Wednesday, January 30, 2013

He's In

Well, they did it.

The Senate voted in their "old boy" way and made fellow Senator John F. Kerry the next Secretary of State.

I am disgusted beyond words.

This is a man who openly consorted with the enemies of the United States, openly gave comfort and support to those enemies while fellow Americans were on the battlefield fighting those enemies, lied about his service in SE Asia, and, to top it off, has shown no particular knowledge about or understanding of the role of the United States in the world. With Jane Fonda, he was our generation's version of Lord Haw-Haw, Tokyo Rose, and Ezra Pound all rolled into one; unlike those other traitors, and along with Jane Fonda not only did he pay no penalty for supporting the enemy in a time of war, he prospered financially and politically.

He is now to be our Secretary of State.

One could expect no less of today's Democratic Party.

Where, however, were the Republicans? Except for a tiny grouping of three--Cruz, Cornyn, and Inhofe--the Republicans went along with this travesty. Even Tea Party darling Marco Rubio voted "Yea."

I guess loyalty is to membership in the Senate club, not to the country and our dead.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"What Difference Does it Make?"

Sorry for the long gap in posting. I had a technical issue with the blog, i.e., I couldn't remember my password, and couldn't log on to write a post. In addition, of course, I watched that Hillary performance on the Hill re Benghazi, and, well, I was left stunned and speechless. There was so much wrong, dishonest, craven, brazen, and downright disgusting in Hilary's performance that I am still having a hard time commenting on it. 

Ever since Joseph Welch's line to Senator McCarthy in 1954, "Have you no sense of decency?", lib-lefties keep looking to replicate that little piece of faux outrage. The Benghazi testimony was Hillary's chance, and she clearly decided that her "At this point, what difference does it make?" line would be her Joseph Welch moment. Judging from the media's acceptance and even applauding of this little piece of theater, it would appear that Hillary calculated correctly. She has gotten away with her horrid mismanagement and leadership of US foreign policy. We are instructed to forget about Benghazi, and the delusional policies that paved the road to it. The liberals are busily talking about President Hillary Clinton--and to be fair she has demonstrated the requisite amount of incompetence and deception to be a viable candidate for the Democrats.

You have to hand it to the lefties. They are brazenly honest about their dishonest plans. All the famous lefties have been open about their intentions: Lenin and Hitler certainly hid nothing, and today's little lefties hide nothing. Obama's statement about "You didn't build that," the DNC proudly proclaiming "Government is the only thing to which we all belong," and now Hillary's "What's the difference?" have a long tradition that relies on the opposition's inability to understand honest crookedness. They are so arrogant and so confident that nobody will call them out, that they enjoy telling us openly how they will take away everything we value. 

To the matter at hand. There is so much wrong with what Hillary said that I can only cover a few points.  Her whole attitude was one of taking a victory lap. She is leaving the State Department, and she ran out the clock on  Benghazi. Her phrase "At this point" sums it up. The steam has gone out of the issue, and the tactic of delay, obfuscation, and deception has worked; the administration has eluded responsibility for a major foreign policy disaster of criminal proportions. They did it before with "Fast and Furious" and they have done it again. State's Accountability Review Board report, of course, was a whitewash; it was a carefully worded truce between Chicago and Foggy Bottom. It avoided dealing with the fundamentals of the Benghazi disaster, i.e., the foreign policy of this administration, and, in exchange, the bureaucrats were not held responsible for the decisions they took in implementing that foreign policy. Nobody was to blame for anything. 

As a lawyer, Hillary must know how absurd her line "what is the difference?" sounds. Here we have an administration that insists on treating acts of terror against Americans as criminal matters, e.g., call in the FBI to "the crime scene," yet here we have the Secretary of State saying it really makes no difference what motivated the "criminals" or whether the "crime" was premeditated and planned in conjunction with others. More important, however, if it made no difference why did the administration send out that horrid political hack Susan Rice to lie about it all? To blame it on a video? Where was Hillary? Why wasn't she out front telling us all on the Sunday talk shows that it made "no difference?"   Why have Rice lie?

It, of course, "does make a difference." If the attack was a well-planned one, who planned it? Were any foreign states involved? Why didn't our intel pick it up? If it was a spontaneous event, why didn't it occur to anybody at State or in the Embassy in Libya that the date of September 11 was a particularly propitious one for such "spontaneous" events? Why was Stevens in Benghazi on September 11? Why was that facility still open when the security situation in the city had been deteriorating rapidly? The questions just pour forth; you can think of dozens more.

I have written many times before about the idiocy of our policy in Libya and North Africa (see my archives), and won't repeat all that. Let me just say that hearings did not explore the biggest issue of all. What did the administration think would happen in North Africa once Mubarak and Qaddafi were removed?

Hillary got away with it. She put on the typical lefty show of mock outrage, weepiness, blaming others, e.g., "not enough money," and brazen dishonesty. It worked. We most likely will not hear much more about Benghazi or how it forms an integral part of the larger foreign policy disaster we see unfolding before our eyes. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Next Four Years: Battle of the Two "F" Words

Well, it was on.

I refused to watch it.

Huh? What did I refuse to watch? You have to ask? The inauguration, of course.

There I was at the gym, minding my own business, listening to my Chuck Berry, Beach Boys, and Warren Zevon, and all the TV sets had that thing on. I refused to watch; refused to listen to the "soaring" rhetoric; refused to read the closed caption titles. I felt much like what many Japanese must have watching the Missouri pull into Tokyo bay. November 6 was bad enough. I don't need to watch the formal surrender ceremony in which the United States gives in to the Chicago occupation.

Prediction: The next four years will be a battle between two "F" words.

The first "F" word stands for all that is wrong with modern politics in the Western world: It serves as the rallying cry of the takers, the distributors, the believers in the state over the individual. It is, in short, the most obscene word in the English language, a word which must be stricken from the vocabulary of every child, and most certainly not enshrined as official policy. It is a word so obscene that I have difficulty writing it down. I will try to overcome my revulsion. Yes, of course, I speak of the hideous word "fair." No more vile one can exist.

"Fair" is the cry of the leftists who rule and ruin our country. That ugly word serves as the justification to raise taxes, increase spending, and, of course, expand the power of the state over the private sector and the individual. Fear, hate, and resist that word. Whenever a politician uses it, you know a tax increase is coming, some new programs are around the corner, and another piece of your freedom is forfeit. This horrid word often goes along with its faithful companion, the horrible "C" word, "change." For there to be a 'fair' society you must not oppose 'change'! Fairness and change are good!

All too often we conservatives get weak-kneed in the face of the word "fair," especially when its coupled with "change." To do so, of course, is to give up your values and freedoms. Who said life has to be fair? Which article or amendment in the Constitution tasks the government with making life fair? "Fair" is an excuse for "Change" which we are told is "good."

Change, of course, is neither good nor bad in and of itself: it is just change. When Carter gave way to Reagan, that change was good. When the Weimar Republic gave way to the Third Reich, well, that change was not good. Believe it or not, I had this argument at State some years ago, when those of us who resisted and questioned the Department's "Affirmative Action" programs--designed to ensure greater "fairness" in hiring--were accused of "fearing change." We were gathered in a meeting with the mighty ones of personnel and I remember the dopey Director General telling me that I feared change, and my replying, "You're damn right I fear change when it is to the bad." I then went on to give my Weimar to Third Reich analogy. One of her little minions came around to my office the next day telling me "to cool it." Needless to say, I did not get the assignment I wanted, and my career went increasingly into dangerous waters.

The call to make things "fair" is the single greatest threat we face, especially if we leave the elitist takers to define the word.

What hope do we have? I have picked another "F" word that encapsulates all that is remarkable and positive and fresh about the private sector, the market and its genius. That word is "fracking." The process of "fracking" and the amazing technologies that go with it have given new life to America's domestic energy industry. "Fracking" could within a very short time turn the US into the world's greatest producer of hydrocarbons. Canada and the US stand to become the new OPEC, or at least to smash the power of the old one. Freedom, ingenuity, and the private sector have produced this turn-around which promises to revolutionize the economy and the world's political outlook. The problem? The "fair" mongers are beginning to turn their efforts to undermine the "frackers." They can't stand the thought of energy companies providing the energy that Americans want and need. The government must determine what sort of energy we need and use. We must subsidize silly electric cars, solar panel manufacturers, and wind turbines, and try by all the means possible to demonize, restrict, tax, and regulate the "frackers." Is it "fair" to have so much wealth going to Texas, North Dakota, and Alberta?

Fair vs. Frack. That sums up the next four years. The winner will determine what kind of a country we become.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hostages and the Value of Life

Reading about the Algeria hostage situation which has ended with a large number, or perhaps all the hostages taken by the Islamists killed in a "rescue" attempt by Algerian forces. This horrid event brings to light a couple of themes which need underlining.

The Algerian Interior Ministry stated that,
"To avoid a bloody turn of events in response to the extreme danger of the situation, the army's special forces launched an intervention with efficiency and professionalism to neutralize the terrorist groups that were first trying to flee with the hostages and then blow up the gas facilities."
On first reading the statement sounds absurd. The Minister talks about executing an operation with "efficiency" and "professionalism" that resulted in the hostages being killed along with their Al Qaeda kidnappers. On closer reading, however, it is a perfectly accurate description of the attitude most of the world has towards hostages and hostage-takers.

A small number of countries, e.g., the US, the UK, Israel, Australia, have police and military special forces trained to resolve hostage situations with an emphasis on getting the hostages back alive. That is not the case in most of the world. In most of the world the emphasis is similar to what the Russians did in "resolving" the October 2002 hostage crisis in Moscow's Dubrovka Theater. As you will remember a band of some 40 Chechin terrorists seized the theater and held several hundred persons hostage. After some three days of "negotiations,"Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz) intervened, pumping in gas, and shooting. They killed the kidnappers and about 130 hostages. There was a similar result in the even more bloody September 2004 Beslan hostage taking in which Chechen Islamists took over a school. Again, the Russians intervened with brute force killing all the Chechens but also over 300 hostages, including children. In the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel or a handful of other civilized countries, that sort of result would have proven totally unacceptable. In most of the world, however, that is a success. The objective of these operations is to kill the hostage-takers, and end the embarrassment and threat they pose to the government. Once the hostages fall into the hands of the crazies, they are written off. The thinking is brutal and simple, "I don't care about the hostages you have. You have no bargaining chip. I am going to kill you." For those who think like that, the events I have listed were not "botched" at all: they were great successes.

The events in Algeria also bring up, yet again, the consequences of the bizarre US and European  policies in North Africa. Our overthrow of Qaddafi, at the behest of the EU, and our support for the overthrow of Mubarak have produced a disaster that is spreading throughout North Africa and even into Sub-Saharan Africa. The virus of Berserker Islam is spreading throughout the region. The once-effective counters to it, the unpleasant Mubarak and Muammar "Margarita of the Magreb" Qaddafi, are now gone. Our policy of seeking out defeat and throwing away victory is bearing fruit.

Welcome to Obama's world.  Can't wait for the next four years.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Guns: Hunting Obama's Elephants

Apologies for the light blogging these past few days. Having one of those periodic visits by what Churchill and others have called the "black dog." A little one, mind you, but nevertheless it interferes with my ability to engage in witty repartee of the blog-type. Let me explain. I am not talking about some clinical depression. I am talking about the black dog that bites you when you read the news, and see and hear the politicians--Democrat and Republican, American and foreign--prattle on about anything and everything except the facts. There are so many facts out there the size of elephants or at least the size of CTU President Karen Lewis, yet the world's politicians manage not to see them and to see, instead, what they believe in.

So many examples, so very many. I can only deal with a few.

One would think that a President of Kenyan heritage with many relatives still in that country would have an ability to spot and hunt elephants. Apparently not.

Let's start with the economy and government finances. Disaster. The elephants are everywhere, crushing the crops, knocking over the huts, flattening everything and everyone in their path. Nothing was resolved with the bizarre deal reached by Obama and the spineless GOP Congress. The government is spending at an increasing rate, at a rate that is not sustainable, and at a rate that threatens to destroy the entire economy and the very essence of American life, i.e., individual freedom. The debate over the growth of government programs should be about the effect of those programs on our individual freedoms, on the position of the United States in the world, as well as on our shrinking wallets. I don't see that debate. Instead we talk about nonsense.

In other words, instead of talking about the economy and the crazy government policies ruining it, we talk about guns. Yes, guns. Every liberal politician from Obama to Biden, Cuomo, Emanuel, Bloomberg, Villaraigosa, Brown, etc., and news outlet is full of concerns over "assault weapons." Yes, that is the greatest issue facing America. What is almost funny is that none of these pontificators can tell us what is an "assault rifle." I will tell you what it is. It is a made-up term meant to sound scary. It is like "global climate change," something which can be defined and redefined at will. It is a term used to frighten silly people whose knowledge of guns comes from watching Hollywood movies where every gang-banger has an arsenal of fully automatic weapons. It is a term meant to justify even more growth in government power and even further loss of individual freedoms.

Within the gun debate, of course, there are enormous elephants that the advocates of evermore government power will not see. How about this one? According to the FBI, "gun-infested" Utah has a homicide rate lower lower than "gun-free" England and Wales, not to mention that gunless paradise of Chicago. Could it be something else that generates chaos and violence? The destruction of the family? The rise of an entitlement culture?

 The gun grabbers might also want to note another elephant: gun sales and gun ownership have been exploding in the US, yet crime rates, including homicides, have been declining. How could that possibly be? Ignore the elephant, maybe it will go away.

As reported by CNN, even the government of Mexico has jumped in to argue for greater gun restrictions in the US, once again blaming law-abiding American gun owners for the carnage in Mexico. The government of Mexico should do its own elephant hunting, and concentrate on advocating an end to the insane "war on drugs" and, oh yes, demand that the Obama administration hold responsible the politicians and bureaucrats behind "Fast and Furious." One would think that the government of Mexico would have other more pressing things to worry about than my gun collection.

I am in a dark mood.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sorry for the light blogging

Have been remiss in my duties to The Diplomad.

Been preoccupied with other issues and hope to return to to my normal ranting very soon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Consequences of an Obama Foreign Policy "Success"

At best, the Obamistas behave like children when it comes to foreign policy. They get easily enthralled with any new shiny thing that crosses their path; they have no historical knowledge or even medium-term memory. They see something and they want it. A shiny ring in the shop! Break the glass! Destroy all the other merchandise! Get that ring! Once they have the object in their little sweaty hands they, of course, find that the ring is connected to the pin on a grenade  . . . Oops! Oh well, time to go to the next shiny thing . . .

I was reminded of this on reading about French military operations in Mali over the past couple of days. It seems that the British, too, will now get involved in supporting the French in their campaign against Islamist rebels affiliated to Al-Qaeda.  I mentioned this issue before in a Halloween post where I pointed out,
The insanity of Obama's Libya policy gets further underlined when we see that now our clueless Secretary of State has gone to Algeria to seek support for US-French action against the growing threat of Islamic terrorism in Africa, in particular in Mali. There used to be somebody who knew how to keep those crazies under control; his name was Qaddafi. Maybe Hillary should go talk to him . . . oh, yes, I forgot, "We came, we saw, he died!"
The unpleasant drag queen who used to run Libya knew how to keep these groups under control. Instead of working with the old buzzard, we listened to the Europeans, and participated in an insane war to have him removed. By the time we decided that Qaddafi was the devil, he was cooperating with us in the battle against the Islamists, had given up his involvement in international terrorism, and abandoned his WMD program. He was like an old repentant Mafia chieftain who sought to make points with the FBI.  He also, it turned out, preferred dealing with American oil companies than with European ones, the real source of Europe's sudden rage against Loretta of Libya. Back when he was sponsoring terror, the Euros were terrified of him and opposed Reagan's actions against him. When he no longer posed a threat, ah, well . . . time to go to war, well, have the Americans go to war, that is.

As I have noted on many occasions, the surest way to lose American lives and treasure is to listen to the Europeans. Europe has not gotten anything right on the world stage since, well, since . . . well, since at least the French Revolution. How long before we are pulled into the Mali mess?

So now the shiny ring is in Western hands, and guess what? It, indeed, was connected to a grenade. We have Islamists running rampant in Mali and must go about killing them. All a pattern of throwing away successes and seeking defeats.

Elections have consequences.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is Hugo Chavez Schrödinger's Cat?

Back, back, many years ago, back when I thought I might be smart, I took a lot of math, chemistry, and physics classes in college. All my high school friends were math and science wizards, and nearly everyone of them ended up attending CalTech. I wasn't that smart. I went to UCLA, instead, and tried to take a CalTech sort of load there. I learned a great deal, and will always be grateful to the sciences for providing me certain analytical skills which proved very helpful in later life. Having a basic grasp of real science, and not of "Gender Oppression in the Literature of Colonial Africa," can be invaluable in helping debunk enormous quantities of the nonsense in the media and politics, especially when it comes to issues dealing with science, e.g., the imminent death of humanity from overpopulation, global "warming," AIDS, SARS, anthrax, fracking, etc. Two intense years of studying hard science also convinced me that I was not smart enough to study hard science and should instead focus my energies somewhere, let us say, where there weren't as many Jewish and Asian kids. So, I switched to history and political "science" -- it has "science" in it, right? -- went to grad school, an overseas university, and landed a nice little sinecure with the Foreign Service. Dummies can prosper, too!

One topic which helped convince me I wouldn't make it as a scientist was "Schrödinger's Cat." I won't go into detail on that little thought experiment since the internet has lots of good explanations. It also happens to be one of those which I understand for about two seconds, and then it goes away. The bottom line is that under certain circumstances in quantum physics a cat in a sealed box can be dead and alive at the same time. In the "real" world, of course, the cat is one or the other. This helps illustrate what is called either "quantum indeterminacy" or "observer's paradox." The act of observation or measurement can affect the outcome: the outcome does not exist unless the measurement is made, i.e., in this case, opening the box and seeing whether the cat lives. Heisenberg, of course, described a similar phenomenon with his "uncertainty principle," which lays out that an observer cannot know for sure that observation has not influenced the phenomenon under observation. We see this exciting and complex principle at work in "reality" shows. Do people behave the same when the camera is on as when it is off? Yes, my friends, it turns out that "Jersey Shore" actually provides a lesson in quantum physics. Who'd a thunk that? And they say there's no quality TV programming!

This will not be on the test. Let's move on.

This, of course, is a typical round-about Diplomad way of getting to today's topic: Venezuela. Hugo Chavez, following in the footsteps of other dictators and mountebanks, e.g., Stalin, Castro, Tito, Franco, Salazar, the North Korean Kims, and our own Woodrow Wilson (unfair, I know, but funny), keeps the true state of his physical condition from his followers and subjects. He and his immediate circle fear the consequences of the truth, of the people learning that their putative god has not only feet of clay but perhaps also heart, lungs, and kidneys made of the same earthy material. The truth of the Great Man's mortality and impending departure from the scene must be hidden as long as possible to ensure the continuation of the circle of graft and corruption, and that the oppression machine remains operational. We see that at work in Venezuela. The Great Man has slinked away to a sealed box in Havana for the "finest" medical care his petrodollars can buy--he most likely has, as did Castro, European doctors attending him.

{Note: I strongly recommend my friend Luis Fleischman's excellent piece on the struggle among the elite for the future of Venezuela in The Americas Report.}

Like a weird Schrödinger's cat, Chavez is both dead and alive at the same time. With time, of course, observation will reveal the "objective" state of the Great Man's condition. Don't, of course, put it past the Venezuelan corruptocrats and their Cuban backers to try some El Cid Campeador stunt: dead but suited up in his armor and astride his faithful horse Babieca to frighten the besieging Moors. It is, however, all a matter of time for the smell of putrefaction to reveal the truth about what is happening in Venezuela.

My condolences to Sean Penn and Oliver Stone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Continuing Appeal of Marxism

You would think they would stop, wouldn't you? How many times do their little schemes fail, and yet they keep coming back for another try? I am talking about the lefties of our world, the ones who still can't bring themselves to say Socialism and Communism are bad ideas with a long, brutal, and public track record to prove it.

One would have thought that with the inglorious death of the USSR, the Don of The International Marxist Mafia, its foul ideology would have vanished never to blight the planet again. Not so. Granted, with the Soviet demise, international Marxism in the form we knew it for nearly the entire 20th century did die. The forces, however, that fathered and nurtured Marxism did not die, and remain alive and well. Those, of course, are envy, resentment, and fear of competition. Those forces won Obama re-election, and are sweeping through the rest of the western world like a new Black Plague--e.g., see what is happening in France.

The envious, resentful, and fearful of the world found and find in Marxism's pseudo-scientific babel analysis and language an "explanation" for any event. If it did nothing else, Marxism "explained" why nothing was the fault of the envious, resentful, and fearful: the rich were rich, because they made the poor, poor; the successful succeeded because they made those who failed, fail. Old Marxism also fed the egos and provided a way for otherwise frustrated and failed "intellectuals" to pursue Napoleonic dreams. Vast conspiratorial forces oppress mankind; these forces can be exposed and defeated only by and with the leadership of an enlightened elite who will lead the wretched of the earth to the socialist promised land, and then, of course, rule over them to make sure the old habits do not return.

The USSR's end forced the envious, resentful, and fearful and their leaders to adapt, transform, fracture and downgrade a belief system that had "explained" everything into less-satisfying sub-sets, each focused on a particular topic: most prominently, feminism, environmentalism and the rapidly growing one of "international law." Despite their seemingly different concerns, all these sub-sets shared much in common, to wit, at their core lay anti-capitalist, anti-American and increasingly anti-Semitic emotions disguised as analytical constructs. Over the past twenty or so years, we have seen these different strands re-meld into the Anti-Globalization Movement (AGM) and its many subsets, e.g., Occupy Wall Street, and the Democratic Party. While it doesn't have the military force behind it of the old Marxism, nor has it yet formulated a clear vision of the world with which it seeks to replace the current world (there is no AGM Das Kapital), it shares with old-time Marxism a reliance on pseudo-science and a vanguard elite. Also from Marxism come much of its language and tactics, as well as the goals of disrupting economic development of the capitalist kind and bringing down the United States and the global order it dominated until recently--until the US, itself, has joined in the assault.

One particularly interesting sub-set of the AGM with which I have had some personal experience,is the grouping that encompasses "movements" for the "rights of the indigenous."

Having served and visited extensively in Central and South American countries with large "indigenous" populations, I can state that America's "indigenous" cultures largely ceased to exist hundreds of years ago: "indigenous" culture today means rural poverty. As the saying goes, "I was born at night, but not last night," so even I understand, therefore, that calling to protect "indigenous culture,"as we see in Ecuador, really means seeking to preserve rural poverty; to keep people poor, sick, illiterate, and isolated from the great and small wonders of our age. It means helping condemn them to superstition, disease, and of watching their puny children struggle to live past the age of five. It's a call to keep certain people as an ethnic curio on the shelf for the enjoyment of European and North American anthropologists or, equally vile, as exploitable pawns for the use of political activists.

When I hear these calls, I think, "We don't protect rural poverty in the USA. Western man no longer lives in caves or trees, terrorized by solar eclipses and at the mercy of an unforgiving environment. Why should these people? Why should humans live little better than animals in disease-infested jungles, or exposed on cold, wind-swept plains?" It proves amazing, for example, to see how much effort "pro-indigenous activists," often themselves urban upper-class types or foreigners, expend on "land reform." Instead of working to develop an economy where land ownership does not determine whether one lives or dies, the activists seek to chain the "indigenous" to, at best, a brutal life of scratching out a living on postage stamp-size plots of land. Often land reform involves "giving" the rural poor these plots but without the right to sell or use them to secure loans from banks. The poverty and hopelessness increase.

This segues to one of the great and evil myths promulgated by activists, i.e., the Native Americans' love for the land. As one Minnesota activist told me, "they would rather die than give up their contact with Mother Earth." Really? You can believe that if you want, but everywhere I've gone in Latin America, rural people seek to head for the city, or, even better, the USA. They want medicine, Coca-Cola, TVs, cars, motorcycles, corn flakes, and indoor plumbing -- they want to live like the activists do in Minnesota. Those who stay on the land, in particular the men, do not radiate any particular love for the land, the flora, the fauna, or each other. They fish with dynamite and mercury; burn or cut huge tracts of forest; treat their "sacred lakes" as sewers; drink themselves stupid; and engage in often lethal fights and horrendous cruelty towards women, children and animals. In other words, they behave as uneducated, poor people have throughout all history and all cultures. Note to activists: the "indigenous" are human.

The foreign activists are particularly loathsome; they invent and distort history, introducing distinctly 20th and 21st century concepts into the study of pre-Colombian cultures and their remnants. Worse, these activists seek to manipulate poor people for their own political agenda, and often get them killed in pursuit of "liberation theology" or some other fashionable cliche. They overwhelm and corrupt legitimate "indigenous" activists with money, trips, attention, and promises of fame. In exchange, the once-legitimate local activist becomes a servant of Americas Watch, Amnesty International, etc., required to produce ever more dire stories and accusations. Or they merely make up a leader for the "indigenous"; the most famous being Guatemala's Rigoberta Menchu Tum -- virtually unknown inside Guatemala (having lived most of her life abroad); a creation of European Marxists; a tool of Guatemala's Communist URNG insurgency; a pro-Castro hater of the USA; an "author" of a major hoax; and, as you would expect in such cases, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The foreign activists appear like a modern version of the ancient Jewish legend of the Golem to save the people, end up creating havoc . . . and then, went it all comes crashing down they run to their Embassies flashing US or European passports, gaining safety and fame as modern Joans of Arc, leaving the "indigenous" to take the hit.

These same impulses we see at work in the Obama administration and among its envious, resentful, and fearful followers. The motto "You didn't build that!" is quite real for them. They cannot accept that enterprising individuals risk their capital, their health, and their time in pursuit of a dream, and that they earn the rewards that come from that--if and when they come. For the Obamistas, as with the old Marxists of the last century, legitimacy comes from the public sector. It is the government, in the hands of the enlightened elite, that will decide how much we get to keep, on what we can spend it, and, of course, seek to deny us the right to defend ourselves. They want to destroy all independent sources of power and influence, and remove every conceivable limit on the power of the state--as long as it is in the hands of an "educated" elite who knows what is best, and knows how to make irrevocable changes in the social, educational, and cultural fibre of a nation.

Nothing I have seen over the past several months and years can convince me that better times lie ahead. The Marxist virus goes dormant, mutates, and re-emerges.

Monday, January 7, 2013

One Last Re-Run . . . Maybe

This was a "parody" I posted October 13, 2004, of an "interview" with then Presidential candidate John Kerry. Following his well-deserved loss to George W. Bush in November of that year, I had hopes that we would not hear again from this particular Massachusetts fraud (so many from that state!) It, however, seems he will become the next SecState unless the GOP stands tough (insert groan, here).

I am amazed when I hear otherwise sane people tell me of Kerry's great qualifications to be SecState. He is a total hoax. He knows nothing about foreign affairs, and has throughout his career shown an antipathy towards his own country that puts him in the ranks of, well, Obama.

Anyhow, here is the just slightly off parody I wrote over eight years ago. Still rings pretty accurate, even if I say so myself.

Hope it still brings a chuckle  . . . or an outburst of anger.

I will try to do something new; been caught up with all sorts of family stuff that has gotten in the way of my goofing off on the internet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Kerry Interview with "Word War II Magazine" (A Parody -- Just Barely)

We have noticed that John F. Kerry loves to connect with each and every American -- no matter what you do, he's done it, too. We see, therefore, the Swiss-educated Kerry when he's among dairy farmers in the Midwest, well, gosh, he grew up riding a tractor! When he's interviewed by an outdoors magazine, well, don't you know? He owns an AK and hunts deer with a shotgun while crawling on his belly through the woods! He gets asked by the ASPCA for comments about his favorite pet and, gosh, suddenly there was this dog named VC who flew off his patrol boat in Vietnam . . . and then there was that SCUBA-diving hamster. And so on and on. So in that spirit we drafted an interview of Kerry by "World War II History" magazine. We provide it free of charge for the Kerry campaign and for Dan Rather to use.

WWII: Senator Kerry, what would you like WWII veterans to know about you?

JFK: Well, I want them to know that I appreciate their service. That I know what it's like to carry the fight to the enemy in an unpopular war. I know what it's like to patrol the desert, not knowing whether behind the next thatched-roof hut, some crazed Italian Fascist is going to jump you and your patrol boat. I've been there, I guess, that's what I would want the vets to know. I understand what it was like to come home to no ticker-tape parades, to being called a "war criminal reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

WWII: Unpopular war? Desert? Patrol boat? Genghis Khan? Uh, Senator . . .

JFK: I know what it's like to storm the beaches at Normandy. I know about the sacrifices of our brave women and men at Normandy on that June 6, fighting side-by-side, climbing those cliffs together, men and women, white and black; Asian and Hispanic; Jew, Gentile, Muslim, Buddhist, and Scientologist; I was there, I know.

WWII: You were . . .

JFK: Yes, they came from all fifty states, I was especially proud of the veterans from the swing states of Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Colorado and the second district of Maine.

WWII: Fifty states? In 1944 there were only . . .

JFK: I know what it's like to be at the controls of a B-29. I remember when I was the pilot of the Enola Gay. Of course in those days we had to call it Enola Sissy or Enola Homosexual, we didn't have the word "Gay," yet, not that there's anything wrong with an alternative lifestyle, and I was glad to fly a plane dedicated to Gay and Lesbian American fighting men . . .

WWII: Senator, you flew the Enola Gay? Uh, lesbian fighting men . . .

JFK: Nothing wrong with having lesbian fighting men. Nothing wrong, and I have consistently said so, I have never flip-flopped on this issue, there is nothing wrong with fighting men liking women.

WWII: Senator, uh . . .

JFK: I remember that Christmas in 1945, when I was over the skies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it's seared into my memory, seared, I tell you, wondering as a young man defending America as I would defend her as President, wondering, if I die what my parents would be told. I knew President Hoover was denying that Americans were bombing Japan, and yet, there I was, there I was. What would they tell my parents? But I didn't die, I came back to tell the truth about the war and I am proud of what I said and did. I know people criticized me for reading Ezra Pound, but he was telling truth to power. The Germans didn't attack Pearl Harbor! We all knew it then, it was the worst kept secret imaginable, and yet there we were dropping bombs on Germany and Germans, huge armies invading Germany, removing a democratically elected leader, who, I'll admit, sure he wasn't my cup of tea, but if we were going to remove him, why not remove Mussolini, why not invade Italy, too? We pushed away our Vichy French allies and suffered 90% of the casualties on the Western Front. The state of New York contributed more troops than did Swaziland to the liberation of Europe. Do you call that an alliance? We had to bribe the Australians to join us, coerce the British, too.

WWII: The Australians and the British? They were in it since 1939. Uh, I think we need to end . . .

JFK: I want America's World War II veterans to know that I will never send them back to a war in Europe or the Pacific without a plan to win the peace. Look, 60 years later and we still have troops in Japan and Germany. Where's the plan? Where's the plan? I have a plan, yes, I have a plan.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


My daughter visited us during her college break. An ardent dog lover, she has never adjusted to our home being dogless since the death some 18 months ago of Kody, our loyal and much beloved Rottweiler.  She worked me over good, and got me to visit the local dog pound.

OK, here begins my education in euphemisms and things politically correct. The "dog pound" is no longer called the "dog pound." It now has the title "Animal Shelter." I also discovered that one no longer "picks up a dog at the pound," one "adopts a family companion."  Here in the snooty very tony piece of Southern California where I temporarily reside, the Animal Shelter, impeccably clean, boasting some beautiful grounds, and staffed by very nice and very earnest volunteers, must conduct a background check to see if you are going to provide a good home.  It certainly seems more intense and thorough than the ones that let Kim Philby and Felix Block through. The Rosenbergs, certainly, would never have gotten close to any atomic secrets. The Soviets would not have gotten the bomb quite so easily had these folks been on duty in the Manhattan Project.

Another thing I learned while at the pound shelter: the dogs and cats there are not "strays," these are "rescue" animals. Now, to me a rescue dog is a giant St. Bernard who digs you out of an avalanche in Zermatt and delivers a little flask of brandy, or a big Alsatian who tackles the kidnappers trying to force you into their van in downtown Karachi, or Lassie saving Timmy from a well. It seems, of course, that now "rescue" has a different meaning. These are dogs and cats that you rescue from whatever fate eventually awaits them at the shelter--this one, by the way, proudly boasts that, unlike the ones run by those phonies at PETA, it is a "no kill" facility.

Anyhow, we walked around the facility, which oddly enough had Wagner booming from speakers throughout the grounds. Kind of eerie, no? The Diplowife noted that if they started playing "Götterdämmerung," we were to run for the car.

We surveyed the inmates, of which there were precious few given that there had been a Christmas adoption rush. I was struck, once again, by the difference between cats and dogs. The cats had a hard non-pleading stare; they seemed to defy you to open the cage. If it were a prison, they would be the lifers, remorseless serial killers with bloodcurdling  tats under their fur. One cat, in particular, had the hardest, meanest stare I have seen on any living being. It was the yellow-eyed stuff of childhood nightmares; I think it would have frightened even Jacques Tourneur.

The dogs, mostly, had pathetic stares of the "why-are-you-doing-this-to-me?" variety. In prison they would have, appropriately enough, played the "bitch." I, however, was struck by one dog: a one-year old, 50 lb. red-brown pitbull mix, who had honey colored eyes, and an arrogant stare that saw right through you. This was her third shelter in her brief life. She must have been around cats a lot as she had adopted their tactic of ignoring your presence. Her eyes were firmly glued on the vast outdoors behind us, not on the stupid antics we were using to get her attention.

I don't know. I might have to go back for that one. Don't know if the Diplowife will approve. She probably doesn't want any competition in the ignoring me contest.

A Parody

A little fun I had back in September 2004, making fun of the NY Times, and other lefties, who decried the reasons for going to war against Saddam. Wrote something about a post-WWII investigation in the same style.

I present a parody . . . just barely, that is.

Flash! NY Times Discovers Germans Did Not Attack Pearl Harbor 
New York Times headline September 4, 1946:



September 4, 1946, Washington, DC -- New York Times reporters got an exclusive look at the still-classified report of the Commission looking into the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, an attack President Truman and his late predecessor Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted was carried out by forces under the control of the Japanese Government. The attack was used to justify war not only against Japan but against Germany and Italy, as well. It also served as justification for the creation of secret military tribunals to try so-called German "spies and saboteurs" and to imprison large numbers of Asian-Americans.

According to the documents viewed by Times reporters and to aides close to the investigation, the Commission found no evidence of "any German or Italian involvement in the attack" and could not definitively conclude that the attack was, in fact, carried out with the full knowledge of Japan's civilian leader, Mr. Hirohito. "We have to withhold judgment," said one aide familiar with the Commission, "as to whether Mr. Hirohito ordered the attack or it was carried out by rogue elements perhaps within the Japanese Navy." The aide further noted, "We continue to be troubled by some indications that the White House knew of the impending attack, but, most troubling, we have seen absolutely no evidence that the democratically elected civilian leader of Germany at that time, Mr. Hitler, or the democratically elected leader of Italy, Mr. Mussolini, had any involvement or even foreknowledge of the attack. In addition, we also remain disturbed by the fact that US and British investigators have been unable to find any German weapons of mass destruction (WMD)." The argument that Germany was developing atomic weapons served as justification for the expensive Manhattan Project, which developed atomic weapons for the US. For as yet unexplained reasons the atomic bombs were not used against Caucasian Europeans but only against Asian Japanese.

According to observers, the twin failures to find German WMDs and evidence linking the Germans or the Italians to the Pearl Harbor attack "gravely undermine" FDR's stated reasons for going to war with the Axis Powers, particularly in the absence of League of Nations approval. Another aide noted, "It's hard to argue that Germany or Italy posed an imminent threat to the United States. I mean, none of us likes what some Germans allegedly did to some Jews, but that hardly justifies the unilateral actions of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Poland, South Africa, Netherlands, New Zealand, China, Russia, and some others. They should have at a minimum gone to the League and made their case there. And, of course, the line about spreading freedom is nonsense. We certainly saw no cheering in the streets of Berlin and Tokyo when our troops arrived and over a year after the war we still have troops in Japan, Italy, France, the UK, Korea, and Germany. In fact, the war could be seen as a distraction from the struggle for freedom and democracy. We, of course, have not dealt with Peron in Argentina or Franco in Spain. Those regimes continue to pose a threat to freedom, one which the Administration is not addressing because of the distraction created by waging war against Germany, Italy and Japan."

The Commission acknowledged the Administration's claim that Germany allegedly declared war on the United States but could find no "credible documentary evidence" that such a "declaration" was approved by Mr. Hitler, himself, or that he had consulted with Mr. Mussolini or Mr. Hirohito. According to a staff memorandum, "The State Department provided Commission members a diplomatic note allegedly from the German Embassy in Washington stating that Germany was declaring war on the United States. The Commission, however, was unable to verify the authenticity of the note, the chain of custody of this 'evidence,' or whether the democratically elected civilian leaders of Germany had authorized such a note."

The memorandum also noted that the Administration's failure to find Mr. Hitler and produce him for the Commission hampered efforts to authenticate the note. The staff memo went on to fault the US Administration for not checking more carefully on this issue, "before rushing into war with Germany." It also noted that Mr. Mussolini was denied a fair trial and that his civil and human rights might have been violated by being hanged and spat upon in public, "the US as the occupying power had the responsibility to protect Mr. Mussolini."

The Commission report would seem to support the prewar position of former Ambassador to Britain Mr. Joseph Kennedy who saw the war as "an unnecessary one, an elective one, and one carried out to favor powerful defense contractors and the Jewish lobby. The guy in the wheelchair lied!" Observers also have found very damning the Commission's conclusion that the German ideology of Aryan supremacy and the Japanese belief in the supremacy of the Asian race precluded any possibility that these two "fundamentally opposed ideologies" could have collaborated. Mr. Kennedy and other experts noted that to believe otherwise one also would have to accept that "Nazi Germans and Communist Soviets" could have reached an agreement. Expert observers have discounted rumors of a prewar Nazi-Soviet Pact as unfounded, and the product of "either faulty intelligence or the Jewish lobby."

Noted anti-war activist and feminist documentary-maker Leni Riefenstahl has announced that she and Mr. Kennedy will produce a film titled “Celsius 12-7: The Temperature of Lies” which will expose the falsehoods that led America into war with Germany.

This report, according to experts consulted by the Times, will cost Mr. Truman the 1948 election.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Another January Re-Run: The Vulture Elite

I originally ran this post on January 7, 2005, when I was stationed in Indonesia and working on tsunami relief. If you ever want to get cynical, better said, if you want a reality check on how international organizations, especially the UN, use your money, see them at work in a crisis.  As it turned out, that post ended on an overly optimistic note re the attitude of the Third World towards the UN.

Friday, January 07, 2005
The High Priest Vulture Elite

"Warning to Potential Readers of this Posting:  The Chief Diplomad is just back from the office. It's 4 am. Mosquitoes are everywhere. The internet is painfully slow. Your "friendly" Chief Diplomad's plan to move on to another set of duties, for now, has fallen by the roadside. He must remain in the current job. The local Guardian correspondent has called the Embassy; he is doing a negative story on the US relief effort based on "information" provided by the UN at a press conference. The Diplomad is in a dark, dark mood. So, of course, just as anyone else would do in such circumstances, The Diplomad writes about the UN.  End of Warning.

Many years ago, as we prepared our return to a tough posting in the Far Abroad after leave in the States, our son asked, "Do we have to go back to the 'turd' world?" That phrase, "redolent" with the wisdom possessed only by children, has stayed with me over these passing years. My son was right about the 'turd' world. What tips you off that you have arrived in a poor country, a truly, genuinely dirt-poor corner of the Far Abroad, is the smell. As you leave the airport, you notice a special "exotic" odor of rotting vegetation, garbage, and feces combined with a slight whiff of smoke. Once you're there a bit, you no longer notice. When you leave and come back, it slams you all over again. The kid was right: we had been and still do live in the "Turd World."

This Embassy has been running 24/7 since the December 26 earthquake and tsunami. Along with my colleagues, I've spent the past several days dealing non-stop with various aspects of the relief effort in this tsunami-affected country. That work, unfortunately, has brought ever-increasing contact with the growing UN presence in this capital; in fact, we've found that to avoid running into the UN, we must go out to where the quake and tsunami actually hit. As we come up on two weeks since the disaster struck, the UN is still not to be seen where it counts -- except when holding well-staged press events. Ah, yes, but the luxury hotels are full of UN assessment teams and visiting big shots from New York, Geneva, and Vienna. The city sees a steady procession of UN Mercedes sedans and top-of-the-line SUV's -- a fully decked out Toyota Landcruiser is the UN vehicle of choice; it doesn't seem that concerns about "global warming" and preserving your tax dollars run too deep among the UNocrats.

Sitting VERY late for two consecutive nights in interminable meetings with UN reps, hearing them go on about "taking the lead coordination role," pledges, and the impending arrival of this or that UN big shot or assessment/coordination team, for the millionth time I realized that if not for Australia and America almost nobody in the tsunami-affected areas would have survived more than a few days. If we had waited for the UNocrats to get their act coordinated, the already massive death toll would have become astronomical. But, fortunately, thanks to "retrograde racist war-mongers " such as John Howard and George W. Bush, as we sat in air conditioned meeting rooms with these UNocrats, young Australians and Americans were at that moment "coordinating" without the UN and saving the lives of tens-of-thousands of people.

Seeing these UNocrats perched at the table, whispering to each other, back-slapping, shaking hands, they seemed like a periodic reunion of old cynical Mafia chieftains or mercenaries who run into each other in different hot spots, as they move from one slaughter to another, "How are you? Haven't seen you since Bosnia . . .." As the hours wore on, however, and I nervously doodled in my note pad, shifted in my chair, looked at my watch, and thought about all the real work I had to do that evening, I decided that, no, labeling them mafiosos or mercenaries was much too kind. They seemed more to be the progeny resulting from a mating between a mad oracle and a giant carrion-eater. They were akin to some sort of ancient mythical Greco-Roman-Aztec-Wes Craven-Egyptian-bird-god that demands constant sacrifice and feeding, and speaks in riddles which only it can solve. Yes, I decided, the UNocrats are great hideous vultures, roused from their caves in the European Alps and in the cement canyons and peaks of Manhattan by the stench of death. They leisurely take flight toward that odor; circle, and then swoop down, screeching UNintelligble nonsense. They arrive and immediately force others, e.g., the American taxpayer, to build them new exclusive nests in the midst of poverty, and make themselves fat on the flesh of the dead. My friends, allow The Diplomad to present to you The High Priest Vulture Elite (HPVE).

These genuinely repulsive, arrogant creatures survive only because the world's rich countries, the non-Turd World, allow them, too. We in the First World find it politically impossible to reveal their pronouncements as the cant they are. For many in Europe and among the New York Times crowd, helping maintain these mad vultures substitutes for genuine action, "The UN is on the job!" In addition, for many senior bureaucrats and minor politicians, there is always the hope that if they play the game right, they, too, can join the High Priest Vulture Elite: We see the ranks of the HPVE full of Scandinavians and leftist Americans, and the occasional pompous Euro-Brazilian, all of whom parlayed mediocre domestic careers of lip-biting humanitarian symbolism into well-paying tax-free sinecures in the HPVE.

Who are the victims? Well, of course, the tax payers of the First World come immediately to mind. But really, after all, for us it's just money. Money comes and goes. The big victims of the HPVE are the world's poor countries who pay with the lives of their children; who get diverted by HPVE mumbo jumbo and its promises of aid and technical assistance from taking actions to develop their own countries and fend off the HPVE.

This is not complete, but the hour is late (please forgive spelling/grammatical errors.) Let me post this now. The Diplomad will get some sleep, then -- as time allows --continue examining the HPVE in subsequent postings, in particular, how the Third World appears gradually to be waking up to the fact that the HPVE exists only to exist."

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Reprise on Cultural Relativism

Following is a little piece I posted January 9, 2005, after a particularly brutal day working on tsunami relief. I think it's still relevant. Hope to write some new stuff this week-end.

Hope you enjoy it . . . . and don't find it too cynical and despairing.

"Regular readers of our little blog know that The Diplomad can get obsessed by certain topics. In the past, such obsessions have included John "XMAS in Cambodia" Kerry; the State Department personnel system; the many manifestations of anti-Americanism around the world; UNICEF; and the loopy enviro-indigenous movement. Of late, of course, The Diplomad has been obsessed with the genuinely grotesque horror of watching the UN in "action" as it reacts to the devastating quake and tsunami that hit large parts of southern Asia, December 26. This horrid Boxing Day event has prompted The Diplomad to engage in another obsession: reflecting on life and death in mean corners of the world.

The Diplomad has written previously on the Saber-toothed Tiger Law of Life which, in essence, dictates that nature meant for us to be tiger lunch by the age of 40, give or take a year or so. For those of us in the First World and those in the Turd World with access, however, modern science, technology and the free enterprise system have pushed our ability to exist well-beyond our original design specifications. The history of modern man is one of fighting Mother Nature and her nefarious plans for us as individuals; we are not content with ensuring that the human species as a whole survive, we also insist on ensuring that human individuals survive. No other species does that; in fact, as we will discuss, much of non-Western mankind still doesn't either.

We have all heard how the quake-tsunami that has cost perhaps as many as 160,000 lives, thus far, has produced an unprecedented outpouring of global generosity. But has it, really? As we have tried to document, for example, the UN bureaucracy has not shown itself particularly concerned with saving lives, but more with preserving its status as a politically correct over-paid elite. But even more troubling than the antics of the increasingly incompetent, cynical and irrelevant UN has been the tepid or non-existent response to the disaster from the majority of mankind, including from citizens within the most affected countries.

In Western countries, we see not only governments pledging sizable sums of money, but private individuals, as well. I can't count, for example, the number of letters, emails, and calls we have received from private Americans wanting to help in anyway they can to save lives. All across America, Australia, and Europe private citizens have raised enormous sums for tsunami relief. Local branches of American companies have raised large amounts of money and donated expensive machinery and other supplies to the effort. At the Embassy, we have seen American staff voluntarily cancel leave plans (often at considerable financial cost); cut short vacations; and volunteer for duties such as manning phones in our 24 hr. opcenter; helping load and unload trucks and C-130s; or spending days working and sleeping under exceptionally grim conditions in the areas most affected. And, of course, Australian and American military personnel, at great monetary cost and personal risk, have led the way in the massive relief effort underway.

I see, however, no outpouring of support in most of the world's countries. The oil-rich Arabs? Where are they? But most frustrating and even angering is the lack of concern exhibited by average and elite members of the societies most directly affected. This was driven home in the course of an interminable meeting a few days ago discussing some silly resolution or another calling on the UN to appoint a "Special Representative for Tsunami Relief." A relatively senior Sri Lankan official leaned over and said to me, "Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." A nice compliment, I suppose, but on reflection a sad commentary not only about the rest of the world but presumably about Sri Lanka, itself. One would expect the affected countries to take the lead in relief efforts. None of the most seriously affected countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives) is a dirt poor country; all have well-established governments and national identities.

In Jakarta, aside from flags at half-staff, we have seen no signs of mourning for the victims: while employees and dependents of the American embassy spent their holiday loading trucks and putting together medicine kits, the city's inhabitants went ahead with New Year's parties; nightclubs and shopping centers are full; and regular television programming continues. At least 120,000 of their fellow countrymen are dead, and Indonesians hardly talk about it, much less engage in massive charitable efforts. The exceptionally wealthy businessmen of the capital -- and the country boasts several billionaires -- haven't made large donations to the cause of Sumatran relief; a few scattered NGOs have done a bit, but there are no well-organized drives to raise funds and supplies. We have seen nothing akin to what happened in the USA following the 9/11 atrocity, or the hurricanes in Florida of this past year.

The Sri Lankan's words echo in my mind every day, ""Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." With the exception of a handful of Western countries, most of the world would appear inhabited by the sort of Eloi-type creatures depicted in that old sci-fi flick based on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, passively watching as flood waters or Morlocks drag their fellows away.

Begging the pardon of the cultural relativists, but might we not be allowed to raise -- ever so gently, of course -- the possibility that these differing reactions to human suffering, show Western civilization as the best we have on the planet? Maybe, just maybe Western civilization is morally superior."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tallying the Body Count: Bad Ideas vs. Good Guns

Oh, come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Me say come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Listening to the radio and just heard that old classic, "The Banana Boat," sung by that old Communist sympathizer Harry Belafonte. His politics stink to high heaven, but the man can sing--or could, or perhaps on occasion could, I mean if you're into Calypso. Some 40 or so years ago, as a young student at UCLA, I got peer pressured into seeing him at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. He, of course, sang the "Banana" song and a few others, and then spent much of his stage time talking politics. We got harangued on South Africa, Vietnam, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, the Cold War, Mississippi, capitalism . . . on and on. Over the years, he remained a faithful useful idiot even as every scheme in which he believed exploded or produced a greater horror than it replaced. I ran into him some 25 years ago at the UN when UNICEF named him a "Goodwill Ambassador." He had a press conference badmouthing US President Reagan and Ambassador Walters for not having congratulated him--Walters refused to call Belafonte, considering him, rightfully so, virulently anti-Reagan and anti-American.

Harry Belafonte, of course, popped up in the news lately advocating jail for Republicans, and showing that he remains faithful to his now departed Soviet idols. He, therefore, got me thinking about guns and something else.

For liberals, the second amendment is a big embarrassment. They cannot accept that private ownership of firearms is in there with the rights to assembly, speech, religion, etc., as a crucial limit on the power of the government over the individual. The second amendment is not about hunting or target shooting: it is about freedom, about denying the government a monopoly on the means of violence, just as the first amendment denies the government a monopoly on expression and thought.

Are there abuses of freedom in a free society? Sure. Are all gun owners responsible? No. Are all who express political, social, economic, religious, or cultural views responsible? No.

So, folks, time to get "Mister tally man" to come to town. Let's see which freedom poses more danger to the public: that of  holding and promoting bad ideas, or that of holding and promoting the right to bear arms. I am not kidding. This is an idea for some serious research, and I offer some preliminary thoughts triggered by a little conversation I had with a German diplomat 30 years ago in Guatemala.

This very nice German diplomat came to the Embassy for a visa to go to Miami on vacation. I was in a cranky Republican mood and this kindly gentleman stumbled into my crosshairs. He said he feared going to Miami because of press reports on carjackings in pre-concealed carry Florida. There had been a couple of foreign tourists killed. He said "This would never happen in Germany. There are no guns there."

I rose to the bait, "There are also no Jews there precisely because of that. If every old Rabbi accosted by the SA, the SS, the Gestapo, or other party thugs had met his tormentor with a locked and loaded Luger or Walther, instead of with the resigned wisdom of three thousand years of philosophy, I wonder how long that Nazi party would have gone on?"

The same, of course, could have been said about the Klan in our own country: what if every black they went after had met them on the steps of his home with a loaded shotgun or pistol? What if the racists had not taken away the right of law abiding blacks in some parts of the country to bear arms (Note: This continues today, e.g., Chicago)? How many of the 5-6000 lynchings would have occurred? How many innocents would be dead in the gang wars of major cities? All this points to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, who understood the critical role of guns in promoting and protecting civil and human rights, including the right to life.

What about bad ideas? My motto: People don't kill people, people armed with bad ideas kill people. Communism has killed nearly 100 million people. Nazism, exclusive of the war dead, killed about 21 million, including nearly six million Jews. I have never seen numbers for the dead caused by well-meaning socialist schemes such as nationalized medicine, but do remember a few years ago when some 15,000 people, mostly elderly, died in France in one August because the temperature went up a few degrees; the doctors and ambulance drivers in the national medical system were on vacation. I still, however, run into people who think Communism is the way to go; the Nazis weren't so bad; and the government should run our health system. We also have people who so fear guns that they cannot understand why "gun free" Chicago, England, and Wales have higher homicide rates than "gun infested" Utah. In other words, we have lots of Harry Belafonte clones out there, and they are not silent.

I think, therefore,  it's time to revoke the first amendment. We must work to ban bad ideas. All ideas must be registered. There must be background checks run on all those proposing ideas. There must be a mandatory waiting period before any idea can be held. The ACLU must be considered a terrorist organization, and its followers jailed.

We must do it for the children!

Please, think of the children!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Duck Hunting of a Sort

One of the joys of the old Foreign Service was the relatively loose attitude by officialdom towards personal weapons. State had no set rules. Each embassy had its own policy. In general, we had to obey local laws, but other than that, whatever the Ambassador did not prohibit we could have.

Before bidding on an assignment, I would check post policy towards firearms, refusing to bid on any overseas position that required me to surrender my second amendment rights. I, therefore, never served in Europe, and spent my life in much more interesting places. One such was Bolivia, where I served three years as political counselor. When assigned, I notified the embassy that I would ship my arsenal. Neither the Ambassador nor the security officer (RSO) objected. I received instructions on how to send the guns; they got to Bolivia several days before I did, and awaited me in boxes in the living room of our La Paz residence. Christmas in July!

About La Paz. This grim and dusty city sits in a deep bowl in the Andes. The altitude ranges from just over 13,000 to just below 10,000 feet above sea level. The rich people tend to gather towards the bottom of the bowl, and the poor dwell in shabby shacks along the sides. Our house was at about the 10,000-foot level. It took some people a long and difficult time to adapt to existence at that altitude--and some never did. We never knew who would do well. We had very fit people get violently ill and have to leave, and had total slobs do well. I fell somewhere in the middle, most of the time.

Before I get to today's breathless tale of breathless adventure in the breathless Far Abroad, let me relate a macabre little vignette that tells you something about life in breathless La Paz. While duty officer one night, I got a call from the front desk clerk of a major downtown hotel. He had an angry cab driver who wanted to get paid for taking an American Embassy official from El Alto airport to the hotel. I asked why the official hadn't paid the cabbie. The clerk said, "He's dead." As it turned out, the "official" was a contractor for USAID. He had gotten into the cab at El Alto, over 13,000 feet altitude, and headed down to La Paz. He had died in the back seat of the cab from a heart attack brought on by the altitude. His did not prove the only altitude-related death I had to handle during my tour in Bolivia--one was almost mine.

I had been in country not quite two days when a couple of my new colleagues invited me on a duck hunt. It was cold, July is winter in Bolivia, and I was far from acclimatized to the weather or the altitude, but could never pass up a duck hunting trip. I unpacked my beautiful, custom-made, Spanish over-under 12 gauge, and got my ammo, jacket, boots, water, food, etc. After a long sleepless night, the cold and lack of oxygen made sleep impossible, very early next morning, shivering, I waited in my driveway to get picked up.

We drove to about 13,000 feet, maybe higher, and got out of the Jeep at the foot of an earthen dam. One of my fellow hunters said, "Sorry, I didn't mention it before. We have to climb to the top. There's a lake up there. Are you up for that?" I really don't know how high the dam was, but to me it looked like the Hoover Dam. Being a red blooded American male, however, I could not let on that I would have a problem scampering up that steep wall of dirt and rocks. Off we went. It was very cold, the air was thin, the sun at that altitude doesn't warm but pricks the skin, I had been in country for maybe 48 hours, had way too much gear, and, and . . . and, well, you guessed it. I was soon a mess. I barely got to the top of the dam when my legs buckled, leaving me on my knees, gasping like a landed fish. My friends got very concerned about me, which, of course, as a red blooded American male, made me feel worse and somewhat angry. I told them to go ahead; I would rest a bit and join them later. They helped me to some shade to get me out of that harsh irritating sunlight. I kept insisting that they should go, that I would be fine, that I wasn't really seeing the Angel of Death . . . so they left to look for ducks along the lakeshore.

I have never been as sick in my life. I won't get too graphic but suffice it to say that I spewed from everywhere one can spew. I thought for sure that my "brilliant" career would end in a puddle of bodily fluids on an earthen dam in Bolivia. "Death from stupidity." Not an uplifting tombstone inscription.

After what seemed a lengthy visit, the Angel of Death left my side to call on others. I began to feel a little better. Drank some Gatorade, took slow deep breaths, cleaned up with water from the lake . . . and, of course, lit a cigar. That Honduran Macanudo sent another invitation to the Angel of Death, who returned in eager anticipation of making his quota for the day. Another round of sickness and thoughts of suicide. All that, too, eventually passed, and while weak, I felt better. I made a pillow of my backpack, lay my shotgun across my chest, and dozed off.

Some time passed, and I awoke. My vision cleared. I gradually remembered where I was, and then . . . I saw them. There, right there: two of them, two of the biggest ducks I ever saw, not more than ten feet away! They had not seen me since I lay in the shade and they sat in the bright noon sun. I very slowly, inch by inch, slid my shotgun down to my waist, pointed it in their general direction, and fired both barrels in rapid succession, almost losing control of the gun as it recoiled. Success! Both ducks got knocked some distance, and lay dead at the water's edge. I turned onto my stomach, and using the gun as a crutch got to my feet. I wobbled over to the lifeless birds, collected them, put them in a game bag, and returned to my shady patch where I lay down again and slept the sleep of the victor.

My two friends returned near sundown sin patos, I would note. They were stunned when I showed them my two battered beauties.

Those proved the worst tasting ducks--the most foul fowl?--I ever ate: tough muscular beasts with the smell and the taste of mud. Bolivian ducks, of course, live at high altitude and feed off some sort of semi-arctic grass. My honor, nevertheless, was restored, so what's a little mud down the gullet compared to that. Being a red blooded American male has requirements.