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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Afghanistan, Done Right?

I have been writing a long screed about the progressive assault on just about everything, but I find myself repeating lots of stuff I wrote years ago. I will get back to it, but first I wanted to take a break and comment on the President's Afghanistan speech.

I thought it an excellent speech, and one that cannot be ignored.

So, of course, the mainstream media is trying to ignore it, with Bozos such as Jim Acosta of CNN sneeringly dismissing it in a tweet as not worthy of a presidential address to the nation:
  Aug 21MoreTypically a presidential prime time address comes with major policy announcement or marks pivotal moment for country. We didn't get that.
Clearly, Cosmo didn't listen to the speech or had his tweet all ready to go, and wasn't going to cancel sending it.

The speech had lots of meat, both visible and some, I think, cooking away in the bottom, oven out of sight.

He also did something very significant: he acknowledged that he had changed his mind about pulling out of Afghanistan after spending time studying the situation. It's not often you hear that.

The President summed it all up quite nicely here,
[T]he consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable: 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan, because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, would instantly fill just as happened before September 11th. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for, and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. 
We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq. Third and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan, and the broader region, are immense. Today 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The highest concentration in any region, anywhere in the world. For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. <...>
Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power—diplomatic, economic, and military—toward a successful outcome. Some day, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen. America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an ever-lasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.
That is the essence of the threat and job we face. It is not enough to confine the jihadis to some remote place; they will kill us in our homes if we don't kill them in theirs.

Back in the nineteenth century, for example, most of the world could ignore some lunatic such as the Sudan's self-proclaimed Mahdi, aka Muhammad Ahmad, and his followers -- sort of an ISIS/AQ of its day. His apocalyptic pronouncements and promises to build a Caliphate probably did not resonate much in London and New York. In the end, of course, the British defeated this caliphate (Madihya) in 1898, nearly 15 years after the Mahdi himself had died. That jihadi movement of the nineteenth century posed a very limited threat to core Western civilization.

Not so today.

They might be born and raised in fetid caves and hovels in some of the most benighted countries on earth, but thanks to modern technology, progressive immigration laws, and the pronounced suicidal bent in today's Western civilization, the jihadis are welcomed into our midsts, paid to live among us, and protected by our enlightened legal and political systems. Then, in return, well, you know what happens then: Paris, Barcelona, Turku, San Bernardino, Malmo, Orlando, London, Madrid, Boston, New York, Ft. Hood, Sydney and on and on. They kill us. It seems Trump is promising to return the favor.

President Trump also has, it seems, stopped pulling the punches when it comes to Pakistan.
[T]he next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe-havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. 
Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked to together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices. But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars. At the same time, they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately.
He had a big shout out to India, reminding them of all the benefits they derive from their relations with the USA. That has to have them with sweaty palms in Islamabad.

The President also said he was unleashing our military and dropping many of the restrictions that had hampered them before. He also refused to announce deadlines or troop levels. All good.

OK. You can read the text for yourselves and decide.

Let me just add, that I think we are slowly moving to the Diplomad solution for Afghanistan: get out of nation-building (the US Army is not the Salvation Army); stop threatening them with Democracy, and use, even pay, the traditional warlords to help us to keep ISIS, AQ, Taliban in check; keep a potent military fist in Afghanistan that can strike quickly to provide either back-up or punishment for local authorities who don't keep their side of the bargain. This is not too dissimilar from how the British ruled South Asia. All that is new . . .

It is a good vision, well, as good as we can get given the mess we have this century. We, after all, are stuck with Afghanistan for the foreseeable future so might as well have a realistic approach to that particular mess.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Barcelona

We add yet another city to the list of public arenas for the Religion of Peace to demonstrate its core beliefs.

As they did in Nice, in Barcelona the jihadis used a vehicle to plow through a congested pedestrian area at the height of the tourist season. At least 14 innocent people are now dead, and scores more injured. In nearby Cambrils, the cops managed to put away five jihadis with some well-placed rounds--press reports indicate that one cop killed four of the five himself. It also seems the jihadis were planning on building a truck bomb but they accidentally blew up their shop in Alcanar.

Spanish friends and relatives of mine had told me well before this that they felt "relatively" safe in Spain for a mix of logical reasons: Spain is not a big actor on the world scene, no reason to be attacked; Spain has always had good relations with the Muslims (El Cid, calm down); and most cynically the refugees entering Spain don't really want to be in Spain because they can get better public benefits elsewhere in Europe--in other words, they only use Spain as a pathway. Well, the facts scream otherwise, it would seem.

So Barcelona joins the long, long list of cities rewarded for their generosity to the "refugees" of the Religion of Peace with death and destruction. The blame for this, of course, goes first to the Islamists, but then to progressive loons in the EU and European national governments, and to Obama's feckless and destructive policy of abasement and surrender in the Middle East.

One final note. My wife and daughter are currently in Spain (far from Barcelona). The Diplowife tells me that where she is marches are being organized in response to this massacre to reject Islamophobia and right-wing racism. OK . . .

Yes, that is a society hell-bent on suicide.

Well, back to worrying about an imminent attack by century-old statues of Confederates . . .


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Hate

I am going to write about something that is not my area of expertise--I admit, it's not hard to find such an area. I am going to write about the insanity on some of our streets; in particular the insanity that masquerades as political discourse.

We've all seen the fiasco in the beautiful town of Charlottesville.

It seems some (How many?) so-called neo-Nazis/white supremacist thugs decided to hold a march in that community. It gets murky after that: Did the city authorities authorize it? Did they authorize the much larger counter-demonstration by so-called Anti-fascist thugs? Where were the police? Is it true that authorities called back the cops and told them to stand down? If so, why?

Who the hell is the miserable little punk who drove a car into the crowd killing one woman and injuring a score of other people? From what I've seen in the news about him--and I won't write his name--he has a somewhat whacky personal history including lasting only a few months in the military. I am sure that as the facts gradually emerge he will become a more complex character, and, I predict, much of the current "he was a pro-Trump guy" narrative will change, and perhaps even disappear.

The President put out an OK statement condemning the violence in rather general terms, and calling for national unity. The media and the enlightened elite, of course, are all aflame that the President did not specifically name "white nationalists" and "white supremacists" as the culpable party on the violence. Perhaps he should have been more specific in his denunciation, but I certainly had no trouble understanding that he was condemning the "Nazis." He, of course, has the example of President Obama who, let us not forget, invited the Black Lives Matter gangsters to the White House, and never could get himself to condemn them, the Antifa thugs, or Islamic terrorists for their actions. I trust President Trump will not follow the Obama example; I doubt he will invite the "Nazis" to the White House. So there is that.

Do the left really think that Trump is responsible for the apparent rise of white nationalist groups? Might they not look at the past several years of progressive white bashing as a more realistic cause? The left has insisted on reopening old racial wounds and resurrecting old and long-buried race monsters and now they are surprised? I wrote over four years ago that you can only keep pushing people so far before they will react.

Now, let me be very clear. I think, in no uncertain terms, that if you live in a Western country and you go around waving Nazi or Communist flags, or espousing Nazi or Communist ideology, you are a Moron. Period. You are not a person to be taken seriously as a thinker or problem solver.

In the US, your Moronism is protected by the first amendment. Fine. That, however, does not give you the right to beat people up and kill them whether it is with a gun, bicycle lock, or a car. If you do any of those, you are a Moron AND a criminal.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Korea, Again

The news coming out of the Korean peninsula these last few days is not good . . . but it's not new. I, for example, would note that this humble blog alerted its six seven readers back in April 2013 that some news reports based on info coming out of the DIA indicated that Little Kim seemed to have achieved the miniaturization of a nuclear warhead suitable for a missile. That info seems to have been recycled.

A bit earlier that same month in 2013, I posted a piece about Korea and the cost of unfinished business. I noted that a
[T]ruly stunning example of half-measures and unfinished business coming back to bite us is the Korean War. We, once again, see the consequences as Kim Jong-Un, a gangnam-style Pillsbury doughboy with a bad haircut, threatens to rain nuclear weapons on our Pacific bases and even our cities. Little Kim is the dictator of a decrepit country of zero importance to the world. This repellent little communist monarchy stands across the DMZ from the Republic of Korea, one of the truly great political, economic, and social success stories of the past seventy years. North Korea's leaders, however mad and absurd they might appear, know how to play with Western reluctance to apply total solutions. They look at the current leadership in Washington, and what do they see? The most anti-military President, Secretary of State AND Secretary of Defense in our history, i.e., the Three Stooges of the Apocalypse. They see us babbling about nonsense, and openly vowing to destroy our own military in order to provide free stuff to people who vote for Obama. We have a pompous, lying, rich boy, blowhard as Secretary of State who vows to do "whatever is necessary"( Note: In a style reminiscent of "Genghis Khan," eh?) but who has a record of opposing whatever is necessary, and has committed public acts of treason. We have the irony of having the very liberal Democrats who so opposed anti-missile defenses now being forced to move into place those very systems they sought to abort. The same bunker buster bombs which the Democrats opposed developing are being loaded into B-2s and would play a critical role in case of war against North Korea. The military which the Democrats have for years sought to cut and make into a playground for their social experiments now stands as the defense for Los Angeles, and other Democratic-governed urban centers. The ironies go on and on. 
This is what happens when you go hunting to wound the bear.
In those two cited pieces I naively wondered how Obama would handle a nuclear threat to the United States--remember this was a couple of years before he funded the Iranian nuclear program. He "handled" it by ignoring it, acting as though it were not there.

Obama left the Nork Nuke mess for his successor. That successor is handling it as well as can be expected. What remains shocking--perhaps it shouldn't--is that the progressive mau-mau machine seeks to make Trump's, properly, stern rhetoric is response to Kim a greater threat than Kim's popping off missiles and bragging about incinerating the USA. This is not unlike blaming Churchill's anti-Hitler rhetoric for Hitler's actions in Europe.

I am no expert on Korea, and don't play one on the internet. It, however, seems to me that dismissing Kim as insane does not get us very far. He might be a psychopath, but he ain't stupid or suicidal. He knows that a war with the United States would end very badly for him and his regime. He is clearly testing the new administration and probably looking for deal like the one his granddad and dad got from Clinton and, even better, the deal the Iranians got from Obama.

The solution? Not an easy one, but sooner or later it will end in war unless there is a dramatic change inside North Korea, perhaps fostered by China working with some element or another of the Nork military.

Frankly, if we're going to have a war, and this is a brutal thing to say, sooner is better than  later. Just as it would have been much better to confront Hitler in 1935 than in 1939, so it is now. It would have to be an overwhelming, quick, and brutal attack. I am glad I don't have to make that decision.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Immigration (Again)

Sorry for the long delay in posting.

I have been in another one of my blue funks wherein I see nothing happening worth commenting upon--or at least, nothing happening to which I can add anything useful. So much of what's on the news---both in the MSM and the Off-Broadway media--is so weird and much of it is likely fake that I don't know what to say.

I have, for example, no idea what Congresswoman and former DNC head Debbie Wasserman-Schultz  was doing or thought she was doing with those bizarre Pakistani IT "experts." Was she being blackmailed? Were these guys some sort of clever ISI operation? Were they just crooks? I suspect that whatever was going on we will never find out as the media will decide--and the Republicans will agree a la Whitewater--that it's all too complex and not worth examining.

Anyhow, let's look at the perennial immigration issue.

Back in March 2016, I wrote that it appeared that immigration would become the big issue in the presidential elections,
Do voters consider the immigration issue a high priority? I think, yes, absolutely, regardless of what some exit polls suggest. I think voters meld the immigration issue into national defense, national pride, and the national economy. They do so, correctly. It is part of all of these, all part of the return of the Carteresque "national malaise." I don't think voters separate out the immigration issue as some of the pollsters seek to do. Part of the political genius of Trump is that he realizes this. If he can continue to hammer home this message, I think he could pick up considerable support from African-Americans and from the large, legal, Hispanic and Asian communities, as well. Illegal immigration affects the lower ends of the economic scale much more than it does the upper ends. Huge chunks of the populace labelled as poor, are, in fact, illegal immigrants.
I think that holds up.  Even prior to that piece, I had written quite a bit about immigration. One piece, "The Right of National Defense", which I wrote in May of 2013, noted the disaster in Europe, especially Britain, brought about by deliberate policies of unfettered immigration and that,
[I]t does no good to have elaborate military and police organizations, and committees looking into extremism, if we let the enemy enter through our front doors. Make no mistake, as I noted before, "We should be at war; instead, we are under attack." It should be a total war, not just restricted to drones and incursions in far away hamlets in Pakistan and North Africa. We need to look, inter alia, at our energy policies that send billions of dollars to corrupt Islamist regimes, and at our immigration and public assistance policies that let the enemy into our countries and then pay them to live here, and transform our societies into a copy of the corrupt societies from which they came.
Perhaps more to the point about what I want to discuss today, I wrote in June 2013, that our immigration debate misses the point because,
I do not hear discussion about whether we need none, little, some, or a lot of immigration, and if we do, what type of immigration we should seek. Do we need millions more of semi and unskilled people from Mexico and other poor countries? Absent widespread elimination or reduction in minimum wage, taxation, public assistance, and zoning laws, how will these people contribute to the economic growth of our country? This is not nineteenth century America with small factories and workshops on every street corner, and belching smokestack industries eager for cheap workers. This is the America of EPA regulations, OSHA bureaucrats, job killing minimum wage and health insurance laws, outsourcing, and of a growing ethos that sees single parents living on the public dole as an honorable existence. It is also the America of multiculturalism whereby immigrants are encouraged never to become Americans. 
The rubbish being put out by Obama and others on the taxes that these new immigrants will pay is just that, rubbish. They will draw public assistance and not pay taxes. What impact will this continuing flood of poor migrants have on the job and advancement prospects of struggling poor and middle class black, white and brown Americans? I haven't heard much said about that, but I predict it won't be good.

Is our immigration law going to continue based on the idea of family reunification? Will adults be able to petition for their adult siblings and those siblings' families? Will we continue to ignore promises that the new immigrants will not become a public assistance burden? If so, we are in for an endless cascade of new immigrants petitioning for their relatives and on and on and on. Yes, sure, technically we will have solved the "illegal alien" problem by making them all legal. Is that what is best for our country, I stress for our country not for the Democratic party?
That, too, holds up today--in my humble opinion, of course.

I see that the Trump Administration, apparently, will make an effort to reform radically our immigration system. That's good. I also notice that there seems to be an emphasis on merit and extra points for speaking English and having a skill (ABBA does well on both!) Those are also good things. I see, also, the beginning of a debate, very quiet one for now, on the key issues I raised above, to wit, do we need immigration, how much, and what kinds? This is all good. I continue to believe that the President should suspend all or nearly all immigration for a period of time until we draft a new immigration code.

Now, of course, every silver cloud has a dark lining. Given the abysmal Congressional/GOP performance on what should have been a no-brainer, the repeal of the odious Obamacare, how many of you believe that we will see meaningful action on immigration? What's happening with tax reform?

If you thought Obamacare was rife with politicization and misrepresentations, just wait until you start arguing immigration! The number of interest groups, many of them overtly malevolent, vested in our current system is astounding. The media will go to town on this topic like you have never seen before! I doubt there are many Congressmen or other politicians willing to withstand that sort of withering fire. I don't think it will happen. I hope I am wrong.

Now back to worrying about Russia . .  .

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

BREXIT 1940

I overcame my reluctance to go to a movie theater and went to an IMAX screen to see "Dunkirk" by Anglo-American Director Christopher Nolan. The last time I was in a movie theater was January 2015 for Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper."

OK. I was hesitant about seeing "Dunkirk."

I feared that political correctness would wreck that amazing story. I worried that we would have Idris Alba cast as Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Joan Collins as BEF General Lord Gort. Diploson (1), however, saw it and strongly recommended it; in addition, I read the review of the aerial action sequences in one of my favorite blogs (Chant du Depart) and if the exacting author of that fine and exceptionally beautiful blog can find them full of merit, that's good enough for me. So off I went with the Diplowife and Diploson (2).

Let me start by saying that it is a beautifully shot film. The aerial combat scenes, indeed, are exceptional; they provide a breathtaking approximation for us civilians of what must be the chaotic, all-aspect nature of old-time dogfighting. It was hard to believe that the film did not use lots of real Spitfires, Me-109s, Heinkles, etc. The scenes of attacks on shipping, too, evoke a special horror, and the director plays quite effectively on the fear we all (I think) have of drowning in a tight space. In these action scenes, Nolan has produced an amazing technical and artistic achievement that puts to shame a lot of the CGI to which we have become accustomed.

Overall, however, the film left me somewhat cold and distant.

First, there was a bit of the political correctness infection. I counted only two times that the word "German" was used; both were in a scene where British soldiers question a man as to whether he is German. The word "Enemy" is used throughout, including in the opening credits which explain that "The enemy have driven British and French forces . . . " No soldier ever says "Hun," or "Jerry," or "Kraut," or even the word "Nazi." Hitler is never mentioned. Just a faceless, almost sci-fi type enemy. Got to get that German market, eh?

More damning, however, there was no central character with which we could identify fully. One main character was a semi-cowardly, scheming soldier who would do almost anything to get home, including cutting in line and pulling off a variety of deceptions to get on board a rescue vessel. That might well have happened, but I suspect that was NOT the big story at Dunkirk. Maybe I am wrong--tell me, if so. The brave yachtsman played by the superb Mark Rylance might have been more fully developed, but he doesn't get to do much to interest us in his story. He, admittedly, takes part in some very well filmed rescue scenes, but, in the end, those are pretty standard Hollywood/Pinewood.

There are a couple of emotional scenes worth mentioning. One is when the mist clears off the beach at Dunkirk and we see a flotilla of small private craft massed to bring the boys (no girls on this beach) home. Another comes at the end when a soldier on the train going home reads aloud a portion of Churchill's "We Shall Never Surrender" speech to the Parliament after the successful evacuation of hundreds-of-thousands of men from the French coast. Made me think of the state of Britain and the West today, besieged as we are by a new invader, one welcomed by decades of Quisling officialdom. Could Churchill give that speech today without being accused of "hate" speech and xenophobia?

This is still not the definitive movie about Dunkirk. That operation, lest we forget, saved the West from the Nazis. If the BEF had been lost in France, it would be hard to imagine how Britain could have carried on. Churchill probably would have been replaced and the pressure on the new government to negotiate a settlement with Hitler would have been immense and likely irresistible. That's admittedly speculative "what if" history, but I think it is a likely scenario since without the United States the war could not have been won, but without Britain it would surely have been lost. Dunkirk, in my humble view, saved us all from that loss. It deserves a big accurate thorough screen treatment. I will keep looking; meanwhile, however, do go see Nolan's "Dunkirk" and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bored With It All (Almost)

Having a good time with my Spanish relatives who will be leaving for home in a couple of days. We have done a lot of sightseeing. They also have taken over our kitchen and, frankly, produced some genuinely superb meals. I always am amazed and in awe of people who can walk into a kitchen, open a few cabinet doors, check the pantry and the refrigerator and--Presto!--whip up an awesome lunch or dinner. These folks can certainly do that! Amazing! I am sorry they will be going.

I have tuned into the news only off-and-on for the past couple of weeks.

I can tell from my more in-depth session today, that I haven't missed much of great interest.

The silly Russia election hack/campaign collusion story sputters along, with no more evidence of any wrong-doing now than several months ago. CNN continues to prove itself, perhaps, the most deranged "news" outlet in the Western world. Not just its broadcasts, but the tweets and other comments of its key personnel show that there is some serious mental issues afoot in the Atlanta HQS and throughout CNN's tattered empire. The level of ignorance of history, the world, and everything else is truly astounding. Most other "news" outlets are not far behind.

"Fact checking" seems to be a lost art.

I see that the GOP hopelessly complicated and destroyed its effort to "repeal and replace" the disastrous Obamacare. The mess is "inexplicable" unless one just concludes that once in Washington it is irrelevant whether the politician is Dem or Rep, he or she becomes of Washington, with the mentality of Washington.

I think the effort to dump Obamacare should have been a two-stage process: 1) repeal the damn thing;  and, 2) remove all laws and regulations that hamper the operation of a free market in the health insurance business. In other words, Congress should repeal Obamacare, and we, ordinary Americans, will take charge of replacing it with what we want.

Maybe there is still hope that this will happen? I don't know, just as I am also having serious doubts that they will ever get around to reforming our tax rates and stifling government regulations to allow something akin to a genuine free market in goods and services.

The media is also abuzz with new polls. One dubious poll showing that Trump's support is on the wane, and other showing that the population of most foreign countries is opposed (?) to a wall on the US-Mexico border. What? Should we have a poll to see if Americans are opposed to the wall between the ocean and parts of Holland? Should people in France ask us whether we want to see a bullet-proof glass barrier put around the Eiffel Tower? Who cares?

All very boring and inconsequential.

I will struggle to get more interested.