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;...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Governor's Travels

Governor Romney did a very fine job on his campaign's first foreign foray. The press did a horrendous job of reporting and analysis of his trip, and lost no opportunity to try to minimize and ridicule him and his visit. All that, of course, in striking contrast to the fawning treatment accorded candidate Obama during his grandiose foreign trip in 2008.

The Governor's rather innocuous and, by the way, accurate observations on the state of preparations for the London Olympics got manipulated into a grotesque parody of what he actually said. The Governor, responding to a question, noted that there were "disconcerting" stories, including one about a private security firm, GS4, that had employed insufficient staff, and another about a threatened strike by British border security personnel. Those stories, of course, came from the British press which had been running with "the-Britain's-Olympics-are-a-shambles" theme for several months.  That same press, with its American echo chamber, went bonkers when the Governor referred to their own reporting. I assume by the hysterical reaction from the British press to the Governor's citing the British press, the British press knows that nobody should rely on the British press for information.

The Governor's forthright and accurate assessment of the state of the 2012 Olympics shows that he is not a typical politician. The usual response would have been some vague or even effusive praise for the efforts of the host country. Instead, the Governor, who has considerable expertise on the Olympics, flagged some concerns. Those concerns have borne out as we see lapses in security, e.g., a gate crasher managed to join the Indian team on its march-through, and rows and rows of empty stadium seats at the same time that no ticket is available.  Quite surprising, normally reprehensible CNN pet Brit Piers Morgan concluded that Romney was exactly on point re the Olympics. The issue of whether you actually want Piers Morgan on your side is something for another day; I merely note it.

But, I digress. The visit to the UK was not the main feature of the trip. The Governor's visits to Israel and Poland formed the core of the trip, so, of course, drew less press attention and what attention it did draw minimized or misinterpreted the real meaning of the visits. Contrary to most press reporting, the Romney trip was not primarily about Jewish or Polish votes back in the US. The trip was about highlighting what should be the US relationship with two critical allies located in two very tough neighborhoods. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is virtually surrounded by anti-American retrograde forces out to destroy it. Poland finds itself confronting a resurgent and increasingly anti-American, aggressive and even Stalinist Russia that greatly resents Poland's remarkable economic success and its close relationship with the West, especially the United States. Both of these nations live on the frontiers of freedom; both  have been shabbily mistreated by the Obama misadministration. Neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton has shown any regard for the importance of these two allies to the United States or for the difficult and even precarious conditions which they confront. In fact, actions by the Obama misadministration, e.g., precipitously canceling the anti-missile defense system in Poland's case, and demanding Israel's return to the disastrous borders of pre-1967, have strained their alliances with the United States and put their national security at risk.

By visiting these two nations, Romney has signified how his foreign policy will be different than Obama's. The Governor realizes something that our Lilliputian President does not: we should stand with our allies.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The UN Arms Treaty, AKA The Lawyer Full Employment Act

The UN and its supporters, e.g., the NY Times, the LA Times, Amnesty International, etc., are busy pushing a so-called global arms treaty (full text here).

Like all UN texts, this treaty has high-flying language that sets out all sorts of noble purposes and aspirations. I have written many, many times before that the real purpose of 99% of UN resolutions is slowly, sometimes subtly, to change definitions and alter the very language we use when discussing a topic. While the vast majority of UN resolutions do not have the force of law, they seek to alter the battlefield of ideas so that one finds himself using UN terms and relying on UN data and definitions. When I worked at the UN, under the Reagan administration, we fought ferociously, for example, against persistent UN efforts to define "individual rights" not as limitations on the power of the state and as something which accrues to an individual merely for being alive, but as something that is given by the state to the individual. We were quite successful, but since then the US position has softened, and we have bought off on the idea of social and economic rights which require the state to do something to secure. We find ourselves losing the battle on rights at the UN and the OAS, as a consequence. Rights, in essence, are now whatever the state says they are,

This UN text, however, goes beyond just definitional games and abstract debates. This proposes to be a full-blown treaty; it would have the power of law. For anybody concerned with individual rights, especially the right of an individual to self-defense, this treaty poses enormous problems. Read the text yourself and you will find them one after another. The treaty, as with all liberal/leftist efforts, seeks a massive role for the state and an implied one for lawyers, in those countries, such as ours, where we take the law seriously. Look at Article I, for example. The objectives laid out there would require an enormous new body of law and regulations to be drafted and implemented in the US; it would require it to be drafted in such a way as "to establish the highest possible common standards for regulating or improving regulation of the international trade in conventional arms." In other words, we would have to try to bring our laws and regulations into sync with those of the rest of the world. I do not need to spell out what that means when it comes to bearing arms.

Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 comprise the core of the treaty. These articles would provide endless employment activity for "activists' and their lawyers. They establish obligations on the "State Parties" that would, in essence, kill the trade in small arms. The language about weapons "being diverted to the illicit market," or "used to commit or facilitate gender-based violence or violence against children" means endless lawsuits against exporting and importing states, manufacturers, and sellers. While the ostensible purpose is international trade, that would quickly become a domestic legal issue in the US. Say, for example, that a Glock, either one made in Austria or in a Glock factory in the US, were used for "illicit" purposes or was involved in an incident of "gender-based violence" in the US, the lawsuits would be ferocious. The threat of constant legal action effectively would halt the export and import of small arms--at least from and to those countries that take laws and treaty obligations seriously. The treaty would provide the basis for additional US domestic legislation that would incorporate the UN language and ideas into our laws. Private firm gun manufacturing and sales would be halted by the constant threat of lawsuits.

While proponents claim that the UN Treaty would not infringe on the second amendment rights of Americans, that is a lie. The purpose of the treaty is to circumvent the second amendment by destroying the small arms industry and trade. It is an effort at a gun ban. They know that and we know that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obama is Back to Being Obama: Pandering on Guns

He couldn't resist the opportunity. The President had to weigh in on the gun control debate in his usual fashion. In a July 25 address in New Orleans he put his ideology, political opportunism, and ignorance on display as he addressed the issue of "gun violence."

According to CNN,

"While the president said he stands by the Second Amendment and recognizes the traditions of hunting and gun ownership in the country, he told a crowd at a gathering for the National Urban League in New Orleans that there is work left to be done in tackling the problem.

'I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals," Obama said. "That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.'"

Lots of problems here. That deranged creep in Aurora did not use an AK-47. He did not even use an assault rifle. He used a semi-automatic AR-15, a shotgun, and a handgun--all of which he transported in violation of Aurora city ordinances and used in a "gun free" zone.

 It is virtually impossible to buy an "assault rifle" in the United States, be it an AK-47 or any other type, and has been since FDR's first term in office. The liberal media bandy about the term "assault rifle" because it sounds cool and menacing. I remember having to deal with U.S. human rights activists in Central America who always liked to throw in the phrase "large caliber rifle" when they wanted to attribute a killing to the local military. I used to tell them again and again, that if the killing had been done by a "large caliber rifle" then the military didn't do it as they used "small caliber rifles." That did no good; it just sounds a lot cooler to say AK-47, "large caliber," or "assault rifle."

Despite the Hollywood nonsense, criminals and urban gangs in the United States are not equipped with AK-47s or any other type of "assault rifle" or automatic weapon, be it Uzis, or M-16s.

No army uses the AK-47. The commander-in-chief should know that. 

We might also want to point out that it is this President who has committed the most egregious act of gun violence in the past several years. His administration deliberately sold thousands of weapons to Mexican drug gangs in an effort to "prove" that somebody could sell thousands of guns to Mexican drug gangs . . .  if that somebody had the support of the Department of Justice and the ATF in doing so. Nice experiment, Mr. President. You killed hundreds of Mexican citizens and possibly two US federal agents. 

We might also want to point out that this last weekend saw three people fatally shot and twenty-six others wounded by gunfire in Chicago.  During the 2010-2011 school year, 24 Chicago students were killed by gunfire and another 319 wounded.  This is happening in one of the most ferociously anti-gun cities in the country, and one run by Mr. Obama's closest political allies. In 2011, "gun-free" Chicago (population 2.7 million) had 441 homicides. With almost the exact same population numbers, "gun crazy" Utah had 39 homicides in 2011.  

Mr. President? Hello?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quick Note re President Obama at the Colorado Hospital

It's no secret that I want to see President Obama defeated for the good of America. When, however, he does something right, e.g., killing Osama bin Ladin, we should note it.

I was concerned when I heard that the President would hold a press conference after visiting some of the victims from the Aurora shooting. I thought for sure he would turn it into another "I, I, I, I" moment.

Well, I was wrong. The President acted Presidential. He gave a classy and heart-felt statement at the hospital in which he thanked all those who had worked so hard to save victims, and expressed genuine condolences to the families of those who did not survive. His statement was brief, eloquent, to the point, dignified, and even touching. He did not take questions and did not turn it into a political event.

The President did well, and those of us who oppose him politically should recognize that.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The State Department and the Muslim Brotherhood

I see the press is reporting a dust-up over Michelle Bachmann's criticism of the influence of Huma Abedin (aka Mrs. Anthony Weiner) at State. Bachmann and others wrote a letter that seems to imply that the recent State slant in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood can be at least partially attributed to the influence that Huma Abedin, one of Clinton's chief aides, has over her boss.

My own best guess, based on 34 years at State, is that the answer is "yes and no."

I think it is a valid question to look into the process of giving Huma Abedin a security clearance. Having gone through the clearance process many, many times, I can assure you that it is a notoriously sloppy and uneven  one.  Certainly Huma Abedin has some issues which a security clearance investigation would need to take seriously. She, for example, lived much of her life in Saudi Arabia and her mother continues to live there. There are allegations that some of her close relatives, including her late father and her Pakistani mother had or have some sort of connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.  I have no idea whether that is true. On the other hand, in her favor, I guess, Abedin has married outside of her faith, to a rather goofy almost Woody Allen-esque half-Jewish politician, no less, and does not seem to be a particularly devout or radical Muslim.

I have no idea how seriously Huma Abedin was investigated before she received a top secret clearance. Given, however, her powerful Washington connections, including her long relationship with the Clintons and with the Democratic machine in Washington and New York, it is probably not unfair to assume that the investigation was slanted in her favor from the start. That does not mean it did not reach a proper conclusion, just that it was unlikely, absent some glaring piece of evidence, to reach any other.

As far I can recollect, I have met Abedin twice, and both times very briefly. In both meetings the only topics of discussion were some technical details about travel by Hillary Clinton to Latin America, and a proposed speech at the Organization of American States (OAS). Abedin made no particular impression on me; she seemed just another one of the many "high powered" female aides who seem to surround Hillary Clinton and control both access and information to her. She was pleasant and certainly did not have the faux-intellectual pretensions and arrogance of Clinton's Counselor Cheryl Mills. She merely had limited to no knowledge about Latin American issues, said nothing about the substantive issues, and appeared only concerned about her boss's image and schedule. In other words, she was just another overpaid and typical SecState aide.

While Bachmann, et al, are onto something about the lean towards the Muslim Brotherhood, I think the issue is considerably more serious and more difficult than the possible political leanings of one aide, even a close one.  I have written before about the dominant culture at State, and the general vacuousness and downright ignorance of our current Secretary of State.

A prominent feature of the State Department culture is to suppress bad news. Events must be interpreted, defined, and spun in the most positive way possible before the information moves up the ladder of command. At each step in that ladder, the information is further massaged, reshaped, and bleached; the Secretary must never get bad news, unless there is a solution, or a "deliverable" ready to go. If you send unvarnished, unprocessed, non-massaged bad news to your boss, the reaction is, "Hmm? So it seems, Mr. S. Pants, that you have lost control of your portfolio. Is that true? Are you unable to manage your issues?" People who worked for Stalin would recognize the environment -- well, except for the firing squads.

The Obama-Clinton foreign policy vis-a-vis Egypt and the removal of Mubarak has proven an unmitigated disaster. It is only comparable to Carter's mishandling of the Shah in Iran, and in the long run, might have equally dire consequences. My erstwhile colleagues at State, who so gleefully embraced the "Arab Spring," rooted for the protestors in Tahir Square, and promoted the distancing of the United States from our one true ally in the region, Israel, are now scrambling to "fix things." The best way to "fix" a problem is to deny that it exists; to define the issue in a way that is not at all a problem, but an opportunity!  The removal of Hosni Mubarak has led to what anyone with two-cents worth of brains knew would happen: the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the best organized and hardest working group in Egypt has filled the vacuum. It is perfectly willing to use the instruments of liberal democracy to take power and turn Egypt into another mad Muslim theocracy. For now, the MB must limit itself to the instruments and quasi-language of "liberal democracy" because it fears the Egyptian military, which is not fooled by the MB. The military know that today's MB is just a craftier and even more dangerous version of the old MB.

The folks at State, meanwhile, are busy defining away the problem. The MB's rise to prominence is not a problem! They have shown themselves willing to participate in the electoral process, haven't they?  The head of the MB speaks English and has studied in the US! We can razzle-dazzle him with a visit by our celebrity SecState! The only problem in Egypt is that the conservative military officers are bound and determined to limit the scope of democratic change. We can promote democracy AND get in good with the MB! And you, Madame Secretary, who can resist your charm, your political skills? Those stuffy ol' military officers will just melt with your impeccable pro-democracy logic (and threats), and the MB will realize that we are their friends! It's a win-win!

That State culture, combined with an empty-headed, conceited, celebrity SecState is a formula for disaster. Add in a presumably knowledgable sounding Huma Abedin, who might possibly be inclined in the direction of the MB, and has the Secretary's ear, and we have what we have: the most dangerous situation in the Middle East in over 40 years.

State needs a radical redo, from top to bottom.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gun Control, Morlocks, and Elois

H.G. Wells' Morlocks are among us. We saw it in Colorado yesterday. The expected cries have gone out from the leftists; they demand that we become even more like the Eloi. We should all rely on the state to protect us from the Morlocks.

The horrid shooting in Aurora has generated the usual cries for "gun control" from the usual crowd.  The advocates of gun control seem to ignore that the movie theater in Aurora was the epitome of a gun controlled world. It was a microcosm of what the gun controllers want for all of us. I would hazard to guess that 99.9% of the people in that theater that night did not have guns with them. They relied on the odds, the police, the theater management, the "kindness of strangers" to protect them from any possible Morlock in their midst. We saw what happened that night, and we see what happens every night in the liberal hell known as Chicago: the Eloi die.

Fight the gun laws. Learn to shoot. Learn to protect yourself and your family. Remember the real lessons of Aurora.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Colorado Shootings

The sort of horror we saw in Aurora seems to be becoming a more and more frequent staple of modern life. Few places seem immune from this sort of crime, be it the US, Norway, France, Canada, Germany or just about anywhere else you care to name. Sometimes these crimes have a motive, twisted, but, nevertheless, a motive we can sort of understand. Most of the time, however, they are carried out by some sore loner loser and all efforts at understanding get rebuffed. I suspect the Aurora shooting will be in the last category, and in the end we will never know what led James Holmes to kill a dozen people.

Most of the media seems to be doing a responsible job with a few exceptions. Some idiots on ABC and MSNBC, and in the blogosphere, could not resist trying to link the shooting to the Tea Party. Those people should be ashamed of themselves if they have that ability. The same people who were so scrupulous about not attributing to Islam Nidal Hasan's Fort Hood rampage carried out while shouting "allah o akbar" should keep their mouths shut about the Aurora shooting.

This is not a time for politics or seeking an edge. This is a time for mourning.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Words Fail Me On This One

Unbelievable if it weren't the Obama misadministration: Food Stamps for Mexico . . .

November, November, November, November . . .  .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Mask Comes Off Obama: "You Didn't Build That"

"If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
President Barack Obama, expressing his hatred for America last week.

By now, I am sure all of you have read or seen the President's Roanoke speech of last Friday in which he explained clearly, unambiguously, and with no hesitation his view that all we have in America is thanks to government and some sort of collectivist impulse.  He has revealed once and for all, not even the most obtuse can now deny it, his complete misunderstanding of our history and culture. He has bought on whole hog to the liberal notion that FDR or LBJ type programs made this country and are crucial for its continued survival. The individual is merely a cog, and he or she can claim no achievement except for being the grateful recipient of government largesse. 

Our President appeals to and seeks to console the lazy, the incompetent, the unimaginative, the dole-receiver that he or she is really no different from the man or the woman who invests money, and pours his or her heart and soul into building a business or designing a new product or service. 

Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Kim il-Sung would have been proud of our president, "You have learned well my little grasshopper." 

It is now abundantly clear as I wrote last May, that this election will be one between the taxpayers and the voters, between those who produce and those who take.  Obama has make it abundantly clear where he  comes down.

Monday, July 16, 2012

October Surprise: War with Iran?

Forgive me if I sound cynical.

I am in a deep, deep funk re the current Presidential misadministration in the USA.  Let me be blunt: I think President Obama is the most cynical, and despicable president we have ever had, bar none. Every day he seems to bring some new "Chicago style" disgrace to the office he encumbers. He and his re-election campaign surrogates have shown themselves willing to say and do just about anything to keep control of the White House. I found beyond despicable their latest blitz on Bain, accusing Governor Romney of criminality and lies--this from a corrupt Chicago politician whose close associates include Rezko, Ayres, Wright, and Blago, and whose administration has sold thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, tried to blackmail Boeing into not opening a plant in South Carolina, and turned the ill-thoughtout Bush auto bailout into a massive transfer of wealth to the leadership of the UAW. This administration lies about the deficit; lies about the state of the economy; and offers only one "solution" to everything: taxes, taxes, and more taxes to increase the power and reach of its constituencies, to wit, government workers, lawyers, and people on the dole.

Our foreign policy is in a shambles. That is driven home by the chaotic and completely insane Mideast tour now being undertaken by our vacuous Secretary of State. She goes to Egypt to pal around with the head of the Muslim Brotherhood--while his supporters hurl shoes and tomatoes at her--and lectures the Egyptian army, the last bastion of sanity in that country, to yield power to the howling mob that wants war with Israel, to kill gays, Christians and Jews, and return women to the 14th century. Has she ever heard of what happened in Iran?

Speaking of Iran, we have an administration that has never taken seriously the threat posed by Iran . . . until now. We see considerable USN assets being moved into the Persian Gulf, and the war talk ramped up. I never thought I would say this about an American President, and would have dismissed it as wild conspiracy talk, but don't put it past this misadministration to seek war or at least military conflict with Iran in the next few weeks, all calculated to boost Obama's poll numbers. Blood for votes.

We need to defeat Obama in November.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Snarky Comment: Kennedy's and Cars

I don't usually write stuff like this, but this time I can't resist.

I just read that Kerry Kennedy (ex-Cuomo) got busted for DUI, and leaving the scene of an accident. She denies being impaired while driving her luxury Lexus (note: an "outsourced" car made by non-UAW labor, uh, well, overseas, and the model preferred by "human rights activists" and those who favor a USG bailout of the American auto industry.)  So, of course, innocent until proven guilty . . . yeah, yeah, right, ask George Zimmerman about that.

Anyhow, I met Kerry Kennedy some years ago when I was the human rights officer in a troubled Central American country. She was absolutely insufferable. She arrived at the Embassy well over an hour late for a meeting she had requested. Throughout the meeting she was extraordinarily hostile, arrogant, and ignorant--i.e., the perfect liberal. She was accompanied by two or three other activists and aides, who truth be told, seemed embarrassed by her general nastiness. She was determined to show that the United States was responsible for the bad human rights situation in that Central American country. I remember that every time I would describe a human rights problem in country X, she would pounce like a novice attorney, "Ah, so you admit that . . . " My reply was always, "No, I acknowledge that . .  ." This drove her up a wall.

In the middle of my presentation, she stood up and said, "We have to go. I am late for my next meeting." I remember barking out, "Sit down and let me finish. You kept us waiting for over an hour, you can keep the other people waiting." She seemed startled, and sat down with a flushed and confused look that grew increasingly angry. One of her companions, a very nice Hungarian activist, could barely stifle his laughter; afterwards he pulled me aside and apologized for her behavior by saying in a low voice, "Well, you know, she's a Kennedy." I will always remember that.  It seems that the people on the roadways of New York must also keep that in mind.

I can't resist ending this without a simple observation and asking a simple question: A Kennedy, a car, and a highway . . . what possibly could go wrong?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Apropos of Nothing . . .

One of my favorite pictures from my long Foreign Service career.

On the road to Potosi with the kids in my venerable 4X4 Ford Bronco.

It was a grueling trip, but one the kids still talk about lo this many years later.  This picture was taken by my wife somewhere on the Altiplano when we stopped to have lunch in the back of the truck . . . hundreds of kilometers of very rough unpaved roads, dry river beds, lots of dust and rocks, and all at an altitude of 10-12,000 feet.

That Bronco never let me down . . . unlike some of my erstwhile colleagues at State . . .

Friday Rant: Revisiting Iraq

I was off traveling a bit and am now back in my basement where I belong.

I see that there has been a burst of interest in the possibility that Governor Romney might select former SecState Condi Rice as his VP running mate. What this shows, really, is how deep of a potential Veep bench the GOP enjoys. The party has an amazing number of superb candidates, Rice, Christie, Martinez, Rubio, Haley, Sandoval, West, and on and on. The Dems have nothing like that talent pool, and appear saddled with the pitiful Biden. Any one of the potential GOP Veepsters would make mincemeat of Pretentious Joe.

The talk about Rice, of course, brings up the issue of Iraq. I have heard people say she would be a bad choice as that would remind people of the "bad old days" under Bush, and rip open the Iraq scab and debate. First of all, those "bad old days" look pretty good compared to the days we are now living. The debate on Iraq? True, that might be a distraction, and is something that the Governor and his people will have to gauge as to whether in the relatively little time left before the November election the Romney campaign wants to spend time and resources refuting the many lies and distortions that the Dems throw out about Iraq.

That aside, I still believe that President Bush made the right call in taking out Saddam. Imagine how complex of a situation we would now face in the Middle East if we had Iraq and Iran apparently arming for nuclear war.

Ah, yes, weapons of mass destruction. Bush did not lie about Iraq and WMD. Iraq under Saddam had used WMDs on the Kurds, the Iraqi Shias, and on the Iranians. He had a long standing interest in developing WMDs and the delivery capability (Note: Let us not forget the Gerald Bull caper of the 1980s.) Nearly all of the intelligence and other information showed Saddam having an abiding interest in restarting his WMD program, put on ice after the first Gulf War. The debate was over the exact nature of the program and how far advanced it had gotten. Even President Clinton and the hideous Madeleine Albright shared the Bush administration's concern over Iraqi WMDs. Clinton's head of the CIA, George Tenet, who stayed on with Bush, was a strong proponent of the argument that the Iraqis were far along on their WMD program and had to be stopped. I believe (note, this is my personal view and not something I read in any intel reports) that Saddam thought he had a developed WMD capability as did many of his generals.

What was President Bush supposed to do?  Hope, pray that the intel was wrong and that Saddam did not have a WMD capability? That he was not really interested in having one? Ignore the intel on and the history of the Saddam regime? As President he could not do that.  He had an explicit example of what happens when you base your foreign policy on hope and half-hearted measures. That example was the "gift" left America by the Clinton administration: the attacks of 9/11. Never again.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Reflections on the 4th of July, and Three Cheers for England

Back when I was somebody, I often had to host the 4th of July celebrations given by our embassies. On one occasion, it came to me to deliver a little 4th of July speech. In it I thanked England for being, well, England (yes, I used the term England, not the UK, or Great Britain or anything else). We only need look elsewhere to see what might have been our fate had the settlers been from a different place.

The American War for Independence was caused by and about many things. No doubt with the defeat of the French in the prior decade Americans saw increasingly little need for British troops and London's stewardship.  People also often forget how old the colonies were at the time of the Declaration of Independence. Brits had been living in America for some two hundred years.  There were multiple generations of American-born Brits who had never been to Britain and had only a hazy notion of the place. We all have heard the economic reasons for the clash, including taxes, of course. The war, however, was in many ways a continuation of the English Civil Wars and of the Glorious Revolution, in which we saw the English struggle between loyalty to the monarch and loyalty to the belief in parliament and individual rights. In the end, the American war was decided in favor of the latter but in a more draconian manner than had been done in England (execution of Charles I aside).  Our British, primarily English (yes, Jefferson was a descendent of Welsh immigrants) founders did away with the monarchy altogether, and asserted, in the Bill of Rights, the primacy of the individual. We had a war between Englishmen and the Englishmen won.

Just as the War of Independence was not just or even mainly about economics, our election next November should not be either. Yes, the parlous state of the economy is important, but so is freedom. In my view, the individual freedom that was at the core of the War of Independence has never been more threatened than now.  We have allowed and encouraged, perhaps with the best of intentions, monstrous growth in the size and power of government. We have ceded freedom and rights to legions of lawyers, unelected bureaucrats, prosecutors, cops, and the uneducated college-degree holders that everywhere tell us how to live, and make more and more things illegal.

This election must be about reversing that, striking down the hideous Obamacare but also tomes and tomes of laws and regulations that stifle creativity, freedom, and, as a consequence, drag our economy down. Let's have our own Glorious Revolution and decide it in favor of the individual.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Way Out of My League . . . Soccer, er, Football

OK, I could be writing about the usual stuff, e.g., Obamacare, the Euro, Fast and Furious, Obama's war on the American economy, the EU's war on the European economy, on the need to crush militant Islam, etc. But, no. I am going to try my hand at writing about soccer, football, or futbol, or whatever you call that game with guys in shorts running up and down a field trying to kick a ball into a goal the size of Rhode Island.

I know virtually nothing about the sport, and my traditional attitude towards it was what one American comedian (can't remember who) said, "I prefer sports where something happens." You watch something for nigh on two hours and end up with a zero-zero score . . . hmmm.  That said, however, I have spent much of my life in places where soccer is an obsession. My wife and two oldest sons were born in Spain, where it long ago supplanted Catholicism as the national religion. Those two sons, despite being very conservative and believers in the creed of "insult-America-and-I-will-punch-you-in-the-face," are soccer fanatics. They suffer with the failure of soccer to take off in the US (at least, among men) and always hold onto the hope that maybe "next time" the US national team will make it into the big leagues of international soccer.  Poor kids . . . I hope there is medication available for that.

Anyhow, they talked me into following the Euro 2012. Since I thought it was a discussion on the future of that malignant currency, I started to watch. Well, turned out it had nothing to do with the Euro, but everything to do with calling into question the idea that Europe is anything more than a geographical expression. Lots of tribalism at work: flag-waving, name calling, and national press outlets indulging in all sorts of insults and smearing of other nationalities. It was a sort of ancient pre-warfare ritual. It was good stuff.  It reaffirmed my faith in my view of humanity, and put the lie to those who see mankind as yearning for peace and some sort of nanny world government. People like conflict. They like "us vs. them." They like winning, beating their opponents . . . "to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet . . . and hear the lamentations of their women." The Great Kahn could have been a soccer fan.

The individual games themselves seemed to vary in quality. As noted, I am no expert, and relied on my sons to explain the rules, the strategy, and the tactics involved.  I will confess, however, that I became a fan of the Spanish team. My wife and sons, of course, were big fans all along. I was impressed by the precision with which they could pass the ball, almost as if the thing had a GPS installed. In addition, unlike some of the other teams, the Spaniards seemed to be having fun and were not out for individual glory. They actually played as a team. I watched the Italy-Spain match last Sunday, and am glad to report that I correctly predicted the winner. At the end of the game the Spaniards seemed to be very gracious winners. They tried to overlook the lamentations of the Italian players and fans and, as far as I could tell, no Italian players or fans were executed on the field--the Great Kahn would not have approved.

Congratulations to Spain, and may you have as much luck in the other Euro battle . . .

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Saving" the Euro, Part 398: Germany Caves to Suicide Threat

Well, it's been a week or two since the last time the EU "saved" the Euro, so we were all due another thrilling chapter in the saga.

"Blazing Saddles," yes. Mel Brooks' classic Western satire is required viewing to understand the latest episode in the Euro-salvation drama, in particular the brilliant "hostage"scene with the late and very funny Cleavon Little playing beleaguered black Sheriff Bart in the all white town of Rock Ridge. Substitute Greece, Spain, France, Portugal, or Italy for Bart. Substitute Germany for the mayor and citizens of the town. Reflect on Bart's words after he avoids being lynched by taking himself hostage and threatening to kill himself, "They are so dumb!" That's the latest "rescue"of the Euro summed up.

As we have noted before (here, here) the insistence on "saving" the Euro is destroying Europe's economy. The Euro has made low-productivity Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and France as expensive as high productivity Germany.  It has encouraged wild spending, and phony bookkeeping among the southern Europeans. The political motivations behind the Euro have encouraged those who should know better, e.g., Germany, to turn a blind eye to these shenanigans and just pay the bills. One would have thought that German patience with being stuck with the bill would have come to an end. Apparently not. The next step by the spenders is to have European bonds issued at a German interest rate so as to lower borrowing costs for the profligate ones. The resolve of the Germans, who quite rationally have resisted this, is cracking under the pressure of the threatened suicide by their Cleavon Little-like neighbors.  We see now that the Germans have agreed to allowing the debtors' banks direct access to Eurozone funds and to what is essentially a banking union that will allow ailing banks direct access to those funds. This is the first step towards Germany having to guarantee the debts being run up by Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, and Greece.  The MSM in Europe has hailed the victory over the German opposition to "pro growth" strategies.  This cannot last much longer.

Mel Brooks is owed royalties--in Canadian dollars, please.