Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Death in Managua

This is roughly the 30th anniversary of my first visit to Sandinista Nicaragua, back in April-May, 1987. I wrote about that trip before (here), and described how I came then to realize that the US Democratic Party is the greatest enemy of the US. Why bring up this visit, again? For some reason, I suddenly began to remember quite vividly a putrid little incident on that visit--one I've not discussed on this blog or really anywhere else. It is kind of a pointless story; not sure there is a moral. Just a nasty vignette, I guess. One more thing: others who were there might have a different recollection, but this is mine.

Julio Cesar Green. You probably haven't heard of him; not many have; and most of those will have forgotten him by now. I am not aware that he accomplished anything great in his short time on earth: he didn't invent anything, cure any diseases, or write a famous novel, but I do remember that he was somebody's son, and that he's dead because of our visit to Managua.

I accompanied the US delegation to the 77th Conference of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) in Managua. This group, headed by Louisiana Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, widow of Hale Boggs, and mother of journalist Cokie Roberts, had some whacky lefties as well as a neat and smart Congressman from Arizona, the late John Rhodes--you can find the delegation list (yawn!) at page 3 on the prior link. One event we attended, among many, was an afternoon/evening get-together for all the delegations at the residence of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. This large and lavish affair showed that despite the incessant Sandinista complaining about the US economic embargo, the lads had no problem laying on a major fete around the pool and on the lush grounds: lobster, shrimp, fish, meats of various kinds, liquor, wine, beer, music, dancers--the sort of stuff socialists love to "hate"when they don't have it. By the way, Managua, back then, was one of the most depressing and run-down big cities I had ever seen; it had not recovered from the big earthquake, the corruption and the vileness of the Somoza years, the war, and the corruption and the vileness of the Sandinista years.

We had had a long day of meetings, interviews, traveling, and speechifying; in addition, Congressman Rhodes and I had sneaked away from our Sandinista handlers to meet Nicaraguan human rights activists. Lots of people were tired, many of the Europeans and Asians suffering jet lag, so the bash started to break up relatively early for this sort of affair. After a couple of hours, our own sleepy delegation began climbing into the Embassy-provided vehicles to leave. I, too, felt tired, having spent most of my day translating, speech-writing, and arguing with assorted European and Latin leftists in favor of Reagan's policies. By the time I got to the car park, only one of our big white Suburbans remained, engine running, Nicaraguan driver eager to go and drop us off at the hideous airport motel. I slithered in, sharing the ride with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, a researcher from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and a USAF colonel from Puerto Rico, apparently unhappy at being stuck with us. The colonel, a neurosurgeon, incidentally, also served as delegation physician. I crawled into the cramped third row of seats, and sat next to the CRS lady. We pulled out of the compound as darkness began to drop in. As in Orwell's Animal Farm, a crowd had gathered outside the fence to watch their new pig rulers cavort with the same visitors who had cavorted with their old farmer rulers.

We slowly moved out onto the highway. People stood along the highway watching the parade of fancy cars leave the presidential estate. As in most third world countries, people, animals, shops, bicycles all abutted onto and into the road--no sidewalk, no clear demarcation between car space and human space. We had just begun to pickup speed when a horrible, sickening thump-thump sounded beneath the floor boards. The two of us sitting in the back row got thrown up against the roof of the Suburban. Somebody in the vehicle shouted, "We hit a child!" The driver froze and kept driving slowly. A couple of us began to yell for him to stop. He cried, "I will go to prison!" In Nicaragua, at least then, a traffic incident involving injuries became a criminal matter; the cops would lock up those involved while the investigation proceeded.

We finally got the driver to stop. The colonel and I spilled out of the Suburban, and ran back to a small pile of clothes in the middle of the road. He got there first, dropped to his knees, and bent over the heap. I caught up, stood next to him, and now could see small bare feet, hands, and a badly bruised, bloody, and distorted head and face among the clothes. The colonel said, "This is very bad. He's alive but he's not going to make it." Suddenly a scream tore through my head. Behind me, a small woman, the child's mother, pushed past me, and threw herself on the child yelling, "¡Julio César ! ¡Julio César!" The colonel told her in Spanish, "We're going to take him to the hospital." Looking up at me he said, "Help me with this." We carried Julio Cesar, whom I pegged at about five years of age, to the Suburban, and got him, the colonel, and the mother into the second row of seats. I squeezed back into my spot in the third row; my white guayabera now sported a large half-moon of blood. Just as we started to move, the mother shouted at a shirtless, shoeless man wearing shorts and standing outside the Suburban, "Why did you call him? Why?" He was the father; apparently he had been on the opposite side of the road from Julio Cesar, and had told him to cross just as we accelerated.

The petrified driver barely would go 25 mph no matter how much we yelled for him to move faster. He stopped at every light and street corner, carefully signaling every move as if he were a sixteen-year-old taking his driving exam. No amount of urging and coaxing could get him to change his "work-to-rule" driving. The mother kept sobbing, quietly calling the boy's name, praying to the Virgin Mary, and patting his tangled mat of bloody hair. The colonel looked back at me, slowly shook his head, and said in English, "There's no saving him--not even if this had happened in the parking lot of Mass General."

Our seemingly endless drive through the dark suburbs of Managua finally ended at a small hospital. The colonel and I took the boy, and, with the mother holding his hand, carried him into the "emergency room." It was a dim, dirty little hovel, lit by a weak light bulb hanging from a cord. Patients sat in rickety chairs against the walls and on the floor, waiting their turns. I walked past the receptionist, who tried to hand me a number, and grabbed the first doctor I could find. I explained we were foreign diplomats, had been involved in a serious car accident, and needed somebody immediately to look at a badly hurt Nicaraguan child. A young doctor came with me, briefly examined Julio Cesar on the floor, and said, "We can't do anything for him here. You have to take him to a bigger hospital." He gave us the name of the place, and sent two orderlies to put Julio Cesar back into the Suburban. The doctor shook his head when I asked if he had an ambulance to take the boy, "No. He'll be better with you."

Another lengthy slow drive through the sticky and gloomy Managua night awaited us. Realizing that we had not reported the incident to the Embassy, and that nobody knew where we were, I took to the radio, gave a summary of what had happened, and where we were headed. The Embassy sent an officer to meet us at the new hospital. Some time during that drive Julio Cesar died held by his mother and a USAF colonel. It stinks to be poor in a poor country run by gangsters.

At the "big" hospital, a very nice Nicaraguan doctor who had studied in the US, came out to our vehicle, looked at the boy, and pronounced Julio Cesar, age nine not five, dead on arrival. He told us, "You should go before the police and the Sandinista political people show up. Leave the boy and the mother with us." He escorted the sobbing mother away, and, again, urged us to leave quickly. "You can take care of the formalities tomorrow," he said. A couple of men came and took the dead child into the building.

After providing a report to the Embassy, I eventually got back to my freezing motel room--the Sandinistas apparently had decided that air conditioning impressed foreigners. I threw away my blood-stained shirt and pants, and took a shower. Despite the very late hour, I called the Diplowife in New York, insisted on talking to my sleepy kids, and then lay in bed shivering and smoking a Joya de Nicaragua, watching the smoke slowly rise to where it encountered the icy jet stream from the a/c unit and then got whipped across the room. Again, all I could think was that it stinks to be poor in a poor country run by gangsters.

Tomorrow came. We accompanied the driver with an Embassy lawyer to the police station. I have to hand it to the Communists: they know how to put together police forces. The cops proved very professional; they formally held over the driver for investigation, and then asked us for voluntary statements. One cop seemed well versed in the Vienna Convention, and told us that, of course, as diplomats we did not have to declare. We all did, anyhow, in the hope that we would help the driver's case. The police were very respectful towards us. Judging from their nervous chit-chat, they fully expected Reagan to send in the Marines at any time; one quietly acknowledged that the US-backed contras were giving the Sandinistas a helluva time--he also asked if I had ever seen a B-52.

The driver was released after a few days in lock-up, where he had passed the time as a cook for prisoners and guards. The Embassy offered Julio Cesar's unemployed father a job as a gardener.

The rest of us flew home on a big USAF VIP plane.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Venezuela Implodes

I have written quite a bit about Venezuela, for example, herehereherehere, and here.

In one of those posts, I referred to,
a "slow motion coup" underway in oil-rich Venezuela by which Chavez/Maduro take apart the institutions of democracy bit by bit in the name of fighting "imperialism" and giving a level playing field to the poor (Bernie Sanders, are you there?) Opposition leaders who were too pesky suddenly found themselves afoul of the tax authorities, or accused of participating in vague gringo-backed plots against The Revolution. The opposition had a hard time getting its act together: first, because of the oppression aimed against it; second, because of the lack of international support--especially from the US--for democracy in Venezuela; and third, of course, because of its own bad strategy and tactics. It seems this time the opposition got its act together just as the regime implodes along with oil prices. Maduro simply does not have the loyalty of the "revolutionary" elites--e.g., in the military, in Hollywood, in Cuba--in the same way as did the much more charismatic, smart, and devious Chavez. The Congressional elections held yesterday have produced a sweeping victory for the opposition which has taken at least 99 of the 167 seats in the legislature. Pre-election polls had shown some 85% of the population fed up with the direction of Venezuela and dissatisfied with Maduro.
The phrase "slow motion coup" (golpe a camara lenta) I used quite a bit in my speeches at the OAS in clashes with Chavez's representatives (one bout is partly reported here and here, and a complete text of one of my remarks is here). I noted at various times, on this blog and when I was at State, the difference between Venezuela and other dictatorships, such as Castro's, was that Chavez took his time building the dictatorship, slowly and carefully taking apart the institutions, but keeping the facade--oh, and playing the Hollywood dolts and other progressives to perfection. While the path there was slightly different, the end result, of course, has proven the same as in Cuba, USSR, Romania, etc.

There are many stories you can find describing that end result, and I won't repeat it all.

Simply put, however, the Venezuelan economy has disappeared. There is not even enough money to pay for the printing of money--the ultimate triumph of socialism. Mass starvation and riots loom as it is now apparent to all but the most fanatical chavista, that Venezuela's fabulous oil wealth has been squandered by corruption, mismanagement, and, above all, by the consequences of the belief that trust in government is the solution to life's problems. The Venezuelans are discovering what millions of others have: let your liberty get taken away in exchange for promises of safety and porridge, and you will end up with neither liberty, safety nor porridge.

Can the looney socialists on the rampage in America and Europe learn the lesson? Nah. Why should yet another example of socialism's failure deter them . . . ? Feel the Bern . . .

BTW, for the best commentary on Latin America, including Venezuela, go to the excellent Faustas Blog.

UPDATE: Interview by Australia's ABC of the last US Ambassador to Venezuela, my good friend Patrick Duddy.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Progressives and Bathrooms

About a year ago, I wrote
[P]rogressivism is about generating uncertainty, about keeping society off balance. It is about disrupting long-established institutions and practices; it is about tearing down that which is, with no real formula for what will follow except to put progressives in positions of power to dictate to us all as the whim comes and goes.

Progressivism is motivated by a deep hatred for Western civilization.
We'll get back to those observations, but I also want to draw attention to another post written at the time of the Rebel flag uproar. I noted that progressives demanded that the Rebel battle flag be taken down everywhere it flies because it incites racism and gun violence; I observed that the flag was not the real target of progressive wrath anymore than was gun violence,
The real target is attacking white male culture, especially the hated "Redneck" culture, which progressives cannot stand. The real target is trying to stigmatize white males and cowing them into politically correct submission . . . in the Hollywood movie that runs in an endless loop inside the heads of progressives, white males, especially in the South, are all Rebel flag-waving, pick-up driving, gun maniac racists just dying to kill black men and rape black women.
One more citation from the archives of the Diplomad: a little piece from 2014 that dealt with the CDC's study on lesbian, gay, bi-and transsexual persons in the USA, and pointed out that,
the CDC has put out a thorough report which notes that only 2.3% of Americans identify themselves as either gay, lesbian, or bisexual. About 1.6% of the population identifies itself as either gay or lesbian, what used to be called homosexual.
There are other studies that support the CDC findings, and show the number of transgender persons in the US at somewhere between 0.2% and 0.3% of the population.

OK, so bathrooms.

We have courts, mayors, rock stars, Hollywood, governors, pundits, and, of course, the President of the United States weighing in on whether schools and other institutions and even businesses should "segregate" on the basis of gender when it comes to bathroom facilities. The President's minions sent a letter to public schools in which his administration provided "guidance" to schools (full text here) letting them know that they have to respect the concept of "transgender," as now redefined,
o Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.

o Sex assigned at birth refers to the sex designation recorded on an infant’s birth certificate should such a record be provided at birth.

o Transgender describes those individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender male is someone who identifies as male but was assigned the sex of female at birth; a transgender female is someone who identifies as female but was assigned the sex of male at birth.
This barely readable mishmash of ideology, legalism, and faux science goes on to give "guidance" to schools on how they should treat "transgender" individuals. Schools must respect those persons' choice of gender, and allow them access to sports programs and, of course, bathrooms and showers designated for that gender. The threat is clear: comply or lose federal funding.

Here we see all the themes laid out at the beginning. Our progressive overlords are creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, and turmoil, and all the while not giving a damn about the 0.2-0.3% of the population that is "genuinely transgender." As so many times before, the plan is to throw society off-balance, disrupt long-established, even ancient social norms, destroy well-established definitions, undermine the very idea of common sense, and do it all in the name of addressing a problem which does not exist on "behalf" of an infinitesimally small piece of the population. The real goal, of course, being to draw increased power to the progressive controlled government bureaucracy and courts, and use that power to control us little people in everything we do, including, now, going to the restroom.

A few suggestions. Parents should insist that their schools resist this "guidance." Losing federal funding for schools is a blessing, not even in disguise. I would love to see a revolt of parents and others telling the feds to keep their funds and their controls to themselves. Make the teachers' unions and the vast array of overpaid administrators eat the deficit. Defeat at the polls any and all politicians who do not resist this incredible overreach of federal authority.

The madness must stop.

Twitter: Lewis Amselem@TheDiplomad    

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Interview on Podcast

You can go listen to an interview of The Diplomad on Do We Love It.

It's all on the record . . . . horrors!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mayor of London: Another Reason to Vote Trump

There seems no end of meddlesome foreigners telling us how to vote.

We, for example, have the former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, who either suffers from some sort of derangement, is drunk, or is just not too smart mouthing off and using obscenities as he tells us not to vote for Trump. Canada's playboy PM Justin Bieber Trudeau, of course, has attacked Trump for some months now, lecturing us on the politics of division--something about which his dad was quite expert. A Saudi prince has joined in, too. While I am probably missing, forgetting, or ignoring some others, nobody less than the freshly minted mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also wants to cast anti-Trump ballot.

Ah, yes. Mayor Sadiq Aman Khan tells us not to vote for Trump; in fact, he wants to help Hillary Clinton win our presidential elections. How nice. He says Trump is very ignorant about Islam, bad for Muslims, and that his proposed ban on Muslim immigration would lead to Muslims attacking us. Sadiq warns that we would "play into the hands of the extremists." To show his commitment, Sadiq has vowed not to visit the USA if Trump is elected, thereby sacrificing his daughters' visit to Disney World. Wow! Serious stuff! Not quite worth 72 virgins, but still . . . .

Yawn . . . I tire of this fairy tale.

Mr. Mayor, with all due respect, let me point out one thing and ask you one question. Please note, sir, that currently no ban exists on Muslims entering, for example, the EU, Canada, the US, Australia, or the UK. Despite that (because of that?) Muslims attack us. Right in your own city of London, some people might tell you about 7/7. Perhaps you have forgotten about it? You should ask around. How, then, would a ban on Muslims entering our countries make it more likely we would get attacked? The only thing I can see is that it would make it harder for them to attack us, but you tell me. You're the mayor.

Mayor Sadiq Aman Khan's parents moved from India to Pakistan at partition, fleeing to Muslim rule in the wake of the departure of the evil British Christian colonialists. After a time in Pakistan, however, Sadiq's parents apparently decided that those evil British Christian colonialists weren't so bad after all. The family moved to Britain; there Sadiq was born, raised, educated, became a lawyer and "human rights" activist--of course--got into leftist politics, and did quite well. All this is certainly a tribute to Sadiq's work ethic but also, let us not forget, to the tolerance and the generosity of British society.

So, yes, Sadiq's parents formed part of that global move to live under the sway of WCD,
Around the world we see that just about everybody wants to live with the White Christian Dudes. We see this drive to live with White Christian Dudes every day along our southern border; Australians see it on their coasts and in the changing make up of their cities; Britons in the unceasing wave of migrants besieging their island. Canada's beautiful Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia has become a largely Asian city. Everywhere, it seems, the civilization built by White Christian Dudes is the magnet.
Let's go over some basics. Mr. Mayor, no constitutional right exists to a United States visa. Not even international law recognizes the right to enter another country. Sovereign countries can set restrictions  on whom they allow in. In fact, our immigration law has provisions for keeping out persons who adhere to creeds advocating the violent overthrow of the US government. For many, many years we banned nazis, fascists, and communists from entry for that reason. We have more than enough legal ammunition and precedence to keep out those who adhere to a belief system that seeks to impose Shariah law; forcibly convert, enslave or kill our population; and, of course, put an end to our democracy. We have the right and the obligation of national defense.

Sorry, Mr. Mayor, I know that I wrote that I would ask you only one question, but please let me ask another couple. You see, sir, I always wanted to visit Mecca; might I go with you next time you go? In fact, I always wanted to become mayor of Riyadh or Karachi, could you help me with that? Yeah sure, I am Jewish, but since Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance that shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean there can't be that many extremists?

Never mind. Just stay home, Mr. Mayor, and pray for WCD rule.

Trump for President.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

On the Iran Deal: Guess What?

OK, we see that the pretentious little twit who calls himself the "Deputy National Security Advisor," Ben Rhodes, has given a "tell all" interview to the NY Times.  In this multi-thousand word piece, Rhodes, in essence, boasts about how he managed to con the media into supporting the fake Iran deal. Read it yourselves, but I consider the piece fawning; others say it's actually quite critical of Rhodes. I find that the NYT is in awe of Rhodes, and how he "has rewritten diplomacy for the digital age." You decide whether that's the case, or he's just a highly skilled liar who realized how lazy, ignorant, and anti-Western the media are and took advantage of that to promote the horrendous "agreement" with Iran. He is a replay of Jonathan Gruber and his lies and manipulations on Obamacare.

This humble blog, let me remind its five or six readers, was onto the fake nature of the Iran nuclear deal from the start. Over a year ago, in one post on this deal I noted that,
The ol' Obama PR machine and its media acolytes are spinning like centrifuges, praising the "deal" to the sky. In all these mushrooming detonations of praise and self-congratulation one simple, little, itsy-bitsy fact has been overlooked. I hate to be the party pooper, but, well, there is no deal.
I wrote quite a bit about this nonsense (here, herehereherehere, and here, for example) noting that there was no deal, no treaty, nothing and that the whole thing was just a way to make the issue go away.

I asked repeatedly that we be shown the signatures; I wanted to see where the Iranians had agreed to what the White House was saying. There were, of course, no signatures, and when the Iranians talked about the deal they made quite clear that they did not agree with the White House version. The so-called deal was a dangerous scam by which Obama could release billions of dollars to the Iranian regime, stab Israel in the back, and destroy decades of US foreign policy--oh, and, of course, claim a legacy of having solved the apparently intractable problem of Iranian nukes . . . by letting the Iranians have nukes and lying about it.

Nothing to see here, move along, just progressives lying, nothing new . . .

Thursday, May 5, 2016

One More on Trump

I don't work for the Trump campaign, am not an employee of any Trump business, get no money from him or his businesses, and have seen him exactly once--about thirty years ago from across the street in Manhattan. I have said before that, despite my being a conservative/libertarian and he not being one, I will vote for Trump. He was not my first choice, and I had serious doubts he could go the distance. I don't know if he can beat the Horrid Hillary, and nobody else knows either, including all those highly paid and voluble bien pensants who predicted he would not win the GOP nomination, or at best would face a horribly contested convention next July in Ohio. I will vote for Trump in the California primary; it's important for people to vote despite the suspension of the Cruz and Kasich campaigns to ensure that the GOP delegates go to Trump. I will vote for Trump in November.

I have been reading and listening to comments from the "NEVER TRUMP" crowd and from folks in the Democratic party gearing up for the campaign. People have the right to vote for whomever they wish for whatever reasons they have, and have the right to refrain from voting. I do not believe in mandatory voting. Some of the stuff, however, said against Trump makes no sense. Fascist? Really? Do people who use that term know what it means? Trump is another Mussolini, Hitler, or Mosley? What nonsense. What indications has he given of being a fascist? None.

He is a racist? Really? Do people who use that slur know what racism looks like, how racists act? Trump has done nothing to suggest he is a racist. An acquaintance of mine wrote to me and said "Look what he said about Mexicans being rapists." Really? That's your best shot? For years the progressive media has regaled with stories in print and electronic media about the horrors endured by illegal aliens from Central America as they cross through Mexico. One of the most commonly reported atrocities is gang rape of Central American women in Mexico. Let's see if the precious progressive snowflakes can figure out who is doing the raping of these women in Mexico . . . Mormons from Utah? Klansmen from South Carolina? Trump was reflecting the press reports about these atrocities. If they aren't happening, then the progressives should take it up with the media. By the way, when I worked in Guatemala, I interviewed lots of Guatemalans who had made the trek across Mexico to the USA, and they confirmed the stories of horrid treatment by officials and private criminals.

I see no indication that he hates, denigrates, insults, or disregards black Americans. He is talking about jobs being lost to illegal aliens; that affects Americans of all ethnicities and colors. That is a fact.

When I hear Hillary talking about the need to "tear down barriers, and not build walls" I almost get physically ill. This is a woman who for decades now has lived behind walls, fences, and armed guards, and ridden in limos and special aircraft. I am sure she locks her house at night, and the guards outside have real bullets in real guns. Trump is not talking about a wall to keep out Americans; he's talking about one to keep out illegal migrants, drug dealers and other criminals. Nothing wrong with that.

Anyhow, I don't want to go on. Let me just say, there is a lot that Trump can be criticized about--e.g., some might not like his prescription for taking on the trade issue--but let's keep the criticism grounded in reality. Too much to ask? Probably.