Good or Bad for the Jews

"Good or Bad for the Jews"

Many years ago, and for many years, I would travel to Morocco to visit uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. Some lived in Tangiers;...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

How Does This Make Sense?

Our pretend Secretary of State executing our pretend foreign policy is off to Saudi Arabia.

According to the press, Hillary Clinton met Saudi King Abdullah to ask him not to reduce Saudi oil production. Let me translate: "Please, Your Royal Highness, please help Obama get re-elected."  I guess we can add, "So that he will have 'flexibility' in dealing with the Middle East."

So our government is, once again, begging the Saudis for help. We prostrate ourselves before and kiss the feet of the despicable Saudi royals, but punch the face of our friend Stephen Harper in Canada, and turn down the Keystone Pipeline.

Are we becoming like the Huns described by Churchill, "at your feet or at your throat"? Under Obama, if you are our foe, we are at your feet; if you have the misfortune of being our friend, we are at your throat.

When will this stop?

With the new technologies developed in the US and Canada, North America has more oil than Saudi Arabia, and, in fact, the US and Canada might well prove to have more oil than anybody else on the planet. As new technologies and techniques come on line, an increasing amount of our oil resources will be accessible.

So, I guess it's ok to buy oil from the Saudis and Hugo Chavez, but not from Alberta, North Dakota, Colorado, or Texas? We would rather have to fight for oil off the coasts of Iran, than drill for it off the coasts of Louisiana?  We would rather have to drill troops for war, than dill wells for our economy?


November, November, November. Remember all of this when you vote in November.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Don't Know What Happened, Do You?

My only comment on Florida's Trayvon Martin shooting case.

The Pope Blinks

Judging from the reports coming out of Cuba (go to the excellent Babalu blog for a roundup of the Pope's activities) the Pope went eye-to-eye with the Pizarro Castro brothers . . . and blinked. He did not meet the dissidents; did not speak up for the Ladies in White; and made no clear call for an end to the repression. He had some mild, indirect criticisms of Cuba's economy, but even then took the easy route: he criticized the US "embargo" for adding to the difficulties facing Cuba (Note: Depending on the year, the US is Cuba's fourth or fifth largest trading partner--some "embargo.")

The Pope joins the apparently endless list of foreign dignitaries who have let down and even betrayed the people of Cuba in order to curry favor with the Castrosaurus.  One would have thought, hoped, prayed that one of the world's major religious figures would have stood up openly, loudly, and vigorously in defense of the Cuban people's God-given rights. That was not to be.

One day, perhaps not too far in the future, the Castro regime will die.  One can only hope that then, at a minimum, we will see some sense of shame over how the world acquiesced in the imprisonment, murder, and forced exile of the Cuban people.

But, then perhaps, that, too, is too much to expect.

Monday, March 26, 2012

President Barack "Give Me Space" Obama: Arrogance & Appeasement

In a hard-to-believe scene worthy of the most over-the-top remake of a conspiratorial Manchurian Candidate-type film, we have President Obama conspiring with Putin's Pet Poodle President Medvedev to sell out the security interests of the United States.

I have written before (here and here) that this administration is staffed by people who hate the United States. I, however, never thought that I would see the President of the United States confirm this in public over an open mic, and to do so with the representative of one of the most corrupt and dangerous regimes on the planet.  The President assures the Russians, who just ran a bogus national election, that he, too, will be re-elected, and then will "have flexibility" to give the Russians what they want, i.e., dismantle the anti-missile system. This is what he says in public; what is he saying in private?

The arrogance is stunning. The blatant betrayal of our allies and our national security is breathtaking.

Obama is defeated, or the United States is defeated.  That is the choice we face in November.

The Pope Goes to Hell

Pope Benedict will be visiting Cuba today; he will see one of the most brutalized and crushed people on the planet. They have lived in hell for over 53 years. Their nation is the private finca of two deranged brothers who seem to see themselves as the last Spanish conquistadores in the Americas. Remember, the Castro brothers' father was a Spanish soldier in the Spanish-American War of 1898! They have been around that long. They took over Cuba as the inept Batista regime collapsed when the Cuban middle class would no longer tolerate its corruption and crooked politics. There was no great pro-Castro revolution or successful armed insurrection; that is made-up. The Castro brothers and a handful of their friends, including the absolutely insane Argentine doctor Che Guevara, walked into a power vacuum, promised democracy, an end to corruption, and a government faithful to the principles of the great Jose Marti.

They lied.

The Cuban people saw the gates of hell opened in their country. It did not take long for the brothers, with the able support of Che, to crank up the show trials and the firing squads; launch invasions of other Latin American countries, including Venezuela; nationalize and destroy the economy; and form a close alliance with the Soviets that almost led to World War III. The Cuban people were betrayed, yes, betrayed, by the now sainted JFK. When he could take time off from girlfriends, JFK took the fairly straightforward Eisenhower plan for liberating Cuba he had inherited, and in typical "best and brightest" liberal-Harvard-elite style turned it into a mish-mash of compromises, and executed it with pseudo-sophisticated soul searching and angst that resulted in dropping off and leaving the brave freedom fighters stranded, under attack from the Castro regime, and with none of the promised US military support.

Cuba today remains a dictatorship and, of course, the darling of the Hollywood set and the model for other budding dictators such as the buffoonish Hugo Chavez, the incredibly corrupt Ortega brothers, and the increasingly loony Correa. Our lefty dopes will support a dictatorship if the United States opposes it. It also helps if the dictator speaks the "language of the oppressed," wears neat understated green fatigues with a red star or two, talks a lot about revolution, and gives the Hollywood/leftist types the time of day.  The Castro brothers, cruel evil racist thugs that they are, have proved masters at playing with the international left and the dopes in Hollywood; they continue to do it today even as the true nature of the regime should be plainly visible to even the most blind and block-headed leftist, e.g., Michael Moore.

One can only pray that the Pope will do what no US President has done, i.e., deliver an uncompromising message to the Castro brothers that their time must end, and in the process perhaps revive hope in the hearts of Cubans. That might be a tall order.

While we have marched off around the world delivering freedom, and expending our blood and treasure to do it, we have allowed this regime to set up shop ninety miles off our shores and threaten its people and us since January 1959! Never forget that JFK's "greatest moment," the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost ended in WWIII, would have not been necessary but for his worst moment, the abandonment of the freedom fighters on that beach on April 17, 1961.

The Cuban people deserve better than what they have gotten from the international community, and from the country that was their best friend, the United States.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Killing Christians

Imagine, if you will, that an obscure Christian pastor were to call for the public burning of Korans. How do you think Muslims around the world would react? How do you think the American public would react? What's that you say? Pastor Terry Jones has done that? Did he actually do it? Did he actually burn the Koran? No. He just bloviated about doing it and public outrage (there's that word) abroad and at home stopped him from going any further.  

Let's say American prison guards in Afghanistan inadvertently destroyed  copies of the Koran in which jihadi prisoners had written notes to one another . . . oh, that happened? The result? Seven Americans dead at the hands of our Afghan "allies," riots of outrage (that word) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, profuse and groveling apologies from the President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, American Ambassador, government spokesmen, and military commanders on the ground, etc.

What do you think the reaction would be if the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, or the Chief Rabbi of, oh, I don't know, say France in the wake of this week's shootings of Jewish school children by a jihadi, called for a prohibition on further mosque construction, or even for the destruction of all mosques in non-Islamic countries? Would the Western press bury that story? Would editorialists of right, left, and center refrain from condemning such an atrocious call? What if somebody had tried to act on that call? OUTRAGE! And that is as it should be because we are a civilized people who believe in individual freedom and the right to worship or not as we please.

Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared, March 12, that he saw  it “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” The Mufti cited a story that, shortly before dying, Muhammad declared, “There are not to be two religions in the Arabian Peninsula.” That meant, per the GM,  that all nations on the Arabian Peninsula must be Church-free. Not only must there not be any new churches built, but that those that exist in some of the more "moderate" Gulf states must be razed.  A few stories here and there you can Google, but certainly no massive outbreak of outrage in Christendom, no editorial, no screaming headlines . .  . no razing of mosques. So we only reserve our outrage to protect Muslims in our midst, but not to protect Christians (and Jews) set upon by Islam.

And when I say "set upon," I do not refer just to words. Christian Churches are being burned in sub-Saharan Africa and in Egypt by Muslim mobs. Christians are being killed on an almost daily basis by such mobs. We do not see much reaction from the press or the governments of the West. No pleas to the UN, no resolutions from the UN Human Rights Council, not even much reaction from religious leaders in the West. We seem to have decided that, "What ya gonna do? That's how Muslims behave."  Are we wrong?

Coptic Church in Cairo Enjoying the Benefits of the Religion of Peace

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Fake Etch-a-Sketch Furor

Come on. Really? The Romney Etch-a-Sketch is what we're buzzing about? Please.

OK, the Romney campaign aide who made the statement did not use the most felicitous analogy, and, of course, it got taken out of context becoming the joke/theme of the day.  The main mistake was to be too honest, and on a mainstream media channel.

Every party nominee of both parties does an "Etch-a-Sketch" shake prior to the general campaign. Success in American presidential politics requires it. We have a nation that is roughly 40% Democrat and 40% Republican. You have, therefore, about 80% of the population for whom the campaign is essentially irrelevant; they are going to vote for their party's nominee almost regardless of what happens in that campaign. The battle is for the remaining 20%. Those tend to be moderate independents for whom ideology and party label are pretty low on the priority list. Our system, especially the brilliant electoral college scheme, is designed to force candidates to the center, to make a national appeal. In the general election, neither candidate focuses on his ideology, but seeks to appear as a practical mainstream American problem solver who will work for the entire nation.  We all know that.

When I heard the Etch-a-Sketch comment, I immediately "predicted"(in quotes because you don't need to be too bright to make that prediction) to a friend that the Democrats would seize on it. I, however, did not expect the sort of grandstanding demagoguery we got from Santorum and Gingrich. I lost a great deal of the considerable respect I had for both of those men. They know that were one of them to become the nominee, he would need to shake his campaign's Etch-a-Sketch pretty vigorously. That, in particular, would be the case with Santorum. No way could Santorum win the general election with the rhetoric he employed in the primary. He would need a whole new speech downplaying his social conservative themes, and focusing on the economy, energy, debt, and foreign policy.

While Romney's aide was talking about shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, right in front of our eyes we see President Obama actually doing it! Now, he's for the oil pipeline--half of it anyhow. Now, he is suddenly pro-oil drilling and production. Now, he is suddenly concerned about the fate of American manufacturing. Now, he is worried about high gas prices and is throwing inept Energy Secretary Chu right under the Volt, by distancing himself from Chu's comments on the "need" for high gasoline prices.

I think this drives home the point that the GOP primary is too drawn out. It is time to wrap it up. Governor Romney will be the nominee--we all know that. He is a very good nominee, in fact, the best the GOP has had in a long time, and a nominee with a real chance, better than even, to end our national nightmare. Gingrich and Santorum need to acknowledge that, stop trying to destroy him by writing Democrat talking points, and allowing the Democrats to get us off topics that matter: jobs, energy, debt, national security.

Enough is enough.

It's time to focus on sending Obama back to Chicago.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Shootings in France

When we heard about the horrid shootings of school kids and soldiers in France, my wife asked me what I thought the French would do.  Having seen the French police up close, and having worked with French cops overseas, I told her, they will not take him alive because he's an embarrassment, and, prescient me, "They probably will throw the guy out a window."

The French police have a history of getting rid of problems by "tragically" having the prisoner fall out a window, or fall down, even repeatedly, a long flight of stairs. So I was not surprised when I saw the news this morning that Mohammed the Killer had fallen out the bathroom window as the police broke into his apartment. The latest reports have the French modifying the story to read that he was shot by a sniper as he crawled out the window. OK, sure, whatever.

We in America are in no position to lecture anybody about school shootings or violence--two days ago 49 people were shot in Chicago, ten fatally.  We do have to wonder, however, why France, and Europe in general, is committing demographic suicide with insane immigration policies. The European immigration policy makes ours look incredibly intelligent and well-run. Enormous chunks of European cities are no-go zones where immigrant communities, overwhelmingly Muslim, run the place and commit all sorts of crime with little interference from the cops.  They are perfect government-subsidized terrariums for lizards such as Mr. Mohammed.

European crime figures are as fake as the Euro's bookkeeping. Ask any cab driver in Paris, Madrid, or London. Nobody believes the official politically manipulated numbers.  Nobody trusts the cops, either. Look, I am a big critic of American cops, but compared to the ones in France, we have pussy cats on patrol. The cops in most of Europe are horrible. They are violent, bloated, politicized, inefficient, lazy bureaucrats who are aloof from the citizens they ostensibly serve. There is little in the way of accountability.

While not all the facts are in, it seems there was a major law enforcement lapse with Mr. Mohammed. It appears he was snagged in Afghanistan and sent back to France where he resumed his activities. He, somehow, had no problem getting around France's strict gun laws (note: Please check to see if Eric Holder and the ATF were in France recently.)

Given the chain of likely screw-ups that might come to light, I am not surprised the French cops wanted to make sure that Al Qaida stooge Mo was dead. Can't say I am too distressed that they got their wish.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

"Free Stuff"

Every day I hear of people asking for "free stuff." I was glad that Governor Romney had a quick and good comeback to that dope who asked him for free birth control, "Vote for the other guy." I think that's one of the best comebacks I have heard from a politician in years.

On this blog, I have spent a lot of time discussing the battle between voters and taxpayers (here for example) and how modern democracy has turned into a battle between those who pay and those who take. What is shocking is that in recent years we have glorified those who take.  There is, especially among the young, no awareness that there is no free lunch. That somewhere, someone must pay. You levy a tax on large corporations, they raise their prices, fire employees, abandon plans to expand, cut dividends or go out of business, whatever happens, somebody pays. When that other dope, the wealthy law "student" went before Congress and asked for free contraception, was she even dimly aware that there is nothing free? That some poor working guy in Kentucky will be paying for her contraception? Does she care?

Sigh . . .

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Obama Foreign Policy (Part II): Hillary Clinton Mails It In

We have no foreign policy leadership at the White House or at State. We, in fact, do not have a Secretary of State; we have somebody playing one. As they say in Hollywood, Hillary Clinton is just mailing it in.

By today's devalued standards, Hillary Clinton is not stupid. She is "well-educated," which means she successfully navigated her way through some "elite" degree-granting institution. A crafty, although ethically challenged, hard-nosed American politician, she has taken the opportunities that fell into her lap: her playboy husband became Governor of Arkansas and then President, and she ably used that to her advantage, e.g., a Senate seat, almost the Presidency, and now SecState. As the First Lady of Arkansas, she played the role required of her: she laundered bribes for her husband. That is what Whitewater was about. That was her role at the Rose Law Firm: she would collect and launder the payoffs. She "made" a fortune in cattle futures, right? OK, when will you pay me for that bridge? (Note: The GOP was too stupid to explain the Whitewater affair, and accepted the media line that it was "too complicated" for the public to understand. My Foreign Service friends and I who had spent years in places where that was the role of the First Lady figured it out instantly.)

On the positive side, Hillary Clinton is not overtly anti-American as are some of the political types who have come into the Department, in particular in the Western Hemisphere bureau. She has some notable skills. As noted, she served as Chief Laundress during Governor Bill's tenure in Arkansas. During his run for president, she had charge of dampening the "bimbo eruptions." As First Lady in the White House, she had the point when it came to slamming critics, e.g., "vast right wing conspiracy." She, however, outdrove her headlights when she tried to design a national healthcare plan. That horribly botched effort revealed her lack of managerial and leadership skills, as well as her stunning arrogance. She brought those qualities to the State Department, an organization already flush with poor management, weak leadership, and stunning arrogance. I would note that among arrogant government agencies, State is the Saudi Arabia of arrogance--it has huge proven reserves.

Hillary Clinton is a celebrity who wants prestige. Secretary of State is a pretty good gig for those seeking prestige. You confirm your celebrity status, and the mainstream media labels you a "serious thinker." You will get a lucrative book ghost-written for you. You get on TV whenever you want; have cars and planes at your command; people around the world know you; and you have thousands of employees, mostly men, who fawn over you, laugh uproariously at your jokes, and nod like bobble heads on a dashboard while very ostentatiously writing down your words, and . . . wait.

Let's back up.

Let me explain the culture at State. It revolves around public displays of affection for the Secretary; more than that, it is based upon open adoration of the Secretary, who quickly becomes an almost mythical figure possessed of unbounded wisdom and insight. What we have, in other words, is a diluted version of North Korea. You go to staff meetings, and they ring with statements, such as "the Secretary has said," "the Secretary wants," and "the Secretary was right on point this morning." You have not seen grown people--mostly men--try to outdo themselves praising the Dear Leader until you have gone to a morning meeting at State chaired by somebody who just attended a prior staff meeting chaired by the Secretary. As the kids say, "OMG!" People you thought reasonable, lose all reason, all critical faculties as they rush to appear the Most Loyal Servant of the Secretary. These are supposed to be Americans, defenders of the Great Republic, but you expect them to break into Anna's song, absent the irony,

"Yes, Your Majesty;
No, Your Majesty.
Tell us how low to go, Your Majesty;
Make some more decrees, Your Majesty,
Don't let us up off our knees, Your Majesty.
Give us a kick, if you please, Your Majesty
Give us a kick, if you would, Your Majesty
Oh, That was good, Your Majesty!"

All that's while in public. In private, in unguarded moments, career FSOs often reveal contempt for the Secretary and her "political appointees"--many of whom, truth be told, are worthy of contempt but not for the reasons of the Foreign Service; they are worthy of contempt because they don't like America. In short, this Secretary, as with (most of) her predecessors, comes to believe "her" people adore and respect her. Madam Secretary, I am here to tell you it's an act aimed at getting plum assignments.

Back to our story. As explained in a prior post, there is no foreign policy coming from the White House, except a default position of apology, appeasement, and accommodation. As a wise former colleague told me in an email when I let him know I was writing this piece, which would be very critical of Hillary Clinton as SecState, "A Secretary of State should not, of course, have a policy different from the President's, but that does not mean that what she says, how she says it, and the choices she makes in where she goes and what she does must be without character. We remember Seward's Folly and Marshall's Plan. Powell carried a Doctrine with him. What notable thing can one attach to Hillary Clinton? This is especially important with a President who leads from behind and who reflexively takes the least dramatic (and generally least effective) path to any goal. . . . Hillary, the candidate in 2008 with 'experience', should have provided some appropriate leadership here; she has not." He's absolutely right. Hillary Clinton will go down as either one of the most inconsequential or most damaging Secretaries of State, just as Obama will as president. There is no "Hillary Doctrine." Chortling upon hearing of the death of the insignificant Qaddafi, "We came, we saw, he died," does not cut it as doctrine.

The problem with Hillary Clinton's tenure, however, is more fundamental than the lack of a doctrine. Secretary Clinton has no knowledge of or interest in foreign affairs. She is bored by the substance; has no appreciation for core US interests, or how to defend them; does not understand the correlation between military power and diplomacy; and fritters time ineffectually on marginal issues, e.g., women in Africa. She has a close entourage of mostly "high powered" women, e.g., Cheryl Mills, who come from her political campaigns, draw top government salaries, have no foreign affairs knowledge, and worry only about the Secretary's image. She has entrusted some key programs to this entourage, and they have made a hash. Cheryl Mills, for example, received overall control of the Haiti relief effort. That assistance effort has stagnated, amuck in a bureaucratic mire where nobody knows the policy, the priorities, or even how much money has been raised and spent and on what. No link exists between our generous contributions to Haiti and even minimal political gain for the US. Haiti's leaders cavort with Castro and Chavez, and regularly oppose us at the UN and the OAS. You're in trouble when even Haiti's leaders know they can defy you openly, and you will still pour in the cash.

I have seen the Secretary in meetings with staff and foreign dignitaries. She reads her notes, spews out her talking points, and then gets that 1,000 yard stare. She is not at all interested in the goings on. She looks to her staff to extricate her, and tries to leave as quickly as possible. No decisiveness, no standing up for America, just a fatuous empty pantsuit blandness.

She, after all, is just mailing it in.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Voter ID and Gun Rights

I cannot but be amazed by those so adamantly opposed to states requiring a photo id at the voting booth. Some of my Democratic friends see it as a conspiracy to "depress the vote." They, of course, are right. We need to depress the vote of those not legally qualified to vote. Let's not beat around the bush. We all know what we are talking about, to wit, aliens, legal and illegal, voting in US elections.  Does anybody doubt that happens? I am convinced on the basis of anecdotal evidence--nothing I could take to court--that, for example, Senator Reid had his job saved by a massive last-minute turn-out by casino labor unions bringing aliens to the voting booth.

I am currently in California, and can assure you with 100 percent certainty that non-citizens vote here--in some congressional districts they make the difference between losing and winning.  In modern times in the United States, massive vote fraud is a tactic of the Democrats. Dead people voting in Chicago and New Jersey, and aliens voting in Texas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and elsewhere, are tactics used by the Democrats.

The argument that somehow requiring a valid photo id is a violation of our civil rights is absurd. We all know that to board a plane, register in a hotel, get a drink, you need a valid photo id.

What's that you say, Madam Pelosi? Those aren't rights guaranteed by the Constitution? You got me. You're right. So, then, I guess I can exercise my second amendment right to buy a firearm and do so without a valid photo id? No?  I guess there are rights and there are rights . . ..

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Obama Foreign Policy (Part I)

My career in the Foreign Service began when Jimmy "Wear a Sweater" Carter was President; the Shah sat on the Peacock Throne; the Soviets and their Cuban servants were all over Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean; our economy was in the sewer; our cities drug and race-fueled combat zones; our military, a hollowed out racially divided horror; and CIA and State, under appalling leadership, could do nothing right internationally. And things only got worse: the Shah fell to the Muslim crazies; the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; Communism, Socialism, and Liberation were on the march around the world. The bon pensant knew the future belonged to the Soviets and the Japanese, while we sat in the dark, shivering in our cardigan sweaters, suffering "malaise," and praying Moloch would eat us last.

Since those dark "Carter on Mars" days, thanks to Ronald Reagan, with his optimism and ability to see through mainstream cant, our country underwent a massive social, economic, and political renovation that showcased an unmatched American ability to regroup, reinvent, and implement. Our economy came roaring back; our military reaffirmed its unequaled status; the Soviets, unable to compete with the American economy and technical wizardry, came crashing down; and mighty ten-foot-tall Japan could not match the United States for innovation and the ability to put it to work at a dazzling speed. Even Bill Clinton learned not to fix a working model; he went along with GOP efforts to reform welfare, and poured money into sustaining and expanding the world's best special forces--as the Taliban and al Qaeda soon discovered. The confused waning days of the Bush administration, alas, pried opened the Gates of Hell once more; the inept McCain campaign couldn't close them, allowing the malevolent Obama misadministration to escape the Depths, and take over the White House--immediately making us nostalgic for Carter. We are in crisis mode, again.

This and a subsequent posting will focus on the disaster that is Obama's foreign policy, a policy of defeat. In its defense, let me say that to call it a policy designed for America's defeat gives it too much credit. My experience at State and the NSC, has shown me that most Obamaistas are not knowledgable enough to design anything.  Foreign policy for the Obama crew is an afterthought. They really have little interest in it; many key jobs went vacant for months at State, DOD, CIA, and the NSC. The Obama foreign policy team is peopled by the "well-educated," i.e., they have college degrees, and as befits the "well educated" in today's America, they are stunningly ignorant and arrogant leftists, but mostly just idiots. They do not make plans; they tend to fly by the seat of their pants using a deeply ingrained anti-US default setting for navigation. They react to the Beltway crowd of NGOs, "activists" of various stripes, NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Relying on what they "know," they ensure the US does not appear as a bully, or an interventionist when it comes to our enemies: after all, we did something to make them not like us.  Long-term US allies, e.g., Canada, UK, Israel, Japan, Honduras, Colombia, on the other hand, they view as anti-poor, anti-Third World, and retrograde Cold Warriors. Why else would somebody befriend the US? Obama's NSC and State are staffed with people who do not know the history of the United States, and, simply, do not understand or appreciate the importance of the United States in and to the world. They are embarrassed by and, above all, do not like the United States. They look down on the average American, and openly detest any GOP Congressman or Congresswoman, especially Representative Ros-Lehtinen and Senator DeMint, who dares question their wisdom.  They have no problem with anti-American regimes and personages because overwhelmingly they are anti-American themselves (Note: I exempt Hillary Clinton from the anti-American tag; she is just ignorant--more on that in my next posting).

Our foreign policy is not made in any real sense. It slithers out from this foggy fetid leftist primeval mire and "evolves" into the weird amorphous "policy" we now have. It is guided by The Anointed One's long-standing Triple AAA motto: Apologize. Appease. Accommodate. There is no understanding of the relationship between military power and diplomacy, between expending the blood and treasure of America and our interests.  For the Obamaistas the topics of burning interest tend to be those far removed from the core national interests of the United States, e.g., treatment of prostitutes in Sri Lanka, gay rights around the world, the status of women in Africa, beating up the inconsequential junta in Burma, helping overthrow U.S. ally Mubarak, but doing nothing about the Iran-Venezuela alliance, the imprisonment of an American AID contractor in Cuba, the growing anti-Americanism spreading throughout Latin America, the disintegration of the few remaining moderate Muslim states, and on and on.  This leftist, anti-American disease is contagious. Just look at the recent statements by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, once a moderate middle of the road politician, now spouting rubbish about needing "international permission" to deploy US military power, undermining over two centuries of US defense doctrine, not to mention the Constitution.

The career Foreign Service is hapless. Many of the FSOs, especially the young ones, come from the same "educational" background as the political Obama types. Many have strong sympathies for the Obama view of the world because it is easy, it requires less work--thinking is hard. It is best to come up with long carefully nuanced memos regurgitating the most conventional of conventional left-of-center "wisdom," so that the powers above do not get displeased. Deny a problem exists, then you do not have to do anything about it, "He is just an agricultural reformer . .  .".

This post serves as my introduction to a subsequent one, in which I will look at Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State. That will not be a pretty exercise.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The GOP Nomination: Make it the Governor

Don’t listen to the media. The three major GOP candidates are excellent. They are some of the best we have seen from either party in many years. Governor Romney, Speaker Gingrich, or Senator Santorum would be heads, shoulders, knees, ankles, shoelaces, heels, and soles over the disaster we now have in the White House, either the most inept or the most malicious and malevolent President we have had. 
I, however, cannot say the same positive things about Representative Paul. I am very conservative and over the years have become a quasi-libertarian (e.g., get the government out of our lives, but let’s have the biggest, baddest, most lethal military establishment ever to exist.) I have friends and close relatives who support the Texas Congressman, but I cannot. While he has made some prescient observations re the destructive role of the Fed, and the unnecessary growth in size and power of the federal law enforcement bureaucracy, he has had an undistinguished career in Congress, no record as a leader or implementer of anything, and appears naive, confused, and dangerously wrong on foreign affairs. There are powerful people out there who want to kill us just because we are we.  He does not seem capable of understanding that. The United States is not Paraguay; we cannot have the foreign and the defense policies of that quite pleasant nation. In addition, I am convinced Paul is racist and anti-semitic. I do not abide that. He seems to be a lightly airbrushed version of Lyndon LaRouche, with a dash of David Duke, more than a pinch of Dennis Kucinich, and seasoned with some Father Coughlin. He also reminds me of the cranky old guy always yelling at the neighborhood kids, “Get your dog off my lawn!”
The other three candidates are superb.  We should be proud that our system produces candidates of that caliber. I do not find huge ideological differences among them. All three are practical conservatives; genuinely concerned about the future of America; have what it takes to govern in the national interest; and over the years have had to make tactical compromises--exactly as the Founding Fathers wanted. I like them all, and would be proud to have any one of them as President. 
But, we can only pick one; I have made my choice: Governor Romney.
Speaker Gingrich has one of the most original minds in American politics. He speaks clearly and to the point. He is easily understood, and can make complex issues understandable, e.g, his pronouncements on energy, and has the ability to show the absurdity of the liberal position with a few well-chosen words. He has vast historical knowledge, and can pull up the right example at the right time to make a point. He appreciates and favors the uniqueness of America, and the role it plays in world politics and history.  He, however, is slated to join the ranks of Senators “Scoop” Jackson and Barry Goldwater as one of the greatest Presidents we never had. He cannot get elected. His personal baggage, e.g., marriages, lobbying, some ethical lapses, and a long and rowdy political career would fuel the liberal media fire. He would have great difficulty getting his message out past the great Obama media noise machine.  He could turn Obama into finely ground dust in a free-wheeling debate, but the way the few debates (no more than two) are structured, and the control that the left-wing media has over form, substance, and spin means the debates likely would have minimal impact.  Obama, of course, would never agree to seven Lincoln-Douglas type debates. The Speaker also has a self-destructive streak; we could never be sure Gingrich would not detonate. He comes across as the Angry Bird of American politics.
Senator Santorum is a brilliant and determined campaigner.  My wife and I were in Las Vegas last October, when the first big GOP debate was taking place there. We were walking through The Venetian casino, when the Diplowife nudged me and said, “Isn’t that Senator Santorum walking next to you?” I looked, and there was this very tall man, who, indeed, was the Senator. He was heading to the debate site, cutting through the crowd completely unrecognized. No Vegas odds-maker then would have given him a chance to make it to where he has arrived. He is solid on foreign affairs, especially on Iran and Israel, and pretty good on economic issues. As with the other two, he has not been consistently a small government guy, but, in practice, neither was Bush nor Reagan.  He cannot win.  Although in essence a typical mainstream American politician (not a bad thing) he has allowed himself to get characterized, unfairly, as a retrograde anti-woman religious fanatic who doesn't want kids going to college. In a general election, he would find himself constantly correcting the record, doing damage control, getting savaged by late night comics, etc. Why he gets into topics such as birth control is beyond me. A bit of advice for GOP candidates: don’t let the left-wing media decide your agenda. When asked loaded questions about politically irrelevant and long-settled issues, e.g., birth control, answer with a question, e.g., “Don’t you think the President’s failed economic policies are more important for voters?”
I think Governor Romney can beat President Obama and end our national nightmare. From my little perch in the State Department I saw how genuinely horrible this mis-administration could be, e.g., I was instructed to give a speech in an international forum criticizing Arizona’s immigration stance--I refused. There is no respect for American interests, values, and our long traditions. I think the Governor can put an end to the Obama mis-administration. I think he has the best chance to garner the support of independents and moderate Democrats in a general election thereby defeating Obama’s effort to use taxpayer money to buy the government for the left. American elections, as designed by our Founding Fathers, are won and lost in the center. He has been thoroughly vetted and scoured by the national media. He is a profoundly decent and patriotic man. I doubt the media can dig up anything new on him. Unlike the other two GOP candidates, and President Obama, Governor Romney has proven success as a designer and implementer of plans in the private and the public sectors, and as a leader in both sectors.  He is an executive.  Of the three GOP candidates--not to mention the President--he has the most firm grasp of economic issues, and understands how wealth is created. He is tough on foreign affairs, and knows (as do the other two GOP candidates) the importance of having a robust military, in particular a navy that can respond overwhelmingly to threats to the national interest. The general public does not see him as an extremist, and the media will have a hard time painting him with the same brush used on Santorum and Gingrich.  
Romney has the best chance to win
The 2012 election is critical for the USA and the world. If the Obama mis-administration is rewarded with another four years of power, we could see changes implemented that would permanently and negatively alter the American social, political, and economic landscape and consign the United States to a path of decay and irrelevance--in other words, to become another Europe. One Europe is more than enough. Our prosperity and freedom are in peril. The essence of our history and our traditions is in peril.  President Obama must be defeated, and, in my view, Governor Romney is the one who can do it. We need to win. We conservatives do not need to make a brave point. Neither the Alamo nor the 300 Spartans should serve as our model.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The End of Economics?

Some years ago it was all the rage to go on about the "end of politics as we know them," the "end of history as we know it," or the "end of big government as we know it." That all seems so long ago, and so wrong.  Not one to be deterred by prologue, and firmly believing in Dr. Johnson's bromide about "the triumph of hope over experience," I have a new one to add to this list of pithy, but wrong, observations. I think this one, however, might have longer legs, at least when it comes to the situation we see in Europe, and to the one, unfortunately, developing at home.

Let me first toot The Diplomad (ret) horn, mind you just a bit. This humble blog has some hits on the foresight chart: a recent one was the observation about modern democratic politics being increasingly about the battle between voters and taxpayers (here and there are others). We got on that theme well before it became a topic of widespread political discourse, and we have had some others on the importance of manufacturing to our economy, and other topics now debated in the electoral period we have entered.

That said, please let The Diplomad (ret) opine that we might be seeing the "end of economics." It's a bit of an exaggeration, but for now go along with it before, like Homer's boss Mr. Burns, you unleash the hounds. As you will see, I eventually will back off a bit.

I have written a great deal about the economic situation in Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc, not JUST to beat up on the Europeans and their silly pretensions, but also because we have a President who wants us to emulate the Europeans. We are not there yet, and our beloved Grand Republic still has time to avoid the Obama Grecian Formula that leads inexorably to the Grecian Urn, but time grows short.  

Greece: The birthplace (sort of) of democracy and perhaps the model for its death. I won't go over it all again, but suffice to say that the Greeks developed the ultimate entitlement culture. The whole country was on the dole, from top to bottom. With the Euro as their currency--and let's be honest, the Euro is just a new version of the German Mark--the Greeks thought themselves fabulously wealthy and in no need to engage in work, real work, the kind that produces national wealth and allows the state to take its taste. The Greeks lived well beyond their means. The average Greek sought to live like a German without working or saving like a German. The Greeks managed to do this for about a decade thanks to the Euro, phony book keeping by the Greek government, and EU willingness to turn a blind eye to the chicanery in pursuit of the obsessive, even mad Imperial Dream to challenge the United States. 

When a nation "lives beyond its means" the government has an open invitation to insert itself more and more into daily life: the Greek government accepted the invitation. With its guaranteed employment, high wages, generous and early pensions, and powerful public sector unions  the government became the preferred employer. The private sector shrank under the impact of the government's subsidized  competition and expansion; increasing regulation; a crushing tax burden to be avoided by all means fair and foul; and the overvalued Euro which made Greece as expensive as Germany but not as productive. For Greeks, it simply was not worthwhile to work.  Their country developed generous public assistance programs and "pro-worker" legislation that made hiring someone more binding than marriage--you could get divorced easier than you could fire a redundant or incompetent worker. 

All this was made possible, as I noted above, by lying Greek politicians; an electorate willing to vote itself ever increasing benefits and to believe that money just comes from "out there"; and a politically driven and pampered EU bureaucracy committed to seeing the "European Project" succeed above all else. We also must lay a share of the blame at the door of German politicians; they were being taken to the cleaners by the Greeks (and the Spaniards, the Portuguese and . . .) but would not say "Nien." Maybe it was WWII guilt. Maybe they saw Germany achieving what neither the Kaiser nor the Fuehrer could, i.e., dominance from Moscow to Lisbon. Maybe it simply results from the low quality of German political leadership which has left the Germans playing second fiddle to the French, and their pan-European aspirations. Whatever the explanation, the Germans paid and still pay to give unproductive southern Europe a living standard worthy of productive northern Europe--and the beaches are better. 

Bottom line: in Greece the government is the economy. That presents a problem for economics.  Shades of the USSR.

The formulas being offered for Greece's salvation will not work. I won't bother linking to them but there are seemingly endless articles in the international press every day announcing that a deal has been reached. The Euro is safe! The European project lives! Stock markets rally! Everybody breathes a sigh of relief. I defy anybody to decipher the different deals being announced and to figure out which if any of them has a chance to be approved by Greece. All these deals, however, share one thing in common: they all claim that "default" has been averted. Ooops! Sorry. They also share one other thing in common: they are lies. Default is not being averted; it is being defined away in a blizzard of verbiage, e.g., "hair cut," or "credit event." You can look up more "neat-o" new words the EUrocrats employ. Baghdad Bob would be right at home.

The typical "deal" involves bond holders, private ones that is as the European Central Bank (ECB) has exempted itself (as Tom Petty says, "It's good to be King") taking a "haircut" of between 50-75%, maybe even more. That is a default in anybody's book. It looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and craps like a duck.  In exchange the Greeks will get more money from the Germans and PROMISE to make significant public sector spending cuts.  Wouldn't you like a deal like that from your banker? The Greeks, however, most likely will not agree to such a deal or will say they do, and then lie about complying with it, and the Eurocrats will go along. That is the European bureaucratic way.  Their bureaucrats are even more unaccountable than ours.

There is no clean solution to the Greek mess and to the mess that is about to befall much of the rest of Europe and which is beginning to knock on our doors.  The Greek situation defies both traditional conservative and left-wing economics, at least in the short to medium term.  A conservative solution is to cut taxes and cut spending. Makes sense except for what I noted above. The government essentially has absorbed the Greek economy: the economy is the government and the government is the economy. If you cut one, you cut the other. The leftist (and ECB) prescription runs afoul of Maggie's old dictum about "running out of other people's money." We are reaching that point. It is now in the political sphere, to wit, can or will Germany keep paying to save an unnecessary political project, the EU, and its golden amulet, the Euro?

What would be the effect of the Germans saying no? My opinion is that we would see a situation not too dissimilar to what we saw happen in the USSR when the rules of economics could no longer be defied. The Greek system would collapse. If the Germans keep paying, however, they will see Spain, Portugal, Italy, and who knows whom else lining up for their dole.  The EU, after all, is all about doles. Could even the mighty German ATM generate that much cash?

Decades of insane leftist economics, of trying to repeal the laws of economics have created disaster for the people of Greece, and of Europe. These decades saw the destruction of private enterprise, and private incentive. The problem that has resulted is immense. In the end, the "solution" is a highly messy and painful one, and easy to prescribe from thousands of miles away but not so easy to live. Greece (probably Spain, Italy, and Portugal as well) must "default," real default not the fake "default" being conjured up by the Eurocrats. It must give up the Euro, and return to its own currency which will float in the international markets to its "true" value, and make Greece, in the long run, admittedly, a more attractive and affordable place to invest. This is not going to be simple or pretty. It will be horrendous, and might even require Greece, much like Haiti in the interwar years, to come under international tutelage, maybe as a protectorate of Germany--something really unpalatable--to redo completely the Greek state. Fantasies. I doubt these things will happen.

What we see are the consequences of defying the age old rules of economics. Like gravity, you can for a bit, but, as that CW song wisely says, "falling feels like flying, for a little while." The Obama mis-administration might want to learn something from what is happening in Europe. They won't. They continue to insist on defying the laws of economics, and for a time "falling will feel like flying." And I am not speaking just about spending. They try to do it in the classic totalitarian way: they will reform us, literally, reform us to be perfect moral creatures who act only for the public good without thought for ourselves. They will decide how much medical care we need. They will decide if our salaries are excessive. They will control the horizontal and the vertical. Greed is bad! Advancement for you and your family is bad, unless it is with the sanction of a government program that insures we all "advance" together. These models of perfect people are exactly the ones our Founding Fathers rejected.

I end this overly long piece by leaving you with the closing lines of the Fable of the Bees by Mandeville.  Those who would try to defy the rules of economics by shaping a new man, would do well to read his words.

THEN leave Complaints: Fools only strive
To make a Great an honest Hive.
T'enjoy the World's Conveniencies,
Be famed in War, yet live in Ease
Without great Vices, is a vain
Eutopia seated in the Brain.
Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live;
We the Benefits receive.
Hunger's a dreadful Plague no doubt,
Yet who digests or thrives without?
Do we not owe the Growth of Wine
To the dry, crooked, shabby Vine?
Which, whist its neglected flood,
Choak'd other Plants, and ran to Wood;
But blest us with his Noble Fruit;
As soon as it was tied, and cut:
So Vice is beneficial found,
When it's by Justice, and bound;
Nay, where the People would be great,
As necessary to the State,
At Hunger is to make 'em eat.
Bare Vertue can't make Nations live
In Splendour; they, that would revive
A Golden Age, must be as free,
For Acorns, as for Honesty. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

I am Back

After a long break, I am back. 

I hope there are still readers out there.
If anybody is still reading, let me give an abbreviated version of what’s happened. After 34 years, I am out of the Foreign Service. It got intolerable. I was up for two ambassadorial nominations but got screwed out of them by the Department, in particular by some career officers who have made it a point to make sure that out-spoken conservative FSOs do not get embassies. By the way, this is not a phenomenon unique to me or to the Obama mis-administration. This goes on under Republican presidencies, too. The State Department bureaucracy is very much a mental bee hive: independent thought is not encouraged. You must conform to the hive. The hive does not respond to the President or to the national interest; the hive takes care of itself. 
That’s enough of that. 

I am not going to whine about it anymore, and don’t want to get into the details, but that’s what’s happened. 
So, now I am retired, and feel less and less inclined to remain anonymous. I will be writing about foreign affairs, political, and economic issues. I hope there’s still some interest. If there isn’t, I will do it as writing therapy.