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;...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Madness On GITMO

It seems your president is out to secure his "legacy" achievements regardless of the cost to our nation. His past achievements include, of course, unprecedented debt and unemployment; disastrous Obamacare; relentless promotion of gay marriage; "ending" wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; "democratization" of Libya; recognition of the vile and putrid Castro dictatorship; surrender to Iran's ayatollahs; gutting our military; destruction of what remained of our immigration system and laws; exacerbating racial tensions to a level not seen in decades--and, of course, winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Those, of course, are just some of the more successful ones. He also sought to bring down the second amendment through his murderous "Fast and Furious" operation; install the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; and sell-out Israel. Is there nothing this man can't or attempt to do in his ceaseless drive to undermine the USA and the West? Will he try for yet another laurel for his legacy?

The answer is . . . yes, but you knew that. Maybe another Nobel is in the offing?

In the waning days of his calamitous reign, The One now seeks to empty and close the prison in Guantanamo Bay. Why? Ah, yes, because it serves as a recruitment tool for the Islamic crazies that besiege us from Sydney to San Bernardino to Boston to New York to London to Madrid to Paris to Berlin to Moscow to Jerusalem to, to, to etcetera, etcetera, etcetera . . .  And the evidence for that assertion? Uh, well, how about nowhere to be found? Now, I have to say that we cannot blame this fallacious train of thought entirely on Obama-Clinton-Kerry. Under George W. Bush, let's remember, a pretty good president most of the time, we began to hear this tale about Guantanamo serving as a recruiting device for Al Qaeda and the other Islamic gangsters of the world. Sen McCain (of course) was one of the propagators of this line and a leader in calls to close Gitmo. Bush lamely went along, and said it would be a good thing to close the facility.

There, of course, is zero evidence that Guantanamo serves as a recruiting device for ISIS and other Islamic terror organizations. The only ones who repeat that silly line are the doyens of the Western media, and assorted progressive politicians in the West. The stories about torture of prisoners at Gitmo are rubbish put out by the terrorists' lawyers (yes, they have lawyers) and by anti-American politicians and commentators. I have been to Gitmo twice; I visited the prison there and talked to guards and the ICRC rep based there--yes, the Red Cross has a person based there. The prisoners are nasty sorts who threaten the guards, try to find out their names and then use the lefty lawyers to harass the guards' families back in the States. When I was there none of the guards had his or her name on his or her uniform; they had strict orders not to engage the prisoners in any sort of conversation. The Gitmo prison facility is much nicer and more pleasant than what you will find in a typical high security prison anywhere in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, Canada, or, ahem, Russia or China. It is an escape-proof facility--an escapee has nowhere to go, as even Raul Castro has vowed to return any escapee to US custody. It is the ideal prison for the sort of bastards who got picked up in GWOT.

Leave Gitmo open.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Texas Tangle of Feb. 25: GOP Debate Gets Rowdy

The Texas-based debate was great television. Well, perhaps, not in the way of sophisticated documentaries or high-brow dramas, but great in that it let us see our GOP lads in verbal combat and under stress.

Let me cut to the chase: I declare the winner--drumroll--Donald Trump. Let me explain.

With the exception of Dr. Carson, who just didn't get much into the show either because the moderators ignored him or he just stayed out on his own, all the others did a great job of laying out their visions for America, and, two of them, ripping into Donald Trump. Senators Cruz and Rubio clearly had decided that their road to salvation would be built over a flattened Donald Trump. They came after him hot and heavy on taxes, immigration, Israel, and health care. Both landed some good hits, but . . . they did not flatten The Donald. Governor Kasich generally stayed out of the assault on Trump and made some good and thoughtful expositions on taxes, economic growth, and even on foreign policy.

Trump, however, at least to my TV bleary eyes, remained fairly unflappable. He generally did not lose his cool, and showed an acerbic and cutting wit. He also demonstrated that he remains the master at dodging troublesome issues and turning the debate his way. He is a master debater, not in the college debate club sort of way (Rubio wins that), but in the wise-ass New York street corner sort of way. It almost doesn't matter when he gets briefly pinned on specifics; he merely says, "Politicians, all talk and no action," and goes on his way. Trump connects with ordinary people, and pulls some magnificent jiujitsu maneuvers when attacked by prominent politicians be they the Pope, Mitt Romney, or Mexican ex-President Fox. He is like some sort of sci-fi beast that draws strength from the attacks of his enemies. I am not a Trumpster but, hell, I was impressed.

I am certain you can get different and much wiser views elsewhere.

Already have said my crystal ball does not work well on American politics; must not be calibrated for 110V.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jeb Bush Quits

The South Carolina GOP primary produced unsurprising results. Donald Trump won, and did so convincingly. Not clear to me who can stop him from gaining the Republican nomination. He's playing by the rules and winning; if that continues, he deserves the nomination. Not the candidate I would have wanted, but if he wins he wins, the game is the game: the winner gets the medal and the burden.

If Trump becomes the Republican nominee, can he beat one of the progressives socialists, hell, communists from the DNC? I don't know. The pundits and pollsters, repeatedly proven notoriously inaccurate, have come in all over the place. Worse, however, and so very frustrating for me, personally, is that I no longer can read the politics of my own country. Although having long railed against the universities, media, and Hollywood for undermining our nation and the West, I did not fully comprehend how far that has gone. It has gone so far, in fact, that an old communist crank such as Sanders gets taken seriously, with his only opponent within the Democratic Party an old, lying, crooked, crypto-communist gangster. Under those circumstances, I will take Trump over the offer from the new Communist Party, AKA Democratic Party, and find it appalling when friends say they will "never" vote for Trump, no matter what. That's their choice and right, of course, but a disaster for the nation. A third Obama term on steroids? No, thanks. I will take a chance on a brash real estate tycoon. Maybe he can save the West from itself.

That said, I wanted to write a few words about Jeb Bush's departure from the race.

He should have left some time ago. The nomination was not going to happen for him, something painfully obvious ALMOST from the start. I see Governor Bush as a smart and decent man, a patriot, and with a good understanding of foreign affairs. I don't think he would have proven a bad president. He, of course, found himself hindered by bearing the name of a major "establishment" family in the Year of the Outsider. His campaign relied on huge amounts of money to promote a tiny, muddled message. Bush couldn't decide whether to embrace or run away from the presidential records of his brother and his father; got himself into early trouble with odd reflections on the Iraq war; and failed to understand the strength and depth of the anti-government mood in the country. He, for example, pushed old-time federal government programs--e.g., Common Core--when, obviously, GOP voters did not want those. As we watch Europe undergo an unprecedented Muslim invasion, and experience a wave of illegal aliens sweeping across our own border, he got mired in the immigration debate, uttering tone-deaf pro-immigration slogans. He did not take a clear stand against importing potential Muslim terrorists into the USA, and refused to defend the second amendment, until too late. His campaign, simply put, came off as out of touch with the new reality.

As mentioned before, I spent the better part of a day some years ago with Governor Bush when he visited Indonesia with a delegation headed by the Secretary of the then-new Department of Homeland Security, Governor Ridge. I found Bush an avid listener, sharp questioner, and a decent person. He, for example, learned that an Embassy employee's elderly mother lived in Florida, did not feel well, and worried about her son's safety in Indonesia; he immediately offered to give the lady a call as soon as he got back home. He had a great sense of humor, "interrogating" me on my status as a Florida resident, trying to figure out what I knew about Florida sports (almost nothing) and ruling me, in the end, a Floridian Solely for Tax Purposes. He seemed somewhat "placated" when I offered up that I had voted for him.

A good guy, but . . . . it was just not his time to become President.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Pope Blesses Donald Trump

Very, very quick one.

What was he thinking? The Pope, what was he thinking? OK, OK. I know his comments about Trump have been slightly misrepresented, he had a lot of qualifiers, and they were in response to a highly tendentious question by a typical sneering progressive "journalist."  But . . . really?

First, full disclosure: I expressed mixed views  about this Pope when he took office, and over time have begun to develop an increasingly negative view of him. I think he has revealed himself as a typical 1970s Latin American social justice warrior. I ran into those types, including priests, in my tours in Latin America, and found them tiresome, hypocritical, anti-American, and--ahem--insufferably Holier than Thou. Hypocritical? Yes. Many SJWs were foreigners; when the poop hit the fan, they relied on their foreign passports to get them out of town, leaving behind their local flocks to face the angry wolves. The Pope, likewise, reeked of hypocrisy when he implicitly criticized Trump for wanting to build a wall on our southern border to stem the tide of illegal migrants. The Pope, after all, lives behind massive walls, has an elaborate security apparatus, and commands jet planes and bulletproof vehicles for his safety and comfort. The Vatican, of course, is free to invite several thousand Central American migrants, including members of MS-13, along with thousands of "Syrian refugees" into the the confines of the Vatican and resettle them. Ain't gonna happen.

Back to the issue at hand. The Pope should not have answered the question as he did. He should have deflected it in any of many ways. Instead he got himself inserted into the US electoral process, all to the benefit of Donald Trump. The Donald is indeed a Lucky Man, and we all know what Napoleon had to say about that . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Year of The Monkey, Year of the Liar, or Year of the Train Wreck?

Last week, my Spanish wife and I celebrated Chinese New Year (Year of the Monkey) at our local Indian casino, surrounded by Filipinos, Vietnamese, Guamanians, Fijians, Italians, couple of Russians, a lone Brit, and, oh yes, some Chinese. Why? Because this is America that's why! I don't need a reason to celebrate anything or to own a 16-round S&W .40 or a 627 hp muscle car! Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, baby!

OK, now that I got that out of the way, I have to say that this Year of the Monkey has not kicked off well for conservatives. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia is a huge blow. Given the unfortunate importance that the Supreme Court has come to have in our lives, having a person with the patriotism, deep understanding of our history, and with the intellectual and ethical firepower of Scalia on the Court was a huge asset for those fighting for a limited government and trying to hold back the wave of trendiness assailing our courts.

As usual, the Republicans are handling the aftermath badly and getting outplayed by Obama and his progressive minions in the media. The whole debate, including a faux legal one I see brewing, about whether Obama can, or cannot, should or should not nominate a replacement or allow the next President to do so is nonsense. The issue is bogus and tailor-made for hypocrisy on both sides. The President's term is for four years, not three years. The President has the right under the Constitution to nominate a justice; the Senate, of course, has the right not to approve that person. The GOP should have come out and said that the President can send a nominee to the Senate; the Senate will undertake due deliberations; and then we'll see. Instead, well, you know what they did instead . . . paint themselves into a corner and the Dems are laughing.

We saw the GOP debate in South Carolina at the tail end of the Year of the Ram produce what can be only considered a train wreck. The debate was disappointing and destructive, and left lots of ammunition on the floor for the Dems to pick up and use in the general election. The Dems must have loved watching Republican candidates call each other liars; and Trump going off on an insane binge about Bush lying about WMD in Iraq, knowing about the 9/11 attack in advance, and basically going, well, Code Pink. It was awful. I had warmed up a bit to Trump, but was horrified by that performance; he wants the Democrats to win in the Year of the Monkey. The whole "Bush lied" meme is rubbish, and I have gone over it in prior postings (here and here, for example). It is conspiratorial nonsense of the worst kind, and calculated to let the Dems off the hook for their disastrous foreign policy.

Not a happy new year.

Friday, February 12, 2016

"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; others, including my grandmother, lived in Larache. She had been born there, and eventually died and is buried there.

A big harbor town, Larache served as an important center of Spanish rule during the years of the Protectorate, 1912-1956. General Franco had commanded a major detachment of Spanish and Moorish soldiers based in Larache. Those troops had suppressed the Asturian miner revolt of 1934, and formed the spearhead of Franco's 1936 assault on the Republic, flown across the straits to the peninsula by the Luftwaffe.

I remember Larache as a fun and exciting place in the 1950s, 1960s, and even into the 1970s. I have misty somewhat inchoate childhood recollections of running through its streets with a herd of cousins and servants' kids, eating shaved ice, and who knows what else. We would drop in on one uncle's pharmacy to have our various cuts, scrapes, tummy aches tended, and then dash over to another uncle's office at the port from which he ran a small fleet of fishing boats left him by my grandfather. I loved watching him talk to the boats on his radio. We would run back to grandmother's house for lunch, nap, then repeat. We, somehow, all survived.

Jews at one time easily had comprised one-third of Larache's population, owning many of the businesses, providing most of the doctors, the lawyers, and the pharmacists (I had uncles in all three professions) and staunchly supporting Spanish rule. Most had backed Spain's monarchy, and had disliked the Republic for the instability it introduced. Even in the 1970s, Spanish rule long gone, old-timers at the still functioning synagogue and at the Spanish Club, spoke glowingly of Franco, and of his years in Larache. They admired his honesty, the strict discipline with which he controlled his troops, the absence of crime and unrest, and his friendliness towards the Jews--not the version in most history books. They also remembered that Franco's diplomats had saved many Jews in Europe from the Nazis by giving them Spanish travel documents.

By the end of the 1960s, emigration had taken a serious toll on Larache's Jewish population. The remaining Jews, generally older folk, who in the manner of such, stayed because they did not want to give up homes and businesses, and start anew elsewhere. One of my uncles, for example, ran his pharmacy in Larache well into the 1990s--although he had a house in Spain, too, "just in case." They felt fairly safe under King Hassan II, supposedly a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed. Young Jews, especially after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and even more so later after the 1973 war, went to France, Spain, Israel, Canada, Venezuela, Panama, and some to Australia and Britain. A small number made it to the US, mostly Florida--which decades later secured me a 20% discount at a Miami auto parts store (another story.) They feared that the growing radicalization of Moroccan Islam eventually would triumph over the "benign" monarchy.

An odd little lady, grandmother stood no more than five feet tall, and had the bluest eyes imaginable. A big ring with what seemed a thousand keys swung from her waist; I never saw her without those keys. At the ripe old age of sixteen, she had wed my grandfather, one of the wealthiest men in town and nearly thirty years her senior. This sort of marriage, the first for both, was common. Grandfather had refused to marry until he became successful. He did not live long after--bad diabetes--but did sire six sons and one daughter before going to his reward, leaving behind a wealthy young widow. Despite having pretenders, she never remarried. She, however, did turn over the family businesses and finances to the older sons, and, well, things did not go well--but, another story.

She had left Larache only twice. Once to Madrid, during the Spanish Civil War, and another trip during WWII, in which she had sought to return to Madrid; she got as far as Tangiers only to learn that the captain of the ferry to Algeciras had canceled the transit. The British Royal Navy, on the warpath for Axis submarines off Gibraltar, had declared an exclusion zone for the duration of the operation. For the ferry captain, a relative of some sort, the better part of valor meant not risking a run-in with the angry guns of the Royal Navy. Grandmother, therefore, did not get her second trip "abroad." Thirty-some years later she still resented that. As we will see, this would have grave consequences for Britain, and to this day, British mothers frighten naughty children by telling them . . . but,  perhaps, I exaggerate.

My oldest uncle, later a prominent doctor in Tangiers, joined Franco's army at the start of the Civil War in 1936, and rose to Colonel in the medical corps. This, subsequently, would prove useful to my youngest uncle who found himself at school in Republican-controlled Madrid when that war began. Drafted as a 16-year-old into the Republic's forces, he participated in a famous bombing of a pro-Franco Civil Guards barracks, killing not only Civil Guards, but wives and children, too. Franco vowed to execute those involved. Soon after the end of the war in 1939, bomber uncle got captured, and sentenced to death by firing squad. On hearing this news, Colonel uncle, put on his dress uniform and medals, and went to see the man himself, General Franco, to seek mercy for the condemned brother. He reminded Franco of his own loyalty; of their years together in Larache and in the war; and of the young age of the offender. Rare for him, Franco rescinded the death order.

Bomber uncle left death row, spent a year on a prison labor gang, somehow ended up back in Larache, got married, and then, one night, slipped into the nearby French protectorate where he sat out WWII, moving to France after that war. He returned to Spain only after Franco's death and lived in Madrid. He spent the rest of his life seeking a pension as an ex-combatant and former "political prisoner." The Socialist government eventually granted Republican veterans that pension; a couple of months later, he died, never having received a payment. Not long after, his widow, visiting a son in Israel, got killed by a car in Tel Aviv as she left the Spanish Embassy after inquiring about the pension's survivor provisions.

Grandmother's large house had five or six floors, and what seemed innumerable rooms, stairways, hallways, coveys, pantries, an interior patio, and doors everywhere--for me, as a child, this was the world's most amazing place. It also had several balconies--terrific places to sit at sunset or to throw things on passers-by below. As an adult, however, I preferred the roof: there I would sip tea, and like Zeus with an Art Garfunkel Jewfro, sit, watch and listen to the city as darkness crept in. A large gaggle of servants once had tended to the house and its occupants. Over the years, however, as family size and fortunes declined, so had the staff. By the early 1970s, my grandmother's caretakers consisted of a large, kind Berber lady named Tamu, maybe in her 30's or 40's, who sported lots of jewelry, tattoos, and flowing garments, and spoke several languages, aided by her two almost invisible daughters, who cooked, cleaned, and did whatever else Tamu told them. These shy and silent girls slept in a small room off the kitchen. Tamu slept on a mattress on the floor outside my grandmother's room--on call 24/7. I once asked grandma when Tamu got a day off and how much she got paid. Those blue eyes bored into me; she could not abide my radical American foolishness, "She lives here. She's like my daughter. She comes and goes as she wishes. Tamu and her children can eat anything, and have anything they need. She does better here than as one of her husband's five wives!" Tamu's mother and grandmother had worked in the house; Tamu expected that her daughters' children would, too. I, therefore, laugh at Downton Abbey.

Before this gets too boring, let me get to the point: The Special Room. As its door remained locked most of the time, I considered it an honor to gain entry to it. Not very large, it had a small dirty window which looked out onto the street three or so floors below. The Room had a tiny TV for grandma to watch Egyptian soap operas, a mostly empty bookshelf, a glass cabinet, a few ratty chairs, and a large table full of French, Spanish, and Arabic magazines and newspapers--grandmother spoke those languages, plus Hebrew, often all at the same time. One wall was nearly covered in photographs, some framed but most blurry, yellowed, and curled pictures cut from newspapers or magazines, and taped or pinned to the wall. The Room held one other notable object: the dusty glass cabinet guarded a small wooden box allegedly containing the key to the house in Illescas (near Toledo) my ancestors lost in 1492, when the Catholic Kings expelled the Jews from Spain. I never got to see inside the Special Box--too sacred an item to handle.

The Special Wall contained pictures of persons "Good for the Jews." Two biggest pictures? Franco and Stalin. I already had heard sung the virtues of Franco, but Stalin? I pointed to the mustachioed Georgian criminal, and scolded, "You have a picture of Stalin but not of Churchill?"

"Stalin fought the Nazis."

"Churchill fought them a lot longer, and was never their ally." I pointed to a picture of Leon Trotsky on The Wall, "and, Stalin killed him."

"Churchill did not want Israel to exist."

She then relayed the story of the aborted trip to Madrid which, apparently, proved Churchill did not favor Israel's creation. I could file no appeal from the Ruling of the Supreme Judge. To have gone on arguing would have made me sound like a defective smoke detector: an irritating chirp, eventually fading into the background of consciousness. Stalin, yes; Churchill, no. Hammer down.

I saw a small fuzzy, faded picture of what looked like an early 20th century British general. I asked, "Who is this British officer?"

"Not British, but a Jewish knight from Oceania whom they had to call to save England and France from the Turks and the Germans."

This served as my introduction to Sir John Monash of Australia, perhaps the best general of the First World War. "A Jewish knight from Oceania," however, has such a nice ring. No appeals entertained. Hammer down.

She then said, "You study science, right?" I then still had pretensions of becoming a scientist--this before eventually admitting my mediocrity. "You should live in Israel."

"Why? I love America."

"To build atomic bombs! Jews build atomic bombs for everybody else, now we must build them for ourselves!" Hammer down. No further arguments entertained. Grandmother began clipping pictures for Tamu and her daughters to put on The Wall. That served as my cue to head to the roof, tea in hand, to think about what I had learned.

On my last visit to The Special Room, in fact, the last time I saw grandmother, she relayed, scene by scene, the film "Exodus." Two things struck me. First, how had she seen the movie? Second, many scenes in her version I did not remember in Otto Preminger's. I asked my pharmacist uncle about this, as he drove me in his big black Mercedes to Tangiers for my flight to London and then home. He laughed, "She's never seen the movie, but read about it, and developed her own story." Her version, actually, was not half bad. Hammer down.

About a year later, 1972, as I left a physics lecture at UCLA, my roommate caught up to me, and said my parents had left word that grandmother had died. End of an era. Hammer down.

I never did use my "knowledge" of physics to build an atomic bomb for Israel. Sorry, grandma.

Apologies, also, to you readers. This has become much too long.

This rampage was triggered by my wondering what grandmother would have said about Bernie Sanders. I think she would have ruled him "Bad for the Jews" since what he wants is "Bad for America." At least, that's what I hope.

PS: In years since, I asked various uncles and cousins about the fate of the Special Box. None knew anything about it; they thought that if it had existed it had gone into the trash with most other items from the house. As a cousin told me, "Only you listened to her crazy stories." That same cousin, by the way, one with whom I had run in the streets of Larache, became a low-level gangster in Israel. He fled to Spain to escape the Israeli cops--yes, a Jew fleeing Israel for Spain. Last I heard, he had a clothing store in Spain.

Soon after grandmother's death, the authorities declared the big house unoccupied and abandoned. As explained to me, as per Moroccan law, they seized it, and turned it over to the local population, who chopped it into "apartments." I don't know what became of kindly Tamu and her family. I hope, at least, they got to stay in the house, if they wanted.

I visited Larache once more in 1984, with my wife and our two small kids. I don't know what I expected. The old house looked almost unrecognizable--enveloped in smoke from cooking fires, TV aerials jutting everywhere, balconies draped in laundry, the yard full of animals and debris, holes knocked into walls, some sort of tent against the side of the house. I passed on an invitation to go inside. The city also looked run down and dour: not like the sunny vibrant place of memory. Foolish, of course, but I now regret having gone back, as I would rather recall it how I think it was when my grandmother talked of politics, history, religion, Hollywood movies, and, of course, of what and whom was "good or bad for the Jews."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bernie Sanders is a Communist

The New Hampshire primary is now history. Some of the press is atwitter that on the Democrat side it is the first time a Jewish candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, has won a primary--they didn't seem to be atwitter when Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucus because, I guess, he's the "wrong" sort of Latino, i.e., he's not a liberal Democrat. That's the way it is.

OK, Bernie Sanders has "won," and, yes, he is some sort of vaguely Jewish. Let's give him his due: he absolutely crushed crooked crony Clinton, and apparently did it within every demographic but one (the old folks stuck with Hillary). The Clinton camp is going to have a tough time spinning this one. That said, has it put paid to the Hillary Clinton candidacy? No, probably not at all. She still has the money, the media, and the rigged DNC super-delegate racket on her side. She also has going for her that Bernie, well, how should I put this? Well, he ain't too smart. In fact, I would say that his victory speech after the primary was one of the most insane and clueless speeches given by a major American politician in my lifetime--and that's saying a lot. It was long, about 50 minutes, and it was riveting. Well, riveting in the way that watching two trains headed for each other is riveting. The man is illiterate beyond belief; his illiteracy is perhaps matched or exceed only by that of his followers. The one thing oddly appealing about him is that he seems to believe it. He really does. He is like the nut who thinks he's Napoleon or who thinks he is a woman . . . never mind, strike that last one, the PC police won't let us use that one any more as a sign of derangement.  

Where to start? You can look up the speech, and don't need me to guide you through it, but let me make just a few comments.

He acknowledged that he has promised a lot of stuff, and he kept on promising. A sample follows,
So, are you guys ready for a radical idea? Together we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%. And, when millions of our people are working for starvation wages, yep, we're going to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour. And, we are going to bring pay equity for women. And, when we need the best educated workforce in the world, yes, we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free. And, for the millions of Americans struggling with horrendous levels of student debt, we are going to substantially ease that burden. In America people should be financially distressed for decades for the crime, the crime of trying to get a higher education, that's absurd. 
Well, my critics say, you know, Bernie, that's a great idea, you're into all this free stuff. How are you going to pay for it? I will tell you how we're going to pay for it. We're going to impose a tax on Wall Street speculation. The greed, the recklessness, and the illegal behavior drove our economy to its knees. The American people bailed out Wall Street, now it's Wall Street's time to help the middle class.
Gee. Doesn't all that class warfare sound radical, new, and fresh? Maybe it did in 1932, when those talking points were written in Moscow and sent to the CPUSA, but now? Starvation wages? Looks like he finally got around to reading Grapes of Wrath. He is going to "tax speculation"? He has no idea what he's talking about. Even if you could define "speculation," you could tax it and just about everything else on Wall Street and seize all property owned by the "1%" and you still could not pay for all that he's promising. But, the buffoons cheer.

Pay equity for women? What does that mean? Does he mean that a man and a woman doing the same job and with the same experience get paid differently, i.e., that women get paid less? If that's true, why would anybody hire a man?

I also loved how he declared the debate on "climate change" over. Really? Nice little authoritarian streak you've got going there, Bernie. When is any scientific debate over? How about never: Mr. Newton let me introduce you to Mr. Einstein.

One last observation. Elsewhere in his speech, he says the United States was founded on the principle of fairness. A grotesque lie. It was founded on the principles of individual freedom and checked governmental powers.

One thing Sanders has done successfully, I think, is to put an end to the stereotype that all Jews are smart. For proof we have many items but one is that he spent the day after his victory in New Hampshire in New York having lunch with the "Reverend" Al Sharpton. Yes, Al is a new radical. Right. Wrong. He is an old-time anti-white, anti-Semitic, violence prone, non-taxpaying thug of the first order. Al has gotten rich by blackmailing corporations, a gig on MSNBC, and, of course, by not paying his own taxes or civil judgments against him (Twana Brawley, anyone?) Poor Bernie thinks that Al is the sort of black celebrity that he wants on his campaign to give him some street cred.

Sanders is a power-mad, Communist crank of the first-order. He has had no notable achievements in his public or private life. For support in his campaign to take power, he relies mainly on white "progressive" students and academics all blessed with a content-free education, and is aided, of course, by the fact that he is facing off against one of the most corrupt and tired politicians on the American political scene.

A crook or a Communist. That's the choice. The Democratic Party is absolutely disgusting. No other word fits. Sorry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Apropos of Nothing: The Queen of Jarandilla

Still stuck on a piece about Reagan, and sitting around waiting on the New Hampshire results. So, of course, my mind turns to thoughts of nothing important to anybody else: my dogs, my cars, my falling stock market investments, and, above all, to long ago dusty memories of when life was a bit more fun.

Spain, early 1970s. More specifically, province of Caceres in the region of Extremadura. Even more specifically, I write of events in the small municipality of Jarandilla. Population back then? About 2,000. Not a big place, but like many small Spanish municipalities, a helluva lot of fun when party time hits. These folks know how to party. Small-town Spaniards are among the nicest, funniest, most welcoming people on the planet. They are also extremely politically incorrect, and use language that would make a sailor blush or a delicate modern college student pass out. There is no safe space. Microagressions are at the core of the humor. Any and all human physical features are legitimate targets for ridicule: accent, skin color, hair, weight, nose, butt and shoe size, etc. No wimps need apply. Remember, the Conquistadores who humbled Islam and conquered half the world came from these sort of places. These are not pajama boys.

The town was having a big party for some reason or another: too many years have gone by to remember all the details. There was a lot of drinking, smoking, eating, dancing, puking. The big event would be the election of the town's "Miss" who would go on to compete for "Miss Caceres," who would go on to compete for "Miss Spain," who would go on to compete for . . . well, you got it. Can't place exactly where that big event took place, but recall a crowded, smoky venue, with a dance floor and a small stage. A table with, I think, four judges was on the floor facing the stage. The raucous crowd of men and women sat, stood, roamed, smoked, drank, sang, shouted all over the place. A group of us pushed to the front and stood just behind the judges.

The competing "Miss" candidates, all natives of the town and surrounding areas, paraded onto the stage, and proceeded to do "Miss" things. The hooting from the audience made apparent the lack of popular satisfaction with the ten or twelve candidates on offer. These, mostly sturdy rural girls, clearly felt uncomfortable in make-up, heels and gowns, and the crowd cruelly mocked them. The judges were not happy, either. The main judge, puffing furiously on a Ducados black tobacco cigarette, started looking around. His glance fell upon the future Diplowife. Pointing a cigarette-stained finger at her, he roared, "That one!" Two other judges looked at her and agreed, "Yes! That one! Bring her up on the stage!" The future Diplowife looked mortified. The crowd began to shout "Yes! Yes! That one!" Kong had to have his tribute. The sacrifice would take place.

Helped onto the stage, long brown hair cascading about her shoulders, wearing tight bell-bottom jeans, a half unbuttoned checkered blouse, and clunky clogs she stood there, meekly smiling and waving to the noisy crowd--I vowed to myself that this would be the lady I married. The official contestants, in their ill-fitting gowns and heels, fidgeting and confused, milled about behind her--one stomping away. Upon, however, hearing the future Diplowife say her impossibly Basque name, one judge yelled, "No! No! This is against the rules! She's not even from here! She's Basque!" Nobody else seemed to care. Bam! A sash, a crown, and a trophy appeared, and were placed, respectively, on the shoulders, the head, and into the hands of the future Diplowife by a more than somewhat tipsy official. Loud music blared. She was asked to walk back and forth across the stage: blushing, lamely but gamely waving, trying not to drop her trophy, and holding the crown on her head, she shuffled around. The other "Miss" hopefuls? One began to cry, another to curse, and then all stormed off. Needless to say, we saw no fake tears of happiness or strained hugs of joy for the winner.

The crowd's blood lust had been satisfied: the local gals humiliated, their dreams of fame and glory crushed. The future Diplowife had a crown, a trophy, and a sash. We made it to our cars and out of town alive and whole--we were warned that male relatives of some of the "defeated" contestants were looking for us. A good night's work.

All these decades later, the crown and the trophy still sit on a shelf at her parents' house in San Sebastian-Donosti. As we expected, of course, she was disqualified from running for "Miss Caceres" by higher-up party-poopers in the "Miss" organization. Her father would have never permitted it, anyhow, so that did not matter. He, by the way, couldn't decide if he was furious with his child or proud of her. Given, in subsequent years, that he bragged about having a "Miss" for a daughter, I think he settled on the latter. He, alas, is no longer with us for me to confirm that.

Although having not a drop of royal blood, I eventually married the Queen of Jarandilla. Granted, we could see a new War of the Spanish Succession since some poor misguided souls might dispute the legitimacy of her title, but . . .  never mind. She has the trophy, the sash, and the crown, and the pretenders don't! Possession, as they say, is . . . OK, back to the NH primary.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The GOP New Hampshire Debate

I wasn't going to write about the February 6 GOP debate in New Hampshire as I am running out of things to say about these events, but . . . since I am experiencing writer's block on a piece I started on Ronald Reagan, might as well throw out some random thoughts.

The winner?

I will agree partially with the conventional wisdom: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie "won" the debate portion of the debate. He is smart, tough, quick, plain-spoken, experienced, and articulate; he knows how to throw a verbal punch. It was the Christie we previously have seen in his successful battles with the public sector unions in New Jersey. His main target, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, seemed caught off guard by the ferocity of the Christie assault.

The normally smooth and imperturable Rubio looked at a loss as Christie attacked the one-term senator on having a thin legislative record, his shifting stance on immigration, on never having held an executive office, and on his repeating well-scripted lines. Rubio tried to defend himself by repeating well-scripted lines, and Christie caught him out on it. Was it "fair"? Who said you have to be "fair"? That aside, maybe some of Christie's stuff wasn't fair, but Rubio should have pointed out which and why; he didn't do it. Rubio showed himself still a little green. Christie, himself, of course, also is guilty of repeating lines, "When I was a prosecutor after 9/11 . . .." I say "of course" because after this many debates, all the candidates are repeating themselves. OK, so Christie "won" the debate portion of the debate, but did it do him any good? I don't know. I don't believe the polls and I am not in New Hampshire, so I don't know. Perhaps he has kept his candidacy alive, and, perhaps, he derailed the Rubio "locomotive" which the press had been busy fueling.

I think, however, that the winner overall of the night was Donald Trump. Texas Senator Ted Cruz continued flat and not very interesting. Bush came alive a bit, but it might be too late for him; the others did not, in my view, register much. Trump the apparent front-runner might not have hit any home runs, but he also made no big errors. Nobody really nailed him, even when he said some amateurish things on dealing with China and North Korea, and gave a fragmented exposition on health care. Nobody managed to kill the king or even wound him.

I am not going to discuss the pathetic Democratic party debate between Crooked Clinton and Soviet Socialist Sanders. Beyond the pale . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Iowa Vote: Everybody Gets a Medal!

Went into the early morning hours watching the results and discussions of the results of the Iowa caucuses (IC). For a political junkie it was fascinating. American politics are truly the Greatest Show on Earth. No other country devotes anywhere near as much to politics in terms of resources, effort, and commentary than does the USA. We love to hate our obsession with politics which we love to hate because we love them and . . . never mind. We are bonkers for national politics. Period.

And that, my friends, is about as deep as I can go in my analysis of the IC.  What's it all mean in the long run? I don't know, nor does anybody else. If you win the IC, do you win the nomination? Not necessarily or even usually--at least on the Republican side. Given the uniqueness of the IC and the odd demographics of Iowa--a very nice place, btw--what does a victory there mean for a candidate's prospects? I don't know, and nobody else does either, although that doesn't stop any of us from talking as though we do.  

So, that said, let's talk as if we know what we are about. First, the Dems. As I write, it seems that the Dem IC has produced a tie between Clinton and Sanders. Hillary Clinton did not look happy at her "victory/concession/it's great it's a tie speech." Is it me or is she getting really Crazy Woman eyes? Standing there with her nearly mummified spouse and her dopey "I wanna be a Kennedy" daughter, Hillary Clinton gave off an air of madness: the disjointed word salad, the out-of-sync fist pumping, and that unblinking STARE. This lady is not well and she looked like somebody was going to get the thrashing of his or her life in the bus afterwards, "You told me I was going to win!" Has the Rightful Heir to the Throne been thwarted yet again? Calling King Zog! Calling King Zog! I don't know about that, but I do know I would not want to be around Hillary Clinton today.

Bernie Sanders. Yes. What can we say about Bernie Sanders? He is a life-long lay-about and Communist with an older British brother, Larry--also a politically active leftist crank--who has emerged on the political scene to challenge the Clinton Machine. He has attracted a legion of low-information, economically illiterate followers who "Feel The Bern" given by a 74-year-old mountebank. He is a loon with followers who rely on their no-content education to guide them to his tent. Is he the big winner in Iowa? I don't know. He did deny Hillary Clinton the IC prize, so I guess that's a victory of some sort. It seems, however, that Iowa Dem politics is tailor-made for Sanders and his goofy Marxist mumbo-jumbo: lots of young liberal foolish white students with not much else to do but play at Revolution. Given the odd make-up of the Dem electorate in Iowa, he probably could have done better, I guess, I think, I don't know. You decide.

The GOP? Much more interesting. It would seem that Trump took a Cruz missile hit. Enough to sink his ship? Doubt it, but, what do I know? Trump looked genuinely surprised by his second-place finish, but gave a gracious concession speech. The polling, of course, was way off, and Ted Cruz pulled off a significant victory--if, that is, you consider winning in Iowa significant. He, apparently, had a well-organized ground game that delivered his supporters to the IC sites and kept them loyal. I never got the impression that Trump bothered much with organization, and relied on his name and the enthusiasm shown by his fans to translate into votes. He did come in second, which is nothing to sneeze at, but still, when you brag about never losing, always winning, it must be a shock. Rubio kept himself alive with a strong third-place showing and, apparently, gained some benefits from Trump's failure to appear at the last Fox debate. A dynamic, articulate, and attractive candidate, he would eat Hillary or Bernie for lunch in debate. Is Rubio a PURE conservative? Who is? We all have changed our minds over time. The interesting thing for me is that about 85% of the Republican vote went to four non-establishment or, at least, out of the norm candidates: two hispanic, one black, and one not even a Republican. So, then, which is the party of diversity?

Back to Cruz. He won Iowa, which showed that he can take on Trump. Will that translate into further victories? You know the answer, and it is, I don't know. I thought his victory speech not his best--way too long--and am not sure he won doubters with it. Cruz, however, is very smart, a good debater, and certainly would make a better president than Sanders, Clinton or Obama. At this stage of the game, that's good enough for me.

That's it. I am out of ammo.

Going to walk the dogs who are doing much better, and are eager to spread joy and cheer in the 'hood.