonest and crooked EU bureaucracy, of the New Democrat Party. Well, guess what? The NDP, as this little blog predicted, could do nothing to stop the Greek slide with some $12 billion getting pulled out of the Greek economy on a weekly basis.

This time, however, it seems the Greeks finally listened, and elected the openly honest crooks of the far-left populist Syriza Party. Syriza will form a government in alliance with the other openly honest crooks, those of the far-right populist ANEL, or Independent Greeks. The two governing partners agree on nothing except keeping Germany's money and telling the EU bureaucracy to take a hike.

You can read in the European press all about the great "problem" caused by the new Greek government. Much wailing and rending of garments.

I, however, think this is a great result. It will force the EU and Greece to confront decades of hypocrisy and corruption, and either the EU project, an easily foreseeable disaster from day one, will come to a screeching and well-deserved end, or populist politicians in Greece and elsewhere in Europe will be shown to be as corrupt and venal as all the rest.

Either result is fine.

Go back and read the piece mentioned above and its companion posting of a couple of weeks earlier.

Not much more needs be said.

My dogs are waiting for me . . .

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bibi Takes the Hill

Speaker of the House John Boehner showed that, when he wants to, he knows how to play the game in DC.

His invitation to Israeli PM Netanyahu was a number of things, but most certainly it was a brilliant end-run around the White House and its catastrophic conduct of foreign policy. It served to remind that the President can no longer have it his way, that elections have consequences, and that--Surprise!!--each branch of our government is equal to the others. Our very wise Founding Fathers gave each branch certain powers. It is certainly within the power of the Speaker to invite anybody he wants to address the Congress. Representatives and Senators can make their own decisions as to whether they will attend. My guess is there will be nearly 100% attendance. I just hope Netanyahu is not talked out of coming to give that speech.

Instead of reacting with grace, seconding the invitation, and, at least, pretending to be glad the PM is coming to America, the current occupant of the White House and his cohort showed just how petulant and childish they are with cries of "breach of protocol," and "Netanyahu spat in our eye, and there will be consequences!"

The lame-duck White House showed how increasingly irrelevant it is to what is happening in America and abroad.

Obama knows that Netanyahu will give a real State of the World address. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when a foreign leader from a small country understands the key role the United States must play in confronting the dangers of our age, and the President of the United States does not have a clue.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Other State of the Union: American Sniper

Don't ask. You know the answer.

I will not watch Obama's State of the Union (SOTU) message to Congress.

For a very long time I have found watching our pretend President unbearable: the upturned nose; the arrogant stance and poking of the finger in the air; the empty words and unkept promises; the refusal to deal with real issues and the introduction of nonsensical ones; his complete lack of knowledge of American history; and, of course, the lies and the lies and--did I mention the lies?--the lies. Can't do it. Won't do it. I don't want to hear about "free" community college; embracing the "dreams" of undocumented, i.e., illegal, aliens; and the need for the "rich" to pay more to address social and economic inequality, etc. Meanwhile, of course, our country, our allies, and our very civilization are under increasing attack from the purveyors of an ancient totalitarian ideology which we must respect, welcome into our homes, and are not allowed to name--Psst! Just among us, it's Islam.

I watched an alternative SOTU, and I urge all to do the same. I watched Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. It is, without doubt, one of the greatest war films I have ever seen. It ranks very high--perhaps  highest--with other favorites of mine, such as (in no particular order) Zulu, Glory, Paths of Glory, The Longest Day, Beneath Hill 60, Saving Private Ryan, Hamburger Hill, Lawrence of Arabia, Pork Chop Hill, and Letters from Iwo Jima. 

Sniper, however, is more than a war movie. Sure, of course, it has some great and tension-filled action scenes, but it is a film much more about respecting a code of honor, duty, sacrifice, and, above all, putting others before self--and the price that following that code exacts. The film could just as easily have been called British Sniper, Canadian Sniper,  or Australian Sniper. It is not a "Rah, Rah, USA!" film. It is about men who respond to the call of duty; who get angry when they see their country attacked; and who put their lives on the line. In this case, the movie is about US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became the deadliest sniper in US military history. Throughout the movie it is clear--despite some of the leftist nonsense now being said about the film--that Chris Kyle's motivation in becoming a sniper is his realization that his shooting skills could help save the lives of his fellow combatants. He could save the lives of Marines. Neither the film nor the book gave me the impression that Kyle wanted to kill; he wanted to prevent Marines for whom he had "overwatch" from being killed. This could have been the story of thousands of others, American, British, Canadian, Australian, Israeli, whatever, who saw their duty and did it. It is a great film. Watch it.

Now to the alternate SOTU mentioned above. It was tough to get tickets to the film, and we barely got into a matinee showing--which also sold out. At the end of the film, the audience--white, black, Asian, Hispanic, young and old--broke into applause. And BTW, this was in California. Not a dry eye in sight as the credits rolled over images of Chris Kyle's funeral.

Makes you wonder if there is a disconnect between the elites and the people. Maybe, huh? All I know is that the film's success at the box office is driving the progressive elites mad! Go see the movie: provoke a progressive!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Islamophobia

I have written many times about how progressives alter words, distorting them into things far removed from their original meanings. All of us can come up with every day words that today mean something very different from what they did yesterday: "gay" and "liberal" being probably the most prevalent of these transformed words. As noted in a prior posting, the left has been a master at redefining words, imposing censorship, e.g. "hate speech" codes and laws, and at inculcating self-censorship among academics and media elites. In addition, when facts and arguments won't do, simple and loud shouts of "Racist!" or "Science Deniar!" and even violence prevent "politically incorect" words and the thoughts they convey from entering the ever shrinking "marketplace" of ideas. When George Orwell wrote about how the masters of the universe in his dystopian 1984 continually shrunk the dictionary in a effort to remove dangerous words, he was onto something very profound.

The word for today is "Islamophobia."

What does that word mean? Just as, presumably, one can have a fear of heights, open spaces, tight spaces, dogs, or clowns, one can have a fear of Islam. When lefties throw around the word, it is to imply that the fear of Islam is as irrational as the fear, say, of walking under a ladder. In other words, it being a phobia, one can address it with lots of therapy and rehab, as is the case with most other phobias.

Is it, however, irrational to have a "fear of Islam"?

Let's put "phobia" in context, and ask, whether it would have been irrational for a Cossack or a Ukrainian in 1930s USSR to have a fear, a phobia, if you must, of the Communist Party, and of Joe Stalin? Would we judge a "Communistaphobe" under those conditions as an irrational, hate-filled person? Would we see a Jew, a Gypsy, or a Jehovah's Witness in 1930s Germany as the holder of an irrational phobia if he or she expressed a fear of Nazis? Would therapy and censorship have helped the sufferers of those "irrational" phobias? Would it have helped for Winston Churchill not to express open disdain for both Communism and Nazism? Was Churchill helping make "phobia" of Nazism and Communism a respectable irrationality? Was he making it impossible for us to understand the Nazis and the Communists and to have a peaceful accommodation with them and their ideology? Should we have reached out to the "moderate" Nazis? Rudolf Hess, misunderstood messenger of peace . . . right.

Let's look around the world, and ask "Who is not an Islamophobe?" The world is full to the rafters with Islamophobes. I wonder if the people slaughtered at Charlie Hebdo and in the kosher market had a bout of Islamophobia just before the AK rounds put an end to those thoughts? What about the people in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi or in the villages of Nigeria? Guess what? Huge numbers of Islamophobes live lives of utter misery and horror in the Islamic world. I lived for years in Muslim countries, and met countless Muslims terrified of Islam, especially women and budding intellectuals. Let us not forget that in the long and bloody history of the Religion of Peace, the greatest number, by far, of Islam's victims have come from the ranks of Muslims. Nobody massacres Muslims as frequently and as copiously as do other Muslims following the dictates of Islam.

The question, however, and in truth, that we should be examining is not "Who fears Islam?" Everybody does. Yes, everybody, or at least any person who has the capacity for rational thought. It is not whether we fear Islam, but what are going to do about the threat that it poses? Shall we do as the progressives want us to do, reach out, better said, submit to Islam, give in to our fears? Rest assured that nobody fears Islam more than the people who tell us we should learn to "coexist" with Islam, that we should have the Muslim call to prayer broadcast from the cathedral towers at Duke University, that we must avoid "offensive" words such as "bacon" and "pork" in our books, etc. It is the progressives who are the biggest Islamophobes, because quite literally, they fear Islam and give in to the "phobia."

In the past we came to fear the Nazis, the Fascists, the radical Shintoists, and, eventually, the Communists. We did not give in to our fears, we fought back, and, oh yes, we won.

You bet I fear Islam. It is the first step to rational thought about Islam.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris "Peace" March: Everything Wrong with Progressivism on Parade

Sorry, I can't restrain myself any longer.

I am sick of hearing about the Paris "Peace" march or "Unity" rally or whatever the lame MSM deems to call it at any particular time. It was not an act of bravery, a show of lack of fear, of standing up to terrorism.

Nope. Not at all. No, sir.

It was a very typical, in fact, an extremely typical leftist/progressive/narcissist manifestation akin to so many others we have seen over the years. It was replete with the usual trademarks of progressivism: prancing and preening; empty slogans and rhetoric; and equally empty gestures and cartoonish props, e.g., giant pencils, rakishly worn bandanas, silly make-up, etc. It was a manifestation on steroids by people who would put lame bumper stickers such as the one below on a PRIUS.


It was also a show by spoiled brats who forget that they have the freedoms they have thanks to 18- and 19-year-old kids willing to pick up a gun and go to war in far off lands against the monsters threatening our homes and families. Continental Europe, especially, has been living in a bubble of safety and security provided by British and American young men. When that bubble gets pierced, the spirit of Petain returns.

It was a "demonstration" in favor of what? Freedom of speech? Hardly. Almost every politician marching there represented a country or a movement which advocates censorship of various types. In favor of standing up for the West and its core values? Nope. A declaration of war on the Islamists who have brought misery to nearly corner of the world? Mon Dieu! Ah, ce n'est pas possible! No, no we must not mention Islam as the cause of the horrors!

The hypocritical press in the West hardly even showed the cartoons for which the Charlie Hebdot cartoonists were murdered. In fact, those cartoons could not have been exhibited at just about any university in the West; the cartoonists would have been hounded from those campuses, and, in many countries, could have faced charges of inciting hatred.

In sum, the "march" was a call to do, what exactly? Simple: It was a call to do exactly nothing. The march was about nothing.

Obama did not attend.

I am surprised. It was the sort of vacuous "I-am-doing something-which looks-daring-but-is-quite-safe" for which The One and His Cohorts are known--e.g., "I Can't Breathe," "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!"--and the multiple nonsensical hashtags and tweets for which our increasingly deranged Progressive Era is so renown.

As the master of hypocrisy and doing nothing real, therefore, Obama should have been there in the midsts of the marchers; he would have fit right in.

Let me clarify: Obama should have been there, but not the President of the United States.

The President of the United States does not do marches.

The President of the United States should act as an adult, not like some overgrown college kid.

The President of the United States should stay home, get his security team together, lay out a plan to strike the Islamists, get on the airwaves and declare that the United States, alone if needed, will go after the sponsors of this murderous ideology.

We, however, have no President; and Obama, the man who pretends to be President, watched TV, instead.

The jihadis have declared war on the West, and the response is a "peace" march? Sitting in their mud huts, surrounded by their 10-year-old wives, the leaders of the jihad must be laughing their heads off, giving each other high-fives, all in celebration of how they can drive the West into surrender at almost no cost.

Let's face it: there is no leader of the West.

Netanyahu was there. He was one of the few there for whom I have respect.

It seems, however, that the "all-inclusive" event designed by France's absurd President Hollande was never intended to include the Israeli PM--nor Marine Le Pen, either. According to sources within the PM's office, the French let Bibi know he was not welcome. They, apparently, did not want the focus "to be on Israel." Netanyahu, of course, decided to go, anyhow--and seeing the strained face on Hollande when he had to meet the PM was delicious.

Israel's PM went for a different reason than the other marchers. He, in my view, went to show the French, and the world, that the roots of Islamic terror have nothing to do with the Israel-Palestine issue. Contrary to the concerns of Hollande, Netanyahu wanted to show that Israel is, in fact, not the focus. The terrorists never even mentioned Palestine as their cause. He also went as the representative of a country that has been fighting these Islamists for decades, and has experienced repeatedly their savageness--and gotten lectured by the Europeans and others on the need to live peacefully with the very people now killing Frenchmen in the streets of France. (See above bumper sticker.) He also went to stick it in the eye of the French government by speaking directly to the Jews of France and Europe. He wanted to remind them of something many of the silly progressive secular Jews of the Old Continent have forgotten: the reason for Israel's existence. Israel is a safe haven for the Jews of Europe, a place where they are increasingly not safe. President Hollande was not pleased and left as Prime Minister Netanyahu began speaking in the synagogue.

That sums it up re the Paris march, rally, demonstration, whatever, as far as I am concerned.

Oh, and by the way, nobody, but nobody should run the picture below of the new Charlie Hebdo cover. This blog won't run it because it is possibly offensive to certain peaceful people of a certain peaceful belief.




Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Enemy Gets a Vote

Well, we knew it would come to this. I noted over two years ago that when dealing with the jihadis, "We should be at war, instead, we are under attack."

That bizarre situation continues.

Muslims, whom we have invited into our countries and to whom we provide all sorts of public assistance, attack us in our homes and places of work, but WE are not at war, just under attack.

Even in the wake of the Paris atrocity of just a few days ago, most Western leaders continue to live in a fog of illusion, confusion, cowardice, and plain dishonesty. One of the few who is trying to dispel that haze, of course, is the remarkable Dutchman Geert Wilders, who lives under constant threat of death from adherents of the Religion of Peace.

Wilders, dismissed by the MSM as a "right wing" maniac because he loves his country and civilization, has stated what should be the obvious fact that we are or should consider ourselves "at war." He was quickly "rebuked" by Dutch PM Rutte, who was about to depart for the absurd "peace march" in Paris,
"I would never use the word 'war,'  . . . We are in a struggle with extremists who are using a belief as an excuse for attacks."
How nice: unnamed "extremists" are employing an unnamed "belief" to excuse their murderous acts. Our leaders can't even bring themselves to name the enemy--here is a hint for them.

Well, I hope against hope and all the odds, that maybe Rutte, Hollande, and all the rest of the prancers and dancers who put on their oh-so-fashionable "JE SUIS CHARLIE" bandanas as they sip coffee in Paris and then march bravely for the cameras, might cogitate on the wise words of USMC General James Mattis, "No war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but, in fact, the enemy gets a vote." 

Our enemy, please note, has cast his vote for war.

"The enemy gets a vote." Were wiser words ever uttered by a mere mortal? They, at least, are right up there in rank with another of the General's remarks, "I come in peace . . . I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I'll kill you all."